Tuesday, July 27, 2021

AEW Fight for the Fallen 2021 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of AEW Dynamite predictions here at!  Well, the upstart promotion is continuing a slew of loaded, themed Dynamite episodes this week, with a stacked Fight for the Fallen!

After two successful Fyter Fest shows, both of which drew well over a million viewers, AEW will go for the hat trick with Fight for the Fallen.  They may have an uphill battle going up against the 2020 Olympics, but maybe the strength of this lineup will make up the difference.  Regardless, there are some very exciting bouts on tap for this show, particularly a first-time tag team war and a huge 10-man elimination tag with championship ramifications.  Let's take a look....

JUST ADDED: Thunder Rosa vs. Julia Hart

Thunder Rosa just signed officially with the company so this is obviously a showcase match for her.  And hopefully we'll see a Rosa-Baker rematch sometime soon.  This will be short and sweet.

Pick: Thunder Rosa

Christian Cage & Jurassic Express vs. Angelico & Private Party

Christian and Jurassic Express continue their feud with Matt Hardy's stable in this six-man match.  Lots of athleticism on display here, so this should be a very fun match.  I'm not sure what the endgame is for this feud, since Christian has already defeated Matt, but I can't see Team Christian losing here.  Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus for my money are a great choice to eventually dethrone the Bucks, so I feel like they have to come out of this feud strong.

Pick: Cage and the Dinosaurs

Santana & Ortiz vs. FTR

This match could very easily steal the show.  FTR are great, Santana & Ortiz are on the cusp of tag team stardom.  This will be a pretty spectacular tag match.  I feel like this is the one match where I'm really not sure of the outcome.  Santana & Ortiz could really use a high-profile win, but at the same time I have babyfaces winning every other bout on this show.  Might be a little much to have the good guys sweep, so maybe FTR wins this one.

Pick: FTR

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

AEW Fyter Fest 2021 Night 2 Preview & Predictions

Fyter Fest 2021 Night 1 is in the books and it was a rousing success, propelling AEW Dynamite back over the one-million mark for the first time in two months (Thanks partly to the show being banished to Friday and Saturday for five weeks).  Now it's time to take a look at Night 2, coming this Wednesday!

This lineup isn't quite as strong on paper as the first night, with two title matches and the first of Chris Jericho's Pinnacle gauntlet, but a couple of lesser undercard bouts.  Still this should be another fun night of wrestling with some potentially good matches, one in particular that I'm looking forward to.  Let's get to it...

Frankie Kazarian vs. Doc Gallows

It's the Elite Hunter vs. one of the Elite, as Kazarian targets the heel faction's largest member.  I'm not expecting a five-star classic and this is likely to be full of run-in nonsense.  I wonder if Kazarian will be tapped to join Hangman's five-man team in that elimination match Kenny challenged him to.  I think the numbers game likely proves too much for Frankie, and Doc steals a win here.

Pick: Gallows

JUST ADDED: Darby Allin vs. Wheeler Yuta

Just like last week they added a short squash match featuring Mr. Yuta.  Kinda strange.  He's got potential, but he's not beating Darby, that's for goddamn sure.

Pick: Yuta, get me two!  Losses in a row that is....

Orange Cassidy vs. The Blade

This is just a mini-feud to keep Cassidy occupied while they figure out his next major program.  Both these guys can go, so this should be enjoyable.  I don't see Blade beating one of the company's most popular guys.

Pick: Orange

Monday, July 19, 2021

NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam at Tokyo Dome Preview & Predictions

At long last NJPW's Wrestle Grand Slam at the Tokyo Dome is taking place.  Originally scheduled for May 29th, the event was postponed due to COVID and is nigh upon us this coming Sunday.

I deeply question the wisdom of booking a mid-year show at the Dome, given the continuing COVID issues Japan is facing, as well as the box office issues New Japan is facing, but the lineup looks pretty freakin' strong, abbreviated though it may be.  We have four big title matches, a special singles match and a pre-show Rumble.  Let's get to it...

