So Wrestlemania this year was…pretty good. It had one incredible match and a handful of other really good to great stuff on it. I’m not going to go over everything in detail, because a lot of it isn’t worth it, but here’s a brief recap of the stuff that was, well, not quite as important.
Team Hell No retained again in a pretty solid, but short match. Big E looked pretty good in his in ring debut, and I’m curious to see what they do with him in the future.
Ryback and Henry was somewhat disappointing. There were too many rest holds in the match, which really hurt the pacing. It picked up a bit at the end, and I was actually shocked with Henry winning. However, Ryback got the last laugh with one of the most incredible displays of strength I’ve ever seen when he Shellshocked Henry. That was just incredible.
Tons of Funk vs. Rhodes Scholars didn’t actually happen, and I’m not disappointed at all by that. It shouldn’t have been on the PPV to begin with.
The Miz won the title in a predictable Intercontinental Title bout with Barrett. They need to figure out what they’re doing with that title. It’s been pretty much a waste of space for over a year now. They also need to figure out what to do with Barrett. He’s one of the most talented men they have on that roster and really deserves to be in the World Heavyweight title picture.
Fandango got (predictably) put over tonight with his win over Jericho. It was actually a pretty solid match until the botched ending somewhat soured it. And sadly, that’s probably what’s going to be remembered most about this match. And again, much like Langston, I’m curious to see how they deal with Fandango. The kid has some talent, and they clearly think that as well, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do with him. They wouldn’t give him a win over one of the all time greats in his debut match on the biggest stage of them all for nothing.
And lastly, the S.H.I.E.L.D. opened the show up with another impressive victory over Sheamus, Orton and Big Show. And predictably, Big Show cost them the match…well…sort of. Sheamus went to hot tag in Show near the end of the match, but Orton stole the tag. They looked en route to a victory after an impressive mid-air RKO of Rollins, but Reigns came in and delivered a huge spear, allowing Ambrose to get the pin. The intriguing part of all this was the fact that Big Show just stood on the apron and watched instead of helping out. After that, he KO punched his teammates. So, not the heel turn of Orton that a lot were expecting (and wanting), but a somewhat intriguing finish to the match nonetheless. But most importantly, another clean victory for Ambrose and company.
Now, onto the stuff that really mattered. Swagger and Del Rio put on probably the third best match of the night. It was some really good, very technically sound wrestling, which is what you’d expect out of both the men in the match. After a lot of back and forth, Del Rio ended up getting the win with his cross arm breaker. This was after he had been locked in the Patriot Lock on multiple occasions, as well as enduring a gutwrench powerbomb. While that was all well and good, it was incredibly disappointing for Ziggler to not cash in his briefcase…again. Seriously, what the hell are they doing with him right now? This was the perfect stage for him to cash in, and he didn’t It would have fit his character to a tee. But nothing. They didn’t even flirt with him doing it. In my opinion, this was the most disappointing part of the night.
Next up was Undertaker and CM Punk, in what was easily the best match of the night, and probably the best match I’ve seen this year. The match was filled with incredible spots, but the best one was also easily the most dangerous, and one that was obviously not scripted. With Taker laid out on the Spanish announce table, Punk climbed to the top rope and hit the flying elbow on Taker. Awesome, right? And what would you normally expect to happen with that? You’d expect the table to break. But nope, not tonight. The table didn’t budge an inch, and I guarantee that hurt both men a lot more because of it. Honestly, I’m shocked Punk didn’t do some massive damage to his leg. I mean, he sure acted like it during the match, but with wrestling, you never know when it’s real or if they’re selling it. But man, that looked nasty.
Outside of that, it was just great back and forth all throughout, and had just an incredible finish. Each men hit their respective finishers, with Punk kicking out of both a Tombstone and a chokeslam. The end came on an incredible counter by Taker. With Punk going for the GTS, Taker managed to counter it into a brutal looking Tombstone to get the 1-2-3. He then paid his obligatory due to Paul Bearer, and 21-0 flashed across the titantron and all the other screens in the building.
