Movie Review: A HAUNTED HOUSE (2013)

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Starring: Marlon Wayans, Essence Atkins, Nick Swardson, David Koechner, Cedric the Entertainer

Written by: Marlon Wayans & Rick Alvarez

Directed by: Michael Tiddes

“Don’t judge a movie based on its trailer.” This is a piece of advice that echoes off the digital chamber walls of Twitter whenever a new one is released and people either gush uncontrollably about it or bemoan the impending release of whatever movie the trailer is cut from. In some cases it’s a good creed to live by; since trailers are ultimately marketing tools, it could end up misrepresenting the movie its supposed to hyping molding it into whatever sort of movie the marketing team is hoping will sell and betraying the film’s true intentions (last year’s The Grey is a wonderful example).

But then there are cases where the trailer is exactly what the movie is promising and A Haunted House explicitly fits into that category. Think farts and screaming are the funniest things ever? DidCedric the Entertainer playing “Tic Tac Toe” on a woman’s arm make your stomach hurt from how insanely brilliant and super clever it was? Then you’re going to smile, laugh and repeat the joke immediately after it’s said on screen the entire time (your friends probably didn’t hear it five seconds ago, so go right ahead — the rest of the audience doesn’t care). For the rest of us, those who perhaps stayed away from paint chips as a kid, A Haunted House is exactly what’s promised and more: nearly 90 minutes of unbridled torture, bottom of the barrel humor and a horrifying lack of anything clever or witty. This is mind-numbing masochism at its worst.

[Continue reading over at The Film Stage]

Movie Review: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013)

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Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson, Paul Rae

Written by: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, & Kirsten Elms

Directed by: John Luessenhop

Directed by John Luessenhop (Takers), Texas Chainsaw 3D is the latest attempt by Hollywood to resurrect the long-standing horror franchise The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ignoring the three sequels, as well as the two remakes produced in the 00′s by Platinum Dunes, the film instead acts as a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper‘s original 1974 classic and builds from there. But while it has good intentions, and some genuinely interesting ideas, this January horror release is marred by horrible action, insurmountable leaps of logic, and a plot that, by the conclusion, feels like two separate halves of completely different movies.

[Continue reading the review over at The Film Stage]

If you like the cut of my jib, you can always follow me on Twitter. I occasionally talk about things.

Movie Review: IRON SKY (2012)

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Starring: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Udo Kier

Written by: Michael Kalesniko & Timo Vuorensola

Directed by: Timo Vuorensola

Watch Iron Sky on Netflix

Although I probably should be, I’m not ashamed to admit that I have been waiting with bated breath for Iron Sky ever since it was “the weird Space Nazi movie that probably won’t be made” project floating around the web sites and message boards. And much to my shock, after six long years Timo Vuorensola and company actually did it. Iron Sky is a gosh-darn real-life movie that you can buy or rent (or or watch on Netflix!). But after six years of hype, and six years of anticipation, does the finished product of Iron Sky actually deliver? That’s where things get a little murky. While there is a lot of good to be had (impressive SFX, good casting, high entertainment value, and even some political satire to boot), Iron Sky feels like the product of “too many cooks in the kitchen”, with nonsensical plot twists and jarring tonal shifts. It’s like five different people tried to make five different movies and somehow cram them all together in 90 minutes.

Read the rest of this entry

[TV Recap] WWE Raw Supershow – 7/9/2012

As soon as I get the money, I will be starting my own wrestling site called The Pro Wrestling Nerd. This is a preview/test run of how I’ll be handling the TV recaps. Let me know if it sucks or not. 

We begin with a recap of the end of last week’s Raw, where A.J. sent CM Punk flying through a table (and Daniel Bryan) on the outside. We then cut to last week’s live Smackdown, where Punk and Bryan try to win A.J. over. She kisses both of them, leaving her true loyalties up in the air.

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We are live in Denver, Colorado at the Pepsi Center. A.J. skips her way down the entrance ramp and into the ring. The crowd is mixed in their reaction. A.J. talks about how she’ll be the special guest referee this Sunday at Money in the Bank for the Punk/Bryan WWE Championship match and how her actions can affect the outcome. She says the thought of that is making her feel overwhelmed and emotional. A.J. asks the crowd to help her welcome out WWE Champion CM Punk. “Cult of Personality” hits and out comes the champion. Michael Cole fills the home audience on her actions again last week, once again proving that wrestling really is a male soap opera, cliches be damned.