Pre-show Ranbo for the KOPW Championship: Toru Yano vs. TBA

The Rumbles in New Japan are always pretty silly and this should be no exception.  I don't like the KOPW Title at all as it's only a few steps above WWE's 24/7 Championship.  Toru Yano is New Japan's R-Truth essentially; this comedy title doesn't really work for anyone but him.  To that end I expect he'll retain here.

Pick: Toru retains

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero

I like the championship combination of Ishimori/ELP and think they should keep these belts in a stranglehold for the better part of the next year.  They can both challenge for the singles Jr. Title during that time as well, but let's give these Jr. Tag belts some credibility again by having a really strong tandem keep them.  Meanwhile, let's try and rebuild the division for Chrissake.  Anyway, this match should be a lot of fun, as Taguchi and Romero are quite capable workers but can also bring a light comedic element.  In the end though, this match is about making the champs look good.

Pick: Bullet Club retains

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

WWE Money in the Bank 2021 Preview & Predictions

WWE is finally back on the road in front of live audiences!  What's great about this is we no longer have to pretend the ThunderDome audience enjoys the drivel they're being fed.  You're on notice Vince, this Alexa Bliss bullcrap is about to backfire spectacularly when real fans reject the shit out of it.

This Sunday is Money in the Bank, the first WWE PPV held before a live crowd since Elimination Chamber 2020.  For that reason alone this show should be a fun watch.  Pro wrestling in front of no audience is a tough sell at best, but a hot crowd that's happy to be in the building can make a mediocre show soar.  On top of that, this card looks to be pretty solid.  It's unfortunate the Bianca-Bayley match is off, thanks to a training injury that put Bayley on the shelf (The fuck kinda training were they making her do?), but there are numerous other potentially good bouts lined up.  Let's take a look.

RAW Tag Team Championship: AJ Styles & Omos vs. Viking Raiders

Man, where have the Raiders been?  I feel like they were off TV the entire pandemic.  Good to see them being used again.  I don't think I see them winning the straps here since AJ and Omos have barely done anything since winning them, but stranger things have happened.  Should be a solid piece of business regardless.

Pick: AJ & Omos retain for now

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

AEW Fyter Fest Night 1 Preview & Predictions

It's that time again, when AEW does a slew of special Dynamite episodes with sorta loaded lineups to tide us over until All Out.  This Wednesday it's Night 1 of Fyter Fest 2021!

This lineup is pretty strong overall.  No AEW Titles up for grabs, but we do have an IWGP Championship on the line, plus the imaginary FTW Title, and a first-time gimmick match for the company.  Let's take a look...

Penelope Ford vs. Yuka Sakazaki

Not much of a marquee match here, but Sakazaki is making her first Dynamite appearance since pre-COVID.  I'm guessing this is a showcase match for her and she'll thus end up winning it.  Should be ok.

Pick: Sakazaki

JUST ADDED: Sammy Guevara vs. Wheeler Yuta

This match was just announced today.  No idea who Wheeler Yuta is but I hope his brother Johnny Yuta gets me two.  Yeah, that's right, I dropped in a Point Break reference to celebrate its 30th birthday.  Sammy is obviously winning this quick squash showcase.

Pick: Sammy

Christian Cage vs. Matt Hardy

Well that's weird.  Two Attitude Era WWF guys fighting each other in 2021 on a non-WWE show.  I'm glad this isn't a PPV match, as two 45-plussers from twenty years ago wrestling each other on a PPV is Vince's bag.  They'll both be motivated to prove they can still go, but I have a feeling this will be rife with interference from Matt's stable.  I think Christian pulls out a win anyway though, probably on his way to a Dynamite or Rampage match against Kenny Omega sometime in the next few months.

Pick: Christian 

The History of NWA/WCW Great American Bash (1991)

Alright, time to hold my nose as I review this stinker.....

Legend vs. Legacy - Baltimore Arena - 7.14.91

Oh wait, scratch that.  Change of plans....

