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"I am wound up tighter than a girdle on a Baptist minister's wife at an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast." - Blanche Devereaux
I was born in the 1980s but did not truly start living until I wrote for 411.
And we're rolling... - 06.25.2008
For those of you who may have missed it, I recently filled in for Larry Csonka over at Your News, My Views. In the column, I provided some coverage of recent news coming out of SHIMMER: Women Athletes, the most notable all-female wrestling promotion in the United States. (And, given the sad state of joshi these days, perhaps even the world.)
My discussion of the promotion prompted the following response from a gentleman calling himself Steve:
I know you are the biggest SHIMMER mark on the planet, but I have to say that TNA and even WWE's interest in women's wrestling has made SHIMMER irrelevant. Not that SHIMMER wasn't irrelevant before since they only tape a few times a year in front of 100 people. I don't know how they aren't bankrupt.
SHIMMER filled a niche to provide serious female wrestling and now that niche is filled by the big two (well mostly TNA), so SHIMMER is pointless.
I can see anyone on a SHIMMER taping in major promotions like TNA every week and even a Beth or Nattie on WWE.
It probably goes without saying that I disagree. However, I figured that I would take a moment here to point out exactly why I disagree.
First, we'll hit Steve's initial contention that SHIMMER was never relevant. "Relevant" is a fairly subjective term. It's a word that is meaningless without some context. A particular thing is not merely "irrelevant" or "relevant." Its relevance needs to be defined in relationship to something else. Steve does not provide appropriate context for his use of the world "irrelevant," and thus he leaves us guessing as to what exactly he means. Depending on what he meant, he is either absolutely right or dead wrong.
Is SHIMMER relevant to the vast majority of professional wrestling fans? I am going to be completely honest and say that it is not. If you polled a thousand fans and asked them what SHIMMER was, I'd bet that you'd be lucky to get fifty who had a clue. In that regard, it is irrelevant to the national professional wrestling landscape, always has been, and probably always will be. However, relevance is relative. What we deal with here on 411mania is not an audience comprised of run of the mill wrestling fans. We're dealing with a very hardcore portion of the sport's fanbase, one that pays far more attention to the wrestling world than the average viewer. Whereas I'd be shocked if fifty in one thousand average wrestling fans could name SHIMMER, I'd be equally as shocked if fifty in one thousand 411wrestling readers were NOT able to tell me what SHIMMER is. As a result, though it might not be relevant to the vast majority of those who go gaga over grappling, the promotion certainly is relevant to the 411 audience, and that's why I've always covered it on the site and will continue to do so in my sporadic writing appearances.
As far as the promotion's financial status is concerned, I'm not behind the scenes, so I can't tell you dollar-for-dollar what they're making or what their profit margin (if any) is. However, if you think that a business cannot survive on the back of a small, dedicated base of consumers, you're simply not looking at the world around you. Not every restaurant has to be a McDonald's in order to succeed. Not every record shop has to be a Virgin MegaStore. Similarly, you don't have to have hundreds of thousands of fans buying pay per views and tens of thousands packed in to live events to keep a professional wrestling promotion alive. All that you need is a level of income greater than your level of expenses. Period.
Now we move on to Steve's primary contention, which is that fans no longer need to watch SHIMMER because they can now get everything that the promotion provides in either WWE or TNA. This statement is patently false. First of all, SHIMMER is still home to Sara Del Rey and Sarah Stock. Both of these women are significantly better than any woman on either the TNA or WWE rosters. Also not appearing in WWE or TNA at this point are MsChif, Daizee Haze, Mercedes Martinez, Allison Danger, and Lacey, who are not better than every single female wrestler in WWE or TNA but are definitely better than all but the very best of the major promotions' competitors.
Furthermore, even if the female wrestlers in WWE, TNA, and SHIMMER were all equally talented, the fact remains that SHIMMER showcases their women's talents much more prominently. Yes, you can now tune in to Monday Night Raw and see Beth Phoenix and Mickie James have some very good two minute long matches against each other. You can tune in to Impact and see Gail Kim and the Amazing Kong do the same. If you're lucky, you might even get a pay per view match from these ladies that goes over the ten minute mark. Though some of SHIMMER's undercard matches may not be all that much longer or all that much better than the longest and best women's matches coming out of the big two these days, SHIMMER's top bouts consistently run past the fifteen minute mark and eclipse WWE and TNA ladies' bouts in quality. No, not every match on a SHIMMER card will blow every TNA or WWE match out of the water, but the top two or three fights on every Volume of the SHIMMER DVD series will be significantly better and longer than even a pay per view women's title match.
Finally, even if you don't buy my arguments about the quality of the performers or the manner in which they are showcased, SHIMMER is still important as a breeding ground for up and coming female wrestlers. We've already seen both TNA and WWE feed heavily off of SHIMMER alumni over the course of the last year, and there is no reason to think that this trend won't continue. SHIMMER is currently the only place for many fans to see several women who have the potential to be the next Molly Holly, the next Mickie James, or the next Gail Kim. Many fans, particularly among the more passionate crowd we draw here at 411, appreciate the opportunity to watch these ladies develop.
That does it for me. Hopefully this provided a bit of insight as to why I continue to follow SHIMMER so closely.
And we're rolling... - 01.02.2008
Happy new year, everybody! Those of you who read my Impact Crater on a regular basis, you know that I like to feature a lot of reader feedback in the column. This week, I will be out of town and unable to review the show, so I figured that I'd use the good old blog to answer some of the e-mails and other comments that I have received.
We'll kick things off with perhaps our most frequent e-mailer, John R.:
Great work on the Crater as your analysis helps make sense of the over the top booking in TNA. Often I’ll watch these episodes wondering, “Ok, what’s the point?” and have to wait for your review in order to figure it out. That’s not something a fan should have to do.
That said, I agree with your take on the Angle/Christian feud. First and foremost a wrestling promotion should learn that when you’re booking for a World Heavyweight Championship bout on a PPV, you have to give the fans someone they can root for to win the belt. It doesn’t have to be a scrappy underdog, but it has to be booked in a way where people will want to say, “I really hope this guy pulls it out!” As a matter of fact, I don’t even remember Christian talking about his desire to win the belt, but instead fighting Angle over AJ Styles. The only way I can see them worm their way out of this is if AJ decides to go on his own path and they have the three of them go at it for the belt, but we’ll see.
As far as the whole “AJ on a pole” match, after seeing a PPV ladder match for child custody papers, anything is possible in this business!
I have to respectfully disagree with you on the Samoa Joe angle. He has decided to take action and not just sit down and complain as Chris Harris did. I like how he stated at the end of his squash that he had a list of other names that he was going for. It will lead to an uncomfortable locker room with wrestlers wondering if they’re on that list. Another thing about it is that fans already know what Joe is capable of doing and are anticipating a return to the old “Joe’s gonna kill you” days. Simple yet effective, and I see that this could be a way to bring Sting back into the fold to try and stop Joe’s rampage.
Here’s to more Crater greatness in 2008!
