WWE WrestleMania XXX Update

March 12, 2014

It would appear that I spoke too soon. In theory, WWE has saved WrestleMania XXX. I use the phrase ‘in theory’ because buy rates will be largely irrelevant in the new age of the WWE Network live streaming the events, so a poorly received event won’t be as evident when a lot of people won’t be asking themselves if it’s worth $70 this year. I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect this. I was 99.5% sure that WWE would stick to Orton/Batista and just position that match conveniently after Bryan/HHH or Undertaker/Lesnar, with the other one being used at the actual main event.

Several things could still happen at WrestleMania. WWE is beyond capable when it comes to completely screwing something up (Brock Lesnar’s 2012 return, Big Show’s entire career, the Invasion angle, AJ Lee’s rise in 2012, ECW’s relaunch, etc.). Daniel Bryan almost definitely is going to get the win over Triple H. Of course, he could still be ‘screwed’ out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That’s my one fear at this point. Batista was brought back for a reason (To win the title and display it during his promotion of the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy movie). He was also brought back at great expense as well. Vince is going to want the return on that investment.

I’m pretty certain that Bryan wins out and has his WrestleMania moment, though, but I was also pretty certain that he wasn’t going to even be in the match.

Aside from the ‘Big 4’ matches that are official, how is the rest of the card coming along? The answer is that I don’t know. The inclusion of a largely meaningless 30-man battle royal seems to indicate that there won’t be a whole lot of time invested into much else. I realize that the battle royal is symbolic and the winner will receive the Andre trophy, but how about offering a legitimate reward? A mid-card title shot or maybe the final two get a tag team title shot following the match. Regardless, this is going to make sure everyone on the roster gets on the show, which makes me wonder how WWE will handle PPV payouts in the era of the Network and decreasing PPV revenue.

I’m in the dark about the direction WWE is going with the Shield. Since Bryan is going to make the main event a Triple Threat, a Shield implosion/Triple Threat seems unlikely. It’s never a good idea to have two of the same kinds of gimmick matches on the same card. Maybe that’s why the Shield is seemingly together again since those plans changed. What will they end up doing? I have no clue.

The only other real feud that seems to be building for WrestleMania is Cesaro and Jack Swagger. Again, I could see a Triple Threat with those two against Big E for the Intercontinental Championship, but as I said previously, the Triple Threat gimmick would be overkill if used in more than 1 match.

I would assume that leaves room for a Women’s Championship match. I’m still leaning toward AJ against Tamina (Sort of like HBK vs. Diesel/Kevin Nash back in 1994-5), but WWE has yet to tease any tension between the two and the clock is ticking. Maybe the Usos and Outlaws will have their blow-off match at WrestleMania at this rate as well. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

One final thing, do you think Undertaker regrets the decision to shave his head? I’m not a fan of the shaved head. Or wrestler’s who don’t wear boots or shoes, but that’s a topic for another day.

That’s how it’s shaping up. I’m cautiously optimistic at this stage.

WWE WrestleMania XXX Thoughts

March 6, 2014

Photo Credit: WWE

WrestleMania XXX is just around the corner. Theoretically, the 30th WrestleMania should be the biggest one ever. Not so much in terms of attendance (The Super Dome can’t hold over 93,000) and not in terms of Pay-Per-View buy rates (Due to the WWE Network, PPV buy rates won’t touch the ~1 million they’ve been averaging for the last decade). Rather, it should be the biggest WrestleMania in history simply due to the milestone. The 30th WrestleMania should be ridiculously loaded from start to finish. A new era should be ready to begin. Hulk Hogan dominated from WrestleMania I through WrestleMania IX. The New Generation/Attitude Era went from roughly WrestleMania X until WrestleMania XVII. The Invasion/Brock Lesnar Era lasted From WrestleMania XVIII to XX. The John Cena Era has endured since WrestleMania XXI.

By most accounts, the pieces are (were) there for the change to happen. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, AJ Lee, Paige, and other NXT talents should be the present and the future. Those names are just off the top of my head. Heading into WrestleMania XXX, I am slowly starting to realize that the actual event, as grand in scale as it may be, is going to be awful.

I am going to explore some of the main event-level matches and explain how I would do things differently and how the audience will likely respond to WWE’s version- starting with the WWE Championship.

1.  WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Dave Batista

This is the main event of the biggest (In terms of milestones) WrestleMania, ever. The first WrestleMania with the newly recognized WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE gives the audience THIS pile of BS. Before I get to the Batista debacle (and that is putting it nicely), let me discuss Randy Orton’s storylines and booking heading into the event. Last summer, Orton was booked to continue getting screwy wins over Daniel Bryan. In the short-term, people were furious. In the long-term, what kind of payoff would it be if Bryan triumphantly overcame it all when it mattered? Am I right? It would be tremendous.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movie Critics Are Mostly Idiots – And They Know It

August 4, 2013

I recently had the misfortune of watching Human Centipede 2. It was recommended to me in Amazon Prime Video under the Horror genre. Let’s be clear: It isn’t horror. There’s nothing scary about Human Centipede 2. I’ve seen movies that scared me enough to affect my sleep for several days at a time. Scary movies stick with you – regardless of how legitimately realistic they may be. I’ll say it again: Human Centipede 2 is not a horror movie.