Luger vs. Windham - 7.14.91

In a scant two years the NWA (morphing into WCW) went from being at the top of its game to being in absolute creative shambles.  Nowhere is this more evident than at their 1991 summer spectacular.  Ric Flair, the NWA's top star for the past decade, had reached a contractual impasse with the new management (led by the cosmically inept Jim Herd) and was forced out of the company while still in possession of its top championship.  His scheduled match with Lex Luger was thus off, and WCW's scrambling to plug this roster hole seemed to have a domino effect on the rest of this PPV.  Once again they shoehorned eleven matches onto a three-hour broadcast, and once again most of the matches belonged in a wrestling dump heap.

Case in fucking point: Steve Austin & Terrence Taylor vs. Bobby Eaton & PN News in a Capture the Flag Scaffold Match.  Sweet merciful Christ, what the hell was this?  Scaffold matches in general are terrible, but this achieved new levels of putrid.  The scaffold itself looked so rickety and unsafe I don't know how these four guys were even coaxed up there.  Once on the platform they did basically nothing for the better part of ten minutes, aside from trying to not die.  After several agonizing minutes of a match three of these four guys should've been mortified to have on their resumes (I'll let you guess which three), Bobby Eaton captured the other team's flag to euthanize this shitshow.

Absolute drivel

Next up was one of several not-ready-for-PPV bouts: Tom Zenk vs. Diamond Stud, a forgettable free TV match featuring an enormously jacked Scott Hall a year before he jumped to the WWF and mainstream success.  Stud won after some interference from DDP.  Moving on....

We go from the future Razor Ramon to the future Diesel, as Ron Simmons faced Oz.  Apparently every match on this show featured a future WWF talent from 1996.  This also belonged nowhere near a PPV.  A portly Kevin Nash looked lost for most of this, yet somehow got to dominate the match.  Eventually Ron Simmons woke everyone up with a clothesline that sent Oz over the ropes, but Oz soon took over again.  Simmons eventually won with a powerslam.

Simmons' reaction upon learning he'd be working with Oz: ".....DAMN!"

Monday, July 12, 2021


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The History of NWA/WCW Great American Bash (1990)

The New Revolution - Baltimore Arena - 7.7.90

1989 to 1990 was quite a dropoff in quality for the NWA, and the Great American Bash PPV falls right in line with that.  The long-awaited Ric Flair vs. Sting showdown had been in the works for months, and was originally booked for WrestleWar that February.  But a knee injury sidelined Sting for four months and Lex Luger took his spot, turning babyface and feuding with Flair until Sting was ready.  While this was certainly a huge marquee match, I wasn't a Sting fan at the time and therefore wasn't particularly excited about his inevitable Title win.  I was also pissed that the company reverted just about all the top stars to where they were in 1988.  Flair and the Horsemen were the top heels, Luger was a babyface again.  It all felt like a retread.

As for this show, once again they crammed way too many matches in, and this time it was an astonishing eleven bouts, nearly half of which had no business on a PPV.

First up was Brian Pillman vs. Buddy Landell.  This was a decent enough opener, as Pillman was obviously quite accomplished and Landell was a solid hand.  I'm not sure what the purpose was though.  They weren't feuding and Pillman had come off of a really strong US Title program with Lex Luger, followed by a US Tag Title run.  Why was he being wasted in a throwaway showcase match?

Next was Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik.  Seeing mid-80s WWF guys like Sheik, Orndorff, Bob Orton, and Junkyard Dog show up in the NWA in 1990 was so strange.  I guess they just wanted recognizable names to help put over the younger NWA stars at this point.  Rotunda had given up his Varsity Club gimmick in favor of a sailor persona, which was beyond stupid.  Rotunda didn't have babyface charisma at all and the Captain Mike thing reeked of 80s jobber.  Mike won a brief match that was out of my head the moment it ended.

The third consecutive throwaway match on this show, Dutch Mantell vs. Doug Furnas was designed to showcase newcomer Furnas, but the match went on far longer than it needed to, and again, I'm not sure why this was included on a PPV.  Furnas won with an impressive belly-to-belly suplex after eleven ponderous minutes.

The oddly pleasant surprise of the night was Harley Race vs. Tommy Rich, in an incredibly physical match given Race's age (He was 47 but looked 60), that proved Race could still turn it up when he needed to.  Contrary to expectations, Race did most of the crazy bumping, including his usual back somersault over the ropes ending with his head hitting the ring apron.  This match had historical value since nine years earlier Rich upset Race for the NWA Title, but otherwise this was a superfluous match that was better than it had any right to be.

