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Monday, October 9, 2017

Halloween Havok 2017 - The Top 13 "Friday The 13th" Kills

Welcome boils and ghouls, to yet another year of delightful frights and thrilling chills. Its Halloween Havok 2017. And not just a regular Halloween Havok (but really, isn't every Halloween a special time of year?). This is a Halloween that happens to contain a Friday. A Friday, that happens to be on the... 13th! So, I began thinking, on this the spookiest of months, during the Halloween Havok season, how I could properly celebrate such a spooktacular day of the year. And it hit me... like a Jason Voorhees-sized zombie to the face. A countdown. But not just any countdown. A countdown of the 10...no 20... no 13 best kills in the "Friday The 13th" movie franchise. What better way to celebrate the day, than to pay tribute to the masked maniac who makes us all afraid of it?

So, without further adieu, boils and ghouls and creepy crawlies of all ages, I present....

The Top 13 Kills From "Friday The 13th".

13. Pamela Voorhees Loses Her Head - "Friday The 13th Part 1"

- There are many, many legendary kills in the "Friday The 13th" film series. But perhaps none of them are as important as this one. The literal launching point for an entire immortal series. We all know by now (hopefully) that Jason Voorhees wasn't the killer in the original "Friday The 13th". That honor went to Jason's poor mother, Pamela Voorhees. Who, upon finding out that the summer camp her dear boy Jason drowned at, due to neglect on the part of the camp's counselors, was reopening, decided to take her pound of flesh from everyone involved. Going on a killing spree that saw the deaths of multiple victims, Pamela was finally stopped by the franchise's first final girl, Alice. After some exciting cat-and-mouse games, Alice manages to behead Mrs. Voorhees with a machete, by the lakeside. The night of horror is over. But man, there were a lot more to come.

12. Knocked Out Cold - "Jason X"

- The tenth "Friday The 13th" film saw Jason, who had long since stopped being any kind of "realistic" human threat, evolve into something akin to an indestructible zombie. A walking death machine of rotting flesh and exposed bones who couldn't die. He survives long after the extinction of Earth in the future and is brought aboard a spaceship, frozen in cryogenic stasis. Here he awakens on the dissection table and proves that, even though he's a zombie Popsicle, he's still a force to be reckoned with. He grabs the female scientist, forces her face into a freezing agent, and then smashes her face to bits on the counter next to her, leaving nothing but a gaping open hole and bits of frozen bone and blood. The future meets 80's slasher barbarism and it was totally cool. Err... no pun intended.

11. Jason Gets His Mask - "Friday The 13th Part 3-D"

- In retrospect its hard to believe that it took three movies, two actually involving Jason as an on-screen character, for Jason to finally get his trademark mask. After scaring our eventual victim, infamous "Friday The 13th" film prankster, the rotund and obnoxious Shelley, gets his throat slit. But not before scaring said victim by popping up on a nearby pier in a wet suit, brandishing a spear gun (yes, a real spear gun) and rocking the, you guessed it, trademark hockey mask.  After meeting the dying Shelley and realizing that, for once, he wasn't joking, our victim Vera runs out the door only to be met with Jason, standing on the peer, pulling his trademark mask on, and leveling the poor girl with spear straight through the eye. Its an eye-popping moment (sorry), that helped cement Jason's now trademark look.

10. Twist And Shout - "Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter"

- "Friday The 13th Part 4" opens with Jason's "dead" body being carted off by police. The final girl from "Friday The 13th Part 3" moving on to horizons unknown. As the police opine, "He got 8 of them, but this time, they got him". We meet our morgue attendant, a sleazy asshole who's more interested in watching women gyrate in skimpy outfits in some very 80's aerobics video than he is at doing his job. After hitting on and pissing off his attending nurse, Dr. McPervert gets a rather rude awakening, as Jason revives from his supposed "death" (not the first time, won't be the last time) and makes liberal use of a bone saw to hack the "good" doctor's throat, before snapping the doctor's neck so hard, in the opposite direction, that it nearly twists all the way around. Who needs a morgue now?

9. This Time They Got Him - "Friday The 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter"

- According to legend, and Sean S. Cunningham himself, "Friday The 13th Part 4" was supposed to be the ending point of Jason Voorhees' now legendary murder spree. And the end of the franchise. But.. well... not quite. So far we've covered Jason's dirty work. This is the first (but not the last) time we're looking at the time somebody got him. And this time, Jason goes down at the hands of teenage Corey Feldman. Yeah, it was the 80's. And not even the invincible Jason Voorhees could escape the power of the two Corey's. This time, Jason goes on his typical backwoods rampage, murdering dozens of folks in assorted ways, until Corey f'n Feldman, disguised in a latex mask as a young Jason, manages to bring him down. Feldman hacks Jason's head with a machete, causing the titan of terror to fall face first on it. Sliding down, and impaling itself through his eye socket and embedding it deep into his brain, its pretty damn obvious that no human could survive that. Legendary blood and gore man and effects artist Tom Savini has stated that they wanted to decapitate Jason, but Sean Cunningham vetoed the idea. They wanted something more "original" for Jason's death. And hey, giving Jason a back door back to life could only be a coincidence, right?

8. Eat Your Heart Out - "Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives"

- After a stay in a state institution for troubled youths, Tommy Jarvis aka Corey f'n Feldman, is all grown up. After dealing with an imposter Jason in "Friday The 13th 5: A New Beginning", Tommy wants to make sure the "real" Jason is as "dead" as everyone thinks he is. Heading to the cemetery with a buddy, Tommy begins digging and discovers the now bloated and rotting corpse of old hockey puss himself.  Triggered by painful memories, Tommy attacks the body with a loose fence post as a lightning storm looms in the background. Before long, Tommy stabs the post through the heart of Jason's body, before a lightning bolt Frankensteins Jason back to life. Stunned, as Jason stands up, now more zombified monster than mere backwoods maniac, Tommy attempts to immolate Jason, but the arrival of more rain washes the gasoline away. Tommy's friend having more heart than brains runs at Jason, snapping a shovel across Jason's back. Jason turns now, in full-on Terminator mode and rips the still-beating heart from the body of Tommy's pal, before casually discarding his body into Jason's now unoccupied casket. That's just heartless, Jason.

7. Triple Header - "Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives"

- "Jason Lives" is largely regarded as one of the franchise highlights, given its bigger budget, and focus on clever writing and comedy. And Jason's "triple header" kill is all about the chuckles. Upon his revival, Jason stalks through the woods, making his trek back to Crystal Lake and killing anyone dumb enough to wander into his way. During this, Jason stumbles upon a company paintball game, and decides to play. After dispatching an aggressive and sexist sore loser, Jason descends from a tree branch and decapitates 3 office drones with one swipe of his machete. Damn, that's efficient. Talk about cutting through the red tape.

6. I'd Bend Over Backwards For You - "Friday The 13th Part 6: Jason Lives"

- Toward the end of Jason's "Jason Lives" rampage, we find Jason back at his old stomping grounds in Crystal Lake. Tommy and his sort-of/sort of not girlfriend Megan are on the case, as is Megan's father and police sheriff. Taking matters into his own hands and wanting to protect his daughter and the lives of more potential victims, the Sheriff goes mano-a-mano with Jason. A first in the series. We've seen Jason stalk and hack victims to bits. We've seen "final girls" hide out and clobber him with logs and clubs. We've even seen 12-year old Corey Feldman psychologically manipulate the masked monster into giving him an opening to kill him permanently. But we've never seen a straight up fight against the beast. And the sheriff gives it his all. He blows Jason away with several shotgun blasts, and eventually settles into trying to beat his face in with a big rock. Jason however, is a super powered zombie killer now and that just won't work. He grabs the Sheriff and bends him over backwards at an impossible angle, snapping his back and killing him. Its a Hell of a kill and just shows that Jason is a force with or without a weapon.

