Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Movie Review: Men (2022)

Cerebral British writer-director Alex Garland's latest opus Men is almost a cross between two recent psychological horror films, Darren Aronofsky's mother! and Ari Aster's Midsommar.  Like the former it is largely a parable meant to convey an easily relatable but perhaps too simplistically on-the-nose message, via nightmarishly disturbing imagery.  Like the latter it concerns a damaged woman on vacation, working through an unhealthy relationship (or in this case its aftermath). 

Men stars Jessie Buckley as Harper Marlowe, a widow who has rented a sprawling old house in the English countryside, and Rory Kinnear as the house's owner Geoffrey (among other characters).  Harper's backstory is doled out to us in dribs and drabs, and we learn that she and her husband (Paapa Essiedu) were headed for a contentious divorce when suddenly he fell from a balcony to a grisly death (Was it intentional or accidental?).  Throughout the film Harper experiences flashbacks to these horrific moments, providing some of the film's best-acted scenes.  

But quickly her vacation takes an unsettling turn as a naked, homeless man begins stalking her and at one point tries to break into the house.  Harper calls the police and the man is taken away, but her psychological trauma is far from over.  Of the plot I won't reveal any more, but this film certainly delivers the creeps in spades.

Friday, December 9, 2022

ROH Final Battle 2022 Preview & Predictions

Get ready, Ring of Honor fans, it's time for the Final Battle.....of 2022.

This Saturday afternoon marks the second ROH PPV under the Tony Khan regime, and once it's over we should finally at long last get some answers about the promotion's future programming.  Even as a longtime ROH fan I must say it's getting to be a lot, having essentially two promotions featured on AEW television.  Between having too many belts and having to find room for a whole other talent roster, it's made AEW programming very overcrowded.  I anticipate and welcome crossovers and talent exchanges between the two groups, but it needs to be done sparingly or it just gets overwhelming.  My hope is that ROH and its vast library find their new home on HBO Max.  The library alone will be so much fun to explore; I have dozens of their old DVDs but jumping around from disc to disc gets cumbersome.  Anyway, it will be interesting to see which AEW talent gets assigned to ROH full-time, if any.  It should also make Dynamite and Rampage into much more focused shows, which should help ratings.  But enough speculation, let's look at this PPV.

Swerve In Our Glory vs. Shane Taylor Promotions

I don't think I've ever seen Shane Taylor's team so I can't speak intelligently about them.  But SIOG is oddly teaming together after Keith Lee walked out on Swerve Strickland at Full Gear.  I guess they made up during that private conversation they referenced a few weeks ago.  It would be an odd move for their actual breakup to occur during this show as opposed to on Dynamite, but I suppose if you put a major AEW angle on an ROH PPV it conditions fans to not want to miss future ones.  Not really sure who to pick here - I guess Swerve?

Pick: SIOG

Friday, November 25, 2022

WWE Survivor Series: WarGames Preview & Predictions

This weekend it's WWE Survivor Series: WarGames edition!  Seems like an odd mashup of the main roster and NXT November shows, but for the first time in a few years I'm actively curious to see what the company does with what used to be my favorite gimmick PPV.

I gotta say, I think I'd be more excited if these two big matches were just old-fashioned Survivor Series elimination bouts.  WarGames is a cool concept but it's very one-dimensional and they kinda all go the same way.  One of the inherent flaws in Dusty Rhodes's brainchild is the bit where one team has a one-man advantage - such a format necessitates that the heels win the coin toss or the qualifying match every single time, in order to create heat and drama (When WWE has tried to subvert this trope it never works).  WWE could rectify this by adding one person from each team simultaneously throughout the match, to create more possibilities for how the match progresses.  But what do I know?  Anyway, both of these WarGames matches should be quite good given the talent involved, plus we have a huge singles rematch five years in the making, with Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles battling for Bullet Club leader supremacy (Kenny would smoke 'em both, incidentally).

But let's look at the lineup....

Smackdown Women's Championship: Ronda Rousey vs. Shotzi

Not sure why Shotzi is the challenger here, as she has a snowball's chance in Orlando of winning.  This will likely be short and one-sided.

Pick: Ronda retains

US Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Austin Theory

Heh, remember when Theory was supposed to be the next coming of John Cena?  Good times.  Then they had him cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase for a title he'd already held.  And he came up short.  Pure dipshittery on ice.  It's possible he wins it here anyway, but man am I glad he's no longer being pushed like the next "it" guy.  I really just don't see anything special with him, aside from his being good looking.  I don't think Lashley wins the title here because he's likely heading for a rematch with Brock, so it's either Seth retaining or Austin winning the belt back.  Eh, I'll go with Seth.

Pick: Seth retains

Monday, November 21, 2022

AEW Full Gear 2022 Review: The MJF Era Begins

The MJF Era has officially begun, kids!  Everyone's favorite wrestling anti-hero finally fulfilled his destiny on Saturday, cheating as always to unseat Jon Moxley as the new AEW Champion.  It was a very fine main event to cap off a pretty great but long PPV.  

I've read a lot of criticisms of Full Gear 2022 saying it felt too long and wasn't strong enough all the way through to justify its four-hour (plus pre-show) running time.  I guess I'd agree with that to an extent, but I'll bet if you rearranged the match order and laid it out like a NJPW show, with the lesser, shorter bouts at the beginning, it would've felt shorter.  This is one issue I've had with North American PPV events for a while now.  When you sprinkle the big matches throughout the show instead of getting the smaller ones out of the way first, it makes the show feel longer.  The only match I could see being cut from this lineup was the Jade Cargill one, which I still thought was decent.  Everything else was solid to great, including the three Zero Hour bouts.  My biggest gripe is that the three best matches were in the first half, and the middle of the show suffered from not being able to clear that bar.  Fortunately the last three matches all delivered.

