Royal Grumble

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mat-men610x150Hey, guys! if you’re reading this then that means you may have caught one of the shows I am on at GFQNetwork.com Also, chances are if you’re reading this then you are a wrestling fan. This post is about one wrestler in particular and THAT is Daniel Bryan. Now, to me this guy has had megastar written on him since day one. I remember watching the Royal Rumble as I do every year with a group of friends and proclaiming that this dude was going to be a world champ one day. That statement was met with much chagrin and anti-sentiment to put it lightly.

It could also be said that the folks in charge at WWE felt the same way and at many points in this young man’s career were trying to subdue the fact that he is just simply OVER. On the other side of the coin it could also be said that Vince knew what he was doing all along and that Daniel Bryan’s recent foray into the world of Bray Wyatt was just a litmus test to see if he would still be over in a “heel” roll AND to see how big a reaction he would get when he finally turns “face” again.

Now, fast forward a bit and not only do you have a mega pop moment with DB climbing to the top of a cage after turning on Bray Wyatt; you have the Royal Rumble PPV in which a sadly returned Batista was predicted to win. The entirety of the WWE Universe, after witnessing DB lose to Bray Wyatt, wished upon a star for DB to be the number 30 entrant in the Royal Rumble. But, guess what? It didn’t happen and a returning Batista got the win. Without thinking about long term goals as a fan I think that is poor booking. I also admire the crowd in Pittsburgh for hijacking the show and letting everyone know that they were witnessing a complete sham. In what makes pro wrestling amazing the WWE lost an opportunity to have DB come in at number 30, clean house, win the Rumble, and go on to headline Wrestlemania. What will instead happen is that he will likely win the title at a RAW or other PPV giving the fans what they want but ultimately taking that huge moment away from DB. That is just the nature of the game.

The treatment of DB reminds me of how Mick Foley was treated during his initial run as Mankind. The guy was over and no one in the office knew why. But, why the fanatic fan reaction to DB not even winning or being in the Rumble? The guy has heart and through all the politics of pro wrestling, the larger than life characters, and all the merchandising; that is what makes pro wrestling special. The heart of a pro wrestler can cut through all the BS and right into the hearts and minds of the audience. This situation also reminds me of a guy names Steve Austin who did at one time toil in the mid card with enormous crowd reactions while the main events were overrun by Austin chants.

With every kick that Daniel Bryan levels at an opponent we the fans take that as a fuck you to everyone who ever said we couldn’t do something or never make it somewhere.  We personify ourselves in the true underdog of Daniel Bryan. When he lets loose, he’s kicking our boss, our shitty neighbor, the meat-heads at the gym or at school, the naysayers, and the haters in everyone’s life, and provides the audience with a vicarious cathartic release of emotion.

The Rumble itself was great. Do I think that Batista should have won? Absolutely not. He had a lukewarm return and the crowd is certainly not behind the Animal any more. I would have been more on the side of “sure, why not?” if his return last Monday was even remotely memorable and yes I was a huge Batista fan…but not anymore. He’s on the list of people I would like to see DB stiffly kick the crap out of.

Yes. It’s fictionalized entertainment but with that being said I would like a more cohesive story. I know the guy was not booked to be in the Rumble. I know that I should also let go of that Attitude Era fan that wants big crazy swerve moments that will never happen in today’s product.  But, for a company that claims it listens to its universe this whole booking thing is a bit frustrating.

Yes, I want a happy ending. Will it happen? Sure, but I have the feeling that they are either afraid to jump the gun with Daniel Bryan or are waiting until his popularity dies down, which I don’t think will happen any time soon. It could be a case of wanting to keep him on top for years to come so that when he finally does win the title it is one of the biggest moments of all time. Who knows?

I’d love to hear your  thoughts on all this. Thanks for listening.

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Who Will Survive?

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Citizen Kane

Survivor Series is this week and the lead up has been pretty interesting. With the last few WWE PPV events being lackluster I think that they need to make Survivor Series one helluva show or fans will lose interest more so than usual. I have been a big fan of the past few weeks of RAW and think that their programming is coming around to a fuller cohesive unit. The word going around is that the company is trying to establish both main shows as the “A” show with Smackdown no longer being the “B” show.

