Friday, May 28, 2021

Movies of Disbelief: Star Wars (1977)

Welcome to another Movies of Disbelief here at!  It's time to discuss an unnecessarily major beef I have with one of my favorite films.....

Star Wars.  Just saying those two little words conjures up so much imagery, nostalgia, and special effects badassery.  In 1977 George Lucas dropped perhaps the greatest-ever 200-megaton awesome-bomb on the world, in the form of his sci-fi/fantasy swashbuckler, introducing us all to iconic characters Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and of course Darth Vader.  If you didn't grow up with Star Wars in your life, I'm sorry, your childhood was trash.  This film and its two sequels shaped so many lives, and eventually spawned a bona fide pop culture empire (See what I did there?) that keeps churning out new material every year.

So yeah, it's safe to say I'm a Star Wars fan.  No, scratch that, I'm a Star Wars OG.  I've been in Star Wars Heaven since '77.  Well probably more like '79, I was only 18 months old when the first movie came out.  As far as I'm concerned the original film is still the best of the entire franchise.  Empire is a damn close second, but to me A New Hope is one of the most perfect cinematic experiences ever crafted.  And it's Unaltered or nothing by the way, none of that Special Edition bullshit.  I don't need to see cartoon Jabba showing up or a CG-cluttered Mos Eisley, and don't even get me started on Greedo.  If you believe the updated version of that scene is superior to Han blasting Greedo through the fucking pelvis unprovoked, you should check directly into a home for the criminally insane, as you are a danger to both yourself and others.

Take this shit right here, put it in a box, and throw it in the fucking ocean.

Anyway, even though Star Wars is one of my absolute favorite films ever made in this or any universe, there are nonetheless a few plot contrivances numerous people have pointed out, and that was even before Lucas completely fucked up the continuity with Special Editions and prequels.  The first and perhaps most frequently cited is when C-3P0 and R2-D2 launch an escape pod from Tantive IV and the Imperial gunners decide not to shoot it down, something which would have prevented the entire film from happening.  Way to cover your bases, assholes.  Another is, why didn't the Death Star just blow up the planet of Yavin, thus destroying the fourth moon and the Rebel Base with it, instead of taking the time to orbit around and allow the Rebels a chance to attack?  But these nitpicks are forgivable considering how fantastic the rest of the movie is.

I hope these two nitwits got Force-choked
and then Vader peed on their dead bodies.

Where I draw the line though is at Luke keeping the surname Skywalker despite being raised in hiding from his now evil father and the more evil Emperor.  Twenty years earlier Luke and his twin sister were separated and reared by different families so as not to pop up on Vader's radar (That almost rhymes).  Leia became Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.  But not only did they send Luke to Vader's home planet of Tatooine, they called him Luke SKYWALKER, after his father.  Real nice subterfuge, dummies.  Wait a second though, Luke grew up with his "uncle" Owen Lars, whom he was raised to believe was Anakin's brother, yes?  So why the hell wasn't he called Luke Lars?  And if Luke thinks Owen is his actual uncle, how did they explain to him why his father's surname wasn't also Lars?  Maybe they shared with him the terribly uninteresting saga of the time Anakin showed up at the Lars homestead and brought his dead mother home, and then left?  Jeezus what a boring bedtime story.  "Uncle Owen, how come my name is Skywalker?"  "Well Luke, your dad's mom married my dad.  I only met him for ten minutes and frankly didn't know him from Adam.  He was exactly nothing to me.  So forget all that stuff I told you about how he went off to war and I resented him for it.  'Twas all pure nonsense that homeless hippie Ben told me to tell you.  Here's what really happened, my stepbrother showed up, asked about his mom, buried her corpse in the backyard over there, and then skipped town with our protocol droid.  Wait, DID I JUST BUY BACK MY OWN FUCKING PROTOCOL DROID??  Son of a two-dollar whore!!!"

God I hate the prequels....

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Regarding Henry

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at!  For those who haven't joined us for one of these, I take a movie with both good and bad aspects (or awesome and shitty ones), and separate them from each other.  Put each of them in "timeout," if you will.

