Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Music Review: Queens of the Stone Age - Villains


Four years after their (in my estimation) masterpiece ...Like Clockwork, quirky alt-rock quintet Queens of the Stone Age is back with Villains, their devilishly mischievous take on radio dance-rock.  Produced by Mark Ronson (Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga), Villains boasts a rather whimsical, light-on-its-feet sound with touches of David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, and plenty of 70s-style groove.

The album's opening track "Feet Don't Fail Me" sets the tone with an almost disco beat and a dirty guitar riff, as frontman Joshua Homme croons in no-fucks-given fashion about the simple, urgent need to put on some music and dance.  This track gets the album moving and serves as a mission statement about the band's new approach; there's plenty of Berlin-era Bowie influence on display here, along with fuzzy pre-amped guitars.

Next up is the album's first single, the insistently hooky "The Way You Used to Do," a playful shuffle groover with probably the most memorable riff on the album.  Think blues meets glam, as Homme intones an "us vs. the world" message to an unnamed lover.

The album settles into more familiar QOTSA territory on the more measured, sinister rocker "Domesticated Animals" (which would feel right at home on Rated R) and the melancholy almost-love song "Fortress," possibly my favorite on the record.  Both songs feature those trademark Homme guitar melodies that add texture and weight to the tracks.  "Fortress" deals with the protective walls we all put up, and how we handle ourselves when they give way.

Another standout is the quasi-epic "Un-Reborn Again," which starts out mellow and builts to a spectacular refrain where the band drops out and an orchestra springs up in its place, showing once again Homme's gift for complex, multi-layered arrangements.

The second single and eighth album track, "The Evil Has Landed" features a boxy pentatonic main riff and a sparsely constructed verse section with lyrics about defiantly enjoying life, consequences be damned.  In the final two minutes the song's start-stop feel gives way to a slower, more driving groove with a repeated lyric, "Here we come, get outta the way," hammering home the nihilistic message of the track.

The closing song "Villains of Circumstance" has a darker, more somber tone that brings to mind "I Appear Missing" from the last album, with a gentle triplet feel and introspective lyric.  Lines like "I know that life moves on, that's what scares me so," seem to suggest a come-down moment after the album's previously care-free tone.

Overall Villains is another sardonically wicked QOTSA album with some memorable tunes, plenty of groove, and Homme's unique swagger.  I consider it a step down from ...Like Clockwork, but considering how much I like that album (it was my favorite album of 2013), that was inevitable.  Still, there's plenty to sink your teeth into on this record and its 48-minute running time flies by.  Homme & co. set out to make a fun, toe-tapping rock n' roll album and they've done that, while still stamping the music with their distinctively eccentric panache.

I give the album ***1/2 out of *****.





Tuesday, August 29, 2017

John Cena vs. Roman Reigns.....at No Mercy???

Well we're finally getting the monumental first-time clash between WWE's former posterboy John Cena, and Vince McMahon's handpicked replacement (whom no one else likes in that spot) Roman Reigns.  Make no mistake, this match is a big deal.  So big in fact, that a main event of this magnitude could only happen.....AT NO MERCY!!!  Wait, what??  Seriously?  They're giving away the biggest current first-time match in this company at a B-PPV in September?  The fuck sense does that make?  Wouldn't you wanna save this for 'Mania 34, or at least Survivor Series?


I legit don't understand this company anymore.  Between Cena-Reigns and Lesnar-Strowman, No Mercy is shaping up to be a stacked card.  But why are they putting so many eggs in this rather unimportant basket?  We haven't had a truly gigantic WrestleMania main event since the first Rock vs. Cena match.  I should think Cena vs. Reigns (and Brock vs. Braun) are the two best RAW main events for April 8th.  But I guess Vince reeeeeally wants Brock vs. Roman II to headline the big show in New Orleans.  Yawn.  Wouldn't want to excite us too much at the end of a seven-hour PPV, would ya?  The audience might actually react to the main event of the year's biggest show.  Can't have that.

All that aside, the Cena-Reigns promo last night was quite noteworthy for the most part.  Both guys took some nice digs at each other that veered into shoot territory, and Roman Reigns seemingly got to inject a little of his own personality into a promo for the first time.  Reigns called Cena out for being a part-timer who only shows up when WWE pays him enough (dayamn!), while Cena called out Reigns for being a corporate creation who still hasn't proved he belongs there ("It took you five years to cut a halfway decent promo").  Also, Reigns is clearly playing the heel in this feud.  Cena's position is 100% correct, while Reigns' is based on a skewed perception of things.  One of my favorite lines from Cena was "I do this part-time better than you can ever do it full-time."  Oh snap, Johnny!

What I didn't like about this promo though were the gratuitous references to backstage politics.  Granted, plenty of promos have drudged up that material before.  But where CM Punk's "pipe bomb" promo for example played within the context of "I'm the best wrestler in this company but I don't get the recognition I deserve, I don't get to be on the posters or mugs, etc.," Reigns talked about Cena "holding back younger talent" and "burying people," and Cena talked about using the US Title to "introduce new superstars" like Kevin Owens (accurate) and AJ Styles (Cena lost the US Title long before AJ showed up).  Within the confines of this fictional wrestling world, the idea of a main event guy holding back younger talent or giving new guys opportunities doesn't make sense.  The main event guy is the main event guy because he wins a lot of matches.  Calling attention to the company pushing someone based on anything else is counterproductive to the illusion that these wrestling matches are genuine competitions.  That would be like a supporting character on The Walking Dead calling out Rick because he doesn't get the screen time Rick does.  "You're only the main character on this show because the writers like you the best!"  It doesn't work.  Cena then pointed out that he hasn't main evented a WrestleMania in five years and that he opened the show at SummerSlam.  I mean, fair enough, but main eventing WrestleMania is supposed to be something that is earned based on winning matches, no?  WWE needs to knock it off with this fourth-wall shit.

In other news, Alexa Bliss won back the Women's Title already.  Sooo Sasha Banks has now held that belt four times, for a total of 82 days.  These unnecessary title changes on both shows are making me nuts.  What is this, the Russo era?  When did the number of title reigns become more important than the length?  I forget who said it years ago but some announcer was talking about Ric Flair (I think) being the NWA Champion six times and the line was "He's won it six times?  That means he's lost it five."  Winning a title a buncha times isn't nearly as impressive an accomplishment as holding onto it.  Cool it with the padded championship records, will ya?

Anyway, like I said, No Mercy is gonna be a big PPV.  They've already got a huge double main event and we still presumably have the Rollins/Ambrose vs. Cesaro/Sheamus rematch, the Balor-Wyatt rematch, and something for Samoa Joe to do.  I just don't like that they're rushing this Cena vs. Reigns thing.  Reminds me of 2008 when they needed a second main event for SummerSlam and they hotshotted Cena vs. Batista instead of saving it for WrestleMania 25, which so desperately could've used a better main event.  You can only do a big first-time match once.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Game Of Thrones Season 7, Episode 7: The Dragon And The Wolf

by Dan Moore 


AND THE WALL COMES CRUMBLING DOWN!!!  