Human Centipede 2 is what I refer to as the new torture porn movies. The formula is pretty simple:

  • Lots of pointless nudity
  • As much vomiting as possible
  • Human beings being graphically tortured to death
  • Villains who don’t get their comeuppance
  • Arrogant, socially awkward director

That’s why I call it torture porn. It’s basically naked people being brutally murdered and butchered by a villain who never really gets what is coming to him/her. There are no heroes. There is no satisfaction. It’s just a depressing, pointless shit show. 

So, I decided to head to Rotten Tomatoes to see if 100% of people agreed with me that this was utter garbage. I was relieved to see that this movie is rated a very generous 30%. I KNEW – I just knew – that there were going to be some critics who tried to put lipstick on this pig and I wasn’t let down.

Read the rest of this entry »

WrestleMania 29 Follow-Up

August 4, 2013

In a previous entry, I heavily criticized WWE for having so many promo/recap videos during the live PPV. I said that it not only wasted a lot of time and caused a match to get bumped from the card, it was also irrelevant to an audience that already ordered the event.

Today, PWTorch posted their daily Q&A where someone asked a question that may have read my article considering how strikingly similar his complaints were to mine. To make a long question short, he asked: Why were there so many recap videos during the PPV?

The answer by James Caldwell was as follows:

There are a few main reasons why WWE incorporates a heavy dose of video packages into their PPVs, especially for the main events.

In no particular order of importance, one main reason is that it creates a natural buffer for the live audience to hit the concessions/restroom or just come down from the previous match, while also allowing the home viewer to go the kitchen/restroom in-between matches when a commercial break would normally fill that time.

Another main reason is that WWE operates with the mindset that people watch PPVs in groups and not everyone watching is up-to-speed on the main storylines. There might be a group of 2-10 people watching at home and only half of that audience might know what’s happening with a big match, so WWE wants to make sure everyone watching at home is caught up by the time the match starts.

Another main reason is that it creates a greater sense of importance to a main event match. It’s a cue to the home viewer/live attendee that “this next match is a big deal” if the match gets an intro video package.

Overall, it might not be the most ideal viewing situation if you follow the product closely or have seen a similar video package 5-10 times by the time the match happens, but WWE is trying to connect with as broad of an audience as possible while creating natural come-down moments in-between big matches.

That’s one way to look at it that I hadn’t really thought about. However, it seems kind of like a bunch of BS. A natural bathroom break/concessions time for the crowd or a come-down time following a match? Isn’t that why a few matches have certain placement on the card? The 8-Man tag? Ryback vs. Henry? Those are positioned to be the come-down matches. That’s the time when people at home go get food in the kitchen (or pause the DVR in most cases) or people at the event go to the bathroom.

As far as trying to catch up people who may be watching in a group that don’t follow the product – why would WWE care? Wouldn’t their friends catch them up? Furthermore, most of these matches barely have much of a back story as is. Rock came back and cost Cena the title at WM27. They cut some promos on each other leading up to WM28, which Rock won. Rock beat CM Punk for the belt and exchanged promos with Cena. Now they’re fighting again. The end.

Want to give Rock vs. Cena the big match feel? How about some backstage promos and shots of them warming up? Then some big-time entrances. That’s worked out pretty well for, oh, the last 28 years.

My complaint still seems valid to me. This isn’t RAW. It’s a PPV that we paid $70 for at home and up to $1000 for live. That many promo videos was absolutely absurd. It seemed like it was absolutely non-stop with filler. Inexcusable.

*Note: I tried to direct link to PWTorch’s article, but for some reason, the link isn’t valid. That’s pretty funny because they use their garbage iPhone App to force you to visit their website for most of the links – presumably for ad revenue. Actually, now that I think about it, they are the kind of website that would defend heavy advertising since their site is miserable to browse due to all the pop-ups.

Why Adjusted Box Office Grosses Are Mostly Meaningless

August 2, 2013

You hear it all the time: “Movie X did $400 million in the U.S. Box Office, but adjusted for inflation, it’s not even in the Top 100 movies of all time!”

This is a tactic commonly used by people who cling to their generation’s films as being the best and this statistic justifies it in their mind. They have a point, to an extent, as a lot of movies nowadays do bomb, but there are an unbelievable amount of movies hitting theaters nowadays – more on that later.

Let’s start with the obvious. Inflation adjustment is good for measuring the proportion of tickets sold. Older movies sold more tickets to a population less than what we have now. Now I’m going to tell you why it’s not a relevant statistic.

When I was younger (2002), I could buy two student tickets to a movie, popcorn, and drinks for about $20. Now, in 2013, it is $10-11 PER TICKET (Up to $15-17 for IMAX/3D/IMAX 3D). For two people to go to a movie in 3D and get drinks and snacks, you’re looking at between $35-50. That is a huge difference compared to only 10 years ago. Going to the movies is EXPENSIVE. In 1960, tickets were roughly $1 each. Nowadays, combining non-3D and 3D movie showings, the average ticket is probably around $11 (Especially if you use Fandango and pay fees). Since 1960, the average household income has increased 8X. The price of a movie ticket has increased roughly 11X.

Bottom line: The price of a ticket in 2013 is a higher proportion of people’s income than it was in 1960 – not including the rising cost of theater drinks and food.

