Monday, May 10, 2021

Top Ten Things: Doors Songs

Welcome to another Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com!  Today we're talkin' about one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, the psychadelic quartet from southern California who emerged in the late 60s with a unique sound, poetically contemplative lyrics, and one of the best, most charismatic front men to ever hold a microphone.  It's the ten best songs by The Doors!


I first got into The Doors mostly thanks to the 1991 Oliver Stone biopic; I had been familiar with a couple of their well-known songs but never really took the time to sit down for a thorough listen until after seeing Val Kilmer's force-of-nature performance as the troubled rock crooner.  After seeing the film I went out and bought the double Best Of album, maybe the best compilation of any band's greatest hits.  Instead of simply being assembled in chronological order the song sequence has a flow to it.  Anyway I listened to that album ad nauseum for years and only within the past decade did I familiarize myself with the rest of the Doors' catalog.  This was a thinking man's rock band with a diverse set of influences that, despite its fairly short run, left an indelible mark on the music industry, inspiring generations of artists and musicans.

Here are, in my estimation, the ten greatest Doors songs....




10. People Are Strange


I first heard this song in cover form in the movie The Lost Boys, courtesy of Echo & The Bunnymen.  I was drawn in right away by the bouncy feel, the honkytonk piano, and the soulful vocals.  It wasn't until a few years later that I heard the original, but "People Are Strange" remains one of my favorite Doors tunes for the reasons above.  Its theme of being an outsider, a stranger in a strange land, sum up Jim Morrison's personality pretty well I think.  He marched to the beat of his own drum and music was his outlet in dealing with loneliness.  The gang vocals in the final chorus seem to illustrate the idea of other outsiders finding solace in each other, unifying to take on the world.





9. Tell All the People


The Soft Parade might be my second-favorite Doors album, after the self-titled one.  It's just such a weird left turn, with the addition of strings and horns on nearly every song and major stylistic departures from the band's trademark sound.  Case in point the opener, "Tell All the People," a symphonic rock anthem with dense horn kicks and vocal harmonies (a rarity for a Doors tune).  This song sets the tone perfectly for an album that goes into very unexpected places and shows a band experimenting like crazy.





8. The Unknown Soldier


Jim Morrison's sound poem about the Vietnam War and its round-the-clock news coverage, "The Unknown Soldier" features drastic dynamic changes and unusual sound effects to create a grim atmosphere.  The song goes from sullen eulogy to midtempo rocker to military march to double-time climax.  This is one of the band's most redolent and atpyical tunes. 





7. The Soft Parade


But the title track off the fourth album has to be their strangest song of all.  "The Soft Parade" is an 8-minute, multi-section suite that's all over the place musically (Is that a harpsichord??) and features Morrison's most bizarre lyrics.  Like John Lennon did with "I Am the Walrus," Morrison seems to simply be playing with words that conjure weird imagery, the songwriting equivalent of Salvador Dali ("Catacombs/Nursery bones/Winter women growing stones").  This epic track is the perfect summation for The Doors' most adventurous album.

The History of NJPW Dominion (2010)

Welcome to our second installment of NJPW Dominion History, here at Enuffa.com!

Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium - 6.9.10

Dominion returned to Osaka in 2010 with another solid if not stacked show, with some frankly odd star placements.  Manabu Nakanishi for example, who headlined Dominion 2009 as the IWGP Champion, showed up here in the second match of the night with five other dudes.  Shinsuke Nakamura, another former IWGP Champ, was billed fourth from the bottom in a brief MMA-infused fight with Daniel Puder of all people.  And Tanahashi, the company's golden goose was in the hair vs. hair semi-main event instead of contending for the strap.  Some strange choices to be sure, but the show itself managed to be very watchable and a few bouts were pleasantly surprising.

The 2010 edition opened with one of two six-man tags, with Akira, El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto squaring off against Ryusuke Taguchi, Super Strong Machine and baby Tama Tonga (sporting short hair and a clean-shaven look)! This was not much of a match, running under nine minutes and not featuring a lot of memorable action. El Samurai pinned Tonga with an abdominal stretch rollup thingy.  Moving on.  *1/2

The second six-man was a little better but still just sorta there, as Chaos members Tomohiro Ishii, Iizuka and Gedo faced Manabu Nakanishi, Mitsuhide Hirasawa and a blond-haired Kushida.  There was a big brawl before the bell to kick things off, climaxing in Kushida and Nakanishi dives over the ropes.  Then the match settled into the heels getting heat on Hirasawa after hitting him with chairshots outside.  Eventually Nakanishi tagged in for some big power moves, Kushida and Gedo did some fun Jr. exchanges, and Iizuka distracted the referee while Gedo nailed Kushida with a kendo stick.  Iizuka then choked Kushida out for the win.  Another forgettable affair.  *3/4

The good stuff started next, as Tomaki Honma vaced Muhammed Yone in a solid, super stiff contest.  We got tons of brutal chops, forearm shots and running lariats over the bout's nine minutes and finally Honma hit his big top rope headbutt for a near fall but Yone came back and delivered a muscle buster for the win.  Not too shabby, this one.  **3/4

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Great Wrestling Champions: Ric Flair (1989-1990)

Welcome to a new Enuffa.com feature, The Great Wrestling Champions, where I examine a particularly noteworthy championship reign in the annals of wrestling history - one that made a difference in elevating said championship and the company it represents.

Today's entry is the 1989-90 reign of NWA World Champion Ric Flair.


Flair's sixth title run was in my estimation the greatest of his sixteen famed world championships, showcasing a bona fide in-ring artist and showman at the top of his arguably unparalleled career, and marking his final run as THE star of the NWA.  Flair had legitimately ruled the 80s as far as the NWA/WCW was concerned, enjoying a decade-long run as the promotion's undisputed top draw.  While he considered his first NWA Title reign as something of a tryout (In those days the NWA Board of Directors had to vote on whether to crown a new champion and Flair got a narrow 5-4 vote of confidence), by the end of 1983 he was clearly the man to whom the torch was passed, from former top NWA draws Harley Race and Dusty Rhodes.  His star power was so great that he'd travel around to the various NWA territories and feud with the local top star, in order to make that guy look like a bigger deal.  Flair would keep the title for a year or two, lose it to a babyface challenger to garner a big box office, and win it back shortly thereafter.  This was the pattern from his second reign on.  He briefly lost the title to Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes, Ronnie Garvin and finally, in a match that set the tone for the NWA's banner year 1989, Ricky Steamboat.

