Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-26-2021) – Saturday Night Dynamite

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

After several weeks in the Friday night timeslot which didn’t do much for ratings but hopefully got people ready to watch Rampage in a few months, we end this excursion away from Wednesdays with a big Saturday show that even has a AEW Title defense on it to really try and get people invested!  Does the Strange Schedule Shows end on a high note with a great match in the main event, or have they been away from Wednesday for too long and just can’t find the right rhythm for things until they get back to their familiar time?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with Alex Marvez trying to get an interview with Sammy Guevara but instead he witnesses Sammy getting ambushed by Shawn Spears.  With last week’s attack and now this week, I’m starting to wonder if Alex Marvez is somehow behind it all!

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Hangman Adam Page Vs. Powerhouse Hobbs

Taz joins the commentary team for this match

Hobbs has really started to come into his own the last few weeks, and this match is perhaps the best he’s had here at AEW so far!  He has a lot more energy these days, he projects a lot of personality beyond just being able to do a REALLY good sneer, and he’s started to grow a beard that looks really good on him!  Best of all, he comes off as SUCH a smart wrestler in this match and gives Page a run for his money in a very believable fashion!  Hobbs starts the match off with an early lead before Page starts fighting back, but as soon as he goes for the Buckshot, Hobbs rolls out of the ring as he saw it coming a mile away.  Page, unable to finish his big move, tries to follow Hobbs out of the ring and ends up getting tossed around for a bit while Hobbs works over his right arm to keep him from trying the Buckshot again!  This is all great wrestling and it’s telling a story while making Hobbs shine brightly!  He’s not explosive or giving us Baby Face pops, but he still stays pretty compelling in the way he intelligently takes Page apart and stunts his offense; to the point that Page honestly seems outclassed here!  In fact, he’s so good here that I’m not sure why the crowd starts booing him and saying YOU SUCK throughout!  It’s one thing to boo a devious heel, but this is just plain ol’ good wrestling and the opposite of sucking!  It’s no until Hobbs gets Page on his shoulders that things start to turn in the other direction as Page manages to wriggle out and shoves Hobbs into the post.  It takes a bit of time for Page to get his momentum going, but after a few boot shots to the face he starts running wild.  He pulls the ropes and Hobbs tumbles to the floor, he jumps over the ropes and hits Hobbs below, and he even lands a Moonsault on him after dragging him back into the ring.  The Moonsault only gets a two count so Hangman tries a German Suplex but Hobbs is too strong for to flip over and he retakes the advantage with a BIG knee to the stomach and slams him into the mat!  Page manages to survive this and  goes for a Deadeye but once again Hobbs isn’t going up for it and fights him off to land a cross body and get a two count.  It’s at this point that Starks and Hook come out with the FTW belt and Hobbs is actually happy to accept it, but Brian Cage runs out and smacks Ricky on the back of the head before taking the belt that is technically his and walking to the back.  Hangman goes for the Buckshot while everyone is distracted… AND HOBBS CATCHES HIM IN A SPINE BUSTER AND SMASHES HIM RIGHT DOWN TO EARTH!!  Somehow this was only a two count, but that was an impressive counter from Hobbs and I love it every time he busts out that Spine Buster!  The two get up and trade a few blows before Page gets the waist lock and FINALLY lands the German Suplex which softens up Hobbs enough for the Dead Eye which gets Page the pin and wins him the match!  Hobbs was so impressive that I kind of wanted him to go over, but this was still a great match!  AEW usually tries to start with something quick and explosive, but this was just as fun as a methodical and strategic war of attrition and I hope we see EVEN MORE of Powerhouse Hobbs in the near future!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-26-2021) – Saturday Night Dynamite”

Cinema Dispatch: Fast & Furious 9

Fast & Furious 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Justin Lin

It looks like movies are back (at least for those who can safely vaccinate, which if you haven’t and are able to then do it please!) and what a better way to kick off the summer season than with another Fast & Furious movie!?  Gotta admit, I was not on the F&F train for over a decade and it wasn’t until Fate of the Furious that I finally gave the franchise a chance.  It’s a mixed bag to be sure, but the latter half of the franchise has been quite impressive as big budget spectacles though and the more professional wrestlers they throw into the mix the more I look forward to seeing them!  So after a year of global misery and despair, is this action blockbuster we need to celebrate our slow but sure recovery, or has the Fast Franchise gassed out right when we needed it the most?  Let’s find out!!

Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) have been living the quiet life with Dom’s son Bryan out in the country, but this peace is not meant to last as Roman, Tej, and Ramsey (Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel) show up with a distress message from the mysterious Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) and they are forced to come out of retirement to find him and find what he was trying to protect.  Sadly they don’t find the former, but the latter is a piece of some sort of doomsday device that is pretty much the SAME doomsday device these last few movies have had, and it gets taken right from under their noses by a mysterious jacked dude (John Cena) who also drives cars, has a cross necklace, and keeps staring menacingly at Dom.  Turns out that this is none other than Jakob; Dom’s long lost brother!  Not only must Dom and the crew stop Jakob and who he’s working for from getting the other pieces of the Doomsday Device, Dom must confront his past and perhaps even realize his own mistakes before they threaten to throw the world into utter chaos!  Will Dom be able to face his brother and bring an end to his maniacal schemes?  Who else has a stake in this Doomsday Device, and will they prove to be an ally or a hindrance to the Fast & Furious family?  Speaking of family, are we sure Dom and Jakob aren’t actually cousins, or were their parents’ genes an ethnic roulette wheel?

Come on, Cena! Do the U CAN’T SEE ME! You know you want to!!
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Fast & Furious 9”

Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Relocation, Recreation, ODST, and Holiday Plans

Artwork by Usbaia and cawico7

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

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Much like the Halo franchise itself, Red Vs Blue definitely started to branch out around the time of Halo 3’s release; not just because the engine allowed for much greater control and possibilities for the show to work with but because Rooster Teeth themselves wanted to start fresh and gave us its best work after breaking away from Blood Gulch.  Can they continue that success going forward, or will the temptation to return to what worked in the past be too great for them to resist?  Let’s find out!!

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Red Vs Blue: Relocation

Relocation is a four part mini-series to bridge the gap between Reconstruction and the next season Recreation as it follows Red Team trying to establish their new base while Caboose is working on some secret project at his new base.  If you’re really in the mood for some breezy Blood Gulch comedy then it does the job fine and frankly holds up better than a lot episodes from that original run, but by going back once again to the two teams in a valley setup (this time they’re using the Valhalla map instead of Blood Gulch) it feels like little more than filler to tide fans over while they work on the next season.

“Look at how high up we can put you now!” “OKAY, BUT WHY AM I UP HERE!?” “The technology is SO amazing, wouldn’t you agree?” “HEEEELP!!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Red Vs Blue: Relocation, Recreation, ODST, and Holiday Plans”

Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Halloween Kills)

Halloween Kills is owned by Universal Pictures and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners

The Halloween sequel from 2018 (which was actually the THIRD sequel to the original  movie; fourth if you count the sequel to the Rob Zombie reboot) had a VERY clear path to a sequel which I thought was to its detriment.  For me, finishing off the series, at least as far as Jamie Lee Curtis’s involvement with it, in one final definitive perfect movie would have been preferable to… well pretty much what they did the LAST time they brought Jamie Lee Curtis back.  In H20, she definitively killed Michael Myers and ended the nightmare, but then they made a sequel to bring him back and it was the worst Halloween film; yes, even worse than either cut of Curse.  Well despite my protestations, Universal and Blum House are going ahead with the sequel and we have our first trailer to check out.  Let’s see what they’ve got for us aside from a very awkward title!

Now it’s hard to say how any of it will work until we see the movie, but what’s interesting is that they are pretty much following the ORIGINAL sequel formula which is to have it take place on the same night after Laurie is taken to the hospital and have most of the action take place there.  They sort of did that at the start of Rob Zombie’s Halloween II as a misdirection before jumping ahead to several months later, but here they seem to be playing it fairly straight which COULD work I suppose, but so much of this trailer feels like retreading what we saw in the last movie.  Laurie is determined to kill Michael Myers, the cops are completely ineffectual, and somehow Michael manages to find the rest of Laurie’s family.  There also seems to be a shift in Laurie’s character based on the dialogue in this trailer which is raising some red flags for me as well.  In the last movie she was the only one who REALLY understood Michael, not as a fascinating glimpse into the human psyche like the podcasters or Dr. Sartain and not as a mere annoyance to be dealt with like the Sherriff, but as a mere mortal who is capable of great evil.  Her references to him being THE BOOGEYMAN as a coy put down of the myth people want to build up around him is also a defense mechanism to try and keep herself above everyone else and therefore justify her survivalist lifestyle.  Here, she’s talking about how each kill makes Michael grow stronger; like he’s a freaking Highlander.  Perhaps the lines are worded differently in the final film, but it feels like we’re going down the same road that the latter sequels did in making Michael more than he actually is.

