Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Top Ten Things: Anthrax Songs (20-11)

And we're back with Part 3 of our Anthrax Top 40 countdown, chugging away toward the best of the best.  Here are #20-11....

Click for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4...

20. Only

After a hugely successful album cycle with Persistence of Time and Attack of the Killer B's followed by three big 1990-91 tours, Anthrax decided they needed a new frontman.  Joey Belladonna's vocal style simply wasn't compatible with the direction the band needed to go - darker, grittier, uglier.  Enter Armored Saint's John Bush.  In 1993 the band released their sixth album Sound of White Noise, heralding a fairly radical change in direction.  They were still unmistakably a metal band, but with a raw, raunchy, midrange-heavy guitar sound and a gravely-voiced new singer to match.  The first single unapologetically dropped in everyone's lap was the grunge-tinged "Only," featuring rumbling drums and open, strummed power chord riffs, over which Bush's Steven Tyler-esque rasp intoned about a dysfunctional relationship - "Revolve around yourself, it's you and no one else/Hard for me to stay."  "Only" became a huge radio hit, proving it was possible for a band like Anthrax to reinvent themselves for a new era.

19. Caught in a Mosh

Back to classic Anthrax, one of the most beloved songs from one of their most beloved albums, "Caught in a Mosh" was partly inspired by a guitar tech getting injured in a mosh pit.  He literally coined the title of the song, and the band merged it with lyrics about suffering a disagreeable person, creating an all-time metal anthem.  From the blazing speed metal gallop of the verses to the pounding choruses, this song provided audiences ample opportunity to engage in heavy-duty moshing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Top Ten Things: Anthrax Songs (30-21)

Welcome to the second part of  our Anthrax - 40 Years, 40 Songs countdown!

We've reached #30-21, and in this installment we'll talk about some of the band's lower-tier classics.  

Click for Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4...

30. Harms Way

One of the quirkier tunes on Volume 8 is this alt-rocker that kicks off with acoustic guitar and a brash John Bush announcing "Here comes the biggest asshole that the whole world has ever seen," before settling into a syncopated midtempo groove.  The chorus hook is one of the catchiest on the record and would've been right at home on late 90s post-grunge radio.  And don't forget the slide guitar solo in the middle....

29. Bring the Noise

Perhaps even more significant than their first rap foray "I'm the Man" is this Public Enemy cover/team-up, featured on the Attack of the Killer B's EP.  "Bring the Noise" was a massive crossover single and stands as one of the earliest metal-rap mashups.  The song was so well-liked by fans of both groups it led to a double-headlining tour in the fall of 1991.  Only a few years later rap-metal fusion had become its own genre, dominating rock radio and influencing both pop culture and fashion for years to come.  "Bring the Noise" can be cited as one of the form's earliest prototypes.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Top Ten Things: Anthrax Songs (40-31)

Welcome to another special multi-part Top Ten Things, here at!

If you're an Anthrax fan like I am, you're probably aware that the band is in the midst of a multi-episode YouTube documentary celebrating their 40-year history.  I've been enjoying this series quite a bit; the talking head segments were all recorded via webcam during COVID, with the band members and various friends and peers reminiscing about each phase of Anthrax's storied career.  Since I've had Anthrax on the brain I thought it would be fun to count down my 40 favorite tunes by the thrash legends.  Forty years, forty songs.  See what I did?  Anyway, here's Part 1, counting down #40-31.  Stay tuned for the other installments and you can also check out my ranking of Anthrax's albums HERE.

Click for Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4....

40. I'm the Man

This is more of an honorary inclusion, but the significance of Anthrax's crossover rap hit can't be overlooked.  A super-heavy thrash metal band releasing a comedic, Beastie Boys-influenced hip hop single was pretty unthinkable at the time, and it was one of the earliest tunes to start to break down the walls between the two genres (along with the Run DMC cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way").  Originally Anthrax intended for the Beastie Boys themselves to feature on the track, but scheduling didn't permit it, and Scott Ian, Charlie Benante and Frank Bello opted to perform the vocals themselves.  "I'm the Man" became an unexpected hit, prompting the band to throw together an EP with two edits, a Black Sabbath cover, and three live tracks (including "I'm the Man" itself).  The song now plays more like a fun nostalgia trip, but at the time I couldn't get enough of the I'm the Man EP.  I actually prefer the 1991 remake featured on Attack of the Killer B's, but the original is obviously a much more important track.