Flair's feud with Steamboat instantly became the stuff of legend, as the two perfectly paired adversaries traded wins over a three month period, scoring three staggering Match of the Year candidates and assembling one of the greatest wrestling feuds of all time.  Flair would win the title back at WrestleWar '89 and immediately follow up one stellar feud with another; the returning former champion Terry Funk attacked him post-match to set up six months of brutally contested enmity.  The inciting incident involved Funk piledriving Flair on a table and putting him out of action for two months due to a kayfabe neck injury.  This allowed the NWA to build to their first match at The Great American Bash, and marked Flair's first babyface turn since 1983.  The hotly anticipated Flair-Funk bout on July 23rd was a wild powderkeg of a match, spilling all over the ringside area and showing off Flair's brawling versatility after the graceful, scientific trilogy with Steamboat.


The History of NJPW Dominion (2009)

Oh yes, oh yes, the wrestling-obsessed weirdo is back with another PPV History series, here at Enuffa.com!  This time we'll be looking at the decade-long lineage of NJPW's second-biggest PPV of the year, Dominion!

Set the way-back machine for 2009, when New Japan Pro-Wrestling was still in serious rebuilding mode, having weathered the lull of the early 2000s.  They'd hitched their wagon to a dynamic young performer named Hiroshi Tanahashi, and his gargantuan charisma, coupled with his incredible knack for in-ring storytelling, almost singlehandedly lifted NJPW out of its financial woes.  At this point Tanahashi was head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the company, but numerous young stars were being groomed for big things and by 2009 a few were starting to nip at Tana's heels.  The modern New Japan product as we know it was taking shape, with a combination of native stars and talented gaijin, and only a few years later it would start to blow everyone else out of the water from a creative standpoint.  So sit back and let's take a stroll through recent New Japan lore....


Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium - 6.20.09

Things kicked off with a solid little opener, as Jushin Thunder Liger and Akira faced Koji Kanemoto and a young lion named Nobuo Yoshihashi. Everyone worked hard in the seven-or-so minutes alotted. Finally Yoshi-Hashi ate a top rope splash from Akira for the pin.  Shockingly little from Liger in this match.  Not terribly memorable but decent.  **1/4

Next up was Takao Omori and Yutaka Yoshie vs. Mitsuhide Hirasawa and Super Strong Machine.  This was another short match, only five-and-a-half minutes, but it was full of action. Yoshie at 300+ pounds got to show off his deceptive agility.  The match ended with Omori hitting a running STO on Hirasawa. Nothing special here, but this was well worked.  **

The first really noteworthy match was third, as Apollo 55 faced Taichi and Milano Collection AT for a Jr. Heavyweight Tag Title shot.  These guys cut a crazy fast pace for the first few minutes, then Taichi and Milano slowed it down to work over Taguchi.  After the eventual hot tag to Devitt we got a crazy series of big moves and nearfalls, including an outside-the-ring Doomsday Device cross body on Taichi, a Devitt double stomp for a near fall, and a big Tower of Doom spot.  Finally Taguchi pinned Taichi after a (surprisingly safe-looking) vertebreaker and chicken wing face buster.  One thing really struck me about this match: Taichi used to be a worker!  When did that change?  Anyway this was a damn good match.  ***3/4




Thursday, May 6, 2021

Top Ten Things: Worst WWE Women's Champions

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, and another in our series examining some of wrestling's worst champions.  


Today I'm looking at the worst Women's Title runs in company history, which includes the original incarnation of the belt, the ill-concieved Divas Championship, and one entry for the current version.  The role of Women's wrestling in WWE has run the gamut over the years, from novelty act to eye candy to piss-break match to legitimate athletic attraction.  Over the past five years they've made some great strides in presenting the women as an important part of the show while excessively patting themselves on the back for their progressiveness in this area (In reality TNA and other promotions were literally years ahead of them).  But I'll take a little disproportionate self-congratulating if it means having a real women's division.  Now if Vince could just let Hunter take the creative reins on the main roster we'd really have something.  Look no further than the difference between Sasha-Bayley in NXT and Sasha-Bayley in 2019.

Anywho, given the wildly divergent approaches WWE has taken with the division, there were bound to be some championship runs that were just plain stinkers.  Here are ten of them, in chronological order....




1. Velvet McIntyre (1986)


For the majority of the original title's existence it sat squarely around the waist of The Fabulous Moolah, who famously held it from 1956 until 1984 (minus several unrecognized title changes).  Moolah was a major draw for decades and when the WWF went national in the 80s her feud with Wendi Richter was a big part of the show (thanks in part to the involvement of pop star Cyndi Lauper).  After regaining the strap from Wendi via the original WWF Screwjob (Vince was a jerk even back then), Moolah dropped the title to up-and-coming babyface Velvet McIntyre at a house show in Australia.  And then won it back six days later, also at a house show in Australia.  Velvet of course never won the belt again.  Velvet's McEntire title run took place on one foreign continent.  See what I did there?






2. Rockin' Robin (1989)


So back to Moolah, she eventually dropped the title for keepsies to Sensational Sherri, which the company touted as a huge deal since she'd rarely been without it for thirty years.  Sherri was built up as a huge heel women's star (for the time anyway), and while not that prominently featured on WWF TV, she kept the title for 15 months before losing it to Rockin' Robin.  Robin however wasn't presented as terribly important beyond her initial win, getting only one major televised title defense at the 1989 Royal Rumble against Judy Martin, with whom she feuded for basically the remainder of the year.  Robin then left the company in early 1990, taking the belt with her, and the title was discontinued.  That's a pretty bad indictment of Robin's lack of importance as a champion when she's barely on television for most of her reign and the belt is simply swept under the carpet when she leaves.