The PPV proper kicked off with Jungle Boy Jack Perry (who is apparently transitioning away from his Tarzan moniker) against Luchasaurus in the big cage match.  This was a helluva strong opener, with Perry using his superior agility early on to frustrate the big man but eventually bleeding after meeting the steel with his forehead.  Luchasaurus dominated the middle portion of the match and this often reminded me of Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel and later Shawn vs. Undertaker in the Cell.  Christian Cage picked the referee's pocket to get the keys to the cage and managed to unlock the door before being ejected.  This allowed Luchasaurus to take the fight outside, catapulting Perry into the cage and grabbing a table and some chairs to bring back in.  Perry was chokeslammed through a chair, but mounted a comeback and landed a scary-looking Shawn Michaels-esque elbowsmash off the top of the cage through the table.  One Snaretrap later, Luchasaurus tapped out, giving Jungle Boy the biggest win of his young career.  Excellent cage match.  ****1/4

Friday, November 18, 2022

AEW Full Gear 2022 Preview & Predictions

Fasten your seatbelts, AEW faithful, because this Saturday night is Full Gear!

Once again AEW presents a loaded PPV lineup, at a time when the company desperately needs to generate some positive buzz again.  It will be a big test, as it's the first PPV since the CM Punk debacle, moreover the first show of any kind since then with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks back in the fold, and hopefully the big coronation of the company's breakout homegrown star(s).  As of right now they're closing in on another million-dollar live gate, and if they hit that number and also manage a good 130,000 PPV buys (which would put it in the same ballpark as All Out) one has to consider Full Gear a win.

On paper this looks like one of their more stacked PPVs, with nearly all of their available star power on hand and a slew of potential ****+ bouts.  Let's take a look....

Zero Hour: Brian Cage vs. Ricky Starks or Lance Archer

Obviously Ricky Starks will advance to the semifinals (and likely the finals) of this year's Eliminator tournament.  His medical issue was a blessing in disguise for this show, as it forced the company to push the tournament final back to next Wednesday, thus reducing the PPV lineup to ten matches.  That should probably be the rule going forward with these contender tourneys unless they boast the necessary star power.  Starks and Ethan Page are potentially both future main event guys, but they aren't there yet.  Anyway, Starks will get past former Team Taz stablemate Brian Cage on his way to Dynamite's showdown with Page.

Pick: Ricky Starks

Sting & Darby Allin vs. Jay Lethal & Jeff Jarrett

Look, I get that Jarrett probably has a lot of experience and wisdom to offer the company in an offscreen role, but I just can't see the benefit of featuring him on television.  He's been doing the same act since 1998 and it was never a draw even back then.  That said, this should be fine if it's kept in the ten-minute range.  Darby and Jay will provide the fast-paced action, Sting will provide the big pops, and Jarrett will hopefully provide the warm body to pin at the end.

Pick: Sting & Darby

Monday, November 7, 2022

Top Ten Things: Weird Al Yankovic Albums, RANKED

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!

Today I'll be talking about a musical legend.  And a comedy legend.  And a certified genius (Seriously, he skipped second grade and was senior year valedictorian at sixteen).

Weird Al Yankovic burst into the American lexicon in 1984 with an off-beat parody of a Michael Jackson hit, and has somehow managed to build a hugely successful thirty-plus-year career lampooning our most cherished pop music stars.  As an eight-year-old Michael Jackson fanatic I was initially offended that anyone would parody one of his songs, but Al won me over when I first saw the video for "Eat It."  Here was a dorky, bespectacled nerd mimicking all of Jackson's dance moves (badly I might add) and conjuring comedy from already-tired rock video imagery.  By age twelve I'd bought all of Al's records, and I've been a huge fan ever since.  In 2000 I got to see Al from the front row, and he even yelled at me for not singing along to "Dare to Be Stupid."  It was indeed a privilege.  Twenty-two years later I took my son to see his Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, a proud inter-generational moment. 

Despite originating as a zany novelty act on comedy radio, Weird Al's career has endured a staggering four decades.  For many artists, being parodied by Al is a badge of honor, a sign that they've truly "made it."  Al is like a pop culture mirror, making light of our society's latest fads and popular music heroes.  While he seems to be all done putting out full albums, he still pops up every so often with a new video to remind us he's still out there, ready to either lampoon or pay homage to whatever's grabbing headlines.

Here now Weird Al Yankovic's albums, ranked....

14. Polka Party!

It should come as no surprise that the album which nearly derailed Al's career ranks last.  Without the benefit of a strong single to help move sales ("Livin' With a Hernia" is a fun James Brown parody but didn't exactly light up the charts the way "Eat It" or "Like a Surgeon" did), Polka Party! would need to overachieve as a cohesive album.  Sadly it did not; the album's parodies tackled mostly less-than-memorable material, while its originals were largely pretty pedestrian.  The Talking Heads-inspired "Dog Eat Dog" and the Phil Spector-style "Christmas at Ground Zero" serve as a pair of standouts, but beyond those, Polka Party! lacks a strong catalogue of original tunes to make up for the rather uninspired slate of parodies.  Thankfully Al's career would resurge in a big way two years later with the release of Even Worse.

