Cinema Dispatch: Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Simon McQuoid

Honestly, I was never much of a Mortal Kombat fan.  More of Tekken guy when it came to fighting games, but there’s no denying the cultural impact that the franchise has had and it’s impressive just how long they’ve been going with the series for it to only get better and better as time goes on.  I remember Mortal Kombat 9 being an excellent reboot that got me into the series for a bit, but even at the games’ peak it still can’t touch that AWESOME 1995 movie directed by Paul WS Anderson!  I just rewatched that movie like a year ago and it still holds up as a fantastic martial arts movie that finds the right balance between what fans want from the games and making into a coherent movie.  There have been other attempts since then to get the series off the ground in non-video game forms, but this is the first big step WB has taken with it since acquiring the franchise in 2009.  Does this bring Mortal Kombat to the big screen for a whole new generation of fans in a bold and exciting way, or will we all still be clutching our VHS tapes of the original film by the end of this movie?  Let’s find out!!

As you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat movie, the story is set right before the start of the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament where Earth Realm’s greatest fighters try to overcome the unstoppable warriors of Outworld, and after nine consecutive losses in a row it’s Earth’s last chance to avoid complete and utter devastation as Outworld will finally be able to invade Earth if they win this time!  So who exactly will be participating in this generation’s tournament?  Well we’ve got some of the classic standbys from the franchise like Liu Kang, Jax, and a begrudging Kano (Ludi Lin, Mehcad Brooks, and Josh Lawson), but the real hope for humanity comes in the form of Cole Young (Lewis Tan); a new character for the series and someone with an unexpected history to this tournament that slowly reveals itself as he is recruited by Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) to seek out Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) and his crew so he can learn the techniques and Mortal Kombat Magic necessary to win this tournament!  All is not as cut and dry however as Outworld’s leader in the tournament Shang Tsung (Chin Han) has his own crew of Mortal Kombat characters and is not waiting for the tournament to begin before sending them out to destroy the fledgling Earth team.  With opponents such as Sub-Zero, Mileena, and Goro (Joe Taslim, Sisi Stringer, and Angus Sampson) hunting them down, do these heroes of Earth even stand a chance of MAKING it to the tournament; let alone becoming strong enough to win it?  What is Cole’s history with this tournament, and will it be the key to Earth finally getting one over on Outworld?  You know, most Fight Camps are AT LEAST eight weeks, so shouldn’t Raiden have gotten these guys together BEFORE the tournament was like a week away?  And we all wonder why Earth Realm lost nine times in a row!

“Look, I’m sorry! I set some time aside to watch The Flash, and then I had to watch Legends of Tomorrow, and it just turned into a big thing! Nobody’s perfect!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Mortal Kombat”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-21-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

Another week, another episode of AEW action, though things have definitely changed now that WWE NXT is on a new night and AEW is going unopposed.  So far it has meant a pretty sizable bump in the ratings (no doubt helped by Mike Tyson’s recent appearances), but with a growing audience to satiate, can AEW put on a show that will keep the new fans coming back without losing the audience that got them here in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Ricky Starks

Ricky Starks has NOT had a good go of it lately.  He came in strong with a show stealing match against Cody, but since then he’s been become kind of a joke by virtue of being the smallest guy in Taz’s stable.  Here he manages to show some great moves and hold his own against Hangman, but even then he’s fighting from underneath for most of the match.  Page is bigger, he’s faster, and even ends up fighting smarter as Starks can never seem to keep an advantage for more than a moment before Page stops his momentum in its tracks; at one point even hurting his ankle which only makes things that much more difficult for Starks.  Still, he gets in some good moves towards the end; especially a Sitout Powerbomb where he pretty much deadlifts The Hangman which was an impressive feat of core strength, before dropping him back down.  Sadly it only gets him a two count and Hangman manages to fight him back to the corner where he lands an Avalanche Fallaway Slam followed by a Lariat which gest him a two count in return.  Of course, there’s only one way to end this and so Hangman goes for his Buckshot Lariat, but Spears dodges the move and lands a hellacious looking Spear on the Hangman that gets him a VERY close two count!  Rethinking his strategy, Hangman doesn’t go for another Buckshot and instead gets Starks into a submission hold that focuses on the bad ankle which Starks is forced to tap out to; giving Hangman the win.  Starks looks good in almost every match he has and this is perhaps the best he’s looked in a while, but I’m left wondering what his role is at AEW and if Team Taz is ever going to get a significant win on this show.

