The Ides Of… September 2014

Fucking hell, how is it September already? 2014 has flown by! It’s the 15th, so it’s time for me to review all of the various stuff I gawped at over the past 30 days. It’s simple, but effective!

Movies

I started off the month in grand fashion by watching The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans 2014), and oh man, it was glorious. I’m a big fan of the first Raid, it’s one of the best, most focused action movies ever, and I was hugely impressed by how much Gareth Evans was able to carry on that same tone, whilst also expanding the scale massively. Whereas the first film barely has a plot and basically takes place inside 1 building, this sequel is a proper crime epic, with a much larger cast and a lot more going on. It’s like the first movie is The Hobbit, and this is The Lord Of The Rings. No, wait, that’s a terrible analogy. Anyway, this is just a great film, the action scenes are insane, with every one offering something different, and the greater ambition totally being reached. I can’t praise this series enough, and I can’t wait to see what both Evans, and the insanely bad-ass Iko Uwais do next.

After this, I re-watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony & Joe Russo 2014) on Blu-Ray. I liked it just as much the 2nd time around, it really is one of the best, most intelligent superhero films ever. I’m sure you can find my full review from back when it came out in the Cinema somewhere on here.

I continued the superhero theme by then watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb 2014). I had heard a lot of terrible things about this movie, hence why I didn’t bother going to see it in the Theater, but I actually thought it was fairly good. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are still great in their roles, and I liked how they actually went and killed off Gwen, as that’s the sort of thing that happens in superhero comics, but not the movies. In addition, some of the action scenes were fantastic, it’s just that it really feels old-fashioned compared to other modern superhero movies. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of a Pre-Electro Max Dillon was like something out of Joel Schumacher’s Batman or something, just awful. He got better once he actually became a villain, and Dane DeHaan was solid as Green Goblin/Harry Osborn, but even then, it was too cliché. The likes of Iron Man 3 and Guardians Of The Galaxy have started to somewhat subvert our expectations, whereas this movie just follows the same established structures. This isn’t really a terrible film, it’s just that the genre has moved on since 2001.

And finally, I watched a strange little film called Bernie (Richard Linklater 2011), which told the true story of a small-town murderer who was so well-liked (and the victim so hated) by the town that they had to move his trial elsewhere. It’s a wonderful black comedy with some fantastic perfomances, particularly from Jack Black as the titular Bernie, and also Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey (was this the real start of the McConaissance?). Black is just amazing here, managing to be both funny, and also pull off the more dramatic elements. It’s also an interesting film in terms of how it’s shot, as the more traditional scenes are interspersed with talking-head interviews with the various people of Carthage, Texas. Some of them are actors, like McConaughey, but some of them are the real deal, and it’s very effective. I highly recommend this film, and I also highly recommend you Google what Bernie is up to now after you watch the movie, it will surprise you.

Television

September is here, and that means the start of the new US TV Season, so there’s quite a bit of cool new and returning stuff to talk about. First up is The Knick (Cinemax), the new Medical Drama starring Clive bloody Owen! And I mean bloody, because man, this show is pretty damn gory. It’s set in the early 1900s, when medical and surgical techniques were really changing, and we get to see that first hand, in a lot of gruesome detail. It’s a very good-looking and stylish show in a lot of ways, and doesn’t feel like any other Period Piece I’ve seen. This is mostly down to the direction of Steven Soderbergh, who is directing every single episode of this season, as well as the next. TV isn’t really a director’s medium, so it’s cool to see stuff like this and True Detective, where the same person is behind the camera the whole time, and everything feels a lot more cohesive. The modern electronic soundtrack from Cliff Martinez also contributes to the unique feel of the show. The acting is uniformly strong, and I was most surprised by how good the ensemble is. From the outset it looked like this was going to be the Clive Owen show, but nope, everyone else is really good, and at this point, after 5 episodes, I would say that Andre Holland’s Dr Edwards is actually the main character. He’s certainly more likeable than Owen! Edwards is black, and the way the series is tackling racism at that time is very powerful indeed. This is a great, gripping show, and I can’t wait to see where it’s going, it looks like we’re set for a big cholera outbreak, which should be, well, not good, but exciting.

Next up is a show that’s not actually new, but is going through a big change, yep, it’s Doctor Who (BBC One). This is of course the first run of episodes for Peter Capaldi as The 12th Doctor, and so far, I’m loving it. Capaldi is absolutely excellent as The Doctor, he’s showing so much range, and whilst he’s still a lot of fun, there’s a definite darker edge to this older Doctor. I loved Matt Smith, but this change has really worked. I also think that the change of Doctors has improved Clara’s role as a companion. She’s not crushing on him anymore, and it’s a new dynamic. Maybe it’s because I’m not a teenager, but I kind of prefer it when the Doctor and his Companion aren’t flirting, it’s part of what made the Donna season so much fun, and we kind of have that here. So far I’ve enjoyed all 3 episodes I’ve seen so far, but my favourite was probably ‘Robot Of Sherwood’, which was just so much goofy fun. I haven’t watched this week’s one yet, I’m too scared!

The next returning show is The League (FXX), and whilst it’s not changing as much as Doctor Who, it’s still nicely different from last year. Jenny having won The League last year and having Kevin be the new ‘Sacko’ has led to a new dynamic in amongst all of the characters that’s a lot of fun. I probably would have liked to have seen ‘Tefl-Andre’ last a bit longer, but you can’t have everything. I also really like that they’ve added new stakes to who wins the League. This year, it’s not just a trophy up for grabs, but a Beach-House! I always enjoy this show for the jokes and characters, but it was getting a bit repetitive, so stuff like this is really needed for a 6th season, and so far, it’s working well.

There’s only been 1 episode so far of both the final seasons for Boardwalk Empire (HBO) and Sons Of Anarchy (FX), so there’s not much to talk about, but I enjoyed ‘em both. The time-skip to 1931 in Boardwalk worked a lot better than I thought it would, and the flashbacks to Nucky’s childhood were very good. I know a lot of people don’t much care for Nucky, but I think he’s a good character, and Steve Buscemi is fantastic in the role, so it’s cool to have this final year bring him back to the forefront. And man, the show still looks so good, it seems real.

As for Sons, Tara is dead, and so is pretty much everyone else, and it’s all so bleak and depressing. It’s still a good show to watch, but man, it can feel like a grind. After only 1 ep, it’s hard to see how Sutter is going to wrap everything up, because his plotting is so labrynthine, and is only going to get more-so, but I did enjoy seeing Marilyn Manson as a Nazi, if nothing else, SoA always has good stunt-casting.

Now… quick hits!

There were 2 Gravity Falls (Disney Channel) episodes this month, and both were classics. The ‘Big Henry’ death scene in ‘The Golf War’ is one of the darkest, funniest scenes ever, and ‘Sock Opera’ was awesome in how it brought back the evil ‘Bill’. I continue to marvel at how well this cartoon balances it’s mythology with just being genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious, it’s so impressive.

Outlander (Starz) has just gotten better and better, with all of the various supporting characters getting a lot more depth, and Claire still being a fantastic central figure. I think this week’s episode, ‘The Garrison Commander’, which featured the return of Blackjack Randall was absolutely amazing, one of the best episodes of TV this year. Tobias Menzies is fantastic in his dual role, and the tension that was built up in his scenes here was unbelievable. Such a good villain. This is an excellent show, and it feels all the better for airing at the same time as the Scottish Independence Referendum. After watching ‘Outlander’, I think that if I had a vote, it would definitely be ‘Yes’.

Under The Dome (CBS) has continued to be a lot of stupid, inconsistent fun. I thought ‘The Fall’ was one of the best episodes ever, but then it was followed by ‘Black Ice’, one of the worst. It just veers so much from the awesome to the idiotic. But I still want to see just where the hell it’s all going. At this point, I can’t wait to see how nuts a Season 3 would be. And oh yeah, and RIP Sheriff DJ Phil.

The Legend Of Korra (Nickelodeon) wrapped up it’s 3rd season in grand style, with 3 fantastic episodes. I particularly liked the wide variety of action scenes in the 2-part finale, and how pretty much every character got a moment to shine. Also impressive was how dark the ending was, Korra almost died, and she is now depressed and confined to a wheelchair. Season 4 is going to be fascinating, and even better, it starts up in only a few weeks! In some ways it’s a shame that it’s going to be over soon, but that just means I can do a complete re-watch of The Last Airbender right through to the end, which will be epic.

And finally, my massive binge took me onto Cheers (NBC) Season 6, which is of course, the first stretch of episodes starring Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe. I hadn’t ever actually seen any Rebecca episodes before, so I was a bit trepidatious (I know that’s not a real word), but I shouldn’t have worried, the show is still hilarious, and so is Alley. I like the new dynamic she’s brought to the show, and how fun it is to see someone new in there rubbing up against the usual faces. I also like how the bar itself is changing. The corporation has bought it, and not only are their uniforms for the staff, but the lighting is also, well, lighter. Most of the time, the only long-running subplot in Cheers was the Sam/Diane romance, but now, there’s other stuff too. It’s still an amazing show, and I am addicted.

 

Music

There’s actually quite a lot of music this month. First up is the new one from one of my favourite modern rock bands, The Gaslight Anthem and Get Hurt (Island Records/Virgin EMI 2014). The band talked a big game about how this 5th record is a big change in sound for them, but I don’t really agree with that, as this album sounds much the same as their previous stuff. But that’s not a criticism, as I love their previous stuff! Yes, there is some change, but it’s all too subtle for someone like me to describe. This is the same straight-ahead mix of hard-rockers and slower ballads, with the same lyrics that walk just the right line between ridiculous and awesome. If you’re not a fan of the band, I don’t think Get Hurt is likely to change your mind, but I don’t think it’s aiming too. I like pretty much all of the tracks on here, but the highlights are ‘Red Violins’, ‘1,000 Years’ and ‘Break Your Heart’, which might be the best ballad the band have done for me. I’m trying hard not to be too biased and blind here, but much like with The Black Keys or Arctic Monkeys, I just like this band too much to really be objective. I suppose it probably should have been more of a departure, but I’m fine with a slow evolution for now.

From a 5th LP to a debut, as the next record I bought was the self-titled album from Royal Blood (Warner Bros. 2014). There’s been a lot of hype around this band, and it’s crazy how well they are doing, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good, and this album is good! It just rocks, hard. It’s not deep or anything, but these tracks just hit you, put a smile on your face and have you bouncing up and down and singing along from start to finish. I particularly like ‘Little Monster’, ‘Better Strangers’ and ‘Come On Over’, but every song is great. Ignore the backlash to the backlash to the backlash, and just enjoy the fact that a band that sounds like the bastard offspring of Japandroids and The Vines have a Number 1 album. It makes the world a better place.