This comes as no shock from a business standpoint because the better both shows do – the more the company can command for licencing and rights. Does that mean irritating the IWC? Absolutely. Case in point; John Cena is in a somewhat lopsided program with Alberto Del Rio, which will no doubt end in Cena holding onto the belt until another major player comes along. Cena with WHC just makes the WWE title seem secondary only because Cena is so larger than life and like it or not he is this generations Hogan…brother. He will be the true face of the company and the ratings grabber for years to come. However, the company is doing a great job of elevating talent to the main stage.

If you recall a few years ago your main events on raw were filled with Miz(es?) R-Thruths, Nexuses, and superstars that didn’t really pan out in the main event picture. Flash forward to now and you are getting engaging action on Monday night once again. I personally cannot get enough of The Wyatts, The SHIELD, The Usos, Daniel Bryan, Big E. Langston, and The Real Americans. WWE is creating characters again without relying too heavily on the gimmicks. Cesaro is a prime example of a guy who went from one of the “Kings of Wrestling” to being in developmental and debuting with a questionable Rugby Player gimmick, which was dropped. Why? Because he didn’t need it to get over. Being an arrogant European with the necessary skills got him over. Langston will be world champ one day. Luke Harper will be a star for years to come. Dean Ambrose will become a staple and wrestling’s greatest heel. Seth Rollins will be world champ and so will Roman Reigns. All it takes is grooming and continuing with steps in the right direction.

Much like the IWC I was a tad frustrated that Kassius Ohno/Chris Hero was let go. Part of me feels like it was meant as message to the developmental wrestlers that ANYONE could get cut at ANY TIME with the underlying knowledge from management that he will be re-signed at a later date. I mean how could they not? His work rate and ability are amazing. AND he would already know how to work with their top guys right off the bat. The one constant in wrestling has always been “never say never” and that means fans should always take a step back and try to see a bigger picture.

There is also nothing justifiable about the hate that gets thrown WWE’s way. It’s fiction. Fans would like the product better if they just sat back and enjoyed it without expecting the worse and getting frustrated every time something they don’t like happens. You can hear an audible grumble after every PPV.

Survivor Series has always been one of my favorite PPVs and there are a few matches on this card that could steal the show. But, where do we go from here? What will the landscape of the WWE be AFTER Survivor Series going into Wrestlemania?

We talked about about it last week. Click the banner below for the latest Episode of Mat Men.

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The Current State of “Business”

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Coy HHH

Since there was no Mat Men podcast last week, I have to sink my teeth into something wrestling related. Rest assured we will be back this week providing you with our weird voices and weirder facial hair.

Anyway, we pride ourselves on not being extremely over zealous when it comes to the current state of wrestling. Since WWE is the big dog that means we give them a lot of coverage. The WWE also comes under fire from the IWC for every decision they make, it seems. Us fans seem to think we know what’s “best for business.” However, the business has always been about the guy who can sell the most seats, merch, and draw the most people now socially/in the arena/on TV/in a movie/globally. We don’t always like it but we have to deal with it. I’m not saying pure wrestling ability is completely out the window and yes, we have seen some great “wrestling” lately but what I am saying is that sometimes fans need to see the bigger picture. How else is WWE going to survive unless they work with their talent to create new stars that will further enhance newer talent and so on? (DB/Punk vs The Wyatts comes to mind)

Fans also have to remember that from the bottom to the top the wrestling business is a work. The fans get worked regularly on programming, in interviews, public appearances, shoot interviews, you name it. The underlying subtext of that is; “stop asking questions and just watch.” The hierarchy of WWE rosters has always fascinated me and it seems like they put their guys through all kinds of hell just to see if they can make it out to the other side. Steve Austin is a prime example and so is CM Punk in the modern era.

I for one am loving the “best for business” angle. I think that HHH KNOWS how to work a crowd and BE the top heel in the company (a la Mr. McMahon) without even having to wrestle. Now, that takes a level of skill that is lacking with this roster. The story-line also does a great thing of unifying every other story under one nice blanket. The Best For Business story-line extends farther than the main event into the mid card and at times into the under card. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes. The interviews he has been doing “behind the scenes” with Michael Cole have been nothing short of genius. My favorite one so far addressed corporate Kane. At about :55 seconds in HHH trolls the IWC with an extremely tongue in cheek coy aside to the camera as if to say he would BURY them.