Today's subject is the 1991 melodrama Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford and Annette Bening and directed by Mike Nichols.  Regarding Henry is the story of a hotshot jerk lawyer who's the MVP of his firm but who doesn't have much of a relationship with his wife or daughter.  Henry is the victim of a shooting, which leaves him with retrograde amnesia and a childlike personality, and he has to put his life and relationships back together from scratch.  Feel-good feelies ensue....

The film has elements about it that work and most certainly some elements that don't.  It received mixed reviews and failed to make much of a splash at the box office, but it's still affectionately remembered as one of Harrison Ford's more touching roles.

So here I am to lay out the pros and cons of this intriguing but very flawed film....

The Awesome

Harrison Ford

I'm a huge Harrison Ford fan.  Always have been.  I'll watch just about anything with him in it, and in 1991 I made it a point to do so.  His natural, effortless performance in this film carries it a pretty long way.  Had a lesser actor (Bill Pullman for example) been cast in this role the movie would've fallen right on its stupid face.  In the first act Ford plays a very convincing self-important asshole (which makes me wonder why he hasn't been cast in more villainous roles), and after the shooting he slips right into the simple-minded version of Henry.  We care for him a great deal in spite of his earlier transgressions.  Ford does more with facial expressions than just about anyone in the business, and he makes the material work about as well as it can.

For you wrestling fans, CM Punk's slicked hair was inspired by Henry's.

Annette Bening

Bening was an emerging star at this point and her turn as Henry's wife Sarah is fully believable and heartfelt.  When Henry's a successful, unscrupulous lawyer Sarah is basically a kept woman who seems at ease with this business-like relationship, and later she takes on the burden of becoming the breadwinner/caretaker of the household.  We feel this new, overwhelming stress weighing on her and the performance rings true.  Bening and Ford have great chemistry that holds the film together, even when the script shortchanges them.

For you wrestling fans, AJ Styles' soccer mom hair was inspired by Sarah's.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

AEW Double or Nothing 2021: Stadium Stampede II

Oh man.  Oh mama.  AEW Double or Nothing the Third is this Sunday, and it's as stacked a PPV as they've presented in their two-year history.  Some big title matches, a showcase match or two, a battle royal, and a huge Stadium Stampede war to cap it all off.  This is gonna be great.

Say what you will about AEW; their roster is too big for two hours a week (which is being rectified as of August), they throw too much at the wall just to keep everyone busy, their programming can be a bit disorganized.  But ya know what?  Unlike with WWE programming I actually give a shit about what's happening.  There is a clear effort to elevate as many people as possible, there are clear centerpieces in every division, there is a clear focus on who the next crop of stars will be.  And on top of that, the in-ring stuff is mostly good-to-excellent.  AEW's product is as engaging for me as any North American wrestling product in years, and with Double or Nothing being the first PPV in 15 months held in front of a capacity crowd, I expect a helluva goddamn show. 

Let's take a look at the lineup.....

Casino Battle Royale

As always this show will feature the battle royal-Royal Rumble hybrid.  It's mostly just a fun way to get a lot of extra faces on the card, but with something at stake, namely a future AEW Title match.  We have 20 names announced plus a mystery entrant.  As tempted as I am to get my hopes up that Bryan Danielson is that entrant, let's be realistic - you don't debut a star like Danielson as the surprise entrant in a battle royal.  You announce a debut like that ahead of time and get some hype out of it.  So I have no idea who it will be.  Andrade maybe?  Anyway, as usual I'll whittle this roster down to who believably has a chance to win.  You got Christian Cage as the favorite, plus Penta, and.....well, that's about it.  I mean, it's for a title shot on Dynamite most likely, so you could give it to a longshot like Jungle Boy (which I wouldn't be sad about, and oddly Luchasaurus is not in the match).  But it's basically down to Cage, Penta, JB or TBA.  I'll go with Cage since they've already teased heat between him and Kenny Omega, and the match would be really good.

Pick: Christian Cage

Hangman Page vs. Brian Cage

Speaking of Cages, Brian has a rematch with Adam Page, after more or less squashing him a couple months ago and derailing his #1 contender status.  But since there was interference in that match, Page has challenged Brian to a rematch with no bullshit.  Hangman is obviously one of the company's future top guys and a heavy favorite to be the one to dethrone Kenny Omega, so he's gotta win this.  When the Hangman catches hang.....

