Friday, June 15, 2018

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II Preview & Predictions

Welcome to another round of NXT Predictions, here at Enuffa.com, where we predict the special events of the one part of WWE that still works consistently!


Look, I don't even watch NXT's weekly show, but even when I think I'm not up-to-date enough on the brand's goings-on, I can still sit down and watch the fuck out of a TakeOver special and feel like I spent my time wisely.  That's the mark of a good wrestling product, when you don't necessarily HAVE to catch every weekly show to understand and appreciate what's happening on the big ones.  Simple stories in wrestling are still the most effective.

Anywho, the black & yellow brand has once again put together a great-looking card that won't feel like it lasts five days, with three title matches, an undercard bout between two up-and-comers, and an all-time grudge rematch.  Undoubtedly this will once again trounce the main roster show in terms of quality and enjoyment, begging the question (again), does Vince not care that developmental's audiences are WAY more enthusiastic than RAW & Smackdown's?  It's just fucking baffling to me.

Anyway let's take a look at the matches....




Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream


This could actually steal the show if given enough time.  Dream has already impressed everyone with his charisma and athletic ability, and Ricochet is superhuman.  I'm just lookin' to see some fireworks here.

Justin: Ricochet wins his first big singles match in NXT
Landon: Ricochet




NXT Women's Championship: Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross


Baszler is a legit scary woman and carries herself like a goddamn monster.  Nikki Cross is a crazy person with zero fucks to give.  This oughta be a wild one.  Shayna's calculated precision attack vs. Nikki's unruly brawling.  It's like Ken Shamrock vs. Mankind.

Justin: Shayna retains
Landon: Baszler


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

WWE Money in the Bank 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome back to Enuffa.com's WWE Predictions!  It's been a while since WWE dropped a mediocre-at-best turd on PPV.  Feels like I haven't bitched about their misuse of their stacked talent roster in ages.  And with New Japan having just delivered an amazing Dominion card headlined by possibly the best match I've ever seen in thirty-plus years of watching wrestling, Money in the Bank is gonna feel very anti-climactic.  But we got a job to do.....


As much on-paper potential as this show has, WWE's writing has been so stilted and goofy I'm having a hard time bringing myself to give a shit.  Styles vs. Nakamura has been a terribly booked feud, robbing them of what should've been a classic series of matches.  Daniel Bryan is still saddled with trying to give Big Cass any credibility as an in-ring performer.  Sami Zayn is being used to get the robotic Bobby Lashley over.  And bafflingly they're pairing Ronda Rousey up against Nia Jax, who isn't at all ready of carrying someone so new to pro wrestling in a match.

On top of this, rumors are rampant that Brock Lesnar will finally be dropping the the Universal Title, at SummerSlam.  To Roman Reigns.  For the love of fucking Christ, enough with the Brock-Roman shit.  They've wrestled three times, each match getting worse feedback than the last.  Roman isn't your guy.  Seth Rollins is.

Sadly with WWE's recently announced deal with Fox, giving them an exorbitant amount of cash for broadcast rights to Smackdown, Vince is about to start caring even less about putting out quality television.  There's no longer an incentive to do so.  Christ....

Anyway, let's get to the picks.

***Little Dave Moore is in the lead with 69% (22/32), I'm in second with 66% (21/32), Landon is next with 63% (20/32), and Dan's right in the rear with 56% (18/32)***




Pre-Show Match Smackdown Tag Team Championship: Bludgeon Brothers vs. Anderson & Gallows


Welp, this got pushed off the main card.  Just as well, it's a throwaway (though it could be decent) and 10 matches on a B PPV is way too many.  Karl and Luke have zero chance of winning the belts here.

Justin: BB retain
Dan: Bludgeon me.
Landon: BB
Dave: I liked Karl & Luke when they first came up. WWE buried them and they will stay buried. BB retain





Bobby Lashley vs. Sami Zayn


Fuck me....this feud is built around stupid comedy segments involving Lashley's fake sisters, obstacle courses, and other non-wrestling crap.  The company better be paying attention to how good a heel Sami is, because that's all that's being accomplished here.  No one gives a rat's butthole about Lashley the Charisma Vacuum.  He wasn't relevant in 2007 and he certainly isn't now.

Justin: Lashley wins anyway
Dan: Lashley STINKS, but he'll win.
Landon: Lashley
Dave: Who cares?  Lashley.





Smackdown Women's Championship: Carmella vs. Asuka


Okay, here's how this should go.  Asuka kills Carmella dead in 28 seconds, new champion.  Anything other than this scenario is an insult to Asuka.  Also tell me again why Vince had Charlotte end Asuka's streak just to have her drop the belt to Carmella?  Was it just to knock Triple H's hard work down a peg or two?

Justin: Asuka better win this
Dan: I agree.
Landon: Asuka
Dave: It's Asuka time.


Monday, June 11, 2018

NJPW Dominion 2018: Okada-Omega Is the New Yardstick

Dude.  Holy actual fucking shit.  If Okada-Omega IV wasn't the greatest match of all time, I dunno what is.  I went into this saying "Well, they're gonna try to top everything they've done before, and if two guys could do it, it's Okada and Omega.  But let's be realistic, it'll probably be their second or third-best match.  And that's good enough."  But no, they actually fucking topped everything they've ever done before.  If there had previously been a case to be made against Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega being the two absolute best wrestlers in the world (and really, there wasn't), there definitely isn't now.  These guys set an impossibly high bar for themselves at WrestleKingdom 11 and somehow managed to clear it at Dominion 2018.  This main event was about as perfect a match as I've ever seen.


But first let's talk about the rest of the show.  Even if the undercard of this PPV had sucked, the main event was so incredible it's an 8/10 show for that alone.  But fortunately the undercard did not suck at all.