Seriously, if you missed this match, you did yourself a disservice. It was just absolutely incredible stuff. Year in and year out, Taker just proves why he’s one of the all time great performers of all time. Even at 48 years old and going through countless surgeries over the past several years, it didn’t look like Taker even missed a beat in the ring. It’s just amazing to see him be able to be so good each and every time, even if he takes a year off in between matches. Honestly, I feel bad for this new generation of fans that are only getting to see him wrestle once a year. He truly is one of the all time greats, and when he retires, the WWE is going to suffer arguably its biggest loss in the last decade.
After that incredible match (and lets be honest here, it SHOULD have been the main event), you had to feel bad for the two matches that came after that. But I’ll be damned if HHH and Lesnar didn’t do their damnedest to follow that. In what was one of the most physical matches I’ve seen in ages, Lesnar and HHH just put the beatdown on each other. It definitely took the no holds barred stipulation and ran with it. We saw countless chair shots, HHH going through the announce table, a low blow, a sledgehammer shot…it was really just what you wanted in a match like this.
HHH ended up getting the win. And c’mon people, just be honest, if you thought Lesnar was winning, you were crazy. HHH wasn’t going to be retired tonight. That man will end up going out on his terms, and it won’t be because he was forced into it due to a match stipulation. But despite how predictable it was, they did their best to make you think otherwise. Lesnar had The Game locked in the Kimura on a couple occasions, and even planted him with an F-5. Oh yea, he also nailed Shawn with that when he went for Sweet Chin Music. Shawn did get some redemption by nailing Heyman with SCM after Heyman went to hit HHH with a chair.
The end of this match was where it really got interesting. After a slew of close calls, HHH locked the Kimura on Brock, and he nearly tapped…multiple times. He would inevitably break the hold a couple different occasions by slamming HHH down on to the steel steps that were brought in the ring by Brock earlier. HHH kept trying for the Kimura, but Brock kept breaking it up. Eventually, HHH’s trusty ol’ sledge would come into play, as he nailed Brock with it, and then followed it with a wicked Pedigree on to the steps for the finish. As a sidenote, that had to hurt like hell when he landed on his knees on the steel.
So, while this wasn’t the best match of the night, it was definitely a great one, and certainly surpassed their Summerslam match. It just had the unfortunate luck of following the masterpiece that was CM Punk vs. Undertaker. But hey, there’s no shame in coming in second place to that match.
The final match of the night was a rematch to our ‘Once in a Lifetime’ match from last year – John Cena vs. The Rock. Two of the biggest stars in the history of the business colliding for the second year in a row. The difference this year though, was that The Rock’s WWE Championship was on the line.
And the match…went about as you expected. That’s not to say it was a bad thing or a good thing, just predictable. Anyone who thought Rock was walking out of there with the title tonight was just being delusional. Cena wasn’t getting this big push just to lose to The Rock again. And with The Rock off doing his movie thing, they couldn’t keep the title on him much longer.
But regardless of how predictable the match may have been, it was still pretty entertaining throughout. Again, much like HHH vs. Lesnar and Punk vs. Taker, there were tons of false finishes in this one. Cena kicked out of three Rock Bottoms, a People’s Elbow, and managed to escape a Sharpshooter. To say the least, Super Cena was in full display tonight. Honestly, it almost got a point that Rock’s moveset just looked weak because of it. If you can’t win with four finishers, how can you win?
That’s not to say that The Rock didn’t look strong in his own right. He also escaped an STF, and kicked out of a couple AAs, a Five Knuckle Shuffle, and even a Rock Bottom.
But again, he wasn’t winning this match tonight, and did inevitably lose after a third AA. That’s all fine and dandy. However, I was a bit…put off by the end of the match. Why? Because Rock clearly put over Cena. Not just by losing to him, but also the whole…hugging and embrace crap they did at the end of the night. Seriously, it felt like a whole passing of the torch thing going on, and Cena really didn’t need that.
