Thursday, May 26, 2022

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Preview & Predictions

It's Memorial Day weekend and you know what that means....

That's right, it's time for the fourth annual AEW Double or Nothing PPV extravaganza!  Once again we've got a loaded card (ten matches on the main show - that's gonna be a time management challenge to say the least), four of them for championships and two for the Owen Hart Tournament finals.  Plus a slew of other high-profile non-title bouts.  This should be another classic show.  Let's get right into it....

Buy-In: Hookhausen vs. Tony Nese & Mark Sterling

This one's just a showcase for the newly created alliance between Hook and Danhausen, and will probably be pretty short.  Nese will get some time to showcase his in-ring skills, but Hook will likely dominate and put away Sterling with Redrum.

Pick: Hookhausen

The Young Bucks vs. The Hardys

This is a dream match of sorts, even though it did take place five years ago (I still need to go back and watch their ROH ladder match).  But it's the first time we're seeing it in AEW on a stage this big.  Matt and Jeff have been looking in pretty rough shape lately so hopefully Matt and Nick will be able to guide them through this one in a way that hides the Hardys' age.  It should be a fun tag bout and I'm sure the Jacksons are thrilled to be able to wrestle their heroes again.  I feel like the Hardys probably win this but it could go either way.

Pick: Hardys

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Top Ten Things: Star Wars Films

Welcome to a Special Edition (See what I did there?) of Top Ten Things, here at!  It's time for a ranking of the live-action Star Wars films, making this technically a Top Eleven Things....

I literally can't remember a time before Star Wars came into my life.  I was 18 months old when it came out, and I'm not sure when exactly I saw the original film.  I think it was probably during the 1979 re-release but I can't be sure.  I am however certain that I saw Empire multiple times in the theater between 1980 and 1982, and rushed out to see Return of the Jedi in '83.  The original unaltered trilogy is still my favorite series of films (I can't watch the Special Editions anymore, I just can't), and it's still the yardstick by which I measure every other movie trilogy.

When the prequels were released from 1999-2005 I was hooked on those right away too.  Only later as I actually thought about them did I realize how far short they fell, and for the better part of a decade I'd resigned myself to being an OT purist.  But then Disney bought the property and took the series back to all the things I'd originally loved about it - enduring characters, profound themes, thrilling battles, and visually stunning worlds and creatures.  The Star Wars series was ready to expand, for realsies this time.

But how do the films stack up against each other?  Well if you read my intro the lowest-ranked entries should be no surprise.  So let's get to it - here are my rankings for the Star Wars live-action films.....

11. Attack of the Clones

Sigh... yeah, I gotta get through the three bad ones before I get to the good ones.  Look, when the prequels first came out I was so blinded by my love of Star Wars that I couldn't see the glaring, logic-defying, nonsensical plot contrivances that made the story being told incomprehensible.  And I was so dazzled by "oooh, lightsabers!" that I forgave the embarrassing performances from nearly every cast member (Seriously, Natalie Portman is an Oscar-winning actress and George Lucas failed to get even one passable performance out of her in these films).  The specific problems with the prequels have been explored ad nauseum, so I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, there really isn't one redeeming thing about Attack of the Clones.  The storyline of Obi-Wan discovering an illegally created clone army that the Republic then actually uses(??) makes no sense and is pointless as the main plot of a film.  Why wasn't the middle chapter of this trilogy dedicated to the actual Clone Wars?  Isn't that what everyone was looking forward to, aside from seeing the creation of Darth Vader?  Instead we get the very beginning of the Clone Wars here and it turns out to be a fake war orchestrated by Palpatine just so he can remain in power, while not one of our protagonists can see through this shovel-to-the-face obvious ploy.  Plus we get the worst love story ever put to film.  Plus we get PlayStation One-esque CGI in every frame.  Plus the aforementioned terrible acting.  Plus the "I don't like sand" speech.  This stuff is Ed Wood-bad.  Attack of the Clones is the worst live-action theatrical Star Wars film.