5. Punch Out: Featuring Jason Voorhees - "Friday The 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan"

- The nadir of the "Friday The 13th" movie franchise sees one of its silliest but most memorable kills go down. After almost 80 minutes of Jason slashing and hacking a cruise ship full of annoying high school kids to little bits and pieces, the surviving crew lands in Ontario, Canada... err... I mean New York City. There, they split up, hoping to escape the waterlogged menace in the streets of New York. I don't know; New York in the 80's? I'd rather take my chances with the big guy with the machete. Upon finding himself on a rooftop (why? we never really find out) we get our big damn hero moment for Julius, one of the survivors of the S.S. Jason massacre at sea. Julius fancies himself a bit of a boxer and slugs it out with Jason, fighting him across the rooftop with a series of rights and lefts. Julius lets loose with a wicked right haymaker before telling the titan of terror to "Give me your best shot". Jason strikes, with poor form but great power, and knocks the kid's head clean off and into a dumpster in the alley below. Judges, to your score cards.

4. Your Bacon Is Cooked - "Friday The 13th Part 1"

- Back to "Friday The 13th Part 1" for this one as we look at a classic kill from the original movie. As we all know, Kevin Bacon was in "Friday Part 1" and here we get to see him, in post-coitus bliss, relaxing in bed. As his girl wanders off, Bacon lays his head back, a hand grabs his forehead and pulls it back and an arrowhead pops through his Adams Apple like a worm popping up through fresh dirt. Its a quick, painful, realistic, and down and dirty death that exemplifies what the old-school "Friday The 13th" movies were about. Blood, gore, and unexpected death from every angle.

3. The Big Sting - "Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday"

- "Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday" is a fairly divisive movie, and for good reason, but few people who've seen it can disagree that the opening section is one of the best double-switches in "Friday The 13th" film canon. As the movie starts, we're introduced to a nameless young lady, who does everything your typical "Friday The 13th" cannon fodder is "supposed" to do. She changes a broken light bulb, she strips naked and takes a shower. She's the pre-credits kill, or at least, that's the idea. As she starts to leave the cabin, Jason finally appears, in all of his hulking, zombie glory. He gives chase as cannon fodder chick runs, proving to be more crafty and clever than any pre-credits victim should be. And that's because, she's more than cannon fodder. She lures Jason, in a foot chase into a large clearing. As spotlights ignite and blind him, FBI agents and police pop up from camouflaged canopies that were lining the forest floor. They blow Jason to bits with a variety of small arms, shotguns, and assault rifle fire before bringing the Hell down on the beast with a mortar that blows Jason into chunky slasher villain salsa. Its an inglorious end for a legend, that occurs five minutes into the movie. "Jason Goes To Hell" isn't a great film, but the audacity of killing Jason 5 minutes in is just mind blowing. Its a silly, over-the-top answer to the question everyone always asks; "Why don't they just get some guns and blow him up?" And its too damn fun not to throw on this list.

2. "Only Through a Voorhees May He Be Born, and Only Through A Voorhees Can He Die" - "Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday"

- Back for one more from "Jason Goes To Hell". Upon discovering Jason's hereto unknown power to transfer his being into different bodies, Jason manages to thwart death once again. Never mind the whole "Jason's body is a smoldering pile of bones, muscle, and ashes on a dissection table" thing, a good slasher never stays down long. Instead, Jason uses some kind of mystical mumbo jumbo to turn himself back into the old Jason we all know and love. Its during this that bounty hunter Creighton Duke tells a local Crystal Lake diner employee that she's secretly Jason's sister. And only she can kill him, and only using a certain magical mystery dagger, saying that "only through a Voorhees may he be born, and only through a Voorhees can he die".  Eventually, after some more escalating insanity that blatantly throws every bit of "Friday The 13th" canon out the window, we see Steve, Jessica's boyfriend, engage Jason in combat straight out of a WWF hardcore match. They fight in a small playground and Steve tries to escape Jason by climbing a jungle gym, he hits Jason with a shovel. Eventually, Steve manages to stab the dagger into Jason's chest as Jessica kicks it in for the final death blow. Jason explodes in a magical light show complete with oversized puppet "demon" hands that wouldn't look out of place in a goofy ass piece of 80's cheese like "The Gate". Of course, that's not what we're here for. As the film winds down in its final moments, Jason's mask is facing up out of the dirt. A clawed hand explodes from the ground and pulls it under as we hear Freddy Krueger's trademark laugh.

1. Jason Conquers The 80's - "Freddy vs. Jason"

- Sure, "Freddy vs. Jason" isn't technically a "Friday The 13th" movie. But, it follows the series canon a lot more than "Jason Goes To Hell". Its a fantastic end to Jason's original legacy (who knows if they'll continue with a franchise based on the 2009 remake or reboot it all and start over fresh) as we finally get our battle of the slasher titans. Through 17 different drafts, multiple writing teams, and different directors, we finally get to see Jason throw down with old crispy himself, Freddy Krueger. It took moving virtual mountains to get to this point and it was worth it. After introducing Jason to his nightmares in the dream world, Jason and Freddy throw down in the real world, battling through a construction yard near Crystal Lake. Freddy is a surprisingly agile fighter for being an elderly burn victim, as he manages to take the advantage on Jason, as their battle heads out onto a long pier in the lake, Freddy plunges his claw deep into Jason's kidney and even stabs Jason violently in the eyes. Jason is however, able to "disarm" Freddy, by chopping his clawed arm off. Jason falls off the pier into the water, as Freddy menaces the human survivors with Jason's very own machete. As all hope looks lost, Jason emerges from the water, impaling Freddy with Freddy's own finger clawed arm and flinging both monsters into the waters of Crystal Lake. The next morning, as the mist rises, Jason emerges holding Freddy's severed head. Sure, Freddy turns and winks at the camera, but Jason won. Freddy's head might be alive, but his body is rotting at the bottom of the lake. Jason conquers Freddy. Jason lives. Jason wins.

- In all, there are many, many legendary kills in the "Friday The 13th" canon. Jason has killed more teenagers than drunk driving and the draft. He's stabbed, hacked, and bludgeoned his way to infamy and has been the central villain in some of the best slasher films ever made. And the creatively violent ways he's dispatched his victims (and been dispatched himself) have made him a legend. Happy, Friday The 13th! Happy Halloween Havok! Stay safe, and stay the Hell away from Camp Crystal Lake.

Ka-ka-ka chi-chi-ci ka-ka-ka chi-chi-chi.... 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Power Rangers Do Halloween - Reviewing "Lord Zedd's Monster Mash"

- Welcome everybody to something just the smallest bit different than normal. For Halloween Havok 2016; everyone's favorite month long celebration of everything spooky and Halloween-ie...? Halloweenish? Err, Halloween related, I've decided to delve into a former childhood obsession of mine. Obviously, I'm talking about "Street Sharks". No, of course I'm referring to the "Mighty Morphing Power Rangers" and, as it is Halloween Havok 2016, more specifically the Ranger's first ever Halloween themed episode, "Lord Zedd's Monster Mash". Yes, "Mash". Not bash. Sad to say, we won't see Zedd and Rita getting groovy to Bobby Pickett's classic Halloween jam. Nope, instead we'll see some blatantly overdubbed dialogue, reused Japanese stock footage, and more recycled monster costumes than a Spirit Halloween store's yard sale. But, how's it all going to hold up? Let's get spooky and go take a look.

Awesomely, the first thing we see post the typical episode intro is a closeup of a pumpkin. Call a spade a spade here, but the episode isn't subtle.

So, this is a Christmas episode, right?

Of course, our wonderful Power Rangers are involved in a community outreach program, as Billy the Blue Ranger (dressed like Albert Einstein) and Kimberly the Pink Ranger (dressed like, I don't know, Rapunzel or something) are preparing to take some children out trick 'r' treating. They speak briefly about some "World Peace Conference", that as most Rangers fans know, became a way to write the show's original Red and Yellow Rangers out of the program. But that's neither here nor there for this episode.