Dirtsheets and forums have a habit of twisting fans minds. Don’t get me wrong. I love looking at the wrestling dirt sheets and checking out all the rumors. I would say for every ten posts of rumor that maybe one is true. However if you go into any comments section of any wrestling news site you will get completely turned off. I’m in my early thirties and sometimes I forget that fans of anything aren’t my age so I take that spur of the moment frustration at smarks with a grain of salt. Am I a Smart-Mark? I don’t think one exists. I am definitely a mark.

If you think about it – wrestling has always been the same. It has always been great AND at the same time not what 100% of the fans want to see. Wrestling is generational and if you want to enjoy it you have to remember to enjoy all of it. Who cares  that Brodus Clay isn’t  the monster heel you were expecting? He puts smiles on kids faces. Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero) got released and the IWC goes nuts. All that means is that you get to see Chris Hero again. El Generico is unmasked!? Concentrate on the fact that he was actually signed in the first place. Korporate Kane bother you? Too bad. He’s awesome!

Instead of saying:

“This isn’t the NWA!”

“This isn’t Hulkamania!”

“This is NOT the Attitude Era!”

“This is not the Monday Night Wars!”

I could go on.

Just say: “Hey, gimme what you got and entertain me for my dollars worth”, which is what the WWE does. Think about how well put together their shows are.

From a production stand point WWE has created a cohesive and marketable war machine through their programming, editing, physical production, and social production. I for one think that being a publicly traded company has helped them and in the long run that’s what counts.

They will continue to do what’s best for business in order to keep the fans entertained WITH the business.

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Whoa.

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DB

Yea, so I haven’t posted in a while and I intend on remedying that. So on this Sunday night I will just give you some quick plugs for stuff that I have been pretty into lately and some stuff I have been working on. I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since MAY!

Anyway. Modern Familyrules. Now that the show is in syndication I suggest everyone to just drop what they are doing and check it out.

Here is a quick review of WWE 2K14 :

This could be the best wrestling game every made. That statement also takes into account the N64 games that ruled my brain back in the day. What makes this game so great? The roster is a wrestling fanboy’s dream. The controls are a little smoother and the reversals are more dynamic. The graphics are still top notch. I also prefer the alternate game cover on the flipside of the regular Rock one. But that roster tho. The game isn’t without its faults. Namely the second half of the 30 Years of Wrestlemania mode leaves me a little wanting. There ARE some awesome and memorable moments that were captured BUT there are also more deserving matches that were left out. I would have liked to see the Hardyz/Dudleys/E&C TLC match, Shawn vs Angle, HHH/Taker (WM 17), Bald Kane VS Taker (return of the Deadman) Piper/Goldust (WM12) LT/Bam Bam (WM11) The List Goes On.

I’m hoping that in the next incarnation of the game we get to play on other PPV marquee matches. (CM Punk/Cena at MITB for one) I also feel like the next incarnation of the game should do away with the menu designs/save/load screen/and overall “look” to the interfaces. This incarnation is too similar to last years. Some character taunts are also WAY out of character but that’s a small gripe.

Overall the game kicks a ton of asses and you should get it. I will probably talk about it on the next episode of Mat Men which you can see at GFQNetwork.com

Speaking of which. Mat Men and Behind the Counter are still going on strong. If you want some excellent talk about comic books then check out Behind The Counter also on The GFQ Network.

If you are into comics  then you should be reading: Walking Dead, Saga, Trillium, Sandman Overture, Hawkeye, Satellite Sam, Infinity, Bounce, Sex, Sex Criminals, wait there’s more – Batman, Astro City, Sheltered, Revival, and FF.

I probably left a ton out.

This season of The Walking Dead
has been pretty lackluster so far. Sons of Anarchy has been awesome. Still missing Breaking Bad. Oh, and Total Divas is back.

That’s the update! Thanks for tuning in! Expect more regular posts.

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Iron Man 3 Review! (Spoilers)

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I got ganked. I was rooked. I was bamboozled…in a good way. My first impression of what this movie was going to be about was basically a two hour roller-coaster ride of seizure inducing action. I had child like glee about seeing Iron Man just shoot everything forever. I didn’t expect much. I expected this movie to be more of a transitory movie to build up Avengers 2 and to possibly add a bit to the cosmic Marvel mythos (IE Mandarin’s Rings) but instead we get a really solid film that has some of the best dialogue you would ever find in a superhero flick or any flick for that matter. The one thing that makes this movie really excellent is the fun scripting  and dialogue. Sure, there are a few small holes here and there and even though you aren’t convulsing from Avengers 2 hints fueled by repulsor ray blasts you get a very well put together movie that has the best action finale of all the Iron Man flicks in which everyone drives a really sweet ass Audi.