One of my big problems with the Joe angle right now is that the company is focusing on too much on the contractual end of the story, which is the sort of thing that is impossible to build to an in-ring blowoff. If the feud were about Joe's quest to get back in to the World Title picture or even wanting better competition than what he has recently received, there would be a logical in-ring conclusion to the story, i.e. Joe pinning the World Champion or Joe pinning an individual that has been built up as a major obstacle for him to overcome. Where's the potential blowoff match to a story in which Joe wants to earn more money? Is Jim Cornette going to book him in a match in which he gets a raise for winning? If so, why would fans care about the outcome? They don't get any of Joe's paycheck. Furthermore, how would Joe being paid more actually affect storylines going forward in the way that a title win would? What they've basically done is turned Joe in to a character who complains about a situation with there being no real meaningful way for him to rectify the situation. That is what is problematic.
Of course, it's always possible that they could start to downplay the contract negotiation aspect of the angle and instead focus in on Joe's efforts to break through the "glass ceiling." If that becomes the storyline, I'll likely have less of a problem with it.
From the generally positive comments from John, let's head over to some generally negative comments from Greg P:
The reason people won't get into the Joe angle as much as the Austin angle is not only because it's been done before, but because there is no Vince McMahon figurehead on TV in TNA. Fans believed McMahon actually didn't like Austin. There is no one in TNA with McMahon's personality strength on TV.
They're doing a heel vs heel because this angle is about Styles who is going to turn face. If one guy were a face then it wouldn't take a genius to figure out what side AJ would choose. You idiots overanalyze everything in wrestling. Be a fan for fuck sake! I love how when young guys are the primary focus or take on a larger role who still have to bash it. Even when months before that you complain about the same guys not getting those "spots". You're never fucking happy!
If you haven't noticed, the fans are popping for AJ. Angle/Christian are vying for his services because they need him as a lackey (i.e. someone to help them at ringside because they can't do it alone. Another characteristic of a "heel"). It's pretty simple, your just making it difficult. Tomko is supposed to keep everyone in the dark because that's part of the unpredictability. Tomko isn't getting the attention because he's not as interesting character-wise as AJ. Fans would not care as much if Tomko were the focus. Put yourself in the mindset of a fan, not an internet "smark".
I'm not going to be a complete Kool-Aid drinker for the company. Yes, the Dudley's need to go away. Yes, the Steiner/petey thing doesn't make much sense. Yes, the Abyss storyline is dragged out. You all love to blame Russo for poor booking decisions. Newsflash! he just writes the promos. Ahhh fuckk!! What a letdown! Now you have to blame it on someone else. Go to Meltzer's page quick before someone else leaks it!
Look, The women's division is strong. Kaz's dive off the railing spot got him over huge last night. Sure Dustin is just Dustin Rhodes/Black Reign, but you all were complaining about KAZ not getting shit months ago. Roode is in main event matches now when month ago you all complained about him being stuck in midcard matches with Chris Harris and Eric Young. But of course the pessimism continues.
More crap! Grammar's good though.
Thanks for the out of nowhere compliment about my grammar. I don't believe that I've ever gotten one of those before.
Moving on, this reads like an e-mail from a very confused man. First of all, I do not hold several of the opinions that you attribute to me in this letter. I very rarely if ever have complained about "young guys" not having key spots in TNA. As a matter of fact, on several occasions I've made a point of saying that I generally don't care which members of the TNA roster are pushed so long as good storylines are written for them and they're able to blow off those storylines with good matches. If the company wants to stick AJ Styles in dark matches while Kurt Angle, Christian, Booker T., and Scott Steiner are the four guys in the world title picture, I don't care as long as there is a compelling feud for the belt. I also never complained about Bobby Roode being "stuck in the midcard" as you attempt to claim. There was actually a several month period in which I slammed the guy for being painfully boring until he started to turn things around in the last few months of 2007. Furthermore, I do not think that the Dudley Boys should go anywhere. They've been one of the most entertaining acts in TNA all year long, both on the microphone and in the ring. I apologize if I don't fit the internet writer stereotypes with which you wish to stick me.
Furthermore, you misunderstood my questions about AJ Styles and his involvement in the company's current main event storyline. When I asked, "Why are Christian and Angle vying for AJ's affection?" it wasn't because I didn't hear the crowd's reaction to Styles. I know that he's over, and I don't need that explained to me. My question related to the CHARACTERS of AJ Styles, Christian Cage, and Kurt Angle and the motivations of those characters. The character of AJ Styles is an incompetent goofball who does things like pinning men without realizing it and throwing temper tantrums about having to wear ridiculous costumes. If wrestling were a legitimate sport and you were trying to put together a stable of men to ensure that you were going to hold on to your top spot in the company, why would you want to recruit a man who screws up so frequently? That is the question I was asking, and it's a question that is even more baffling when you take in to account the fact that Tomko – who in storylines is portrayed as being infinitely more competent than AJ – is right there for the taking. If you had a choice between an a-level employee and a perpetual screw up to be a part of your team, I'm sure that you'd take the a-level employee every time. That is why the characters of Kurt Angle and Christian Cage fighting over Styles as opposed to Tomko makes no sense.
And, yes, I know that a part of the heel vs. heel storyline is the eventual face turn of AJ Styles. That is not why I question the wisdom of going with a heel/heel pairing in the main event of the next pay per view. I question the wisdom of such a pairing because it has never made a significant amount of money for any wrestling company in existence. It's another poor business decision by a promotion that made far too many of them throughout 2007.
Chris has a question about Matt Morgan:
Here is a question for you: Why is Matt Morgan's 7 foot ass just sitting around with Cornette? It would be one thing if he was coming to the ring as someone's bodyguard, but they are killing him by not having him wrestle!
Actually, I think that it's a fairly wise move to hold off on Morgan becoming an active part of the TNA roster. He can talk and has a great look, but he's still very green in the ring and not up to the level of most TNA guys. Using in him in a non-wrestling role for an extended period of time gives him the opportunity to continue to work on his in-ring game behind the scenes while fans are given a reason to care about him as a result of the character that he has developed on camera. The character development should ultimately make his wrestling debut seem all the more important when it finally happens.
Up next is Sut, who is to my knowledge in no way related to 411mania's own Sat:
My problem with Byers is that even if there's a shining spot on the show, he won't point it out in the "Angle Numero" part and will perhaps give a good word on something in "And the Rest . . ." and then in the overall section he might even say the show was good (as was the case with the last Impact episode). My point is that he centers his review around the negative in a very subjective way – it's where his Impact Crater revolves around. The guy is clearly not a TNA fan – so why let him review it? At least Larry, even though I disagree with a lot of his thoughts on TNA is clearly a fan – Byers is not.
I think the source of Sut's complaint comes from a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Impact Crater column. It is intended to primarily be an analysis of the company's booking, which is why the bulk of the column is discussion of how the two or three main angles on the show were advanced. However, when I have something positive to say about an episode of Impact, it's usually about the quality of a particular match. Analysis of match quality is not the primary purpose of the column, which is why those comments are often pushed off to the side. This is not a situation in which I'm intentionally going out of my way to make the "negative" aspects of the show the primary focus of the review. If TNA switched things up and Impact consisted primarily of great angles with lousy matches, I would be writing lengthy and glowing reviews of the booking while making one or two line comments about poor in-ring action.