The opener was a short but entertaining Jr. Tag Title match, with Roppongi 3K challenging El Desperado & Kanemaru, hoping to regain the straps.  The heels took advantage of a slight ref bump and Kanemaru used a whiskey bottle on SHO for the win.  Very odd choice keeping the belts on SZGN here but I imagine RPG3K will get them back sooner or later.  Nothing spectacular in this opener, it was fine.  **

Next up was Jay White & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay in another short bout.  This was all about setting up White vs. Robinson, which it did nicely.  Robinson got the pin on White with Pulp Friction, and these two will face off for the US Title at the G1 Special.  Just a quick 7-minute match.  **

A third undercard tag match pitted Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano against Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.  This was the best of the three openers, mostly due to the Ishii-Suzuki interaction (a big singles match is upcoming and should be glorious).  Sabre got the win for his team by tapping out Yano, but after the match Ishii and Suzuki brawled into the back.  Another fun little match.  **1/4

The first really noteworthy bout was the NEVER Openweight triple threat.  Hirooki Goto and Michael Elgin carried most of the weight here while Taichi played the chickenshit heel who picked his spots and tried to stay out of danger.  After some nice three-way spots and some good powerbrokering from Goto and Elgin, Elgin won by buckle bombing Taichi into Goto and then Elgin bombing Taichi for the pin.  Elgin vs. Goto is already announced for Kizuna Road, so that should be a helluva fight.  This match wasn't your usual NEVER slugfest but had some clever spots and was well worked.  ***1/2

Here's where the show really started to take off.  The Young Bucks, freshly moved up to the heavyweight tag division, challenged Evil & Sanada in an energetic, dramatic bout where both Bucks sold injuries - Matt's back became an issue again, and Nick missed a kick on the apron and whacked his foot on the post.  Both injuries played into multiple spots and the Bucks were in peril for much of the bout.  Matt and Nick Jackson have successfully transitioned from spotfest wrestlers to really great storytellers, and this match felt different than their Jr. division stuff.  I'm really excited to see how the heavyweight class looks with them in the mix.  After multiple exciting false finishes, the Bucks took the match and the straps with More Bang for Your Buck.  One of the best heavyweight tag title matches I've seen in NJPW.  ****


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Music Review: Ghost - Prequelle (2018)


After an ugly lawsuit between current and former members, Swedish metal band Ghost have returned with their fourth LP Prequelle, and the results are, well, underwhelming.  Feeling less like a fresh set of new songs and more like a plate of leftovers from Meloria (their killer 2015 album), Prequelle pretty much explores the same sonic territory but lacks the instant throat-grab of songs like "He Is" and "Cirice."  Where Meloria and its 2013 predecessor Infestessumam (my personal favorite Ghost record) were chock full of excellent 70s and 80s-esque hard rock that channeled bands like Blue Oyster Cult and even (gasp!) ABBA, Prequelle is just a slate of competently written and performed tunes that satisfy without dazzling.

Even minor standouts like the glam metalish "Rats" and "Dance Macabre" and the intriguing but incomplete-sounding closer "Life Eternal," with its numerous key modulations and emotive hook, sound like B-side material rather than album highlights.  The choice to put two full-length instrumentals on one record strikes me as odd too - the second of these, an atmospheric waltz called "Helvetesfonster," keeps my attention at least, but the first, called "Miasma," feels like a song for which they just couldn't come up with a vocal part (though I did like the use of saxophone toward the end).  Couple that with the truncated intro track "Ashes," and you're left with only seven songs that feature the band's frontman and primary creative force. 

That's not to say Prequelle doesn't sound great, it certainly does.  The slick, full-sounding production on Meloria is back on this album; the instruments all sound huge and thunderous, and Cardinal Copia's dense vocal harmonies provide plenty of ear candy as usual.  It's just that the prodigious songwriting of the last two records is missing here.  I don't hate any of these tunes, but I don't love any of them either. 

Prequelle is a decent effort, but unlike Infestessumam and Meloria, sadly doesn't feel like an essential Ghost record.

I give the album *** out of *****.


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NJPW Dominion 2018 Preview & Predictions

Holy jumpin' shitballs this show looks good.  Like, "the most fun you can have with your clothes on" good.  Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself - welcome to another round of PPV Predictions here at Enuffa.com.


As I was saying, Dominion has all the markings of an all-time classic PPV.  Epic main event?  Check.  Awesome special attraction match?  Check.  Wildly athletic Jr. Heavyweight match?  Check.  Guest stars?  Check.  Potentially division-altering Tag Title match?  Check.  Literally the only thing missing from this show is Kota Ibushi (where the hell is he??).  There's no reason this can't be the PPV of the Year.

So let's get to the predictions....



IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K


This'll be the hot opener to kick things off.  Now that the Super Juniors tourney is over, RPG3K needs to regain the straps and go back to being the division's new featured team.  I'm not expecting an incredible match here, but this should be fun.

Justin: RPG
Landon: Let's get these straps on RPG so that Desperado can challenge for the Junior Heavyweight title.





Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Jay White & Yoshi-Hashi


This is one of the few New Japan shows where even the throwaway tag matches early on the card hold some intrigue for me.  I often skip these types of matches, but this and the next match could both be quite entertaining.  I like that White and Finlay are feuding over a championship, now that they're all growns up.  White is still looking for his career-defining match, but I have no doubt he'll find it.  I have a feeling this is to set up White vs. Juice over the next couple months.

Justin: I guess I'll go with Juice and Dave
Landon: Juice and Dave.  Sorry Yoshi.





Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano


Again, this could just be a filler match but I'm actually interested in it; anytime Ishii mixes it up with Suzuki or Sabre I'm on board.  I'd like to see a real feud between Ishii and Sabre.  This should have some nice brutality mixed with Yano's comedy antics.