So in the end, it was a solid, albeit incredibly predictable PPV. While it won’t go down as the best Wrestlemania of all time, it certainly had a lot of good things going for it. There were two great matches here tonight – Punk vs. Undertaker and HHH vs. Lesnar – along with a whole slew of good matches.. Even though pretty much all of the matches were predictable, I was still entertained throughout. And honestly, that’s what matters in the end.
After taking the last three weeks off (by accident…sort of), I’m back! But, unfortunately for you guys, I don’t know if I’m better than ever. I suppose that’d be up for you to decide, huh? Anyways, enough rambling, since you’re not really here just to read my nonsensical babble. You’re here to see what I think you should pick up this week…so well, I’m going to tell you.
The only words I needed to see on this title were “Jeff” and “Lemire”. I was pretty much sold after that. And the fact that his Justice League Dark counterpart Ray Fawkes is helping out only helps this.
Listen, I know a lot of people are sad that Hellblazer ended it’s 25 year, 300 issue run a couple weeks back. And that’s understandable. But just based on this creative team alone, one has to be excited for this book. Lemire and Fawkes have been killing it month in and month out on JL Dark, so one has to think they can create the same magic here. See what I did there…magic…
After the heart wrenching end to to Daredevil #23, I’m anxious to see where this goes next. Even though I just started reading this series last month, I already feel for Foggy. It’s going to be interesting to see how Mark Waid handles that situation here. And given how great Waid is with his character work, one can only expect it’s going to be great. Beyond that, this series didn’t win a slew of Eisner awards last year for no reason. Even though I’m new on this bandwagon, I can already tell that this series is a winner, so I fully expect that Waid has something great in store this week after that heart wrencher last time out.
New Avengers #4
This might be my favorite of the Marvel NOW! titles at this point. Jonathan Hickman is killing it on both his Avengers titles right now, but I think this one might be the superior one. Last month, we saw Beast join the rest of the Illuminati in Charles Xavier’s stead. We then saw them all turn on Captain America because of how we wanted to do things. This book is steeped in drama and great character work left and right. Hickman has just been spot on with each issue so far, and I can’t imagine he’s going to misstep any time soon. If there’s one NOW! title that you should be reading, it’s this one right there. Through three issues, this book really has been the cream of the Marvel crop.
That’s all for this week. Did I leave off your favorite book? Probably, but that’ll happen. Anyways, if you think I should have included something else let me know. There’s a comments section for a reason, folks. Use it.
Until next time.
So as we close in on the home stretch of the NBA season, it’s time to hand out some irrelevant hardware – my second trimester awards. I’m not going to babble, so lets just get straight to the awards.
Coach of the Year:
To me, there are quite a few contenders for this award – Tom Thibodeau, Greg Popovich, and Kevin McHale, to name a few. But the one that stands out above all the others is Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers.
This man has coached a masterpiece of a season and has turned the Pacers in to arguably the most legitimate threat to Miami’s Eastern conference crown. He turned his team around after a 4-7 start and now sit at an impressive 38-22, second in the East only to Miami. And I should mention that they did most of this without Danny Granger, the guy who most considered the Pacers best player until Paul George broke out this year. He’s also the mastermind behind their terrific defense, which gives up a whopping 89.6 points per game – good for second in the league. Not bad for a guy who was brought in as the interim head coach just two short years ago.
Sixth Man of the Year:
This might be the toughest one to choose, because of the bevy of worth candidates – JR Smith, Ryan Anderson, and Gordon Hayward to name a few. But to me, it’s Jarrett Jack. His stats are starting point guard worthy on several teams – 13.4 points per game, 5.7 assists per game, 45.9 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from downtown. To make things better for Jack, he’s been a key cog in them having their best season in years, making a push to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Rookie of the Year:
Lets be honest here, there’s only one guy that really deserves this award this year. This isn’t a slight to Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, or any other rookie having a good year, but Damian Lillard is the only choice for rookie of the year. The only one. Granted part of this is simply because Anthony Davis has missed so much time while Lillard has played in all 58 of his teams game thus far…but that’s only part of it. The other part is Lillard has simply been flat out spectacular.