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Can you imagine ANY movie putting up $1 billion at the U.S. Box Office?
Source: Box Office Mojo

The other HUGE factor is simply the volume of movies. When Lion King, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and others released, they had top billing in the theater for at least a month. Nowadays, a $150+ million blockbuster releases every 6-7 days and sometimes 2 or 3 at a time. A month after release and there are 10-12 major movies pushing the films out of theaters. I would estimate the competition in theaters to be 10 times what it was 20-30 years ago.

Another factor that is ignored is that many of these older movies have been re-released multiple times in theaters and have pushed up their totals to misleading heights.

Lots of other things have affected recent movie totals that are worth mentioning:

  • Illegal streaming/downloading
  • Faster turn-around between theater and DVD/Blu-Ray release
  • Increase in media consumption mediums (Netflix, Red Box, On Demand PPV, Amazon Prime Video, Playstation Network, XBox Live, iTunes, etc.)
  • Increased exposure to critics and media hype (By this, I mean people that get off to movies bombing – see recent headlines)

What’s the point of this post? To show people that adjusted domestic totals are fun to look at, but ultimately meaningless. Avatar, Titanic, and The Avengers are this generation’s Star Wars or Gone With the Wind. Their performance is equally impressive, if not better than the older movies. I mean, due to the insane competition in theaters alone, any movie that goes over $400-500 million nowadays is absolutely amazing. I’m not saying older movies are bad, either. I’m saying that box office grosses from 1930, 1960, and 2010 are not an apples-to-apples comparison and shouldn’t be treated as such (but they are).

Apple iPhone Wireless Internet

August 2, 2013

I like my iPhone. As I mentioned previously, I’ve had all the major releases: The original iPhone, 3G, 4, and now the 5. In every single one of those phones, there is something that has universally driven me insane: The length of time it takes for the phone to shut the WiFi receiver off when it determines that the signal is no longer usable.

Image

No, really iPhone, it’s a lost cause.

Now, unless you have a dog and spend a lot of time taking it on walks, you may not even notice it. Basically, when you walk outside your home, your signal indicator will usually drop to 2 bars. Depending on where your router is, the wireless will still work if you’re just right around the house. Once you get about 30 yards away, the signal will drop to 1-2 bars and it will no longer work. If you attempt to access anything, it will just endlessly load or say there’s no network connection.

Here is where the problem starts. It won’t switch to cellular for what seems like an eternity (OK, like 1-2 minutes, but it feels like an eternity). It just sits there with 1 signal bar and won’t switch off. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why doesn’t this dumb ass just toggle the WiFi off?” I’ll tell you why: I’m lazy. I need to hit the home button to exit what I’m in. Then I have to scroll to the Settings app. Then select WiFi. Then toggle it off. Then exit back out and go back to what I was doing. It takes 10 seconds, but it’s annoying. Then I have to remember to turn it back on later, or else feel the wrath of AT&T’s data throttling on my ‘unlimited‘ plan.

So, yes. I could toggle it off kind of easily, but why should I have to? Excuse my ignorance of how the cellular and wireless radios work together, but I have an idea for how to make it better. I assume 3 bars of signal is equal to 67-100% signal strength. Two bars equal 34-66%. One bar is <34%. From my experience, 2 bars is hit or miss depending on how close I am to the router – obviously. Why not have the WiFi radio switch off after 5 seconds below 50% and instantly if it’s under 34%? Does that sound outrageous? There’s no reason for me to sit at one bar of signal strength for 60-120 seconds while it tries to stay connected.

Is there a hardware issue that prevents rapid switching of the radios? Power savings, maybe? The battery already blows, so if there was an option to enable such a feature, I’d be fine with that.

That’s all, really. Just an annoying feature that has been pissing me off for years.

Edit to add: I just realized that I have had instances where I had 1 signal bar and the WiFi worked. Mostly in hotels or someone’s house. Therefore, my idea about being able to toggle rapid switching on and off would be the best option as it would make people’s lives miserable if it was always on, in some cases.

WrestleMania 29 Thoughts/Review

April 8, 2013
Photo Courtesy of WWE

Photo Property of WWE

$69.95. That was the cost of WrestleMania XXIX’s HD broadcast through DirecTV. Remember when PPV events were $29.99? This is why I only order 1 event per year, 2 if SummerSlam is a strong card (Unless someone wants to pay me to review them!). Of course, older WrestleMania events didn’t have multi-million dollar stages and massive fireworks displays, either. The spectacle that is WrestleMania nowadays seems far removed from the product that’s presented the other 51 weeks of the year. I attended WrestleMania XXVII at the Georgia Dome, which has the distinction of having possibly the worst main event in history and the worst crowd. Anyways… let me move on to my review of the show along with my commentary about the state of the product.

PRE-SHOW

I’ll start with the pre-show. I watched it on the WWE App on my phone. I was going to watch it on YouTube via the PS3, but I couldn’t find it. I didn’t have any buffering or streaming issues. My one complaint is that when you stream a show on a phone and they want you to text, tweet, or tout, you have to shut the feed down and do that. That’s annoying. I did really enjoy the way the pre-show was presented, though. It was an NFL-style panel discussing the card. It was well done and really made the event seem that much more important. Dusty Rhodes is so good at selling matches and it’s always a plus to hear Jim Ross.

Match #1: Wade Barrett (Champion) vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship.

This was a short match. One thing I noticed is that Barrett has been given so little build-up in the ring on RAW (I only watch RAW, then read Smackdown spoilers) that I didn’t know that he was hitting his finisher on Miz. Miz picks up the win and the IC title with his second attempt at submitting Barrett with the Figure-Four. It was a pretty decent match. It probably got less time than it would have on RAW.