Eventually, after a brief interaction with one of the milquetoast adults of the series, who, in an obvious example of how the Power Ranger's version of "reality" in no way mimics our own, is happy that a group of teens are chaperoning the children, we see Tommy The White Ranger walk in (dressed like a pirate). After some meaningless chatter, we cut to Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd's Tower Base of Evil On The Moon.

Zedd there, apparently all by his lonesome, explains his plans to Goldar and the other idiots he keeps around for no real reason. (Seriously, there's like one episode where Baboo the monkey dude sees combat and he's as ineffective as anyone else.) Zedd's going to trap the White Ranger, and have him battle an army of monsters, without his other Rangers for help. That's surprisingly forward thinking for a villain who literally used the same plan every episode, every week despite being beaten every single time.

Back on Earth, Bulk and Skull show up, both dressed as Roman centurions. They embarrass themselves by eating hot candy and we can check "Bulk and Skull do something dumb" off our "Power Rangers Episode Bingo Card".

On the moon, Zedd tells his army of Puddies to "disguise themselves as humans". Which they do. Apparently meaning they can just.... do this at will? What the Hell? I know Zedd was never a master of subterfuge and planning (see above where I mentioned he used the same plan every week, every episode and always lost) but this newfound ability really seems like something that could come in useful. Of course, its essentially never used again. Also, Halloween reference, because the Puddies get to dress up in costumes. And they disguise themselves as children. Which is just... weird.

Moving on; of course Tommy The White Ranger takes the Puddy Kids (Kuddies? Pids?) out Trick 'r' Treating and... wait just a damn minute here. The Puddy Kids disguise themselves as children dressed like Power Rangers? And this doesn't raise any particular questions? Its not like the "media" or what passes for the media in the Power Rangers universe ever really talks about the Rangers. They're not regarded as "heroes" by the general public. Hell, they destroy city blocks every time they battle a giant monster. If anything, they'd get the Spider-Man "menace" treatment.

Pictured Here: Every Elementary School Halloween Party Circa-1993

Tommy tries to suss out the identities of the "children" but obliges their silence by letting them keep their "secret identities". Fair enough. 

Meanwhile, somehow Bulk and Skull believe the Rangers have the ability to shrink and grow at will and harass some poor kid dressed as the Red Ranger. It goes as well as you'd think. 

Even more meanwhile, Tommy is walking with the Mute Ranger Puddy Kids. Moments later, Goldar materializes out of nowhere, the Puddies turn back into their normal form, and despite in literally hundreds of other episodes, being able to kick the asses of multiple Puddies and even more powerful monsters unmorphed, Tommy is easily captured by the goons following a brief fight. 

Tommy winds up locked in Zedd's never before mentioned or seen "Dark Dimension" And when I say "locked in", I literally mean "locked in". As in, well.... see for yourself. 

Say what you want about Power Ranger's monster designs, but this is the guy you want when you can't find your car keys. 

Zedd's "Dark Dimension" is basically a big, empty woodland area with a lone tombstone in it. Kind of creepy for a kid's show. Tommy tries to morph, but is immediately beset upon by a guy with headstone for a head and an anthropomorphic goat. 

The last thing a crystal meth user sees before they die.

Oh good Lord. The monsters briefly threaten Tommy, before the appearance of The Pumpkin Rapper, who is.... *sighs*.... an anthropomorphic pumpkin with an upside down Jack O' Lantern face who speaks only in forced rhymes. God help us all here, folks. There's stupid and then there's Power Rangers Stupid. 

Tommy immediately breaks free, lays two of the monsters out and runs. He's doing better against three of Zedds "most powerful creations" than he did against five of Zedd's low-level foot soldiers earlier. Consistency? 

Back on Earth/our dimension, Kimberly and Billy try to contact Tommy. They can't reach him, so they run to Zordon for help. Of course, the all-knowing head in a fish jar knows what's up, but for reasons unknown, didn't bother to contact any of the other Rangers about it. Good mentoring, Zordon. 

Back in the Dark Dimension, Tommy's still holding his own, but the numbers are starting to catch up to him. He gets thrown to the ground by the Headstone guy. Zordon and Alpha-5 manage to figure out how to transport Kimberly and Billy to the Dark Dimension, but can't call on the rest of the Rangers for help. Because they're still... taking kids trick r' treating? Really? I mean, I know Halloween is cool and everything, but couldn't they just, I don't know, lie to the kids and tell them an emergency's come up. I know. I know. Logic in Power Rangers. 

Of course, the newly arrived Rangers kick the monster's asses. Tommy gets his morpher back and transforms. Headstone head guy decides to bolster the monster ranks by randomly resurrecting... uhh... well... these guys...

"My Pet Monster" all grown up and ready to kill.

The living embodiment of the musical version of "The Little Shop Of Horrors" meets "Grease"

A snake with snakes for legs and snakes for arms. When Zedd picks a theme he goes all-in.

Of course, the combined might of 3 of our 5 Rangers kick their asses easily. 

So, to recap briefly; One unmorphed Ranger taken completely by surprise was able to hold his own against three of Zedd's "most powerful creations". Three morphed Rangers have been able to handily take down six of them. And this was Zedd's biggest master plan. If this was plan-A what was plan-B? 

Back at the Command Center, Zordon comes to his giant-headed senses and sends Alpha-5 to take over for the Red, Yellow, and Black Rangers. Because he's a robot and its Halloween. Duh? You're telling me nobody thought of this until right no-.... Power Rangers logic. Sorry. 

Blah-blah-blah. The other Rangers show up. Pumpkin Rapper (and oddly, only him - none of the other monsters) is grown to giant size. The Rangers call upon their Zords, they use their Power Sword thing. He dies and they escape the Dark Dimension in some nebulous and never explained way. 

Back on Earth, the Rangers talk and Bulk and Skull have a stomach ache from eating too much candy. The end. 

Final Thoughts: For all the shit I gave it, watching this old episode of Power Rangers for Halloween Havok 2016 was a trip down memory lane. Yeah the show was goofy. Yeah it was dumb. But it was Power Rangers and most people wouldn't want it any other way. I'll give it 9 Pumpkin Rapper raps out of 10. Its Morphin' Time! 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Save Us, Vince!" - The Top-10 TNA "Stars" WWE Needs to Save

So here's the deal; once again good old TNA/Impact Wrestling is in some more deep, desperate financial trouble. You can blame whoever or whatever you want. Be it putting a money mark like Dixie Carter in charge, letting the dude from the Smashing Pumpkins be the president of your company, losing Spike TV and winding up on a television network with less penetration than a eunuch, hiring Vince Russo.... whatever. It doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that TNA is a quickly decaying husk of a formerly fairly vibrant and hot wrestling company. And its a company, that even while somehow steadying itself on broken legs, splinted by balsa wood and fairy magic, has maintained and even grown a pretty sizable and solid roster of talent.

And that's what this is, 10 TNA "stars" that WWE should rescue from, as Dusty Rhodes would say, "the gubbmint cheese line".

But first, let's start with 5 TNA wrestlers that'll never make the jump to Vince McMahon's empire.

1. Cody Rhodes - Its kind of appropriate to mention Dusty's "Government cheese line" saying in conjunction with Cody Rhodes. Like it or not, we'll never see Cody return to a company that wouldn't allow him to use his God-given real last name on any other television wrestling show. Besides, what would Cody come back to? His stock in the eyes of the casual 'E fan hasn't risen that high. Sure, he's wrestled some fantastic matches off of TV in England, New Extreme Wrestling, and for the Youtube sponsored wrestling company, What Culture Pro Wrestling. As far as most WWE fans would know, Stardust left for a while, came back, and didn't do shit in the interim. Cody's better off being a huge fish in a small pond in the indies, asking a premium for being a former WWE star, and probably, eventually tearing down the house in Japan. A WWE return would be detrimental to Cody more than anything.