As predicted months ago in this very column, The Wall went bye bye.

Told ya. 


The White walkers started their slow march south by destroying the last line of defense in the north. Now, the Great War is upon us because of an ice dragon, bitches.


BAD ASS 


So much happened in this episode, but this was the big one. Now the walkers have a clear path to the south. They can destroy all the living & add them to their ever expanding army. They're quite efficient. The fact that the dragon could take down the wall so quickly was a bit of a stretch but the writers needed a way for the whites to get going down south, so there it is. As it is, I thought the sequence was awesome looking & the music really amped up the spectacle. 

The happenings in King's Landing mashed together just about every surviving major character left. We had the Dragonstone crew trying to convince the Incest OG's to band together and fight the cold dead people. And Cersei agrees (because they throw a zombie right in her fucking eyeholes), but not before we get a very tense scene between her & Tyrion. It was great seeing her viciousness come out on the brother she truly hates. It's been so long since these two characters have interacted I forgot how good they are together. Cersei even threatens Tyrion with her mutant Mountain man, but it turns out to be a bluff. 


Have you met Cersei's bodyguard, Super Shredder? 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Movie Review: Dunkirk (2017)


Well I've seen Christopher Nolan's WWII triptych twice now.  The first time I had very mixed feelings about it.  Dunkirk is essentially without characters.  It's a visceral, small-scope assault on the senses designed to plunge the viewer into the horrors of this particular battle (if one can even call it that), wherein 300,000 British soldiers were rescued from certain death after being trapped on the beach for days.  So shallow was the water at Dunkirk that British destroyers were unable to access the besieged soldiers, and thus the Navy began recruiting small private vessels which could navigate directly to the beach.  The evacuation was considered miraculous and inspired Churchill's famous "We shall fight on the beaches" speech.  But the film left me a little cold on the first viewing.  While I was duly impressed with Nolan's technique (as always) and the film's authenticity, I wasn't able to connect with any of the characters since they're only there to drive the plot.  Dunkirk boasts precious little dialogue, and what's there is often hard to make out amid the thunder of battle and Hans Zimmer's pounding score.  I exited the theater saying to myself, "Okay....so that happened.  Now what do I do with it?"

Upon a second watch I was able to put aside my expectations (Nolan films usually have a rich emotional core to them but Dunkirk's lack thereof frustrated me), and simply take the film for what it was and what it intended to do.  Nolan wants us to see, hear and feel what it must've been like, how harrowing the experience was, how terrifying for the British not to know whether they'd ever make it off the beach.  The historical context and the personal drama didn't concern him; he preferred to tell this story through visuals and sound.  To set Dunkirk apart from other war films, Nolan employed a threefold narrative structure and used time expansion to allow intercutting between the three segments (The events on land cover one week, the sea one day, and the air one hour).  On the first viewing I found this a little distracting and gimmicky, but the second time it worked for me, keeping the film's momentum fluid and lending the two shorter time periods more weight than they would've otherwise carried.

For a 2017 film, Dunkirk has a very no-nonsense frankness about it.  There is nothing glamorous about the battle scenes, no rousing speeches to the men, no Hollywood sheen to the events.  The film is visually striking but not in a trumped-up, artificial sense.  The sequences in the air for example don't play out like Top Gun; the pilots don't pull any fancy spinning maneuvers or spectacular midair stunts.  They use simple flight patterns to position themselves with a direct line of sight to enemy planes.  When planes get shot down they don't explode like a TIE fighter.  They emit smoke and slowly lose altitude before crashing to the water below.  The main character Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and the other trapped soldiers spend much of the film hiding, crawling and trying not to drown.  The Mark Rylance character and his two shipmates spend the film just trying to reach Dunkirk while there are still soldiers to rescue.  There's nothing gratuitously adventurous about these characters, they were simply terrified young men whose only concern at this point was escaping to England.  Contrary to the usual war movie fare, there's nothing fun about what we see here.

I've read reviews calling Dunkirk the best war film ever made and others calling it Nolan's greatest work.  I disagree with both statements, but this is still a very worthy entry in Nolan's catalog.  He's looked at the war genre from a different angle and presented an immersive, austere look at what these soldiers went through in the aftermath of one battle.  You won't find any philosophizing about the brutality of war, nor much context to drive home the implications of this evacuation, beyond the obvious, that it saved hundreds of thousands.  What you will get is a thoroughly realistic, gritty visual document achieved with thousands of film extras, real World War II vehicles and equipment, talented actors (who admittedly aren't asked to do all that much acting), and almost no CGI.  Dunkirk may not be a masterpiece, but it's a film you'll find yourself thinking and talking about long after you've seen it.

I give the film *** out of ****.


   

Monday, August 21, 2017

WWE SummerSlam 2017 Was Good, Jinder Mahal Isn't

SummerSlam 2017 felt a bit like one of those older WWF PPVs that had a ton of variety and was oddly more enjoyable than it probably deserved to be.  The ten main PPV matches cruised by at a decent pace and this show never felt to me like a slog, a la SummerSlam 2016.  There wasn't anything truly great on the show, but there were several very good matches, most of which occurred in the second half.  In that way this was like the anti-WrestleMania; the last two 'Manias have started out strong and become a major drag by the final hour.


Of note, the crowd for NXT TakeOver the night before was electric from start to finish.  The SummerSlam crowd was mostly pretty dead except during a few select matches.  I've asked this before, but isn't Vince bothered by this phenomenon?  You'd think he'd figure out a way to make the main roster crowds' enthusiasm match that of the NXT audience.

Things kicked off in very strange fashion, with the John Cena-Baron Corbin match.  I'm not sure who thought this would make for a hot opener, but it wasn't; Corbin's nondescript offense and Cena's seeming lack of motivation of late failed to jumpstart the Brooklyn crowd.  There was a nice callback near the end of the match, where Cena tossed Corbin to the buckles, Corbin slid out of the ring, and immediately slid back in.  Earlier in the bout this spot resulted in Corbin leveling Cena with a clothesline, but Cena turned the tables the second time, hitting a clothesline of his own, followed by the AA for the win.  Not much of a match, but I got some enjoyment out of it because my son watched it with me and he's a big Cena fan.  Baffling choice for an opening bout though, and Corbin is clearly in the doghouse.

Next up was a much stronger match, pitting Smackdown Womens' Champ Naomi vs. Natalya.  These two strung together some nice, innovative offense, the wrestling was fairly crisp, and Nattie finally got a well-deserved Title win with the Sharpshooter.  Perfectly serviceable undercard match with the right winner.