From there, we head to Jacob, who is a little more abrasive in his criticism:
So the Samoa Joe angle isn't enough like something the E has done in the past, but TNA is too much like a WWE-lite. Heel vs Heel has never worked in the past, so it should never be tried. Be an alternative but do the same things that have always been done in the business. Ok. By the way, am I the only one that noticed that all of the gimmick matches from last week were used as a part of an angle this week between Cornette and Morgan and not just randomly done for the heck of it? I just wish we could all pretend to be fans and focus on what is interesting and different or tired and uninteresting instead of constantly having read about what may or may not make money. Like it or don't like it, but quit trying to publicly apply for a consultant position with the company.
Actually, I never said that the Samoa Joe angle SHOULD be more like Steve Austin's initial rise of fame in WWE. I simply pointed out why Austin's angle worked and why Joe's would not work in a similar manner. (The difference, for those who missed it, is that Austin set out to actively remedy the problems that plagued him whereas Joe has spent too much time sitting on his ample backside and bitching.) My point was not that TNA should copy the WWE angle verbatim but rather that they were copying it while leaving out one of the primary reasons that it worked. I'll take a well executed ripoff over a poorly executed ripoff any day of the week, and what TNA has provided is a poorly executed ripoff.
On the heel versus heel front, you're right, it should never be done because it has never worked. TNA is a company that, from all reports, has rarely if ever been profitable in its five years of existence. They're not in a position to try to reinvent the wheel, particularly when there are two highly successful business models in the current marketplace (WWE and UFC) from which they can learn lessons and several more past promotions which were successful for many years using that same basic model. And, as I mentioned in a recent edition of the column, if you don't care about what makes money you're being rather short-sighted, because until TNA turns around its financial woes there is always the risk that at any day they could cease to exist and leave you with nothing to enjoy.
And, trust me, professional wrestling is about the last industry in which I would want to work, so spare me the comments about applying for a consultant position.
And that'll do it for this week's batch of feedback. I'll see everybody for the Custom Made News on Sunday and then again for the Impact Crater (featuring bonus year in review content for 2007) on 1/10/08.
And we're rolling... - 12.02.2007
For anybody who may have missed it, I recently spent three weeks filling in for Dan Wilcox in his "Thoughts from the Top Rope" column. I used that time to provide wrestling fans with an in-depth guide to my current favorite promotion SHIMMER: Women Athletes. As the gig was limited to only three weeks, I didn't have an article in which to put all of my feedback when things are said and done, so the blog gets it. Here are several e-mails that I received from readers alongside my responses.
First, we've got general praise from Brian J.:
Hey, just wanted to say I enjoyed the first part of your SHIMMER Starting Guide as I am a huge fan of SHIMMER. I think you got a lot of the important things down already and that's great.
I know, there's not much for me to actually reply to here. I can't help but post blind praise for my work, though. It's an ego thing.
We go from an existing SHIMMER fan to Andy H., who hadn't watched it before:
I have been interested in viewing some SHIMMER DVDs, but I was never sure that I wanted to spend the money. I attended the ROH Driven PPV taping and I was very impressed with the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew vs. Daizee Haze and MsChif tag match, as well as various matches on the ROH DVDs that I have picked up over the last 6 months and it has me thinking of giving SHIMMER a look. I think that you did a very good job convincing somebody who was on the fence about the promotion that it is definitely worth a chance. I think that I will probably buy one or two and see if I want to start collecting them all. I am intrigued to view the Title tournament as well. I appreciate your in depth review of the SHIMMER athlete's, the fueds, the matches, and the shows themselves. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the reads, and that I plan on making the initial purchase thanks to you. It's up to the action to dictate if I purchase more. Thanks.
I'm glad that you enjoyed the articles. They seem to have gone over very well. I ordered the title tournament on the first day that it was released, so it should be arriving at my home any day now. I'll probably have some thoughts up in my Sunday news report on 411 when I get through the DVDs.
Adam N. wanted to make an addition to my list of "greatest crowd moments":
There's one crowd moment that I'm surprised didn't make the list: Lacey berating someone with a "MHWC" sign about Minnesota being abbreviated MN on volume 7 (with him adding a "N" before her match on Volume 8 making it that much funnier).
haha, yes. That almost made the cut, but I honestly didn't want that section of the column to become 100% Lacey.
We'll give the last word to Scott M.:
Just writing to say that I enjoyed your three-part SHIMMER guide. Lotta good information in there. I saw a lot of the SHIMMER roster competing at the ChickFight tournaments in San Francisco in 2005/2006, and it was hands down the best female wrestling I've ever seen. In fact the three-way, outside-the-building brawl between Cheerleader Melissa, Daizee Haze, and Allison Danger at ChickFight 6 (I think it was 6) was one of the best brawls I've ever seen, period. And you're right, Lacey is an awesome heel. She did so much stalling, she really pissed off the crowd. The guy next to me was ragging on her and she spit right in his face. She didn't have a water bottle, either - she really spit on the guy. Awesome. Anyway, I'm definitely going to get some of those SHIMMER DVDs, especially the volumes you and Garoon gave a high rating to.
I'm glad to have another convertee. If you enjoyed what you saw in 2006, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by some of the more recent SHIMMER volumes (from about nine onward), because the women have all improved greatly in a relatively short period of time.
And that does it. Anybody who missed the articles when they initially ran can feel free to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
And we're rolling... - 11.22.2007
I recently had a reader e-mail this to me in response to my review of BET's American Gangster Season 1. It's a trailer for a new documentary which focuses on one of the subjects of American Gangster, Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols. There's no website for the film as far as I can tell, but there's an e-mail address at the end of the trailer for anybody who may want more information about it.
And we're rolling... - 08.13.2007
For those of you who may have missed it, in this past Sunday's Custom Made News Report, I did an op-ed piece about my feelings on ROH in 2007 versus WWE in 2007. The gist of it is that I feel WWE has delivered a better product so far this year despite the fact that ROH bested them from 2002-2006.
I got one rather lengthy reply to it. Normally I would publish it in the column itself, but it clocks in at eight pages between the actual e-mail and my reply, meaning it's just too long to put in the news report. Thus, it's here.
The e-mail comes from Eugene (not the famous one). His comments are in italics, and mine are in regular text:
After reading your article regarding your opinions on the supposed stale ROH product in contrast to the supposed great WWE product, I must admit that It kinda got me upset to think that there were actually people that preferred WWE to ROH. After thinking for few minutes, It became amusing to me when I realized that you would probably be the lone person amongst your colleagues of reporters and staff with those feelings. It should be enough of an example that you are already bracing yourself for some of the backlash you're going to receive from readers and from members of your very own staff alike (Ari Berenstein, Stuart Carapola, J.D Dunn).