How'd Eaton not suffer massive spinal compression?

The proper PPV began with the Midnight Express vs. Southern Boys, another classic effort by Eaton and Lane.  In the tradition of MX's battles against The Rock n' Roll Express and The Fantastics, this match began with babyface team dominance as The Southern Boys stayed one step ahead of the Champs for the better part of ten minutes.  Eaton and Lane eventually took control after some heel tactics, and the match built to a melee with multiple finishers before Eaton rolled up Tracy Smothers in a small package for the win.  The Midnights were in peak form in 1990 and this was one of the highlights of their year.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Killer's Kiss (1955) - Revisiting Stanley Kubrick's Second Film

Stanley Kubrick pulled his first feature, Fear and Desire, from distribution after deciding it wasn't up to the standard he wanted to set, so as far as official Kubrick lore is concerned the subject of this review was his true feature-length debut...

Released in 1955, Killer's Kiss is a visually elegant, if narratively clunky, New York City film noir about a boxer, a girl and a gangster.  The girl works for the gangster, and the gangster is in love with the girl, but the girl falls in love with the boxer, and there's your central conflict.  Nothing frightfully original there, but that's okay.  Co-written with Kubrick by playwright Howard Sackler, Killer's Kiss is one of the few Stanley Kubrick films not based on established material, and its barebones story made a good fit for a novice filmmaker working from a shoestring budget and establishing his own personal stamp.  Three main characters, a few supporting characters, and the most famous city in the world providing the backdrop.  What Kubrick lacked in experience and scope, he made up for with a prodigious ability to create haunting shot compositions and gritty, Gotham-immersed underworldly atmosphere.  

The plot as I said is clumsily handled at times, with hackneyed film noir narration and flashbacks within flashbacks; we open on the boxer Davey Gordon waiting at Penn Station, his bags at his side, smoking a cigarette and lost in thought.  Davey's voiceover talks about how he'd unexpectedly gotten himself into a mess, just before his latest fight three days earlier.  We go back three days, as Davey spends his free time in a shabby studio apartment awaiting a call about his next fight and pining for the lovely young woman named Gloria across the courtyard in a similar box of a room.  It's established that they're aware of each other but have never really spoken, and that she's sort of attached to her boss Vincent, for whom she works as a taxi dancer.

Kubrick's ability to draw the viewer's eyes from one point to another is uncanny.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Mad Max (1979): Revisiting the Mad Max Franchise

Welcome to a special four-episode look at one of my favorite film series!  You know it, you love it, it's Mad fucking Max.

Mad Max.  Few film titles convey such a fountain of information and connotation as those six letters.  When George Miller conceived the title for his first feature film (Jesus, what a debut...), he tried to think of a name that would be simple, easy to remember, alliterative, and most of all evocative.  The fact that only the third letter of each word was different was a plus, and even more compelling was that the title ended in an X.  Is there a phonetically more jarring letter in the English language?  Couple that with the absolutely iconic chrome/lightning bolt/grill graphic design in the opening titles, and immediately the viewer is keenly aware this film will not be for the squeamish.  Things are about to get intense up in this bitch.

Produced on a scant $400,000 budget by the barely experienced Miller and Byron Kennedy, Mad Max was a veritable powderkeg of an action movie, shot guerrilla-style while capturing the look of a big-budget film.  Proper safety precautions weren't even considered; the cinematographer was often seated in a chair mounted to the front of a vehicle, or strapped to the back of a motorcycle to achieve the immersive, frenetically-paced action shots.  It's a near-miracle no one was seriously injured during the making of this teleplay.  The cinemascope aspect ratio allowed for the car chase shots to feel even faster than they were; with the sky and distant background cropped out of the frame all you're left with is the road and the vehicles, hurtling toward camera.  

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Independence Day

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at, where I overanalyze some big dumb slab of escapist entertainment to the point that you unfriend me on social media*.

*Please don't unfriend me, I'm so lonely....