Key Tracks: Livin' With a Hernia, Dog Eat Dog, Christmas at Ground Zero

13. Alapalooza

Cashing in on both the mammoth success of Jurassic Park and the alternative music tour Lollapalooza, Al's 8th album dropped in 1993 and didn't quite make the splash its predecessor Off the Deep End did.  It probably didn't help that the lead single was a parody of an old 1960s tune rather than a hot 1993 alternative chart-topper (though Al's "Jurassic Park" song is pretty great).  Al did send up the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge," with mixed results (RHCP bassist Flea expressed disappointment in Al's choice of The Flintstones as the song's inspiration), and Aerosmith's "Livin' on the Edge," returning to the subject of food, in this case the kind that's been in the fridge too long.  The original songs on this album were a letdown for me, aside from the excellent REM-esque "Frank's 2000" TV."  To my mind "Traffic Jam," "Waffle King" and "She Never Told Me She Was a Mine" sounded like outtakes from previous albums.  But Alapalooza does finish strong with "Bohemian Polka," a sped-up, accordion-driven version of Queen's megahit "Bohemian Rhapsody."  Overall though, Alapalooza is one of his weakest efforts, and the worst of his 1990s output.

Key Tracks: Jurassic Park, Frank's 2000" TV, Bohemian Polka

12. Straight Outta Lynwood

Notable for boasting Al's highest-charting single "White & Nerdy" (a parody of "Ridin" by Chamillionaire), Al's 12th album was from a commercial standpoint another career highlight.  Other parodies include "Canadian Idiot," based of course on Green Day's "American Idiot," "Confessions Part III," a sendup of Usher's "Confessions Part II," and the epic "Trapped in the Drive Thru" based on R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet."  The originals on this album are quite varied, with "Pancreas" parodying the style of The Beach Boys, "I'll Sue Ya" capturing the sound of Rage Against the Machine, and probably the strongest original "Don't Download This Song" going after 1980s all-star charity tunes like "We Are the World."  Overall SOL is ambitious and sonically diverse, but not all of it landed for me.  Still it was satisfying to see Al achieve such mainstream success once again.

Key Tracks: White & Nerdy, Pancreas, Don't Download This Song

11. Bad Hair Day

Falling just shy of the top ten is Al's 1996 return to prominence after the critical and commercial disappointment of Alapalooza.  The ninth album in Al's catalog surged to double-platinum status largely on the back of "Amish Paradise," a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise."  Coolio infamously disapproved of Al using his song as comedy fodder and publicly objected, though Al did get written permission from Coolio's management to use the song.  This was ironic considering the Coolio tune is itself a reworking of Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise."  Aside from the hit single, Bad Hair Day boasts an excellent parody of Presidents of the USA's "Lump," about Forrest Gump, some standout originals such as "Everything You Know is Wrong" the a cappella "Since You've Been Gone," and "The Night Santa Went Crazy," and maybe his best-ever polka medley, "The Alternative Polka," which makes use of numerous mid-90s grunge and alternative hits.  Bad Hair Day is a bit uneven but contains enough standout tunes to almost make the vaunted top ten.

Key Tracks: Amish Paradise, The Alternative Polka, Gump

10. UHF - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack and Other Stuff

The soundtrack to Al's 1989 summer flop sadly didn't fare much better than its film counterpart, but it did contain some fun parodies and solid originals, plus a few snippets of the film itself.  Al's spoof of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," which is essentially the Beverly Hillbillies theme set to different music, was accompanied by an excellent sendup of the Straits video.  Other highlights were "Spam," based on REM's "Stand," and two hilarious originals, "Generic Blues," which literally just recycles all the woe-is-me blues lyrical tropes, and folk-rock epic "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota," which recounts in great detail a trip to go see the World's Largest Twine Ball (Yes, such a thing actually exists).  Released at a time when a) the summer movie season was quite cluttered (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, Star Trek V, and Lethal Weapon 2), and b) Weird Al's record sales were somewhat contingent on including a Michael Jackson parody, this album and film kinda got lost in the shuffle (though UHF has since become a cult classic).  But it's not too shabby at all and shows evidence of Al's growth as a musician.

Key Tracks: Generic Blues, Spam, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota

9. Dare to Be Stupid

Al's third album, and the first musical comedy album to see a CD release, showed that Al was growing beyond his reputation as "that funny guy who does the Michael Jackson parody."  With songs like "Like a Surgeon," "I Want a New Duck," and the superb "Yoda" (based on The Kinks' "Lola"), Al was attempting to last beyond the fifteen-minute lifespan most gave him.  But it's in the original songs where this album really achieves.  Style parodies like the hilariously descriptive doo-wop ballad "One More Minute" and the Devo-inspired title track demonstrated Al's gift for recreating different genres (Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh once said that "Dare to Be Stupid" captured the exact sound he himself had been trying to create).

Key Tracks: Dare to Be Stupid, One More Minute, Yoda

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

WWE Extreme Rules 2022 Preview & Predictions

This Saturday night, WWE once again goes EXTREME!  Or at least as extreme as they can within the parameters of TV-PG viewing.  Generally speaking I consider this one of WWE's gimmick PPVs that should probably be done away with, alongside Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber.  Bloodless "extreme" matches up and down the card are kind of a contradiction.

Anyway, this is another six-match lineup so the show will likely be another fairly lean one in the three-hour neighborhood.  Man, if this company would just can all the stupid video packages their PPV events would be a breeze to sit through.  No Roman on this show, gotta save him for Blood Money-- er, Crown Jewel.  But this lineup looks pretty good.  Let's take a dive....

Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook: The Brawling Brutes vs. Imperium

Sheamus and Gunther absolutely stole the show back in Cardiff (some would say they even stole the weekend), so this should be a fun six-man.  What this gimmick means I'm sure I dunno, I guess probably just Tornado Tag rules and no disqualification?  Sheamus and Gunther have an Intercontinental Title rematch the night before, which seems kinda backwards.  I'm guessing Sheamus wins the rematch?  If that's the case I expect Imperium to win here, 50-50 booking and all that.  