And finally, an album I didn’t actually buy, but, just like the rest of the world, was given free by iTunes, Songs Of Innocence (Island 2014) by U2. I’m not a big fan of U2 by any means, but I don’t particularly hate them either, so I’m not going to give up the opportunity to get something for nothing. And given that it took me 2 days to work out how to actually download it, I don’t think it’s nearly as ‘invasive’ as people are saying. That’s just more online over-reacting. I’ve only listened to the record once, but I think it’s actually quite good, with the likes of ‘Raised By Wolves’ and ‘California (There Is No End To Love)’ being the best U2 songs I’ve heard since, I dunno, ‘Elevation’. I think too many people are focusing on this album’s method of delivery, which I suppose is to be expected, but we also need to actually discuss the music too. So it’s a good job there’s a new episode of the amazing ‘U Talkin’ U2 To Me?’ Podcast from Adam Scott Aukerman also sitting prettily on my iTunes to do just that, talk about nothing but U2 exclusively. I’m actually more excited for that than I am the album!

Books

Another month, and another bunch of awesome Michael Connelly novels. I started up by finishing up The Narrows (2004), and I have to admit that for the first time, I was a bit disappointed in a Connelly ending. I mean, The Poet just kind of went out like a punk, a disappointing end for a great villain that had been built up over 2 books, and it meant that we never got a full explanation of why he was like he was. But I suppose that’s realistic. Also realistic was the explanation for how Terry McCaleb died, that was a twist that worked for me.

After this came The Closers (2005), which sees Harry Bosch return to the LAPD as he joins the Open-Unsolved Unit (basically, cold cases), which is just a great fit. Bosch is a man who carries his cases with him (literally, in ‘Lost Light’), so having him investigate crimes from the past is just a perfect fit. It also sees Connelly return to a 3rd person perspective, after 2 books of being inside Harry’s head, so it really did feel like everything was back to normal, that everything was right in the world. Except for, you know, the unsolved murder. This was a bit more of a traditional novel, with a simple mystery, no connected universe or cameos really, but it worked to bring Bosch back into the fold, and there were plenty of cool twists and turns. At this point, I’m just addicted to this series, so even a more basic story is awesome.

Up next was a non-Bosch novel, and the first of Connelly’s new series starring his half-brother, Micky Haller, better known as The Lincoln Lawyer (2005). This was a weird experience for me, as I had seen the film adaptation of the story a few years ago, and kinda/sorta half-remembered it, so some of the plot points I knew going in, and some of it was totally new. I normally make a point of reading source material before seeing a movie, so this was an upending of the usual order for me, it was weird. But I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially with how brilliantly Connelly depicts Micky Haller, and how different he is from Bosch. It’s not just that they are on opposite sides of the bench (Haller is a defence attorney who generally defends people he knows to be guilty), but also that, whereas Bosch has a very definite code of ethics, Haller seems to have none at all. Or at least he doesn’t at the start of the book! It was great to see Connelly stretch his legs into another aspect of the crime genre, and I’m very excited to see more from Haller, and, from what I’ve read on the back of future books, for him to properly meet his brother. And in addition, I’ve bought the film on DVD in order to watch it again, and do things right this time.

And finally, I’m currently about 100 pages from the end of Echo Park (2006), another Bosch book, and one which takes him working in Open-Unsolved to the next level. The villain here, ‘Raynard Waits’ is just great, and I’m loving the feeling that Bosch is right on the cusp of a bigger conspiracy here. Plus, this book has done some shocking things with Bosch’s partner, Kiz Rider. She’s been a major part of the series since very early on, and seeing her life in danger was surprisingly emotional. I’m excited to see how it ends, but I think after this I’m going to take another mini Connelly-break. There’s a new Ken Follett door-stop out…

So that’s September in the books. I didn’t even bother with an empty ‘Games’ segment this time, but there are new FIFA, WWE and Football Manager games coming out soon, so I expect that to pick up.

I’ll be back on the 15th of October, see ya then!

 

 

 

My WWE SummerSlam 2014 Predictions – The Results

SummerSlam was this past Sunday, and man, it was a great show. There was a lot riding on it, especially because of how generally lacklustre both Battleground and the last few months of Raw and Smackdown have been. Almost all of the matches were good, and some of them are all-time classics, but for very different reasons. After feeling lethargic for a while, WWE has had a shot in the arm, I hope they can carry this through, much like last year’s SummerSlam gave us the rise of Daniel Bryan.

Rob Van Dam Vs Cesaro

Pre-Show Match

After skipping Battleground’s pre-show, I actually watched this one. It was fine, a good match, but nothing you wouldn’t see on a better episode of Raw, with basically that standard high level of quality you get from Cesaro. I should have known better than to pick him to win though, the good guy always wins on the pre-show.

0/10

The Miz (C) Vs Dolph Ziggler

Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

As expected, this was a very good match, these two men just have great in-ring chemistry with each other. I particularly liked the closing moments, where Dolph popped right out of a ‘Skull-Crushing Finale’ into a Zig-Zag. I thought that Miz would win, but that was wrong, as Dolph finally had something good happen to him and became the new Champ. I probably would have preferred a longer chase, but I think him winning was needed here, considering how many of the other matches ended with the heels triumphant. We need at least 1 feel-good moment for Pete’s sake! After the show, I was very excited for Dolph’s future as IC Champ, but Raw mollified that somewhat, as he immediately entered into standard IC Champion mode, where he looked weak and lost non-title matches to set up future contenders. Do WWE seriously only have 1 story for the mid-level belts? It’s so sad, all of the last 4 IC title-holders have had real potential to reinvigorate things, and they just sucked into dullness.

0/10

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Just like with the IC Title, I thought that the Champion would retain here, but I was dead wrong, as Paige won a great match to become a 2-time Divas Champion. I thought this was a much better match than the one at Battleground (and that one was good!), mostly because, as I said, there was real hate and feeling behind it. The finish was the best bit I think, Paige reversing the Black Widow into the Ram-Paige (which is so much better than the Paige Turner it’s not funny) was just great. It looks like this feud is stretching onto NoC, which is fine with me, but the Divas Division really needs to get more people than just these 2 in the title picture. I’d like to see Emma be given another chance, and hey, heel Paige Vs a distraught Brie Bella would be fun too.

0/10

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

Flag Match

Despite this match actually being pretty damn good, I was still disappointed in it. Firstly, because I was wrong AGAIN, as Rusev won, but also because the rules of a supposed ‘Flag Match’ were just rubbish! It was just a completely normal match, except that when you won, your country’s flag is raised. Er… doesn’t the Russian flag fly after every Rusev victory? Dumb dumb dumb. But as I said, the completely normal match within was actually very good, and Rusev just gets better and better, particularly with his selling of the Ankle Injury, and how that effected The Accolade, he really gets ‘psychology’. The future seems interesting for both of these guys, Rusev looks set for a feud with Mark Henry, which should be a hoss-fight for the ages, and Swagger… Well, Zeb seems to be out for a while after Rusev kicked him, and they seem to be setting up something between Swagger and Bo Dallas. Whether it’s a feud or a team-up, I dunno, but I’m intrigued. I love me some Bo Dallas, so I’m glad to see they still have something for him to do after the end of The Streak.

0/10

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Lumberjack Match

Jesus, I am not doing very well here at all. But as we’ve seen before with other PPVs, when I get things horribly wrong, it makes for a damn good show. I thought Ambrose would win, but nope, it was Rollins, with some help from the Briefcase who got the 1-2-3. But I don’t mind being wrong here, because this was a fantastic match, and probably the best Lumberjack Match in history. It was just so crazy, it did what you wouldn’t expect and featured some amazing moments. I think my favourite was when Ambrose hit Rollins with his own ‘Curb-Stomp’ move. The look on Ambrose’s face was just so good, he seemed really emotional and heart-broken about it. You got the sense that he still loves Seth as his brother and really is lashing out at the betrayal. Man, Ambrose is so good. It was of course fun seeing all of the various Lumberjacks out there, particularly Goldust leading the charge against Kane, because man, The Rhodes’ really should still be feuding with The Authority. I think this was my favourite match of the show, and I can’t wait for more of this feud. Raw featured another great match between the 2 that ended with Ambrose being written off to go do that movie. I think we’ll get 2 or so months of Rollins kicking ass (and maybe a feud with Reigns?) and being cocky, before Dean comes back for a Hell In A Cell match or something. It’s going to be dark days without the Lunatic Fringe, but it’ll be worth it. And in the meantime, we can all buy that amazing hoodie from WWE shop. It’s the best piece of non-CM Punk merch in ages.

0/10

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Yay! I finally got one right! To be fair, Bray winning here was obvious, but still. I thought this was a good match, an improvement over the Battleground one, and probably Bray’s best singles match since Wrestlemania. I loved the Spider-Walk again, and Bray just shouting and ranting at Y2J about how he can’t die was fucking great. I think this was a much-needed win for Bray, it was clean as a whistle with no interference, and it made him look like a total bad-ass. I’m down for one more round at Night Of Champions for sure.

1/10

Stephanie McMahon Vs Brie Bella

Damn, back down to Earth, with another wrong prediction. I thought Brie would win, but nope, Steph did, and I should have seen it. I even mentioned the possibility of Nikki turning heel, and that’s just what happened. I thought this was a surprisingly good match, Stephanie not only looked amazing in her gear, but she also actually wrestled for a lot of this match. But in the end, this was more of a storyline piece than a work-fest, and that’s fine. The story here is great, Nikki turning on her sister is powerful and makes sense, I’m actually excited to see them fight.

1/10

Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

I did get this one right, as Roman came out victorious after a good match. I suppose you could say that Randy carried Reigns here, but I don’t really buy that, it takes 2 to have a good match, and this was most certainly that, so I got what I wanted here, a strong singles match from Roman. I think he does still need to learn, but he and Randy put on a good show here, and a few more matches like this will only help him learn. Yes, Randy was great here, but he’s great in most of his matches at the moment and hell, I’d say he carried John Cena more in the TLC match than he carried Reigns here. I was wavering in my love for Roman a bit after The Shield broke up, but with this match, he’s winning me round again. I don’t quite believe yet, but I’m not far off.