“You ever see his eyes? They’re black eyes… soulless eyes, like a doll’s eyes…” “I mean he does wear a mask.” “THAT’S NOT THE POINT!!”
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (Halloween Kills)”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-18-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite

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

We’re back with the final episode of Friday Night Dynamite as they have one more show on Saturday before returning to their usual Wednesday night timeslot.  It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least with some great action but also one of the worst episodes they’ve had in some time.  Can they finish their time in this new timeslot with a bang, or are they just not gonna be able to get their groove back until they return to their familiar night?  Let’s find out!!

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Jake Hager Vs. Wardlow – Mixed Martial Arts Match

Considering that they have to set up the octagon and that I HIGHLY doubt a match like this would work as a main event, it makes sense that they’d do the MMA match right off the bat.  Personally, I’m not much of a fan of this kind of fighting.  Sure there are some good matches out there if you search YouTube for a bit, but I am not going to be able to judge this based on any legitimate mixed martial arts merits and only on whether I found it entertaining in some way.  That said, even someone as inexperienced as me can tell this is nowhere close to a shoot match considering they don’t have judges which means it has to end with one person beating the other.  Also they didn’t bother hiring an MMA ref and just have Aubrey out there.  I mean I GUESS she could be trained as an MMA ref, but I’ve certainly never heard of her doing that and the lack of known MMA professionals involved in this outside of Hager just makes it seem like a big game which I’m sure will annoy the MMA fans before the match even starts.  Once it DOES start… I don’t know; I guess it was alright.  If nothing else, I think they managed to find a decent balance between an actual fight and WRESTLING THEATER as it doesn’t feel TOO absurd as an MMA match, but it also feels like a highlight reel.  It starts off small with the two being extremely defensive and throwing out the occasional jab, but eventually Hager manages to take Wardlow down for a few shots which he doesn’t sell all that much.  In fact, by the end of the round Wardlow’s power completely overtakes Hager and spends the last two minutes punching him on the ground or against the wall.  Second match continues where the first left off with Wardlow maintaining an advantage, but Hager gets into the groove of things and his MMA training proves to be more than Wardlow can overcome and he eventually passes out from a Triangle Choke.  Of course there’s some brawling afterwards as Shawn Spears goes after Hager and MJF comes out of nowhere to attack Dean Malenko who ALSO came out of nowhere, but then Sammy comes out to chase everyone away and to ensure that this feud will be continuing for the indefinite future.  I couldn’t possibly tell you if this was a GOOD MMA match, but it was at least brisk enough that I never got bored in it.  Hopefully this does whatever it needed to for AEW, though I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if they don’t do this kind of match again.

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-18-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite”

Cinema Dispatch: In The Heights

In The Heights and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jon M Chu

Things are finally opening back up and I’m so glad that we finally get to see movies in theaters again (remember to get vaccinated before you go!), but I’ll admit that I’m also still glad that Warner Bros is still releasing movies on HBO Max the same day as theaters.  I don’t know if I’ll ever truly return to my old routine of going to the theater two to three times a week, but if I’m going to get ANYWHERE close to that I’ll need to make the transition slowly, so being able to sit on my couch and catch up on the latest releases without having to worry about show times or theater prices is a genuine relief to me.  Perhaps a big lavish musical like this is something that SHOULD be seen in the theater, but I saw Hamilton for the first time on a TV and it blew me away then so hopefully Lin-Manuel Miranda’s earlier musical can hit home the same way whether it’s seen in the most ideal conditions or not.  Is this adaptation of the Broadway show as magical as you would hope from the names behind it, or was it a stretch to hope that Hamilton’s success would mean all of Miranda’s works were worth bringing into people’s homes?  Let’s find out!!