3. Debra (1999)


The Women's Title went through two resurgences in the 90s - Alundra Blayze was the belt's custodian during the New Generation era (before also leaving with the belt and infamously throwing it in the trash on WCW Nitro), and then in late 1998 Sable became the division's new centerpiece.  Considering she was originally a valet, Sable picked up the in-ring game pretty quickly and became a very popular attraction before turning heel that spring.  But backstage she and Vince McMahon had gotten into a heated contractual dispute (allegedly she was asked to go topless and she later sued for sexual harassment), and she'd fallen out of favor with the rest of the roster.  So in May of 1999 Sable was booked in an Evening Gown match against Debra McMichael, technically winning the bout when she tore Debra's gown off.  But Commissioner Shawn Michaels instead ruled that the woman who'd lost her gown was actually the winner, and thus non-wrestler Debra was now the Women's Champion.  How one can win a championship by literally LOSING a match is beyond me.  Debra dropped the belt to Ivory four weeks later and went back to being Jeff Jarrett's valet.  The whole thing made no sense and was a shoddy contingency plan for the Sable fiasco.


Top Ten Things: Essential Daniel Bryan Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com! (Note: This was originally published just after Bryan's untimely retirement in 2016 - thank god that's over!)


Today, not surprisingly, I have Daniel Bryan on the brain.  Following his untimely retirement on Monday I thought I'd compile a list of his essential matches, including many of his Ring of Honor highlights.  If you haven't seen any of his ROH work as Bryan Danielson you don't know what you're missing.  Unhampered by the "WWE style," Bryan was as innovative and skilled as anyone in the business, and frequently put together matches in excess of 30 minutes.  Here now is a list of essential Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson matches....




10. Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan - Extreme Rules 2012 - 4.29.12


Here's the match we should've gotten at WrestleMania 28.  After Vince McMahon's 18-second booking snafu inadvertently made Daniel Bryan a star while dooming Sheamus's main event push, these two were given a chance for vindication at Extreme Rules in a 2/3 Falls Match.  Bryan relentlessly targeted Sheamus's left arm early on, eventually getting himself intentionally disqualified in the first fall before evening the match with a Yes Lock in the second.  The climactic third fall was an exciting back-and-forth affair until Sheamus once again caught Bryan with the Brogue Kick to retain the World Title.  Easily a show-stealing early MOTY candidate, and the first example of Bryan being effectively used as a top-tier star.




9. Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe - Fight of the Century - 8.5.06


In August 2006 Bryan Danielson was enjoying an ROH Title run on par with Joe's record-breaking reign of 2003-04.  The two of them would collide in an epic bout that lasted a full sixty minutes.  Danielson played the cocky-but-cowardly heel Champion to perfection, in a performance rivaling 1980s Ric Flair.  This was the first Danielson match I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked.  Joe spent the early portions of the match chasing Bryan around before finally dominating him for much of the encounter.  Joe would come up just short of regaining the belt, but the live crowd ate this up, chanting "Five More Minutes" at the end.  Quite possibly my favorite 60-minute draw.




8. Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson - Manhattan Mayhem II - 8.25.07


Another of Danielson's ROH feuds against a much larger opponent took place in 2007, as he found himself challenging the new monster heel Champion Takeshi Morishima.  Morishima was on loan from Pro Wrestling NOAH and took a similar role as Samoa Joe (who was now TNA-exclusive).  Danielson held his own against the Japanese powerhouse in this 20-minute Strong Style war in which he suffered a detached retina from one of Morishima's strikes.  Bryan failed to capture the belt here but faced Morishima twice more that year to settle their feud.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Top Ten Things: Worst WWF/E Tag Team Champions

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things devoted to piss-poor championship title reigns!  As you may have guessed from my previous entries (HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE), I like complaining about crappy champions.  So thought I'd continue doing so.  Admit it, you're happy to read more of it.


Anyway, today I'm tackling the subject of weakest WWF/E Tag Team Championship reigns of all time.  The WWE Tag Championship dates back, in some form, to the company's 1963 inception (and even earlier; the WWWF United States Tag Titles were created in 1958).  After a couple different incarnations, the World Tag Team Championship as it was known for decades was created in 1971 and was first worn by Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler (who captured the titles via a REAL tournament, as opposed to the imaginary ones Buddy Rogers and Pat Patterson won for their respective inaugural titles).  This version of the tag belts was around until 2010 when they were merged with the WWE Tag Team Titles (from Smackdown), and for some reason the current RAW Tag belts follow that newer lineage that began in 2002, while the current Smackdown Tag belts only date back to 2016.  I don't get it either.

Regardless, this particular set of belts has a rich, storied history, and just about every team that was anyone possessed them at one time or another.  For years the longevity record was held by Demolition, who had a stranglehold on the titles for 16 months.  Recently though The New Day eclipsed that record, but again the current set of belts is supposedly not the same as the old one.  I dunno.  Fuck it.

That's all irrelevant, I'm just here to talk about the shitty champions, so here we go, in chronological order.....



1. 1-2-3 Kid & Marty Janetty (1994)


As with the previous Worst Champions lists, there are some entries here that aren't intrinsically undeserving, but made the list due to the way their title run was booked.  Our first example is one such....example.  In January of 1994 this upstart team, fresh off winning their Survivor Series match two months earlier (outlasting fellow team members Razor Ramon and Randy Savage, plus opponents IRS, Diesel, Adam Bomb and Rick Martel) got a title shot against The Quebecers on Monday Night RAW and shocked everyone by winning the straps.  This was an exciting title change for rising underdog Sean Waltman and Shawn Michaels' former sidekick, and it seemed like the company had made a brand new star babyface tag team.  Aaaand then they dropped the belts back to The Quebecers at a house show one week later and were never heard from again as a team.  Pointless.