Today's victim-- er, subject is the 1996 blockbuster event picture Independence Day, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman.

Independence Day's release twenty-five years ago was preceded by mucho fanfare, with moviegoers anticipating that generation's defining summer movie, a la Star Wars.  Its interest bolstered by promotional images of landmark buildings being decimated by giant alien saucers, ID4 made an absolute KILLING at the box office, garnering over $800 million worldwide on a $75 mil budget.  It was assumed this would be the first of a trilogy since it was supposed to sorta be the next Star Wars and it grossed a fuckton.  But oddly a sequel was never made until two decades later.  Maybe the filmmakers didn't have another story to tell.  Maybe they still don't....

Anywho, you might ask yourself "Why does ID4 qualify as an Awesomely Shitty Movie?"  Well my reasons this time are slightly different than usual.  For me, this film was unabashedly awesome the first time I watched it, and agonizingly shitty on every repeat viewing.  This is a prime example of a film you should only watch one time.  Then throw it away and never speak of it again.  Don't even think about it.  You'll only break your brain and end up in a home.

So let's pick apart this ham-fisted clod of a summer movie, shall we?

The Awesome


The special effects in this movie looked amazing at the time and for the most part still look at least pretty good a quarter-century later.  Some of the compositing is a little messy, particularly when they show the Earth from space, but the alien craft are still convincing, the model work (which I almost always prefer over excessive CG) looks tangible and believable, and there are multiple shots in the first hour or so that still hold up.

This part still works

Alien Ships Appear

For example the moments when the giant saucers appear over the various major cities.  We see several shots of the massive ships emerging from behind the clouds and it looks great.  The filmmakers expertly conveyed the scope of the spacecraft, showing us just how insanely huge and intimidating they are.  Few things are as immediately threatening as an alien ship blocking out the sun and spanning the width of an entire city.  Super cool-looking stuff.

So does this

Iconic Imagery

This film also provided several lasting images, such as the saucer blowing up the White House, the Empire State Building, etc.  These moments would have a huge influence on Hollywood blockbusters even to this day (More on that later).  Even the poster looked boss, depicting one of the ships hovering over New York City.  The marketing team certainly earned their keep with this movie.

And this

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Top Ten Things: Anthrax Songs (10-1)

Alright, we've reached the pinnacle of Anthrax Mountain.  The Top 10.  The songs that make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.  Here are my picks for Anthrax's ten greatest tunes....

Click for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3...

10. Potters Field

I mentioned while discussing "Only" what a radical change Sound of White Noise was for Anthrax fans, with its grungy, midrange-saturated guitars and dearth of thrashy palm muted attack, but what softened the transition for me at least was the album opener "Potters Field."  Beginning with the literal sound of white noise and a strange little voiceover intro ("This is a journey into sound...") and building to a full-on explosion of metal pummeling, "Potters Field" blasts out of the speakers with the synchronized rat-a-tat of Charlie's snare and Scott's guitar before settling into a sinister midtempo groove.  By the time John Bush's sandpapery vocals kick in with a resentful invective from the point of view of a damaged adult wishing his parents had aborted him, we're fully prepared that this will still be a brutal metal record, just from a different angle than we're used to.  "Potters Field" is an absolutely killer opening track from a reinvented Anthrax, still delivering that signature driving double-time beat.  

9. Armed and Dangerous

Anthrax's first foray into kinda/sorta power ballad territory was this early tune which they released twice - once for the hastily released Armed and Dangerous EP (put out to showcase their new singer Joey Belladonna) and again for their second full-length record Spreading the Disease.  "Armed and Dangerous" begins with a crystalline, shimmery acoustic guitar riff, over which Joey demonstrates his powerful clean vocal style, intoning sorrowfully about being trapped in a cage (metaphorically speaking).  Halfway through though, the crunchy metal guitars kick in and the song moves into its heavy phase, building to a monstrous, thrashy triplet feel, and the lyrics take on a defiant, vengeful bent - "We'll take on the world with rebellion/We're dangerous down to the last."  Already on their second album Anthrax was demonstrating their aptitude for writing powerful metal anthems.