39. Zero Tolerance

The closing track of Anthrax's 2016 album For All Kings is a brutal, 200 bpm assault on the senses, taking to task all of humanity's crimes perpetrated in the name of religion.  The song pulls zero punches, asking its various targets the burning question "On the day you meet your god, what will he say?"  "Zero Tolerance" is a no-frills, machine-gun riff-laden closer designed to remind everyone that Anthrax can still hurl molten metal whenever they want.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Mallrats

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I dissect a cinematic clunker that I also happen to enjoy.

Today's topic is Kevin Smith's second film Mallrats.  After the indie success of his smart, slacker-centric Clerks in 1994, Smith was given a much larger budget by Universal Studios to do basically the same type of movie.  But this time our pair of lovelorn, do-nothing 20-something protagonists spend their aimless free time at a mall, trying to repair their failed relationships.  Returning from Clerks are the zany supporting characters Jay & Silent Bob, who in this film are given some action-comedy set pieces and get to directly affect the plot.  The studio more or less took Smith's trademark formula and attempted to make it more mainstream, with very mixed results.  At the time I found this film unequivocally hilarious, but it's probably aged the worst of Smith's View Askewniverse outings.

So let's look at what worked and what didn't....

The Awesome

Jason Lee

Almost everything great about his movie begins and ends with Jason Lee.  The former skateboarder became a major find for Kevin Smith, who would cast him in numerous subsequent films.  But perhaps no role was as big a show stealer for Lee as Brodie Bruce, the mall-obsessed comic book and video game junkie whose lack of ambition has cost him his girlfriend Rene.  Lee's brilliantly vulgar, reactionary delivery is responsible for most of the film's best lines, and his natural charisma allows the viewer to identify and root for this character in spite of his many flaws and obnoxious persona.

I fuckin' love that guy.

Shannon Doherty

One of two principles cast for their name value, Shannon Doherty gives a harsh but oddly likable performance as the strong-willed, no-bullshit Rene, who's reached the end of her patience with her lazy, inattentive boyfriend.  The focus of the movie is on the male characters, but Doherty admirably conveys why the firebrand Rene is such a good match for Brodie.


Michael Rooker

Character actor Michael Rooker plays the film's main antagonist Jared Svenning, whose primary motivation is to keep T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) from dating his daughter.  Svenning is an aspiring game show producer/host whose pet project Truth or Date serves as the film's Maguffin.  Rooker plays this role with over-the-top relish, serving as both a villain and something of a buffoon who, as a television producer, is in over his head.

Don't eat the pretzels!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WWE Hell in a Cell 2021 Preview & Predictions

Another month, another incomplete match lineup only a few days before a WWE PPV.

This Sunday is WWE's Hell in a Cell, a show they moved up from October to June for some reason.  As of now only five matches have been announced, and I don't know how this company expects to get people really invested in these shows without telling us ahead of time what the full card looks like.  Four of the bouts look pretty good, the fifth is a goddamn embarrassment.  Let's take a look....

Alexa Bliss vs. Shayna Baszler

Fuck outta here with this shit.  Put this Alexa Bliss storyline in a box and throw it in the ocean.  It is simply stunning to me that WWE diehards are actually defending this.  Imagine having a legit badass like Baszler on your roster and using her to get over a horror cartoon character no one gives a crap about.  And spare me the nonsense about "Yeah but AEW did a Mimosa Match!"  The difference there is, that was a light comedy match designed to spotlight a star who is super popular for his comedic character, and it didn't involve anyone with supernatural powers.  Get this Alexa drivel off my TV.

Pick: Obviously the legit badass loses to the girl with magical powers.  Fuck this company.

Smackdown Women's Championship: Bianca Belair vs. Bayley

These two had a decent match last month but the finish was an outta nowhere rollup, so they have a chance here to really deliver.  Bianca is a great babyface, Bayley is an obnoxious-as-hell heel, both are very capable workers.  Should be fun.  Bianca obviously retains.

Pick: Bianca keeps the strap

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Entrance Themes

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!

Today I'm looking at the all-time greatest wrestling entrance themes!