Justin: Suzuki-Gun
Landon: SZGN


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Parents' Night In #8: Star Wars - The Last Jedi (2017)

Join Kelly and Justin for a super-sized episode of the hottest show on YouTube*, as we drink booze and talk about the most controversial Star Wars film of all time, The Last Jedi!  Is it as bad as some people say?  As great as other people say?  Is Rose the worst character ever?  Are "butthurt fanboys" overreacting?  Let's take a closer look!




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*According to a panel of experts who live in our house.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Movie Review: Solo - A Star Wars Story (2018)


Solo: A Star Wars Story is the type of movie Rogue One really should have been - a gritty, small-scope heist film with an assortment of unseemly, well, roguish types we can't help but identify with.  Where Rogue One didn't give any of its characters an arc or relatable traits (aside from the smart-ass droid), Solo actually has colorful characters who are fun to spend a couple hours with and keeps the action sequences pretty toned down (though that Rogue One space battle is fucking awesome).  It blends elements of crime movies and Westerns to finally give us a different kind of Star Wars film (with an admittedly way-too-dark palette - sometimes it was hard to see who we were looking at).

Alden Ehrenreich stars as the young version of everyone's favorite intergalactic smuggler, in a performance that doesn't equal Harrison Ford's iconic turn (Honestly, how could it?), but captures enough of that Solo swagger and cocksuredness that we aren't distracted by the fact that it isn't Ford.  Ehrenreich is likable, smarmy and generally in way over his head, like Han Solo should be.  There were rumors of the filmmakers being unhappy with his work early on, to the point that he had to be sent to an acting coach.  I'm not sure how much of that is true, but whatever they did worked just fine.  So no complaints about the film's lead, which is half the battle in and of itself.

Solo also boasts several engaging supporting characters, including Donald Glover's much-anticipated portrayal of Lando Calrissian.  Glover does solid work here, emulating Billy Dee Williams' natural charisma and distinctive manner of speech, while dialing up Lando's more scoundrel-ish traits.  When we meet Calrissian he is a gambling aficionado who seemingly spends all his time in seedy underworld locales, loving the action at the card table.  Han and Lando immediately have an uneasy rapport, neither trusting the other in the slightest but each finding something irresistible about the other.  They don't get a ton of screen time together but the seeds are planted for their later interactions.

Chewbacca is lovable as usual, and his chemistry with Han is instantly established; right away it's clear these two are buddies for the long haul.  Chewie's introduction was handled nicely, in such a way that the two characters believably feel indebted to each other.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Great PPVs: NJPW Dominion 2015

It's been a while, but welcome back to The Great PPVs, here at Enuffa.com and TheGorillaPosition.com, where I take a look back at a wrestling show that just kicked all kinds of ass and left me asking for seconds.  With New Japan's Dominion show coming up I thought I'd look back at the first Dominion show for which I was an NJPW fan, Dominion 2015!


This PPV was the culmination of a year-long arc for Kazuchika Okada, who'd been unseated for the IWGP Title by AJ Styles (partly due to Bullet Club shenanigans), and spend the rest of 2014 and the first half of 2015 trying to climb back up the mountain (with a heartbreaking loss to Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom 9).  Okada's road to Dominion had been a troubled one, with a couple losses to Bad Luck Fale before a big win at Invasion Attack that put that feud to bed and set the stage for The Rainmaker to face Styles at the second-biggest show of the year.

But first the undercard...

Dominion was in my estimation the second-best PPV of 2015 behind WrestleKingdom 9.  The show's nine matches flew by, with the two headliners falling well into ****+ territory and several other bouts approaching that.  Only two matches could even be considered weak, and one of those was more of an angle than a proper match.

The show opened with a wild, fast-paced offering from the Jr. Heavyweight Tag division, as The Young Bucks defended their Titles against reDRagon and RPG Vice.  NJPW does cruiser-style action better than anyone, and these three teams got the crowd warmed up nicely, delivering a fun 14-minute sprint that ended with More Bang for Your Buck.  Very enjoyable opener.


Next up was one of the weaker matches of the night; Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma and Tetsuya Naito.  This took place during the very early stages of Naito becoming the Ingobernable we all know and love today, so if nothing else the match has some historical significance.  Naito sauntered down to the ring, in no hurry to help out his partner who was already being ambushed by the two Bullet Club members, and even refused to tag into the match until very late.  Eventually Honma got the surprise win, but Naito bailed immediately after the closing bell.  Turning the bland babyface Naito into the scoundrel he is today would of course prove to be a major box office boon for New Japan.

The really stacked portion of the card began next with the Katsuyori Shibata-Kazushi Sakuraba fight.  And I mean FIGHT.  This was one of the best simulated MMA bouts I've ever seen and I'd rank it right up there with Sakuraba-Nakamura from WK7.  The grappling looked totally convincing and snug, and Shibata's strikes were brutal.  Sakuraba dominated the match with some amazing submissions, clinging to Shibata like a spider monkey, until finally Shibata broke free (at one point reaching the ropes with his mouth, as all his limbs were unavailable) and took the match with the Penalty Kick.  This was a fascinating watch.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Top Ten Things: Avenged Sevenfold Songs

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


Today I'll be talking about my ten favorite songs by crossover metal gods Avenged Sevenfold!  I first became aware of A7X in 2005 when their third album City of Evil blasted its way onto the airwaves.  Songs like "Bat Country" and "The Beast & The Harlot" showed the band's musicianship and dexterity with complex prog-metal arrangements, and those were among the simpler tunes on the record.  I liked the album but wasn't blown away by it.  Then a few years later I gave their self-titled fourth album a listen and was stunned by the versatility on display.  From thrash to pop-metal to country to Broadway, this album had incredible variety and demonstrated the band's lust for new sounds and genres.  For me though their greatest album is 2010's Nightmare, which tempered the excess of City of Evil while preserving much of the flexibility of the self-titled record.  Several tracks were the result of their drummer The Rev's untimely death the previous year, lending the record a palpable expressiveness.  In my opinion the less said about 2013's Hail to the King the better; this was presented as an attempt to record a simple, classic-sounding metal album but to me came across as largely a Metallica "Black Album" ripoff.  But Avenged Sevenfold rebounded huge with their seventh album The Stage, a progessive concept album dealing with themes of space exploration, artificial intelligence, and humanity's self-destructiveness.  A7X was back on top of their game.