Pick: Hangman Page 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Hateful Eight

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at, where I pick apart the pros and cons of a given film.  Sometimes it's a movie I'm quite fond of in spite of its flaws, sometimes it's a movie I wish I could be more fond of in spite of its flaws.  Today's entry falls into the latter category.  It's Quentin Tarantino's 8th opus, The Hateful Eight.

Quentin Tarantino is one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.  His uniquely demented filmography includes four Best Picture nominees, literally dozens of classic sequences, and some of the wittiest, most memorable dialogue ever put to film.  Drawing from his video store geek origins in the early 90s, Tarantino has built a body of work full of loving pastiches of gangster films, westerns, war movies, pulp novels, and even horror films, assembled with such enthusiasm and bravado one can't help but be swept up in their frenetic energy.

So what went wrong with H8?  This epic-length western concerns an eclectic group of bad guys and unscrupulous lawmen who get snowbound in a Wyoming lodge, and the film shows us in painstaking detail how this sociopolitical powderkeg might play out.  You've got a bounty hunter, a notorious outlaw, a black Civil War Major, a racist Civil War General, a British hangman, a newly elected Sheriff, a cowboy, and a Mexican dude.  Plus a stagecoach driver and a handful of other characters who make brief appearances.  The film plays out like an ultra-violent parlor drama, almost entirely taking place in one room, as the characters argue, scheme, bargain, and eventually start shooting at each other.  Like his 2007 film Death Proof, H8 is little more than an exercise in style, and while Tarantino films always have plenty of that (I found the first half of DP a delightfully entertaining play on cheaply cobbled together 1970s grindhouse fare), it left a lot to be desired in other areas.

So let's take a look at the virtues and drawbacks of The Hateful Eight....

The Awesome


As always, Tarantino's casting is first-rate; this film is largely populated with sure-footed veteran actors who suit their characters perfectly.  Kurt Russell is the down n' dirty bounty hunter John Ruth, who will stop at nothing to make sure his quarry, the brutal outlaw/killer Daisy Domergue (a gleefully degenerate Jennifer Jason Leigh, who earned an Oscar nod) hangs to death at Red Rock.  Samuel L Jackson is the resourceful former Civil War officer Marquis Warren, whose instincts are always on point and who's the closest the film has to a protagonist.  Walton Goggins is the slack-jawed, slightly dimwitted "good ol' boy" Chris Mannix, who's on his way to Red Rock to begin his term as Sheriff.  Bruce Dern is the bitter, tight-lipped old Confederate General Sanford Smithers.  And Tim Roth is the oddly foppish Red Rock hangman Oswaldo Mobray.  Whether Tarantino mainstays like Jackson and Roth, or newcomers like Leigh, each member of the cast slips comfortably into their "hateful" roles.  No complaints about the performances.

No shortage of onscreen talent here.


Shot in glorious 70mm (an odd choice considering most of the film takes place in the one room), H8 is a beautiful-looking film, peppered with some breathtaking shots of the snow-covered Wyoming landscape (actually shot in Colorado).  Regular Tarantino collaborator Robert Richardson gives the film a classic widescreen look, and it's a shame there weren't more locations in the story to take advantage of the medium.

They shoulda filmed the whole movie outside.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

WWE WrestleMania Backlash: Zombies. Really? REALLY?!

WWE WrestleMania Backlash.  Pretty good show.  Whole lotta good wrestling on this show.  Strong work from everyone involved.  Oh, and zombies.  Wait, what?  Yeah.  Fucking zombies dude.....