2. Aron Rex/Damien Sandow - Another guy that the WWE desperately and almost belligerently misused. The fans wanted to see Sandow break out. They wanted to see him get a good, at least midcard run. Instead, he was buried in a weak ass Mega Powers parody tag-team with Curtis Axel as Hulk Hogan and Sandow as "Macho Mandow". It was awful. Since arriving in TNA, the newly christened Aron Rex is in contention for a new major title and can easily, even if TNA dries up sooner rather than later, parlay that into some good future bookings on the indies, Japan, or Ring of Honor. Sandow doesn't need WWE right now.

3. Bram - "The Chesterfield Plague" would be a solid fit in the WWE. But, they've already given him a chance. Bram was one of the original members of The Ascension in NXT, but was summarily released by the company for being involved in a domestic abuse incident with Charlotte Flair and then punching a cop. So yeah, he's probably not coming back.

4. Maria Kannelis - Currently packaged with her real-life husband Mike Bennett, Maria has some level of undisclosed "heat" with the Bellas and John Cena that caused her to leave the company in the first place. Its easy to imagine that Maria would follow her husband wherever he goes, but Mike Bennett is rumored to most likely to return to Ring of Honor if TNA were to go belly-up. Its not likely Maria's going anywhere without him.

5. Moose- Another wrestler paired with Mike Bennett. Moose has had some kind of problems with the law in the recent past, that precluded Moose from coming into NXT recently. Of all the Top-5 wrestlers who WWE won't take, Moose is the least solid "never again". He's young, healthy, and he can go. He just has that baggage that WWE doesn't want anything to do with. He's not going to happen. At least for now.

- That being said, TNA still has a lot of talent that WWE could still take. Here's 10 of them.

10. Abyss- Yeah, its the obvious first draft. But Abyss is Abyss. He's big, well-established and he can still go. Abyss is getting up there in age- he turns 43 this October 4th and there's not many places for a big guy with a well-established gimmick to make his bones outside of TNA or the WWE. He wouldn't fit in Ring of Honor (he tried it once, check it out), and his wrestling style wouldn't fly in Lucha Underground or Japan. He could be the midcard monster replacement for Kane or Mark Henry when one of those guys decides to hang it up. The so-called "dream match" between Abyss and Undertaker might not happen, but he could still mix it up on either show, or be a big deal in NXT. Think about it like this; who would you rather see squashing ham-n-eggers on RAW, Abyss or *shudders* Braun Strowman? Exactly.

9. DJ Zion - Bring in DJ Z exactly as he is right now. The "club DJ" thing is hot now in pop-culture, with Skrillex and Daft Punk producing house music that all the club kids want to roll on E and dance to. Just put the WWE machine behind DJ Z's entrance and outfit, give him a proper push, season him on NXT and let him come to RAW and tear it up in the cruiserweight division. DJ Zion vs. Brian Kendrick or TJ Perkins is a match I want to see, like yesterday.

8. The Helms Dynasty - Andrew Everett/Trevor Lee/Shane Helms - As a unit, The Helms Dynasty could be something really fun in the big 'E. Everett and Lee are both solid workers and have put in some really killer, under appreciated work in TNA, both in singles and as a tag-team. Their matches against the American Wolves and then Davey Richards and DJ Zion are recent highlights of TNA TV. These guys can go. Give them a run in NXT - tell me you wouldn't want to see these guys mix it up with TM-61, and then debut them on Smackdown as a unit. They'd add some legitimacy to Smackdown's tag-team scene and have some great teams to work with.

7. Crazzy Steve and Rosemary - That's right, number 10 was the obvious first draft in the form of Abyss, but Crazzy Steve and Rosemary wouldn't be too far behind. In an effort to not "save" all tag-teams from TNA's dieing clutches, Crazzy Steve and Rosemary would be separate from Abyss. No more Decay. Crazzy Steve isn't the most... seasoned wrestler, so a trip for the two down to NXT would be a foregone conclusion. But, after some time in developmental, its easy to imagine Crazzy Steve and Rosemary being the goth power couple of RAW's Cruiserweight division.

6. Mahabali Shera - Definitely an odd draft pick, given Shera's relative youth, lack of experience, and lack of exposure. But, Shera's managed to look good in undercard feuds with a badly miscast James Storm, an aging Al Snow, and a tag-team feud with his partner Grado (who himself just missed the mark on being a pick), against the green-as-grass team The Tribunal. Shera is young, healthy, good looking, and he's one of few Middle Eastern wrestlers not portrayed as a heel. He might be a long shot, but the kid's got an upside.

5. The American Wolves - Whether as a tag-team or as singles wrestlers, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are fantastic workers and consummate professionals. And they almost never have a bad match. Seriously, name one awful match you've seen out of the Wolves. Their run against Bobby Roode and Austin Aries is the stuff, hopefully, TNA will be remembered for. Their 30- Minute Tag-Team Iron Man match against Roode and Aries is one of the most criminally underlooked matches of 2015. Their match against The Helms Dynasty on pay-per-view was solid, star making stuff that elevated The Dynasty from virtual nobodies to TNA stars. As a team they've been everywhere, wrestled everybody, and done just about everything. How about a good run in the 'E to really cap it off, Wolves?

4. Tyrus - Yeah, I know. I know. I know. When Tyrus left the WWE he was a big, dumb dancing dumbass teaming with a burned-out A-Train who couldn't buy a win against anyone important. He was a 300+ pound jobber who was on a one-way trip to Jobberville. Even when he got a bit of a second run in NXT as a heel monster, shortly before being shown the door, he was jobbed out to everyone from Neville to Rob Van Dam. But since hitting TNA, he's experienced a bit of a career Renaissance. He's won the Bound For Glory gauntlet match, challenged for the TNA World Title, and been treated, whether as a heel or a face, like a pretty damn big deal. He's found his groove as a monster heel and his in-ring work is leagues better than it ever was in the WWE. Think about it; The Club needs a big guy to even the odds in their eternal feud with The New Day- Tyrus is their man.

3. Bobby Lashley - "The battle tank with a Ferrari engine". "The Destroyer". "Proof That Billy Blanks Does Steroids". Call him whatever you want, but Lashley is another WWE castoff to achieve a ton of success in TNA. He's TNA's first ever "Grand Slam" champion, winning every title available to him. He's a Hell of a success, and probably one of Vince McMahon's nightmares. He's the ultimate missed opportunity by the big 'E. Bobby's had killer matches with "The Glorious" Bobby Roode, James Storm, Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Ethan Carter, and a lot more. He's developed a personality and found his, in this case literally, voice in wrestling. WWE had Lashley when he was a big, oversized puppy who hadn't yet grown to his full potential. Now, Lashley is a pure bred animal with all the ability needed to throw down and look great with anyone. WWE missed their chance with him the first time. If TNA dies, they might not miss it again. Plus, Lashley said he wants to work with Brock Lesnar. That match is money and there's no way Vince wouldn't see that.

2. Drew Galloway - The former Drew McIntyre is yet another case of WWE misusing a guy, letting them go and then TNA picking them up and allowing their full potential to blossom. Galloway is one of the finest workers on TNA's roster who can have a legitimately good match with anybody. He's had some barn burners with Bobby Lashley as well as Ethan Carter. If there's anybody WWE overlooked before showing the door, its Galloway. Coming into Vince's domain as the supposed "chosen one", Drew's push quickly fizzled. Following that, he was put in filler programs, given a token tag-team title run with Cody Rhodes and eventually hu ng out to dry in The 3 Man Band with Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal. Despite being, by far, the most talented of the 3, Galloway is the only member of the band not to be in the WWE. When Heath Slater is a tag-team champion and Jinder Mahal is brought back just to do TV jobs, its probably time to think about hiring the most talented of the group back. Bring him in, put him on Smackdown, give him a run against The Miz or a babyface Dolph Ziggler, sit back and watch the midcard magic happen.