Taz, seemingly just as frustrated, starts yelling at Page which allows Hook to run in and Chop Block him which gives him, Starks, and a fast arriving Brian Cage, to stomp a mud hole into the Hangman.  Before any serious damage can be done, The Dark Order rush out to chase Team Taz away; once again proving their loyalty to The Hangman who, as far as I can tell, STILL isn’t a member of the group and probably won’t be for some time.  It was a good opening match to be sure that gave Starks a bit of shine even in defeat, and if nothing else it was a MUCH better showing from The Hangman than his match against Max Caster two weeks ago.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-21-2021)”

Twenty Years of Halo: Halo 3

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios.  Halo 3 was developed by Bungie and ported by Gearbox and 343 Studios.

I’ll be honest here; half the reason I wanted to do this retrospective is for an excuse to play this game again.  Halo 3, along with one of those Naruto games, was the first game me and my brother got for the Xbox 360 and it was one of the most memorable experiences I ever had with a game; right up there with playing Super Mario Bros for the first time and getting my mind COMPLETELY blown by No More Heroes.  No other first person shooter felt as pitch perfect and brilliantly executed as this one, and the shiny new graphics of the next generation of consoles make it feel like a new era of games had started.  We all know how the seventh generation went however with military shooters supplanting more fanciful fare like this, but looking back on it fourteen years after its release, does it hold up?  Does it FINISH THE FIGHT as the marketing proclaimed, and do we get some closure on the storylines that have all been building to this finale to the trilogy?  Let’s find out!!

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Following the events of Halo 2, The Master Chief finds himself back on Earth with what remains of the UNSC and an unlikely ally in The Arbiter.  The Covenant haven’t destroyed the planet yet as it appears they are digging for some sort of Forerunner artifact that was APPARENTLY on Earth this whole time and will lead them to The Ark; essentially the control station for ALL of the Halo rings which will allow The Prophet of Truth (the last remaining prophet) to fire them all off and start The Great Journey which is the end goal their doomsday cult.  Making matters more difficult is that Cortana is still on High Charity (the Covenant city that was infected with The Flood at the end of the last game) instead of with The Chief and also that the UNSC are on their last legs, but another unlikely ally from Chief’s past, 343 Guilty Spark, has decided to help him, the UNSC, and the Elite defectors in stopping The Prophet of Truth and hopefully destroying The Flood (along with its leader Gravemind) without having to wipe out the entire galaxy to do it.  Narrative wise, which is the part that ALWAYS flew right over my head whenever I played this game, it’s a mixed bag of give and take.  The story has been stripped down to its barest elements which is GREAT in so many places throughout this game; focusing on the moment to moment pulse pounding action and stakes instead of drowning us in lore and backstory.  There’s hardly a single level like say The Library which drags on forever as it rambles on to give us some world building, and The Chief definitely feels more engaged here than he did in Halo 2.  However, the drawback to this approach is that it’s all sizzle with very little meat to chew on.  The Arbiter is easily the best character in this entire franchise, and yet because he’s tagging along with you the whole time he doesn’t get his own missions anymore so he feels like something of an afterthought throughout too much of the game.  There are also a WHOLE lot of conveniences here just to give us more set pieces like when a Halo ring just ALL OF A SUDDEN appears out of nowhere to set up the final confrontation (and to justify calling this a Halo game I guess), but the two things that just didn’t fit well with me were The Flood and Guilty Spark.  Honestly, I don’t know what Guilty Spark’s game here is or what they’re trying to accomplish.  It seems like a turn to the good guys for flimsy reasons, and then the final straw for it to go back to being a bad guy feels even flimsier.  Did we NOT just spend the entire game working our way to DESTROYING all this stuff and the Flood along with it?  The metal jerk has a problem with it NOW!?