2. Men on a Mission (1994)


Another short-lived title run in between Quebecer stints took place over a two-day period in England, only two months after Kid & Marty's.  Mo and Mabel, the goofy but sorta dominant babyface tandem who took The Quebecers to the limit at WrestleMania X, finally got the job done at a house show two weeks after 'Mania.  What an accomplishment, and what a treat for the British fans--- oh wait, they lost the belts back 48 hours later.  And like Marty and Waltman, they'd never win them again.  Look, I wasn't the biggest MOM fan by any means, but what is the point of giving a team a championship for two days and never putting them anywhere near said championship again?  And what was with Jacques and Pierre temporarily losing the belts over and over?


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Top Ten Things: Worst NWA/WCW/WWE US Champions

Welcome to yet another Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com.  I'm on a freakin' roll with this Worst Champions series, so here we go again.


This time I'll be talking about the US Title, which started as the NWA's number-two Championship in 1975.  The US Title was extremely prestigious for many years, with the NWA automatically recognizing its owner as the #1 contender to the World Championship.  I always found this odd, since the US Champ almost never got a shot at the World Champ, but nonetheless it hammered home the idea that this was an extremely valuable belt that could headline a house show any day of the week (as long as the NWA Champion wasn't on the card).  Like the Intercontinental Title, winning the US Championship often served as a stepping stone for younger talents on their way to the big belt.  Between the NWA, WCW and WWE incarnations of the title, 18 men have won the US Championship on their way to one of the respective World Titles.  Still, as with any championship, this one was not without its share of weak-ass winners.  Here are ten such examples....





1. Michael Hayes (1989)


The flamboyant Michael Hayes was a well-known star by the time he returned to the NWA in early 1989.  He was a babyface initially, but turned heel on Lex Luger, joining Hiro Matsuda's short-lived stable that had replaced The Four Horsemen.  Hayes and Luger feuded, and Hayes captured the US Title at WrestleWar but lost it back two weeks later.  The idea of Hayes winning the belt wasn't inherently a bad one, but the execution was terrible.  The feud with Luger was clearly just a stop-gap until the summer, when Luger himself turned heel on Ricky Steamboat.  Meanwhile Hayes reformed the Fabulous Freebirds and got a run with the NWA Tag Team Titles.  This US Title run however just felt tacked-on and pointless.  It's like they weren't sure what to do with Hayes when they brought him back, and just tried a bunch of different things before he settled back into the role he was best suited for.





2. Jim Duggan (1994)


WCW circa 1994 was when Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan jettisoned nearly everything that made WCW what it was.  It instead became WWF-lite, where Hogan recycled numerous feuds already done better a decade earlier, brought in a host of his old pals, and gave them prominent spots on the roster.  Homegrown stars like Steve Austin got pushed aside in favor of former WWF stars from the 80s.  Case in point, when Jim Duggan debuted at Fall Brawl 1994 as the surprise challenger for Austin's US Title.  Austin was scheduled to challenge Ricky Steamboat, but Steamboat was injured and the belt was awarded to Austin via forfeit (a nonsensical way to have a title change hands, as I previously mentioned HERE).  Enter Duggan, who proceeded to squash Austin in 35 seconds for the strap.  Good thing Austin didn't have any star potential, huh?  Absurd.  Duggan would go on to get killed by Vader three months later, and remained a lower midcard guy the rest of his WCW run.  Oh, and that Steve Austin guy ended up making a different company quite a bit of money.






3. One Man Gang (1995)


Along those same lines, Hogan also brought in the One Man Gang, fresh off, well, four years of not much (He had a brief 1991 run in WCW but was fired late that year). Gang returned to WCW, got to be the last man eliminated in the inaugural World War 3 60-man battle royal (shades of the first Royal Rumble), and one month later upset Kensuke Sasaki for the belt at Starrcade '95......in a dark match at the end of the show.  Yeah, they booked a US Title match to take place after the PPV went off the air and had a title change occur.  Not only that, the match was restarted immediately and Sasaki regained the title, but the company didn't acknowledge the second title change.  'The fuck sense does that make?  You book two dark match title changes but ignore the second one?  Gang would hold the belt just over a month before dropping it to Konnan and disappearing from WCW only weeks later.  Just another case of WCW trying to revive the career of an irrelevant 80s WWF star and failing miserably.

Oscar Film Journal: Hamlet (1948)

Welcome to another entry in the Oscar Film Journal, here at Enuffa.com.  Yeah, I know, the 2021 Oscar ceremony has come and gone, but dammit, I'm gonna try and keep the Oscar spirit alive all the year.  Keep it, but you don't keep it!


Today's film is the classic 1948 adaptation of Hamlet, directed by, produced by, adapted for the screen by, and starring the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier.  He was quite the multi-talented fellow, that Olivier.  This film version was commercially successful on its release and won a slew of awards, not least of which were its four Academy Award triumphs, including Best Picture and Best Actor.  Olivier took Shakespeare's dense, four-hour opus and whittled it down to a manageable 155 minutes, cutting out a few major beats and supporting characters such as everyone's favorite pair of bumbling fools, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  The changes proved somewhat controversial among purists, but what can you do, the play's four freakin' hours long.  

Olivier plays the lead character as a very psychologically troubled but often scampish young man, not unlike the way an unhappy teenager would act.  I always find it strange how often the young student Hamlet is played by 30- and 40-somethings; here the 40-year-old Olivier is eleven years the senior of Eileen Herlie, who plays Hamlet's mother Gertrude.  Perhaps a more experienced actor tends to find the character's many nuances more easily than would a fresh-faced 20-year-old.  Nonetheless, Olivier gives a very strong performance here, brooding without being mopey, commanding the screen without bravado.  Olivier also stood in as the ghost of Hamlet's father, recording his lines in a whisper and slowing down the tape to produce a lugubrious, ethereal quality in the ghost's voice.  

Monday, May 3, 2021

AEW Blood and Guts Preview & Predictions

This Wednesday, it's time for AEW's potentially biggest show yet, Double or Nothing!  Wait, what?  Wait, they're giving away Blood & Guts on Dynamite?  For free??  Really?  Wow.....uh, ok....