Entrance themes are such an integral part of establishing a character it's hard to imagine a time before they were universal.  When I started watching this wacky fake sport in 1986 only certain acts were given entrance music.  Mostly it was headliners and championship contenders, otherwise guys came to the ring to only the ambient arena noise.  Most puzzling is the fact that perennial attraction Andre the Giant never had an official entrance theme (Toward the end of his career Vince McMahon's "Stand Back" became his them for video packages, but it wasn't used for his actual ring entrance).  There were other times when a piece of music was intended for one wrestler but co-opted for someone else.  Hulk Hogan's "Real American," a theme we now consider inseparable from the man, was originally written for the US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham).  Kurt Angle's theme, repurposed by the fans as "You Suck," was once the entrance music for "The Patriot" Del Wilkes.  Then of course there was Jimmy Hart's "Crank It Up," recorded for the Piledriver album, which the Young Stallions "stole" for their own use.  I always got a kick out of that one.

At any rate, a wrestler's entrance theme can say so much about them.  It can help illustrate what type of persona they use.  If the music is dark and foreboding, the character probably is too.  If the music is bombastic and upbeat, the character probably has a loud personality.  When done correctly, the first note of a wrestler's theme can send the crowd into a tizzy, and can be just as important a part of the fans' experience as seeing that person in the ring.

The following ten themes exemplify these qualities.  In each case the entrance music has become forever linked to that character, evoking a massive crowd response every time it blares through those arena speakers.

10. Chris Jericho - "Break the Walls Down"

Beginning with one of the coolest sound effects ever designed, Jericho's entrance theme originally counted down a "Millennium Clock" before exploding into a Rage Against the Machine-esque slow rocker that also seems to have a bit of Beastie Boys influence.  Between the lyrical references to metal bands and the conjured image of walls being broken down, this song conveyed Jericho's iconoclastic ring persona brilliantly.

9. Finn Balor - "Catch Your Breath"

This one takes a while to get going, but man, when it does it's pure detuned metal awesomeness.  Boasting an anvil-to-the-skull, stomp-worthy guitar riff followed by a choral chant, this intimidating theme does everything great entrance music should.  It sets the tone for the character, it imprints itself on your brain, and it encourages audience participation, as the crowd chants and gestures along with Balor.  This is my favorite current wrestling theme.

Friday, June 11, 2021

NXT TakeOver: In Your House 2021 Preview & Predictions

So they're stickin' with the retro In Your House deal?  Kinda weird.  

This Sunday is the second annual NXT TakeOver: In Your House show, where for one night we'll all reminisce about the company's least successful period, as the wrestlers emerge from an entranceway modeled after the cheeseball "front door" theme from the mid-90s.  Why did they keep the In Your House branding after the original PPV anyway?  The whole reason for that name was that the company gave away an actual house on the air.  After the inaugural edition though, the branding didn't mean anything, it was just an awkwardly named, recurring two-hour show.

Anyway the lineup here looks a little, well, underwhelming.  Not unlike an In Your House PPV I suppose.  We have a clusterfuck of a main event, a double-title six-man match, and a ladder match for the resurrected Million Dollar belt.  Is Hunter making fun of 1995 Vince or is he just fresh out of ideas?

Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li

Xia is, I believe, making her TakeOver debut here, which means I think she's probably winning the match.  I've only seen her as a throwaway Royal Rumble participant, so I have no idea if she's any good.  Martinez is the older veteran tasked with making the newbie look strong.

Pick: Xia Li

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Matches of the 2010s

Welcome to another special decade-end Top Ten Things, here at!  A couple weeks ago I counted down the greatest wrestling PPVs of the 2010s, and now it's time to go deeper and discuss the greatest wrestling matches of the decade.

Artistically speaking, the 2010s saw some of the highest highs and the lowest lows in the history of the business.  Through most of the 10s WWE and TNA/Impact were regularly churning out shit burgers, with the occasional flashes of brilliance, while New Japan Pro Wrestling, on the backs of the amazing Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, and Kenny Omega, among others, began a resurgence that culminated in some of the greatest-ever in-ring artistry by the end of the decade.  The art form evolved so much over the last ten years that even in WWE few stars get over without being very capable between the ropes.  The days of someone becoming a big star based solely on their character or physique are over.  Yes, those things are important, but to succeed in wresting these days you have to be able to back it up in the ring, moreso than ever before.  Here are 14 examples (the Top Ten plus Honorable Mentions) of wrestlers truly backing it up in the ring, combining thrilling action with dramatic storytelling and gutsy athleticism....