1. Ethan Carter III - And here we go, yet another example of a WWE castoff getting a great, second life in TNA. Only this time, who can blame the WWE for getting rid of EC3. Honestly, when the future Ethan Carter came into WWE through the NXT system, he looked like he had a bit of an upside but the WWE didn't see it and eventually let him go. Their loss was TNA's gain. Carter, upon getting his shot in TNA, managed to win the title, have an incredible undefeated streak, get over as a smarmy rich heel, and then, incredibly, after building his entire TNA career on screwing over the babyfaces, picking on the little guy, and flaunting his wealth and status, got over as a babyface and managed to stay over despite losing his undefeated status. Holy shit. That's a Hell of a career for a kid who washed out of NXT. That's not withstanding Carter's better than solid in-ring skills, his mic work which is pretty killer, his looks and his body which looks to be chiseled from granite. Ethan Carter, more than anyone else in TNA, is a ready-made prospect. WWE could pull him out right now and plunk him down on RAW and he'd already fit right in.

- You might have noticed a few omissions from this list and you're probably asking yourself why someone wasn't listed. Well, here's 5 Honorable Mentions. 

1. Grado - Grado is a fun personality and decent worker, but he's not high on my personal list. WWE could grab him, but he'd only get as far as a comedy undercard act. WWE already has No Way Jose in NXT, ready to be a no-so-serious comedy guy. Grado would just feel like a Santino Marella also-ran.

2. Tigre Uno - He would've been high on my list, as a good guy to have fill out RAW's Cruiserweight Division, but he's hurt.

3. Rockstar Spud - Frankly, I just kind of forgot about him. Besides, Brian Kendrick is already the Cruiserweight Division's top heel. Spud is fun, but he's not needed.

4. James Storm - I didn't include him because Storm, frankly, should be NXT bound already. He's put in a couple of appearances for them and his fellow upper-midcard TNA talents are leaving; Roode, Aries, Joe, Eric Young. Its all but certain he'll be in NXT and eventually the WWE sooner rather than later.

5. "Broken" Matt Hardy and "Brother Nero" Jeff Hardy - The two biggest omissions, by far. At this point, its probably fair to say if the WWE ever brought the Hardyz back, it would be as a nostalgia act. They'd be given the Dudley Boys treatment and eventually shown the curb. There's no way WWE would allow Matt and Jeff the creative freedom to do the whole "Broken Matt" delete/obsolete thing. From everything Matt and Jeff have said, both men are set pretty well financially and they enjoy TNA's easy schedule and creative freedom afforded to them. At this point, WWE might not be able to lure them back. WWE might not want Jeff Hardy back anyway, with his litany of drug offenses and his quickly deteriorating body. The Hardyz don't need WWE. The WWE don't need them, either.

Final Thoughts: And there you have it. Another week, another rumor that TNA might not make it out of this one still operating. Billy Corgan is pouring his personal finances into TNA to get this weekend's pay-per-view off the ground. Today might not be the greatest day TNA's ever really known, but who knows what tomorrow holds. If they do go belly-up, ascending to wrestling promotion heaven to hang out with WCW, ECW, and Herb Abram's UWF, at least the WWE will be there to grab some of their guys. TNA is the Titanic and real-world finances are its iceberg. So, what are your thoughts, wrestling fans? Who should WWE pick up? Do you think Eli Drake should challenge Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania this year? Let me know! I'm out.

Friday, September 9, 2016

WCW Pro Wrestling - May 11, 1997 - Review

- Welcome folks to yet another of Infinite Devil Machine's B and C-show reviews! Its time to scrape the bottom of WCW's barrel for some hot, sticky syndicated action. The temperatures are starting to heat up in May. Summer's right around the corner for WCW, as they're still embroiled in their war with the NWO as the ubiquitous Wrestlecrap stable The Dungeon Of Doom, who are miraculously still around at this point, continue their ongoing to war against a newly reformed Four Horseman. Its Faction Warfare in WCW, heading into the worst named mainstream pay-per-view of all time, Slamboree! But enough talk, let's get to the action!

Sargent Buddy Lee Parker and Pat Tanaka vs. Jim Powers and "Hardwork" Bobby Walker (w/ Teddy Long)

Man, you want to talk about an oddball team? You've got the square jawed G.I. Joe "Sargent" Buddy Lee Parker in full on military fatigues and camo and Pat Tanaka, probably best known for his stint in the WWF as one-half of The Orient Express, in a karate outfit. Its like Buddy Lee Parker walked in and recruited a partner at the last minute from the Benny Hanna's next to the arena.

- Needless to say, Jim Powers and Bobby Walker aren't much better. They're part of Teddy Long's stable of jobbers. Did Long putting his guys together in random tag-teams give him the idea to put together random tag-team main event matches on Smackdown every night when he was GM there? Makes you think, playa.

- Lockup to start, Parker with a headlock on Powers. Powers shoots him off, but eats a shoulderblock. Criss-cross and a leapfrog and Powers scores an armdrag on Parker. I just realized it, but Powers looks like the white dude half of American Alpha, only with less wrestling ability. Back up, and Parker fights out of an armbar with a knee to the gut and a clubbing blow. Tanaka tagged in and Powers counters with a drop toehold. Powers with an arm wringer and a tag. Walker in and they score a crappy double-team version of Matt Hardy's Side Effect move. Walker covers for two. Back up, Tanaka reverses a whip to the corner and then just kinda... stands there. Huh? Whip across, Tanaka reverses but Walker explodes out of the corner with a running clothesline and nails it so hard he falls on his ass. Walker springs to the top in a smooth motion and nails a nice flying ax-handle. Tanaka with an eye rake and a Karate chop to take over, before tagging out. Parker in and locks in a headlock, Walker counters into an arm wringer and tags out, Powers with an axehandle on the arm. Powers in and he taunts for an armbar, but Parker wrestles him down. Parker works his way into a front facelock. Powers wrestles out but Parker gets his foot on the ropes to break. Back up standing, lockup, and Powers drives Parker to the corner. Parker scores a knee and fights out and starts clubbering and nails a couple forearms. Powers tries to brawl back, but Parker cuts him off and facelocks him before tagging in Tanaka. Tanaka in and forces Powers to the corner for a couple shots. Whip across and Powers counters a charge with a big boot. Powers with the old "count to 10" spot slamming Tanaka's head to the buckle. Walker's tagged back in, Powers cheap shots Parker off the apron and Walker scores with a top-rope flying forearm for the win.

Winners: Jim Powers and "Hardwork" Bobby Walker

Rating: 1/2* - Call it generous. The wrestling was technically pretty solid. "Perfectly Acceptable", if you will. But damn, Pat Tanaka did literally nothing in this match.

- Make sure to check out Slamboree 1997 on pay-per-view! Kevin Greene, Ric Flair, and Roddy Piper take on the NWO live on pay-per-view!

Chavo Guerrero  vs. Hardbody Harrison 

Funny to see Chavo this early in his career. He's yet to make his trade off the legacy of his uncle Eddie or find his hobby horse Pepe. He's a pretty vanilla "technico" babyface.

- "Hardbody" Harrison was one of a handful of WCW wrestlers, including, funnily enough "Hardwork" Bobby Walker from the last match, who, under the direction of Sunny Onoo, sued WCW under the pretenses of racism, claiming that WCW didn't push enough minorities and they weren't given the same chances white wrestlers received.

- Lockup to start, Harrison forces Chavo to the corner but Chavo avoids an attempted big right hand. Lockup again, Chavo corners Harrison, but Harrison cowers in the ropes to avoid a right hand. Lockup again, but Harrison counters with a boot and an elbow across the back of the neck. Harrison with a couple shots, Chavo counters a whip with a sunset flip for a two count. Chavo with a dropkick and Harrison bails. Back inside, Chavo counters a charge with a toehold and stomps and hammers away. Chavo with a nice snap suplex and scores with a whip and a Tito Santana-style flying forearm. Chavo with a back-suplex and finishes things with an Oklahoma roll. Weak finish.