“You promised me cake back on the first Halo ring!  If ANYONE should be mad, it’s ME!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Halo 3”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-14-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

So last week’s show was a real disappointment, especially coming hot on the heels of a FANTASTIC episode, but I’ve never expected AEW to knock it out of the park each and every week and they always find a way to get back on track.  Heck, remember how bad things got immediately after the disappointing fireworks show at the end of the Exploding Barb Wire Death match?  They managed to turn that around in three days, so I’m more than confident they can turn around last week’s show when given seven.  Let’s find out!!

So in case there was ANY confusion over the end of the last episode (honestly, that includes me), the Bucks start things off by saying point blank that they are now Heels and will be throwing their weight behind Kenny Omega and Don Callis, and for good measure the whole group has a segment towards the end of the show to declare their commitment to one another and their utter dominance of AEW.  Also, in case you were wondering about this as well, we get a brief video of Mike Tyson and MJF to confirm that Tyson is all in on the Baby Face Jericho and there’s a segment later where Jericho and Tyson shake on their truce in preparation for the Jericho/Dax Harwood match which will have Tyson as a Special Enforcer.  I’m actually kind of glad that they just get this all up front because The Bucks being wishy-washy tweeners has been an issue on the show before, and Tyson has been gone for so long after such a brief appearance that seeing him again this week and interacting with people gives me hope that this run is not going to be as perfunctory.  Now last week started with a match that didn’t make a lot of sense as Max Caster was apparently the third ranking guy in AEW, but thankfully this isn’t an issue with this opening match which is…

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The Young Bucks Vs. Death Triangle (Pac & Rey Fénix) – AEW Tag Team Title Match

I can’t say that I love the idea of The Bucks being more or less brow beaten into joining up with Professional Gas lighter Don Callis, but however they got here they are truly relishing in their Heel status.  They’re wearing white suits to the ring to the raucous booing of the crowd, they start playing around and showboating in the ring, and Matt Jackson even runs away in terror of getting in the ring with Rey.  Those two getting in the ring is what REALLY starts the match as both are evenly skilled and can’t seem to land a move on the other.  They throw a lot of flashy kicks and flips at one another (the best was probably when Jackson back flipped of the apron to avoid a 619), and yet despite Nick Jackson ultimately getting the upper hand in this exchange it’s not long before Matt Jackson ends up alone with him and he and Pac take their sweet time destroying this guy!  Chops to the chest, suplexes to the mat, and Death Triangle’s own variation on The BTE Trigger which consists of simultaneous kicks followed by stereo Drop Kicks which should leave Matt with a MASSIVE headache but was sadly not enough to keep him down for a three count.  Matt takes a bit more abuse from Pac, but after The Bucks manage to land simultaneous Powerbombs onto the apron, Pac is left to take the heat for quite a while.  Perhaps too long as Matt gets WAY too much time to show off his drama skills, but Pac eventually turns him inside out with a clothesline and brings in Rey to save the day.  He has a freaking AMAZING comeback with more of his phenomenal rope walking skills, but it’s not enough to put Nick Jackson away; not even when he brings in Pac to slam him a few times for good measure!  Things only get more ridiculous from there as both teams show off some amazing skills and it does genuinely come down to the wire as to who is going to come out on top.  Pac manages to land a Black Arrow on Matt Jackson which should be the end of the match, but even with Rey running interference on Nick he still manages to slip through and break up the pin at the last possible moment, and sadly that is more or less the last chance that Pac and Fénix had as The Bucks go straight to cheating after that; first with a low blow to Pac and then removing Rey’s mask.  Sure enough, as soon as the mask is off and Rey’s covering his face, The Bucks land a Superkick and get the pin.  It was such a fantastic match up to that point that I’m really disappointed at the mask ending being used once again.  At this point, the might as well follow Mexico rules and make it a DQ; not JUST because it is such a scumbag thing to do that someone who does it shouldn’t be rewarded, but because it’s always a GET OUT OF MATCH FREE car whenever Rey is in there kicking butt.  All I’m saying is that if they want Rey Fénix to lose than they need to come up with a better reason than that.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-14-2021)”

Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Believe & Iris

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

We’ll be talking about Halo 3 very soon, but while that game was gearing up for its release Bungie released another ARG to hype it up.  Unlike I Love Bees however, this was a VERY scaled down affair as everything seems to have been developed in house with their Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor writing it himself, and it all took place within Bungie’s forums as opposed to a series of interconnected websites, telephone calls, and a five hour audio drama portioned out in bits and pieces.  On the one hand I am a little bit relieved that I don’t have as much content to work through to try and understand what’s going on, but it does feel a bit odd that the BIGGER AND BETTER Xbox 360 entry in the series didn’t get the same kind of extensive marketing campaign.  Instead, we got one of the most extensive direct marketing campaigns for a video game ever produced at that point which we’ll be talking about it here as well!  Let’s get started!

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Halo: Believe (Marketing Campaign) – 2007

Produced by New Deal Studios

Perhaps it’s a bit gauche to try and put a bunch of ads in the greater context of a series like this, but that trailer with the action figures is definitely one of the strongest memories I have about this franchise and it always stuck with me as something that really captured what made Halo so compelling!  That and the Iris recap was coming up a bit short, so why not take a little detour for the heck of it?  Frankly we could talk about the ENTIRE Halo 3 marketing campaign which ultimately cost Microsoft FORTY MILLION DOLLARS but was ultimately worth it as Halo 3 sold over three million copies in its first week.  We’re going to limit it to this campaign though as I found it to be the most interesting to talk about and frankly I don’t want to try and track down every can of Halo 3 branded soda or figure out what the heck ActionClix are. 

Harvested right from the furrowed brows and pit stained graphic tees of true gamers then mixed with ten pounds of sugar and trademark RED MYSTERY FLAVOR! Nothing tastes sweeter than victory, but we sure as heck tried with this!
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Believe & Iris”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-07-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

AEW has been knocking it out of the park in recent weeks with last week’s show being one of the best episodes they’ve done in some time!  Still, it’s going to be a rough week for AEW to win the night as NXT’s final show, which is ALSO one of their Takeover events, is stacked from top to bottom with PPV caliber matches.  Can AEW put on something to compete with NXT in their final head to head week before NXT moves to Tuesday nights, or are they gonna call this one a loss from the get go?  Let’s find out!!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Max Caster