I fully expect that Ari will disagree with me, as will several other people on the staff. I have no problem with this. People's opinions differ on the quality of various forms of entertainment all the time, and somebody has to be in the minority. In fact, I think that one of the things that makes 411 great is not the fact that we're a "unified front" that perpetually espouses the same view over and over and over again. What makes us great is the fact that we are a group of men (and a woman or two) who are able to look at things differently.
I'm not going to write you some hate filled rant about how even a brain dead vegetable would likely choose ROH as the superior product over WWE or how even Ray Charles could see that WWE sucks or whatever. I know that there are many others that will cover that aspect. Therefore I'm going to logically air my gripes with your statements and show how you have failed to use any semblance of logic when you came to your decisions on the ROH product in comparison to McMahon land.
Go right ahead.
You have choosen to be one of the people that criticize ROH for having a year (2007) that is unlike what was produced in the previous year (2006) Namely you have decided to condemn the ROH of 2007 because there was no ROH vs CZW feud. Granted that was one of the best fueds in recent wrestling history and it really made everyone feel the emotion that can be found in wrestling when fueds really make you hate someone else or root vehemetly for one of your heroes to win. That was all well and good for ROH business and for us as fans but allow me to pose a question to you. Where did you want ROH to go from that point? A better question to pose would be: Did you want this feud to go on forever? Would you have still given this feud critical acclaim if it was still going on till this day? You fail to realize that things come and go in this world and nothing lasts forever, no matter how good it is. Gabe was smart enough to know when to pull the plug on this feud and I must say that it reached a peak that will be tough to match because the action never got stale or repeatitive. Gabe knew that ROH was in a position were it could close out the fued and still promote other feuds going on so they had to move on to prevent against an over reliance on one formula to fall back on with their shows.
Though the majority of your e-mail is well thought out and intelligent argued, I think that this is the one area in which you completely missed my point and may be putting a few words in to my mouth. Nowhere in my column did I state that the ROH vs. CZW feud should have continued. In fact, as you've noted, one of the brilliant things about the angle is that it did end at exactly the right time, which is something a lot of wrestling promotions have a hard time doing when they have a product that is red hot.
I'm not saying that ROH is weaker in 2007 than it was in 2006 just because the war with CZW is no longer ongoing. I'm saying that ROH is weaker in 2007 than it was in 2006 because the company has no feud whatsoever that has caused me to feel emotionally invested in it. When I look at the current state of the promotion, there's nothing that makes me want to get behind a particular side of a feud like all great wrestling storylines do. There's nothing that gets me to suspend my disbelief for a couple of hours and makes me think that the two men (or groups of men) involved really hate each other's guts. ROH has done a great job with this in the past, including feuds like ROH vs. CZW, Corino vs. Homicide, Cabana vs. Homicide, and many more. However, their efforts this year have completely missed the mark, whereas WWE has provided me with at least one feud in which I legitimately care about the outcome: Michaels vs. Cena.
In your rant against ROH you are asking why 2007 can't be more like 2006 and there is a simple answer for your question. It's pretty hard to duplicate past acheivements when most of your roster is gone. Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, A.J. Styles, Colt Cabana, Ace Steel, Homicide, Jim Cornette all gone. Additionally ROH was footing the bill to get all the CZW guys on their shows so that was another burden. I don't know if you've been watching much ROH this year but to most journalists it seems like ROH hasn't lost a step in regards to it's penchant for high end MOTYC on most of it's shows. If you doubt me; go and watch the Respect Is Earned PPV or better yet seek out the shows that ROH produced from Liverpool for the Fifth Year Festival. Roderick Strong vs PAC, Jay vs Mark Briscoe, Matt Sydal vs PAC, Samoa Joe vs Nigel are all excellent.
What makes all this even greater is that the continued praise of ROH from other newsletters and journalists has come even as ROH has taken a hit from TNA that would have severely crippled most other promotions. ROH can seem to roll with the punches and rebound harder. This is what makes ROH that much more astounding. If the shoe were on the other foot and ROH was the stronger and wealthier company that decided to seize control of it's wrestlers such as Samoa Joe, A.J Styles, Fallen Angel, and Kurt Angle; I doubt TNA writers could rebound from that.
I understand that ROH has suffered some pretty big losses to its roster recently. I give them credit for booking around it to the extent that they have. However, that doesn't mean that I should for some reason give them a pass and say "Well, I don't like them as much now . . . but they've had to go through some hard times, so I'll still claim to like them more than WWE even though I don't feel that way when I watch the shows!" Is ROH still a good wrestling promotion? Of course it is, and I never claimed otherwise. Again, though, it's not as great in 2007 as it was in 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, or even 2002. All of the matches you've listed are, in fact, good matches. However, most of them are not as good as the best matches that I've seen out of WWE this year. Combine that with the fact that, as noted above, ROH isn't delivering angles that are as hot as their previous efforts, and I must once again say that the promotion is having a weak year. Not a year in which it absolutely sucks or a year in which I hate everything about it, but the weakest year of its existence and a year in which WWE has put on a better product.
Not only has ROH rebounded from this but they are exceeding expectations and are generally working on a muchhigher level than either of their competition right now.
* ROH is in the process of going to many other states in the U.S including a supershow at the Wrestling Fan Fest in San Francisco CA,
* ROH is in negotiations to produce shows in Canada, where it's been proven that they have a large fan base stemming from their shows on the Fight Network
* ROH has taken its product to Japan and become successful and gained a cult following in a place where new wrestling promotions struggle to do any form of good business simply because the market is so oversaturated and has been that way for years.
* ROH has succeeded in making Manhatten a new stable base for producing great shows and garnering new fans with each visit.
* ROH has found a way to produce PPV shows without taking a damaging blow to their financial structure.
* ROH has a World Champion that can be seen as being far more dominant than either of TNA or WWE's champions. Additionally, the ROH champion is having a string of excellent matches with a string of top contenders and even having great believable encounters with wrestlers that weren't previously seen as threats. Examples of this include Morishima's matches with Jay Briscoe, Roderick Strong, Shingo (Unbeleivable MOTYC) Nigel McGuiness, KENTA, Claudio Castagnioli etc. The same can hardly be said for Kurt Angle or Mr. Cena
* ROH has sponsored a working relationship with the Chikara promotion and no regularly features its incredible and charismatic stars such as Jigsaw, Hallowicked, and Mike Quakenbush.
* ROH also has their very successful working relationships with NOAH and DragonGate and regularly receive talent the likes of Marufuji, KENTA and will soon have the distinction of hosting Mitsuharu Misawa and Ricky Marvin this fall.
* ROH already has plans to head back out to grace its U.K fans with more great action in early 2008.
Frankly, I don't understand why you felt the need to bring business in to this discussion. I never said in my original article that ROH wasn't expanding or that ROH wasn't doing great business for an independent promotion. They are. I was talking strictly about how much I enjoyed the product compared to the product that ROH had produced in the past and compared to the WWE product of 2007. This entire section of your e-mail seems to be irrelevant to the discussion that I was trying to start.