Pick: Imperium

Strap Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Karrion Kross

Guys, I've said this before, but I really don't see what the big deal is with Karrion Kross.  To me he reeks of "generic sorta-big dude" and there's nothing at all special about him.  When he got the big NXT push a couple years ago I didn't see it, when he got called up and was promptly and absolutely sabotaged I said "Eh, no big loss anyway."  Maybe someone can help me understand it.  That said, this should be fine, as Drew is a helluva worker.  Sadly Drew is also probably gonna take a loss here.  Remember when Drew was booked as an unstoppable monster babyface?  Guy loses all the time on PPV now.  Incidentally I'm not big on strap matches when they do the four corners rule.

Pick: Kross

Monday, September 19, 2022

AEW Grand Slam 2022 Preview & Predictions

Holy jeez is AEW Grand Slam 2022 a loaded card.  The Dynamite portion is original Clash of the Champions-caliber, while the Rampage lineup has a whopping eight shorter matches.  Hopefully AEW continues their string of big ratings to continue proving they can get along just fine without CM Punk and also to show Discovery that they're underpaid.

This Punk-Elite situation has certainly motivated AEW to create some must-see television, what with the tournament for the vacant AEW Championship and the featuring of more stars that were perhaps underutilized.  The next few months leading into Full Gear should be intriguing to say the least.

Let's look at the lineups....


AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Pac vs. Orange Cassidy

These two had a fantastic match in 2020 and I expect the same here.  Pac is the no-bullshit tough guy while Cassidy is the aloof slacker who likes to poke the bear.  I don't anticipate a title change here, but Cassidy will give Pac a good fight.

Pick: Pac retains

Ring of Honor Championship: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Jericho

This should be spectacular, and it's yet another match WWE never capitalized on.  Considering they're giving a huge star like Jericho a crack at the ROH Title, hopefully that means an ROH TV deal is imminent.  It would make sense then to put the title on the biggest possible star to give that brand a boost.  Claudio just won the title two months ago but if the idea is to get an unprecedented number of eyes on Ring of Honor, it makes sense for Jericho to capture it.  Regardless I'm very much looking forward to this one.

Pick: Jericho wins his first ROH Title

Monday, September 12, 2022

Movie Review: Pinocchio (2022): No Strings, No Magic Either

Disney's slew of unnecessary remakes of classic animated films continues with Robert Zemeckis's "live-action" Pinocchio, now streaming on Disney+.  Starring Tom Hanks in a lethargic, half-hearted turn as Geppetto and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the voice of Jiminy Cricket (channeling his best Cliff Edwards from the original), this version omits numerous magical moments and songs from the old film, adds new tunes and characters we didn't need, and somehow strips the story of all its former urgency.

Consider a moment in the scene where we're introduced to the incorrigible, scheming fox Honest John and his dimwitted partner Gideon.  As they stroll past Pinocchio, lost in their own "conversation" (John speaks, Gideon does not), John half-notices the living puppet skipping past and remarks "A little wooden boy..." before doing a double-take as the amazement of what he's just seen sinks in.  In the original film, the double-take is sudden and big and hilarious.  But here, even the comedically prodigious Keegan-Michael Key as Honest John can't muster the energy to make this bit work - the timing of the moment has no tightness, and Key's reaction is so underplayed it scarcely conveys how mindblown he's supposed to be.  And for me that's almost a Rosetta Stone for how ineffective this film is.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

WWE Clash at the Castle Review: That Ending Stunk

AEW wasn't the only wrestling company to hold a major show over Labor Day weekend, as WWE traveled to Cardiff, Wales for Clash at the Castle.  How very 1980s Vince of them, horning in on the other company's established big weekend.  Tony Khan's gonna need to schedule a Battle of the Belts on TBS opposite 'Mania.

Anyway, Clash was the first main roster PPV one could say was fully produced under the Triple H regime, as SummerSlam was pretty much already set by the time Hunter took over the creative reins.  SummerSlam still felt like a typical Vince PPV, but Clash felt to me like the ship beginning to steer in the right direction.  Two changes I noticed were the WAAAAAY more sparsely used snap-zooms for big bumps, and the near-absence of rapid-fire cuts during striking exchanges.  Thank Christ, I can finally watch a WWE show again without having a seizure.  True to WWE form though, there were some frankly baffling booking decisions that kept this show from truly reaching greatness.  

Things kicked off with a fairly energetic six-woman tag, as Bayley's new stable Damage Control faced RAW Women's Champ Bianca Belair, Asuka and Alexa Bliss.  Wait, Asuka, Bianca Belair and Alexa?  Their team name should be ABBA, am I wrong?  This proved to be a pretty strong opener, though it perhaps went a bit longer than was ideal.  At nineteen minutes I felt like the crowd wasn't as hot as they could've been.  There was plenty of back-and-forth action though, and everyone got a good amount of time.  The finish came when Bayley tied Bianca to the turnbuckles with her own braid, allowing each of the heels to hit their finishes.  Iyo Sky finished Bianca with a moonsault and Bayley covered her for the win, thus positioning Bayley as the new top contender.  Not too shabby at all.  ***1/2

AEW All Out 2022 Review: How Do You Solve a Problem Like CM Punk?

AEW and its fans rode an emotional roller coaster this past weekend.  Between the fairly stellar All Out PPV and its frankly upsetting aftermath, there was a ton of news to unpack, both good and bad, for the company and the fans.