His numbers – over 18 points and six assists per game – are borderline historic for a rookie. Sure, you can balk at his 42 percent field goal percentage, and that’s totally justifiable. But those numbers put him in a pretty impressive and exclusive club with Allen Iverson, Steve Francis, Oscar Robertson, Damon Stoudemire and Magic Johnson as the only rookies to go for 18 and six per game assuming he keeps it up. And if that’s not enough to convince you, I’m not sure what’s going to do the trick.
Most Improved Player of the Year:
And here we have yet another tough, tough category to choose from, since we have a bevy of worthy candidates – Nikola Vucevic, Greivis Vasquz, Jrue Holiday and JJ Hickson to name some. But it comes down to James Harden for me.
LIsten, we all knew Harden was good. He proved it last when he won the Sixth Man of the Year award. But man, has he exploded. After Harden got himself a change of scenery in the shocking trade to Houston, he quickly went from the best sixth man in the NBA to, what some might argue, as the best shooting guard in the NBA. The numbers are impressive, but what he’s done for his team is more impressive. Most people didn’t think Houston was going to be a playoff team, but with Harden leading the way, they’ve got a chance to get as high as the sixth seed. (I’d also like to put an additional bit here – I wonder if OKC looks at what Harden is doing and wonders if they traded the wrong guard? I’m still of the opinion that they’d be a better player with the hyper-efficient James Harden than the chucker Russell Westbrook. But that’s an argument for a different day).
Defensive Player of the Year:
I feel like it seems like almost every award category is ridiculously deep this year. You could easily give this award to several people – LeBron James, Larry Sanders, Paul George, etc. But this award goes to Joakim Noah. He anchors the third ranked defense in the NBA in points allowed, opponents field goal percentage, and opponents three point percentage. Beyond how great his team is because of him, he’s also having a statistically incredible season – averaging over 11 rebounds per game and over two blocks per game. Looking at everything, between his incredible stats and how great his team has been on defense, it’s hard to argue against him.
As much as I don’t like him, there’s no question that LeBron James is the MVP of the NBA. Sure, you can argue Kevin Durant, and maybe Tony Parker…but you can’t argue enough to put them over the top of James. His growth as a player has turned him in to easily the best player in the NBA. He can do, and is doing, it all this year. Scoring – 27.1 points per game – check. Rebounding – 8.2 rebounds per game – check. Assists – 7.3 per game – check. PER – 31.75 – check. Career high in field goal and three point percentage? Check. And on top of all this individual achievement, hs team is running away with the Eastern Conference crown and looks almost completely unstoppable right now, in the midst of a team record 15 straight games. MVP? I think so.
So there you have it everyone. My NBA second trimester awards.
Long time no see, huh? I suppose that’s bound to happen when your computer crashes and you go nearly a month without being able to buy a new one. But hey, I’m back, and that’s what matters…right? Well, even if it’s not, I’ll let myself believe it does. Anyways, onto business. Book of the week time. It was a tough choice this week, because there were three seriously awesome books that came out this week, making it tough to choose from. Batman Inc., I, Vampire, and Talon were all ridiculously good, so choosing between them was not an easy task. But I have, and the winner is…*insert drum roll here*
When it all came down to it, there were two books that had some massive game changing plot twists in it this week, Batman Inc., as well know, had the death of *SPOILER ALERT* Damian Wayne…while I, Vampire also saw one of it’s main characters killed off too. Since this one hasn’t been spoiled ten times over by the internet, I’m not going to take justice in doing that. But, lets just say it’s definitely a game changer, and not one that I expected. Well, at least not with two issues to go. But hey, Joshua Fialkov has proven time and again that he’s more than willing to change the status quo of this book, and he did so once again in a massive way this week. It’s just unfortunate that this book ends in the next two months.
So there you have it. I’m not going to go in to full on review mode for this one like I did previously. But just know, this book continues to be one of the best on the shelves. Even though it’s artist change has definitely not been for the better of the series (Fernando Blanco has nothing on Andrea Sorrentino), it’s still solid art and does a well enough job telling the story. Luckily though, the art change does nothing to affect the ever-stellar dialogue of Fialkov. He has such a great grasp on all these characters and just writes them to perfection month in and month out, and I can’t imagine that won’t continue for the last two issues.