I think that you'd be hard pressed to deny that ROH is focused on making an impact (no pun intended) on US wrestling fans that have been disenchanted with the WWE product as of late. No matter how much you try to expound on the good points of the WWE, you'll have to admit that there are a large section of people that were once heavy wrestling fans; that have just decided to stop tuning in for RAW and Smackdown. That is obvious when you look at the RAW/Smackdown/Impact ratings right here on 411wrestling. This didn't happen because WWE produced one bad year of wrestling action. This is the result of years and years of the shows gradually worsening. On top of that injuries have mounted up so high in the WWE that it forces the main event picture to include guys like Kennedy, Matt Hardy, John Morrison, Great Khali, Finlay, Lashley etc. Honestly, these are guys that would've never even been able to breathe in the same air as the top main event workers of 5 years ago.
Once again, I wasn't talking about levels of business in my column. I was talking about my personal enjoyment of the current products being produced. However, I do have to stop and address a few points here that I consider to be just a bit off the mark. Nobody will dispute the fact that, between 2001 and 2002, WWE had a fairly substantial ratings decline after the end of their hottest (or second hottest, depending on how you look at it) business period in history. However, at this point, Raw ratings have been fairly consistent since 2003, and the company had its single largest grossing event ever in the form of this year's Wrestlemania. The tone that you take in the paragraph above seems to indicate that you're laboring under the false impression that people are still flocking away from WWE at the rate they were five years ago, which simply isn't the case.
And I'm not seeing how exactly the listed injuries play in to your argument. Just a few paragraphs ago, you said that ROH was great because they had managed to book around a lot of their talent leaving the company for TNA. For the sake of being consistent, shouldn't you be giving WWE the same amount of credit for booking around the large number of men who they currently have unavailable? (Especially given that, as previously noted, people still seem to be tuning in to the shows at the same level they were prior to all of the injuries.)
In fact John Cena himself would've struggled to get past midcard in that era. His gimmick is well past its expiration date and the fans (besides females and children) are apathetic to him. If you want to bash ROH for not being like it was in 2006 then why can't we bash WWE for not being similar to that of 2001 or even 2002 or even 2004.
Had John Cena come around when WWE was at its peak, he easily could have succeeded. I certainly doubt that he would have been as big of a star as Steve Austin or the Rock or even Triple H, but you're conveniently forgetting that WWE had some guys on the higher end of its cards during the Attitude Era who just flat out stunk. I seem to recall a rather sizeable push for a Mr. Billy Gunn. As far as your criticism of his "gimmick" is concerned, I think that it's completely unfounded. Was there a period during which he was getting booed out of certain arenas? There certainly was. However, if you look at the current reaction to him, it is overwhelmingly positive in the vast majority of the arenas that the company travels to. Is it all women and children? I can't say, I'm not at the shows conducting exist polling on the audience. However, I have two points in response to that criticism even if it is true: 1.) If you're going to give ROH credit for expanding in to Japan and the United Kingdom, why not give WWE credit for expanding in to two demographics that it hasn't been capturing recently, namely kids and women? and 2.) Even if women and children are the only people reacting to Cena live, if you look at the television ratings, the vast majority of Raw's viewers are still men ages 18-35, and they're watching at roughly the same levels they were before he became a main event star. Therefore, he's certainly not causing non-women and non-children to turn off the television program.
And, frankly, I don't know why you would bash WWE for not being similar to its product in 2002 or 2004. If anything, you should applaud them. With the limited exception of one or two hot angles, 2002 and 2004 were both terrible years for the company in terms of quality, at least from where I sit. 2007 has been vastly superior.
What's even more puzzling is your views on matches featuring the Briscoe Bros. Their matches have universally been regarded as those that are bringing tag team wrestling back to the forefront. As a fan of wrestling for 15 years I'm sure you can appreciate the finer times in wrestling during the 80's when tag wrestling was the bread and butter of the undercard (and most times even the main event) Tag teams like the Hart Foundation, Midnight Express, The Rockers, Eliminators, Road Warriors, Bulldogs etc would be proud to see the level of excellence that the Briscoes bring with each match of theirs.
Just for the record, I believe that every team you've listed here could have a better match than the Briscoes in their sleep.
However you've decided to focus on what you beleive to be their shortcomings. You've said that you dread reading reports of the Briscoes having brutal matches with weapons against others or diving from high places etc. One thing that you've conviently neglected to mention to the readers is that this is not a major occurence in most Briscoe matches. The Briscoes resort to these death defying acts of violence when they are engaged in a bitter feud against opponents that are just as tough as they are. Case in point; In the FIP > promotion the Briscoes were locked in feud with Necro Butcher and Mad Man Pondo for the tag titles. What do you think there matches consisted of???????? I'll tell you one thing, it wasn't armbars, dragon screws and collar and elbow tieups, that's for sure.
It may not be a major occurrence in their matches, but it's one of the things that I see fans most consistently praising them for in show reviews, particularly when reading reports about this weekend's matchups with Kevin Steen and El Generico. (I don't care for them much either, but that's another story for another time.) And, yes, I understand that the ante needs to be upped in matches in which a blood feud has come in to play. However, at the end of the day professional wrestling is supposed to be about making it look like you've hurt your opponents when you in fact haven't laid a finger on them. That's why I can't stand excessive use of brutal chairshots, falls off of ladders, or wrestlers who LEGITIMATELY punch each other. (Like the aforementioned Necro Butcher.) At the end of the day, it's a physical sport and will result in people getting hurt, but going out of your way to actually inflict pain is the complete opposite of what wrestling is supposed to be.
For every hardcore brawl that Briscoes engage in they can also have great tag team bouts filled with excitement, psycholgy, great selling and high impact moves. Do yourself a favor and seek out the following Briscoes matches against:
* Shingo and Naruki Doi FYF: Liverpool
* Colt Cabana and Nigel McGuiness FYF: NYC
* MCMG Alex Shelly and Chris Sabin: Good Times Great Memories
* Fallen Angel and Matt Sydal FYF: Chicago
* KENTA and Marufuji Glory By Honor Night 1
* Kevin Steen & El Generico FYF: Philly
* Claudio Castagnioli & Matt Sydal: Respect Is Earned
These are matches that will entertain ANY fan... and they do not include the usage of a chair, a truck, a ladder, blood, guns, or barbed wire. Name me a WWE tag team match that can even come close to matching any of the above mentioned matches in terms of overall fun factor, or in any category for that matter. Allow me to use a different approach to attack this issue.
Again, I've never said that the Briscoes are bad, just that they're grossly overrated. When I've watched recent Briscoe matches (including some of those listed above), I've thought that "Hey, this is a good match!" However, I don't think that any of them have been match of the year candidates or that any of them have "revolutionized" tag team wrestling the way that certain proponents of Mark and Jay claim. I actually watch these matches and think that, no matter how athletic these two individuals may be, they still need to learn a thing or two about pacing a match, tag team psychology, and quitting while they're ahead. It seems like in every Briscoes match they just don't know where to end the damn thing and instead keep doing highspots long after what could've been a great, dramatic finish. Sometimes less is more in the world of wrestling, and that's something great teams like the Midnight Express, the Rock n' Roll Express, and others all understood. It's something that the Briscoes have seemingly not grasped yet, and they're not going to be on my list of all time greats until they do.