I guess this is fine. WWE seems to have little regard for these mid-card titles, which is too bad. Winning the US or IC title seems to make you a prime candidate to job to the main event guys week in and week out. This is well documented by the IWC, which is a minority. The overall money-paying audience doesn’t seem to care, so the trend will continue. If it were up to me, I would unify the titles (maybe at WrestleMania XXX?) and do away with the US title.

Final Pre-Show thoughts: It was well executed. In the future, I’d like to see it on my TV. I just paid $70 for the event; I don’t want to watch the pre-show on my computer or phone. I understand that they want people to use their social media services, but come on – put this on TV. Hell, it might even sell a few more PPVs if someone is flipping through the channels and sees the arena and presentation.  I can’t express how much I liked the NFL-style panel set-up and I hope they use that from here on out – maybe even on every PPV or at least the big 4.

WRESTLEMANIA XXIX

There was an opening video from Chris Christie (who never lets a good tragedy go to waste) about Hurricane Sandy and WrestleMania. Top notch video editing by WWE, like always. In between, there were some National Guard folks waving flags that weren’t even close to being in sync. The show then opened right into Sheamus making his entrance after the opening WrestleMania video. No National Anthem/America the Beautiful? No massive fireworks introduction? No fighter jets doing a fly-over? I was surprised by this.

Match #2: Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show vs. The Shield.

This was a good pick to open the show. The Shield seemed more over with the crowd than the babyfaces. Or at least it came across that way on TV. I was surprised that Big Show was the guy who got stuck in the ring with a prolonged beat down during the match. Once the match broke down, Big Show hit a triple spear on The Shield as they had Sheamus up for the triple power bomb. That was a pretty awesome spot. In the end, Orton tagged himself in when Big Show was reaching for a hot tag from Sheamus. Orton caught Rollins off the top rope for a nice RKO, but then ate a spear from Reigns and Ambrose picked up the win as Show watched from the ring apron all pissed off. Big Show ended up knocking out Sheamus and Orton after the match. I’m really surprised Big Show ended up staying a heel. I thought that was just too obvious and that Orton might turn heel. Especially when Orton hot tagged himself.

Regardless, this was a good opener. The Shield needs to start evolving, though. They’ve beaten the absolute best that the WWE has to offer (Cena, Ryback, Sheamus, Orton, and Big Show) and there really isn’t much more that they can do in 6-man tag matches.

Off topic, I really thought that Ambrose and Rollins should have been the ones challenging Team Hell No for the titles and winning, which would have led to Kane and Bryan breaking up post-match. Reigns should have been one-on-one against Sheamus. Ziggler should have been on the card cashing in the MITB. Ok, back to the show.

Match #3: Ryback vs. Mark Henry.

This was a typical big man match – which is funny because Ryback isn’t an especially ‘big man’ at 281 lbs (by WWE standards). After a slow, plodding match, Ryback lifted Henry for the Shellshock (Don’t lie – you thought ‘Holy Shit’ when he picked him up). Henry used the ropes and kind of fell on Ryback. I guess – it looked sloppy on TV. Even more shocking that it was good for the pin. I was blown away by this result. Ryback hit the Shellshock post-match on Henry for his big moment, but it’s another big loss for Ryback.

Since his undefeated streak ended against Punk last year, I’m pretty sure Ryback has lost every single PPV match since then. Maybe the people making decisions think the character just has a low ceiling and know what they’re doing. I’m inclined to agree. Then again, Goldberg wasn’t much different than this character. Both had almost no mic skills and depended solely on power moves. Goldberg’s momentum died with his streak and so did Ryback’s. Remember that pop that Ryback got when he finally got his hands on CM Punk in 2012? I think WWE dropped the ball and lost out on a lot of mileage with Ryback.

Match #4: Team Hell No (Champions) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston for the Tag Team Championship.

I thought this was a great match. I really thought Ziggler and Langston would get the belts here. There was a great spot at the beginning where they teased an 18-second loss like what happened to Bryan last year. I don’t have much else to say about this match. I was kind of expecting Kane and Bryan to break up, but that didn’t happen. Then I thought that maybe Langston would attack them post-match and Ziggler would use his briefcase to cash in for an immediate rematch and win the belts that way. None of that happened.

Match#5: Chris Jericho vs. Fandango.

Jericho had the first really awesome entrance of the night. This was a solid match, but when’s the last time Jericho had a bad match? I’m surprised someone kicked out of Fandango’s finisher in his first match (More on that later). I couldn’t tell if the ending was botched or not, so props to Jericho for not making it obvious if it was. I actually thought Jericho might get the win here since the other relative n00bs (Langston, Ryback, Barrett) all lost. I was a little underwhelmed by the match overall, but it was solid and enjoyable.

Match#6: Alberto Del Rio (Champion) vs. Jack Swagger for the World Heavyweight Championship.

This is where I first had a hint that there might be a time problem. When WWE returned from the promo video, Swagger was already in the ring. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a WrestleMania where a wrestler entrance was not televised (and I’ve seen them all). I was already pissed off for having to listen to Diddy (more on that later, too). Then the challenger for the WHC gets the jobber treatment?