Punk has a mic of his own. Punk asks A.J. why she called him out to the ring. A.J. says that last Friday (erm, Tuesday) on Smackdown, she said that Punk showed his true colors by calling her mentally unstable; she says she’s in full control of her mental faculties at all times. But she says no one has ever cared about her or shown the compassion he has towards her, and she knew what she had to do after she kissed him. She complements his eyes (the crowd boos immensely), saying they “send love straight into my heart” and that Punk fills her up with passion, desire, and essence (WHAT?!?). A.J. says Punk turns her on. A “YES!” chant starts breaking out in the crowd. A.J. backs away, gets down on one knee, and proposes to him. The look on Punk’s face is priceless, and the crowd cheers him on to say yes.

Before he can say anything, Daniel Bryan runs to ringside screaming “NO! NO! NO!” and rolls into the ring. Bryan tells A.J. he can’t let her make the biggest mistake of her life. He says Punk doesn’t love her, he’s just playing her because she’s the referee on Sunday. Bryan says he still has feelings for A.J., and accuses Punk of only caring about himself. Punk says Bryan doesn’t know the first thing about him and tells him to shut up. Bryan challenges Punk to accept A.J.’s proposal. Punk stays quiet. Bryan says he sees A.J. as a special person, one that he feels connected to, and that he intended to make a proposal instead of stopping one. Bryan gets down on one knee and proposes to A.J. (!!!)

Punk calls the proposal a “load of crap” and says that he and A.J. should go in the back and talk about what’s going on. Bryan says that this is between him and A.J. All of a sudden, the magical bell sounds…the Anonymous GM is back, much to the joy of his mouthpiece Michael Cole. Cole gets onto the Anonymous GM podium, opens the laptop, and says that the GM is running Raw tonight. Through Cole, the GM says Punk and A.J. make a great couple and puts them in a mixed tag team match tonight against Eve and Daniel Bryan! Bryan vehemently opposes the decision, repeatedly screaming “NO!”. Another email gets quickly sent, and through Cole, the GM wishes all four of the combatants good luck tonight.

A.J. is confused by everything that’s going on (chicks, am I right?) and says that all three of them need some time to think. She’s happy that the match is happening tonight because everything happens for a reason. A.J. has a feeling that she’ll walk out of the arena tonight with her future husband, which causes Punk to drop the mic in disbelief. A.J. exits the ring and skips her way backstage. Wow. WOW.

Segment Grade: B- (an absurd and ridiculous storyline, but all three are making it work far more than it should. It’s full on soap opera nonsense but it’s strangely addicting nonsense…like soap operas I guess)

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Another match announced for tonight: the four entrants in the Raw Money in the Bank team up to face one another as  Chris Jericho/Big Show will do battle with John Cena/Kane .

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5 Hour Energy Rewind recaps the Sheamus/Alberto Del Rio brawl from last week’s Smackdown, ending with Del Rio slamming the hood of his car on Sheamus’ body.

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Match #1: Sheamus (World Heavyweight Champion) Vs. Jack Swagger in a Non-Title Match

Swagger takes the early offense and goes for his finisher, but Sheamus catches him mid-air and crashes him to the mat. Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick for the easy 1-2-3.

Winner: Sheamus by Pinfall (0:57)

Match Grade: D (Nothing more than a squash match, so nothing to write home about. Poor Jack Swagger; he deserves better than this.)

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As Sheamus celebrates in the ring, the TitanTron shows Alberto Del Rio backstage. He says he’s going to mandhandle Sheamus like he did last week, then drives off. Sheamus delivers another Brogue Kick to Swagger out of frustration.

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 Backstage, U.S. Champion Santino Marella congratulates Zack Ryder on winning the battle royal on Smackdown last week. Ryder says he’ll be way more interesting than the anonymous GM. Marella  says he heard that the Anonymous GM is in the building tonight and that he will find him. Ryder asks him how, and Marella says “Elementary, my dear Zack” while putting on a Sherlock Holmes hat. The search begins!

Segment Grade: C (I still find Santino funny, so I’m hoping this recurring segment will yield some laughs.)

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We are ringside with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, who announce that The Rock has announced via Twitter that he will be live in St. Louis for the special 1000th Raw in two weeks.