HM: CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan - Over the Limit - 5.20.12

In my opinion the best match of 2012 was this forgotten gem - Punk vs. Bryan for the WWE Title.  These two were given a nice cushy 25-minute slot, and man did they deliver.  Spectacular mat wrestling, counterholds, submissions galore, false finishes; everything you could ever want in a great wrestling match.  This is the closest WWE has ever come to emulating the groundbreaking work these two routinely produced in Ring of Honor.  Punk and Bryan would face each other twice more on PPV that year, but this was the standout of the bunch.  A stunning display of classic pro wrestling.

HM: CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar - SummerSlam - 8.18.13

2013's SummerSlam featured two Match of the Year candidates, one of which was billed "The Best vs. The Beast."  This No-DQ bout told the story of Punk's scrappy ability to stay one step ahead of his massive opponent, as he pulled out every weapon available and utilized his superior speed.  This amazing match was brilliantly worked out and is thus far Brock's best match of his current run.  After 25 minutes of action, Punk fell victim one too many times to Paul Heyman's ringside distractions and was pinned after an F5.

HM: Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan - WrestleMania XXX - 4.6.14

The YES movement took over WrestleMania in 2014, starting with this much-anticipated opening match for a shot at the WWE Title.  Both guys played their roles to perfection and told a helluva Face-In-Peril story for 26 minutes.  As predicted, Bryan won the match clean to propel himself into the WWE Title match, but Hunter attacked him after the bell in the hopes of rendering him too injured to compete later on.  Made perfect sense and beautifully enhanced the drama of Bryan's quest.

HM: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada - WrestleKingdom 9 - 1.4.15

One of the greatest feuds of the decade, hell, all time, was between NJPW's early 2010s Ace and his eventual successor.  At WrestleKingdom 9 Tanahashi and Okada assembled an eminently epic, instant classic of a main event that belongs in the same conversation as Austin-Rock II or the two HBK-Taker WrestleMania matches.  These two men were born to wrestle each other, and this match somehow topped all seven of their previous bouts, building off those matches and upping the ante.  Late in the match both kicked out of each other's well-protected finishing moves, and by the time Tana finally put Okada's quest to an end at the 31-minute mark the audience was shocked and exhausted.  Okada sold this defeat like a death in the family, sobbing the whole way back to the dressing room.  They'd have an equally epic rematch one year later, where Tana finally passed the torch.  Okada and Tanahashi made magic every time they locked horns, but for me the WK9 main event is their greatest encounter.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

NJPW Dominion 2021: Shingo Wins The Gold

Well that was a rather short Dominion PPV, wasn't it?  Only five matches, two of which were barely over ten minutes.  Not only that, we got a very unexpected main event result, as for the third time this year someone won their first IWGP Title.  I have mixed feelings about this, but we'll get to it in a bit.

After guest commentator Hiromu Takahashi addressed the crowd assuring everyone he'd be back in action soon, NJPW Dominion 2021 opened with a ten-man tag match, pitting members of Chaos plus Hiroshi Tanahashi against a Bullet Club squad let by Evil.  This boasted fast-paced action and was enjoyable while it lasted, but a sub-twelve-minute match featuring ten dudes isn't going to leave a lot of room for folks to get their shit in.  The biggest story coming out of this match was in the Juniors division, as Taiji Ishimori and Sho carried the third act of the match, culminating in Ishimori snaring the win with a Bloody Cross.  Pretty forgettable overall, but inoffensive.  **1/2

The second multi-man tag pitted Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Bushi against Dangerous Tekkers and Douki, with the main story being Naito and Sanada meshing well as a new tag team.  Like the opener this was fine but too short to be very memorable.  Zack Sabre and Sanada had the best exchanges, with a lot of pinning combinations and reversals.  Finally after eleven-plus minutes Sanada scored an upset by countering a ZSJ European Clutch with a cradle of his own.  Thus Naito and Sanada are your new #1 contenders for the IWGP Tag belts.  I like that matchup and it's nice to see some new blood in the heavyweight tag ranks.  The temporary demotion of Naito rather telegraphed the main event result though...  **1/2

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Matches of the 2000s

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!