The worst match of the night was third, as Big Cass and Big Show sleepwalked through a fairly excruciating ten minutes.  I'm not sure why this needed to be on the main card while the Smackdown Tag Title match wasn't, nor were The Miz or The Hardyz, and Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler were absent from this show completely.  The only memorable bit was Enzo squeezing out of the shark cage, which immediately led to him getting murdered by Cass.  Pointless.

Speaking of pointless, Randy Orton beat Rusev in ten seconds.  Poor Rusev.  He and Lana had a great act, so of course the company split them up.  He had a very good heel character, so of course the company turned him into a joke.  Not that I was excited about this match anyway, but Jeezus this was a waste.

Things picked up again with the RAW Women's Title match, as Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks delivered a well-worked 13-minute bout on par with Naomi-Nattie.  This wasn't on the level of Sasha and Charlotte's matches, and certainly nowhere near as good as the show stealing Asuka-Ember Moon match from the night before, but Alexa plays the douchebag heel to perfection and these two have undeniable chemistry.  Sasha won the belt for the fourth time via Bank Statement tapout.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III Preview & Predictions

It's SummerSlam weekend, and that means NXT is descending on Barclays Center the night before the main roster, for the third annual TakeOver: Brooklyn!  It's looking like a decent lineup, if a bit underwhelming compared to the two previous Brooklyn shows.  But let's take a look....






Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas


It sucks that Tomasso Ciampa got hurt when he did - Ciampa vs. Gargano should by all rights be happening on this show and it'd almost certainly be the best match of the night, and the match everyone would be talking about.  But Gargano's in the opener instead, unfortunately.  Jeezus, Almas desperately needs something to kickstart his career, he's been languishing at the bottom of the card since he debuted.  And this match isn't gonna help his cause - there's no way Gargano loses in the opener when the payoff to his Ciampa feud is still forthcoming.

Justin: Gargano wins
Landon: Johnny Wrestling's gonna win this one it seems. I don't know what Andrade is missing, but he's just not clicking.




Aleister Black vs. Hideo Itami


This one should be a fine contest.  Itami's another guy whose NXT run hasn't panned out as expected.  Part of that is the two years' worth of injuries he sustained, but next to Owens, Zayn, Joe and Nakamura, Itami just kinda seems in a lower tier so far.  The former KENTA needs a defining NXT match.  Could this be it?  I don't think he's winning here - Black is clearly a top priority for the NXT brand.

Justin: Black
Landon: I hate undefeated streaks, and my heart wants Hideo to win this one to pick up some sembence of momentum




NXT Tag Team Championship: Authors of Pain vs. SAnitY


Not terribly excited about this one.  AoP has improved but they need a great team to bring it out of them.  I don't think SAnitY is that team.  It'll be a wild brawl I'm sure, but I don't expect anything amazing.  AoP should retain here unless there's a call-up plan for them.

Justin: AoP retains
Landon: A team that needs a great team to make great matches should not be the champions. SAnitY is closer to that, but we gotta circle jerk over the LOD redux. AOP retains


Thursday, August 17, 2017

WWE SummerSlam 2017 Preview & Predictions

Oh my, it's been a full four weeks since we at Enuffa.com have dropped a big ol' WWE Predictions bomb on the interwebs.  Feels like the epic show of shit that was Battleground was ages ago.  Well, WWE is back with the summer spectacular, and it's gonna be a long night.  A...long.....long, long.......long, long, long, long, long....night.


But to be fair, this show looks pretty strong.  It doesn't have that one must-see match like AJ Styles vs. John Cena from last year, but there's plenty of intriguing bouts lined up.  So let's make with the predicting....

***Dave is in the lead with 15/21 (71%), I'm in second with 38/55 (69%), Landon's third with 28/43 (65%), and Dan's still in the basement with 30/55 (55%)***




Pre-Show: Cruiserweight Championship: Akira Tozawa vs. Neville


Yeah, so this is one of TWO SummerSlam matches WWE gave away the Monday before SummerSlam, for free.  Makes sense.  And this one even had a title change.  Tozawa is the new Cruiserweight Champion.  So goddamn stupid.  Wouldn't wanna put this match on the actual PPV and have the title switch then, would we?  Fuck's sake.  Anyway, this should be decent but the crowd will not care, because the company clearly doesn't.

Justin: Tozawa retains, and we'll probably see this match again on Monday
Dan: Tozawa. No clue why you change the belt on free TV. No clue.
Landon: This Pre-Show pick is sponsored in part by Red Stripe, The official beer of Jamaica.
Dave: Towza I guess





Pre-Show: Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. The Usos


Ya know, I'm not even mad this got bumped to the pre-show.  Their match at Battleground was really good, but we've seen this pairing enough I think.  Smackdown desperately needs some new viable teams.  Maybe splitting up American Alpha wasn't the best idea, hmm?  Dopes.

Justin: New Day retains
Dan: I'm pretty sure these are the only two teams on Smackdown. Cereal boys win.
Landon: New Day retains
Dave: New Day, but come on, let's see something new.





The Big Show vs. Big Cass


On second thought, here's one they could've bumped instead.  Does anyone care about this feud?  Cass has potential but I'm not at all invested in this heel turn.  They really should've turned Cass and Enzo both heel and made Enzo the manager.  This match won't be good.

Justin: Cass
Dan: Cass
Landon: Cass, or this thing dies in the water.
Dave: Boring.  Cass.





Randy Orton vs. Rusev


Poor Ru'.  Remember two years ago when he was a threat?  Guy's a total afterthought now.  When they paired Rusev and Jinder as a team, did ANYONE think Jinder would be first to the WWE Title?  If you answered yes, you're a goddamn liar.  This feud is what's known as a placeholder to build Orton back up after losing three straight to Jinder.  I'm not expecting much of a match here.

Justin: RKO
Dan: Viper
Landon: Orton wins, because of fucking course he does.
Dave: Orton needs to win.





Smackdown Women's Championship: Naomi vs. Natalya


This could be good.  Both of these women can go, and it's nice to see Nattie finally getting another crack at a title.  She's been one of the best in the women's division for years and hasn't held gold since like 2010.  Insane.  Anyway I think it's time for her to get a new run with the strap, plus that will allow Naomi to chase her for a while.

Justin: Nattie wins
Dan: Yup
Landon: My man on the inside, Tommy Gunn, says that Naomi is going to be holding the belt until 2018. So Naomi retains here.
Dave: Naomi



Red Sox 1st Pitch To The Nards: An Oral History

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

Last night, one of the greatest events mine eyes have ever seen occurred. Before the Boston Red Sox took on the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park, they were honoring a young man named Jordan Leandre.  Jordan had cancer and was known around these parts for running around the bases when he was a little kid. It’s Jimmy Fund week where the Sox do their annual telethon to eliminate cancer so there he was on the mound to deliver the first pitch. And what a first pitch it was. View the glory below.


RIGHT. IN. THE. DICK. 