2/10

John Cena (C) Vs Brock Lesnar

Singles Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Holy shit, this was an amazing experience. It wasn’t the best technical match, because it was a squash. But fucking hell, it was brilliant to watch. We all knew that Brock was going to win, but I don’t think anyone thought it would happen like this. It was so one-sided and so brutal, I couldn’t believe it. I have a new respect for John Cena after this match, that he was willing to look so weak. Next time he’s accused of ego… just look at this match. And like Paul Heyman said on Raw, he really showed the mantra of ‘Never Give Up’ to actually be true. This was so hardcore I actually wanted Cena to win, and even though I don’t hate Cena, that’s still a rare thing. Of course, I am glad that Brock won, because he’s amazing (that Undertaker sit-up was the greatest thign ever) and it’s really reinvigorated the WWE and opened up so many new possibilities for what the future holds and who will be the one to dethrone him. Popular opinion seems to be that either Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns will do it, but I could see it being someone surprising. And never forget about Rollins and the MITB Case. In any case, we’re in for a few months of awesome Heyman promos and rare, but great matches from Brock. First up is a re-match for Cena at NoC, which is going to be interesting. I have no idea how that match will go, it can’t be another squash can it? But it also can’t suddenly have Cena being Brock’s equal either. I can see something like Cena getting DQed for cheating, leading to him realising that he nearly turned heel, and him going away for a while. I dunno, maybe an actual heel turn! No, never.

3/10

Man, 3 out of 10, that is dog-shit. But it did make for a night of surprises that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ll be back in a few weeks with some Night Of Champions predictions and we’ll see if WWE can keep up the momentum of BAAAH-ROOOOCK LESSSNAAARR.

My WWE SummerSlam 2014 Predictions

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One of WWE’s biggest pay-per-views is tonight in Los Angeles, and since it’s tonight, I am running late with my predictions! So I’m gonna try and keep this short. I’m excited for this show, I think it’s going to be good, and it pretty much has to be, because if it’s not, then not only was SummerSlam ruined, but Battleground too.

So let’s get on with it!

Rob Van Dam Vs Cesaro

Pre-Show Match

This match is happening for absolutely no reason. I guess it might be because both of these guys are too big to only appear on the show as Lumberjacks. Post-Heyman, Cesaro has been losing a lot lately, but putting on good matches, so I think this might be the time for him to get back to winning ways. Cesaro to win.

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Lumberjack Match

It’s finally happening! After getting the rug swept out from under us at Battleground, Ambrose and Rollins are finally going to actually fight, and I am so pumped. I think this match is going to be great, even with the seemingly random Lumberjack stipulation. I rolled my eyes as much as anyone when that was revealed, but both Rollins and Ambrose have made it work in their promos, with their points about how the Lumberjacks will stop Rollins from running away, and how appropriate it is to have the roster The Shield decimated on the outside. My prediction hasn’t changed from Battleground: Ambrose will win. There is more doubt about it now that news of Ambrose being in a movie has come out, but still, the good guy has to win here.

The Miz (C) Vs Dolph Ziggler

Singles Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

This match came about after Miz eliminated Dolph Ziggler last at the Battleground Battle Royal for the Intercontinental Championship. Since then, Dolph has been gunning for revenge and The Miz has screwed him over at every opportunity. I am still absolutely loving the new ‘Hollywood Miz’ character, he’s so good at playing the smarmy delusional heel. So good in fact, that I actually kind of want him to win over one of my favourites in Ziggler. I think this is going to be a really good match, and could even steal the show. I can’t really decide who’s going to win, it would be a great comeuppance for Hollywood Miz to lose in the middle of Hollywood, but it’s probably too soon for that to happen, and anyone, constantly losing seems to only help Dolph get more crowd support at the moment,  I’ll go for Miz retaining, but only just.

Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

This is an intriguing match, because it’s Roman Reigns’ first ever singles match on a pay-per-view. If he’s really going to grab the opportunity and become the next big star, he needs to impress here, certainly more so than he has in his various Raw and Smackdown one-on-ones. I have a sneaking suspicion this will be good, Orton isn’t quite at the top-level he was earlier this year, but he’s still putting on good matches (his one against Sheamus on Raw this week was very fun) and the street fight between the 2 of them I saw at a House Show in May was actually quite good. The story here of Randy blaming Roman for him not getting a title shot isn’t really that interesting, although the beat-down Randy gave Roman was awesome, for me, this is all about the meta-narrative of if Roman really has ‘it’. Roman is obviously going to win, the important thing is how he does so.

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

After their solid match as ‘frenemies’ at Battleground, Paige finally turned heel on Raw, and this story got a heck of a lot more interesting. Even though I liked good-guy Paige, she seems to be working much better as a heel, and her promos throughout this storyline have been great. I particularly liked the way they called back to AJ’s days as Dolph Ziggler’s girlfriend by having her freak out at being called ‘Crazy’. That’s good continuity, and it also works surprisingly well for a heroic AJ. I don’t really know who’s going to win. I’ll say AJ, but I could easily see Paige just wrecking her.

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

Flag Match

This feud has continued on from Battleground, and hasn’t really changed much at all. It’s still goofy fun, but it is getting repetitive now. As opposed to last time, this match is now a ‘Flag Match’ and, um… have WWE even explained what the rules of a Flag Match is? I have no idea what this is going to entail? Is it just a hardcore match but the only weapons are flags? Do you have to plant the flag somewhere? I have no idea, and it seems like WWE don’t either. I think Swagger will win. I thought he would at Battleground, but I was wrong, however I live in hope!

Brie Bella Vs Stephanie McMahon

Unlike a lot of people on the Internet, I have pretty much enjoyed every part of this storyline, except maybe the ‘Megan Miller’ stuff. Apart from that, it’s all been great. Stephanie McMahon is just amazing on the microphone, and I personally don’t think Brie is that bad, she just suffers in comparison with Steph. So whilst I love the story, I am apprehensive about the match, Brie was getting quite good in the ring earlier this year, but she hasn’t had a match in 2 or 3 months at this point, and Stephanie hasn’t had a match in 10 years! This could very well be a train-wreck, but no doubt it will be an entertaining one. I think Brie will win, because Steph deserves to finally get some punishment for her villainy over the past year, but she might still win, especially if what we all suspect might happen happens, and Nikki Bella turns on her sister. I don’t really want to see Bella Vs Bella, but it’ll probably happen eventually, so why not now?

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Much like Swagger/Rusev and AJ/Paige, this is another rematch, and not a lot has changed from Battleground. Bray Wyatt’s promos continue to somehow be entertaining and slightly boring at the same time, and Jericho has been fine. The main difference here is that Harper and Rowan are banned from ringside. To me, this is a big indication that Wyatt is going to win. He needs a big win over somebody after all the losing he’s done lately, and what better way to give him that than to have him beat Y2J without help from his Family? It seems obvious to me, and I just hope this match is better than the Battleground one, which kind of petered out.

John Cena (C) Vs Brock Lesnar

Singles Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

The build-up to the big event match has been interesting, because it’s not really been set up like a wrestling story. The tag-line is ‘the biggest fight of the summer’ and that’s how they’ve presented it, like a fight, like a big Boxing or MMA title match. We’ve had press conferences and promos from both sides, and that’s pretty much it. Brock’s limited schedule and Cena’s filming of a movie have combined to make this seem like something huge in only a short space of time. And of course, Paul Heyman is there, spitting magic on the mic. I personally can’t wait to see what happens, I think Brock will win, but other than that, I want to be surprised. Surprised by the level of violence, surprised by how far Cena is willing to go to win, and surprised by just what the future holds for WWE. There aren’t many matches that can make me watch a 25-minute hype video, but this is one, and I hope it delivers all of the blood, urine and vomit we were promised.

So there you have it, my predictions. Not much else to say. I’ll be back next week some time to reflect on the show, see you then.

The Ides Of… August 2014

Hello again! Yep, it’s the 15th of the month, and that means it’s time for me to review all of the various forms of media I’ve given a chance in the last 30 days.

This month includes an actual trip to the actual cinema, a journey through one of my favourite bands’ back catalogue, a shit-load of Michael Connelly and, once again, no video games.

So let’s get on with it!

Movies

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First up this month, I finally got around to watching This Is The End (Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg 2013) which I found to be very funny indeed. I like a lot of this particular comedic clique’s earlier films, but kind of fell off on making them appointment viewing, but I still have a lot of affection for Rogen, Hill, Franco, Baruchel, Robinson etc, and seeing them send up themselves was just brilliant fun. I particularly liked Michael Cera’s hilarious scenes right at the start. Once the sci-fi/apocalyptic elements began, the film did seem to stutter a bit with the budget not really being that high, but it stayed funny and focused on the characters throughout. Even though it’s surrounded by giant dick-demons and the giant dick that is Danny McBride, I still found myself really emotionally invested in the friendship between Rogen and Baruchel, which felt real. I suppose some might find this movie a bit too self-indulgent, but I think it’s funny enough to get away with it, and it certainly is funny, I laughed a lot.

A film that wasn’t full of laughs, but was nevertheless an enjoyable experience was Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallee 2013). I’m a firm believer in the McConaissance, but also a firm hater of obvious ‘Oscar bait’ weepy dramas. So what to make of a film that is both? Well, I thought the film was a bit manipulative and clichéd, but it was saved by the acting, both from McConaughey and Jared Leto. They are brilliant in this film, and thoroughly deserving of their Oscars. I was expecting Leto playing a transsexual to be cheesy or even offensive, but nope, he was very good and very convincing. I think without these 2 main actors, this film wouldn’t work, and that’s what you really want from actors, for them to elevate the material.

And finally, I got off my arse to go and sit on my arse in a dark room and saw Guardians Of The Galaxy (James Gunn 2014), in 3D and everything. It should come as no surprise that I loved this film, because I’ve loved every single Marvel Studios Movie so far. Yes, even Iron Man 2. GOTG is just amazing fun, every scene is a joy and all of the actors are brilliant. I was most impressed by Bradley Cooper’s voice acting as Rocket Raccoon, as he managed to imbue the character with some real pathos and make him more than the (admittedly great) cartoon he is in the comics, but they were all good. Batista was awesome as Drax, and showed more range than I thought he would, Vin Diesel only said 2 lines and was amazing, and whilst Gamora was the least funny, she was still bad-ass and cool. And what more can be said about Chris Pratt? I’ve always liked him in Parks And Rec, but now he’s a bona-fide movie-star, it’s glorious. I just love that Marvel made a film this weird and unique, everything from the characters through to the soundtrack is different. Well, not everything, I did feel like Lee Pace as Ronan The Accuser was a bit generic, and his weapon being another Infinity Stone would be lame if it wasn’t all building to Avengers III. It’s not perfect, but it put a smile on my face through the whole thing, and it’s pretty much still there now. It even has me rethinking my only going to the theatre to see a movie once policy.