This was another solid match. Notice I’m saying these were solid matches. There was nothing really great to me at this point. Del Rio picked up the win by submitting Swagger with the arm bar. At this point, I was 100% sure that Swagger would give Del Rio a beat down and Ziggler would cash in. In the end, nothing.

Match #7: CM Punk vs. Undertaker.

This was the best match on the card for me. Even still, I thought it was underwhelming. I enjoyed Living Colour playing CM Punk to the ring. Undertaker’s entrance was pretty awesome as well. That said, these guys still delivered a strong match. It didn’t have the drama that HBK and Triple H had over the last 4 years, but it wasn’t fair to expect that. I expected Punk to focus on trying to get Undertaker counted out or DQ’d, but that was relatively minor as well. Some other spots I liked included CM Punk hitting Old School on Undertaker and Undertaker sitting up while in the Anaconda Vice. That’s what makes these guys main event stars. Psychology, facial expressions, and telling a story in the ring are grossly underrated. I’ll take that kind of match over a ‘5-star’ wrestling match any day of the week. And Paul Heyman? Brilliant.

On a side note, can we please go back to using old fashioned tables or at least make sure the announcer’s table is gimmicked properly so that it actually breaks? After watching Shawn Michaels almost kill himself against Ric Flair and now CM Punk somehow not breaking his leg last night, they have got to stop using those tables.

Undertaker had to win this match for Paul Bearer. I’m not upset about the result, but I never once thought the Streak was in danger. There was never that moment where I thought to myself, “Wow, Punk might pull this off.” For those who say they never have those thoughts, bullshit. When Triple H hit Pedigree #3, then 10 chair shots, then hit a Tombstone at WM27, there was no chill up your spine? Or at WM28 when HBK hit Taker with Sweet Chin Music right into a Pedigree, you didn’t gasp and think that was it? No matter how obvious the result, they always created doubt during the match. I never thought Punk was going to pull it off at any point in this match and, in that aspect, they failed. Like I’ll mention later, WrestleMania 28’s Hell in a Cell will never be topped.

Match #8: Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar.

This match was No Holds Barred. Why wasn’t HBK just in the ring with Triple H and the two of them could have just beat Lesnar down? We can assume it was a pride thing, like Triple H wanted to do it himself, but it wasn’t ever made vocal. Anyways, I had bloated expectations for this as well. As a fan back when wrestlers bled a lot, I expected this to be a bloodbath. Yes, I know Lesnar smacking his head on the post wasn’t an intentional blade job, but did the blood not make that exchange on RAW seem awesome? If you want to sell brutality, you almost need to have some blood. The exception was last year at WrestleMania when the Undertaker and Triple H devastated each other with chairs.

Regardless, Lesnar came off as a monster for most of the match. Screaming and bleeding from his mouth – I don’t care if the man is 1-2 since his return, he’s a monster. He was absolutely ripped aside from maybe the skinniest legs in the world. It was a brutal match and I enjoyed it more than the SummerSlam match. It was just really physical and stiff. If there are any doubts, watch the elbow that HBK took in the nose from Lesnar. Again, Triple H had to win. He’d been completely humiliated and dominated twice. HBK had been beaten down. His wife was repeatedly insulted. To have the heel beat him and retire him would be kind of sadistic. Once again – Paul Heyman was brilliant in his role.

Just on a side note here, I personally think that Triple H and Undertaker should have retired at WrestleMania 28. It was billed as ‘End of an Era’. Undertaker should have said he was finished and was ready to Rest in Peace or whatever – they could have come up with something. Triple H should have put his career on the line for one more shot. The show should have ended with 3 of the greatest wrestlers in the last 2 decades embracing on stage. Think about it. Neither Triple H nor Undertaker will ever have a moment or a match like that again.

Match #9: The Rock (Champion) vs. John Cena.

This one was tough. I’m going to try to articulate my opinion on this. I’ll start by saying Cena had to win. That’s just business. The Rock only won the belt to put Cena over and to draw attention to the WWE. The Rock is not a full-time wrestler. He’s a movie star and he’s worth God knows how much. No matter how much the IWC hates John Cena, this had to happen. Let me also say that John Cena is a fine wrestler. He’s had matches with HBK, CM Punk, Lesnar, and others and they’ve been outstanding. Sure, you can say so-and-so carried him, but it takes two. That being said, John Cena and The Rock do not have good chemistry in the ring. It’s a simple as that.

Back to this match, didn’t the entrances seem rushed? Nothing special happened. Nothing elaborate happened. This was despite the fact that there were over 50 minutes left in the show. This match, above all, needed some glitz to save what would likely be a mediocre match.

The Rock of 2013 is also very out of place. It’s not his fault. The Rock is a product of the Attitude Era. The matches were more or less just brawls, fighting through the crowd, run-ins, and other chaos. Promos were laced with profanity and sexual innuendo. The Rock was cocky and arrogant and would go do commentary while his opponent was down. The audience was different. 2013 Rock is relying solely on one-on-one in-ring wrestling, which was never his strong point. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. The Rock sells. Sure, most of the fans don’t even know who the Rock is outside of movies and that he used to wrestle. It doesn’t matter because he draws money.