Following my Top Ten 80s Matches and Top Ten 90s Matches, today it's my Top Ten Double-Aught Wrestling Matches (that's matches of the 2000s).  The pro wrestling industry went through catastrophic changes in the early part of that decade, as WCW and ECW were both sold to Vince McMahon, making the WWF the only big game in town.  The WWF was then forced to change its name to WWE, while upstart promotions TNA and Ring of Honor sprouted in 2002.  We saw a new crop of headliners in Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista, plus a surge in the quality of indie wrestling, led by AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson.  The industry began shedding the "hardcore" style so prevalent in the late 90s and returned somewhat to a traditional mat-based focus (with exceptions of course), and eventually WWE even went back to family-friendly PG content.  While the overall product was very uneven, it's safe to say the 2000s brought us some of the very best matches we'd ever seen.  Here now are ten of them.....

10. Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels - WrestleMania - 4.5.09

In 2009 WWE's product was stagnant as ever, with the same five or so guys having been featured at the top of the card for a good three or four years straight.  WrestleMania 25's lineup featured all the usual faces in prime spots and very few young stars, and I was frankly burned out on the Cenas, Ortons, Triple Hs, and Edges of the world.  I honestly didn't get caught up in the build for this match either - two 45-year-olds reigniting a few from eleven years earlier?  No thanks, man.  Of course I was wholly incorrect, as these two legends wove together an absolute 30-minute masterpiece, showing us all how it's done.  A prototypical WWE "main event," this match featured loads of reversals, finisher kickouts, and some crazy outside-the-ring dives (one of which looked like it killed Taker dead).  This match ended up being one for the ages.

9. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe - Turning Point - 12.11.05

There have been more action-packed matches, more brutal brawls, more epic contests.  But in December 2005 Samoa Joe and AJ Styles told a story between the ropes that has seldom been equaled before or since.  Joe arrived in TNA that summer and was immediately pushed as an unstoppable monster, who had his way with basically everyone in the X-Division.  AJ was the superbly skilled conquering hero; the last line of defense against Joe's reign of terror.  The pace started out methodical but escalated continously throughout the match.  Joe dominated AJ with his brutal moveset, but the defiant Styles refused to back down, eventually kicking out of Joe's pin attempts at the one-count just to stick it to the villain.  Blood pouring out of his mouth, Styles managed to lift the 280-pounder up for the Styles Clash, and despite diminished height the move still looked absolutely vicious.  Joe kicked out however, and finished AJ with the rear naked choke, capping off one of the best examples of pure in-ring storytelling I've ever seen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Top Ten Things: 80s Wrestling Matches

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at!  Pretty self-explanatory - ten things at the top of what-have-you.

Today it's the top ten matches from that beloved bygone decade known as the 1980s!  I hopped on the pro wrestling bandwagon in the latter part of the decade and therefore this list skews heavily during that time.  I've seen plenty of the early 80s stuff, but I think most would agree the overall wrestling product in North America was stronger from '86-'89 than it was from '80-'85.  Cases in point are my ten picks.  Granted, my own personal nostalgia for those formative years may have played a part, but what the hell d'ya want from me?

Here we go....

10. Ricky Steamboat vs. Bret Hart - Boston Garden - 3.8.86

This forgotten gem was preserved for us all when Bret Hart included it on his DVD set in 2005, but I'd seen it before then.  Initially this match was to be the prototype for a WrestleMania 2 rematch, before Vince changed his mind and threw Bret and Neidhart in the WWF vs. NFL Battle Royal, and put the rising babyface Steamboat against the larger Hercules.  But this match upstaged literally everything at 'Mania 2, as these two technicians put on a veritable clinic.  This is one of the earliest WWF examples of just how good Bret was as a singles wrestler, and despite the lack of company followup it's easy to see why Bret looks back on this bout fondly.