I guess we should start by addressing the irrationally angry elephant in the room.  And look, I'm saying this as a longtime fan of CM Punk - he's lucky to still have a job after all this, if indeed he does still have a job.  For a man who prides himself on being a locker room leader to retaliate against an opponent vaguely "going into business for himself," by explicitly going into business for himself, is frankly embarrassing.  Regardless what happened between Punk and Colt Cabana - and the dissolvement of their friendship was obviously very bitter - Hangman Page's promo back in May barely referenced that situation (specifically the rumor that Punk used his clout to get Colt fired from AEW), and 95% of the audience watching probably had no idea that's what he was referencing.  What Punk should've done, again as a supposed locker room leader, was address the situation with Page (and Tony Khan if necessary) in private.  Instead Punk waited till after Page did a clean job for him (in and of itself a form of making amends) and only after he'd spent three months on the shelf, decided to fire back with a promo very clearly designed to make Page look bad.  A shovel-to-the-face obvious burial is not just desserts for a thickly veiled dig.  

But Punk wasn't done.  At the post-All Out media scrum he went out of his way to bring up the subject again, immediately steering the conversation toward a Colt Cabana tirade and throwing both Page and the Young Bucks violently under the bus for allegedly starting the aforementioned rumor.  For several minutes he verbally trashed his coworkers and their EVP status, thus making the company look stupid for giving Matt and Nick executive roles.  Meanwhile Tony Khan sat next to him mostly silent, rather than making a genuine effort to change topics.  Key among Punk's comments was "If anyone has a problem with me, come talk to me."  Well, that's precisely what Matt, Nick and Kenny Omega attempted to do immediately after Punk's scrum appearance, and then all hell broke loose.  

It's not yet clear who started the physicality, but it's been confirmed that Punk punched Matt, and Punk's friend Ace Steel threw a chair at Nick's face and bit Kenny.  Word is there could be legal action taken, and it seems unfathomable that the two sides will ever be able to work together after this.

Friday, September 2, 2022

WWE Clash at the Castle Preview & Predictions

Well, it's a loaded wrestling weekend, and not only does AEW have their annual All Out PPV on Sunday, but WWE has a big UK stadium show on Saturday, the first PPV lineup formed under the Triple H regime....

Triple H may be in charge now and may have assembled most of this card, but true to WWE form he's only announced six matches for a stadium show, meaning we'll almost certainly get 2-3 unannounced additions.  And man, are there a lot of people missing from this show, even some folks Hunter's finally been pushing on free TV.  Hey WWE, why are you the way that you are?

Let's look at the 2/3 of a show we have.....

Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest

This should be a fine tag team contest.  Lotta good talent here.  Of course this feud feels super goofy since Edge was prematurely kicked out of his own group and Judgement Day doesn't feel like they have a real leader.  Weak sauce.  Anytime Rey and Finn are in there together should be fun times.  I think Dominik probably at long last turns on Rey, because unless you're the Usos, you turn on your family in WWE.

Pick: Judgment Day

Bianca Belair, Asuka & Alexa Bliss vs. Bayley, Iyo Sky & Dakota Kai

This one should also be a lot of fun, with a ton of talent on display.  It's probably a good thing though that Clash is the day before All Out since, good though this match looks, it won't touch the Trios final on Sunday.  Alexa seems out of place in this trio and generally looks like she doesn't want to be there.  I have to think Team Bayley wins here to further establish them as contenders for Bianca and Raquel/Aliyah, respectively.

Pick: Bayley, Iyo, Dakota

Thursday, September 1, 2022

AEW All Out 2022 Preview & Predictions

Oh man, AEW may be going through some growing pains, but you'd never know it by looking at this weekend's All Out lineup.  Two weeks ago I was thinking this show may not live up to the last year of AEW PPVs.  Right now I'm thinking it could equal or even surpass what is in my estimation their best, last year's Full Gear show.  

All Out 2022 is an absolutely LOADED show, with nearly all hands on deck, a massive main event with a real emotional story at play (more on that in a bit), a real focus on elevating some of the homegrown stars, a focus on the new Trios division (three trios matches on this show, all of which should be pretty great), and what's sure to be a batshit crazy ladder match.  If you can't find something to get excited about on this PPV, I dunno what to tell you.

Let's get into it....

Pre-Show: Eddie Kingston vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Jesus, even the pre-show has two potential show stealers, starting with this slugfest.  Originally the plan was Kingston vs. Sammy Guevara, until a miscommunication over a Sammy promo led to a backstage scuffle between the two and Eddie was suspended (they've made amends and all seems to be well now).  So as a substitute we're getting something arguably even better, a match that would be right at home in the G1.  I'm guessing Eddie wins here since he's the AEW guy.

Pick: Eddie

Pre-Show: All-Atlantic Championship: Pac vs. Kip Sabian

Well this was a slow burn.  After months and months of Kip sitting front row with a box on his head at every AEW taping, he finally revealed his intention by going after Pac.  Sabian has been somewhat repackaged and will hopefully prove to be yet another promising homegrown talent.  Pac is incredible.  This should be a fun little match.  I don't see Pac losing the title yet.

Pick: Pac retains

Monday, August 29, 2022

Top Ten Things: Martin Scorsese Films

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  These are ten of my favorite things.  That's how the song goes, right?

Martin Scorsese.  In my estimation there is no greater director in film history than the diminutive, sickly kid from Little Italy in New York who grew up with a passion for telling stories through the medium of film.  Scorsese spent his childhood looking out the window and observing people and events in his neighborhood, and this predilection for people-watching translated into some of the most incredible filmmaking of all time.  His films are often unforgiving looks at profoundly troubled characters, yet Scorsese finds a way for us to empathize with them, at least enough to want to spend a couple hours in their company.  Many Scorsese films deal with hardened street criminals, hearkening back to the seedy lot he observed in his neighborhood.  But while crime dramas are his bread and butter, Scorsese's filmography also includes religious epics, suspense thrillers, biopics, lush period dramas, and even lighthearted children's fare.  Even after forty-plus years Scorsese remains at the top of his game; in fact his post-2000 output ranks among some of his best work.  To this day any new film of his is event viewing, almost guaranteed to be one of my favorites of that year.