Back to my point – this match wasn’t good. It started off slow and then the false finishes started. I will admit, when Rock caught Cena with the 3rd Rock Bottom, I thought that might be the finish. So, props to them there. Cena won clean, of course. The crowd seemed to shit all over it so Cena wisely left the ring to allow the Rock to get a proper send-off. I guess that means Rock isn’t coming back for WrestleMania 30? Rock joined Cena at the top of the ramp to pose and the crowd didn’t seem that entirely happy still.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I’ll start with the obvious: Who completely screwed up the planning of the show? The introduction was cut short. An advertised match just casually never happened and was never mentioned. The challenger to the World Heavyweight Championship has an untelevised entrance. There were exactly ZERO backstage vignettes or interviews. The main event entrances were tossed out in favor of quickly getting them to the ring – even though the show went off the air with 10 minutes still left!

I will quickly explain why this happened in 4 words: Commercials, Promo Videos, Diddy. Let me be clear with this: I don’t pay DirecTV for WWE RAW specifically. If they want to air movie previews and commercials for toys and events, go right ahead. If I just paid $70 for an event, do not waste my money showing me advertisements. You want to show a preview for WrestleMania 30 and the next PPV, fine. There’s precedent for that and it’s a whopping 45 seconds total.

Second, the promo videos are overwhelming. For the last 7 weeks, RAW bombarded us with promo videos and recaps. We are now watching the event and have spent the money; we don’t need you to sell the event to us! If you combine all of the Rock/Cena videos and all the feud recap videos, I bet you find another 25-30 minutes. What do you think the pre-show was for? What are the announcers for?

Lastly, the Diddy debacle. My God, why? Every single time they hire a performer to perform a little show, the crowd and the fans absolutely shit on it. You know what works? Bands playing a wrestler to the ring. I bet you could count on two hands the amount of people that were excited that Diddy was going to perform.

Add all that junk together and I bet there is a minimum of 45 extra minutes on the show. Including the 10 minutes early the show ended. That’s 55 minutes to get the 8-person mixed tag match on the show, get some backstage promos and action, to have big time ring entrances for Rock and Cena.

What about the predictability? I don’t think it really was predictable. The Big 3 matches had to end the way they did. But the undercard wasn’t exactly predictable as you’ll notice by reading my thoughts through the first half of the event.

I do think a big opportunity was missed by WWE with Ziggler, though. He had a chance to wrestle for the WHC at WrestleMania and didn’t do it. I’m sure he can explain it away, but he’ll still look dumb. Maybe it was actually supposed to happen, but the time mismanagement caused them to throw it away?

My last issue is with false finishes or whatever you want to call it. Basically, when a wrestler kicks out of a finishing move or escapes their submission move when there usually isn’t precedent for it. The first WrestleMania false finish I can think of was when Warrior kicked out of 5 Savage elbow drops at WM7. Warrior/Hogan doesn’t count since their gimmicks involved kicking out of finishers.

It happens a lot now, maybe too much. These kinds of finishes are common for the Streak match, so I let them slide. It’s part of the gimmick that the Undertaker is unbeatable at WrestleMania. I mean, my God, Triple H hit him with 3 pedigrees, 10 chair shots, and a Tombstone at WM27 and couldn’t get the job done. Last night, though, it started getting absurd.

Not including the Streak match: First, Miz kicked out of Barrett’s finisher. Then Jericho kicked out of Fandango’s finisher. Triple H kicked out of the F5 and escaped 3 of Lesnar’s arm locks. Lesnar kicked out of a pedigree and escaped 3 arm locks. Then Cena kicked out of something like 3 Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow. Rock kicked out of at least 1 AA that I can recall. Even going back to RAW, Cena and Punk were kicking out of finishers. It gets to the point where you’re almost sure the first 2 times aren’t going to work. Only once the finisher is hit for a 3rd or 4th time will there finally be a winner. I just feel like it’s getting to be overkill.

My overall opinion is that it was a good, solid show that was marred by gross time management issues that are not common to WWE productions.

iPhone 5 Review

October 1, 2012

I upgraded from an iPhone 4 (AT&T GSM model) that I purchased during the insane launch in June 2010. I say insane because it took almost an entire day to get an order through. I think I was among the last orders to get through before the shipping dates slipped a few weeks. Needless to say, I was able to order this one on my third try roughly 10 minutes after it went on sale. Luckily for me, since preorders sold out within the hour. So, here are my first impressions after using the iPhone 5 for about 10 days now.

Design

The first thing I noticed was the weight. Yes, I know the numbers and I expected it to be light, but the extent of it still took me by surprise. I purchased a slate black phone and I think it’s as close to perfect as the design of a smartphone can get. I like how the aluminum metal band around the phone now matches the color of the phone rather than being silver-colored. I also like how the back glass panel is replaced with aluminum as well. I haven’t and won’t be testing the scratch resistance. I’ll note that mine arrived in flawless condition – no pre-existing scratching as has been reported.

Functionality / Dock Connector

Again, I was shocked by how small the dock connector turned out to be. I saw the pictures and such, but finally seeing it and holding it in person was a shocker. I feel like I should treat it like it’s very delicate, so we’ll see how durable it turns out to be. I personally love it, it’s easier to plug in than the old one and there’s no right or wrong way. I didn’t have any accessories that require an adapter, so I guess I’m lucky on that front. Well, I did, but I sold them with my old iPhone 4 so I could boost the price a little. The home button and on/off switch seem lighter and easier to click. I had problems on my iPhone 4 when I tried to click or double click the home button and it wouldn’t respond. It would drive me insane. It could have just been wear and tear from constant use, though. Another note is the speakers on the bottom of the phone, which are much, much louder than my old phone. They also have a new design that probably won’t allow dust to cake up inside them. Many times, I’d have to get something fine-tipped to dig out dust from the grilles. No longer will that be the case.