10. The Phantom Menace

Only slightly less terrible is Episode I, in which the dialogue is every bit as cringeworthy, the story every bit as preposterous, and the acting equally wooden.  Plus fucking Jar Jar.  Damn, this is a tough call....  But what The Phantom Menace has over Clones is twofold - the pod racing sequence is fun, despite being a totally convoluted way just to get Anakin off Tatooine, and Darth Maul is a badass villain, despite only having ten minutes of screen time and no real character to speak of.  From a technical standpoint the lightsaber duel in this film is the best of the series (Sure, there's exactly zero going on between the participants, but the choreography is cool at least).  So those two aspects are enjoyable, even if the rest of the film isn't.  But yeah, The Phantom Menace is drivel.

Top Ten Things: George Carlin HBO Specials

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

George Carlin.  For me no two words better encapsulate stand-up comedy.  George was a wordsmith, a philosopher, an iconoclast, and above all a goddamn funny motherfucker.  He was in love with the music of language, he enjoyed picking apart human idiosyncrasies and traditions, and he lived to offend.  George consistently evolved with the times, going from a laid-back hippie channeling Lenny Bruce to an angry, filthy old man fed up with society's inability to get out of its own way.  His greatest bits were conceptual and universal; material like "Seven Filthy Words," "Baseball vs. Football," and "Hello and Goodbye" have stood the test of time and are still hilarious now because of their everlasting relevance.  I'd wager nearly every comic working today was at least indirectly influenced by Carlin, the same way nearly every current band owes at least a roundabout debt to The Beatles.  George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce are pretty universally considered the Holy Trinity of stand-up.

George began releasing comedy records in 1971 and grew such a following that in 1977 he performed an extended comedy special for HBO.  From then on Carlin's HBO specials were event viewing, and eventually his albums were simply audio-only versions of the shows.  His 1970s album output was quite prolific and included gems like Occupation: Foole and FM/AM, but today I'll just be talking about his HBO shows.

So which Carlin specials were the best?  Let's take a look.....

10. Life Is Worth Losing (2005)

George only had three specials in the 21st century, and this was the second.  He'd been through drug rehab earlier that year and announced that he was nearly a year sober at the time of the recording.  Life is Worth Losing, as the name suggests, contains a lot of material about death and mortality, plus some reworked items originally intended for Complaints & Grievances which had to be cut due to the events of 9/11.  This show has grown on me a lot over the years, particularly the segments about suicide ("That's probably the most interesting thing you can do with your life - end it..."), extreme human behavior ("A buncha people stranded in the wilderness, run out of Pop-Tarts, you gotta eat something.  Might as well be Steve."), and education ("There's a reason education sucks and it will never ever ever be fixed - because the owners of this country don't want that.").  LIWL is probably George at his most gleefully pessimistic.

9. What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)

As a teenager this show was one of my two favorites - Jersey was the show where Carlin fully transitioned into the angry old man persona, railing against the Reagan Administration and complaining about traffic.  Most of his work after this was tonally similar in terms of his delivery.  This one hasn't aged as well as I thought it would, partly because of the segments specifically topical to the late 80s, but the material about keeping people alert with bizarre behavior still cracks me up.  "Stand on line at the bank for a long time, and when you get to the window, just ask for change of a nickel..."  The first time I watched this one I was damn near incontinent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Top Ten Things: AEW PPV Events, RANKED

Welcome to a special Top Ten Things, here at!  It's time to talk about AEW....

Coming up in a couple weeks is AEW's newest PPV offering, Double or Nothing 2022, but before we dig into that show and its loaded slate of matchups, let's take a trip through the company's PPV history.  Despite only being in existence for three years, this young company has already produced some of the best PPV events of the last decade (and in some cases beyond).  Limiting their schedule to four tentpoles a year (soon to be five with the addition of Forbidden Door) has allowed the company to make them feel special and to load them up as much as possible.  Over the last nine months they've basically been untouchable when it comes to delivering in the clutch, and as their roster grows and matures they'll have plenty more chances to add to an already pretty stellar PPV legacy.

Here are my rankings for every AEW PPV thus far - this list will be a living document as the company adds new PPVs to their impressive collection....