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Match #2: Tyson Kidd/Christian Vs. Dolph Ziggler/Lord Tensai

Ziggeler attacks Kidd right at the bell, but Christian gets the tag and takes the offense on Ziggler. He goes to the second rope and lands an elbow to the face. Ziggler kicks him in the stomach and tags in Tensai. Christian throws Ziggler out of the ring, but Tensai catches him with a kick. Christian lures Tensai into a corner and he hits the turnbuckle. Christian hits a Missile Dropkick. Sakamoto distracts Christian, and Tensai splashes him in the corner before hitting a splash on Christian for the 1…2…3

Winners: Dolph Ziggler/Lord Tensai by Pinfall (1:27)

Match Grade: D (Another quick match that does nothing to build up the Money in the Bank. No ring introductions or anything. A waste of time.)

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Tensai attacks Kidd on the outside as payback for losing to him last week. Tensai powerbombs Kidd onto the apron. Tensai then splashes him on the floor. The crowd continues to be ambivalent towards Tensai.

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 Cole and Lawler argue at ringside and Cole accidentally spills water on Lawler. The Anonymous GM sends another email, saving him from a beatdown. Cole reads the email to himself, but refuses to announce it out loud. Lawler goes to the podium and reads the email to the crowd; the GM schedules a match between Cole and Lawler! Yay? Cole vehemently protests, and the GM sends another email asking the crowd if the WWE Universe wants to see Lawler beat up Cole. The crowd cheers, and Lawler tells everyone to go to wwe.com to vote “Yes” or “No” on if the match will happen.

Segment Grade: D- (I’m going to pretend everyone is going to vote “No” because I really really REALLY couldn’t care less about another Cole/Lawler comedy match. Just let them announce.)

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The latest “Did You Know?” fact boasts that it would take 5.5 years to watch every episode of the show.

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The disco ball is shining in the middle of the ring, which means it’s time for Brodus Clay to sort of dance his way to the ring, which he does. His dancing consists of lumbering, sliding, and making “dinosaur claws” with his hands. He’s still a better dancer than me, sadly. Drew McIntyre is waiting on the outside to begin the match and since it’s McIntyre, the smell of “another squash” is in the air.

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Match #3: Brodus Clay Vs. Drew McIntyre

McIntyre tries to get the early offense but Clay quickly gains control. McIntyre goes to the top rope and meets a headbutt on his way down. Clay splashes him for the 1…2…3. Wrestling on a wrestling show is overrated, folks.

Winner: Brodus Clay by Pinfall (0:34)

Match Grade: D- (Add a third quick and pointless match to the pile. I don’t like Clay’s character, and I’m not invested in anything he does so this was just more dead air for me.)

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Clay, his womens, and random kids from the crowd are in the ring dancing.

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Backstage, Santino accuses Chris Jericho of being the Anonymous GM. Jericho questions whether Santino himself is the Anonymous GM! They exchange quizzical “hmmm”s at each other. Santino is confused and runs off. Big Show walks in, and Jericho brings up their history as a tag team. Jericho starts laying out a scheme, but Show stops him and reminds Jericho that some of the most embarrassing moments of his career came as part of that tag team. Show tells Jericho to stay out of his way or he’ll knock him out, before leaving in a huff.

Segment Grade: B (Funny bit between Y2J/Santino, and a brief but tense interaction between Y2J and Show. The most fun I’ve had watching this show since the opening segment…which is not saying a lot.)

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Stephanie McMahon tells everyone her memorable Raw moment from 2002, when she faked her pregnancy to keep her husband Triple H from leaving her. However during their in-ring wedding, Triple H calls her a “no good lying bitch” and destroys the wedding set before giving Vince McMahon a Pedigree, effectively ending their wedding…on-screen.

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A plug for Charlie Sheen‘s upcoming stint as “Social Media Ambassador” for the 1000th Raw. He’ll be live-tweeting the show apparently. I forgot he had Twitter.

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John Cena makes his way to the ring to mostly cheers (the only boos are those coming from men and potentially women with a heavy smoking addiction). He pimps this Sunday’s Money in the Bank pay per view. He quotes Winston Churchill (I forgot exactly what it was) and says the MiTB match is a great risk but yields a great reward. He’s essentially telling everyone how the match works in case you have never watched the WWE before. He’s doing a very “Mean” Gene job of trying to desperately sell the Pay Per View. He says everyone who’s won has successfully cashed it in. He says that  he’s going to accomplish two things at Money in the Bank: 1) he will finally end Big Show’s reign of terror and 2) he will do whatever it takes to win the Money in the Bank match itself.