Winner: Chavo Guerrero Jr.

Rating: 1/2* - Pretty decent showcase for Chavo's work. He was always fairly underrated. Definitely a pretty weak finish, though.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Robert Fuller

- Jarrett was a Horseman around this time. Probably one of the lesser regarded wrestlers to ever join the Horseman not named Steve "Mongo" McMichael or Paul Roma.

- Robert Fuller looks a bit like Brian Clark aka Wrath aka Adam Bomb aka Brian Clark from Kronic. But he never got any kind of a run.

- Lockup and Jarrett with an armdrag and The Jarrett Strut. Lockup again, Jarrett with a headlock, gets shot off and Jarrett counters with a hiptoss. Jarrett does the old "lounge in the corner" spot. Jarrett, in 1997, got only slightly less fan reaction than Global Force Wrestling. Jarrett with an arm wringer, Fuller counters and whips him off. Fuller with a big hiptoss and a big slam. Fuller scores a legdrop for two. Fuller with a couple clubbing blows, Jarrett counters a charge with a toehold and walks over Fuller before stomping away. Jarrett chokes Fuller on the ropes and splashes him across the back. Back up, Jarrett continues controlling and scores a short clothesline. Jarrett scores with a nice snap suplex, Fuller reverses a whip, but Jarrett avoids a splash and Jarrett loads the big guy up with a back suplex before finishing things off by submission with the Figure-4 Leglock.

Winner: Jeff Jarrett

Rating: * - Not a bad short match. Jarrett was a boring worker and a boring heel, but he could go. Fuller was a big dude, but he was just a big jobber. As good a match as you could ask for between these two dudes.

- Backstage, we see The Dungeon of Doom; Kevin Sullivan, Meng, the future Jacqueline and Jimmy Hart talking about the events of a match between Chris Benoit and Meng on an episode of Saturday Night. Sullivan interfered and the whole thing broke down into a show ending melee, that also involved a load of WCW jobbers trying to break things up.

- Back to the arena and this one has some potential.

Chris Benoit (W/Woman) vs. "Mean" Mike Enos 

Fun Fact- This match opened WCW Souled Out 1999, two years after this.

- Fun Fact 2- "Mean" Mike Enos was primarily a tag-team worker who'd go on to form teams with Wayne Bloom (one of the ex-Beverly Brothers), Bobby Duncum Junior, and Scotty Riggs.

- Benoit starts things off aggressively, hammering Enos into the corner with forearms and some nasty chops. Benoit stomps Enos down into the corner. Benoit with a whip, Enos reverses and follows in with a clothesline before hammering away and stomping Benoit down. Enos uses the ropes to stomp away and chokes away on Benoit. Enos chokes away with a piece of his leather chaps before pulling Benoit back standing. Enos scores a nice back-suplex, but stupidly stops to pursue Woman on the floor instead of following up. On the floor, Enos stops to taunt Woman, but Benoit clobbers him with a Baseball slide dropkick before smashing Enos into the post. Back in the ring and Benoit nails Enos with his trademark double-armed clothesline. Benoit with a whip, but Enos reverses and scores with a wild kick and follows things up with a nice, hard powerbomb. Benoit basically no-sells it, pops back up, Enos blows Woman a kiss but turns around into a clothesline and Benoit finishes things by submission with the Crippler Crossface. Not bad.

Winner: Chris Benoit

Rating: *1/2 - Not bad. Not bad, at all. Unlike the other matches on this show, this match had a bit of a story and some good back-and-forth wrestling. Enos, who was never awful, looked pretty good and it was a solid win for Benoit. Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling.

Main Event: Villano 4 vs. The Ultimo Dragon (W/ Sunny Onoo)

- Ah, this is Dragon during his WCW run where he had something like 18 championships at once. Mostly from Japanese promotions that WCW had a working relationship with.

- Villano 4 and 5 were a great jobber team in WCW. They're perhaps most notable most recently for wrestling, as a trio involving the Villano's seemingly 400 year old father one of the worst matches of 2015 against three guys dressed like clowns on a Triple-A pay-per-view. It was uglier than a windowed abortion performed by a blind, drunk doctor. An absolute mess.

- Quick start, Dragon charges Villano with a spinning kick, but Villano avoids it. Villano chops away, Villano with a whip, but Dragon counters with a hurricanrana. Back up and Dragon nails a dropkick. Villano bails, Dragon charges but fakes him out and spins back in, with his own version of Rey Mysterio's precursor to the 619 before turning around and diving over the top with a crossbody. Back inside, and Villano manages to botch being thrown either into the corner or over the top rope. Its like a preview of Villanos vs. The Clowns about 21 years early. Dragon with a whip to the corner and follows in with his trademark handspring back elbow. Dragon follows it up with a series of kicks, a mare and a couple kicks to the back. Dragon with a single-leg Boston crab, but Villano fights out. Dragon cuts him off with a series of chops and kicks. Villano eats a couple good looking kicks, catches one and scores a Dragon screw legwhip on Dragon. Villano with a shot to the leg. Back up, and Villano manages to score a flying headscissor. Villano with a couple Mexican armdrags and scores with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Villano scores an odd looking cross armed, fisherman hook suplex with a bridge for two. Villano with a legdrop and a seated chinlock. Up again, Villano shoots Dragon off and scores with a clothesline. Villano with a kneedrop. Back up, Villano with a whip and backdrop but, Dragon looks like he tries to land on his feet, but botches it and lands flat on his face. Ooof. Spinning back-kick and a headscissor with a cradle by Villano for two. Up again, brief criss-cross sequence and Villano lands a powerslam for two. Up again, Dragon with a go behind, Villano counters, Dragon tries a rollup, Villano holds the ropes and nails Dragon with a clothesline. In the corner, Villano whips Dragon across, Dragon counters a charge with a jumping back-kick. Dragon muscles Villano up to the top and drops him with a hurricanrana before polishing Villano off with a nice bridging Tiger Suplex. Man, solid stuff.

Winner: The Ultimo Dragon

Rating: ** - Damn good match, especially for a weekly B-show. Despite a couple botches, with Villano blowing being thrown into the corner and Dragon blowing his own trademark spot of landing on his feet out of a backdrop, it was still good, solid cruiserweight action. We're spoiled now, with wrestlers the quality of Ultimo Dragon, and wrestlers, frankly, leagues beyond the Villanos mixing it up every day on TV these days. But for 1997, a solid match like this was well beyond most of what the major leagues were presenting on TV then. Good stuff.

Final Thoughts: For a weekly syndicated B-show, this was WCW at its best. Even without any NWO influence (on the live show at least, they were all over the recaps as you'd imagine), this was still classic WCW. We had good undercard stuff including former WWF guys in featured spots, Chris Benoit and Mike Enos having a decent heavyweight battle and Dragon and Villano 4 having a really solid cruiserweight showcase match. This show's on Youtube. If you're interested, go check it out. Its a short, fun watch. I'd recommend it. Thumbs up.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

WCW Prime October 23, 1995 Review -

WCW Prime - October 23, 1995

- Welcome to another one of Infinite Devil Machine's B-show reviews. WCW's hot off the arrival of Hulk Hogan into WCW with the Hulkster in a desperate war with the villainous (and often hilarious) Wrestlecrap go-to The Dungeon Of Doom. Of course, we won't see The Red and Yellow orange skinned goblin on the show himself. He's much too important to the landscape of WCW to lower himself to squashing some ham-n-egger on a B-show like Prime.

- But lets stop wasting time! Its time to see the best and brightest of the bottom of WCW's collective barrel in all the action you can handle!

Johnny B. Badd vs. Larry Starr

- Oh boy, its Johnny B. Badd out to squash some poor schlub. Johnny B. Badd is what would happen if a mad scientist with nothing better to do crossbred an amateur boxer with Liberace doing really awful blackface. Marc Mero is a born again Christian now who looks like Michael Jackson if MJ hadn't died 50 years too young.

