Friday, June 24, 2022

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door Preview & Predictions

Are you ready to open the Forbidden Door?  Well get ready....

Yes, this Sunday it's the long-awaited AEW/NJPW crossover PPV, Forbidden Door, featuring a who's who of both companies, minus a few badly timed injuries.  Goddammit Bryan....

Despite the one match I was most looking forward to no longer being on the show, this is still a fine lineup and should provide some excellent in-ring action.  A few too many multi-man bouts for my taste but a) that's not unlike your average NJPW PPV and b) that's to be expected on a cross-promotion event for political reasons.  Don't wanna have too many of your guys lose one-on-one matches to the other company.  That said, I'd tweak the lineup in a few places, but I'm not gonna complain too much about it.

The build for this show has been very mixed, some of it exciting, some of it sloppy, and I'm not sure how many new fans either company will make with this show - it's more of a gift to the core audience like me, salivating at the chance to see both companies in one place.  It has felt weird to see so many of the important AEW talents de-emphasized during this build, so next week's Dynamite will sorta feel like getting back on the clock.  But I'm looking forward to this show.

Let's take a gander....

Pre-Show: Max Caster & Gunn Club vs. Yuya Uemura, Alex Coughlin, The DKC & Kevin Knight

This Buy-In match is pure filler but should be mildly amusing.  I'm not familiar with any of the NJPW side, but I think they probably win here, as the Gunn Club can afford a loss.

Pick: Team NJPW

Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston, Wheeler Yuta & Shota Umino

This should be a fun schmozz that furthers the Jericho-Kingston feud while also spotlighting Suzuki and introducing the AEW audience to Shota Umino, who is absolutely loaded with potential.  This kid has it.  Sammy will do some nutty things and Yuta will look like a badass.  Should be fun.

Pick: I think Umino probably eats the loss and then Team Eddie will get their revenge at Blood & Guts

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Malakai Black vs. PAC vs. Miro vs. Clark Connors

Another fucking injury.  What the hell is going on with this show??  I was really looking forward to seeing Ishii and Miro mix it up but I guess that's another one we'll have to see another day.  Christ.  Anyway, I'm not crazy about the idea of this new title unless they do something special with it so it stands out.  Either have it defended weekly or have it defended on non-AEW shows on a regular basis.  And it should really be renamed since Japan and China aren't on the Atlantic.  Should be a helluva match though, even with the substitution.  I think either Black or Miro probably wins here.  Eh, I guess I'll go with Miro.

Pick: Miro

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Top Ten Things: Quentin Tarantino Films

Welcome to another edition of's Top Ten Things, where I compile a list of ten of something and then demonstrate the arrogance to imply my opinion of them is undisputed fact.  Buuut who are we kiddin', it is....

Today I'll be discussing the films of one of my favorite writer/directors, Quentin Tarantino.  Exploding on the scene in 1992, Tarantino brought a "film geek" sensibility to Hollywood, having absorbed decades of movies while working as a video store clerk and using his natural stylistic ability to create a new genre of films.  He sold his first two screenplays to the studios before making his directorial debut with Reservoir Dogs, and then became a household name with his second film Pulp Fiction.  Since then Tarantino has created pastiches of crime dramas, samurai films, Westerns, and even horror movies with unabashed glee and incredible attention to memorable characters and quirky dialogue.  When you sit down to watch a Tarantino film you know you're getting an unforgettable (and likely very uncomfortable) cinematic experience.

Note: I'm including three films Tarantino wrote but didn't direct, as I felt they all warranted inclusion.  

12. From Dusk Till Dawn

One of two horror homages on this list that's split into two distinct halves, From Dusk Till Dawn is a skillfully-made roller coaster of a vampire film starring an exceedingly compelling George Clooney and Tarantino himself as Seth and Richard Gecko, two escaped criminals attempting to reach the Mexican border before the authorities catch them.  On the way they take a family of three hostage and hijack their mobile home before stopping off at a Mexican strip club to await an associate.  The first half of the film plays out in typical Tarantino fashion, with playfully vulgar dialogue and high-tension standoffs, with director Robert Rodriguez lending his own visual style to the proceedings.  In the second half though the film takes a 90-degree turn when it's revealed the strip club is a lair for the undead, and our protagonists must fight for their lives against a gaggle of bloodsuckers to make it till morning.  Structurally this plays out like a Romero zombie film but with a much more sardonic tone and a ton of uncomfortable laughs.  Clooney demonstrated in his first major Hollywood role what a strong leading man he was - Seth is an eminently likable bastard - and his chemistry with Tarantino is undeniable.  The two leads and scores of snappy lines of dialogue really carry this film past being a crappy horror film and into the realm of a loving tribute.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Top Ten Things: Fawlty Towers Episodes

Welcome to yet another edition of Top Ten Things, where I pick my ten favorite of somethingorother....