Fire erupts at the entrance way and the lights go out. Out comes his tag team partner Kane. Cole says this upcoming MitB match will be his sixth making him the most experienced in this type of match (irony!). The lights go out again and out comes Chris Jericho in his light up jacket. I miss serious Jericho. The guy in the White Collar ad on-screen points at me, making me want to watch the show (no it doesn’t). Finally here comes The Big Show. We see clips from last week’s Kane/Big Show match on Raw, which Show won. If this match also lasts a minute, I’m going to be pissed.

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Match #4: John Cena/Kane Vs. Chris Jericho/The Big Show

Cena and Jericho start off. Cena grabs a quick headlock, but Jericho reverses out with a wristlock. Cena gets a headlock back on. Cena knocks Jericho down with a shoulderblock and gets a quick 2-count. He takes down Jericho again, and Jericho tags in Big Show. They briefly argue with one another before Show gets in. They get into a pseudo-boxing fight real quick, but Show grabs him by the throat. Cena gets out of the Chokeslam and tags Kane in.

They lock up, and Show pushes Kane into the corner. Show does it again and goes for a chop, but Kane ducks out and lays into Show in the corner. He tries to Irish whip him but Show reverses it back into the corner and splashes Kane. Show headbutts Kane, knocking him out of the ring. Show distracts the ref as Jericho lands a cheap shot on Kane. Cena sticking his hand out for a tag even though Kane is on the outside. Kane rolls back in and Show continues the assault. Kane fights back with an uppercut, but Show regains the advantage and hits a massive shoulderblock. He trash talks Cena and they stare each other down.

Show lands a couple of punches to the gut and tags Jericho in. Kane hits Jericho with a right hand as he comes in. Kane tags in Cena and Cena hits a clothesline in the corner followed by a fisherman’s suplex for a 2-count. Jericho reverses an Irish whip and Show clobbers Cena in the back while Jericho distracts the ref. Commercial break time!

Back from commercial, Show is laying into Cena. He shushes the crowd and lands a massive and loud chop to Cena’s chest. He mouths off to the crowd. He goes for another chop but Cena ducks it and tries to hit the Attitude Adjustment but collapses under Show’s weight. Show gets a 2-count from that. Cena continues to try to fight back but Show clasps on a bearhug. Cena fights his way out of it, ducks a clothesline, and picks Show up for a side slam. Apparently Show isn’t too heavy after all, zoinks! Both men are down, but Cena manages to get up and tag Kane. Kane unloads on Big Show with a series of clotheslines in the corner. Show reverses an Irish whip into the ropes, but Kane hits a DDT for a 2-count. Kane heads to the top rope and goes to land a clothesline, but Show moves out of the way and hits a massive Spear. He goes for the pin but Kane manages to kick out at 2 and a half. Jericho tags in and heads to the top rope, hitting Kane with an axhandle. Jericho chokes Kane on the middle rope. Jericho distracts the ref and Show uses that as an opportunity to quickly land a shot on Kane. And now it’s time for another commercial break.

Back from commercial, Jericho has Kane in a front facelock but Kane fights out of it and smashes Jericho in the corner. Kane rushes in and meets a boot, but hits a side slam of his own on Jericho. Cena makes the hot tag and cleans Jericho’s clock. He connects with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, then dropkicks Show off the apron. Jericho tries to go for the Walls of Jericho but Cena gets out and hits the Attitude Adjustment. He goes for the pin, but Show pulls Cena out of the ring causing the ref to call for the bell. What?

Winners: No one I guess? (16:29)

Match Grade: B (A good tag team match between the four that got ruined by the screwy finish. But I can’t tell if this was really that great or if the terrible matches that preceded it made it seem like Steamboat/Flair in comparison. Also it’s kind of funny the SD tag match got barely a minute and a half, while this one got nearly 17 minutes. I wonder which one is more important to the WWE brass.)