9. Ric Flair & Barry Windham vs. Midnight Express - Clash of the Champions IV - 12.7.88

The Christmas-themed Season's Beatings edition of Clash of the Champions was headlined by a huge tag match, as NWA Champion Flair and US Champ Windham (the only remaining Four Horsemen after Anderson & Blanchard left for Stamford) faced former NWA Tag Champs the Midnight Express, who'd recently turned babyface before being mauled by the heel Road Warriors for the straps.  This Clash special was mostly centered around hype for the upcoming Starrcade '88 PPV, and all four participants here were pretty well-protected.  Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane dominated much of this fast-paced bout before getting screwed at the last minute when Flair waffled Bobby with JJ Dillon's shoe.  Another forgotten classic, this is easily one of my favorite Clash bouts of all time.

8. Team Demolition vs. Team Powers of Pain - Survivor Series - 11.24.88

Speaking of favorites, this entry is my favorite Survivor Series elimination match, which happens to be from my favorite Survivor Series PPV.  The late 80s tag division in the WWF was the stuff of legend, and this match assembled all nine of the company's regular teams (plus The Conquistadors) for an epic 40-minute war.  WWF newcomers The Powers of Pain captained an absolutely stacked team of the Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Rockers, and Young Stallions, against Demolition's squad of Anderson & Blanchard, The Rougeaus, The Bolsheviks, and the aforementioned masked jobbers.  The action in this match was non-stop for almost the entire duration, until late in the bout Demolition's manager Mr. Fuji turned on them and helped the Powers of Pain take the match.  This was in my experience the first-ever double-turn, and it broke my 13-year-old brain.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Top Ten Things: 90s Wrestling Matches

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at!

Last week I posted my list of the greatest 80s matches, and I'm now following it up with the best of the 90s.  The 90s were a tumultuous time in the wrestling industry, where the product changed drastically and became a completely different animal by the end of the decade.  In the WWF the focus shifted from larger-than-life characters to more serious technical wrestlers, and then to a gritty, more violent, and more explicit product.  WCW's focus went from the established traditions of the sport to a counter-culture movement.  In my opinion, the WWF's in-ring product outclassed WCW for most of the decade, and so this list is very WWF-heavy.  But feel free to comment below with anything you feel I've overlooked.  Here we go....

10. Vader vs. Sting - Starrcade - 12.28.92

Probably WCW's best feud of the 90s was Sting vs. Vader, and probably their best match took place at Starrcade, in the finals of the King of Cable Tournament (Don't ask what the eff that means).  This was all kinds of awesome - stiff, snug and believable all the way through.  Vader's size and dominant style would realistically make most of his matches into rather unwieldy squashes, but Sting was so freakishly strong he could manhandle Vader for much of the match.  This resulted in some amazing spots, like the second-rope superplex, Sting's over-the-top plancha on both Vader and Harley Race, and the finish where Vader dove off the top rope and Sting caught him midair and slammed him to the mat.  Just a great main event, and I could watch these two beat the shit out of each other all day long.  Vader may have been Sting's greatest opponent.

9. Undertaker vs. Mankind - 6.28.98

Probably the most infamous match of all time, aside from the Montreal Screwjob.  In 1998 Taker, and especially Mankind, wrote a new chapter in pro wrestling brutality.  After two death-defying falls from the top of the Cell (one planned, one frighteningly accidental), Mick Foley delivered a superhuman effort in going another 12 or so minutes and completing the best match these two ever had together (Keep in mind also that Taker was working on a broken foot).  Concussed and delirious, Foley famously approached Taker backstage when it was over and asked "Did I use thumbtacks?" to which Taker replied, "Look at your arm Mick."  It's an uncomfortable match to view now, but at the time it probably exemplified the WWF Attitude more than any other single bout.

8. Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart - WrestleMania - 4.5.92

The match that stole the show at WrestleMania VIII (pretty amazingly considering Flair vs. Savage was on the card) was the I-C Title match between Roddy Piper and Bret Hart.  These two put on a 13-minute classic that had more action, crisper wrestling, and even a better blade job than the WWF Title match.  Bret Hart recounted the story in his autobiography - the WWF had a no-blading policy at that point, and Bret's bladejob was so subtle and realistic, Vince thought he was legitimately cut and took no action against him.  Flair's bladejob on the other hand was very obvious and earned him a fine.  I'd say this was easily Piper's best match.

Movies of Disbelief: Grease (1978)

I'm back to bitch and moan about a movie that I find simply too ridiculous to believe.....