Ya know that saying in wrestling that the audience really only remembers the ending of a show?  Apparently that's not true.  Apparently equally as compelling a stick in an audience member's craw is something unfathomably stupid that happens in the middle of a show, overshadowing all the good stuff that happened before and after.  Because for me the first thing I'll remember about WrestleMania Backlash for years to come is the fact that WWE actually put on a lumberjack match, where the lumberjacks surrounding the ring were goddamn fucking zombies.  Zombies that somehow obeyed the rules of a lumberjack match and thus didn't run into the ring during the bout's seven official minutes.  Zombies that went after the announcers, forcing them to "relocate to a secure location" to call the rest of the match.  Zombies that ate The Miz and John Morrison alive at the end.  Morrison miraculously survived the attack, but since The Miz is legit injured, WWE is going to let itself off the hook in explaining why he isn't a pink pile of goo now, and by the time he returns in 3-4 months they'll pretend this fiasco never took place.  Fuck this company.  Even removing the zombies from the Miz-Damian Priest match, it wasn't any good.  Imagine seriously getting behind a new guy finally and having this be his coming out match.  A match where zombies attacked and murdered his opponent after the closing bell.  I don't wanna hear another peep out of the AEW critics ever again, no matter how many botched explosions or soft-looking stunts they show on their programming.  At least AEW doesn't have its wrestlers get EATEN A-FUCKING-LIVE.  This match was embarrassingly terrible and I feel bad for everyone who had to pretend it was real.  DUD
Ok that bullshit is out of the way, now we can talk about the rest of the show, which was very good.  The opening triple threat between Rhea Ripley, Asuka and Charlotte Flair was a fast-paced, energetic match with almost non-stop movement.  It won't rank high in the pure storytelling category, but these three worked very hard and the pace just kept picking up throughout the bout.  The last few minutes in particular were quite invigorating, as each woman took turns hitting each other with big moves and nearfalls.  Finally Charlotte blocked an Asuka charge with a big boot from the apron, but was knocked to the floor as Rhea hit Asuka with Riptide to retain the belt.  I assume we'll now get Rhea vs. Charlotte at Hell in a Cell (now in June for some reason), and hopefully that means Rhea gets to avenge her nonsensical WrestleMania 36 loss.  This was a very fine opener.  ***3/4

Friday, May 14, 2021

Top Ten Things: Anthrax Albums, RANKED

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

What's on my mind today is legendary thrash metal band, Anthrax!  One of metal's vaunted Big Four (along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer), Anthrax formed in New York City in 1981 and set themselves apart from other metal outfits with their muscular, kinetic sound and underlying sense of humor.  Where bands like Slayer strived to be as dark and demonic as possible, Anthrax kept things a little fun and nerdy, taking cues from heroes like Iron Maiden by including literary elements (mostly Stephen King) and comic booky subject matter.  Anthrax were also one of the first metal bands to tackle topics like racism, homelessness and genocide, attempting to raise a bit of social awareness and build their sonic brutality around positive energy.  And with their rap-metal crossover hits "I'm the Man" and "Bring the Noise" (the latter being a Public Enemy cover that actually featured PE), they foreshadowed the rap-rock craze that emerged in the late '90s.  Maintaining a drug-free lifestyle, Anthrax has aged much more gracefully than some of their metal brethren; their recent records have sounded just as vital as their earlier work and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  The three-pronged rhythm section of Charlie Benante's impossibly ballistic drums, Frank Bello's gritty, pulsing bass, and Scott Ian's jackhammer guitar riffage (easily on par with their Metallica counterparts) has served as the band's signature foundation for over three decades and in 2018 is just as asskicking as ever.

Here now are the Anthrax albums, ranked...

11. Fistful of Metal

Anthrax's debut album for me sounds like a band still trying to find their voice, and the lineup differences between this and their glory days makes this sound like a different band altogether.  Neil Turbin had more of a Rob Halford-esque voice that didn't quite stand out from the pack, whereas Joey Belladonna's Steve Perry influence added a unique twist to Anthrax's speed metal sound.  Fistful has a DIY sound to the production, like so many quickly-recorded debut records.  Not a bad debut, but hardly a defining record for the budding metal quintet; their songwriting and production would improve exponentially on the second album....