Caster is accompanied to the ring by Anthony Bowens

A few days ago, Dave Meltzer made a very good examination of AEW’s booking and the flaws that have crept up the last year; mostly due to the inflating roster leading to stories that are much more thinly spread.  It was a good point and Dave made it well, but for me the bigger problem is Dark and Elevation and how they affect the ranking system.  As Max Castor entered the ring, a guy we haven’t seen in weeks and rarely if ever wins matches on Dynamite, is announced as the NUMBER THREE CONTENDER.  I checked the website after the show, and he is right below Jon Moxley and two spots above Cody Rhodes; something that simply DID NOT translate in this match as even the commentators kept referring to him as a rookie.  Dark and Elevation are GREAT for getting some of these new guys ring time and for putting on some fun matches that may not have worked on Wednesdays, but using matches on there for the TV rankings ends up being jarring for us who only keep up with Dynamite.  Perhaps wins and losses should only count if they’re on Dynamite, or maybe should book people on Dynamite BEFORE they’re in the top five.  In any case, Caster ends up proving the flaws in this system as he gets systematically destroyed by The Hangman with his only moments of dominance due to Anthony Bowens’ interference.  The match is fine I suppose as a one sided beat down, but I’m just not sold on Caster as a particularly interesting heel; either when he’s getting beat up or when he’s cheating his way to the top.  That said, it could be that the match itself is kind of booked blandly and even Hangman seems kind of boring in this.  There’s this overly convoluted spot where he puts Caster crotch first on the guard rail before SLOWLY getting up on the guard rail himself to do a jumping clothesline, and yet it’s PROBABLY the most interesting spot in the whole match?  I mean what else is there?  Caster working over Hangman’s arm?  Using a chain to get a cheap shot that only gets a two count?  It just never had much of a spark for me and by the time Hangman got the Buckshot Lariat I was ready for it to be over.  AEW almost always delivers on the opening match and while this wasn’t TERRIBLE, it just wasn’t up to their usual standards.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (04-07-2021)”

Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Uprising & Contact Harvest

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

With the success of the Halo Graphic Novel, the franchise was destined for further success in the comic book market with Marvel calling dibs on it!  Their first outing is the four part mini-series Halo Uprising which we’ll be looking at today as well as the next entry in the seemingly never-ending Halo book series Contact Harvest!  Will both of these be an improvement over the LAST Halo Book club we did?  Let’s find out!!

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Halo Uprising (Comic Book) – 2007

Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev

Published by Marvel Comics

You know, I thought getting the series away from Bungie and laying down a narrative structure instead of letting them try to dictate every aspect of it like they did with the Graphic Novel might have given the series a new perspective and frankly give us a compelling narrative but sadly neither is the case as this short series is just a mess.  We cut back and forth between Chief doing something of absolutely no consequence (I’m sure this room full of aliens he killed here will make ALL the difference in the war effort), and an on the ground invasion story as we follow two people who are stuck in Cleveland when The Covenant attack the city looking for some sort of Earth artifact which a captured UNSC officer gave The Covenant bad intel about; assuming that having them tear up one city would keep them too busy from blowing up the entire Earth.  His brother Ruwan and a world famous pop star Myras just so happen to be at the same place when the aliens attack and they go all over town looking for the UNSC; not just to save themselves but because Ruwan KNOWS this is a wild goose chase as the artifact they’re looking for is a made up item he and his brother used to use in a role playing game.  The book does not shy away from some VERY dark imagery which it handles with all the care and reverence of a grumpy bull in a very cramped china shop.  I made allusions to the Thermian argument in my review of Ghost of Onyx to explain why it’s fair game to criticize content within the book despite in-universe justifications, and this comic has a similar issue where it uses an in-universe calamity to justify some rather tasteless swipes at pop culture and pop stars specifically.

Wow, you know I thought pop music was perfectly fine but seeing a pop star running from aliens has opened my eyes that it’s pointless drivel!  After all, if it can’t stop a bullet from going in your head, is it REALLY that important?
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Uprising & Contact Harvest”

Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla vs. Kong

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Godzilla vs. Kong and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Adam Wingard