- Lockup and Starr goes to a headlock, Badd shoots him off, leapfrogs Starr twice and they blow a monkeyflip spot. Back up, Badd scores with a backdrop and a running kneelift. Badd threatens a punch and Starr backs off to the corner. Lockup again and Badd scores a single leg takedown. Starr fights out as a I just notice that Starr looks like the bizarre love child of Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, Fit Finlay, and Samoa Joe's wrestling tights. Up again, Starr clubbers away, but Badd cuts him off with a whip and a backdrop before scoring with a slingshot legdrop from the apron. Badd with a bodyslam, before throwing Starr to the floor to hit him with a running flip to the floor, just for the sake of a high spot. Starr thrown back inside and Badd springs in over the top with a turnover splash for the easy 3.

Winner: Johnny B. Badd

Rating: 1/4 * - Just for Badd's impressive maneuvering. Just an exhibition for Badd's offense.

The Barrio Brothers vs. Mike Davis and Larry Santo 

- Wow, talk about scraping the dirt underneath the bottom of the barrel here, right? The Barrio Brothers were barely above jobber status themselves. Dave Sierra, of The Barrio Brothers is probably best known for... uhh... challenging "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan for the WCW TV Title on an episode of WCW Saturday Night in 1999.

- Good God, Dusty Rhodes trying to speak Spanish sounds as authentically Mexican as Donald Trump claiming he loves tacos.

- Davis and Santana start, Davis with a series of arm wringers that Santana escapes with couple clubbing blows. Irish whip to the corner and a reversal and Davis comes off the second rope with a floatover crossbody block for two. Davis swings for the fences with a dropkick but Santana avoids it by holding the ropes. Tag and Sierra is in, off the top with a flying double chop before hammering away. Headlock and Davis with a whip and an armdrag. Sierra fights out and tags Santana back in. Santana in with some clubbering and an uppercut in the corner. Irish whip to the corner and Sierra in for an illegal whip clothesline from Santana followed up by one from Sierra. More boring clubbering, Davis scores with a sunset flip on Sierra, but Santana distracts the referee. Sierra scores a two-count off of a forearm shot. Barrio Bros. keep controlling Davis with some basic pounding and frequent tags. Sierra tags Santana in and they execute a crap version of the future Team Angle's signature hangman/leap frog double-team move on Davis. Barrio's keep controlling with choking, but Davis counters a vertical suplex from Santana with one of his own. Sierra tagged in quickly to maintain control, but Davis gets the boot up to counter a charge into the corner and nails Sierra with a clothesline. Davis with the lukewarm (at best, think a microwave dinner left out and thawed to room temperature) to Santo and Santo hits the ring like a well contained house of fire. Sierra absorbs a series of punches and counters an attempted whip with an elbow across the neck. Santana tagged back in and they finish Santo off with a lame Doomsday Device. Blech.

Winners: The Barrio Brothers

Rating: DUD - Just a boring formula tag-team squash. Nothing to write home about.

- Backstage, we see Dusty Rhodes and Chris Cruise. Dusty's rocking a witch hat and they claim to be in a "graveyard". We see "highlights" of the Hogan/Giant feud, where Giant threw "his father's" (implied to be Andre The Giant's) shirt at Hogan and crushed his motorcycle with a monster truck. Gotta love that mid-90's WCW cheese. Obviously, if you know your wrestling, you know this is leading to the terrible Hogan/Giant monster truck face off and Giant falling off the roof of Cobo Hall at Halloween Havoc '95. Also, the Ye-TAY/Mummy/Abominable Snow Yeti/Super Ninja/Ron Reese/Reese exploding out of a giant ice cube like a real life version of "Harvey Birdman's" Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. But that's a whole lotta stupid for a whole 'nother show, folks.

- Back to the action, and we see a match that finally has some potential; Diamond Dallas Page vs. Alex Wright.

TV Championship Match - Diamond Dallas Page (C) (w/The Diamond Doll and Maxx Muscle) vs. Alex Wright

- Man, I forgot how terrible Page's outfit was back in the early-90's. He literally looks like he's cobbled together his outfit from the scraps of other wrestler's costumes and discounted, sold "as is" fabric from the back of a quickly deteriorating Jo-Anne's Fabrics.

Lockup to start and Page with a big slam. He stops to taunt and Wright rolls him up for a super quick two count. Back up, Page goes to a full nelson and Wright chain wrestles Page into a an armlock before Page wrestles out into a front facelock. Page with a rolling facelock takedown and almost locks in a loose Dragon Sleeper. Wright counters with a mare and scores a nice dropkick. Wright with a series of arm wringers, Page shoots him off, Wright avoids an elbow and scores a crossbody that Page rolls through. Wright kicks out of a sloppy rope assisted pin attempt. Up again, Page tries for a vertical suplex but Wright counters into a small package that Page counters into a small package with the tights for the win.

Winner (and still TV Champion): Diamond Dallas Page

Rating: 1/4* - Basic match. Not bad. Page and Wright would actually have a much better and longer match at a Clash of The Champions around this time. Check that out. This was pretty much nothing.

- Here we go; its hype central for WCW Halloween Havoc '95 - Check out Machine vs. Machine as Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania Powered Red And Yellow Metal Machine goes one on one against The Giant's Giant Mobile!!! Also, Sting teams up with Ric Flair to be turned on...err... wrestle the dangerous tandem of Brian Pillman and Arn Anderson, Hawk takes on Kensuki Sasaki, Randy Savage attempts to avoid being eaten alive by the African nightmare Kamala and Johnny B. Badd tries to wrest the TV Title away from Diamond Dallas Page. Its time to get spooky, at Halloween Havoc!!!!!!

- Backstage we see Kevin Sullivan cavorting with "The Master", aka the father of future WCW TV Champion, Prince Iaukea. Is Hulkamania doomed?

Randy Savage vs. Bunkhouse Buck (w/ Colonel Robert Parker)

- This could be good. Bunkhouse Buck was decent and Savage was always good at bringing the best out of people. Robert Parker is probably best known as Jack Swagger's eventual work father in recent years or as Jeff Jarrett's pre-Debra manager in the WWF as Tennessee Lee in 1998.

Before the match starts we get a commercial break (check out Rockin' USA, the biggest hits of the 80's as defined by whoever picked that shit in 1995 and make sure to check out Pro Football Insider with whoever the Hell Fred Edelstein is, by the way) and as we return, Buck is stomping Savage down in the corner. Savage tries to comeback but Buck cuts him off with a rake to the eyes and a short clothesline. Buck with a stomp and a Camel Clutch. No confirmation however on whether or not Savage was humbled afterwards, though. Eventually, Savage fights out with a snap mare but Buck cuts him off with a clubbing blow and a neckbreaker for a series of two counts. Buck with a knee to the back and a surfboard hold. Back up standing, Savage tries to fight out but Buck chokes him over the top rope. Buck with another neckbreaker and some choking. Buck goes to the well a third time, but Savage counters a neckbreaker by grabbing the top rope. Savage scores a bodyslam and nails the flying elbow for the win.

Winner: "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Rating: 1/2* - Typical Savage formula. Savage gets beat down, gives up about 99% of the match, makes his comeback and wins in a couple moves. Typical B-show Savage stuff.

Prime Match of The Week: The Man of Question vs. Barry Houston 

- This is the main event? The Man of Question is the future Hugh Morrus/Bill Demott/WWE PR nightmare and Barry Houston is... well... Barry Houston. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that The Man of Question has big Riddler-esque question marks painted on the side of his head. Just an FYI. He looks like an idiot.