I am not lying to you, loyal reader, when I tell you this is legit the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. I have watched this maybe 4 million times already and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it. Watching a grown man getting hit in his beef popsicle on an endless loop has cheered me up immensely. 

The amount of things that had to go wrong with this pitch that it ended up hitting this chubby cameraman in his spunk bunker is off the charts. First, the kid gets on the mound and he had to be nervous. Then, he had to shoot off a pitch that he must've known was going haywire the second it left his hand. And the big dude taking the pics had to settle in and be a pro long enough that his meat scepter was in total danger. In fact, Tony Capobianco IS a total pro and kept shooting pics! 



I fear I have no way to stop watching this. I do not see how any other video on the interwebs can possibly bring me more joy than a stitched horsehide baseball hitting a man square in the nuts. So tonight I will continue to watch this video and I will pray for Tony Capobianco's clam hammer.


Never Forget. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

NJPW G1 Climax 27, or How Freakin' Good Can This Get?


Well another G1 Climax is in the history books, and hot damn if that wasn't one helluva ride.  As expected the 2017 tournament yielded a sea of ****+ matches including probably half a dozen legitimate Match of the Year candidates, multiple story threads playing out, and a clear direction heading toward next year's WrestleKingdom 12 show.

G1 27 saw Yuji Nagata make his final appearance in the annual tourney, scoring only a single victory but delivering a host of memorable performances, one of which (his battle with Kota Ibushi) stole the show for me.  Nagata is a seemingly ageless warrior who at 49 can still tear the house down anytime he wants.

Meanwhile, G1 newcomers Zack Sabre Jr. and Juice Robinson made their mark in a big way, with numerous excellent showings and a surprise win or two for both guys.  Sabre made Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi tap out the first night of the tournament with an absolutely sick-looking submission, while Juice Robinson got shocking wins over both US Champ Kenny Omega and powerhouse Michael Elgin.  Both NJPW newbies undoubtedly earned title shots against their respective title-holding opponents this fall, and I eagerly await both matches.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Kota Ibushi made his long-awaited NJPW return sans Tiger mask, and padded his already amazing resume with spectacular showings against Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and possibly my favorite match of his, the gritty, rugged bout with Zack Sabre.  Ibushi defeated the British technical master at his own game, eschewing his usual aerial assault for a battle of strikes and grapples.  I sincerely hope Ibushi sticks around this time, or if he must roam again, returns very soon.  Ibushi is a one-of-a-kind talent and the company is better for his presence.

Two of the company's bruisers had marvelous, show stealing matches against top names: Michael Elgin, and Evil.  Both B-Blockers, Elgin and Evil each faced Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, and all four matches were incredible.  Elgin defeated Kenny on Night 8, while Evil got a shocking win over Okada on Night 14, undoubtedly setting him up for an IWGP Title match this fall.  Both men clearly elevated themselves with their work here.

All that aside though, the G1 centered around, and "climaxed" with, the New Japan "big four" - Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Kenny Omega, and Kazuchika Okada.  Of the tournament's 19 shows, there were only four nights by my count where the best match didn't involve at least one of these four men.  And fittingly, the final three main events were transcendent.  On Night 17 Tanahashi and Naito renewed their rivalry from earlier this year with an epic, dramatic bout that for me was their best outing yet.  Naito won the rubber match to advance to the Finals.  Paralleling that, on Night 18 we got the the third match in the Okada-Omega series, and while only half the length of their Tokyo Dome classic (the SHORTER of the first two), this match was impossibly action-packed, showcasing balls-to-the-wall wrestling that never let up for the bout's 24-minute running time.  You're not ever gonna see a better match of that length in 2017, or for a long time thereafter.  I think this was my second-favorite of the series, after the WK11 match.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Game Of Thrones Season 7, Episode 4: The Spoils Of War

By Dan Moore


FIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!! There’s nothing like a nice, pleasant Sunday ending with a goddamn dragon torching a Lannister army. It’s a beautiful sight. 


I hope you like your foot soldiers well done. 

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. That was the end of the episode & the real meat of this week's installment. I'm reversing course here, so let's start with...

RESTEROS:

---Arya finally made it back to Winterfell and had a lovely reunion scene with her sister, Sansa. You could tell these two really missed each other as they talked for the first time in years in the catacombs of their childhood home next to the statue of their departed father. And then she met up with Bran. That kid is a fucking DRAG, man. I know he's gonna have a bigger part to play as the show wraps up, but Christ he sucks right now (same with Littlefinger. That manipulative fuck is up to something, but I cannot pinpoint it all). 

---We also got to see how awesome Arya is with her sword skills as she sparred with Brienne. A fun scene that really shows that a girl is not to be messed with. 


My money was on Brienne. I'M RUINED!!!

---At Dragonstone, Jon shows Dany all the dragonglass in the caves under her castle. And it's an epic looking scene filled with a dramatic new piece of music. Jon discovered in the cave that the Children of the Forest left some paintings behind that showed they eventually teamed up with men to fight the common enemy, the White Walkers. This convinces Ms. Stormborn that she should help Jon battle the undead...but only if he bends the knee. These two are letting pride get in their way. I thought Dany was smarter than Jon, who, we realize, knows nothing, but she's just being petty at this point. 

So about that dragon battle. AWESOME. Jaime and his hetero life mate Bronn are just hanging around, heading back to King's Landing when Bronn hears some folk a-creeping and BOOM Dothraki army backed up by a motherfucking dragon. It was an awesome spectacle to watch on the tube. 


Money shot. 

The battle was awesome to watch, but there were defintley some pros & cons. 

PRO: The CGI dragon torching a buncha poor saps looked awesome. The guys getting cooked so fast they instantly became ash was cool as shit. 

CON: I don't care about courage or a soldier's oath, I see a prehistoric murder machine spewing lava breath, I turn tail and get the hell outta there. The fact that none of the Lannister army ran for the hills seemed unlikely. 

PRO: The scenes were shot well. None of that confusing editing where you have no idea what's going on. 

CON: Ok, so Bronn shoots Drogon with his giant crossbow, who gets mighty pissed off and shoots flames at the crossbow. Bronn...ducks outta the way? And lives? COME ON WITH THIS SHIT. The size of that dragon fire blast woulda toasted him up faster than a marshmallow on a campfire. 



CON: And along with that...Jaime sees Dany on the ground so he heads over there to try and kill her. Drogon does what Drogon does and spits hot fire all over him...and he's knocked off his horse by Bronn and into a conveniently placed lake? COME ON WITH THIS SHIT PART 2! Disregarding the fact that the little lake is like 100 feet deep, they both woulda been burned up faster than Michael Jackson's hair. I get not wanting to kill both these dudes like that, but I like some form of reality in my shows with fire breathing dragons & where people come back from the dead. 