Television

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The Summer lull for TV continued, but it has started to pick up somewhat, with some exciting new shows. I haven’t watched ‘The Knick’ yet, but I will by next month’s column. I have however watched the pilot of Outlander (Starz), which I enjoyed a lot. You’ll know by now that I have an affinity for Starz’s brand of historical dramas, but this one is something a bit different. It’s a bit classier than Spartacus, and it also has science-fiction and fantasy elements, in that the main character travels back in time. I haven’t read the books by Diana Gabaldon, so the main reason for me to check Outlander out was that it is being helmed by Ronald D Moore, who was of course one of the big brains behind Battlestar Galactica, which is still, despite the ending, one of my favourite shows of all time. The first episode was very strong and felt particularly assured to me, particularly in how long it waited before plunging Claire, and the audience back in time. It might have felt a bit slow to some viewers, but it worked for me. The acting was good throughout, Caitriona Balfe has just the right mix of vulnerability and strength, and I was particularly impressed by Tobias Menzies, who plays both Claire’s husband and his evil ancestor. With one eyebrow raise, Menzies demonstrates that Jack Randall is a very different man than Frank Randall. We haven’t seen much of the heroic Scotsmen yet, but there’s a long way to go. It was definitely a great opener, and a journey I’m looking forward to exploring, and I’m also excited to be on the ‘only seen the TV version’ side of something for once. Too often these days I find myself comparing stuff to the source material, which can be a drag at times.

Also new is the 2nd Season of Gravity Falls (Disney Channel), which hasn’t skipped a beat in it’s return. It’s still one of the cleverest, funniest and best cartoons in many years. I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes so far, but they were both great, particularly Ep 2 ‘Into The Bunker’. That episode not only developed the show’s mythology in a big way, but also did some very cool stuff with the Dipper/Wendy ‘romance’, on top of also being funny as shit and also scary at times. I can’t praise this cartoon enough, if you have any affinity for animation, you need to watch it, it really isn’t just for kids.

And now, the current regulars!

Under The Dome (CBS) continues to alternate between being entertainingly ridiculous and ridiculously stupid. It’s just that kind of show. I have really enjoyed Dwight Yoakam’s appearance as the creepy Lyle, and the developments of this most recent ep, ‘Going Home’ were very interesting indeed, with Barbie somehow managing to find a way to get out of The Dome. It is a bit odd to suddenly be away from Chester’s Mill, but it is clearly all part of the back-story and plan, which at this point does have me guessing. I wouldn’t really recommend Under The Dome to anyone, but it is fun.

The Legend Of Korra (Nickelodeon) is another one of my favourite ever cartoons, and at this point I’m thinking that Season 3 definitely is the best Season yet. This last stretch of episodes have been fantastic, with almost every character getting something cool to do. I also like the way the new villains have developed, Zaheer being an anarchist is just cool, and is something difficult for Korra to fight. He might be bad, but in over-throwing the Earth Queen, he might be the lesser of two evils. As I said before about the rebirth of the Air Nation, it’s heady stuff for what is nominally a children’s program, but it’s pulled off so well. And of course, Bolin continues to be hilarious, is he better than Sokka at this point? He might have a case…

Halt And Catch Fire (AMC) wrapped up it’s season with 3 of it’s better episodes, with the penultimate instalment ‘Up Helly Aa’ being particularly good. I really liked how the show swerved us on the Hunt character. We thought he was just a side romance for Donna, but nope, he was stealing Gordon, Joe and Cameron’s ideas all along. I do hope that we get a 2nd season, because whilst it did wobble at times, overall HACF was good television, with some excellent performances. I said Lee Pace was generic in Guardians Of The Galaxy, but he is far from it here. Come on AMC, you gave The shitting Killing multiple seasons, throw me a bone.

And finally, I continued my Cheers (NBC) binge, burning my way through Seasons 4 and 5. This was a time of change for the series. Coach is of course gone, and Woody Harrelson joins the show as his replacement. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve liked Woody, a lot of what I’d heard about his character made me think he was just a poor man’s Coach, but I don’t think he is. Yes, they are similarly stupid and sweet, but they are just different enough. And of course, the fact that Woody is very funny is the most important thing. Other changes include the promotion of Frasier to regular character, which is great, I can’t believe how much more likeable he is here than on his own show. But the big thing here is the departure of Shelley Long as Diane at the end of Season 5, which did bring a little tear to my eye. Diane might have been insufferable at times, but I still loved the character. It’s certainly going to be odd having the series without her. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a ‘Rebecca Episode’ before, so I’m both scared and excited for Season 6. To put it simply, Cheers lives up to the hype, every episode makes me laugh and smile, I can’t get enough.

Music

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Back in June I talked about The Black Keys’ new record, Turn Blue, and how I came to them kind of in the middle, and hadn’t heard their early records yet. Well, I rectified that this month by going back and picking up copies of their first 3 albums; The Big Come Up (Alive 2002), Thickfreakness (Fat Possum 2003) and Rubber Factory (Fat Possum 2004) and man, am I glad I did so. I like the current day Black Keys a lot, but now I do kind of see where the hipster backlash is coming from a little bit. There is something a lot purer, a lot rawer and cooler about these first 3 albums. It’s just so simple and great. It can get a little repetitive at times, which is why the newer records are still good, as they change the pace more, but there are some amazing songs on here, like ‘Have Love Will Travel’, ‘I’ll Be Your Man’, ‘Heavy Soul’ and ‘Girl Is On My Mind’, There’s even a Beatles cover that is actually good. If you, like me, came to the BKs late, I heartily recommend delving back, especially because these albums are going cheap in HMV right now.

In addition, I have a copy the new record from another one of my favourite American rock and roll outfits in my possession in Get Hurt (Island Records 2014) by The Gaslight Anthem, but I haven’t actually has the time to listen to it yet, so expect that next time.

Books

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After a brief respite in July, I was fully back into my Michael Connelly binge this month, reading 4 of his novels and starting a 5th. I can’t even really imagine reading anything else at this point, I am addicted. First up was A Darkness More Than Night (2001), which was really cool in that it was kind of like a Connelly superhero crossover. His books had obviously all taken place in the same universe before, but now we had Harry Bosch and Terry McCaleb meeting each other, and in the spirit of all the best superhero crossovers, going up against each other at first before realising they have a common enemy and teaming up. It was just a lot of fun, and throw in a cameo from ‘The Poet’s Jack McEvoy, and it’s almost all of Connelly’s protagonists together. Cassie Black from Void Moon doesn’t appear, but her presence is felt in once small scene. It was a bit too obvious throughout that McCaleb was wrong to think that Bosch had become a killer, but it was still as gripping as ever and a great way to evolve the characters of both Bosch and McCaleb.

After this was City Of Bones (2002), which was an interesting read, in that I had already seen a lot of the opening chapters covered in the ‘Bosch’ TV pilot, which combined this story with ‘The Concrete Blonde’. I really liked how different a case this was for Bosch, as the murder he was solving was a very cold case from the early 80s, but the uncovering of those bones led to many more deaths. The ending, with Bosch retiring from the LAPD did come as a surprise, but perhaps it shouldn’t have, as the whole story seemed to showing how in trying to do the right thing and help murder victims, Bosch in some ways only makes things worse. It’s dark stuff, but it’s so much more fun than simple cops vs criminals.

Up next was Chasing The Dime (2002), which was another non-Bosch, non-series novel, although probably not as successful for me as the previous ones. I think it suffered from focusing on someone who wasn’t really involved in a crime, as Henry Pierce isn’t a Cop or an FBI Agent or a Reporter or a criminal like previous main characters, but in fact a scientist who gets accidentally (or is it?) drawn into the underworld. The idea of getting the wrong messages on your phone is a good one, and very Hitchcockian, but it wasn’t as cool as just Bosch again. I did freak out a bit when it was revealed that Pierce’s sister was one of the victims of the ‘Dollmaker’ serial killer, which was a really cool bit of continuity, and one which really shows the impact Harry Bosh has had as a character to the wider world. The fact that Bosch just straight up killed The Dollmaker means that Pierce never got closure for his sister’s murder, which leads to this whole book.

Bosch himself returned in Lost Light (2003), and he returned very differently indeed. Not only is he no longer a cop, but this book is also written in the 1st person, whereas all of the previous Bosch novels have been in the 3rd person. I’m not sure why Connelly decided to change things up, and it was weird at first, but it mostly works. It kind of felt like we were now inside Bosch’s head because we were finally getting to know him as a person, and not just a Detective. But of course, he is still very much a Detective, as he is drawn back to one of the cases he couldn’t solve. The plot of this one isn’t as strong as others, but much like in ‘The Last Coyote’, it was cool to Bosch out there trying to solve a crime without the safety net of being a Cop behind him. In addition, there were some great returning characters, including Eleanor Wish, and another surprising ending.

I just last night started reading The Narrows (2004), which is another ‘crossover’ type novel, as it not only features Bosh and McCaleb (sort of), but it’s also a sequel to ‘The Poet’, as both Rachel Walling and the titular serial killer return. I’m not very far into it just yet, but it’s great to see this villain return, and it’s also a lot of fun to see Connelly react to the movie version of ‘Blood Work’, that I still need to see.

I did read a non-Connelly novel this month, but I still stayed within the world of crime fiction with Galveston (2010) by Nic Pizzolatto. Pizzolatto is of course the creator of True Detective, and whilst this book is not as good as the show, it’s still very good, and very well-written. It’s a pretty simple plotline, but there are some really good, evocative passages in there. I especially liked how it subverts your expectations with the main character and his fate. At first it’s like, oh yeah, another guy with cancer so that means he’s in a race against time, yada-yada. But then nope, a third of the way in… flash-forward 20 years and he’s still alive. It’s not the best book, and I think it suffers in comparison to all of the Connelly I’ve been reading. I think I’m just the kind of person who prefers a strong plot with simpler writing, to a simple plot with complex writing.

Games

Once again, no games this month. I know, I suck. I might buy a 3DS soon, and since that doesn’t need a TV, I might actually get to play it. But that’s a big might.