Display

The display is very nice. It’s the same retina display from the iPhone 4/4S, but it seems different. The whole in-cell display or whatever they used is very apparent. I also noticed that the default brightness is lower than my iPhone 4, yet just as bright or maybe even brighter. Perhaps that is what contributes to the battery life. The touch screen itself works as perfectly as every iPhone has in the past. That was what sold me on the original iPhone back in 2007 and I’m glad to see that it either improves or stays consistently good.

Battery

The battery is better. It’s tough to compare because my old phone had been through probably 1,000 charge cycles, so the battery was probably measurably worse than when it was brand new. By that comparison, the iPhone 5 outperforms it with about 20% better efficiency. All things being equal, it’s probably not too noticeable. Considering the addition of LTE and the spec bumps it got, the fact that they’re getting marginally better battery life out of a battery that’s about the same size is almost an engineering miracle.

Update: A few more days in, I’ve noticed that if my reception strength is less than 4 bars, the battery rapidly depletes, as in about the same as I saw with my iPhone 4.

LTE/WiFi/Call Quality

Call quality is better. People sound louder and crisper. This is my first LTE phone, so this is new for me. As far as cellular service, it’s worse than my iPhone 4. I’d say about 20% worse. Places where I had maybe 1-2 bars of service are now ‘No Service’ and places where I had 4-5 bars are now 1-3 bars. This only counts inside buildings. I have full service when I’m in the car or outside. So far, that’s been a downgrade. When LTE is working, though, it is absurdly fast. I’ve had download speeds as high as 45Mbps and Uploads as high as 16Mbps. That absolutely leaves my home wireless connection in the dust.  That being said, I’m having the issue looked at by Apple later to see if there’s a software issue that’s causing the poor reception.

Hardware

Coming from the iPhone 4, it’s substantially faster at everything. They said twice as fast, I say it’s about 10x as fast at some tasks as my old phone. Camera is open instantly and there’s no lag between pictures. I’m used to 5 seconds of lag between shots and up to 10 seconds to open the camera. Apps open almost instantly. For example, Tap Zoo would take 2-3 minutes on my iPhone 4. It now takes about 10 seconds. Jurassic Park Builder used to take about 30 seconds, it’s now instant. Safari renders pages instantly now with no lag. It’s very fast and can’t imagine things being much quicker. The camera is noticeably better than the old phone, obviously. I haven’t tried the panorama mode yet. Honestly, I probably never will. I’ve never had a real use for it yet and likely never will.

Apple Maps

Ah, Apple Maps – The big controversy from this launch. Honestly, this is another feature I don’t have a great deal of use for since my car has its own built-in navigation (And Lexus has a pretty solid navigation system – aside from finding POI). So far, in my limited use, I haven’t seen any map glitches in the St. Louis area, but I haven’t looked too hard, either. I did test the turn-by-turn with my car’s navigation and it did the identical routes that Lexus gave me. Like I said, Lexus has a very polished system that spoils me, so I’m accustomed to sub-screen zooming in on roads as I approach and audible warnings up to a half mile beforehand. Apple Maps isn’t quite that good. It finds the route and Siri will talk through my car’s audio system via Bluetooth, but that level of information that I’m used to isn’t there. I think it would be perfectly fine if I were a passenger and directing someone or maybe even be fine as a primary navigation for someone who doesn’t have a GPS unit. I think the Maps criticism is mainly outside of the US, but as for the occasional railroad track route, missing body of water, or glitch – what are you expecting? Sometimes Google was better than Lexus. Sometimes Garmin had a better route. They all have their shortcomings.

iOS 6

I’m mixed about iOS 6. One part of me has high expectations from Apple to revolutionize things. The other part realizes that iOS is a very solid OS and, at this point, there really isn’t much more you can do with a smartphone that isn’t already done. That being said, iOS 6 doesn’t blow me away. The weather app is updated with the hourly forecast built in using the extra screen real estate. YouTube is finally gone, thank God (There’s a superior app offered by Google in the App Store). iTunes and the App Store have both been redesigned in a good way. People aren’t happy with the new App Store since it seems to not be good for searching. I haven’t had that thought or trouble.

Passbook is there, but I don’t like it. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just not practical for me. Unless I’m forgetting something, that’s it as far as changes go. Hell, the best update for me is that I don’t have to enter my iTunes password to download free apps or updates anymore! It’s shocking that it took 5 years to address that.

Conclusion

It’s a great phone. It does everything I need it to do and it does it well. It has a nice screen and enlarged it while making the phone smaller. It’s really the perfect size for a phone. The OS is stable and solid and the phone feels like it’s a quality piece. I’m holding out hope that the service issues I’ve had are a local deal and not a permanent thing. Above all, the antenna should be the most important part of the phone. Plus, you can’t argue with the resale value. After the initial investment in an iPhone, the rest are essentially free. After two years, you can still flip them for what you paid on contract (Thus justifying the purchase of an Otterbox Defender to keep it perfect). You really can’t beat that. That being said, it is just another iPhone. There isn’t anything revolutionary here – and that’s fine because the smartphone has been more or less perfected at this point.