12. All Out 2020

AEW for my money has yet to deliver a bad PPV, but the weakest in their catalog has to be All Out 2020.  The big matches mostly delivered on this show but there was just too much filler for a PPV event, like the first (and thankfully only) Tooth and Nail match pitting Big Swole against Dr. Britt Baker, a silly hardcore-style match taking place in and around Baker's dental practice.  Another miss was Matt Hardy's Broken Rules match against Sammy Guevara, which was all but aborted when Matt took a bad table bump that clearly left him concussed.  The third unworthy bout was a TV-quality 8-man tag between Dustin Rhodes, QT Marshall, Scorpio Sky and Matt Cardona, and four Dark Order members.  In the middling category we had Orange Cassidy defeating Chris Jericho in a Mimosa Mayhem match, Lance Archer winning the Casino Battle Royal, and Hikaru Shida defending the Women's Title against Thunder Rosa.  Fortunately three bouts really delivered - The Young Bucks vs. Jurassic Express in a fast-paced tag battle, FTR's AEW Tag Title win over Kenny Omega and Hangman Page, and my pick for match of the night, Jon Moxley's successful AEW Title defense against MJF, a fantastic old-school tough babyface vs. smarmy heel main event.  Definitely the company's PPV nadir so far, but still a solid 7/10 or so.

11. Revolution 2021

AEW's most disappointing on-air moment so far has to be the botched climax of this show, wherein Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley delivered a very good, spectacularly brutal AEW Title main event only for the Exploding Barbwire Death Match pyrotechnics to fail at the end.  Omega and the Good Brothers stole the match from Moxley and continued to pummel him, Eddie Kingston ran down to make the save and cover Moxley just as the final explosion countdown expired, and then.....little firecrackers.  The company managed to come up with a creative explanation for this technical snafu, but whenever anyone remembers Revolution 2021, this is the moment that will surely spring to mind.  Still it was a solid overall outing, with The Young Bucks and Chris Jericho/MJF delivering a very good opening Tag Title match, Rey Fenix winning the Casino Tag Team Battle Royal, and Scorpio Sky winning the Face of the Revolution ladder match (featuring a debuting Ethan Page).  Somewhere in less memorable territory lay Hikaru Shida vs. Ryo Mizunami, Miro & Kip Sabian vs. Best Friends, Hangman Page vs. Matt Hardy, and Darby Allin & Sting defeating Team Taz in a cinematic street fight.  Overall another good-not-great show, in the 7.5/10 neighborhood.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Matrix

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies here at, where I take a closer look at a film that is either beloved in spite of its faults or reviled in spite of its virtues, or that simply has such a mix of those two things it's stuck somewhere in between.

Today's subject is the 1999 cyberpunk action smash-hit, The Matrix!  The brainchild of the Wachowskis, The Matrix was a hip, new take on the humanity vs. machines theme that's been explored extensively in science fiction, driven by a capable cast and revolutionary special effects.  It became a touchstone at the time of its release, having such a profound and immediate influence on the genre that its visual tropes had actually become hackneyed by the time the sequels came out four years later.  In a way it was too big a hit for its own good, and the second and third films were viewed as a pretty massive disappointment (As of this moment I have yet to see the fourth film).  But however botched the follow-through on this saga, the first film remains a visually engaging, conceptually neat sci-fi/action vehicle that could've been even more had the producers not dumbed it down for us popcorn-gorging slobs.

So let's take a look at what still works, and what still doesn't, about The Matrix!

The Awesome


The plot of this movie is super cool.  It's a dystopian future and machines have become self-aware and taken over the world, imprisoning the human race as an energy source while plugging them into a virtual reality designed to keep them pacified and complacent.  Nearly every person left after the apocalypse was born into this matrix, occupying a cryo-pod but under the impression they're all living normal human lives in the late 20th century.  A few resistors like Morpheus got wise and dared to pull back the curtain, hoping to free the others and bring down the machines.  Our main protagonist Neo is a highly sought-after computer programmer/hacker, whom Morpheus believes will be "the one" to free humanity.  It's high-concept sci-fi fun, with lofty, existential themes that are eminently relatable; who wouldn't be able to get behind a small band of heroes trying to save the world?  It's the cinematic embodiment of Rage Against the Machine!