And that’s the end of that chapter. I’ll be back on the 15th of September, see ya then!

My WWE Battleground 2014 Predictions – The Results

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Yeesh, once again this article is well and truly late. I watched Battleground on Monday, and then completely forgot about this until Friday, when I remembered right in the middle of watching TNA Impact (which is currently actually worth watching for once, thanks to being in NYC), so here it is, the results of my WWE Battleground predictions.

Whilst I didn’t think the show was the crime against humanity many others do, it also definitely wasn’t as good as it could/should have been. It all just felt like a place-holder for Summerslam. I would have much rather had a 6-week build to that show like Wrestlemania gets every year, but hey, there was some good stuff here.

So let’s get on with it!

Cameron Vs Naomi

Pre-Show Match

I didn’t watch the pre-show, so I didn’t see this at all. Apparently it was crap. I said Naomi would win, but I was wrong, so… yeah.

0/8

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

Despite wrongly predicting that the Wyatts would win, just like last month, this was by far the best match of the night, and a hell of a good time. I liked all of these team’s previous matches, and like I thought, the 2 out of 3 falls stipulation really upped everything to the next level. I particularly liked the frantic final fall, which was just crazy. I think what stood out to me in this match was how good Erick Rowan has become. He’s always been in the shadow of his team-mates Bray and Harper, but he’s actually grown into a really fun performer. Much like with Roman Reigns, where he was allowed to grow by having his weaknesses covered by two awesome dudes. Although I don’t think Rowan will be breaking out on his own any time soon. It is a shame that the Wyatts lost, especially because Bray lost as well, and they pretty much feel like losers. I do wonder what’s next for the Usos, they have beaten every challenger, who can actually beat them? It’s not going to be The Ascension is it?

0/8

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

This match pretty much went exactly as I thought it would. OK, it wasn’t as long and hard-fought as I said, and they waited until RAW for the Paige heel-turn, but still, it was fun. It’s amazing how much better Paige is as a bad guy, and her beat-down of AJ was fucking hardcore. I’m very much excited for the proper hate-fuelled clash at Summerslam. Yes, we could have had that match way back at Extreme Rules, but I think the delay might have actually made it more exciting. It is a shame that this another of example of ‘this was OK, but it will all make sense at Summerslam’, but hey. If that show is good, then all will be forgiven.

1/8

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

After the Tag-Title Match, this was probably the best bout of the night, it was only 10 minutes, but it was really good. Just 2 big bastards going at each other with a very hot crowd. I was wrong in picking Swagger to win, but I’m not even bothered, as the way Rusev won was by count-out, which means a re-match is sure to follow, and it was not the usual Rusev squash. Unfortunately, it seems like Lana’s pre-match promo has over-shadowed the match and the story might have been dropped. I think that’s pretty mental, as Lana barely even mentioned MH17, she just said ‘recent events’. The way people were talking on Monday it was like she explicitly mocked the victims. People need to stop over-reacting so we can get Swagger/Rusev II at Summerslam.

1/8

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Yeesh, I don’t even know where to start. This match didn’t even happen, which is just… infuriating. Dean Ambrose attacked Rollins back-stage, which meant that Triple H kicked him out of the building. I know that it’s all leading to an actual match at Summerslam, but you shouldn’t be doing stuff like this on PPVs, save the bait and switch from Raw. But, like with Paige/AJ, if the Summerslam match is as epic as promised, then this will be forgotten. And to make matters worse, Rollins officially ‘won’ by forfeit so I get another wrong prediction! Boooo!

1/8

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Hooray! I got this one right, as Jericho beat Bray! I thought this was an OK match, it didn’t quite live up to the idea of it I had in my head, and ended in a really strange, out of nowhere way, but it was solid, and, once again looking forward to Summerslam, it makes me think that the rematch will be really good. It seems like losing to Y2J is going to push Bray Wyatt back to what he should be, he’s lost far too many big matches this year, so hopefully a firm win at Summerslam will help right the wrongs of constantly losing to Cena. I know I certainly enjoyed seeing him annihilate R-Truth on Smackdown

2/8

20-Man Battleground Battle Royal for the Vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship

This, like all Battle Royals, was a lot of fun, but unfortunately, I was wrong in my prediction that Bo Dallas would win, and instead The Miz eliminated Dolph Ziggler last to become the new IC Champ. I actually really dig this. The Miz’s new Hollywood character has been brilliant, and the way he won, by hiding on the outside for most of the match, was very clever. I also really liked the brilliant Miz TV segment on this week’s Smackdown, which was by far the best Miz TV since Brock just threw sofas at the host. It featured not only Bo Dallas, but also Dolph and the glorious return of Miz’s parents! It looks like that trio of Miz, Dolph and Bo is where they are going for Summerslam, which I’m down for. I’ve always heard that Miz was actually quite good a few years ago, before the Rock screwed him over at Wrestlemania 27, and it seems like he’s showing a similar level right now. He’s so hateable, it’s great.

2/8

John Cena (C) Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Yeah, the main event went pretty much as I expected as well. John Cena won, and we’re on to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, which I am very excited for. I actually thought this was a fun match, with most of the competitors doing some fun stuff. Randy Orton continues to be just as good as he was in the early part of the year, which is a shame, as he has really become lost in the shuffle, and STILL hasn’t had his one-on-one rematch. I’m actually feeling sorry for Randy! Hopefully the rumoured singles match between him and Reigns will be good. I thought Reigns once again looked like he belonged in the main event, but I still fear for him in singles matches. He spent so long in 6-Man tags, and now that he’s on his own, he’s still not been given the chance to sink or swim on his own. That needs to happen soon, he did have a solid match with Del Rio on Smackdown I suppose. As for Cena, he was fine, but yeah, I’m mostly just waiting for Brock to legit murder him. That Paul Heyman promo… fuck yes, bring it on.

3/8

Oh man, 3 out of 8? That is terrible. I am terrible.

In terms of non-announced stuff, there was an Adam Rose/Fandango match on the pre-show that I didn’t see, and that’s it. The grindhousey Summerslam promo was great though.

I’ll be back in 3 weeks with predictions for that show, which better be fucking good. This show was just a massive teaser for that event, so if they fuck it up then, then I’ll have wasted 6 hours of my life, rather than just 3.

My WWE Battleground 2014 Predictions

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The 2nd ever WWE Battleground is live this Sunday from Tampa, and man, I only just remembered it was this weekend last night. I had almost totally forgotten about it. Which is weird, because it actually looks like being a really good show. WWE set up some really cool stuff on the post-MITB episode of RAW, and even though a lot of the stories haven’t really moved that much since then, I expect the actual matches involved to be good to great. It might all end up being set-up for SummerSlam, but hey.

Cameron Vs Naomi

Pre-Show Match

Insert your lazy ‘The Funkadactyls EXPLODE’ joke here. This match came about during the build-up to Naomi’s match against Paige at Money In The Bank, with Cameron basically getting jealous that her partner was getting all of this attention, and she wasn’t. I expected her to interfere and cost Naomi the win at that PPV, but it didn’t happen, they waited until after they lost a Tag-Team Match against AJ and Paige. Since then, there hasn’t been that much interaction between the two of them, which is kind of weird. I think this will be an OK match, Naomi is of course really good, and personally don’t think Cameron is as bad as some people say. She’s not as good as Naomi, sure, but she’s certainly better than Eva Marie, for example. I’ll go for a Naomi win here, but that’s a tentative guess.

Jack Swagger Vs Rusev

Man, I am so excited for this match. I’m not American or Russian, but still, it should be great. Ever since Rusev and Lana debuted, I’ve been wanting a feud between them and a Face Swagger and Zeb, I finally got it, and it’s been great. It is a little weird to suddenly be cheering the xenophobic racists, but I think they have done a good job at making Lana and Rusev so much more over-the-top and evil that the Real Americans seem reasonable by comparison. Every segment building up to this has been a lot of fun, mostly down to the fan reaction. They have booed the Russians so loudly, and cheered the Americans even more so. It’s crazy how ‘over’ Swagger is, and a great testament to how good on the microphone Zeb Colter is. When I saw WWE Live in May, he got the loudest boos, and now he’s getting the loudest cheers. Dutch Mantell, what a legend. Anyway, the match itself should be good too, much like Big E, Swagger is a great opponent for Rusev, because he is big, but also surprisingly quick. This should be a grand ol’ hoss-fight, made even better by the crowd. I can’t really pick a winner. I’m not sure Rusev should lose just yet, but I don’t want Swagger to lose any momentum. I’ll pick Swagger, but I can see them pushing his win another month to SummerSlam, for maximum patriotism.

Dean Ambrose Vs Seth Rollins

Another match I am absurdly excited for. We all know that Seth Rollins turned on Dean Ambrose (and Roman Reigns) the night after Payback, and since then, Dean has been out for vengeance. They’ve tangled outside the ring, and of course the Money In The Bank Ladder Match was all about them, but now we finally get a 1-on-1 contest. It should be, no, it will be, amazing. These 2 guys put on the best matches in the WWE as a team, they can do even better as enemies. I think Ambrose will win, and probably in a way that ensures Rollins is unable to cash-in his Briefcase. I am still loving how Ambrose is constantly foiling his attempts, but it’s time for it to be done differently. Perhaps the match will just end in a no contest, with Dean just brawling Seth into the crowd. He has previous of just disappearing with his opponent, remember Shield/Wyatts?

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

This feud hasn’t progressed or changed at all since Money In The Bank, but I’m still very excited for this match. This is because it’s a 2 out of 3 falls match, and I bloody love that stipulation. It’s such a simple idea, but it makes the match so much more epic. These 2 teams have great chemistry, as we’ve seen for the last 6 months, and I think this will be their best match. I can’t really pick a winner here either, but let’s go for The Wyatt Family, I thought it would happen last time, but I was wrong. There time is now! In terms of the order of the falls, this doesn’t count as a solid prediction, but I’ll go for Usos, Wyatts, Wyatts.

AJ Lee (C) Vs Paige

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Much like with Swagger/Rusev, this is another PPV match I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I thought it would happen at Extreme Rules, but AJ took a (deserved) break, and now it’s finally happening, but not in the way I expected it. I thought we’d have plucky face Paige against crazy evil AJ, but now we’ve got both women kind of playing good guys, with both of them saying that they respect and like eachother, but with tension under the surface. As awkward as Paige constantly talking about ‘frenemies’ was, it is true. It seems very obvious that this match will involve one of the 2 participants fully turning heel, and I think it will be Paige. AJ will win, after a hard-fought match that goes on a lot longer than their 2 RAW bouts did, and afterwards, Paige will snap and kick the living shit out of AJ, leading to a proper blood-feud. Mutual respect is all well and good, but we all know that hate-based wrestling is the best.