To say it once more: That doesn't mean they're bad. It means they're not the best. This means that, of course, I couldn't name a better WWE tag team match from this year. (Though the Hardys vs. MNM from the Royal Rumble comes close.) However, I can name numerous WWE singles matches from this year that I would rather watch than any Briscoes tag from ROH.
Back in 2000 when Matt and Jeff Hardy were hugely popular, they used a style that was very reckless (even moreso than anything the Briscoes have done) Jeff took dives from anything that wasn't tied down including cages, high platforms, 15 ft ladders etc. Did this affect your enjoyment of their matches? Seven years later Both Matt and Jeff are still walking upright and relatively healthy (in fact > Jeff is still just as crazy as he's ever been). I'm sorry but your logic makes no sense, especially when you realize that the Hardy's in 2000 weren't capable of having the list of great matches like the Briscoes are having now.
Yes, the Hardys reckless style did affect my enjoyment of their matches. I can barely stand to watch the TLC bouts. And, if by "relatively healthy" you mean "has had to deal with a pain pill problem that has gotten him fired from the biggest wrestling promotion in the world," then, yeah, Jeff is fine. And this isn't an example of "my logic making no sense," because never once did I attempt to argue in what I wrote that the Hardys are better than the Briscoes or that tag team wrestling in WWE is better than tag team wrestling in ROH. What I said was that I enjoy the WWE of 2007 to the ROH of 2007, and comparing the Hardys to the Briscoes is not relevant to my initial point.
What boggles my mind is the fact that you call the success of the ROH tag and world title division overrated but then proceed to defend the Great Khali as a world champion/ WTF!!! ANY COMPETENT PRO WRESTLER WITH MINIMAL SKILL CAN BE CARRIED TO A DECENT MATCH. DOES THAT MAKE THAT WRESTLER WORLD TITLE MATERIAL?
What I said about the Great Khali was that, like it or not, the role he is in is one that will always be present in professional wrestling. I've come to accept that fact after many years as a fan. No matter how hard any of us try, guys like Khali aren't going anywhere. Given that the 7' monsters will always roam the sport, we may as well accept what good we can get out of them, and Khali is certainly better than others who have been in this role. He's better than El Gigante, he's better than Kurrgan, he's better than Giant Silva, and I'd go as far as to say that he's better than Andre the Giant in Andre's final days with WWE. My point was not that I like the man as a World Champion more than I like Morishima but rather that putting the strap on Khali is no reason to ignore the other great things that WWE has done this year.
I think you suffer from the same ailment as most current fans do. That is the fact that you probably don't watch much ROH besides the major 4 or 5 shows a year in addition to reading reports from fans in attendance, to make your decisions. In that case ROH is at a disadvantage in comparison to WWE because it can be a drain on ones checking account to be a fan of the ROH product whereas you can follow WWE and get 5 hours of TV per week for absolutely free. I believe you know the old saying that goes "You get what you pay for" I think that perfectly describes this situation. You can keep watching WWE and i'll keep enjoying ROH. You can believe what you want. At years end we'll see who was the best.
Actually, I'm watching WWE and ROH at the same levels that I have since 2002. From 2002 - 2006, I liked the ROH product more. In 2007, I like the WWE product more. You're right, I'm entitled to that opinion, as you are to yours. We will see who is best at year's end, but, as of August, I think WWE has a sizable lead.
And we're rolling... - 05.28.2007
Hello, 411mania.com blog. It's been a while. I'm here to use you to plug something.
Who: Me & fellow 411'er Matt "Marquis" Adamson!
What: Radio show discussing independent wrestling promotion SHIMMER: Women Athletes.
When: Tuesday, May 29 from 8 - 10 PM EST (7 - 9 PM CST)
Where: WVAX 88.3 FM in Chicago or streaming online at http://www.wxav.com
Why: Because they asked me to.
And we're rolling... - 04.24.2006
I've always thought that there was something a little bit off about a certain class of people. I'm talking about the people who, in a near-empty area of public seating, will still choose the chair immediately adjacent to yours. Today, on the bus, I had an encounter with one of these people. However, he wasn't just sitting next to me. He was sitting next to me, holding a CD player in his lap, and very loudly rapping along with the music coming through his headphones. For a minute or two, I thought maybe I would join in as a part of his "posse," throwing in random "yeahs" and "uh huhs" here and there, maybe even flashing my old mid-westside gang signal. Then, something happened that made me not want to mock this young man. He rapped the following line, and I thought it was phenomenal. Apparently, when he rolls his joints, he rolls them . . .
"Fat like that Oprah bitch."
And we're rolling... - 04.18.2006
Reader Ryan T. sent me the following e-mail, which inspired me to write a mini-rant about the WWF Hardcore DVD and my stance on hardcore wrestling in general. I wrote so much that I may as well get a blog entry out of it.
Hola. I am a longtime fan of your wrestling columns and reviews. "Cheap Wrestling for Cheap People" is genius, I must say.
But what's bothering me is your beef with "Hardcore" wrestling. Particulary one DVD; WWF Hardcore. I think the DVD is a lost classic. Sure, the DVD doesn't exactly feature wrestling clinic after wrestling clinic, but the main feature and the extras feature an immense history of the Hardcore Title, making it a prelude to possible future WWE DVDs.
Not only that, but the DVD contains an INSANE amount of Attitude Era footage. And thethis was well before the WWE realized the amount of footage their library contained.
So with that said, I really think you should reconsider your outlook on the DVD, and maybe even re-review the DVD at some point, since its bound to be found on sites for low prices.
As far as the WWF Hardcore DVD is concerned, I don't think that I've ever reviewed it for 411. (Though you can feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.) I may have mentioned it in passing in one of my columns, I don't really remember. However, I do have it, I have seen it, and I must say that it's not too bad. There really aren't any ***** classic matches, but I found enough about the show for it to be entertaining and worth the $7 or so that I paid. The six-way match from Backlash that they include is quite enjoyable thanks to some unique spots off the PPV set and a big, fast paced finish. The women's hardcore match is also a blast to watch from time to time just because it's something so different. Also, unlike a lot of compilations that only focus on main event angles, it is mainly concerned with midcard (or lower) antics. I enjoy the fact that it documents a part of wrestling history that normally gets skipped over when WWE does their major home video releases. I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bits with Crash Holly and the 24/7 title defense. They're classic, and I think they alone justify the price of the disc. In short, though I don't think that the "average match rating" for WWF Hardcore would be too high, I would still suggest that people add it to their collections.