So this past weekend my wife forced me, very much against my will, to watch the classic musical Grease for the first time from start to finish.  I had seen bits and pieces of it on TV over the years, probably even the entire movie all told.  But never had I sat through the film end-to-end and experienced what so many girls (and probably some dudes too) of my generation were so in love with.

The lighthearted 1950s throwback starring Olivia Newton-John Travolta (like "Bennifer" only waaaaay longer) tells the story of two unlikely high school sweethearts and their star-crossed romance.  Travolta plays Danny Zuko, the bad-assiest greaser dude in the school who wears leather jackets, supes up cars, and can dance almost as good as Tony Manero (....wait....).  Newton-John plays Sandy Olsson, a straight-laced Aussie chick who met Danny on the beach over the summer and they had a real good thing, if ya pick up what I'm puttin' down.  But her parents plan to move the family out back to.....the outback, so she thinks she and Danny are destined to never see each other again.

Good thing the film moved the setting from Chicago to California,
otherwise I'd be saying "Where the fuck is this beach??"

But wait, Sandy's parents change their minds and she ends up at Danny's high school.  And then each of them informs their respective group of friends about their summer fling, but with VERY conflicting stories.  She describes Danny as a perfectly romantic gentleman, while Danny describes her as a filthy slut (BONG!).  Uh oh.  The rest of the movie is just essentially the "will they or won't they" schtick, with the obvious outcome, a buncha song & dance numbers, and a twist where at the end Danny starts dressing like the respectable jock douchebags and Sandy starts dressing like a, well, filthy slut (BONG!), complete with leather jacket, skin-tight chaps and a newfound smoking habit (I wonder if she's ever tried reefer).  So I guess the moral of the story is, "Just be whatever your insensitive prick of a boyfriend wants you to be and your relationship will be great!"

"Oh wait, I don't need the letterman jacket, she went all trashy just for me!"

Friday, June 4, 2021

NJPW Dominion 2021 Preview & Predictions

Man, New Japan can't catch a break this year.  Due to COVID breakouts in Japan, the company had to postpone two big stadium shows (as well as push Dominion back by a day), but also they've had two top singles champions in 2021 vacate their titles due to injury.  Both tag team divisions are basically nonexistent right now, and the Juniors division is running on fumes.  Ya know, I can't help but notice all this seemed to coincide with their inexplicable decision to do away with the Intercontinental Title.  Are the two things related, I dunno.....

Anyway, this *Monday* is the annual Dominion show, historically the company's second-biggest PPV of the year, historically in among the best shows in a given year.  Not so much in 2020.  And probably not in 2021 either, although this lineup does have some potential.  We only have five matches, two of which are multi-man clusterfucks, but the three singles bouts on the card should all be pretty great.  If those three deliver the goods and the two openers are watchable at worst, Dominion could be one of those smaller, no-fat shows that ends up being one of the best of the year.  We'll see.  Let's take a look.....

Hiroshi Tanahashi/Hirooki Goto/Tomohiro Ishii/Yoshi-Hashi/Sho vs. Evil/Taiji Ishimori/Chase Owens/El Phantasmo/Yujiro Takahashi

For some reason a ten-man tag always feels much more special than a six or eight-man.  Here we have Chaos-plus-Tanahashi against the Evil wing of the Bullet Club.  If this gets a decent amount of time and the guys are motivated to deliver more than a garden-variety opening match, this could be a lot of fun.  I guess based on the lineups this will probably set up Tana vs. Evil, and maybe either Goto or Ishii vs. Phantasmo?  

Pick: I don't think it matters much, but to throw the crowd a bone and start things off on a lighter note, the babyfaces should probably win.

Tetsuya Naito/Sanada/Bushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr./Taichi/Douki

So this one is interesting.  Zack and Taichi just regained the Tag Titles and now they're facing three of the LIJ fellas.  Could they be setting up Naito and Sanada as challengers?  I wouldn't mind seeing that.  Man, that tag division is barely even there at this point.  This company needs to recruit some teams.  Naito could probably use a good six months working tag bouts to give his knees a rest.