Bray Wyatt Vs Chris Jericho

Y2J made his surprise return the night after Money In The Bank, got into it with the also-returning Miz, and then got attacked by The Wyatt Family. Hence, a match. I do feel like this feud hasn’t been as good as it could be. Jericho has done some good promos, but Wyatt is still doing the same stuff he did when feuding with Cena, going on about heroes and how they lie to us. I think he needs to find something new to talk about to be honest. He’s still a brilliantly compelling character, but he’s getting repetitive. I do think this will be a good match though, probably just like in the Cena feud, the story there was nonsense, but all 3 matches were pretty great (yes, even the Cage Match, at least until the ending). I think Jericho will win, but there will be some kind of rematch at Summerslam where Bray will come out victorious in the end. Or maybe it will be the other way around, I dunno.

20-Man Battleground Battle Royal for the Vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship

After Bad News Barrett was cruelly injured just before Money In The Bank, he was forced to vacate his IC title. In order to crown a new champion, we’ve got a 20-Man Battle Royal, and it, like most Battle Royals, should be pretty fun. But, also like most Battle Royals, it’s hard to pick a winner. There are some obvious favourites, like Sheamus and Cesaro, both of whom have won significant Battle Royals recently. Fandango and Dolph Ziggler have been vaguely feuding, so they could spice that up with the Intercontinental Title, and I could also see The Miz winning to kick-off his return ‘push’, but it could be anyone. Except for the absolute jobbers in there. But even then… Another thing that makes this match intriguing is that Bad News Barrett will be there to hand over the belt to the new champion, which could be an indication of a new storyline. Perhaps Barrett isn’t as injured as we thought, and he’s going to be feuding with whoever the winner is? I’d like to see that, especially if it means BNB as a good guy. But who knows, I’ll pick Bo Dallas, just for the fun of it. I think he’s been brilliantly entertaining, but it’s time for him to get an actual storyline, and he does have pre-existing history with Barrett… I bo-lieve it.

John Cena (C) Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns

Fatal Four-Way Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

And now the main event, which is probably the Match I’m least excited for, but it will probably still be decent. John Cena won the WWE WHC at Money In The Bank, and it immediately became clear that, even though The Authority don’t hate Cena nearly as much as they did Daniel Bryan,  they don’t want him to be Champion because they can’t control him. So they started stacking those pesky odds against Cena in an attempt to get the belt off of him. Seth Rollins has tried to cash-in twice, and now he’s in a match where he doesn’t even need to get pinned to lose. There are actually quite a few cool moving pieces here. Randy Orton and Kane are supposed to be working together, but they don’t like each other at all, and even though Roman Reigns and Cena are both good guys, they don’t get along either, although is some of that lame-ass ‘mutual respect’. I think these elements will combine for a fun, chaotic match, that will probably also involve Ambrose & Rollins, but in the end, Cena will come out victorious. It’s kind of annoying that WWE’s SummerSlam plans have leaked, and that we all know it’s going to be Cena Vs Brock II. We’ve seen Paul Heyman sidle up to The Authority and offer a ‘Plan C’, and it seems very obvious what that will be. But of course, nothing is ever obvious, and Plan C could be Cesaro, or even CM Punk (hahaha, no). Hell, we could be getting Cena Vs Brock II anyway, but without the title, and the SummerSlam title match could be Reigns Vs Orton or Reigns Vs Rollins, or whoever. But I still think that they won’t swerve us, Cena will win here, then Brock will come back on RAW, and we’ll get what we expect.

So there you have it. I’ll be back next week to reflect on the show, hopefully it will live up to expectations.

See you then.

The Ides Of July 2014

It’s the 15th of the Month, and you know what that means! What’s that? You don’t? Well, basically, it means that I review all of the various films, books, TV shows, movies, video games and music I imbibed over the last 30 days.

Simple, but effective.

This month is truncated column, because my life has pretty much been dominated by the World Cup. With 1 or more games on every day, I haven’t had time for anything else really. Just 1 film, no music, only 1 book, no games and far fewer TV shows than usual.

Maybe I should just add a ‘Sport’ section and talk about the World Cup?

Nah.

Movies

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As I said, I only managed to watch 1 movie this month, but it was a good one, in the form of The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson 2014). I’m not a huge fan of Wes Anderson, so take this with a bit of a pinch of salt, but I think this is by far his best film. I just think that his unique perspective and aesthetic works far better in a (semi-fictionalised) period setting than in the present day. It doesn’t come across as cutesy or twee because it’s not people being old-fashioned, they are just in the actual past. The whole film is anchored by a superb comedic performance from Ralph Fiennes, who is mindblowingly good, but pretty much every one is good in it, and when I say every one… I mean every one, this thing has a huge cast. Pretty much every scene had a great cameo in it. It was just a hugely enjoyable 99 minutes, and it has very much spurred me on to check out the Anderson films I’ve not seen, like Moonrise Kingdom. Perhaps I like him more than I say I do?

 

TV

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Summer is, as we know, a quiet time for TV, but there are 2 new series this month! Well, they are new seasons of familiar shows.

First up is The Legend Of Korra (Nickelodeon), which, in the space of only 3 weeks, unleashed the first 5 episodes of it’s 3rd season. I’ve only watched the first 3 so far, but they have been very good, with the writers fully exploring the new possibilities presented by the events of Season 2. The Spirit World and the ‘real’ world are now combined, and that’s bringing a lot of problems, but the biggest deal is of course the rebirth of the Airbenders, which is a long time coming. Ever since Episode 2 of The Last Airbender, we’ve known that the world is not balanced as the Avatar should be making it, but now that balance is on it’s way back. It’s heady stuff for a children’s show to be dealing with a genocide and the recovery from it, but it works. It helps that the characters are so much fun, and that the new villains, including one that’s voiced by Henry Rollins, are so intriguing. And best of all, Zuko has made an apperance! Old Man Zuko! It’s amazing. I need to watch Episodes 4 and 4 ASAP, but so far, this is still the best ‘serious’ cartoon on the air, and, combined with the original series, one of my favourite fictional worlds.

Also returning is Under The Dome (CBS), which is still as gloriously bonkers and stupid as ever. In the 2 episodes so far this year, so much mad stuff has happened. It’s not exactly a good show, but I do enjoy it, you never know what to expect. I’m not quite sure why they seem to be trying to redeem Big Jim, it doesn’t work for me, but hey, Dean Norris is so awesome you might as well try it. The new characters are odd too, the creepy guy who lives in the woods is, well, creepy, and wooden, the mute magic girl is more bonkers than stupid, and the Science Teacher is just annoying. Although I do like that she’s less of the kooky love interest than first seemed, and could actually be a big villain. And also, Stephen King made a cameo! I think he even wrote the first episode too, which makes sense, as ridiculous as the ‘evil magnetic dome’ was, it somehow managed to seem threatening.

Now, quick hits!

Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC) continued to be absolutely hilarious and inventive. I loved the Lizzy Caplan episode that parodied lazy ‘Top 10 List’ programs, and I think the sketch where Scott Aukerman was hunting for the best burger in America… and his wife’s murderer, was one of the best things I have ever seen. Aukerman is so good at acting like a terrible TV host. The show is on hiatus for a little while now I think, so that’s the perfect time to catch up. Watch it!

The Game Of Thrones (HBO) Season 4 finale also fell within this month, and damn, it was good. The death of Tywin lived up to my expectations, and the brilliant fight between The Hound and Brienne defied them. I do have some worries about the future, particularly as the show has pretty much already caught up with Bran’s storyline, and even some others. GRRM better get Book 6 out soon. But man, it was a brilliant finale, each moment made me both sad that it was over and pumped for next year.

Finally, Halt And Catch Fire (AMC) has continued to be solid, if not as amazing as the pilot promised. I’m still really enjoying most of the performances, but the meat of the story is lacking I think. I suppose it’s mainly got that problem of telling us, rather than showing us, how amazing and genius Cameron, Joe, Gordon and their computers are. Sometimes you just need a little thing like Walter White’s meth being blue to make it seem special. At this point, I’m not sure why I should care about the computer, and what quite makes it different from it’s contemporaries. But as I said, the acting is still great, particularly Lee Pace, who just gets more and more enigmatic. I think the fate of this show rests on the last 3 episodes, if they are good, the whole season will feel good, but if not? Uh-oh.

 

Music

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No new Music this month, I’m basically still listening to Jack White and The Black Keys from last time, and very much enjoying them. I will give a special mention to Arcade Fire. I didn’t watch much Glastonbury coverage, but I did see their set, and thought it was great. This has spurred me into giving Reflektor, which I was kind of disappointed in, another few listens, and I’m liking it a lot more now. It is still too long, but there are lot more good songs on there than I initially thought. A lot more songs that, when they came up at Glastonbury, made me go ‘oooh, I like that one’.

 

Books

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In terms of Books, I finished off the last 50-odd pages of Prince Of Fools (2014) by Mark Lawrence, and it finished the story off very well. The final action scenes were written excellently, and with a satisfying twist. The fact that Snorri’s family had basically been dead the entire time was so dark. I’m not too sure how I feel about the very end, with Jalan and Snorri swapping their angels and devils. It seems like Lawrence is just throwing away a lot of Jalan’s character development, and it also means that, if Book 2 has Jalan being possessed by a demon, we won’t really have ever gotten to see what the ‘real’ Jalan is like, he’s always being manipulated by some outside force. Is he actually a fool? Who the heck knows!

After this, it was more fantasy from another of my favourites, the latest from Joe Abercrombie, Half A King (2014), which, like all of his novels, I liked a lot. I don’t think it’s quite as good as the ‘First Law’ series just yet, but I can’t really pinpoint why. It might be because the violence is toned down slightly, as this book is supposedly ‘YA’, but it was still pretty damn dark. I think it might be because it feels a bit more generic than The First Law, the Viking setting is reminiscent of a lot of other books, and stuff like ‘Elf Metal’ feels very similar to Scott Lynch, and the conflicts between new and old religions is all in Game Of Thrones too. But in the end, that doesn’t matter, because this is a great story. Yarvi is a fantastic character, very much in the spirit of Abercrombie’s other great, flawed protagonists, and the ending in particular surprised me. It was perhaps a bit convenient that ‘Nothing’ turned out to be who he was, but it was a great moment, and I liked how Abercrombie didn’t go where he thought he would with Yarvi. It seemed like we were seeing him grow from a weak child to a true warrior, but it doesn’t quite happen like that. It’s less hero’s journey, and more anti-hero’s journey. I’m very intrigued as to where Abercrombie will go with this series, the ending leaves things very open indeed.