Today what's on my mind is the classic British sitcom Fawlty Towers, one of my all-time favorite comedy series.  Created by John Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers takes place in a shoddy English hotel run by an eminently rude, impatient man and his rather domineering wife.  Supported by a clever, quick-thinking waitress and a bumbling Spanish waiter, the hotel and its staff get into various misadventures and hilarity ensues by the truckload.

Cleese's inspiration for Towers was a hotel called The Gleneagles, where he once stayed with the Monty Python cast.  Flabbergasted by the rudeness of its owner Donald Sinclair, Cleese mined this character for all the comedic material he was worth, and in the process created an incredibly funny, highly influential series.  As with most British sitcoms each season consisted of only six episodes, and Cleese and Booth only made twelve total, with a four-year lag between seasons.  This means of course that only two episodes failed to make this list of ten - "The Builders" and "The Kipper and the Corpse."  Don't get me wrong, there's nary a bad episode of this show, but for one reason or another these two episodes rank at the bottom for me, mostly because they both veer too far into slapstick for my taste.

But here are the top ten in my estimation.....

10. Basil the Rat

The final episode of the series deals with the hotel being slapped with a citation for numerous health code violations.  While the staff scrambles to rectify these issues and avoid closure, Manuel's pet rat gets loose, triggering a whole new set of problems.  This felt like a good way to end the show, as certain recurring jokes had reached the end of their shelf life.  But it was good for one last hurrah, culminating in the trademark zany Fawlty humor.

Favorite Moment: The health inspector reads a laundry list of health violations and Basil responds with "....Otherwise okay?"

9. The Anniversary

Probably the wackiest episode (Polly even mentions the Marx Brothers in this one), is #11, wherein Basil plans a surprise anniversary party for Sybil but pretends like he's forgotten their anniversary altogether.  This of course backfires as Sybil leaves in a huff just before their friends arrive, and Basil decides to pretend Sybil is upstairs sick in bed.  One of my favorite aspects of this episode involves Basil's friend Roger only half-heartedly going along with the ruse despite clearly knowing something's up, and repeatedly toying with Basil.  This episode is probably the most "sitcom-ish" but still has a ton of laughs.

Favorite Moment: Another of Basil's friends mentions she saw Sybil driving around in the town and Basil covers it up by claiming that's another woman who looks like Sybil.  When the real Sybil comes back, Basil pretends she's the fictitious lookalike and locks her in the kitchen while he says goodbye to his friends.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Jurassic Park

Welcome to another Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at, where I dissect a beloved classic and explain why it doesn't quite hold up for me the way it does for everyone else, while also demonstrating why most of my friends don't like me.

Today it's Steven Spielberg's 1993 megahit Jurassic Park.  Based on Michael Crichton's 1990 novel (also called Jurassic Park), Jurassic Park tells the story of an eccentric billionaire who gets the bright idea to open an ecological preserve on a remote island near Costa Rica.  The rub is that this preserve is populated with DINOSAURS!  That's right, a team of scientists has recovered fossilized mosquitoes containing dinosaur blood, from which DNA has been extracted and complemented with genetic material from frogs to create a whole new race of giant lizards (ahem, bird ancestors)!  The billionaire flies in a team of scientists and a lawyer, plus his grandchildren, to evaluate the park so they can get the go-ahead from their investors to open the place to the public.  Of course all the dinosaurs get out and all hell breaks loose, and what ensues is one of the most successful blockbusters of all time, which spawned five sequels and counting.

So why can't I just sit back and enjoy the goddamn dinosaur movie you ask?  Well, read on and I'll lay it all out for ya.  Here we go....

The Awesome

Fucking Dinosaurs!

Jurassic Park was the first movie in a long time to portray dinosaurs in a realistic way, and it's light years ahead of every film before it in that respect.  The dinosaurs in this film look and sound amazing.  They're scary, they're awesome, they're occasionally funny, and they have little behavioral quirks like real animals do.  The blend of state-of-the-art animatronics and early CG almost totally holds up to this day, and represents one of a long list of spectacular achievements by ILM.  When we sat in that theater in 1993, we were plunged into a world of goddamn fucking dinosaurs and it was incredible.

My god, just LOOK AT IT.

Jeff Goldblum

The one actor who steals the show from the dinos, if such a thing is possible, is Jeff Goldblum as the peculiar, sardonic mathematician (chaotician, chaotician) Ian Malcolm.  Malcolm provides most of the film's humor but also has several great lines and speeches about how dangerous the idea of a dinosaur park is, both in the immediate sense and in the long-term.  From a comedic standpoint he's basically the Han Solo of Jurassic Park, and his character was so popular they made him the lead in the sequel, despite Malcolm having been killed off in the original novel.  Yes, Michael Crichton had to resurrect Malcolm via retcon in the The Lost World so Goldbum could be in that film.  Of course in the second movie he's a total wet blanket and nowhere near as cool as in the first.  Goldblum would essentially reprise this role in Independence Day as well.

You might be cool, but you'll never be
Ian Malcolm backlit by a projector, wearing sunglasses indoors cool.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

NJPW Dominion 2022 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's NJPW Dominion 2022, boasting one of the more loaded cards in recent memory, though still not the kind of can't-miss lineup we saw from 2015-2018.