The following are my ten favorite Martin Scorsese films....

10. Cape Fear

One of Scorsese's rare remakes is this 1991 suspense thriller based on the 1962 Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum film of the same name.  Peck's role of besieged attorney Sam Bowden went to Nick Nolte, Mitchum's degenerate character Max Cady was played with gleeful menace by Robert Deniro.  The first thing Scorsese did with his version was to change Bowden from a virtuous family man to a morally ambiguous one who withheld evidence in order to get his client Cady convicted, and whose marriage is coming apart due to an extramarital affair and a strained relationship with his teenage daughter.  This change makes the Nolte character and his family even more vulnerable and fits in with the film noir trope of the flawed protagonist.  Deniro's performance of course steals the show; he is musclebound, ruthless, violent, and endlessly persistent.  This Hitchock-influenced genre exercise may not stack up with Scorsese's greatest work, but it did illustrate his ability to take an existing story and place on it his own distinctive stamp.

9. Casino

Casino plays almost like a sequel to Goodfellas, or at least a spiritual cousin.  Another epic, frenetically-paced gangster film based loosely on a true story, Casino chronicles the rise and fall of a Vegas gambling empire, once again pairing Robert Deniro with Joe Pesci.  Deniro plays Sam Rothstein, a mob associate brought in to run a mafia-controlled casino, while Pesci plays Rothstein's longtime friend, loose cannon enforcer Nicky Santoro.  Told from multiple narrative viewpoints, Casino shows in violent, gruesome detail the inner workings of 1970s mob-controlled Las Vegas.  Aside from Deniro and Pesci's legendary onscreen chemistry, Casino also boasts an Oscar-nominated turn from Sharon Stone, as Rothstein's materialistic, alcoholic wife Ginger.  Casino didn't quite equal the masterpiece that was Goodfellas, but it was a very worthy, provocative return to Scorsese's favorite genre.

8. Hugo

In 2011 Martin Scorsese's filmography took an unexpected 90-degree turn with this family-friendly, light-hearted tribute to the early days of cinema.  Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese's film follows the exploits of a young boy who lives in a Paris railway station.  Hugo's deceased father, an inventor, taught him how to repair clocks and instilled in him a love for film.  He befriends a young girl, Isabelle, whose stern uncle is revealed to be early film pioneer Georges Melies, director of the first science-fiction film, A Trip to the Moon.  After his career declined sharply in the 1920s, Melies became a disillusioned, bitter man who distanced himself from his prior calling.  Hugo and Isabelle work tirelessly to uncover the story of the forgotten auteur so the world can once again embrace his artistic contribution to the medium of cinema.  Scorsese's film is a delightful and colorful romp, made all the more whimsical by the use of 3-D cinematography, used here in a way that enhances the story and intensifies the experience.  Hugo is a rare film that can be enjoyed by any age group; it doesn't talk down to young audiences and it contains complex character arcs that older viewers will be drawn to.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Top Ten Things: Steven Spielberg Films

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things!  You know how it works.  It's a countdown.  Of ten items.

Today it's the top ten films by one of the all-time great directors, Steven Spielberg.  Spielberg's extraordinary forty-plus-year career has given us multiple iconic films and he's renowned for his uncanny ability to craft intelligent movies we can all relate to.  Whether he's making a summer action movie or a thoughtful historical epic, Spielberg excels at imbuing his movies with substance.  His best work demands multiple viewings over decades, and there probably isn't another director alive who's repeatedly demonstrated such pure storytelling ability across such varied genres.

Here now is the list....

HM: Jurassic Park

In 1993 Spielberg created the definitive dinosaur movie, about a small group of scientists and children sent to a remote island near Costa Rica to be a focus group of sorts for the first-ever dinosaur zoo.  Predictably nothing on the island works properly, and thanks to a rogue IT manager the dinosaurs are able to escape their enclosures and wreak havoc on the park and its human occupants.  Jurassic Park doesn't contain much in the way of lofty concepts; it's simply a quintessential popcorn action-adventure with some of the best creature effects ever put to film.  This was one of the earliest movies to make extensive use of CGI, and for the most part those dinosaurs still hold up today.  As with Jaws, Spielberg was wise enough to let the human characters carry the early parts of the story so we care what happens to them, and built up to the appearance of each species of dinosaur.  The T-Rex sequence is a masterfully assembled piece of action-horror, and the later Velociraptor scenes work on the same monster movie level as some of the sequences in Aliens.  Three decades later Jurassic Park's flaws show through pretty clearly, but it's still a great example of Spielberg's ability to create crowd-pleasing entertainment that actually has a brain.

10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The third and final chapter (Crystal Skull was just a bad dream...) of the Indiana Jones saga reminds me of Return of the Jedi in many ways, insomuch as the bulk of the story elements from the trilogy's first film are reused here.  Indy is up against the Nazis once again, racing to find a religious artifact that will allegedly render its owner invincible.  Indy's pals Sallah and Marcus Brody are back to join in the fun, and in a casting coup, Sean Connery plays Indy's father, who has spent a lifetime searching for the Holy Grail.  The action sequences, as good as they are, don't quite hold up to those of the first two films for me, and this movie's real strength is the interplay between Ford and Connery, who have perfect chemistry together.  Don't get me wrong, Last Crusade is a fantastic piece of summer moviemaking.  But it doesn't have the freshness of Raiders or the unrelenting pace of Temple.  So like Return of the Jedi it's simply a very worthy conclusion to the series (Jeezus, why couldn't they have left well enough alone??) that introduces a new side to the action hero we've all come to love.

9. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

The followup to the iconic Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom was, I believe, the first time anyone in Hollywood used the word "prequel."  For some reason Spielberg and Lucas set this movie a year before Raiders (Sort of an odd choice since it removes the suspense of whether Indy survives or not), and this one plays out like a standalone adventure, with Dr. Jones himself the only Raiders character present.  This time Indy has to retrieve a mystical stone which has been stolen from an Indian village by an evil underground cult.  This film pushed the limits of what could be shown in a PG-rated movie and set an exceedingly dark tone; there's human sacrifice, brainwashing, child slavery, people being crushed, people being eaten by alligators, and most infamously a dude having his still-beating heart ripped out of his chest.  In fact we have Temple of Doom and Gremlins to thank for the existence of a PG-13 rating.  Most (including Spielberg himself) consider Temple of Doom the weakest of the Indy trilogy, but I disagree.  I love how unapologetically dark this film is and how different it is from Raiders.  This movie might also have the most fun climax of any Indy film, with our heroes and villains fighting for survival while hanging from the side of a cliff (but only after a long and thrilling mine cart chase).  Temple also has probably the greatest booby trap sequence of all time - that scary room with all the spikes.  As a kid this was one of the earliest sequels I got to experience as it was coming out, and it still holds up for me as a tremendously fun roller coaster ride of a movie.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Top Ten Things: Quentin Tarantino Characters

What's up kids?  Time for another episode of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where I do a silly little countdown of.....things.

Today it's a list of my favorite characters from the films of Quentin Tarantino!  Mr. Tarantino has a tremendous gift for writing quirky, memorable dialogue in a way that helps establish clearly drawn, relatable characters, many of whom shouldn't be relatable given their occupation or role in the story.  QT is famous for writing scumbags, murderers, thieves and ne'er-do-wells as people we actually want to spend time with; they're regular folks just like us, except that they do awful things for a living.  Sure, there's the occasional legitimate "good guy" character, but almost everyone in Quentin's films is a shade of gray.  Regardless though, his characters are nearly always colorful, eloquent on some level, and above all unforgettable.

Here is a list of the best ones....

HM: Budd (Kill Bill)

Probably my favorite Michael Madsen performance is that of the alcoholic lowlife Budd, self-exiled from his brother Bill's crack team of assassins after a crisis of conscience, but still possessing innately acute survival instincts.  Budd's very posture says volumes - slumped over, defeated, resigned to a destitue life in a shabby desert trailer while working nightly at a local strip club.  The once accomplished mercenary now takes routine browbeatings from his boss and spends his free time getting liquored up and listening to Johnny Cash records, awaiting his fate at the hands of Beatrix Kiddo.  Madsen's work here is wonderfully nuanced and despondent, conveying Budd's sense of self-punishment; wracked with guilt over what he and his colleagues did to Beatrix but still ultimately loyal to his older brother, Budd is the only one on Kiddo's Death List 5 who gets the better of her.

HM: Elle Driver (Kill Bill)

Perhaps the most purely evil character in the Kill Bill saga is the callous, scheming, one-eyed assassin Elle Driver, played with depraved delight by the cast-against-type Darryl Hannah.  She only has modest screen time, but Hannah and QT imbue Elle with tangible malevolence, coupled with a mercenary's sense of honor.  Despite being former teammates with The Bride, it's established early on that Elle and Beatrix have never liked each other, yet they have immense mutual respect as professionals.  We first meet Elle as she plans on disposing of a comatose Bea via lethal injection, offering a peaceful death as a gift.  Later Elle double-crosses Budd by hiding a black mamba snake in his satchel of money, articulating her disgust that he of all people seemingly got to finish Bea off (a great monologue).  Elle is such a fascinating, shrewd villain I think she could carry her own movie.

HM: Shoshanna Dreyfus (Inglourious Basterds)

At first glance, Basterds seems to be mostly about Lt. Aldo Raine and his squad of Nazi-hunters, but the real central protagonist is Shoshanna Dreyfus, who barely escapes as her family is massacred in the first scene and assumes the moniker of French cinema owner Emmanuelle Mimeaux.  Dreyfus manages to keep her true identity secret from the Nazis even as her theater is selected for the grand screening of Joseph Goebbels' new propaganda film, and she concocts a plan to burn the place down with the Third Reich's high command trapped inside.  Played with beautiful subtlety by Melanie Laurent, Shoshanna is one of Tarantino's highly intelligent, crafty female protagonists.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Top Ten Things: 2 out of 3 Falls Matches

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

Today I'll be discussing one of the oldest, time-honored wrestling match types, the 2-out-of-3 Falls match!  Back in the olden days 2/3 Falls was a common format for Championship matches, as a way to truly determine the better competitor and rule out fluke victories.  In the old NWA system, all World Title matches were required to be contested under these rules, and quite often the match would go to a time limit draw in the third fall, which protected both guys for future bouts.  I've always enjoyed this type of match as it lends itself to longer, more epic matches with a heavy emphasis on good old mat wrestling.  During the Attitude Era the WWF added a wrinkle to the 2/3 Falls match by giving each fall a different set of rules (i.e. traditional rules for the first fall, No DQ for the second, etc.), calling it Three Stages of Hell.  Regardless though, there's something epic about a 2/3 Falls match when done well.

Let's take a look at what I consider the ten best examples of 2/3 Falls....

HM - Angle/Benoit vs. Edge/Mysterio - Smackdown - 11.7.02

In the fall of 2002 the RAW and Smackdown shows each had exclusive rosters, and Paul Heyman's Smackdown was crushing RAW on a weekly basis, both creatively and in the ratings.  Much of SD's success can be attributed to these four competitors, who made up two-thirds of the revered Smackdown Six (Los Guerreros were the other two).  The World Tag Championship had been made a RAW-exclusive Title during the roster split, and Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon decided to create a separate set of belts for her show.  Hence a tournament was assembled which boiled down to Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Edge & Rey Mysterio at No Mercy, in a 22-minute classic.  The rematch took place only a few weeks later on Smackdown, and it was a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite as good as the PPV bout, this featured incredible action and palpable suspense, as Edge & Mysterio played the underdogs to perfection on their way to a Title victory.