Those distractions aside, this was one of the best battle scenes GoT has put to film. It was a great way to end the episode. Even though it looks like Jaime was floating down into a watery grave to meet Jack Dawson, you know he ain't going out like that. Might this lead to a reunion with Tyrion? I assume he gets captured after being brought out of the lake with no bottom. Should make for some interesting (non dragon) fireworks for next week's show. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3: The Queen's Justice

By Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

After decades for book readers & a little over 6 years for TV viewers, we finally get the meeting promised in the title of the original book. Ice & Fire have met, as Jon Snow trekked all the way to Dragonstone (in about 8 minutes, it seems) to meet up with the Queen of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. And it...could've gone better. Neither one of them wanted to give up any power as they both refused to recognize each other as a king or queen. Dany was especially skeptical when Jonny boy kept bringing up the White Walkers. She definitely didn't believe him. I think Dany was mostly pissed that Jon didn't come to the meeting with any gifts. He brought nothing. Motherfucker could've at least sprung for some Ring Dings & Pepsi.

She also made a hugely inaccurate claim about her bloodline...


"I am the last Targaryen"


"Well..."

As we all know at this point, Jon isn’t Ned Stark's bastard. Nope, he’s the son of Ned's sister Lyanna & Dany's brother Rhaegar. This makes him a Targaryen and make’s Dany’s claim of being the last Targaryen irrelevant, stupid, idiotic, caca-doody poo-poo. 

Dany essentially takes Jon & his crew prisoner on Dragonstone, but after discussing things with Tyrion, she decides to let him mine the vast dragon glass on her island so he may forge them into weapons to fight the army of the undead. 

These scenes were a lot of fun to watch, as us fans finally get to placate our nerd boners by watching these characters get together. These negotiations seem to be delaying the inevitable, as we all know Jon & Dany eventually have to get along to destroy both the Whites & Cersei, but I'm all aboard for this ride. 

Speaking of being on board (nailed that transition), Euron's fleet of ships caught up to the Unsullied at Casterly Rock after Greyworm & the rest took it down. The Unsullied knew something was up though, as the Rock was guarded by waaaaaaay fewer men than was expected. When Euron's fleet showed up & started firebombing Dany's fleet, Greyworm's sullen expression said it all. I have no clue what happens to the Unsullied now. Do they dig in and fire away at Euron's fleet? Or are they all doomed? I'm hoping we get some dragon fire to help out our no-dick having friends. 

RESTEROS

---Back at King's Landing, Euron, who can seemingly TELEPORT, shows up with Ellaria Sand & her daughter as his special gift to Cersei. And she LOVED it. She immediately dumped them into a dungeon and poisoned the SHIT out of the last Sand Snake. A truly brutal from of torture. Cersei is going full bat shit crazy. 

---Even more crazy than that is her letting everyone know that, yea, what the fuck, I bang my twin brother. The secret everyone knew is now just going to be straight up knowledge for the whole kingdom as Cersei just doesn't seem to care anymore. She's got MOXIE!

---Back at Winterfell, Sansa was greeted by a long lost sibling. No, not Arya, but Bran. And she was happy to see him...initially. Then she started talking to him & realized he went all Emo, what with being the Three Eyed Raven and all. She was not interested and got the hell away from him. 

"My poetry is so dark"

---Sam cured Ser Jorah's greyscale by just cutting that shit right off. Then he rubbed some aloe on it. How the FUCK did no one in the Seven Kingdoms think of this before??!?!?

---Finally, over in Highgarden, Jaime led his troops to take over the Tyrells homelands. He had a final meeting with Lady Olenna Tyrell. He let her know that Cersei wanted to fuck her up BAD, but Jaime decided to let her go out peacefully with a poison cup of wine. And once she drank it, she let Jaime know that, yes, she was the one that poisoned & killed his first born son, Joffrey. 


"Oh, why'd you hafta tell me that AFTER you drank it?!?!?"

A fitting end for a great character. Diana Rigg was amazing in this role & I will truly miss her bitchiness & charm that she brought to every scene she was in. Take a bow, Dame Rigg. You deserve it. 


"Bye, Haterz"






Friday, July 28, 2017

Today in Wrestling History (July 28th)

by Cristian Bortoluzzi     
@CRISTIANBORTO_


TODAY IN WRESTLING HISTORY - JULY 28th




NJPW Osaka Show 1985

There were two title changes on this show. Hiro Saito defeated The Cobra for the WWF Junior Heavyweight Title. Then later in the show The Cobra defeated Hiro Saito to regain the title. Other matches on the show also included Tatsumi Fujinami defeating Jimmy Snuka, and Bruiser Brody defeating Antonio Inoki by disqualification.



AJPW Budokan Hall Show 1994

In front of 16,300 people at Budokan Hall Steve Willams beat Mitsuharu Misawa for the AJPW Triple Crown Title in 27:39. The match was rated 4.75 stars by Dave Meltzer.



ECW New York City Show 1995

On this night Eddie Guerrero took the ECW World TV Title off Dean Malenko - these two in a ring together is absolute magic, two of ECW's greatest. Also, that night Cactus Jack defeated The Sandman by DQ but the ECW World Title stayed with The Sandman.



WCW Nitro 1997

Alex Wright defeated Chris Jericho for the WCW Cruiserweight Championship. The main event of that show saw Scott Steiner beat Randy Savage by DQ.



CZW What About Lobo? 2001

This show saw Johnny Kashmere and Justice Pain defeat The Briscoe Brothers for the CZW Tag Team Titles. Also Nick Gage pinned CZW Iron Man Champion Nick Mondo for the title.



WWE Monday Night Raw 2003

This episode of Raw took place in World Arena, Colorado Springs. The main event of Raw saw Molly Holly take on and defeat Gail Kim for the Women's Championship.



PROGRESS Chapter Eight: The Big Boys Guide to Strong Style 2013

This chapter saw Rampage Brown take the Progress Title from fan favorite El Ligero. The show also featured a hardcore match between future CZW TOD winner Jimmy Havoc and James Davis.



NJPW G1 Climax 24 - Day 5 2014

The most prestigious tournament in wrestling, the G1 Climax came to Sendai Sun Plazza in Japan for night 5 of the 2014 tournament.  The show featured great matches, as is expected of the G1. The best of the night came in the main event as Tetsuya Naito took on Kazuchika Okada. The match was rated 4.15 stars by Dave Meltzer. Other notable matches on the card included Katsuyori Shibata versus former WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamen (4 stars) and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Tomoaki Honma (3.75)



TNA Impact! Taping 2015

This TNA Impact taping was an eventful one; five of TNA's championship belts were on the line as Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards retained the TNA World Tag Team Titles against the team of Abyss and Manik. A three-way match for the TNA X Division Title had the champion Tigre Uno retain against DJ Z and Sonjay Dutt. This was a stacked taping and the people in attendance knew they were seeing a great show. The duo of Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards had to wrestle for a second time that night, facing Brian Myers and Trevor Lee, who took the titles from Davey and Eddie in a hard-fought match. Up next was Matt Hardy's quest for the TNA World Title against EC3; unfortunately for Hardy he couldn't get the job done as EC3 retained the title. For the last match of the night we saw a new King of the mountain Champion as Bobby Roode defeated PJ Black.