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Show launches Cena into the barricade, then takes the attack to Kane. Show throws two ladders into the ring, where Kane and Jericho are both still recovering. Show hits both Kane and Jericho with a ladder. Show sandwiches Jericho in between the ladder, and smashes one side down on him. Show puts pressure on the ladder, causing Jericho to scream in agony. Cena comes in and hits Show with the other ladder, knocking him out of the ring. Cena’s music plays as the camera focuses on the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above the ring. Cena holds the ladder up in celebration then throws it by the announce table. Now that was fun to watch. I like seeing Show destroy people.

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A quick recap of the opening segment of the show and a plug for the Punk/A.J. Vs. Bryan/Eve main event. Another plug for the WWE.com vote on a Cole/Lawler match, and Cole begs the audience to vote no. I also vote no. Times infinity. Plus one. Divided by six (what?).

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Punk is backstage stretching for his upcoming match. Eve comes over to wish him good luck. Punk wishes her luck getting the spray tan off after the match. Eve says she meant good luck with A.J. since she’s, how you say, “CRAY CRAY”. Eve tries to get in Punk’s head about being champ for seven months and continually getting overshadowed, and now overshadowed by a woman. Eve says it must be pretty emasculating, wishes him good luck again, and then leaves. Cruel.

Segment Rating: B (interesting exchange between the two although I doubt it will actually have an effect on the match itself.)

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Sherlock Santino finds an iPhone he thinks belongs to the Anonymous GM, but it really belongs to The Great Khali. Santino tries to grill him for information but Khali mumbles incoherently, causing Santino to walk away in a huff. Khali then messes around with the phone, doing a terrible job at improv. He gets to act in movies, people.

Segment Rating: C (Pointless but sort of funny.)

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Sin Cara makes his way to the ring for the next match; this match will decide the final entrant into the Smackdown Money in the Bank ladder match this Sunday. He ditched the trampoline, which is sad; it’s fun to see him almost straddle the top rope every single time.

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They plug the Money in the Bank pre-show on YouTube, which will feature R-Truth/Kingston defending the Tag Belts against Hunico/Camacho for the Tag Belts.

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Match #5: Sin Cara Vs. Heath Slater

Slater takes the early upper hand as the arena goes into “Sin Cara Mode”. Slater bodyslams Cara and starts laying elbows in Cara’s shoulder. He goes for a pin but only gets a 1-count. Slater locks on a chinlock, which Cara tries to break out of. Slater grabs him into an armlock but Cara uses his high flying moves to break out of it. Cara takes to the air and hits a flying crossbody. Cara ducks a clothesline, and hits his finisher (sans armbar) for the 1…2…3!

Winner: Sin Cara by Pinfall (1:42)

Match Grade: B- (Another quick match, but Cara is so much fun to watch even in a short time frame.)

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Slater gets on the mic afterwards and challenges any former World Champion hiding out in the back. Out comes Bob Backlund to answer Slater’s challenge. He’s looking…normal. That’s disappointing. I was hoping for “crazy” Backlund. Backlund shows off in the ring before the bell, which does pop the crowd. This man does not age. A “You Still Got It!” chant from the folks who remember him. Slater asks why Backlund is here, and Backlund offers his hand. Slater takes it and hits a cheap shot on the former WWWF World Champion. Backlund ducks the clothesline and locks on the Cross Face Chicken Wing, causing him to scream in agony. Backlund breaks the hold and celebrates in the ring.

Segment Rating: A (I may as well shut the show off now, because it will not get any better than this tonight. Fun segment, and goddamn Backlund keeps himself in great shape. Maybe we’ll get a third World Title reign…okay that’s wishful thinking. But out of all the legends that have shown up, he and “Diamond” Dallas Page have been the only legends not to embarrass themselves since Slater started handing out open challenges. Either way my thumbs are completely up. MORE BACKLUND, WWE.)

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Cole interrupts the celebration and shows the results of the WWE.com poll: he will face Jerry Lawler tonight! We have failed, internet. WE. HAVE. FAILED. Cole snaps at ringside as we go to commercial.

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Smackdown announcers Josh Matthews and Booker T are at the table to call the match between Cole and Lawler, who are in the ring still wearing their announcer clothes.

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Match #6: Jerry Lawler Vs. Michael Cole

Cole quickly heads to the outside, but Booker T throws him right back in. Cole tries to shake his hand, but Lawler grabs his arm and puts him in an Airplane Spin. Lawler gets the quick pin.

Winner: Jerry Lawler by Pinfall (0:54)

Match Grade: F (Did you expect anything less? The biggest waste in a show full of wastes.)