Next month… I’ll be back on my Michael Connelly binge, oh yes.

 

Games

No games this month, not even the odd game of FIFA to simulate the World Cup. I promise I will get back to Red Dead now that the tournament is over. I do, really.

So that’s that, yeah, not much going on except the Football really. Hopefully, The Ides Of August will be a lot more involving, and involve less German victories.

(I don’t actually mind Germany winning, they are great, surprisingly likeable team).

My WWE Money In The Bank 2014 Predictions – The Results

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MITB 2014 was 2 weeks ago now, and I’m only just getting around to doing this! My apologies, but I’ve been really rather busy with work and the World Cup and just life in general.

Because it’s been so long, my memory of this show has faded a little, so there probably won’t be much in the way of detail, this will be more like me just seeing how wrong I was.

And man, I was wrong a lot this time!

But let’s get on with it…

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Tag-Team Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

I thought that the Wyatts would win this, but I was wrong, as The Usos retained after one hell of a great match. I think I’m at the point of this feud where I’m still enjoying these 2 teams constantly fight each other (they had another great one on the 07/07/14 RAW), but it could very well be getting to Del Rio/Ziggler territory where I’m sick of it soon. It looks like there might be another match at Battleground, which I’m cool with, but yeah, The Wyatts should win then.

0/7

Paige (C) Vs Naomi

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

This was a solid match, and it went the way I expected, with Paige retaining. But this whole thing was over-shadowed by the glorious return of AJ on the next night’s RAW. It didn’t go as I expected, because AJ is now a face and we are probably looking at a Paige heel-turn, but it was still a brilliant moment, and a true surprise that she became Divas Champion so quickly once again. I think these last few months of solid but unspectacular matches have been great for Paige, and now we could have some epic stuff, and have the women’s division be about more than who’s on a reality show and who’s not. In terms of Naomi, Cameron didn’t fully turn on her here, but it has happened on RAW now, so that’s another possibly good story, although that one is very much Total Divas.

1/7

Dean Ambrose Vs Dolph Ziggler Vs Jack Swagger Vs Kofi Kingston Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Seth Rollins

Money In The Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Contract

First things first, Bad News Barrett’s injury kept him out of this match, and he’s now out indefinitely and has been stripped of the IC Title. This totally sucks, because BNB was on a roll, but I do think it could be a boost for him, when he returns, he should get a big reaction and then be put into the World title scene, rather than IC/US. Other than that, this was a fantastic match, full of the craziness and danger you expect from a Money In The Bank Match. Kofi, Dolph and Seth Rollins all did some crazy shit for sure. In the end, my prediction was wrong, I thought Ambrose would win, and he almost did, but Kane interfered to help his Authority team-mate Rollins win. But I don’t really mind, as the story we’ve got at the moment, with Ambrose vowing to stop Rollins from ever cashing in is pretty damn great. I would be happy if every RAW for the next year featured Rollins trying to cash in and Ambrose ruin it for him. I would never get tired of it.

1/7

Rybaxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel) Vs Goldust & Stardust

The Rhodes Brothers won as I thought, it was creepy and great, not much else to say. Oh yeah, Curtis Axel was wearing a weird singlet, it looked wrong. I am a bit annoyed by the fact that the last few RAWs and Smackdowns have only had backstage segments with Stardust and not matches, I want to see him in the ring!

2/7

Big E Vs Rusev

I got this wrong, I thought Big E would win, but instead Rusev continued his winning streak. I did enjoy it though, especially when it looked like Big E was going to break out of ‘The Accolade’, that has to happen for real sometime. But much like Paige/Naomi, this has been over-shadowed by events on RAW, where Jack Swagger and Zeb turned face and we are set for a Rusev/Swagger match. I am so excited for that, even though the Real Americans really shouldn’t work as faces. It’ll be a hoss-fight for the ages.

2/7

Summer Rae Vs Layla

Fandango is the Special Guest Referee

This was all kinds of terrible. I don’t even want to remember it. But, I did get Layla winning right, and Fandango in a ref shirt was funny. That’s it.

3/7

Alberto Del Rio Vs Bray Wyatt Vs Cesaro Vs John Cena Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns Vs Sheamus

Ladder Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Yeah, so I thought Bray Wyatt would win, what a sucker I am huh? Of course he didn’t win, it was obviously John Cena. But I don’t really mind, it’s apparent that John is just holding onto the belt until Summerslam, where he’s going to get fucking BROCKED. The future Bray is pretty bright too though, as on RAW, Chris Jericho returned to feud with The Wyatts, which I am very excited for indeed, I think Y2J and Bray could have some great matches. Miz also came back, and is doing a brilliant ‘Hollywood Miz’ gimmick, but it’s not clear where they are going with him, I’d like to see him feud with Sheamus over the US title or something. This was an enjoyable match, but probably not as good as the Briefcase mach, probably because there wasn’t anyone in here who could do flippy high-flying stuff. But there were great moments, like Cesaro and Sheamus hanging from the belts, and Randy Orton doing an insanely awesome RKO off the ladder. Orton also bled like a stuck pig in this match, which was great. These types of matches are pretty much always fun, and this delivered, even if the ending left something to be desired. All we can do is wait for Lesnar.

3/7

Man, 3 out of 7? That fucking sucks. I need to improve with my Battleground predictions for sure, and shit, it’s only in 1 and a half weeks! Too soon! Too soon!

My WWE Money In The Bank 2014 Predictions

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Money In The Bank is live tonight in Boston, and man, it is a very exciting show, mainly because of the Main Event, which is an 8-Man Ladder Match for the Vacant WWE World Heavyweight Title. Throw in the 7-Man Traditional Briefcase Ladder Match, and that leaves us with 15 possible New Champions. As much as I love Daniel Bryan and would have preferred him not to be stripped, this is a far more exciting prospect. MITB Matches are almost always awesome, but the stakes here are so high, it’s unbelievable.

In addition to this, there are several exciting other matches, so I expect this to be a great show, so let’s not waste any time and get down to the predictions!

Big E Vs Rusev

Man, this feud has been one of the most stop/start things I have ever seen. One week it seems like they’ve forgotten about it and moved on, but then the next week it’s back, and Big E is going after Rusev and speaking in a weird preacher voice. This weird pacing has meant it’s fairly hard to care about this match, but I think it could be good. The previous bout between these 2 at Payback was very enjoyable, if way too short, and if they allow a bit more time, we could have something really cool. I think I’ll predict Big E to win, here, just because I think it’s time for Rusev to lose, and develop a new kind of storyline. The reaction to him squaring off against Roman Reigns in that Battle Royale showed that fans want to see him in a competitive environment, so even a long, equal match that he won against Big E would go a long way to achieving that.

Summer Rae Vs Layla

Fandango is the Special Guest Referee

This match has been building for quite a while now, and for some weird reason, I’m actually kind of excited to see it. It all began when Fandango broke up with Summer Rae on Twitter in order to write Summer off TV to go film a movie. Whilst Summer was away, Fandango got together with Layla. Eventually, Summer came back, and of course, she’s jealous. It is kind of difficult to work out who the good guy is supposed to be in this storyline, because both Layla and Summer Rae have acted like awful people. Hopefully the way they wrestle this match will go some way to answering that. I honestly have no idea which way it will go, and, with special guest referees, clean outcomes are never likely. I think I’ll go for a Layla victory, which will allow Summer Rae to move on and start having regular singles matches like she does on NXT.

Rybaxel (Ryback & Curtis Axel) Vs The Gold Brotherhood (Goldust & Stardust)

This is a rematch from Payback, but I am much more excited for it this time, and it’s all because of Cody Rhodes’ reinvention of himself into the amazing ‘Stardust’. Cody’s crisis of confidence dragged on way for way too long, but man, the end result was worth it, every second of Stardust on TV has been brilliant so far, and I can’t wait to see another match, even if it is against Rybaxel again. Nothing against Rybaxel, but it seems like they are the only team the Rhodes’ ever fight. Obviously The Gold Brotherhood are going to win, but it’s going to be brilliant. Stardust is the best thing, and I hope it goes on for a long time.

Paige (C) Vs Naomi

Singles Match for the WWE Divas Championship

Holy crap, a second women’s match on a WWE Pay-Per-View! This is amazing! And this is an actual match, rather than a love triangle bit of fluff. There hasn’t been much of a build to this really, with just some mutual respect between Paige and Naomi, but I think it will be a very good match, as these are 2 of the best women in the WWE. The real story here seems to involve a break-up between Naomi and her fellow Funkadactyl, Cameron, which has been pretty painfully sketched out on commentary. The obvious outcome here is that Naomi almost beats Paige, and then is screwed by Cameron, leading to a feud. It might be obvious, but I’ll still predict it! Paige to win thanks to Cameron.

Bad News Barrett Vs Dean Ambrose Vs Dolph Ziggler Vs Jack Swagger Vs Kofi Kingston Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Seth Rollins

Money In The Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Contract

The traditional MITB match is here, and it features all of your favourite midcard shlubs, along with 2 former Shield guys. Realistically, I really only think that either Ambrose or Rollins will win, they have an actual, gripping storyline going into the match, and they are the only guys who at this point, fit the bill as Champion. I could maybe see Ziggler or Barrett, as they have also been feuding, but it’s unlikely, and we still don’t even know if Barrett will be in the match at all. I hope he is, but that injury on Smackdown looked pretty rough. All in all, I’m just hoping for the kind of glorious carnage we get in MITB matches. I want Kofi to do something crazy and for RVD to jump off a ladder. When it comes to picking a winner, I’ll go for Ambrose, just because Rollins seems too obvious, but really, it could be either of them.

The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) Vs The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Tag-Team Match for the WWE Tag-Team Championships

Finally! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this match for years! The Usos got involved in Daniel Bryan’s feud with The Wyatts. Then they got involved in John Cena’s feud with The Wyatts, and all the while, those Tag Belts have been there, tantalisingly close, yet we haven’t had a proper title match between The Usos and Rowan & Harper. All of the brief glimpses and non-title Matches we’ve seen between these 2 teams have been great, and, if this match is given enough time, I think it could be really, really great. I think The Wyatts will win, but I could see it going the other way, too, as  the Wyatts don’t really need titles that much.