Wrestler Births

Noam Dar in Tel Aviv Israeli (1993)



Wrestler Deaths

Karl Gotch (2007)






Monday, July 24, 2017

WWE Battleground 2017: An Act of Sabotage?


I've said it before and I'll say it again: WWE could fuck up a ham sandwich.

On the raging dumpster fire that was the Battleground lineup, how is AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens not a runaway Match of the Night?  How do you turn a surefire hit into an instantly forgettable shoulder-shrug of a match?  Here's how: you book a match that never gets out of second gear and ends abruptly with the US Champ getting rolled up for a solid seven seconds while a barely conscious referee slow counts him.

Look, I'm fully aware AJ and Owens aren't blameless for their match falling flat, but I can't imagine they chose to take it easy for the 17 minutes they were given, and they most certainly didn't choose that facepalm of a finish.  The ref got bumped a full minute earlier, and while that spot looked fine it wasn't anything that should've kept him down as long as it did.  While he milked the shit outta the bump, we got a series of traded submissions until AJ locked in a crossface, which Owens countered with a rollup that AJ should've easily been able to escape.  The only thing keeping AJ down really was the fact that he still had the hold locked in.  Just let go, dude.  And the ref was still overselling the bump, so he counted the pin in such agonizingly slow fashion the entire crowd was sure AJ was kicking out.  But he didn't.  And everyone just sorta went "Oh.....ok then...."  A surprise finish doesn't really work if the crowd doesn't react to it.

As of now AJ vs. Owens is the only match I've watched from Battleground, but the general consensus is that the Usos-New Day bout stole the show by far, and the rest was entirely skippable.  I intend to watch said tag match later today but likely won't waste my time with the rest.  Incidentally Battleground is the first WWE PPV since TLC 2013 that I didn't watch at least a majority of (I skipped the filler matches from Fastlane 2015).  This is how disinterested I am in the Smackdown brand right now.

Shinsuke Nakamura was booked like just another guy, only defeating the dreadfully mediocre Baron Corbin due to a nutshot disqualification, after which Corbin beat the crap out of him.  The uniquely gifted Japanese sensation is officially no longer a standout, much like everyone else on the roster not named Brock or John.

The women's elimination match was given a paltry eleven minutes during which three of the four eliminations took place within seconds of each other.  I love how whenever WWE adds elimination rules to a match, suddenly everyone's stamina decreases exponentially.

John Cena returned after a three-month hiatus and had an apparently overlong snoozer of a flag match, hardly a career highlight for one of the best performers in the company.

Sami Zayn and Mike Kanellis got the "death spot," further illustrating how little the company thinks of Sami at this point.  Hey, at least he got the win.

And finally there was the 28-minute Punjabi Prison match, which ended when Jinder's old pal The Great Khali made his much-anticipated-by-no-one return to WWE.  Seriously, did anyone in the entire world miss Khali in his absence?  I did a poll - 85% of WWE fans didn't care that he was gone, and the other 15% had never heard of him.  I guess Vince must've asked himself "How can I make this shitshow of a Jinder push even lamer?"  The Great Khali is of course the correct answer.  They're not actually gonna let this guy wrestle again, are they?  Please tell me he's simply a bodyguard at this point.  The man can barely put one foot in front of the other and his in-ring abilities make those of Nathan Jones seem inoffensive by comparison.

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 2: Stormborn

To properly review this episode, I need to start at the ending. Because that's where the meat of the show took place. And this happened.

I AM VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE!!!

Somehow, some way, as Yara & her fleet were attacked on their way to King's Landing COMPLETELY BY SURPRISE by another armada of ships. How, you may ask? I have no fucking clue. No idea how a vast plethora of oncoming warships could be completely missed by EVERYONE in Yara's charge. Just defies logic. 

All bellyaching aside, this battle scene was ok. It killed a lotta people, and wiped out a good portion of the annoying Sand Snakes. But the way it was edited & the darkness of the night battle made it really hard to understand what the hell was going on at times. Everyone was dressed in black too. How do you know if you're killing the enemy or your friends? If I was in this battle, I woulda wiped out a minimum of 5 of my buddies. Easy. 

And they're really going all in with Euron as the new big bad guy, huh? He comes in on a ship with an iron drawbridge and crushes a dead. That's a hell of an entrance. Though it's gonna take a little more for me to fear a man whose name sounds far too close to urine. It turns out Euron's promise to bring back Cersei a nice gift is bringing back the very woman that killed her daughter, Ellaria Sand. She's in trouble...

It turns out that Theon had a little more Reek in him than he was letting on. After his uncle dispatched the sand snakes & bested Yara in combat, Euron expected Theon to come on over and try to save her. Instead, he did his best Wile E. Coyote impression and took a dive. 

I regret nothing!!!

I do not give a shit about Theon if he's gonna go back to being all Reekly & cowardly again. They got away from that and had him going in a good direction. If they return to that nonsense again, I hope Yara just offs him real quick to be done with it. 

Dragonstone

Not much happened here this week. EXCEPT FOR THE BONING!!!

So...uhh...now what?

Seriously, for this show to spend SO long on a sex scene involving a guy with no dick when they only have like 9 episodes left is such a waste of time. Don't get me wrong. Missandei gets my Valerian Steel all a flutter. But Greyworm has no sword with which to pierce her lady dragon. Pointless. 

Also, Dany ripped on Varys for trying to kill her years ago, but hey, bygones are bygones, right? What's a little murder attempt in this game of thrones, eh? They also setup their battle plans, with the aforementioned fuckup at sea to King's Landing & the Unsullied with the Dothraki heading to Casterly Rock to take down Tyrion's homeland. 

She also sent out a raven to Winterfell to let Jon Snow she'd like to meet him. Which leads to...

Winterfell 

...Jon getting said raven and heading off to meet the mother of dragons, against everyone's will. He leaves Sansa in charge while he's gone. And Little Finger is making all kinds of shady looks at her. Something's going down there, sooner rather than later. 

RESTEROS
---Arya was running around the woods and ran into her old direwolf in another random coincidence. Nymeria didn't even recognize it seemed. But the fact she didn't eat her leads me to believe this wolf is coming back to the Stark clan. She also learned from her friend Hot Pie that Jon is in charge of Winterfell & she started heading that way. 

---At King's Landing, Qyburn showed Cersei how he planned to kill the dragons. A giant ballista (I had to look that up). So a huge crossbow is gonna take down these dragons flying in the sky at unbelievable speeds, eh? I mean, logically, this would be nearly impossible to happen. But Chekov's gun and all. One of those dragons is going down. 