Lockup and The Man of Question scores a knee and hammers Houston into the corner. Houston tries to fight back, but a series of punches and kicks go as unsold as a case of Ultimate Warrior comics in 1996. The Man of Question cuts him off with a clubbing blow and a clothesline. The Man of Question continues clubbering away, controlling things with some blows and a headbutt. Houston tries to fight out of the corner but The Man of Question absorbs the blows and hammers away. Man of Question with a mare and a sitting abdominal stretch. The Man of Question breaks the hold to choke away. Back up and The Man of Question scores with a pretty nice spin kick. Man of Question with a straight right and more choking. Man of Question with a whip and a running corner clothesline. Houston finally fights back, reversing a whip and scoring a hiptoss out of the corner. Man of Question cuts off a brief flurry, drops Houston with a press slam and nails him with a good looking moonsault for the easy win.

Winner: The Man of Question 

Rating: * - Boring formulaic squash. Good Moonsault. Any questions?

- In "the graveyard"/backstage Dusty and Chris Cruise (who's happily hugging a skeleton) give a quick push for Halloween Havoc '95 and we're out!

Final Thoughts- Its a WCW B-show in the mid-90's, before WCW opened their checkbooks up to every ex-WWF guy who could still stand on two legs and work a decent match. So, instead of Demolition Crush dressing like a golfer and jobbing to Saturn, we get boring matches from Hugh Morrus, b-show level Randy Savage, The Barrio Brothers, and a boring exhibition for Johnny B. Badd and a way too short match between Page and Wright. Watch this if old-school B-shows appeal to you or you're nostalgic for pre-NWO WCW. It was a more innocent time. And a more boring time.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Show Review- Buckcherry w/ Nonpoint and Failure Anthem at Braun's Concert Cove - Akron, New York

Back in July, the day after July 4th, I decided to celebrate America's independence by getting super fucked up and heading to Akron, NY - about a 45 drive from my home with a good buddy of mine to catch show headlined by everyone's favorite band, Buck-F'n-Cherry.

Yep, the band most famous for, of all things, writing an earworm in the form of "Crazy Bitch" that's still covered by every hacky bar band to this day and for ripping off a "classic" Kiss song for their own hack-tastic ode to drugs, drinking and debauchery in the form of "Lit Up".

This one was gonna hurt. But Hell, for $20 a ticket, I was more than willing to suffer through it.

Showing up just a little late, to the little hole in the middle of space and time (if you turn too far sideways and squint, Braun's Concert Cove looks like a cactus sitting in the middle of an empty, dusty field.) Braun's location, nestled conveniently between a Denny's, a truck stop, and a truck stop with another Denny's in it, made for a great lowbrow setting for a lowbrow band like Buckcherry.

Upon arriving, as said, we managed to catch the end of the show's first opening act, a band called Failure Anthem. They managed to be both pretty good and utterly forgettable. Thankfully, playing a couple of their bigger "hits" "Paralyzed" and "First World Problems" it became clear that this band wasn't one of the many, many "screamo"/"metalcore" bands polluting the opening act slot of way, way too many mid-sized shows like this. The singer sounded good and intelligible, which is more than you can say for most singers in a lot of "doomed to be openers forever" bands you see at a lot of shows these days. I'd probably pay to see these guys again, on their own. And that's more than I can say for most bands of this ilk.

Upon Failure Anthem warming up the crowd from a deep freeze to a mild thaw, Nonpoint took the stage with their rallying cry "Generation Idiot" from their newest album "The Poison Red". It was here that the audience really started wearing on my buddy and I. I may have forgot to mention, but this was indeed a Tuesday show. The dreaded Tuesday show. Full of older folks, a good amount of them old enough to be my parents. Obviously, Buckcherry brings to mind the exploits of Poison and the hair-metal glam bullshit bands of old. And that was who showed up. The men and women whose fashions haven't evolved past the leather and jeans and now (unfortunately in most cases) too damn low tops on the now more than "robust" sized 80's rocker chicks, with enough hair spray to burn a hole in the ozone layer. And they were dead. Dead as a doorknob for Nonpoint's set. As the California-based quintet tried to hammer out their biggest and best songs, running through "Miracle", and a couple more tunes from "The Poison Red"- "Standing In The Flesh", and "Divided...Conquer Them", Nonpoint finally got the sedate crew, straight out of the old folk's home, moving a little bit with one of their most recognizable hits from their previous album "The Return", hammering out a scintillating rendition of their anti-drug addiction song (definitely at odds with Buckcherry's very pro-drug use style) "Breaking Skin" before running through their classic cover of Phil Collin's "In The Air Tonight", and finally turning the clock back all the way to 2001 with their last song (and the only damn song to get a sing-along from the audience) "Bullet With A Name".

Above all, I'd probably give Nonpoint's set a better rating if the audience hadn't felt like they'd been being kept awake with a sharp pointy stick and being propped up like cardboard standees in a grocery store. They were still good, but Nonpoint might not be a "big" enough band to cross the line and make a Tuesday crowd at a hole-in-the-universe shit hole care about their stuff. I'd love to catch them again with a better, bigger, and livelier crowd.

During the interminable wait for Buckcherry, my buddy and I decided to check out Buckcherry's merch table. After eating some amazing, and I mean amazing, lobster meat mac 'n' cheese and drinking my, eh, probably 7th double Jack And Coke of the night, I bought Nonpoint's show-used drumsticks, a poster, their CD, Failure Anthem's CD, Buckcherry's CD, and had a chance to fondle (but not buy, even I have standards) a Buckcherry branded dildo.

Finally, and seemingly out of nowhere, seriously there was no fanfare - Buckcherry kicked in with their Kiss rip-off song "Lit Up". And, with the crowd as thin (well, in terms of attendance anyway, some of the heffers in the place could have given enough beef to keep a McDonald's running for a year) I managed to scoot right up to the stage and lean my elbows on it. Partially to get closer to the action and partially because I had about seven double Jack and Cokes, six beers, and two Double Jagerbombs through the course of the night and knuckle-bump Josh Todd, Buckcherry's Gremlin-man hybrid of a singer. Running through a bunch of their hits, including "Whiskey In The Morning", "Bring It On Back", and "Next 2 You", Buckcherry finally hit on "Out Of Line" and their "ballad" "Sorry". "Sorry", is, in my mind, one of Buckcherry's good songs. Its a pretty lovely slow jam that actually managed to get a nice sing-along out of the audience, who, even up until this point, still looked like they were fit to be stuffed. Kicking back into things, Buckcherry tore the place open with "Get With It" off of their newest album "Rock And Roll" and "Slammin'" an old-school tune from Buckcherry's second album "Time Bomb" before running straight into "Tight Pants" and "Gluttony", both solid hits from Buckcherry's newest albums. "Carousel" and "Crazy Bitch", from their most famous album "15" ended the main set. After a quick break, Buckcherry hit the stage again for a couple encore tunes - "Say Fuck It" a cover by the band Icona Pop and "Too Drunk..." an early days hit replaced by a cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star" on the album's eventual wide release.

Above all, I'd give Buckcherry's set a solid and big old "eh". For the $20 I paid, and given all the booze I consumed, I had a good enough time. I went more for Nonpoint, and Buckcherry, despite being the headliners, were just an afterthought. Basically, they played all their big hits and called it a night. I can't complain too much.

The Big Bad Beautiful Buckcherry Setlist Extravaganza 

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  14. Encore:
  15. (Icona Pop cover)
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Overall, I'll say old people kinda suck. Aging hair-metal fans don't age gracefully and Buckcherry are, for better or worse, the perfect kind of lowbrow, bullshit throwback to that style that those people dig. But, for $20 and enough booze to submerge the Trump Marina, I'll say I dug it and had a pretty good time. To be honest, in this case, the extracurricular, between the bands shit was the most fun part of the gig.

On an added note, while waiting for a ride, my buddy and I met Nonpoint's guitar player in the bar and he hooked us up with an autograph. Great dude from a great band. Class act all around.

Call it a, eh, 6/10. For all the 80's rocker chicks in the place who might have been 10's in their days and are 6's (with some beer bottle goggles and at a glance) now.