Key Tracks: "Metal Thrashing Mad," "Howling Furies"

10. Stomp 442

John Bush's sophomore effort as Anthrax's frontman had a crisply produced, punchy sound that was initially very promising and a step up sonically from Sound of White Noise, but unfortunately the songs on Stomp 442 were nowhere near as strong.  This being the mid-90s, when metal was about as uncool as could be, Anthrax veered more into alternative groove-metal on this record (something akin to say, Biohazard), and the songs blurred into each other a bit.  This record is steeped in midtempo sludge, with only a few noteworthy tracks that for me don't even crack the band's top 20.  It also loses a point for the lack of Anthrax's cool-ass logo on the cover (their logo is one of the most awesome ever created); for some reason they opted for a totally generic stoner rock-type logo instead.  This album fared poorly on the charts and they were soon dropped from Elektra Records as a result.  But not to worry, things improved.  Side note: To this day I still don't understand what the title is supposed to mean.  Side note #2: The album cover was originally intended for Bruce Dickinson's second solo album but he couldn't afford it, so Anthrax scooped it up instead.

Key Tracks: "Riding Shotgun," "In a Zone," "Nothing"

9. Volume 8: The Threat is Real

The 1998 followup was no classic album by any means, but where Stomp 442 featured a slate of mediocre chugging tracks, Anthrax took a much more adventurous approach on this album.  The overall sound and production is muddy and has a late 90s DIY feel, but the songwriting is actually quite solid here.  It seemed like John Bush, whose vocals had up to now felt, for me, a bit "square peg" on an Anthrax record, finally found the right melodic strategy on Vol. 8.  Songs like "Catharsis," "Harm's Way," and the pretty superb "Stealing from a Thief" showed a band less concerned about fitting a particular style and happier just writing good, grungy rock tunes.  Volume 8 has a varied set of hard rockers plus the touching hidden track "Pieces" (written and sung by Frank Bello, who's brother had recently been killed), and the result is a significant step up from Stomp.

Key Tracks: "Crush," "Harm's Way," "Stealing from a Thief"

8. State of Euphoria 

SoE was the first Anthrax album I ever heard (back in early 1990) and it hooked me right away.  I was familiar with the name of the band and for some reason based on the T-shirts I'd seen I envisioned a band similar to Guns N' Roses.  I was surprised to find they had more in common with Metallica, albeit with Joey Belladonna's much cleaner vocal style.  Right away it was clear this band was a little different, letting their playful personalities shine through amid the high-energy metal heft.  The opening track "Be All, End All" carried an upbeat message, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" took on phony, studio-enhanced pop stars, "Make Me Laugh" attacked the hypocrisy of celebrity preachers, and the sardonic "Now It's Dark" was inspired by the David Lynch cult film Blue Velvet.  But Anthrax scored a solid hit with their cover of "Antisocial," originally recorded by French metal band Trust (Incidentally this song is featured in the 2017 film It).  State of Euphoria runs out of steam about two-thirds in and Joey's vocal parts clung way too closely to the guitar riffs for my taste, but it's a solid record that still has sentimental value.

Key Tracks: "Make Me Laugh," "Antisocial," "Now It's Dark"

Thursday, May 13, 2021

WWE WrestleMania Backlash Preview & Predictions

It's the first PPV after WrestleMania, and therefore the events of WrestleMania will result in a backlash of sorts.  A backlash to WrestleMania.  A WrestleMania Backlash, if you will....

What a goofy title for this show.  Yeah, Backlash has traditionally been the first PPV after 'Mania, featuring at least a few matches that are either a direct repeat of or born out of matches that took place at 'Mania.  We didn't need the word "WrestleMania" added to the name.  Anywho, this lineup is shaping up to be quite solid on paper I must say.  Two triple threat matches is a bit much but there are some potentially excellent bouts to be seen on this show.  As per usual these days, WWE hasn't announced the full lineup only three days out from the PPV, so this predictions piece will be incomplete.  But whatever the fuck ever.....

Lumberjack Match: Damian Priest vs. The Miz

Well I'm happy to see that the whole Bad Bunny thing at 'Mania has at least resulted in a focus on Priest.  That's the whole point of a celebrity wrestler - to get more eyes on a full-timer you want to push.  Priest has wrestled Miz and Morrison on RAW the last few weeks but this looks like it could be a blowoff.  Priest needs this win.  Miz does not.