Yeah so the monumental Blood & Guts battle between The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle is happening this Wednesday, May 5th on AEW Dynamite.  Why the company didn't save such a huge money-drawing match for the PPV three weeks later is beyond me, especially since there aren't many clear matchups for Double or Nothing yet.  But hopefully they'll pull something good together for that and follow up on the success of Revolution.

Regardless, this Wednesday should likely be AEW's highest-rated Dynamite episode to date.  With NXT out of the way the show has drawn 1.2 million, 1.1 million, and last week's anomaly of 889k which went up against a Presidential address.  So it'll be interesting to see how many people tune in for Blood & Guts.  I'd love to see them hit the 1.5 million mark for the first time in the show's history, putting them within striking distance of the lower-rated RAWs.  I'm curious if they'll put the main event on first to draw people in right away.

In addition to the big five-on-five double cage match though we have an undercard to talk about, so let's get to the predictions.....



#1 Contenders Tag Team 4-Way: SoCal Uncensored vs. Jurassic Express vs. Varsity Blonds vs. The Acclaimed


I'm not sure why the #1 ranked SCU needs to defend their title shot in this match, but whatever, it should be fun.  Lots of talent in this one, and AEW multi-team matches tend to be nonstop action.  I'd love to see Jurassic Express pull off the win here and face the Bucks at DoN, but I feel like with the stip where if SCU loses they have to disband, such an outcome would probably happen at the PPV.  So I'm thinking SCU wins here and then runs into a brick wall called Matt & Nick Jackson.

Pick: SCU




Britt Baker vs. TBA


Britt is now the top-ranked women's wrestler in the company and basically has to win here to cement her title shot at Double or Nothing.  She's not only proved herself a helluva worker in recent months, but she's totally got the it factor as a heel you love to hate.  She should be the one to dethrone Hikaru Shida after a full year (By the way, how cool is it that Shida actually got to hold the title for a year, just like I said she should?).  Not sure who the TBA in this match will be, I'm assuming just some underneath talent, unless it's a Tessa Blanchard debut or something.  Wait, TBA?  Tessa Blanch Ard??  Nah, I think this'll just be a glorified squash.

Pick: DMD

Top Ten Things: Worst WWE Intercontinental Champions

Welcome back to Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  I recently posted my list of the worst WWE Champions of all time, and now I'm back with its counterpart, counting down the ten worst Intercontinental Champions of all time.


The I-C Title has a rich history dating all the way back to 1979, when Pat Patterson was named the first champion (winning a fictitious tournament in Brazil, just as Buddy Rogers had done 16 years prior).  This secondary championship was used as both a major drawing card, particularly to headline "B team" house shows, and as a stepping stone/litmus test for future WWF Champions.  18 men have won this championship on their way to the WWE Title (and a few, like Pedro Morales, The Big Show and The Miz, won this belt after that one).  During the first two decades of this title's existence it was a pretty huge deal to win it.  Becoming the Intercontinental Champion was not only a major vote of confidence from the company, but it usually signified you were one of its workhorses.  During the Hulk Hogan era, the I-C Championship match was often the most technically impressive match on the card, the one the diehard fans most looked forward to.  But then around the turn of the century it began to devolve into more of a prop that almost anyone on the card could win at one time or another, and by 2010 it became almost a career liability for its wearer.  The I-C Champion was now one step above curtain jerker, and was often less likely to be included on PPVs than before he won the belt.  In recent years the company has made more of an effort to rehab the value of this once-prestigious championship, but it's still a long way from being what it was.

Regardless though, every era has had its share of stinker champions.  Here are the ten weakest Intercontinental Champions in history (according to me).....





1. Kerry Von Erich (1990)


Let me get this out of the way: I never thought Kerry Von Erich was any good as a wrestler.  The guy had literally two moves, the claw and the discus punch, and he used each of them roughly a thousand times per match.  In 1990 the WWF brought him in and renamed him The Texas Tornado.  That name is stupid.  What is he, Sy-Klone from He-Man?

Look at this asshole.  Actually I'd put the belt on him over Kerry....

Anyway, at SummerSlam 1990 the Intercontinental Championship match was scheduled to pit Mr. Perfect against challenger Brutus Beefcake.  But a parasailing accident left Beefcake with a shattered face, and a last-minute change to the card became necessary (Coincidentally Beefcake was supposed to challenge for the belt at SummerSlam two years earlier but suffered a kayfabe injury, leading to an identical situation).  Hoping to recapture the magic of The Ultimate Warrior's surprise I-C Title win in 1988, the company trotted out Mr. Tornado as Mr. Perfect's new challenger, and had him pin the accomplished veteran in five minutes.  Kerry won the I-C Title just one month after his WWF debut, and within a matter of weeks he was getting booed by live audiences.  That November they put the belt back on Mr. Perfect, and Von Erich spent the next two years floundering in the lower card before vanishing from WWF TV in late '92.  This situation should've been a valuable lesson to the company about not rushing a guy to the belt too fast, lest the crowd completely turn on him.  Sadly they've repeated this mistake many times, particularly with this title.






2. The Mountie (1992)


In the grand tradition of weak-as-fuck transitional heel champions, Jacques Rougeau, now playing the character of an evil Canadian mounted police officer (I guess Vince never watched Dudley Do-Right?) upset Bret Hart for the belt at a house show (Bret was going through contract negotiations and I guess they didn't want to allow for the possibility of him walking out with the belt - Jeezus, did Vince EVER trust that guy?).  Two days later The Mountie dropped the belt to Roddy Piper at the 1992 Royal Rumble.  This was by far the most significant thing Rougeau ever did as a singles wrestler, and it's a pretty shabby accomplishment.  He went on to lose a lot of matches over the next year before re-emerging as one half of The Quebecers and winning two Tag Team Titles.  Piper meanwhile, held the strap till the WrestleMania VIII classic match where he lost it to Bret.  I have to think that if Bret hadn't been undergoing contract negotiations he would've just kept the belt the whole time and we wouldn't even be talking about this now.