What really strikes me about A7X is their neverending determination to reinvent themselves and make every album different from the others.  Always intent on challenging the industry status quo, they've stated they don't care how heavy their music is as long as it's good.  I have great respect for bands who strive to transcend their genre, particularly when they're as musically accomplished as these fellas.

I'll be frank - this list exclusively contains songs from Self-Titled, Nightmare, and The Stage.  For me these three albums are in a class well above the other four (plus Diamonds in the Rough) and nothing from Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, Waking the Fallen, City of Evil, or Hail to the King made the cut.  But I'll include some honorable mentions:

"Unholy Confessions"
"Bat Country"
"Strength of the World"
"M.I.A."
"Demons"
"Until the End"
"Dancing Dead"

Okay, now for my ten faves.  Here we go....



10. Lost


One of the most strikingly radio-friendly A7X songs, this speed metal anthem about man's inhumanity  boasts an impossibly fast tempo, shredding guitars, and a strangely saccharine melody with autotune-assisted choruses.  At first the effect seems out of place in a metal song, but you very quickly get used to it and before long the hook gets stuck in your head.  The song's energy is undeniable, as was the band's growing songwriting proficiency and confidence in trying new things.





9. Creating God


This midtempo, Alice in Chains-esque song about the dangers of experimenting with artificial intelligence would be at home on any rock radio station.  Syncopated guitars create a foundation for grungy vocal harmonies which build to a simple, soaring cautionary hook.  This was the first song on The Stage to really jump out on the inaugural listen, and remains one of my favorites.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Theater Review: Hamilton



**Note: For a review of the Hamilton Cast Recording click HERE**

Well, nearly a year after becoming a full-blown Hamilton addict (Hamiltonitis?), the wife and I ventured to New York City to see the show itself, on the original Broadway stage.  And it is, in a word, magnificent.

The cast is absolutely stellar, by and large.  Michael Luwoye, the third actor to play the title role on the NYC stage, is a force of nature, matching Lin-Manuel Miranda's dramatic heft while from a technical standpoint actually improving on his vocal power.  While not quite boasting the same innate charisma as his predecessor - Miranda is a uniquely magnetic performer - where Luwoye really shines is in the emotionally wrenching second half.  During numbers like "It's Quiet Uptown" the actor breaks into legitimate tears while somehow still nailing every note (We were in the mezzanine and could clearly see the waterworks from there - I may have fought off some lip quivers, shut up....).  I haven't seen any clips of Javier Munoz, Lin's original replacement, but Luwoye earns every minute of this role and then some.


In the role of Aaron Burr, amazingly every bit Luwoye's equal, was the understudy(!) Ryan Vasquez.  At the start of the show I was fully ready to be disappointed, but Vasquez may just have stolen the show with a deeply nuanced performance that conveyed Burr's arc from self-aggrandizing uncoolness to seething resentment.  Initially Burr is the tagalong friend in the group that no one likes very much, and by the end of the show his professional jealousy and lust for violent satisfaction is fully palpable.  If Vasquez is merely the understudy I'm very interested in seeing one of Daniel Breaker's regularly scheduled performances in the role.  Vasquez takes a character that could come off as thankless in the hands of a lesser actor, and unearths a menacing sense of entitlement I hadn't picked up on from the soundtrack.  Call me kooky, but this kid's got a future.


Another unexpectedly wonderful understudy turn was Jennie Harney as Eliza (replacing Lexi Lawson).  Like Eliza herself, Harney is dependable if diffident in the first act, only to flourish dazzlingly in the second.  By the time her show stealer "Burn" rolled around, Harney had the audience by the throat, delivering the perfect amalgam of heartbreak and anger.  That two of the three best performances came from understudies is pretty astounding.



Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chris Cornell: July 20, 1964 – May 17, 2017

By Dan Moore



Another rock legend, gone far, far too soon. 

You knew when you were listening to Chris Cornell the second his 'voice' was heard. I use voice in quotations as I believe whatever that man had living in his vocal chords was more a force of nature than a mere voice like us common folk. His multi-octave screech could be heard for miles, be it from your radio or live in concert.

Cornell died last night amid circumstances that are still up in the air. But that’s neither here nor there. If it turns out that his personal demons were enough that he decided there was only one way out, then the end of his life was as dark as his middle years were bright.  

He came from the Seattle grunge scene with Soundgarden, along with other great Seattle bands, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney & Screaming Trees, among many, many others. But his sound was far and away the most unique. That distinctive screech of his is something you didn’t just hear, you absorbed. One of the first songs I ever heard him sing was “Birth Ritual”.


Try going back to your pop songs after that one. 

After hearing that, the quest was on to collect as much Soundgarden as possible. Superunknown was the first album I bought by them, but that was quickly followed by Badmotorfinger, which I consider their magnum opus. It has the classics “Jesus Christ Pose”, “Rusty Cage” & my personal favorite, "Searching with My Good Eye Closed". The Temple of the Dog followed that. It was a collaboration of Pearl Jam & Cornell. Essentially, Cornell fronting Pearl Jam for an album. And my god, it’s glorious.

But Cornell was more than grunge, as he proved with a later solo career, which was anything but routine. His solo outings ranged from rock to blues to pop to, no shit, an almost hip hop like album, Scream. He had no real genre that could define him.