Pick: Damian Priest

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Bobby Roode & Dolph Ziggler vs. Rey & Dominik Mysterio

Considering Bobby Roode hasn't been on a WWE PPV in like a year I wouldn't be surprised at all to see this get bumped to the pre-show.  But if it makes the main show, good for them.  Given time this is a solid match on paper.  I feel like this feud has been going forever in some form but I could be wrong.  I guess I'll go with the Mysterios to take the gold?

Pick: Rey & Dom

RAW Women's Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

Okay, first off, whatever Charlotte keeps doing to change her face, she needs to stop.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with it in the first place, why does she keep having work done?  Second, I hope Rhea and Asuka will be on top of their game this time and that Charlotte adds something to the match, so it turns out as good as it looks in theory.  There's a ton of talent in this one, so with enough time it's a potential show stealer.  Rhea should absolutely retain since she just won the title.  And I swear to Christ, if Alexa Bliss shows up and ruins it I'm gonna punch somebody.

Pick: Rhea retains

Movies of Disbelief: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Welcome to another edition of Movies of Disbelief, here at, where I examine a film that is generally either good, even great, or at least competently assembled, and point out one absurd flaw that had me throwing my hands up skyward.

Today's subject is the Walt Disney classic Sleeping Beauty.  Released in 1959, Sleeping Beauty retells the timeless fairy tale about a lovely princess, cursed by an evil sorceress to fall into a sleeping death before the end of her sixteenth birthday (by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, of all things).  In the Disney version there are three good fairies who vow to protect Princess Aurora from this fate, by keeping her hidden from the wicked Maleficent until the timeline of said curse has passed.

**Side note: each fairy bestows a magical gift, the first being Flora's decree that Aurora will grow up to be beautiful, begging the question, does Flora not have any faith in this girl's gene pool?  I'd be insulted if I were her parents.  "Excuse me, I think we're both fairly handsome people, she'll turn out just fine on her own!"  Seems like a waste of a gift if there's even a chance that she'll be a looker anyway.  Come to think of it, so is Fauna's gift of song; how does she know this girl won't naturally have musical ability?  Or at least enough to get by with some practice?  Superficial jerks...**

I'm sorry, these women are morons...

But back on the clock; the fairies quickly whisk her away to a remote cottage in the forest and raise her as a common peasant girl until such time as it's safe for her to return and reclaim her royal heritage.  Solid plan right?  Especially since the fairies have also vowed not to use magic during the girl's upbringing, so as not to rouse suspicions of passers-by.  Princess Aurora, or Briar Rose as she is now known, has no awareness of her regal bloodline or the fact that she is betrothed to Prince Phillip of a neighboring kingdom.  On her sixteenth birthday, the fateful day in question, she meets a stranger in the woods and falls instantly in love, but the fairies spill all the beans, revealing to her that not only is she a princess, she is already spoken for and must never see this strange man again (of course none of the four is aware said stranger IS Prince Phillip).  Rose is crushed at the news and runs to her room sobbing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Film Discussion: The 1970s

Welcome to a brand new feature here at, where my colleague Michael Drinan (@mdrinan380) and I discuss the films of a given decade and list some of our favorites.  We'll talk a little about the industry during this era and how it shaped the artistic and commercial direction some of the major filmmakers took.  We're gonna start with the 1970s since this was the earliest decade in which we both really immersed ourselves.

Justin: I consider the 1970s one of the greatest decades for film - it was a time when critical and commercial appeal were essentially one and the same.  The Hollywood studio system had more or less collapsed with the retirement of all the original moguls and studio execs turned to film schools to find the next wave of great directors.  And since initially these execs didn't know much about film, they put a great deal of trust in these young directors to make the films they wanted to make.  If you look at some of the top grossing films of the '70s it's kind of staggering how challenging and subversive many of them were.  A film like The Godfather for example would have a lot of trouble making a ton of money nowadays, with a three-hour running time and such a meditative pace.  There'd be great pressure from the studio to trim it down, you'd have a whole team of screenwriters making changes to the script, etc.  But in the 70s people had patience for films that weren't action blockbusters (mostly because the modern blockbuster wasn't really invented until 1975).  So the films that won loads of awards were also the popular favorites.  In the '80s these two types of films were almost mutually exclusive.  But the moviegoing audience in the '70s hadn't yet been conditioned not to use their brain when watching a film.