3. Dean Douglas (1995)


In October of 1995, Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels got into an altercation at a Syracuse bar that left him pretty badly beat up.  The kayfabe explanation was that nine dudes attacked him unprovoked in the parking lot, but in actuality he drunkenly mouthed off to a group of Marines and they let him have it.  Regardless, he was unable to make his scheduled PPV title defense against Dean (Shane) Douglas, and rather than simply vacating the belt, the company oddly announced Douglas as the winner and new champion by forfeit.  His first defense was against Razor Ramon and he lost, thus Dean Douglas is in the record books as having been Intercontinental Champion for 20 minutes.  Douglas had only been with the company for three months prior to this (Remember what I said about rushing guys to the belt?), there was no logic in him automatically winning the belt on a forfeit, and he left the company only two months later.  Shane Douglas played this silly character pretty well and could work a match, but the company stuck him in a no-win situation here.  Taking a new guy most fans aren't familiar with, having him win a championship without wrestling a match, and then having him lose said title 20 minutes later is just counterproductive.  Who's gonna take him seriously after that?  It's almost like they didn't want Shane to succeed.



Friday, April 30, 2021

Top Ten Things: 2 out of 3 Falls Matches

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

Today I'll be discussing one of the oldest, time-honored wrestling match types, the 2-out-of-3 Falls match!  Back in the olden days 2/3 Falls was a common format for Championship matches, as a way to truly determine the better competitor and rule out fluke victories.  In the old NWA system, all World Title matches were required to be contested under these rules, and quite often the match would go to a time limit draw in the third fall, which protected both guys for future bouts.  I've always enjoyed this type of match as it lends itself to longer, more epic matches with a heavy emphasis on good old mat wrestling.  During the Attitude Era the WWF added a wrinkle to the 2/3 Falls match by giving each fall a different set of rules (i.e. traditional rules for the first fall, No DQ for the second, etc.), calling it Three Stages of Hell.  Regardless though, there's something epic about a 2/3 Falls match when done well.

Let's take a look at what I consider the ten best examples of 2/3 Falls....




HM - Angle/Benoit vs. Edge/Mysterio - Smackdown - 11.7.02


In the fall of 2002 the RAW and Smackdown shows each had exclusive rosters, and Paul Heyman's Smackdown was crushing RAW on a weekly basis, both creatively and in the ratings.  Much of SD's success can be attributed to these four competitors, who made up two-thirds of the revered Smackdown Six (Los Guerreros were the other two).  The World Tag Championship had been made a RAW-exclusive Title during the roster split, and Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon decided to create a separate set of belts for her show.  Hence a tournament was assembled which boiled down to Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio at No Mercy, in a 22-minute classic.  The rematch took place only a few weeks later on Smackdown, and it was a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite as good as the PPV bout, this featured incredible action and palpable suspense, as Edge & Mysterio played the underdogs to perfection on their way to a Title victory.





10. Demolition vs. Hart Foundation - SummerSlam - 8.27.90


In early 1990 the WWF's tag team division essentially consisted of three top babyface tandems - Demolition, The Hart Foundation, and The Rockers.  Sure there were a few heel teams such as The Bolsheviks and The Orient Express, but they were all booked as jobbers to the stars, and the Harts and Rockers were presented as the only credible threats to the Champions Demolition.  Just after WrestleMania VI it looked like the Harts were slowly turning heel, adopting some underhanded tactics and referring to Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as "tumbling teenyboppers."  It seemed like Bret and Jim would be positioned as villain challengers to the popular facepainted duo of Ax & Smash.  But two factors caused a change of plans.  The first was that the Harts were still extremely popular and the fans didn't really want to boo them.  The second was that the aging Bill Eadie (Ax) was no longer able to wrestle a full schedule and needed to take more of a managerial role in Demolition, necessitating the introduction of a younger third member, Crush.  With Demolition now working as a three-man team it made more sense to turn them heel and invoke the "Freebird Rule," where any two members of a Championship team could defend the Titles (I love this gimmick, by the way).  So at SummerSlam, the Hart Foundation were positioned as babyface underdogs facing a dastardly powerhouse team who frequently pulled the old "switcheroo" during their matches, subbing in a fresh man for an injured one.  The result was a very strong 2/3 Falls match that saw Hart and Neidhart overcome the odds (with an assist from WWF newcomers Hawk & Animal) to regain the Tag belts.  After a brief, disappointingly one-sided feud with the Legion of Doom, Demolition were sadly phased out less than a year later, while the Harts enjoyed a strong run with the belts.





9. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - SummerSlam - 8.27.00


The year 2000 was an amazing one for the WWF.  With the influx of almost all of WCW's best workers, the WWF roster was now loaded with tremendous in-ring talent creating fresh matchups and feuds galore, possibly the best of which involved the two Chrises.  Jericho and Benoit had worked together for years, both in Japan and in Atlanta, and in the spring/summer of 2000 they resumed their feud, facing each other three times on PPV and several more times on RAW and Smackdown.  The rivalry reached a fever pitch at SummerSlam, in a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite given enough time to fully steal the show, Jericho and Benoit nevertheless delivered a forgotten near-classic that ended the feud for the time being.


Top Ten Things: Worst WWE Champions

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com, where I count down the ten best (or in this case, worst) of something.


Today what's on my mind is shitty WWE Champions.  The WWE (formerly WWF, formerly WWWF) Championship is the most celebrated wrestling title in the history of the business.  While it's not currently the most prestigious (as my colleague Joseph Chaplin and I discussed HERE), it has the richest overall lineage and is by definition the most well-known championship.  Just about every luminary to make his mark in North American wrestling the last 40 or so years has won or at least contended for that belt.  When WCW went belly-up in 2001, the WWF Title became the only recognized worldwide championship, and while WWE has had two top belts for most of the the intervening years, it's generally the WWE Title that's been presented as the most important.

But there have been times when a wholly undeserving fellow has been graced with a Title run, much to the chagrin and puzzlement of those of us with logical thought processes.  Then there have been times when a perfectly viable guy has won the belt but the company never really got behind him or presented him as worthy, thus his title reign was a big honkin' flop.  In each of these cases, the value of the Title has taken a nosedive or at least been temporarily damaged.  Below are ten examples of these two scenarios, in chronological order.