So what are your thoughts, everyone? Let me know down below in the comments.
Until next time.
Hello everyone! So I decided I’m going to start another weekly column (hopefully) that will be a quick detail of my pick for the best comic book released of the week. Obviously, I’ll have to get through all my reading before I can make that pick, so this column won’t really have a consistent date that it gets released on, but whatever. So, without further adieu, my pick for the week is…I have a feeling this is going to be too obvious, but whatever….
Seriously, how could it be anything else? Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo continued their Joker epic with the best issue of the arc so far. In probably the most haunting and disturbing issue of the current Batman run, we see our Caped Crusader enter into the hallowed halls of Arkham Asylum for his so called homecoming that was set up by the Joker.
I’m not going to go into any spoilers here for those that are trade-waiters, but man, was the issue good. The Joker continues to be portrayed in just a terrifying way by Snyder and Capullo. While the Joker has always been crazy, this might be some of the craziest and most terrifying Joker antics we’ve ever seen.
And man, the final page reveal on this was just…wow. I honestly can’t think of any good words for it. To say the least, Batman #17 can’t come soon enough. It’s going to be ridiculously hard to wait for that one after the final page reveal.
I would also be remissed if I didn’t make note of the fact that Snyder has done a great job of making us think that something terrible is actually going to happen to someone in the Bat-family. And honestly, that’s not an easy thing to do. I’m not sure who it will be, if anyone, but the suspense they’ve built has been great…and it was heightened to a great extent by the last page reveal. If he can shock The Penguin this issue after shocking The Riddler last issue, you know he’s got something big planned.
From the looks of it, we’ll be getting our conclusion next month to this epic arc (at least that’s what I’m assuming, based on the ‘To Be Concluded’ that was thrown in at the end of the book), and I can’t wait. Snyder and Capullo have built an absolute epic with this. Depending on how this ends, it could go down as one of the definitive Joker stories of the last 25 years, putting itself firmly up there with The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum. Strap yourselves in everyone, because based on the first four issues of this arc, the fifth part looks like it’s going to be crazy.
So there you have it folks. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me here, so lets here what your pick of the week is. Let me know in the comments. Also, I apologize for rambling and almost making this a review. Whoops. I’ll try to do better next time.
So, I feel like I need to get something off my chest. It’s been bothering me for the last, oh, day or so. And in all likelihood, if you’re reading this or have followed my blog in the past, you might know what’s coming.
Capitalism is a terrible thing sometimes. In a money-driven society, we lose out on a lot of great things because of it. Bands that don’t make their studio money get dropped from their label, great games that don’t sell well don’t get their justified sequel, and so on and so forth.
As comic book fans, capitalism affects us a great deal. If a series doesn’t sell well, no matter how great it is and how critically acclaimed it is, it gets the proverbial axe. It’s happened countless times over the years and it’s going to happen countless more times in the years to come. Just take a look at recent examples. O.M.A.C., a series well received critically, got axed after eight issues because it couldn’t sell well. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is coming to an end this month because it doesn’t sell well. I’m not sure if you’re noticing a trend here…but DC seems to be the bigger culprit of the Big Two when it comes to getting rid of great series because they don’t sell.
This all leads up to, quite frankly, the biggest atrocity that’s happened in the world of comics over the past year. I, Vampire, one of my favorite series, and easily one of the best on the market, got canceled. And why, you may ask? Because it didn’t sell well. Capitalism. Who cares that it’s been one of DC’s best reviewed and most critically acclaimed books since their New 52 initiative 16 months ago. DC clearly doesn’t. They care about the bottom line, and the bottom line was that it wasn’t making money.
This wouldn’t be as bothersome to me if it wasn’t for the fact that we still have crap like The Savage Hawkman, Batwing, and Catwoman on the shelves for DC. But hey, these sell well, so even though they’re constantly blasted by critics, DC doesn’t care. It makes them money so they keep it in their rotation.