It’s no secret that I was not a fan of King of the Monsters which was particularly surprising to me as I always get a kick out of seeing giant monster movies!  There was just too much pretention and import without enough depth or butt kicking fight scenes to justify how lethargic much of it was, but if there was anything about the movie that caught my interest (aside from them using the Blue Oyster Cult song for the credits), it was the promise of seeing Godzilla and the King Kong from Kong: Skull Island lace up the gloves and duke it out in a battle to end all battles!  Well the one thing that giant monsters were not able to overcome was the Pandemic as this got pushed back for several months, but the day has finally arrived and they even put it on HBO Max to boot!  Is this the titanic clash between two legendary movie monsters we’ve all been waiting for, or is this a bigger letdown than Batman v Superman?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch has decided that instead of leaving Kong alone on his mysterious island that is probably not even on Godzilla’s radar, they’ll capture him, chain him up, and put him in a fake jungle so that… I guess he and Godzilla don’t have a punch up.  It seems that Kong himself wasn’t consulted on this as he’s constantly wrecking up his cage and has to be restrained whenever he’s out of it, but in any case, along with that there’s a new Super Science company in town named Apex run by some dude named Walter (Demián Bichir) who believes that there’s some sort of Unobtanium-like SUPER OIL that requires drilling even deeper into the Earth to get.  How deep?  Well so deep that apparently you empty out into a whole new world which is where the monsters they’ve been dealing with are actually from.  A rag tag team of scientists are assembled to try and prove this Hollow Earth theory and since they’ve already got a giant monster under lock and key, they can use his… something something science babble to help them find the entrance to the Hollow Earth and make perhaps the greatest discovery in all of human history!  Said team is made up of some geologist dude (Alexander Skarsgård), Kong’s caretaker (Rebecca Hall), her adopted daughter (Kaylee Hottle), and Walter’s very annoyed daughter (Eiza González) along with like five or six nameless army dudes. Now all this however assumes that Godzilla, the supposed protector of Earth, doesn’t come in and wreck Apex/Monarch’s plans, but hey I guess if they’ve got Kong on hand anyway, why not let him punch the giant lizard a few times along the way?  Oh, and Millie Bobby Brown is back on a Goonies adventure to discover the secrets of Apex along with a nerd (Julian Dennison) and a conspiracy theorist (Brian Tyree Henry) who has no problem dragged teenagers along on a life threatening adventure.  Then again, Rebecca Hall has someone even younger tagging along with her, so either way there seems to be way too many irresponsible grown-ups running around here.  Will Apex and Monarch be able to find the hidden entrance to the Hollow Earth and perhaps find some answers about Kong as well?  What does Apex want with this new energy source, and could Godzilla’s recent aggression towards them be somehow connected?  Am I the only one picturing a better movie where the giant ape and the giant lizard just say SCREW this and work together to destroy everyone involved with this ridiculous venture!?

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“Join me, brother! These humans care NOTHING for our kind!” “I would, but… your face… is so… PUNCHABLE!!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Godzilla vs. Kong”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (03-31-2021)

AEW Dynamite is owned by All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan, Shahid Khan, and TNT

We’re back with another week of Dynamite action and frankly I’m excited to see what they do!  They’ve been on something of a hot streak lately with great matches from top to bottom with this week looking to be no different!  Can they keep up the momentum they’ve worked hard to build, or are they running out of steam sooner rather than later?  Let’s find out!!

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Christian Cage Vs. Frankie Kazarian