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Josh Matthews goes to the podium to read an email from the Anonymous GM who is reversing the decision and giving the win to Cole thanks to Booker’s interference. Cole celebrates in the ring, until Sherlock Santino heads to the ring. He says he has concluded that if the Anonymous GM is here tonight, he must be under the ring. Goddammit, it’s Hornswoggle isn’t it. Another email is sent, and the Anonymous GM says no one is hiding under the ring. Santino says that sounds like a clue, and goes outside. He starts getting pulled by whoever is under the ring. Of fucking course it’s Hornswoggle!

Lawler is pissed at Hornswoggle for causing all this misery. Hornswoggle kicks Lawler in the shin and bites Santino’s ass. Cole laughs at the action and Hornswoggle kicks him in the shin. Oh god. Oh god.

Segment Grade: F (Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid…the early Santino segments were funny but wow that was a horrible payoff. The Anonymous GM wrecked a lot of havoc and it turned out to be Hornswoggle? Ridiculous. Inane. Pointless. Filler bullsh*t.)

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WWE Rewind, sponsored by Popeye’s (delicious), recaps the battle royal main event of Smackdown last week in which Zack Ryder won the right to be the GM of the show this Friday.

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Cole and Lawler are back at ringside to announce the main event. Cole tries to bury the hatchet but Lawler refuses because that would mean no more pointless comedy matches.

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Now it’s time for the main event. Everyone makes their entrance, and Punk’s has no pyro. Looks like they goofed but you can’t be too sure. Maybe their pyro budget ran out. Or something. Shut up.

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Main Event: CM Punk/A.J. Vs. Daniel Bryan/Eve Torres

Punk and Bryan start the match off and attack each other right at the bell. Punk throws Bryan into the corner and then delivers a back bodydrop. Punk rushes the corner, but Bryan gets a foot up. Punk catches it but Bryan gets out of the way, allowing him to hit his “Yes!” kicks. Punk reverses an Irish whip and hits a spinning heel kick. A.J. tags herself in, much to Punk’s chagrin.

Torres gets the early advantage on A.J., but A.J. hits a sort of Thesz Press and lays into her. Torres hits a nice pump kick for the advantage and throws her hair first onto the mat (hair first? That’s stupid). Torres goes for a back splash but A.J. gets her knees up. A.J. regains the advantage and lands a massive clothesline in the corner followed by a spinning heel kick for a 2-count. Eve tries to tag Bryan in, but A.J. pulls her back in. Torres kicks her away and goes for the tag, but Bryan refuses to tag in. A.J. rolls up a confused Torres for the 1…2…3!

Winners: CM Punk/A.J. by Pinfall (3:18)

Match Grade: C (Not enough time to get anything tangible going, but was still leagues ahead most of the other matches tonight. Sad that the following segment matters more than the main event match itself. I do have to give a few props for Eve’s red herring interaction with Punk earlier in the night though. Either way this did not sell the PPV very well at all.)

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Bryan gets back into the ring, mic in hand, saying that he just proved she means more to him than any match. Bryan offers to marry her, and motions for her to leave the ring with him. Punk gets on the mic and says he’s not going to lie to her to hold onto his championship. He says Bryan just wants to marry her so he can become the WWE Champion. Punk says he doesn’t care if what he’s about to say costs him the belt and the match on Sunday and rejects her wedding proposal. A.J. starts tearing up. Punk apologizes for hurting her, but at least he cares enough to tell her the truth. A.J. slowly walks over to Punk crying/smiling or something, and slaps him in the face. Punk takes it like a man. Bryan uses this to get her to come to him. A.J., in tears, goes towards Bryan and then slaps him as well! She starts chanting “YES! YES!” which the crowd joins in on and she skips away to the backstage area, leaving Punk and Bryan in the ring still unsure of what’s going to happen Sunday.

Segment Grade: B- (A lot better than the opening segment, but also the same exact thing that happened on Smackdown but with slaps instead of sensual tongue kissing. The intrigue is still there and considering how dull the rest of the WWE is, this is the angle that is definitely the most interesting. I still don’t want to order the PPV though, so they aren’t getting my money.)

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Average Match Grade: D+ (The RAW MitB tag match was the highlight and the Sin Cara/Slater match was fun purely because of the two men involved. Otherwise, the wrestling on this show was next to non-existent, filled with glorified squash matches. And poor Smackdown; their big MitB preview tag match was treated as an afterthought much like the show itself.)