1. Stan Stasiak (1973)


The old WWWF was what they called a "babyface territory."  The promotion depended on a heroic, long-running Champion to sell tickets and drive revenue.  Thus whenever a heel won the belt, it was simply as a transition so they could quickly put the belt on a different babyface.  Case in point, the weakest of these early heel champs, Stan "The Man" Stasiak.  In 1973 Pedro Morales was enjoying a nearly three-year run as the face of the company, but fans began clamoring for their former hero Bruno Sammartino to win back the Title he'd held for 7-1/2 years (Still the longest title run in wrestling history).  Not wanting a babyface vs. babyface title change, the company decided at the last minute to book Stasiak in a "banana peel" win over Morales (The ol' spot where the babyface hits a belly-to-back suplex on the heel, but the heel raises his shoulder and the babyface pins himself).  Stasiak was now the unlikeliest of WWWF Champions.  So unlikely in fact that he dropped the belt to Sammartino just nine days later.  When you realize that Killer Kowalski (a major heel draw for the promotion) never held the belt but Stasiak did, it's even more baffling.





2. Sgt. Slaughter (1991)


WrestleMania VI was headlined by the hugely successful Hulk Hogan-Ultimate Warrior match, wherein Warrior scored an ultra-rare clean pin over the company's golden (more like golden-brown) goose.  The match was considered such an epic encounter (For the record I was never a fan of this match but I get why others liked it so much), that it seemed inevitable we'd see it again at WrestleMania VII.  It made perfect sense after all; 'Mania 6 drew a huge stadium crowd and the company wanted to fill an even larger venue (the 100,000-seat LA Coliseum) the following year.  What match could be bigger than the biggest rematch in WWF history?  But instead Vince opted to have perennial midcarder (and only marginally coordinated worker, who incidentally had just returned to the WWF five months earlier) Sgt. Slaughter defeat Warrior for the strap at the Royal Rumble, position him as an Iraqi sympathizer to cash in on the Gulf War, and let Hogan be the conquering American hero.  This booking was totally rushed and contrived, and it was the first time as a fan that I felt they had devalued the WWF Title.  Slaughter wasn't remotely believable enough in the ring to be the company's top champ, the exploitation of the Gulf War felt sleazy and cheap (and by the time 'Mania 7 rolled around the skirmish had been over for a month), and not surprisingly ticket sales for the event tanked, to the point they had to move 'Mania to the much smaller LA Sports Arena.  This was an epic failure that signaled the end of the 80s boom period.





3. Hulk Hogan (1993 & 2002)


This entry is a little different.  Yes I know Hulk Hogan was one of the company's greatest champions, but of his six WWF Title reigns, only three were any good.  The fourth lasted only a few days, as he was stripped of the belt due to a controversial win.  But his fifth and sixth reigns were downright insulting to the intelligence, and thus warrant inclusion on this list (Incidentally this entry pushes JBL off the list - you're welcome John).

In 1992 Hogan walked away from the business to pursue an acting career.  That didn't work out so well, and Vince brought him back in early 1993.  The WrestleMania main event that year was Bret Hart, the WWF's new top babyface vs. Yokozuna, its newest monster heel.  Yokozuna won the belt in cheap fashion, and then Hogan inexplicably ran down to the ring to protest the decision, despite never having interacted with Bret at all leading up to this.  Yokozuna even more inexplicably challenged Hogan to a match on the spot, and Hogan won back the Title in seconds.  Thus WrestleMania IX ended with both main event participants looking like chumps while the increasingly irrelevant Hogan stood tall with the strap.  The plan was for Hogan to face Bret at SummerSlam, but Hogan balked at the idea and went home for two months, leaving house shows without the WWF Title being represented.  Vince had to scramble to get the belt back on a full-time guy, and Hogan vs. Yokozuna II was booked at King of the Ring.  Hogan dropped the belt and left the WWF again for nearly a decade.  The ending to WrestleMania IX stands as the worst, most counterproductive PPV climax of all time.


In 2002, after the demise of WCW, Vince decided to resurrect WCW's most successful angle, the nWo.  Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash returned to the company at No Way Out and ran amok for two months.  This set up Hogan vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X8.  What no one bargained for though was the Toronto crowd giving Hogan a white-hot hero's welcome.  Those damn Canadians came unglued for Hogan, and during the post-match shenanigans the company turned him babyface, thus nullifying the nWo stable.  Vince was so blinded by the 'Mania crowd reaction in fact that he scrapped plans for new champion Triple H to defend against The Undertaker at Backlash, and had him face the 48-year-old Hogan instead (Incidentally, Hogan's win-loss record post-return was 1-1 at that point).  Hogan's sixth title win was wrong on multiple levels.  First, the WWF had redefined itself in the late 90s by showcasing young, edgy, exciting stars to combat WCW's focus on former WWF names from the 80s.  Putting the belt on Hogan in 2002 was completely inappropriate given how far past his prime he was, and how hard he'd tried to put the WWF out of business.  Second, the WWF audience had for years been conditioned to the top champion being a strong in-ring worker.  Bret, Shawn, Austin, Rock, Triple H, Taker, Angle, Jericho, all of the significant champions of the era could deliver restaurant-quality matches on a consistent basis.  Hogan could still entertain, but he was never an accomplished in-ring talent, and this was simply not acceptable for a WWF Champion in 2002.  Third, Triple H was just being established as the company's new top babyface.  Taking the belt off him only four weeks after his big WrestleMania win undermined everything they were trying to do with him.  Hogan's title run was understandably not well-received; he dropped the belt to The Undertaker a month later, and was gone again by August.  It's rare for a star of Hogan's caliber to have two terrible WWF Title runs, but by golly he did it.  


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Top Ten Things: Worst NWA/WCW World Champions

Welcome to another Top Ten Things here at Enuffa.com, where I gripe about yet another wrestling championship whose prestige has been sharted on because of nonsensical title reigns.  Christ guys, get it together....