Washington Heights is a predominantly Latino community in New York City where Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) whiles away the days working in his bodega and fondly remembering of his childhood in the Dominican Republic.  He has always dreamed of returning there one day and when an opportunity to leave all of this behind and return to his home country, he seizes upon it and plans to leave the community in just a few days’ time.  While trying to tie up his loose ends, we learn more about the people of Washington Heights, their struggles, and the many characters who fill out the rest of the story including Nina (Leslie Grace) who’s back from her first year at Stanford but may not be able to return, Melissa (Vanessa Morales) an aspiring fashion designer who can’t catch a break, Claudia (Olga Merediz) who everyone in the community loves but has some deep pain that she’s pushing deep down to try and be the matriarch of the community that everyone needs, and even good ol’ Benny (Corey Hawkins) who dreams of pulling himself up by his boot straps and making something of himself in the world of business.  As these stories interweave and Usnavi’s flight out of the country gets closer and closer, more secrets are revealed, more heartbreak is had, and more than enough excuses to dance are made to make the days go by with a smile on everyone’s faces and joy in their hearts!  Will Usnavi’s final days in Washington Heights change the way he sees himself, his dreams, and the people around him?  What hardships will the people in this community face, and will they be able to overcome them with strength and pride?  Is there any other neighborhood with THIS density of amazing dancers, because I’m pretty sure Time Square’s got NOTHING on this!

You can’t sign a lease in Washington Heights without two years of contemporary dance, MINIMUM!
Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: In The Heights”

Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-11-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite

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

We’re back with another episode of Dynamite and frankly I’m ready for these Friday shows to end.  Not because of anything to do with the show itself (though last week was PRETTY bad) but because it throws off my entire schedule!  I would have wrestling during the week and then the weekend for other stuff, but NOW everything is all crammed into two days!  We only have a few more weeks of this strange timeslot so I’ll grin and bear it, but they’re gonna have to put on a GREAT show to make up for last week’s and for making my weekends that much more stressful!  Let’s take a look!

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Christian Cage Vs. Angélico

So apparently Matt Hardy has a bug up his butt about Christian Cage tossing him out at the Casino Battle Royale, and so he’s hired Angélico from TH2 to have a match with him.  I mean I’m sure he was going to have a match with SOMEONE this week so I’m not sure why this particular matchup is so dastardly, but Angélico is one of those people on the roster like Joey Janela, The Varsity Blondes, and Penelope Ford who are around every once in a while and probably have had a bunch of matches on Dark or Elevation but REALLY should be getting more of a spotlight on Dynamite.  The guy definitely has a unique physique looking like the handsome brother of Slenderman (dude has some SERIOUSLY long limbs!) and he’s so good at giving us a kind of match we don’t see enough of at AEW which focuses on submissions instead of high spots or big guy brawling.  Every time Cage gets an advantage with a flashy strike or some sort of throw, Angélico is ready to cut him off and start working over his arm again until finally he has him in some sort of Arm Bar right in the middle of the ring!  Cage is desperately trying to fight back against Angélico’s move as the crowd chants PLEASE DON’T TAP, and he finally makes it to the ropes to break the hold but is far from out of the woods.  He makes a comeback with a reverse DDT, a Missile Drop Kick, and a Flying Headbutt, but none of it is able to keep Angélico down for a three count who himself is starting to lose steam after all these near falls.  He makes a big mistake by trying to match Cage’s style and goes for a spot on the ropes only to get kicked out of midair and eating another two count.  From there it’s mostly desperate flailing from the two of them which Christian proves to be the better one of the two and manages to finish off Angélico with the Kill Switch.  As soon as the bell rings, Angélico’s partner Jack Evans runs in to attack Cage which goes rather poorly all things considered as he’s tossed ut of the ring with little effort.  However, this does distract Cage long enough for Matt Hardy to sneak in from behind and land a Twist of Fate on him that leaves Cage dead in the middle of the ring.  Angélico and Hardy are about to kick him some more when Jungle Boy runs out from the back and chases off Hardy and his two flunkies; leaving Cage and Jungle Boy to celebrate this victory in the middle of the ring.  It was certainly a nice change of pace to start out with a match like this and I certainly hope it’s a sign that things are going to be MUCH better this week!