And, get this, when he decided to go back into straight ROCK MAN, he fronted a new band, Audioslave, which was him DESTROYING vocals in front of Rage Against the Machine. That’s right, he decided to rock out with one of the best rock bands in the world at the time. No big whoop. He could do no wrong.


In these most recent years, he had continued his solo work and got back together with the band he’ll be most known for, Soundgarden. I’ll remember him as that small looking guy with that gigantic tornado sound emanating from his throat. He was a legit one of a kind talent, and the musical world is so much smaller now without him in it. 


Say Hello to Heaven...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Parents' Night In #7: Wayne's World (1992)

Kelly and Justin are back with another beloved comedy, Wayne's World, starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey!



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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Top Ten Things: Marvel Cinematic Universe Films

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  This being the tenth anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the release of the climactic Avengers: Infinity War (part 1 of 2), I thought I'd take a look at the MCU series and pick my ten favorites.  


Partly inspired by the rebooted Avengers series The Ultimates, the MCU had a rather modest launch in 2008 with the somewhat unexpected smash hit Iron Man (which ONLY pulled in a measly $585 million worldwide).  If you asked me ten years ago if I thought Tony Stark and his suped-up metal rocket suit would become a household name and the central character of a 19-movie series I'd have laughed all up in your face.  The average moviegoer back then hadn't clue fucking one who Iron Man was, aside maybe from "some guy made of iron."  That Marvel was able to take such a comparatively obscure superhero and use him as the backbone of this extended, multi-billion-dollar film series is astonishing.  That a decade later they found even more success with an even more obscure character like Black Panther speaks to how focused and diligent Marvel Studios is in producing quality, crowd-pleasing popcorn film entertainment.  Where most blockbuster film franchises are subject to the law of diminishing creative and commercial returns, Marvel has somehow managed to actually improve on their formula over time, taking this universe in new, unexpected tonal directions and even making pop culture icons out of third and fourth-string comic book characters.  This is a film company with discipline, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of the dozens of characters involved, plus a comprehensive long-term vision for exploring them.  The result (so far) is $16.5 billion over 19 films.  An incredible accomplishment, and there's much more to come.

But which are the best of the bunch?  Let's count 'em down.....




10. The Avengers: Age of Ultron


While perhaps a bit disappointing compared to its predecessor, the second Avengers film was nonetheless an enjoyable potboiler in the same spirit as the first, with our heroes teaming up to fight an omniscient robot named Ultron.  Created by Tony Stark, Ultron becomes self-aware and goes all Skynet, attempting to destroy humanity to "cleanse" the Earth.  The six Avengers, plus Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Stark's other creation Vision, engage in a battle with Ultron's robot army in Sokovia, where Ultron intends to crash the capital city into the planet to cause an extinction-level event.  AoU is a tad messier than the first Avengers film but still has a lot of fun set pieces, such as the scene where a hypnotized Hulk fights Iron Man in a Hulkbuster suit (reminiscent of a similar sequence in The Ultimates comic book series).  I also liked the new additions to the team, and James Spader as Ultron's voice delivers a delightfully sinister performance.  Age of Ultron is a flawed but worthy culmination of MCU Phase 2.





9. Avengers: Infinity War


The latest MCU epic is the first half of the Phase 3 climax, centered around Thanos's plot to acquire the six Infinity stones, allowing him to eradicate half of all life in the universe and "restore balance."  The Avengers have put their Civil War aside to stand in Thanos's way, assisted by the Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther.  Nearly every established MCU character is present in this 150-minute film, and directors Joe and Anthony Russo do a pretty stellar job of making this overcrowded movie work, while leaving lots unresolved for the second half.  As a standalone film it's hard to judge Infinity War, but as part 1 of a season finale of sorts, this is pretty damn good stuff that mixes exciting action, heavy thematic and character elements, and signature MCU comedy moments.  Overall it's an affirmation that the Marvel film series is in very capable hands.

For a more in-depth look at Infinity War, click HERE.





8. Spider-Man: Homecoming


Leave it to Marvel Studios to do what, for me at least, Sony never could: produce a Spider-Man movie that really captures the character as presented in the comics, starring an actor who fully nails the portrayal.  The third film incarnation of the web-slinger in 15 years, Homecoming stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spidey and expands on his brief appearance in Civil War.  Parker was thrilled to assist the Avengers and has been pestering Tony Stark and his right-hand man Happy Hogan ever since, hoping to officially join the team.  Stark insists Parker isn't ready to be a full-fledged member and urges him to stay in school while fighting small-scale neighborhood crime.  Where his movie forerunners were either overly dorky (Tobey Maguire) or overly emo (James Garfield), Holland is note-perfect in this role, finding just the right mix of smart-aleck geekdom and naive enthusiasm.  Just as much of a standout though is Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes (The Vulture), a city contractor who has a very valid beef with Stark Industries and begins selling advanced weapons fashioned from Chitauri technology (recovered from Loki's 2012 attack on New York).  Keaton is legitimately scary as the film's villain, particularly in a scene where he and Peter each realize who the other is.  Homecoming is everything one could want out of a Spider-Man film, improving immensely on the two previous versions and tying in nicely with the larger movie arc.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

WWE vs. NJPW Supercard IV

Welcome to the Fourth Annual WWE vs. NJPW Supercard, here at Enuffa.com!  Back in 2015 I pondered what would happen if the two biggest wrestling companies in the world went head-to-head, and the following year I decided to turn it into an annual event.  Both promotions currently boast their most stacked rosters in ages, and it's gotten to the point that just picking who should be included here is becoming a challenge.  I think I've risen to said challenge, but you be the judge.  Let's see which company is superior these days, shall we?