Alberto Del Rio Vs Bray Wyatt Vs Cesaro Vs John Cena Vs Kane Vs Randy Orton Vs Roman Reigns Vs Sheamus

Ladder Match for the vacant WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Here’s the big one. Daniel Bryan was stripped of the WWE WHC, so now we have a big Ladder Match with 8 of the biggest names in WWE right now, and man, I am excited. I don’t even really care who wins. I would much prefer it to be one of the 3 competitors who have not been a World Champion before in Cesaro, Bray Wyatt or Roman Reigns, but I wouldn’t be too fussed if someone else won after hard-fought match. I think a lot of this comes down to the fitness levels of Daniel Bryan. If it is dead-set that Brock Lesnar is challenging the Champion at Summerslam, then it basically all comes down to whether or not Bryan is fit enough to face him. If he is then, I think a heel will win, then lose it to Bryan at Battleground, before the Lesnar match. If Bryan can’t make Summerslam, then I think they will have John Cena win, and then we can have Cena/Lesnar II, which would be, to my mind, just as good as Bryan/Lesnar. I’m an eternal optimist, so I think Bryan will be back soon, so I’m going to go for a Bray Wyatt win. But as I said, it could be anyone, well, except Del Rio, he has no chance.

So there you have it, my predictions. I’ll be back sometime next week to revisit these, to see just how wrong I was as we enter the new Del Rio era.

See you then!

My TNA Slammiversary XII Predictions – The Results

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So yeah, TNA’s 12th Anniversary show was last Sunday, I made some predictions for it, and now it’s time to see how accurate they were.

Apologies for this being rather late, but I wanted to watch this week’s episode of Impact to see what direction the various storylines would go, and wow, big stuff happened.

Overall, I thought Slammiversary was a great show, TNA always ups their game for PPV, and the storyline bull-shit goes to the way-side, and we just get good wrestlers doing good wrestling.

And then we’re back down to Earth with Impact…

But anyway! It was a good show, so let’s get on with it.

Sanada (C) Vs Manik Vs Tigre Uno Vs Crazzy Steve Vs Eddie Edwards Vs Davey Richards

Six-Man Ladder Match for the TNA X Division Championship

This match was a great way to kick off the evening’s proceedings, because it was a balls-to-the-wall spot-fest full of amazing moments and crazy feats. It truly deserved it’s ‘This Is Awesome’ chants, and it had me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. Every single guy in there looked great, even Crazzy Steve. I’m a bit ‘meh’ on The Menagerie, but he was great here, and the crowd really got behind him in a great way. I also liked the moments when The Wolves had to fight each other, and both Luchadors flipped around enjoyably. I think the best moment was when Sanada flipped Davey Richards off one Ladder and onto the other, with Richards’ head in-between 2 rungs, that was brutal. I had thought that this match was going to lead to a feud between the 2 Wolves, but instead, Sanada retained his title, which is cool with me, he’s great. I would like there to be more of a story behind his matches, but him coming up trumps here is a cool move. With Destination X coming up, being X Division Champ is even more important than usual, but are they really going to have Sanada challenge for the World Title? Hmm. Anyways, this was a brilliant match, and you should all watch it to get yourself pumped for Money In The Bank. The 2 Ladder Matches there have a lot to live up to.

0/9

Samoa Joe Vs Bobby Lashley

Winner Advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

I said Lashley would win to get to the Main Event, and he did. This was a pretty fun match, definitely the best I’ve seen from Bobby Lashley since he came back to TNA, and Joe did seem fired up for once. It wasn’t anything amazing, but it was fun. I particularly liked the ending, which saw Lashley win after Joe checked his momentum to avoid smashing into the referee. It wasn’t outright cheating from Lashley, but it wasn’t a clean victory, and it did show that Samoa Joe is actually a good guy. In TNA, all the heels and faces often seem to be the exact shade of grey, but in this match, heroism prevailed. Or rather, it lost.

1/9

Willow Vs Magnus

This was an OK match, but I can’t remember much about it a week later. I said Magnus would win, and he did, and it was surprising how clean it was. Yes, Bram and Abyss did get involved, but that involvement was away from the ring, with Bram basically drawing Abyss away so that Magnus could beat Willow 1, 2, 3. The future for these characters is interesting to me. Magnus and Bram challenged for the Tag Belts on Impact, but they lost deliberately via DQ. It also looks like Willow is going back to being Jeff Hardy and re-teaming with his Iconic brother, which kind of makes no sense.

2/9

Austin Aries Vs Kenny King

Winner Advances to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match

I predicted the other qualifying match correctly as well, with Austin Aries advancing to the Cage Match. I really liked this, Aries is obviously great, but I’ve really become a fan of Kenny King lately. I enjoyed his cocky heel schtick in the X Division in early 2013, and he’s really taken that up a notch as a member of MVP’s still-unnamed stable. I think the next step should be a Triple-Threat between these 2 and Sanada for the X Division Title so that one of King and Aries can be the Champ at Destination X. I don’t really know why I’m bothering to fantasy-book when TNA have already filmed a load of stuff and I can easily read spoilers. But hey.

3/9

Von Erich 3G (Marshall Von Erich and Ross Von Erich) Vs The Bro-Mans (Jessie Godderz and DJ Z)

For some reason Robbie E wasn’t at this show (probably recovering from his coulrophobia attack), so The Bro-Mans were represented by Jessie and DJ Z, but it didn’t make much difference. The Von Erichs won as predicted, and it was a lot of fun. As I said, I’ve never really seen any of the original Von Erichs, but I still got into this match, mainly because of the Texas crowd, who presumably have seen the Von Erichs, going absolutely crazy for them, and in particular when Kevin applied the famous Claw. I thought the two young guys were OK, a little raw, but they certainly have potential (although wrestling barefoot looks weird) and I’d like to see them again in TNA. I was hoping they’d be full-time, but it looks like they aren’t, it’s a shame, especially as it did kind of rob The Bro-Mans of that last shred of credibility they have.

4/9

Angelina Love (C) Vs Gail Kim

Singles Match for the TNA Women’s Knockout Championship

I was a bit disappointed by this match, as normally TNA PPV bouts avoid the kind of bull-shit shenanigans you get on TV, but this actually had more than usual, as they went full-bore with the ‘Brian Stifler is a corrupt referee’ storyline, and had him basically screw Gail Kim out of the victory because he’s attracted to the Beautiful People (and his chief crush isn’t even on the Champion!). It was dumb, but at least it meant my prediction was right. The Knockouts division did get a fillip on Impact, as Taryn Terrell returned after giving birth. I was really impressed with Terrell’s feud with Kim from last year, and thought she was getting to be very good, so let’s hope she hasn’t lost anything after being out for so long. It certainly adds something new, because lately, the women’s matches have just been 5 people rotating in and out.

5/9

Bully Ray Vs Ethan Carter III

Texas Death Match

I was disappointed to discover that a ‘Texas Death Match’ is just a Last Man Standing Match, but other than that, I enjoyed it, especially because EC3 won, I normally try and resist the online impulse to root for the heels, but he’s just so great. I thought this match made sense, with Bully obviously being more at home in a hardcore match, but with EC3 managing to win thanks to some help from Dixie and the glorious Rockstar Spud. To be honest though, I spent most of this match waiting for Devon to interfere somehow. Earlier in the night, Team 3D were (deservedly) inducted into the Hall Of Fame, and whilst they did say that Devon had gone back to his hotel, I was sure he was going to get involved, either to help Bully or… turn on him. This week’s Impact saw the return of another ECW alumni, as Tommy Dreamer showed up doing some wonky worked-shoot stuff with Dixie. I thought his promo was OK, but the best bit by far was when Team Dixie beat him up. I have no idea if Dreamer can still wrestle these days, but I would like to see him go up against EC3, who is of course the Hardcore American Icon.

6/9

Mr Anderson Vs James Storm

Ugh, this match. The build-up was nonsense, and the actual fight was even worse, and basically focused, not on the Wrestlers, but on the random Dallas Cowboys NFL players in the crowd, who were taunted by Storm and then got involved to help Anderson win. It was terrible, it was TNA at it’s worst for me, and both guys (well, more Storm than Anderson, but he’s OK) deserve better. And to top it off, my prediction was wrong!

6/9

Eric Young (C) Vs Bobby Lashley Vs Austin Aries

Three-Way Steel Cage Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

Despite being rather tired after 3 hours of watching Wrestling (and 3 hours of watching the World Cup), I still very much enjoyed the main event. I said earlier that the Samoa Joe match was the best I’ve seen from Lashley, but he may have been better here, and both EY and Aries were good too. I just mostly appreciated how clean this match was, there was no interference, just 3 guys going for it whole-heartedly in the Cage, and with Eric coming out the victor. Which is why it’s such a shame they went right back to bull-shit on Impact, with MVP really going all-out with his abuse of power and leading to Lashley beating Young to become the new Champion. You’ve already established that the nebulous ‘Board Of Directors’ have the ability to keep MVP in check, so why stop there? Especially when clean finishes with little to no nonsense led to a PPV that was much better-received than any recent Impacts? I suppose it was novel to see a Heel Authority figure not pussy-foot around, but still. The reason people hate on TNA is because there’s so much nonsense on the TV show that gives them no reason to pay for the PPVs. On Sunday, I had my optimism back for TNA, and then by Thursday it was almost gone. Although… Bobby Roode is back! Sometimes, you take what you can get.

7/9

Hey, 7 out of 9, that’s not too bad.

Thankfully, this show was mostly devoid of non-wrestling segments, there was a solid MVP & Co promo, and then the announcement that Team 3D were in the Hall Of Fame.

Whilst it is a bit strange that a man currently feuding with the Company’s owner is being honoured like this, it was still a great moment, and richly deserved I think. I never saw Team 3D in TNA, but I loved The Dudley Boyz when I was a kid, and they probably are the best Tag-Team of all time. Say what you want about TNA, but at least everybody in their Hall Of Fame deserves it!

So yeah, this was a good show, I recommend watching it, especially the Main Event and the X Division Ladder Match. It’s just a shame that the stuff that’s good on here doesn’t translate to the weekly TV shows.

I’ll be back to talk about TNA in October or so with Bound For Glory I suppose, but before then, there will be a Money In The Bank predictions article sometime next week.