Continue reading “Super Wrestling: AEW Dynamite (06-11-2021) – Friday Night Dynamite”

Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Wars & Halo Wars Genesis

Artwork by Usbaia and cawico7

The Halo franchise is owned by Xbox Game Studios

Bungie and Microsoft seemed to know that Halo was going to be a big thing almost immediately so they got to work right away branching the franchise out into different media with books, comics, and extremely elaborate marketing campaigns, but they never ventured into spin-off territory until this game; eight years after the first Halo was released.  Halo Wars is a Real Time Strategy game developed by Ensemble Studios; the big daddy of the genre who made the Age of Empires series which also known as THE BEST REAL TIME STRATEGY SERIES OF ALL TIME!  Yes, even better than YOUR games, Blizzard!  Sadly this is also the LAST game that Ensemble Studios made as Microsoft shut the company down as this game was nearing its completion and the reasons why are still a bit on the hazy side.  Co-founder Bruce Shelly said in 2009 that the company was being poorly managed and relying on crunch while still failing to hit targets, though another co-founder, Tony Goodman, puts it more on Microsoft shoulders.  In an interview he gave for the book Gamers at Work (released in 2012), he talks about how Microsoft cancelled the Halo MMO project they were working on at the same time as Halo Wars and that they fully intended to close the studio soon after which is KIND of on Ensemble’s shoulders if you ask me as they hadn’t even gotten approval from Microsoft and diverting resources away from the Halo Wars team to do it, but then again Bungie was being a bit cagey and had final say on ANY story decision so it wasn’t exactly the “fun” project to be working on at the time.  Regardless, Microsoft would end up continuing both the Age of Empires and Halo Wars franchises without Ensemble studios, and we’ll make our way to Halo Wars 2 eventually but for now we’re here to talk about this game and what it meant for the Halo franchise as well as the comic book that was released alongside it!  Let’s get started!

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Halo Wars – 2009

Developed by Ensemble Studios

We’ll start with the narrative and cinematics which honestly, Halo Wars plays out more like a Saturday Morning cartoon compared to the much more serious tone of the main games.  The character models look blockier and more exaggerated, the story itself is pretty broad, and they rely much more on over the top dramatics from all the characters.  I actually like this aesthetic and I wish that Halo would take itself less seriously more often (*cough* Odd One Out *cough*), but the one thing about the new presentation that hits a sour note for me is the voice acting on the Elites.  I mean look, when you get Keith David for the previous games, ANYTHING else is going to feel a bit like a stepdown, but they just sound bad in a way that reminds me of… well, a Saturday morning cartoon!  Fair play I suppose, but it’s no less jarring to hear them whenever they show up in the cut scenes.

“We shall destroy He-Man, Optimus Prime, and the GI known as Joe, once and for all!!”
Continue reading “Twenty Years of Halo: Halo Wars & Halo Wars Genesis”

Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #40

Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back with more Sonic, and considering how busy the last month has been it feels like an ETERNITY since we last got an issue; especially since they aren’t running a miniseries parallel with the main book at the moment.  Seriously IDW, we need a second book in this universe; not just four issues here and there of a side story!  They certainly tend to be more entertaining than the main story line which has more room to drag things out (*cough* Metal Virus *cough*), but perhaps this issue will bring the latest story to a satisfying end instead of leaving us hanging for another month or two.  Do Sonic and pals manage to escape from Eggman’s evil machinations once again, and more importantly do the writers find a way to make it fun and interesting?  Let’s find out!!

The issue begins with Sonic, Tails, and Amy, being menaced in the virtual world by Eggman’s latest machines.  It probably seemed like a good idea at the time to send the Rock Paper Scissors of elemental robots to cover all your bases, but Sonic has SOMEHOW found the flaw in this and uses his super speed to trick the robots into attacking each other.  Come on Eggman, that’s Speedster 101 stuff!  Normally I find the action in these comics perfectly suitable if a bit dull, but sadly I have to be a bit harsher than usual because the artwork on the first few pages looks PRETTY bad here with a lot of flat color and off looking characters.  The art is done by people who have worked on this comic many times before and it’s DRASTICALLY improved by the tenth or so page, so the only thing I can conclude is that there must be some sort of schedule issue that left some of the pages somewhat unfinished and it’s a bit of an eye sore because of that.

“Oh no! We’re using up too much processing power that Eggman had to downgrade the graphics!” “That’s like… the OPPOSITE of way past cool!” “Sure Sonic, whatever you say.”
Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #40”