---At the Citadel, Sam cut Jorah up like a thanksgiving turkey trying to cure his greyscale. It was pretty gruesome looking. Like when I'm peeling after a sunburn. The transition of the scene from stabbing at Jorah's gross, puss filled skin to a spoon into a hot, pot pie almost made the lady of the house barf. Which filled me with glee. 

---Finally, I'm so glad they essentially wrapped up the Dorne story line with Euron killing just about all of them. I didn't care about them, I didn't know their names, hell, I don't think I can tell any of them apart. They screwed up what could've been a good plot. They seemed utterly unnecessary to the show at all times. Good riddance. 

We're annoying. And then we were naked. Now, we're dead. Toodles! 

WWE's Storytelling, or Lack Thereof

by Christian Bortoluzzi
@ChristianBorto_



Is good storytelling more important than match quality in the WWE?

WWE only occasionally put on storylines that have you gripped and ones that you want to see what's going to happen next. But that's not how it's always been. In the Attitude Era, WWE put on storylines that had you dying to see the next episode of Raw or Smackdown, to see what twist would happen next. One thing we don't miss in the Attitude era was the quality of the wrestling WWE was putting out every Monday. While the stars in the match kept you entertained, the actual wrestling didn't. If you compare the Attitude Era's best in-ring competitors like Triple H or The Rock to today's best in ring competitors such as AJ Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura, you could show a non-wrestling fan these wrestlers in their prime and that person could, without doubt, tell you that the stars of today put on better matches than the stars of yesterday.

The Attitude Era is referred to by many wrestling fans as the best era in WWE history. And that's because of the "anything can happen" mentality. Remember Austin stunning McMahon or DX invading WCW?  Stuff like that won't happen in this day and age because WWE has to impress sponsors; they wouldn't tell Impact Wrestling that their owl sucks or anything even close to being that risky.

The best storylines WWE has put on in this "New Era" have been organic, like the Daniel Bryan's triumph at Wrestlemania 30.  It wasn't the original idea but the fans made that happen by hijacking shows, and look at what we got out of it: a storyline that will never be forgotten. And the very recent Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt story WWE pulled out something magical and unexpected when Randy Orton burnt down Bray Wyatt's compound with the remains of Sister Abigail buried underneath. It felt like a flashback to the Attitude Era, like something we would have seen then rather than in 2017. Yes, the match sucked at 'Mania but for the weeks leading up to that match, everybody was enthralled in what was happening; it felt realistic, like what we had seen years previous in the Attitude era.

One of the things hurting storylines in this day and age is all the promos have been scripted down to the comma. So we won't be getting any "pipe bombs" anytime soon and that is having a negative impact on loads of storylines.  The Miz's feud with Daniel Bryan was an exception; that had electric promos on Talking Smack. That feud if you can call it that, was a well-remembered highlight of what Smackdown can do post-brand split. Ditto the Styles/Cena feud, where they were spitting out incredible promos on a weekly basis because they were not as scripted as others. Imagine if The Rock had these obstacles - the greatest talker in WWE history would be nothing.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

WWE Battleground 2017 Preview & Predictions

Anooooother one??  These WWE PPVs are getting old, friendos.  Fortunately after this Sunday we get a full four weeks before Summerslam.  I can't wait!


Smackdown's latest calamity takes place this Sunday, headlined by one of the dumbest gimmick matches they've ever conjured up (I've made my feelings on this match clear HERE).  Quite frankly (to borrow Vince's favorite phrase) there's only one match on this show I really care about, and I may only watch that one match unless reviews of the other six matches are overwhelmingly positive.  I have enough GOOD wrestling to keep track of this weekend with the G1 Climax tournament in full swing.

Buuuut we gotta predict this turd of a show, so here goes.

***Dave is in the lead with 9/13 (69%), I'm in second with 31/47 (66%), Landon's third with 23/35 (65%), and Dan's bringing up the rear with a paltry 27/47 (57%).  How do you live with yourself Daniel??*** (Dan: Typically by not watching wrestling all that much and having sex with women, you fucking dork.)

Have I mentioned I like Dave Moore better?




Pre-Show match: Tye Dillinger vs. Aiden English


This shit again?  We saw this on the Backlash pre-show and no one cared then.  So let's have a rematch two months later.  Pointless.

Justin: 50-50 booking is WWE's M.O. so Aiden wins here
Dan: I have no idea who these people are.  So Dillinger.
Landon: English
Dave: Aiden English I guess





Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos vs. The New Day


This match was pretty good last time and the Usos took a countout loss to keep the belts.  This time I think The New Day get the job done and win them.  I mean who else is gonna dethrone Jimmy & Jey?  American Alpha just got split up for some reason ('The fuck are they goin' with this Angle-Jordon nonsense?), Breezango are fun but they're a comedy duo, and the Ascension and the Colons are persona non grata, so there's no one else left.  Jeezus this tag division stinks.

Justin: The New Day
Dan: Usos
Landon: New Day, who cares?
Dave: New Day





Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis


Well apparently WWE read my rant yesterday about how badly they're treating Sami.  Either that or it's a total coincidence.  I'd like to believe the former.  Anyway, good to see Sami's getting a PPV match at least.  Now, does he get his win back or do they continue with Kanellis's momentum?  My brain says one thing, my heart says another.

Justin: Eh, I'll be optimistic and say Sami.  Because WWE clearly read my rant yesterday.  Yeah, that's it.....
Dan: No clue who Kanellis is.  So he's my pick.
Landon: Kanellis.  Still trying to figure out what he has, besides the sexiest woman in wrestling.
Dave: Yeah, that other dude that's not Sami.  He wins.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WWE and The Long, Slow Burial of Sami Zayn


Don't worry, this'll be a short rant.

I'm just looking over this Sunday's Battleground lineup and couldn't help noticing that the guy who beat "Mr. Money in the Bank" Baron Corbin at Backlash a couple months ago is missing.  Not only that, the same guy was used last night to put over Mike Kanellis of all people.  Is there some reason Sami Zayn can't get pushed, on SMACKDOWN???  The show where lifelong curtain-jerkers get to be the WWE Champ?  The show where the least qualified participant in BOTH Money in the Bank matches walked away with the briefcase?  I'm gonna need to know which one of Vince's relatives Sami ran over with a golf cart, because it makes not one lick of sense to me that a very over, likable babyface who routinely crushes it in the ring can't get a meaningful feud/push on the increasingly razor-thin Smackdown roster.  I figured he was simply getting lost in the shuffle on the overcrowded Monday Night Raw, but no, if anything he's been booked even worse since moving to the blue brand.
Once again the most relatable guy in the company is being treated like a chump, much like his female counterpart on Raw, Bayley.  Both Zayn and Bayley could be real moneymakers as underdog characters who win despite their inherent limitations.  Instead WWE books them to lose because of them.  "Nice guys finish last" is obviously one of Vince McMahon's mantras, but in the realm of storytelling that line of thinking ultimately does nothing but turn people off.  Generally audiences don't enjoy seeing characters they genuinely like getting the short end of the stick at every turn.  Yes we want to invest in their struggle, but in order for us to invest there has to be the promise of some payoff, of our faith in the character being rewarded.  The popular everyman should eventually get the win in the end, even if it's just a moral victory.