We start things off with the self-proclaimed Work Horse of AEW finally lacing up his boots and getting in the ring with the ACTUAL workhorse of the company.  Frankly, that’s the big issue I had with this match; Christian Cage is good, but I just don’t buy the gimmick.  Now they DO seem to be playing with that a little bit as Kazarian is the heel who just keeps overwhelming the Baby Face, but it’s not exactly the first match I would have if my gimmick is that I’m the best worker around.  Still, Cage isn’t here to coast as he takes a NASTY bump early on from the top turnbuckle to the ground (managing to smash his side on the apron on his way down) and even though he looks COMPLETELY exhausted by the halfway point he manages to make his way to the end of the match without missing a step.  Well… maybe a LITTLE bit.  There’s an awkward looking escape from here where he rolls over Kazarian’s back at one point, and there are a couple of submission holds that look suspiciously like rest holds, but it’s still a solid match with a decent arc to it. Kazarian knows he’s running away with this as he gets in Cage’s face during his advantage, and even when Cage fires back Kazarian is always ready to reverse his fortunes.  To make matters worse, Kazarian starts choking out Cage and the guy nearly passes out which is not doing much for his stamina.  Cage EVENTUALLY manages to fight back to a standing position, but Kazarian knocks him back down to further cement his domination this early on in the match.  Eventually Cage mounts a comeback with a Swinging DDT from the middle rope that Kazarian bumps big for but still kicks out at two, but even with that he’s finally gets his second wind and starts fighting off Kazarian with a bunch of chops followed by a Diving European Uppercut which also gets a two count.  The rest of the match is not unlike Kenny Omega’s usual shtick where Cage keeps going for his finisher The Killswitch but Kazarian finds more and more ways to slip out of it and continue his offensive with moves like a Springboard Leg Drop, the Flux Capacitor, and a the dreaded Crossface Chicken Wing.  To Cage’s credit he manages to survive by fighting smart and using rules like rope breaks to his advantage, but Kazarian seems to barely be fazed after all this time while Cage is hanging on for dear life.  The tide finally turns when Cage manages to snap his neck on the top rope and lands a Frog Splash from the top turnbuckle.  With Kazarian nice and softened up and with the match’s time limit looming, Cage finally lands the Killswitch and gets the pin; winning his first match at AEW.  It was a solid match to be sure, but after watching it I think they need to rethink Christian Cage’s character.  I like what I saw of Cage, but not in terms of OUT WORKING EVERYONE.  Out SMARTING Everyone?  Maybe even Out WRESTLING Everyone?  Perhaps those would work better because WORK has a specific connotation in wrestling and I just didn’t see Cage as the best exemplar of it; especially when there’s no better example of someone who works harder than Kazarian who proved it here even in giving Cage the win. 

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (03-31-2021)”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue Season 5, Out of Mind, and Recovery One

Artwork by Usbaia

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Red vs Blue and all the images you see in this retrospective are owned by Rooster Teeth

Red vs Blue began in 2003 and it swiftly became a phenomenon with mainstream success, DVD releases, and I’m pretty sure they played episodes of it on the G4 network when that was still a thing.  With the popularity of this series rising as fast as Halo’s popularity, it may seem like a strange idea for them to close the book on The Blood Gulch Chronicles after five seasons, but it was soon clear that Rooster Teeth wasn’t saying goodbye to the series; just this version of it.  So today we’ll be looking at the final season of the show as well as its early attempts to expand the franchise and build on its lore to see the groundwork for future seasons.  Does the show end with a bang, or was it clear they need to take things in a new direction sooner rather than later?  Let’s get started!!

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Season 5 – 2006-2007

The Blood Gulch Chronicles is a perfect parabola of quality as the series reaches its peak at season three and goes downhill at about the same rate.  Where season 1 was rather primitive and a bit too mean spirited for me, it at least had the excuse of being a brand new thing from a group of inexperienced creatives so there was naturally going to be a learning curve.  Season five on the other hand, despite having four seasons of experience behind it, just feels like a total regression of all the series’ biggest bugbears.  The humor in particular is utterly obnoxious as we’re right back to sniping at each other with every offhand comment or very simple statement of clarification followed by someone calling them stupid, fat, girly, etc.  Donut as a character thankfully doesn’t regress to his per-season 4 self, but boy does everyone else lay into him a lot more here and it’s never funny.  Perhaps the worst addition is Griff’s sister who is a one dimensional “dumb blonde” stereotype only on hand to act ditzy and be a sexual object for everyone to lust after at the expense of Griff.  She doesn’t even get a name!  She’s just called Sister throughout the season!  The whole season is painfully misogynistic with Church in particular throwing out barbs at both Sister and Tex, and the writing for the two women on hand (excluding Sheila the tank) is just lacking in any sort of wit which is a shame because it’s clear that Tex is a HUGE piece of the ongoing story once we finally get out of Blood Gulch.

“GIRLY THINGS!”     “Hey, we’ve already got Donut for that!”     “Yeah, but that joke ran its course two seasons ago.”     “Clearly you haven’t learned the finer points of beating a dead horse!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue Season 5, Out of Mind, and Recovery One”