Average Segment Grade: C (Backlund had the best segment of the night, and couple that with a few other B-level segments and you have a grade that looks much higher than it probably should be. The Cole/Lawler filler mini-storyline, however, should counteract any goodwill this segment grade may bestow because that and the unveiling of the Anonymous GM were f*cking terrible.)

Overall Show Grade: C- (A terrible go-home show for Raw that did nothing to make me want to order Money in the Bank. The Punk/Bryan/A.J. triangle is fun in an absurd way thanks to the efforts of all three individuals involved but outside of that there wasn’t much in the way of compelling television. Also I hope Backlund makes a reappearance again and soon; the WWE could use his brand of crazy.)

Notable (Direct to) DVD Releases – April 10, 2012

One of my secret passions is the direct to DVD industry. While Hollywood spends billions of dollars each year on tentpoles and rehashes, smaller studios are churning out product for the home markets that generally get ignored by a large segment of the movie watching public. It’s time to give these movies some notice, and every Tuesday I will sift through the countless releases to find ones I think are notable for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s got a great cast. Maybe it has an interesting plot. Maybe it’s a film festival darling. Or maybe, just maybe, it looks ridiculously bad and people need to read my “super funny” diatribes against it (“super funny” being subjective and often times wrong). Let’s see if we can find some hidden gems in the dark cave of the home release. Many thanks to DVDReleases.org for existing and being the source for the plot synopses and release dates.

This week: quirky rom coms, zombies, murderous Australians, and most importantly, a dog so gosh darn cute its mere existence saves the lives of everyone around him. Awww.

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The Weekend A-Waits: “Fish in the Jailhouse”

Everybody’s weekend needs a Tom Waits song on its soundtrack, and The Weekend A-Waits is here to oblige (and also make you roll your eyes at how stupid the title is). Every Friday, I’ll be posting a different Tom Waits song from his vast, vast, vast library. Occasionally there will be musings about it; other times, it’ll just be the song itself because, frankly, why read some drivel when there’s musical genius to be absorbed?

To kick this off, I’m going with the song that first got me into Tom Waits: Fish in the Jailhouse, off his 2006 3-CD set Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards. After hearing this song for the first time, I was floored and had to immediately listen to it at least ten more times in a row. Since then it’s a song I listen to at least once a week, sometimes singing along in my terrible Waits impression (needs more Whiskey and age). For anyone new to Tom Waits, it’ll be a good introduction to his unique sound.

Have a good weekend, everyone; smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Add “Fish in the Jailhouse” to your Weekend Mix

Buy Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards on CD (or MP3)

Horowitz Wins! Horowitz Wins!: The Rise (And Quick Fall) of Wrestling’s Most Notorious “Jobber”

This article was originally published on October 31, 2011 and has been re-edited and re-written to make it suck less (don’t worry I wrote the original, so I’m not punching anyone’s dignity in the face…except mine). For the original article in its entirety, visit Pro Wrestling Nostalgia.

In the time before the Monday Night Wars pro wrestling television was a largely mundane affair, with most shows being one hour commercials for their upcoming pay per views and arena events. Not wanting to give away their big matches for free companies relied on “squash matches”, quick non-competitive bouts where the name wrestler would showcase his moves for two minutes on an opponent whose sole purpose in the contest was to make the “money” guy look good. These bottom rung competitors were known as “jobbers” or “enhancement talent”. If you followed a promotion for a long enough time, these men became familiar and household names in and of themselves and in the World Wrestling Federation there was perhaps no “enhancement talent” better known than Barry Horowitz.

Although an accomplished wrestler on the independent scene, when the cameras rolled on a WWF show it was Horowitz’s job to take the punishment and either lay down for the three count or submit quickly to his opponent’s “devestating” submission hold. But Horowitz had what most of the other enhancement talents lacked: personality. Horowitz played the “heel” persona brilliantly and had the gimmick of patting himself on the back in a smug fashion (he even went so far as to wear a ring jacket with a giant hand on the back, just in case you weren’t paying attention and couldn’t pick up the cues). Through out the late 80’s and early 90’s, if a wrestler was needing to look good Horowitz was called in and he became a weekly fixture. But no matter how good at his job he was, it seemed like he was never going to get a break. But in 1995, Horowitz’s loyalty and hard work finally paid off.