Apple is in a tough spot. On one hand, you have a group of people that moans about Apple being boring and far behind Samsung (Absurd). On the other hand, you have a group of people that are perfectly content with the phone. The problem is that Apple feels forced to include features to appease people and then when they aren’t 100% perfect or fixed in hours, there is worldwide outrage. They’re going to sue Apple for Maps not delivering. Really? Did you ever buy Windows Vista? Use Playstation Network for the first 3 years? Buy a game that looked great on previews and then sucked to play? Saw a movie that sucked? So, I could have sued for being underwhelmed by software? People need to either grow up or have some patience. Download Garmin for $40. There are other options here, but they’re too hysterical to worry about that. If you’re worried about nothing else integrating, why the hell would you buy Apple? Hasn’t that been the company signature since forever?

What is it that people want exactly? I couldn’t copy and paste for an entire YEAR after I got the original iPhone. You’re whining because Maps are glitchy 12 days into the OS launch? Turn by turn isn’t good enough and you want Google Maps back? Since when did Google Maps offer turn by turn on iOS? The App Store is outdated and boring, but this new, faster App Store sucks? Make up your minds. Apple has reached Microsoft’s problem. The customer base is too big. Too many people whine and complain and expect perfection. There are just too many people to please. Steve Jobs had it right when he said Apple told people what they wanted, people didn’t tell Apple. Now, it’s the opposite. And just like Microsoft, Apple will fall. When you start caving into the demands of the vocal minority, you will fail.

Fanboys, Wrestling, and Apple.

September 17, 2012

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Anyone who spends any time on the internet has had experience with product fanboys. You see them everywhere. You have the Sony Playstation vs. Microsoft Xbox fanboys. You have Gran Turismo vs. Forza fanboys. You have Chevy vs. Ford vs. Import fanboys. There are WWE vs. TNA fanboys. This post is going to pertain to the Apple vs. Android fanboys.

Where do you draw the line between fan and annoying, obnoxious fanboy? It’s actually rather simple: When you are reading forum or post comments, the people so angrily calling people fanboys or sheep are, in fact, the actual fanboys. It’s not all that surprising when you think about it. Keep reading to see why.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Knight Rises Review

July 22, 2012

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The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final movie for this particular Batman franchise. I saw the movie at midnight on opening night and now that I’ve had a few days for the movie to sink in, I’ll review it. Of course, don’t read on if you don’t want aspects of the plot spoiled. In my opinion, I think this movie is better than 2008’s The Dark Knight. It’s refreshing to see a movie trilogy end with closure as well. There is closure regardless of how you interpret the ending.

As you know, the movie starts out 8 years after The Dark Knight ends. The Batman is gone because of the events during The Dark Knight. He’s public enemy #1 while Harvey Dent is still hailed as a hero. Due to this, it’s said that a law was passed, The Dent Act, which enabled all the criminals to be locked up. Gotham is enjoying a time of peace, but it’s clear that Commissioner Gordon still feels immense guilt over the lie being told to the public. On the 8th anniversary of Dent’s death, Gordon almost tells the truth, but chooses not to do so. Bruce Wayne is also a recluse, having not been seen in years.

Selina Kyle is introduced early in the movie and never referred to as Catwoman in the film. Hathaway is pretty good as Catwoman and much better than Batman Returns. She doesn’t have ‘9 Lives’, but is instead a skilled fighter and good at getting out of situations, which makes more sense as a character who is more of a master thief. Another major character was John Blake, who was played brilliantly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Without spoiling too much, you discover that John isn’t his real first name.

Now we get to Bane. I thought Bane was a good character. I’ll be honest, I had a little trouble understanding his speech sometimes, but it may have been because I had to sit in the second row of the theater and not in the middle. Bane is insanely brutal and is involved with probably the most shocking scene in any Batman movie – the first fight between him and Batman. I didn’t read too much about the movie before release, so I wasn’t even expecting Bane to not be the main antagonist in the movie. That part caught me off-guard.

More or less, during Gotham’s time of peace, the city has been lulled into a false sense of security. At the same time, Bane is directly beneath them quietly building a revolution. He exploits the poor by pitting them against the wealthy and slowly builds an army. Of course, with no Batman, the city is powerless to stop Bane once his plan begins. Bane uses the lies the public was told about Harvey Dent to further turn the city against itself. While you might correctly assume that the Dark Knight ‘Rises’ in this movie, you might incorrectly assume he fell at the end of The Dark Knight. No, Batman’s fall happens in a pretty shocking series of events about halfway into the movie. It brings the entire trilogy full circle and even brings back Alfred’s actions (burning Rachel’s letter).

The finale will send chills down your spine as Batman leads the hundreds of police officers into the warzone that once was City Hall to fight Bane and his army hand-to-hand. There’s also an insane sequence with the Bat (plane) fighting a group of Tumblers that have been modified by Bane’s army. All of this while they race against time and Batman literally gives Gotham his everything. Earlier, Catwoman had asked Batman to just leave the city with her because he’s given the city ‘everything’ to which he responds, “Not everything, not yet.”

The movie ends with a scene with Alfred and the look on his face will almost make you cry out of happiness. It’s a great ending and shows that Batman will live on as a symbol of hope with or without Bruce Wayne. I’m of the opinion that there was no hidden message or illusion, what you see is what’s really happening and it’s perfect that way. 


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