Normally when I go off on hardcore wrestling in the column, I'm not going off on WWF Hardcore style. Most of their hardcore stuff was done for comedy and so that guys could do matches outside of the normal in-ring environment. What I really desipse is the stuff that you'll see from Japanese promotions like IWA Japan or Big Japan and American indies like CZW, XPW, or IWA Mid-South. I'm talking about matches that involve insane amounts of barbed wire, fire, nails, tacks, light tubes, sickles, and knives. Though I have no problem with using any one or two of those weapons sparingly in ONE match on a card, I have seen far too many matches in which the whole thing was built around watching two glorified backyard wrestlers carve each other up with shards of glass or sharpened forks. The whole thing takes no talent and could result in somebody getting seriously injured.
And we're rolling... - 04.10.2006
Normally I don't watch a lot of TV, but, for some reason, I've spent a lot of my free time this week just flipping through the channels perhaps out of curiosity about what passes as pop culture these days. I am now watching Lifetime's "Cheerleader Nation," a reality TV show about a team of high school cheerleaders. Thoughts:
- Five minutes in and I've already found a character to hate - the cheerleader who just spent five minutes flirting with this high school boy, only to turn around and tell the camera that "I don't want a relationship. He's just a really good friend at this point." It's all right, man, I feel for you. We've all been there.
- Apparently race relations aren't getting any better, because the producers feel the need to subtitle everything said by a black character. Personally, I can understand them perfectly.
- I can tell that I'm getting old, because the girls' mothers are looking more attractive than the girls themselves.
- Commercials for tampons and maxi pads generally don't bother me, but they keep showing one particular pad commercial that is careful to point out how well the product protects against "temporary bladder weakness." Granted, I'm not an advertising major or a woman. However, I can't imagine that anybody would want to buy that brand for fear of being labeled as the chick that wets herself.
- I could NOT have a teenage daughter. If any of these girls mouthed off to me like they're mouthing off to their parents, I would slap them.
- I'm impressed by how frequently these girls are willing to fall hard on to various parts of their bodies without even complaining. God knows they bitch about everything else in life.
- They're showing the trailer for next week's show, and one of the cheerleaders is apparently having trouble keeping her GPA up. Color me shocked.
Yeah, I need a hobby.
And we're rolling... - 04.02.2006
I've had to dig around on the internet for about ten minutes in order to find a place where I can recycle my old cell phone battery. I think this is entirely too long, and I don't want any of my friends or readers to have to worry about it. Therefore, I give you the following website:
There are plenty of drop-off locations across the nation, and their spokesman is Richard "Al Borlin" Karn. Can't go wrong with the guy who hosts Family Feud.
And we're rolling... - 02.06.2006
Well, after months of debating whether I actually wanted to take the plunge, I plunked down some of my hard-earned cash and bought an iPod. I'd been been in the market for some sort of portable music player ever since my beloved discman finally crapped out on me back in November. At first, I loathed the idea of having the uber-trendy, uber-prepster iPod attached to my upper arm, but a little bit of market researched seemed to reveal that they legitimately have one of the better products on the market. Combine that with a trip to Chicago's Apple Store*, where I was able to find a few discounted models, and the big purchase was made. So far, I'm happy with what is a very intuitive design and some surprisingly good sound quality from the little machine. We'll see what happens long-term. However, I will shoot myself if I become one of those people whose life revolves around their iPod like it's some sort of special needs child.
*I should note that being in the Apple Store was a very odd experience. I found myself staring at an entire wall of Mac compatible software and felt like I was inside Ned Flanders' Leftorium.
And we're rolling... - 01.28.2006
In the 411 Roundtable for the Royal Rumble, I referred to the 2005 Diva Search winner as Ashley "Don't Call Me Vinnie" Massaro and then mentioned that nobody would get the joke. Lo and behold, I get the following e-mail from reader Travis:
I was reading your roundtable predictions for the royal rumble and I recognized your "Don't call me Vinnie" joke. Thats is what Steve Martin said repeatedly in the hilarious comedy My Blue Heaven (1990).
Aaaaaand, he's right. Well, he's half right. Part of it was the Steve Martin line and part of it was because there's a California indy wrestler named Vinnie Massaro. Good catch, Travis.
And we're rolling... - 01.26.2006
Sudoko puzzles are like crack in newsprint form.
And we're rolling... - 01.24.2006
I doubt that I'll have an opportunity to do a full review for the main site, so here are a few quick thoughts on "Heaven Sent, Hell Bound," the recently released best of Christopher Daniels put out by TNA.
Overall, I would have to recommend the disc. First of all, it contains over four hours of wrestling for a $16 pricetag, so you're doing pretty well on the economic side of things. Additionally, this thing literally covers every stage of Daniels' TNA career. It includes his first match, footage from just about every match between Triple X & AMW, his X Division title win, and practically every PPV title defense through Slammiversary of last year. It also includes angles leading up to all of the major matches, or, at the very least, video packages that recap the angles. So, you're getting a ton of action and a very comprehensive look at the TNA career of one of the company's best wrestlers.
There are a couple of problems with the DVD, though. First of all, because the company put so much on to the disc, the majority of the matches are clipped in some way. Though I can understand working around time constraints, there are a few Impact matches shown in full that I gladly would have sacrificed in order to get more of the PPV matches. Also, if you already own TNA's Best of the X Division, the AJ/Angel Iron Man Match and the X Division Challenge in which Daniels wins the X Title will be repeats.
My favorite part of the whole thing, though, was the disc's main bonus feature. TNA managed to strike an agreement with Windy City Wrestling to get one of Daniels' first major matches on the DVD. (It's against Danny Dominion, who has a very young Ace Steel in his corner.) It's very cool to watch to see how the man has evolved, and the Fallen Angel himself does commentary on the bout, providing an interesting discussion of his career and his influences that skillfully avoids breaking kayfabe.
So, thumbs up on this one. Don't buy it on the internet, though. Stick to brick & mortar stores and you'll most likely save $9-10.
And we're rolling... - 01.23.2006
I just wanted to pop on to the blog and put over the latest album from my favorite band, Lagwagon. For those not familiar with the outfit, they're a pop-punk group from California who have been together for the better part of fourteen years now without getting a ton of national recognition. I really enjoy them, because they're one of the few punk bands who manage to act their age. While far too many other groups are stuck in a perpetual "let's sing about sex and drinking like we're still 19" mentality, Lag's done a good job of updating their subject matter without compromising their original sound.
Anyway, the album is called Resolve, and, from what I can tell, it's about the band losing its original drummer, who died last year. I bought the album after it first came out in late October and have just recently been revisiting it. After several listens, let me just say that this is perhaps the perfect album for anybody who's ever lost a close friend, especially if that friend was still young. Even if you don't typically go for punk, I would suggest at least listening to this one, because it does a great job at picking up on the wide range of emotions that we all go through when mourning. Not only that, but it also goes through these emotions without ever sounding overly whiney or "emo," which is a great relief to those of us who have grown tired of that genre. The CD is short at roughly forty minutes, but it's an incredibly cathartic forty minutes for anybody who has been through something similar to the band's loss.
Though it's not the most cheery subject matter in the world, my thumbs go way up for this one.