Take a look at the three previous editions here: 2015  2016  2017




The Bar vs. The Young Bucks


Sheamus & Cesaro have become one of WWE's most accomplished tag teams over the past two years, winning numerous championships and cementing their place as one of the RAW tag division's cornerstones.  That such an unlikely duo was able to find lasting success is a testament to the versatility and staying power of both stars.  It's possible we'll eventually see prime singles runs for Sheamus and Cesaro, but for now they've carved out a helluva niche as RAW's most durable team.

What can be said about The Young Bucks?  They're the most innovative tandem in wrestling, having eschewed the WWE machine for years to become major drawing cards just about everywhere else.  Their grassroots success has served as the prototype for making it outside WWE, and they continue to produce countless in-ring classics year after year.  I'd like to see them move up to the IWGP Heavyweight Tag division since they've won the Jr. Tag belts so many times; it would create a ton of first-time matchups and really solidify their legacy as one of the all-time great teams.

This opening match would be fast and furious, pitting the Bucks' blazing aerial assault against The Bar's gritty, pummeling offense.  After 12 minutes of nonstop action, look for The Bar's power to be the difference maker, as the bulky Sheamus slips out of a More Bang For Your Buck attempt and drops on all fours for Cesaro to launch himself off Sheamus's back and level Nick Jackson with a European Uppercut.  Sheamus then spikes Matt with a Brogue Kick for the sudden win.

Winner: The Bar





Finn Balor vs. Will Ospreay


Finn has struggled to win WWE gold since his 2016 shoulder injury forced him to relinquish his newly won Universal Championship, but he's gotten very close many times.  He's been featured in numerous high profile #1 contender matches, bested Bray Wyatt in their feud, defeated AJ Styles in a RAW vs. Smackdown dream match, and been the long man in the 2018 men's Royal Rumble.  Balor remains a threat to both major RAW championships, and is also one of RAW's most popular and consistent upper-card stars.

It's a testament to NJPW's Jr. Heavyweight division that WWE has no Cruiserweight equivalent to the impossibly gifted Will Opsreay (or Kushida, or Takahashi, or Marty Scurll).  The current Jr. Heavyweight Champion has had a hugely successful year, nearly repeating his 2016 Super Juniors tournament win in a bona fide MOTY candidate against Kushida in 2017 before finally unseating him later that year for the title.  He dropped the belt to longtime rival Marty Scurll only a month later but regained it at the Tokyo Dome and defeated Scurll one-on-one in a rematch this spring, following that up with another win over Kushida.  Ospreay is pound-for-pound one of the absolute best in the world and continues to push the envelope, always delivering ****+ classics that showcase his unparalleled athleticism.

This showdown would be an aerial masterwork.  No stranger to Jr. Heavyweight bouts, Balor would be well within his element, attempting to temper Ospreay's high flying and bring the match down to a moderate pace.  After several minutes of Balor controlling the tempo, Ospreay breaks free and scores a flurry of high-risk offense, culminating in a match-ending OsCutter at the 14-minute mark.

Winner: Will Ospreay




Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal: When Logic Goes Bye-Bye


Alright, so to recap the events of the past two days: Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe had a main event match at Backlash.  A main event match that was so dull, so plodding, that many fans in attendance LEFT THE SHOW THEY'D PAID FOR, before the match was over.  The thinking is that Samoa Joe, despite being a heel, is such a well-respected in-ring worker that his usual well-rounded offense would be counterproductive in getting Roman Reigns over as a babyface, because the crowd would cheer Joe and boo Roman.  Yes, the same Roman Reigns that Vince McMahon has been unsuccessfully trying to get over as a babyface for FOUR YEARS now.  Vince's thinking was apparently that if Joe wrestled a boring, one-dimensional 70s heel style replete with uninteresting rest holds, that Reigns's eventual comeback would be met with enthusiastic cheers by the WWE faithful.  Now look, I get that you generally don't want your heel doing anything so flashy that the crowd likes him more than the babyface.  But in what alternate reality does Vince live where the heel putting on the most boring match possible will magically make everyone cheer the babyface, WHEN THEY HAVEN'T BEEN CHEERING HIM FOR FOUR YEARS?

So this plan obviously didn't work, as illustrated by the walkouts during the main event of a PPV.  You'd think this would give the man pause long enough for him to think, "Hmm, the crowd hated Roman's WrestleMania main event, and people actually walked out of his Backlash main event.  Maybe it's time to try something else."

NOPE.

Last night on RAW they started a feud between Roman Reigns.......and fucking Jinder Mahal.  Yes, the same Jinder Mahal who proved himself more or less cosmically inept in the ring during his 2017 main event push, and actually HURT ticket sales in the one country his push was designed to attract them.  Vince McMahon actually thinks the millions of fans who have booed Roman Reigns unmercifully the past four years will suddenly go "Oh, Roman's feuding with that hack now?  Yay, go Roman!!" 

Monday, May 7, 2018

WWE Backlash 2018: Seriously, What Are You Doing?

Welp, leave it to WWE to take a surefire good PPV and make it not good.  I won't say Backlash was horrible like many reviews are, but it was sure as shit disappointing, mostly because of (big shock here) stupid booking decisions.  I felt like the Royal Rumble (the real one in January, not the superfluous one in Saudi Arabia), Elimination Chamber and FastLane were all well-booked shows that were elevated by adhering to logic and mostly giving the audience what they wanted.  Then with WrestleMania the decision-makers (Vince) went insane and threw together multiple nonsensical finishes which hurt match quality AND pissed people off.  And they haven't recovered from it since.  Vince ran out of his meds apparently, and is on a waiting list to get more.  WWE could fuck up a peanut butter sandwich.....