HM: Demolition vs. Hart Foundation - SummerSlam - 8.27.90

In early 1990 the WWF's tag team division essentially consisted of three top babyface tandems - Demolition, The Hart Foundation, and The Rockers.  Sure there were a few heel teams such as The Bolsheviks and The Orient Express, but they were all booked as jobbers to the stars, and the Harts and Rockers were presented as the only credible threats to the Champions Demolition.  Just after WrestleMania VI it looked like the Harts were slowly turning heel, adopting some underhanded tactics and referring to Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty as "tumbling teenyboppers."  It seemed like Bret and Jim would be positioned as villain challengers to the popular facepainted duo of Ax & Smash.  But two factors caused a change of plans.  The first was that the Harts were still extremely popular and the fans didn't really want to boo them.  The second was that the aging Bill Eadie (Ax) was no longer able to wrestle a full schedule and needed to take more of a managerial role in Demolition, necessitating the introduction of a younger third member, Crush.  With Demolition now working as a three-man team it made more sense to turn them heel and invoke the "Freebird Rule," where any two members of a Championship team could defend the Titles (I love this gimmick, by the way).  So at SummerSlam, the Hart Foundation were positioned as babyface underdogs facing a dastardly powerhouse team who frequently pulled the old "switcheroo" during their matches, subbing in a fresh man for an injured one.  The result was a very strong 2/3 Falls match that saw Hart and Neidhart overcome the odds (with an assist from WWF newcomers Hawk & Animal) to regain the Tag belts.  After a brief, disappointingly one-sided feud with the Legion of Doom, Demolition were sadly phased out less than a year later, while the Harts enjoyed a strong run with the belts.

HM: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho - SummerSlam - 8.27.00

The year 2000 was an amazing one for the WWF.  With the influx of almost all of WCW's best workers, the WWF roster was now loaded with tremendous in-ring talent creating fresh matchups and feuds galore, possibly the best of which involved the two Chrises.  Jericho and Benoit had worked together for years, both in Japan and in Atlanta, and in the spring/summer of 2000 they resumed their feud, facing each other three times on PPV and several more times on RAW and Smackdown.  The rivalry reached a fever pitch at SummerSlam, in a 2/3 Falls match.  While not quite given enough time to fully steal the show, Jericho and Benoit nevertheless delivered a forgotten near-classic that ended the feud for the time being.

Friday, July 29, 2022

WWE SummerSlam 2022 Preview & Predictions

Welp, we're supposedly in the post-Vince McMahon era of WWE (except I'm pretty sure Vince is still running the company from his house, being that he still owns majority stock).  This Saturday's SummerSlam PPV may be an indicator of where WWE is headed creatively going forward.  Or it may just be more of the same.  Either way, this lineup......this is not my kinda lineup.

Once a-fucking-gain, the Intercontinental Title is sitting in catering, along with its current holder, who by the way is better than almost everyone actually on the card - Gunther/Walter can work circles around almost the entire roster.  Also the top I-C contender they set up like a month ago - nowhere to be seen.  Also the really exciting high flier who would be massively over if they'd just fucking do something with him - nope, sorry Ric, nothing for you this month.  But don't worry, Baron Corbin is on the show.  As is the fanboy commentator living out his own wrestling fantasy camp.  As is The Miz.  Oh and one of the few matches I was actually into is off the show so they can save it for next month.  Super.  Yeah, I don't have high hopes for SummerSlam 2022.

Logan Paul vs. The Miz

Boy do I not give a tupenny fuck about this.  The Miz hasn't been a proper threat to anyone in years, and Logan Paul, dipshit that he is, insists on being portrayed as a babyface, despite literally NO ONE wanting to see him in that role.  Watch as Miz gets cheered like a hometown hero in this match.  Like, how can a company just flatly defy what its entire audience wants and then use little tricks to try and make it look like that's not what they're doing?  Jesus.  For the record, I get why they signed Logan, he's actually a PPV draw.  But use him correctly for fuck's sake.

Pick: Logan Paul, obviously

Pat McAfee vs. Baron Corbin

Fuckin' hell with this.  A bad wrestler vs. a tourist.  Yeah this is totally more important than the company's second-oldest singles title being defended.  I'm 100% confident more people would rather see Gunther vs. Shinsuke Nakamura than this crap.  Watch them add the I-C Title match to the fucking preshow.....

Pick: McAfee

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

AEW Fight for the Fallen 2022 Preview & Predictions

It's Wednesday and you know what that means....

AEW's Fight for the Fallen 2022 is upon us, and we've got a helluva little Dynamite lineup this week, with an AEW Title match, a Women's Title match, an FTW Title match, and the in-ring return of BRYAN DANIELSON!  Oh man.....oh mama.....

Handicap Match: Swerve Strickland vs. Tony Nese & Mark Sterling

As a non-fan of handicap matches I'm not expecting greatness here, but maybe it will lead to a Strickland-Nese singles match, and maybe Nese will find a tag partner to challenge the champs.  Either of those would be solid.

Pick: I gotta think Sterling eats the pin here

Sammy Guevara vs. Dante Martin

This should be a wild one.  Both guys are aerial wizards and Sammy is straight-up insane with his risk-taking.  We'll see all kinds of airborne wackiness and hopefully no one gets hurt.  

Pick: I think Sammy wins