Pick: I'll go with the good guys here too, to set up a big tag team match down the line.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Top Ten Things: May PPV Matches

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

Today I'll be talkin' wrestling (What a shock), specifically the ten best PPV matches to have taken place in the month of May.  WWE's PPV calendar has only included May for the past 20 years, but those two decades have yielded some veritable classics.  I've also included multiple New Japan matches, from their annual May event Wrestling Dontaku.  .....And that's enough of an intro.  Let's get to it!

HM. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit - Judgment Day - 5.20.01

In 2001 the two best technical wrestlers in the WWF began a rivalry that would last nearly two years on and off.  After a 14-minute gem at WrestleMania 17 and a 30-minute Submission match the following month, Angle and Benoit faced off at Judgment Day in a Three Stages of Hell match, where the first fall would be a standard match, the second would be submission-only, and the third would be a Ladder Match for Angle's Olympic Gold Medal.  Benoit would quickly win the first fall (probably too quickly) but Angle came back to take the second and third (with help from Edge & Christian) in a tremendous match.  The two would resume their feud in late 2002 and add several other classics to their respective resumes.

HM. Prince Devitt vs. Low-Ki - Wrestling Dontaku - 5.3.12

This Jr. Heavyweight Title match stole the show at the 2012 Dontaku PPV, starting out meticulously but gradually ramping up the intensity and high-risk offense.  Both guys showed why they're more than just small spotfest wrestlers, as this match was full of drama and psychology.  In the second half of the match they broke out the innovative offense and quick reversals, and after twenty minutes (not to mention both guys kicking out of each other's finishers) Low-Ki won with a Ki Krusher.  One of several New Japan classics from the future Finn Balor.

10. The Shield vs. Evolution - Extreme Rules - 5.4.14

One of the best feuds of 2014 culminated in this enormous six-man tag at Extreme Rules, between the dominant anti-establishment trio known as The Shield, and Triple H's reformed stable of former WWE Champs, Evolution.  This rivalry reminded me of the old Road Warriors vs. Four Horsement battles, and this match was a crazy melee that went all over the arena.  The final moments of the match saw Seth Rollins leap off the loge entranceway onto his enemies, in the bout's most memorable moment.  With four of the six men occupied outside, Reigns finished Batista back in the ring with the Superman punch/Spear combination to end a fantastic brawl.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

AEW Double or Nothing 2021: Interfering With Greatness

AEW's third annual Double or Nothing PPV is in the books, and it was quite a noteworthy event.  I would say overall the show fell just short of being a truly great PPV, but it was still a damn good show that boasted numerous bouts in the **** range and a very hot crowd that was clearly super excited to finally see in-person wrestling again.  What kept it from reaching elite level (pun alert) for me was an over-reliance on interference and outside the ring shenanigans.  But we'll get to that.

The show opened with one of two matches that could be considered a "hoss fight," Hangman Page vs. Brian Cage.  These two had an athletic, hard-hitting match that almost felt like a G1-type contest, with no slow spots and a pace that built throughout.  Late in the match Cage attempted to steal Page's Buckshot Lariat, but hesitated and Page countered with an F5 (My initial reaction to this was that it felt like a miscue, but it makes sense that Cage wouldn't execute the move smoothly since it's not his).  The first of way too many outside the ring distractions occurred, with Ricky Starks and Hook coming down to distract the referee (Cage had asked his teammates to stay away for this match).  Starks gave Cage the FTW belt to use as a weapon but Cage refused, and when he turned around Page leveled him with the Buckshot for the win.  Very good match but having a run-in right in the opener was immediately too much.  ***1/2

Next up was the Tag Title match, as the Young Bucks, full-on embracing their heel personas, defended against Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston.  This was paced like an old-school tag match, with the Bucks doing very little of their high flying offense and Moxley playing the badass good guy in peril.  Mid-match we got another distraction spot, as Anderson and Gallows attempted to interfere but Kingston was ready and launched himself on top of Gallows.  But the confusion allowed Matt Jackson to hit Moxley with a spray can, opening up a forehead cut.  Matt and Nick mocked various WWE figures throughout the match, from Nick's Randy Savage impression to Matt's Hulk Hogan, to a Shield powerbomb tease.  The final few minutes of the match were full of false finishes, submission attempts, and big counters.  After withstanding a barrage of superkicks, Moxley took five BTE Triggers in a row for the loss.  Another excellent Bucks match, but the interference kept it from equaling their all-time great bouts.  ****1/4