Mike: I agree with you, the 1970s is one of the greatest decades for film for all the reasons you've mentioned. Everything changed during that decade: all the taboos regarding sex and language were done away with, the "summer blockbuster" was born during this decade (for better or worse), filmmakers were taking huge risks, and the decade MADE the film industry after it was going bust by the end of the '60s. The subject matter seemed to expand also providing for great stories about the disenfranchised. The horror genre was redefined during this period. The entire decade drips with classic films. Also, film audiences appreciated these magnificent works as well, like you mentioned.

Justin: Even the genre pictures made presumably just to turn a profit were full of subtext and social commentary.  Dawn of the Dead for example smacked of satire of '70s consumer culture.  The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake was an indictment of the "Me Generation."  THX-1138 was about losing one's individuality.  Even The Godfather has been described by its director as pertaining to "the death of capitalism."  And then there were the genre-redefining films like Alien, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  What a richly creative time for film.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Film Discussion: The 1980s

Welcome back to our Film Discussion series, here at!  Last time Mike Drinan (@mdrinan380) and I got together we shot the shit about films of the 1970s, one of our favorite decades in the industry.  So today we're back to talk about our formative decade, the 1980s!

Justin: Well the 80s were a VERY different decade for film than the 70s.  As we talked about before, the 70s saw the studio system essentially break down, paving the way for loads of film auteurs to create transcendent, artistic movies without a ton of studio meddling, and amazingly many of them were also box office smashes.  So many of them have stood the test of time, winning awards AND making a ton of money.  However the movie blockbuster as we know it was also invented in the 70s (Jaws and Star Wars were the two big prototypes), inadvertently giving birth to the hard division between commercial films and critical successes, so prevalent in the 80s.  The studios began to figure out in the late 70s that, "Hey, if we make more movies like this we'll make a ton more money," and began churning out sci-fi and adventure films like crazy, hoping to find the next Star Wars.  Not only that, but advances in technology and special effects pioneered by George Lucas and ILM meant that fantasy and sci-fi movies could continue pushing the envelope of what was achievable on the screen, leading to hundreds of effects-and-action-heavy popcorn movies.  Additionally films like Jaws, Halloween and Alien gave way to hosts of monster movies and slasher films, recycling the Ten Little Indians formula ad nauseum.  The industry became much more business-like, leaving many of the great directors of the 70s a bit in the lurch, stuck between wanting to make THEIR films and needing to conform to the newfound demands of the studios.

By the early 80s the split between commercial and critical success was just beginning, with a few films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. (Steven Spielberg was one of the few 70s directors whose 80s films routinely fell into both camps) still garnering Oscar nominations.  But aside from those, if you look at the big Academy Award winners of the 80s and compare them with the highest grossing films, the movies and box office returns are largely very different.  In 1980 for example, The Empire Strikes Back was the top grossing film with $209mil, while the Best Picture winner Ordinary People only made $54mil, failing to crack the top ten that year.  In '81 it was Raiders on top with $212mil and Best Pic winner Chariots of Fire at #7 with $59mil.   1982 saw E.T. at #1 with $359mil, and Best Pic winner Gandhi at #12 with $53mil.  And so on.  Only once in the 80s did the Best Pic winner also rank #1 in terms of box office, and that was Rain Man in 1988 (Terms of Endearment ranked second in 1983, and Platoon 3rd in 1986).  By contrast, in the 70s, four of the Best Pic winners were ranked #1 at the box office, seven were in the top 5, and all ten were in the top 10 of their respective years.

It was clear that Hollywood was mostly relying on effects-laden genre pictures to really drive box office success, while most of the great directors of the era were focused on smaller, drama-heavy films.  As a kid growing up in the 80s there were very few "serious" movies I was interested in; most casual moviegoers flocked to the flashy, visually stunning fare, while Oscar season featured all the grown-up art movies.

Friday, May 7, 2021

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

Welcome to a new 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.

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! (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  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 ' 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  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!  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.