Here’s a thought for you, DC. Instead of canceling some of your best books because they “don’t sell well”, why don’t you change that. Market them and see what can happen. Not every comic is a household name like Batman. Not every comic you have is going to sell 30,000 copies based solely on the title of the book. And this is something that they apparently don’t realize. Without proper advertisement and promotion, great books with an unknown author or an unknown protagonist or an unknown whatever, just aren’t going to sell.
And there lies the issue with I, Vampire. It got ZERO publicity from DC. None, at least that I ever saw. Even though it was consistently praised by critics and it’s fans alike, DC did nothing about it. Word of mouth only travels so far. Because I, Vampire had a cast of people that, I’m going to bet, basically no one had really ever heard of, it was probably dead in the water from the get-go.
On top of that, a relative unknown in Joshua Hale Fialkov writing it, probably didn’t help, regardless of how incredible of a job he’s done with the series. And to make matters worse, the covers, which attracts a lot of impulse buyers, weren’t the most…how can I say this…they weren’t the most relative in terms of the books content. If you look at some of the covers, especially the first issue, it doesn’t really do the comic justice. Sure, it’s a well drawn cover, but it tells you nothing about the contents. And when people see the word “vampire” in a title nowadays, they’re probably going to be somewhat put off by it (DAMN YOU TWILIGHT!) because of how much vampire overkill we have in society nowadays.
But that’s not remotely fair to this comic, because it’s nothing like the crappy vampire stories we’re getting a lot of today. These vampires don’t twinkle in the sun. They’re violent and brooding specimens, and this was a dark and violent comic book.
Suffice to say, I’m upset about this, as I’m sure a lot of people who may be reading this are as well. It’s an unfortunate thing, and one that I saw coming a long time ago, but that doesn’t lessen the sting of this. In a capitalistic society, this comic never stood a chance, and it’s a miracle that it’s going to end up lasting 20 issues (this is including the zero issue). I’ll enjoy the last few months of it’s existence and I’m anxious to see what happens with Andrew Bennett, Tig, Mary and all the other great characters that Mr. Fialkov has woven into his vampire epic. If it’s anything like the first 17 issues, the last three issues are going to be a blast.
Anyways, this is where my rant ends. I just needed to get this off my chest. I still can’t believe I’m going to be living in a world where The Savage Hawkman outlives I, Vampire…but hey, that’s capitalism for you, I suppose.
Until next time.
And we’re back! Sorry for the long delay to start the new year off…but hey…it happens. Especially with my blog. Where I am the king not writing when I want to. But that is neither here nor there at this point. We’re here to look at some of the best comics in the upcoming week, and gosh darnit, we’re going to do it. So without any further ado, here are my picks for this upcoming Wednesday.
How could this not be one of my picks? Scott Snyder’s Joker epic continues this month, with Batman entering the hallowed grounds of Arkham Asylum. What happens next is going to be anyone’s guess, as even The Riddler is apparently amazed by what Joker has in mind. Any so-called comic book fan needs to be reading this series. It’s been incredible month in and month out, and this week seems like it’s going to be no different.
Demon Knights #16
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve never read a single issue of this series, despite how well received it’s been out of the gate. That being said, I’m surely interested in it now, with X-O Manowar scribe Robert Venditti taking over the reigns as the writer. If it’s anything like his work on X-O, we can expect epic storytelling and some incredible action to boot. So you can color me excited to see what he’s got in store for Demon Knights. If this book is even half as good as X-O, it’s going to be awesome.
Man, last month was absolutely crazy with Bloodshot. In it, we saw him tear through the facility of Project Rising Spirit, only to find out that it seems it’s apparently a housing facility to a lot of the Harbinger program. Which means that this next issue is going to be ramping things up a notch, as we’ll be one month closer to the crossover event known as Harbinger Wars. I’m personally pumped to see where all this is going, and what Bloodshot’s going to do in his confrontation with all the kids that view him as the Boogeyman that they’ve been waiting years for.
There you have it folks. What did I miss out on this week? What are you looking forward to this week? Let me know in the comments.
Until next time. (Which will hopefully be next week or sooner…and not a month from now.)