It's a weird time in NJPW, with numerous injuries and illnesses derailing plans and title reigns (and NJPW isn't alone in this regard), and a normally huge show like Dominion kinda taking a backseat to Forbidden Door in terms of buzz.  Many of the matches on this show are there to help set up bouts two weeks later, which may be a first for Dominion.  Nonetheless, this show actually kinda feels like a Dominion card, the top half anyway.  Let's take a look.....

Six or Nine & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. United Empire

Before we get to the good stuff we have to talk about the throwaway undercard matches, starting with Ryusuke Taguchi and friends against United Empire's B-team.  This will be short and sweet, and I imagine United Empire goes over.  Not much more to say.

Pick: United Empire

LIJ vs. Bullet Club

It's weird to see Naito and Takahashi this early on a major show.  Kinda seems wrong.  Bullet Club just introduced Ace Austin as their newest member so I think they probably win here, likely pinning Bushi.  Lotta talent in this match though, so it should be fun.

Pick: Bullet Club

Friday, June 3, 2022

WWE Hell in a Cell 2022 Preview & Predictions

It's June and for WWE that means a half-assed attempt at a Hell in a Cell PPV!

Seriously, they've announced six matches for this show, all of them from the RAW side of things.  Refreshingly though, only one is a HIAC match and it's the blowoff to a two-month feud.  Also on the bright side, Finn Balor and Mustafa Ali actually get to be on a PPV.  Throw in Nakamura and Ricochet and you'd have something.  To be fair, this lineup is pretty solid.  Once again it's about two-thirds of a good show on paper.  Let's take a look....

Kevin Owens vs. Ezekiel

What a fucking pointless feud this is.  Imagine taking a guy who main evented Night 1 of WrestleMania against a returning megastar like Steve Austin, and following that up by feuding him with Elias pretending to be Elias's brother.  Jesus H. Christ.  And stupidly, Owens likely has to job to this toolbag.  Elias was never very good in the ring so I don't see this match being much at all.  It's a shame, because they could book the match to last exactly 25 minutes and 17 seconds.  Ya know, Ezekiel 25:17?  Anyone?

Pick: Ezekiel

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos & MVP

I cannot believe this feud has gotten three goddamn PPV matches.  Stop trying to make fetch happen with Omos.  Just stop.  Mercifully this should be the end of the feud and Lashley should win, but Jesus, what a nothing feud.

Pick: Lashley

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 Review: Another 9/10

Well that was a doozy of a PPV.  Four hours and forty minutes of a loaded 12-match main card.  It's not a sustainable length on a regular basis, but a company can get away with it once in a while, and AEW certainly did here - just ask the live crowd.

AEW Double or Nothing 2022 is in the books and it was yet another excellent show from a promotion always striving to deliver one's money's worth.  Once again the card had a wide variety of match types, almost all of them good or better, and things ended in historic fashion with the crowning of a brand new AEW Champion.  On balance I'd place this in the top four AEW PPVs to date.  Let's look at the evening that was....

In the opening slot we were at long last (and after a tumultuous 24 hours) treated to Wardlow getting his hands on MJF, in a bout that could hardly be called an in-ring classic due to how it was booked, but one that delivered exactly what the fans wanted to see.  Over the first four minutes, MJF did everything he could to avoid Wardlow's crushing finisher, but finally after being caught trying to use his diamond ring, the Long Island snob offered to quadruple Wardlow's pay, Wardlow shook his hand and pulled him into the first of ten powerbombs.  Halfway through the barrage Wardlow teased a pin by putting his foot on MJF's chest, but stepped away after a two-count and hit five more, then got his well-deserved dominant victory over his former boss.  The crowd ate up this match with a spoon and Wardlow came off like a megastar, becoming emotional when Tony Schiavone announced he was now officially under contract to AEW.  MJF was stretchered out of the arena, presumably writing him off television until he and Tony Khan work out whatever their contract dispute is.  This was more of an angle than a match, but it was executed to perfection - a brilliantly laid-out, emotionally satisfying conclusion (for now anyway) to the MJF-Wardlow saga.  ***

Next up was the Hardys-Young Bucks dream match, in which Matt and Nick Jackson (sporting Elvis-style mutton chops) worked their asses off to cover up Matt and Jeff Hardy's very visible ring wear.  There was lots of back and forth action with the Bucks playing the brash heel roles to the hilt, and the Hardys struggling to keep up with their faster counterparts.  Late in the match Jeff avoided a BTE Trigger but the Bucks laid in multiple superkicks to both Hardys, who withstood the blows and kicked out of a pin attempt.  Jeff hit a swanton on Matt Jackson across the steel steps, while Matt Hardy hit Nick with a Twist of Fate and Jeff came off with a swanton for the win.  This was a step below the usual Bucks PPV match but still very good.  The Hardys look reeeeally tired out there and should adjust their style to be lower impact.  ***3/4