Instead WWE's philosophy with characters like these is to book them like suckers.  Sami's a nice guy, thus he usually can't close the deal, particularly when there's a championship at stake.  Speaking of championships, was the last time Sami had any kind of one-on-one title match?  Survivor Series?  The guy essentially won his feuds against Kevin Owens last year and Baron Corbin this year, with prominent PPV victories over both.  Yet each of his opponents went on to bigger things (Owens partnered with Jericho and won the Universal Title, Corbin won Money in the Bank) while Sami stagnated (a meaningless pre-show SummerSlam match, a one-off PPV loss to Jericho, and a feud where Braun Strowman killed him).  How does the winner of a high-profile feud go on to have less success than the loser?

Once again a guy who got over organically on his own is treated as an afterthought because WWE didn't handpick him to get over.  Thus they just use him as a utility guy to make their latest midcard heel du jour look good.  No offense to the Kanellises, but if they're still even on Vince's radar in six months I'll shit myself.  I mean that literally, I will defecate in my trousers.  Call me crazy but I don't at all see Mike Kanellis getting a standalone match on the WrestleMania 34 card, ever.  So why job Sami Zayn out to him?  This would be like hiring a world-class surgeon to administer cough medicine to your sick child.  Sami is waaaaay overqualified for this position.  Shouldn't Sami's considerable skill be used to help build up someone the company is serious about pushing?  Or, and here's a wacky idea, shouldn't Sami's skill be used to build up Sami??

In an age where the secondary championships (and even the primary ones) are as meaningless as ever, how has Sami Zayn not even been considered for either the US or Intercontinental Title?  Make him a long-running underdog champion who manages to eke out wins despite oftentimes being overmatched?  Or how about a Zayn-Dolph Ziggler feud, since we never got that match at Survivor Series?  Let those two tear the house down with the winner getting a feud against the US Champion.  It would build up the idea that the US Title is a highly sought-after prize if Sami and Dolph tried to murder each other over it.  Or pair Sami up with another under-utilized babyface and give them a run with the Tag belts.  Just give Sami something meaningful to do, for fuck's sake.  It's astounding to me how much talent this company has under its umbrella and yet they can't figure out how to use at least half of them.  Vince's real mantra should be "pearls before swine."



Monday, July 17, 2017

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 1: Dragonstone

by Dan Moore
@SouthieDanimal

I'm going back to Westeros, Westeros, Westeros...so here we are. The first of the final 13 episodes (spread over 2 seasons because OF COURSE) of GoT premiered last night. There were a few good scenes, one great scene and a buncha puzzle pieces moving into place. Let's dive in, shall we?


Arya: The Professional

A girl had no name...but she has poison...plenty of poison.

Well, our little Stark girl is all growns up, huh? After slicing the shit out of Walder Frey's neck last season, Arya decides to use her new face swapping powers to decimate the entirety of the Frey clan. And she does this beautifully, getting all those drunks to make a toast with goblets full of poison wine. It's a lovely  scene filled with vengeance and corpses. Arya's revenge tour looks to be her focus this season, and, I for one am delighted. Though I do have a question: so her face swapping also makes her the same size as the person whose face she stole? Cause methinks a teenage girl is a tad shorter than a full grown man...but whatevs...do you, Arya. She also ran into Ed Sheeran and didn't kill him, which shows she still has some restraint.


The Whites


WHITE WALKERS COMIN'!

Finally, after being teased for about 88 years, the White Walkers are acutally, really, truly on the prowl. Teased from the first scene of the first episode, the threat of these ice zombies has really been on the back burner, what with all the warring & incest. But now the real threat in Westeros is here. And they have giants. MOTHER FUCKING ZOMBIE GIANTS. This is awesome. An aside: if this show ends up being a prequel to the Walking Dead, I'm gonna off myself. I already stopped watching a show with zombies walking seemingly to nowhere, I don't need another one. DON'T MAKE ME DO IT, HBO!


Friday, July 14, 2017

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


Well folks, we finally have a Spider-Man movie worthy of everyone's favorite web-slinger.  Marvel got Spidey on loan from Sony and added their magic touch to craft the right mix of natural humor, lighthearted adventure, and heavy drama, plus easily the best casting of the role to date.  Spider-Man: Homecoming is exactly what I want of a Spidey film  (It should be noted that I find the universally lauded Spider-Man 2 highly overrated and not much more than a one-time watch).

Tom Holland is note-perfect as Peter Parker, an adolescent, immature, glory-seeking, hormonal dork who hasn't remotely figured out how to handle his newfound super powers.  After a brief assist in Captain America: Civil War, Peter is obsessed with becoming a full-fledged Avenger despite not at all being ready for such a huge responsibility.  He keeps himself busy by foiling small-time neighborhood crimes, frequently stumbling, and at times even making life difficult for the people he's trying to protect.

Meanwhile at school the gifted sophomore Peter is neglecting his studies and his commitment to his Academic Decathlon team, while trying to navigate his way around a romantic crush on a senior student.  He thinks becoming an Avenger will give him purpose and solve all his social issues, but this film conveys better than all five previous Spidey movies that Peter's everyday problems will all still be there when he takes off the mask.  Tom Holland's relatable performance carries this film and for me rings completely authentic, unlike the ineptly nerdy Tobey Maguire or the artificially emo Andrew Garfield.  It's not that I disliked their performances, I just didn't feel that either of them hit the right mark with the character.  Maguire's take was torturous at times, Garfield's was often unpleasant.  Above all, Holland was completely credible as a 15-year-old.  Maguire and Garfield played the role in their late 20s/early 30s, and at no time did I buy either of them as high schoolers.

This film's sense of humor feels effortless, where the Sam Raimi films seemed to belabor the jokes and the Marc Webb films pretty much eschewed humor altogether.  Peter and his best friend Ned have natural rapport, while he and love interest Liz have an uncertain chemistry that worked so much better for me than Maguire and Kirsten Dunst's agonizingly overdone back-and-forth or Garfield and Emma Stone's oddly grown-up interactions.  The romantic story also didn't overtake the entire film and become Peter's raison d'etre.  Primarily he wants to become the hero he envisioned himself to be, but simply lacks the wisdom or experience to make that happen.  He comes to understand that "with great power comes great responsibility" without the script needing to bludgeon us over the head with the idea.

The action sequences have just the right amount of weight to them; they aren't meant to be "epic" set pieces and Spider-Man barely manages to save the day each time.  He's learning as he goes, and the results are quite messy.  My favorite action scene was the one involving the Washington Monument - a sensational and suspensful rescue that puts Raimi and Webb's sequences to shame.