Read the rest of this entry

Red Band Trailer Alert: TED, Starring Mark Wahlberg and Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane has conquered the world of popular culture thanks to the massive success of Family Guy (and American Dad too I guess), which has earned him not only a loyal fanbase but a very vocal contingent hell bent on his eradication from the world of entertainment. Love him or hate him there’s no denying the man has one of hell of a work ethic, and now he’s moving on to conquering the big screen next with the release of this summer’s Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg and MacFarlane himself as the voice of a talking CGI bear (he also wrote and directed the movie, because he’s completely insane and is probably a cyborg). The official red band trailer was released last night and in case you were too busy avoiding the internet because of April Fool’s Day, you can check it out below. NSFW by the way, in case you don’t know what a red band trailer is (I assume you do, but I don’t want to get anyone fired…probably).

Ted‘s official synopsis goes a little something like this:

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane brings his boundary-pushing brand of humor to the big screen for the first time as writer, director and voice star of Ted. In the live action/CG-animated comedy, he tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a grown man who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life as the result of a childhood wish…and has refused to leave his side ever since.

Not being a fan of Wahlberg and my interest in Family Guy at an all-time low, I wasn’t holding out high hopes for Ted but this trailer has completely sold me. It’s definitely going to rely on swearing to make it funny, but I have no problem with that as a comedic device (it’s one of the reasons Semi-Pro is as watchable as it is) and the two comedy bits shown in the trailer (Ted beating on John asking for his engagement ring, the white trash name speed round) had me in tears. Seth MacFarlane fans are going to eat this up, especially now that he’ll get to go full out with his comedy and not be beholden to network censors. But will others? I really hope so. Ted has the potential to be the funniest comedy of the year…and that’s something I never expected to say about a movie featuring Mark Wahlberg and a crappy looking CGI bear.

Ted hits theaters July 13, 2012.

Trailer Alert: TOTAL RECALL

After teasing the trailer earlier this week, a practice that should be stomped out immediately I might add, the trailer for Total Recall was officially released today on Apple. Check it out below courtesy of the folks at ScreenCrush.

The synopsis is as follows:

Total Recall is an action thriller about reality and memory, inspired anew by the famous short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he’s got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police – controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world – Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate.

Alright, so apparently this Total Recall is not a remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven action classic of the same name; instead it’s just another spin on the source material. But since the Dick story was used for both, it looks like Total Recall will be hitting the same story beats, just in a more synthetic looking futuristic world and devoid of any connection to Mars (insert crack at John Carter here if you want). But even though they are two radically different takes, the new Total Recall has a hell of a mountain to climb with fans of the Verhoeven original and this trailer didn’t help matters since it made Len Wiseman‘s version seem like a generic action movie (Verhoeven’s is the polar opposite of that). Even though Total Recall does look a bit generic and (as ScreenCrush writer Jacob Hall pointed out in his article) feels a bit like deja vu, I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ve got a hard on for futuristic cityscapes, brought on by growing up on Blade Runner and The Fifth Element (two movies this one definitely were inspired by visually), and part of me thinks there is more going on in this Total Recall than Sony feels like divulging (which, given the habits of mainstream moviegoers, shouldn’t be that surprising). If anything, Bryan Cranston will salvage Total Recall based on his performance alone.

Total Recall hits theaters August 3, 2012.

Movie Review: WOMB (2012)

Unrated, but features awkward clone-cestual situations and a child’s ass. Also probably swearing. But mostly the two other things I said.

Starring: Eva Green, Matt Smith, Lesley Manville, Hannah Murray

Written and Directed by: Benedek Fliegauf

The exploration of human cloning is not a new thing in the realm of science fiction; for decades, films have tackled the subject, with mostly action-oriented results. Womb, the first English-language film from Hungarian director Benedek Flieghauf, approaches human cloning in a different, more cerebral way; by stripping away all the sci-fi (read: CGI futuristic) jazz that other movies traditionally throw in. Womb tells a very human story about the psychological difficulties that arise once cloning has already taken place. But while it approaches the idea with a fresh take, and with two very good performances at its center, Womb ultimately suffers from too much of a slow burn and a lack of characterization. Sometimes you need more than a mood to grab you.

[Continue Reading on The Film Stage]

Grade: C+

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