Backlash started out so promisingly, with an excellent Seth Rollins-Miz bout for the Intercontinental Title.  Harkening back to the days when that belt really carried importance (with Seth holding it and delivering matches like this it certainly could again), this was dramatic, athletic, and the crowd bought into every minute of it.  How Seth isn't Vince's pick for The Guy instead of Roman is beyond me.  Seth is better than Roman in literally every respect, and while not as bulky, has a fantastic look.  More importantly, the fans actually LIKE Seth.  Just look at the reactions for this match vs. the main event.  This match got as much time as just about anything on the show and built to a fever pitch after Seth missed a Revolution Knee on the apron, drilling his own knee into the ring post.  Miz then locked in the Figure Four and we were treated to one of the most intense Figure Four spots in recent memory, as Seth fought the pain for a long time before eventually reversing the move.  This was so well done I thought we actually might see Miz tap out from the reversed F4, something I don't think we've ever seen.  They ended up in the ropes however, and the match continued until Seth hobbled around just long enough to hit the Curb Stomp for the win.  If Seth gets to keep this title long-term his reign could be in the same conversation as Bret Hart's or Randy Savage's.  This is how you book an Intercontinental Champion.


The show would never reach this level of quality again.

Next up was the Nia Jax-Alexa Bliss rematch, which was on par with their 'Mania bout.  So quite solid.  Alexa's stellar heel character work adds storytelling heft to her matches, even if mechanically they aren't perfect.  They may have booked Jax to struggle a bit too much considering the size difference, but this match was engaging and had some cool spots, like Bliss DDTing Jax on the ring steps.  Jax eventually retained with a Samoan Drop and cut a fairly awkard promo about bullying.  Don't get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment, but Jax's mic delivery needs a lot of work and of course the promo was written very hamfistedly.  Overall, another good showing from Bliss and Jax.

Third was Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton, in a perfectly serviceable but not terribly memorable US Title match.  Like, off the top of my head I remember the finish and that's about it.  I was glad to see Hardy retain since he can have some decent title matches with the Smackdown challengers.  Orton has long since ceased to interest me and I'm not even sure what you can do with him at this point.  His character and his in-ring style are horribly ill-suited to being a babyface and he comes across as not at all motivated.  Anyway, this was fine but nothing more.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War (2018)


The first half of the MCU's climax is in the books.  Avengers: Infinity War is a monumental, sweeping epic, with literally dozens of characters teaming up, traversing the cosmos, searching for various objects, and of course trying to stop Thanos from acquiring the six Infinity stones and annihilating half the entire universe.  This film, directed by the Russo brothers (of The Winter Soldier and Civil War fame), certainly tests the limits of how much content can be packed into a superhero movie before it bursts.  Amazingly it succeeds for the most part, thanks largely to Marvel's patience in building up all these characters over the past decade so their introductions here can be kept in shorthand.  We don't need long expositional scenes involving Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, etc. because the other films in the series have prepared us for a headlong dive into this particular episode.  In the hands of lesser filmmakers, Infinity War would be an incomprehensible mess, but this film flows nicely from one episode to the next, with our heroes split up into smaller groups across the galaxy, each objective fitting into the larger context.

The plot this time centers around Thanos, introduced briefly in the first Avengers film (via a post-credits cameo) and more thoroughly in the first Guardians of the Galaxy.  Thanos's home planet Titan was once a thriving utopia, but due to overpopulation became ravaged by decay and destruction; he now believes the only solution to preserving balance in the universe is to thin out the herd across the board.  While this once again falls somewhat into the "doomsday weapon" scenario, Thanos is a bit different from your run-of-the-mill popcorn movie villain.  He's given understandable motivation for his psychotic plan and even presented with some pathos.  Ultimately of course the success or failure of this character falls on the shoulders of Josh Brolin, who delivers a measured, note-perfect motion-capture performance as the gigantic purple overlord.  Brolin doesn't overplay anything; his captured facials are subtle and at times even touching (Brolin and Zoe Saldana's Gamora share some of the film's most poignant scenes).  And it's a good thing Thanos works so well, because he's effectively the lead character, almost certainly getting more screen time than any one of the dozens of protagonists - if you're looking for a deep exploration of Steve Rogers or Tony Stark for example, this isn't your kinda movie.

Our heroes in this film don't get a ton of opportunities to steal the show from each other, but the Guardians come closest, providing many of the movie's ample comedic moments; this intergalactic group of misfits remain one of my favorite aspects of the MCU.  Other minor standouts include Chris Hemsworth's Thor, who gets more to do than in either of the previous Avengers outings, Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who has wonderful chemistry with Tony Stark, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange, finding himself in a battle of sardonic wits with Stark but also cursed with knowledge the others lack.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

WWE Backlash 2018 Preview & Predictions

Well it's been a week since Greatest Royal Rumble, and that means WWE's already got another PPV on tap for us.  This Sunday is Backlash!


Yeah so GRR was largely a pointless, bloated affair, but not a terrible way to spend an afternoon/evening either.  My son liked it, so that made it more fun than it would've been had I been wearing my wrestling analysis goggles.  And a few good things came out of it.  Daniel Bryan broke the longevity record and we got the greatest Rumble moment of all time:


I swear, as I live and breathe that moment will never get old.

Anyway, Backlash looks like a pretty damn enjoyable show, and is surprisingly Smackdown-heavy considering it's the first dual-brand B-PPV of this era.  Of the eight matches, four are SD-exclusive and two of the four remaining bouts are RAW vs. SD.  Not a bad deal for the blue show.  Best of all it looks like AJ vs. Nakamura will be the main event, since Roman failed to beat Brock again (Seriously guys, move on and let someone else have Brock now).

On to the predictions.   Dave is in the lead with 62.5% (15/24), I'm in second with 58% (14/24), Landon's third with 54% (13/24) and Dan's in the rear (heh...rear) with 50% (12/24).  It's anyone's ballgame.



Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn


Lemme ask you guys something: does ANYONE give a shit that Lashley came back?   I certainly don't.  He hasn't been relevant in like a decade, and he wasn't then either.  Lashley is one of Vince's many failed pet projects who was pushed because "muscles," and TNA later scooped him up because he was a WWE name.  If his work in the Rumble last week is any indication he hasn't improved since 2007.  Guy almost murdered Big Cass with a botched suplex.  Anywho, Strowman is getting hugely pushed without any real direction.  Time to set up Braun-Brock II while Braun's still on everyone's mind.  Clearly the two monsters aren't losing here.  Poor KO & Sami...

Justin: Brobby Strowley.  Or Baun Lashman.  Or "Something Balls."
Dan: Brauny Lowman, stupid.
Landon: Blaster Lashley and Braun
Dave: Something Balls takes it.





Smackdown Women's Championship: Carmella vs. Charlotte


Ugh.  This match is the result of Vince painting himself into a corner and giving both MITB briefcases to people who weren't ready for them.  He already had Corbin fail in his cash-in so he couldn't do that to Carmella too.  Thus she is now the champion, having dethroned the woman who ended Asuka's streak.  And this perfectly encapsulates why the Money in the Bank concept has outlived its usefulness.  Charlotte should realistically steamroll Carmella and resume her feud with Asuka.  But that won't happen yet.

Justin: Carmella retains somehow
Dan: I guess.
Landon: Carmella
Dave: No idea, Carmella I guess.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

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    Dan's Top 9: Best Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Games

    Welcome to another edition of Dan's Top 9, where my associate Dan Moore counts down 9 items that happen to be bouncing around his diseased brain.  What a degenerate.  Wait, I mean I love ya buddy.....



    by Dan Moore
    @SouthieDanimal

    A few days ago, Nintendo announced the death of the company’s president and CEO, Satoru Iwata suddenly at the age of 55. A true legend in the gaming world, his passing demands some reflection on the classics in the Nintendo cannon. I first played the  NES back in 1986 at my friend Greg's house. The first game I ever played was Super Mario Bros. And it was GLORIOUS. The second game was Popeye which wasn't so great but still awesome because it's still a fucking video game. Without further ado, here are the best games from the very first generation of Nintendo's gaming system family.

    HONORABLE MENTIONS: This is definitely the hardest list I've had to do. Narrowing this down to 9 is near impossible. Some faves that didn't make the cut: Castlevania, ExciteBike, Double Dragon, Bases Loaded and RBI Baseball



    9. Blades of Steel


    WITH THE PASS! The number of times I heard that muffled, digitized voice is a little bit over infinity.  There was single game play and the awesome tourney play for the Cup. Flying around the ice holding onto Lord Stanley's chalice was quite a thrill for 10 year old me. I played this game so goddamn much I would see the little hockey men skating in circles in my dreams. My beautiful, 8-bit dreams.



    8. Tetris


    Blocks falling from the sky to make lines. Yeah, that was an idea for a video game. One of the most successful video games of all time. The classic Game Boy version is really where this game spiked in popularity. My favorite Tetris memory is watching my father about to beat Mode B level 9-5 one morning after returning from his night job...and promptly falling asleep two lines away from the finish. Good work, Pop.



    7. DuckTales

    Gordon Gecko once said that greed is good, and this game taught all us kids that he was right. Traversing the globe and the moon searching for riches as Uncle Scrooge was a wonderful way to learn that only diamonds and gold can make you truly happy.


    Monday, April 30, 2018

    WWE Greatest Royal Rumble: Titus Steals the Show


    Jeezus that show was long.  WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble, in the new tradition of WrestleMania, ran an exhausting five hours, with a near 80-minute Rumble main event.  Had the show been a blowaway hit, the excessive running time (bloated with what were essentially propaganda segments designed to make everyone feel good about how far the Saudi kingdom has come, ya know, since women are allowed to drive now) could be overlooked.  But sadly most of the matches came off like house show bouts, with everyone sorta going through the motions.  There were a few standouts but nothing in the **** realm. 

    The show opened, oddly, with John Cena vs. Triple H in a textbook house show match.  This moved very slowly in the first half and built to a couple false finishes, ultimately coming across like two aging wrestlers really taking it easy.  As an opening match designed to get the somewhat casual audience excited this was fine.  I wouldn't watch it again though.  Cena won after multiple AAs for the expected feelgood ending.

    Somehow after 10+ years of doing the STF,
    Cena still hasn't learned how to make it look painful.....

    One of the minor standouts was the Cruiserweight Title match, as Cedric Alexander and Kalisto had an energetic little battle with some innovative spots.  Again, the talent in the division is quite good, they just need a true star to carry the ball.  Cedric is exceedingly capable between the ropes but I don't see him as a division centerpiece.  But this match was fun and served as the one real hit of the first five bouts.

    The next three matches were house show-quality at best.  Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy defeated The Bar in a match that wasn't at all fitting of a tournament final.  It felt like Wyatt was the only guy who really got to do anything here.  How a Cesaro and Sheamus match can be totally forgettable is beyond me.  So Wyatt & Hardy will presumably hold the belts for a while until the inevitable break up.  Eh...

    The worst match of the night, not surprisingly, was Jeff Hardy vs. Jinder.  If anyone needs further evidence of Jinder's suckitude, watch the spot where Jeff goes for a Whisper in the Wind, misses by a mile, and Jinder sells it anyway.  That Vince McMahon thought this guy was WWE Title-worthy still hurts my brain.  Reinstate this guy as Jobber to the Stars, dude.

    And the other Tag Title match was predictably short, as Harper & Rowan beat the shit out of the Usos in roughly five minutes.  This was fine for what it was meant to be.  I assume The New Day are next to feud with the Bludgeons.