Today I'm talkin' about the granddaddy of them all.  The original holy grail of pro wrestling.  The NWA/WCW World Heavyweight Championship.  It's the one that supposedly dates back to 1905 when wrestling was on the level.  In actuality it can only be traced back to 1948, and the WCW version ceased to be recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance as of 1991.  The actual NWA World Title is still in existence today, after a five-year association with TNA.  But since the NWA's current footprint is quite small nowadays I'll only be discussing the two versions that were truly considered World Titles - the original incarnation from 1948-1991, and the WCW World Title which covered 1991-2001.  For many years this championship was THE most prestigious in wrestling.  Before WWE became the juggernaut it is today, Vince Sr's northeast WWWF promotion was an upstart offshoot of the NWA, and thus their top championship wasn't considered quite as big a deal as the NWA's.  Ditto for the AWA World Title (established in 1960).  For a good twenty years the NWA World Title was the big one.  And then in the mid-90s when WCW surged in popularity, their version of the World Title was viewed as the top belt in the game.  For a little while anyway.  But both versions of the championship had their share of stinker champs.  Here are ten of them..... 





1. Tommy Rich (1981)


For a long time Rich was the youngest-ever World Champion.  A popular mainstay in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Rich upset the legendary Harley Race for the belt at the age of 24.  And then he lost it back to Race four days later.  What the hell was the point you ask?  Apparently the switch was done to gain promoter Jim Barnett power within the NWA.  But Jeezus Christ this was stupid, and given that Rich never attained world championship status again, this ensured his career peaked very early.  If you're gonna give a young, unlikely babyface a run with your top belt, at least give him a chance to see how he does.  Otherwise skip it.





2. Kerry Von Erich (1984)


Ugh, Kerry Von Erich stunk.  Seriously, I never liked this guy, and it still bugs me that of all people he got to beat Ric Flair for the belt, less than six months removed from Flair's epic Starrcade '83 win.  I know the original plan was for Kerry's brother David Von Erich to become the NWA's new top babyface before he died, but did we really need to put the belt on Kerry for 18 days just as a tribute?  The match wasn't even that good, and they had to put the belt back on Flair anyway because he had a big match scheduled against Steamboat.  If making Kerry the Champion is gonna get in the way of the match you're really serious about promoting, what's the point of doing it?





3. Ron Garvin (1987)


Speaking of unworthy dudes getting to defeat Flair, in 1987 the NWA was looking to set up a huge main event for Starrcade, particularly since the WWF had countered the flagship supercard with the inaugural Survivor Series.  The idea was for someone to unseat Flair as the champion so Flair could win the title back in grand fashion at Starrcade.  Problem was, no one wanted to be a transitional champion for two lousy months, but Garvin took the job (for which I don't blame him; he was 42 years old at the time).  So Garvin was booked to win the belt in September, and then didn't defend it for two months.  Don't ask me why - a handful of good title defenses would've at least made him look like he belonged in that spot.  Flair of course regained the title at the big PPV, and on the bright side, the match was pretty great.  But Ronnie Garvin was never really presented as World Champ material and his career never reached anywhere near that level again.  They really should've just let Barry Windham beat Flair at the Crockett Cup in April, have a solid seven-month run, and then lose it back at Starrcade.  That would've been something.



NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Preview & Predictions

It's NJPW Wrestling Dontaku time, and that means two nights of sparsely assembled cards with only a few matches of note each night.  Of course in 2021 that's nearly every NJPW show.  


So yeah, there are essentially three important matches over the two nights, plus a couple bouts related to the Tag Team Titles.  The three big title matches should all be excellent, but I'm longing for the days when New Japan stacked most of their PPV events.  If this year's Dominion isn't a loaded show I'll be very sad.  Let's pick some winners.....



Night 1


Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tanga Loa


Man, how thin is this division when the same two teams just keep meeting up?  New Japan desperately needs to drop the Jr. Tag and Six-Man Tag belts and just move all the tag teams into a single division.  I will never understand why they got rid of the Intercontinental Title but kept three sets of tag belts.  Anyway, ZSJ vs. Tanga should be fun.  Zack's matches always stand out because his style is so different.  The stip here is that if Zack wins, he and Taichi get another shot, if they lose they don't ever get another shot.  Since there are basically no other teams around I'll pick Zack to win here.

Pick: ZSJ




Iron Finger from Hell Ladder Match: Taichi vs. Tama Tonga


I assume the rules here are that if you climb the ladder and grab the Iron Fingers you get to use them?  That's goofy.  Both guys can work, so hopefully it'll be entertaining.  No idea who wins here but since Iron Fingers are Taichi's thing I'll pick him to win I guess.

Pick: Taichi

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Oscar Film Journal: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Welcome to another Oscar Film Journal entry, here at Enuffa.com!  This here is the first installment that features a film I'd give a full non-recommendation....


We're heading back to the 80s today, with a movie that heads back to the 40s through the early 70s.  The 1989 Best Picture winner was textbook 80s Oscar bait, a light-footed comedy-drama that kinda sorta tackled the issue of race in mid-century America but in a very safe, innocuous fashion.  I'm talking about Driving Miss Daisy, starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, and based on the 1987 stage play by Alfred Uhry.  DMD is about a rich southern widow who takes her car out for a spin one day and learns that at her advanced age she's no longer sound behind the wheel, driving it backwards into her neighbors yard and totaling the vehicle.  Her son (played by Dan Aykroyd) insists that he hire her a chauffer, a prospect she resists kicking and screaming.  But gradually Hoke (Freeman) wins her over with his calm demeanor and uncanny ability to handle her excitable, disagreeable nature.  Over the years Hoke becomes her most trusted companion, gradually helping her understand the ugliness of oppression and bigotry (something that as a Jewish woman in the Jim Crow south she begins to experience firsthand); Daisy exhibits some racist behavior early in the film but by the end actually attends a dinner where Martin Luther King speaks (though she fails to extend Hoke a proper invitation).  The pair age into retirement and are forced to separate, only visiting each other once in a while at Daisy's retirement home.  And, well, that's it.