The special effects invented for The Matrix were possibly the most influential of that era.  Nearly every action sequence features "bullet time" effects, where a computer-controlled ring of cameras rapidly spins around a subject, firing off a single frame in quick succession.  When blended with a CG-modeled background, the effect creates the illusion of time stopping as our hero manipulates space-time within the Matrix.  The martial arts scenes made liberal use of this effect and it was unlike anything ever put to film at that time.  It was so successful and popular nearly every action movie for the next few years ripped it off in some form, even when it didn't make sense in context (which was usually the case - see Charlie's Angels or Mission Impossible 2).  The visual effects here were hugely groundbreaking.

This move was so popular WWE wrestler Trish Stratus started using it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Fifth Element

Welcome back to, and welcome to yet another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, where I suck all the enjoyment out of one of America's most beloved popcorn films and demonstrate why I don't get invited to parties anymore.

Today I'll be dissecting Luc Besson's 1997 sci-fi epic The Fifth Element - a richly visual, futuristic action vehicle, starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm and Milla Jovovich.  This film was released at the start of the 1997 summer movie season, and while not a success in the United States, made a killing overseas.  The story centers around a battle of good vs. evil, life vs. death, as a cosmic force threatens the existence of all life in the universe unless the five elements are assembled to stop it.  Caught up in the middle of this war is Korben Dallas, a former special forces officer now driving a cab for a living.  Dallas is recruited to deliver "the fifth element" - a supreme being in the guise of a young woman named Leeloo - to an alien in possession of four stones representing the other four elements, so they may be used to save the universe.

This is a pretty goofy premise if I'm being honest, and were it not for Luc Besson's gleeful abandon and quite obvious love for the project (plus several other factors), this film would likely belong in a compost heap.

But let's examine the reasons this movie is actually quite delightful, and then we'll talk about what could've been improved.

The Awesome


What first attracted me to this film, and what immediately sets it apart from its B-movie schlock brethren, is its first-rate cast.  Bruce Willis is typecast but perfect as the reluctant everyman hero Korben Dallas, whose life as a cabby seems unbecoming of a former decorated soldier.  Dallas lives a lonely existence in a shoebox apartment with only his cat for companionship.  In Leeloo he sees a chance for redemption and a sense of purpose.  Milla Jovovich is quirky, often goofy, but also quite touching in the role of Leeloo.  Despite being a superpowered alien she projects vulnerability and makes us identify with and care about this strange person.  Ian Holm improves every film he's in, and his turn as Vito Cornelius is no exception.  Cornelius is the priest entrusted with being the caretaker of the five elements, and Holm's performance brings instant credibility to the project, much as Alec Guinness did for Star Wars.  And last but certainly not least, Gary Oldman once again steals the show as the villainous, slimy weapons dealer Zorg, who is also after the elemental stones.  Boasting a southern accent and oversized front teeth, Oldman is almost unrecognizable as this craven but charismatic scoundrel.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

WWE WrestleMania Backlash 2022 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's time for the PPV WWE wants to trick you into thinking is more important than it really is by putting the name WrestleMania in front of it, Backlash!

Yes, in case you weren't sure what the original intent of the name Backlash was, occurring one PPV cycle after 'Mania, they dumbed it down a shade for ya.  This lineup is rather skimpy with a scant six matches, only one of which is for a championship, but I'm sure they'll find a way to load it up with pointless video packages and stretch it well over three hours.  Anyway, once you scrape off the two pointless bouts at the bottom, the remaining four look very good on paper.  Of course numerous important talents are missing, as usual.

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

Oh good, the worst scheduled match at either night of WrestleMania gets a rematch, and this time Bobby Lashley is a full-fledged babyface, while his former manager MVP has pulled a 2002 Paul Heyman and dumped the former champion for a giant with a poor track record.  This turn of events makes zero sense; why would MVP front-run for a guy who LOST at 'Mania?  This match is going to be pure drivel and sadly since he lost at 'Mania, the immobile, incompetent Omos is going to pick up a win here.

Pick: Omos

Baron Corbin vs. Madcap Moss

What in the holy fuck is this match doing on a PPV while Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Damian Priest, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, hell, even Austin Theory (whom Vince apparently sees as the next John Cena, until some other shiny new object catches his attention anyway) are sitting in catering?  God I hate this company. 

Pick: Who gives a tupenny fuck?  Moss I guess.