And we're rolling... - 01.15.2006
During a trip to the local shopping center, I stumbled across a couple of interesting things:
- At mall's import store, there were a few Winnie the Pooh toys that had been brought over from Japan. Apparently, over there, the character is referred to as "Gout." This poor guy just can't catch a break when it comes to getting good names.
- In the pathetic little arcade that the mall maintained, I ran across the old Simpsons arcade game. I pumped a ton of quarters in to the thing when I was a kid and decided to try it out one more time for nostalgia purposes. Though it's not the deepest game of all time, it's a great little platformer when you want to kill some time. It's got a lot of great references to the show, and there's enough action to keep you busy without it being overwhelming to less experienced players. I'm surprised that it never got ported to a home console.
And we're rolling... - 01.09.2006
I don't play a lot of video games, but I've been house-sitting for a friend this week and thus have had unlimited access to his Playstation. For the hell of it, I decided to rent Showdown: Legends of Wrestling 2, which looked interesting. I haven't spent this much time playing a wrestling game since the days of WWF RAW for the Super Nintendo . . . and, if Showdown is representative of the wrestling game market these days, it doesn't look like I've missed much.
Seriously, aside from better graphics and memory that holds a few more moves/characters, I can't tell much of a difference between what I've been playing this week and what I was playing twelve years ago. This is what happens when there's a core group of people who will buy anything that's marketed nationally and is tied in to professional wrestling: The makers of the product won't innovate because they know they've got a core group buying their product regardless of quality.
And we're rolling... - 01.08.2006
I'm not a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars, but I'll be damned if the fans of the two franchises aren't amusing.
Earlier this week, I took in a DVD double feature of Star Wait and Trekkies. The latter is a general look at Trek fans, particularly their participation in the convention scene. The former is a feature on fans who lined up for six straight weeks to see the fifth Star Wars film.
Both of them have their entertaining moments and are worth a rental, but I've got to give the nod to Wait as the better movie. It's not as professionally done but is much more character and event driven, while Trekkies relies heavily on talking heads to tell its story, though there are a few less than successful attempts at bringing in individuals two which the crowd can relate. (On the DVD front, Wait also wins out in the features department, with a good follow-up featurette and numerous scene specific commentaries. Trekkies has nothing.)
The key to both movies, though, is that they should be entertaining to both those who like the franchises being examined and those who do not. A lot of people assume that these movies do nothing more than poke fun at the fans whose lives they chronicle. It is true that there are a few laughs at the individuals' expense and some scenes that make them look like the biggest nerds on the planet. But, beneath it all, the two films also represent these "geeks" as individuals who are loveable, real people despite their borderline unhealthy obsessions.
Then again, maybe I can relate to them since I'm the guy who watches twenty hours of pro wrestling a week.
Trekkies: ** Star Wait: **1/2
And we're rolling... - 01.02.2006
I took in the latest version of Mel Brooks' The Producers today. For a story that's already been told twice (once in the original movie and once on stage), they did a pretty decent job, though it felt like there wasn't a whole lot of new ground left to cover.
The musical performances sounded like they were directly ripped off of the Broadway cast recording, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you look at it. There are some loyalists who will pan any change, but I always think it's fun to hear what unique spins can be put on older songs. Otherwise, the acting was fine, although it got a little too over the top at various points. My theory is that it's a vestige of being on stage, where you have to do everything a bit bigger than you would in the movies in order to get it across to a crowded house.
On the plus side, the sets, cinematography, and and choreography were all very well done. The movie integrated a lot of ideas from the stage version but upped the ante by adding in some great perspectives that can't be caught in the theater.
Oh yeah, and this was the first time that I watched a Will Ferrell performance and didn't come out of it wanting to take a staple gun to my own head.
Overall, I'd give it **1/2 out of *****, well worth the $5 I plunked down for a matinee ticket. I won't be clamboring to get ahold of the DVD on release day, though.
And we're rolling... - 12.30.2005
I spent a good chunk of tonight wrapping up the first edition of Cheap Wrestling for 2006, as well as entertaining myself with the DVD version Murderball. This one didn't come anywhere near me during its limited theatrical run, so I was quite excited for the home video release.
The Movie: I admit that I'm a big documentary mark, so I won't bore as easily as some do when watching a movie like this one. However, it was very well put together. I've seen a lot of documentaries in which the filmmakers are clearly working with limited material and stretching to turn real people in to the characters that they want them to be. The guys who made Murderball were incredibly lucky, though, because they were handed a group of charismatic, interesting subjects on a silver platter. Really, it's the subjects who make or break any documentary, and the cast alone is entertaining enough to make Murderball a good rental.
The subject matter isn't that bad either. I've had some experience working with athletes who have disabilities in the past, so the fact that they exist wasn't as shocking to me as it might be to some. However, I can easily imagine this movie being quite the eye opener for anybody who isn't familiar with the culture of people with disabilities. Yeah, the message is essentially "they're just like anybody else," and that's easy enough to put out there in text. Sometimes you need more than just a one-line reminder, though, and the film is a great way to do that.
Special Features: In terms of added features, this is one of the best single disc releases that I've ever seen. You get two commentary tracks, one with the producers and one with players from the US national team. Though the players sound like a fun bunch of guys, they don't add a whole hell of a lot to the movie. The filmmakers' commentary as great, though, as they go in detail about what they were trying to accomplish in each individual scene. It definitely gives the viewer the ability to gauge how well the makers succeeded in the various goals that they set from themselves. You also get full episodes of Jackass and Larry King Live that feature members of the cast, as well as follow-up interviews with various cast members. They're mostly fluffy promotion bits, but there is a bit of extra background information that will satisfy fans of the movie who had unanswered questions about who exactly the players were.
Overall, I'd give the movie itself ***3/4 out of *****, and the features get **** out of *****. This one will be finding its way in to my collection very soon.
Ask 411 Wrestling 03.06.13: The Undertaker Edition
How many finishers has Undertaker taken during his WrestleMania streak? Would WWE still have given Chris Benoit a tribute if they knew he was a murderer? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Wrestling!
The 8-Ball 01.25.13: Top 8 Trademark Weapons
From the Sandman's Singapore cane and Jerry Lawler's phantom foreign object to Bob Orton's cast, Lex Luger's forearm and more, 411's Ryan Byers counts down the top 8 signature weapons in wrestling history!
The 8-Ball 01.03.13: Top 8 Reasons to Order WrestleKingdom
From underutilized WWE stars of the past like MVP & Shelton Benjamin getting to shine to the guaranteed excellent main event between Tanahashi & Okada, Ryan Byers counts down the top reasons YOU should order the New Japan iPPV this week.
The 8-Ball 12.28.12: Top 8 Raw Moments of 2012
From Brock Lesnar's post-WrestleMania return and CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan to Jerry Lawler surviving his heart attack and more, 411's Ryan Byers counts down the top 8 moments from Monday Night Raw in 2012!
411's Tribute to the Troops Report 12.19.12
The tenth anniversary of Tribute to the Troops saw John Cena do battle with Antonio Cesaro in the main event, in addition to action from Team Hell No and plenty of appearances by the Muppets! 411's recap has all the details on the big event.