Product placement aside. You really get into the head of Tony Stark with Iron Man 3. He isn’t a god, super soldier, soldier, or man beast. He is a genius millionaire with a suit of armor and is experiencing PTSD and the panic attacks that come from being a guy who fights space aliens, hangs out with a god, and is friends with an unfrozen soldier from the forties. This movie isn’t about the suit. It’s about Tony and how he is coping with this new reality that he seems to be the focal point of. We are taken on a journey of his crisis of faith. He is the only thing that he believes but when that belief starts to falter, we start to see the cracks in the armor. There are some critics that hate that he isn’t in the armor for most of the movie. But, this movie shows that he doesn’t NEED the armor to be Tony Stark. He is smart enough to come out on top on his own. Shane Black did a tremendous job taking over the franchise and I would like to see more superhero stuff from him. Gwenyth Paltrow’s abs should have also gotten their own credit at the end. They were everywhere.

The Mandarin reveal was actually genius but the fanboy in me wanted to see him wield 10 alien rings. Guy Pearce was completely incredible in this flick and to have him actually pull off being the head of A.I.M, the Melter, the Mandarin, and having a hand in Extremis (much like in the Warren Ellis run) was not as convoluted as it should have been. It was all wrapped up in a neat little package, which sees Tony riding off into the sunset without the shrapnel in his chest and a new lease on life.

Overall, it’s a fun flick and if Downey decides not to do another Iron Man movie this is a good bookend for the series. Does it lead into Avengers 2? No. Does it lead into Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor 2, or Cap 2? Nope. But, it gives you Downey at his quippy best and a fun visual ride through the biggest challenge Iron Man has ever faced.

Keep Fandangoing!

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We dedicate this episode to the memory of Jon Layman. On this episode of Mat Men your two favorite urban luchadors Andrew and Rich discuss the fallout of Wrestlemania, what worked and what didn’t, the following Monday Night Raw, and the commotion a raucous crowd can create. They interact with their ever loyal chat room and mention some of the finer points of the biggest weekend in sports entertainment. Then they go into their “What If?” segment of who would jump ship to TNA to make an impact. Yes, we are well aware of the pun. Tune in next week when we bring Jon Layman back to life.

 

Mat Men Episode 9: Wrestlemania, The Undertaker, Paul Bearer.

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mat-men610x150Check out the new episode of Mat Men if you like that sort of thing. And by that I mean the world of professional wrestling! 

Wrestlemania is only a few weeks away and the buildup has been slow at best. This week we talk the Mania main events, Punk vs Undertaker, the history of the Undertaker gimmick, pay our respects to Paul Bearer, and jive about the history of managers and what makes a good one. Jon Layman stops by, needing a few things explained, and then off to the races we go with a what if scenario of would the Austin era have been so powerful if Bret Hart and HBK stayed with WWE. We also talk TNA and Bully Ray’s first world title win! All this and more on Mat Men!

 

 

 

 

Behind The Counter Episode 66!

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btc610x150If you want to hear what two guys want to say about comics this week then click the banner or click here for the new episode!

Behind the Counter is back with a brand new mission and that is to bring you the most awesome of pop/nerd culture and comic book news this side of the Mason Dixon. Rich and Jon talk about a variety of topics on this brand new episode as well as their books of the week, which include, Batman and Robin, Batman, Wolverine and the X-Men, Age of Ultron #2, and Walking Dead #108. Tune in for more action next week!

Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Official Story of Pantera (Review)

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OfficialAs a die hard fan of Pantera I was waiting for this book for quite some time. To be honest I had no idea what to expect. Rex Brown has always been the quiet member in every band you find him in and it was a pleasant surprise as a fan to find out he would be penning his own book and giving the fans some closure on arguably the greatest metal band that there ever was.

This book is a very quick read. That is a testament to how well it was put together. It’s an interesting read and it gives you insight to the real world of Pantera and makes no qualms about it. We witness their meteoric rise to fame as well as their downfall, followed by the tragedy of Dimebag Darrell getting murdered on stage. The book actually starts with Dime’s murder and funeral. Needless to say; it’s a hard few pages to get through when you finally crack open the book. As a fan the death of Dimebag Darrell hit me extremely hard. The guy was my favorite guitarist of all time and my guitar hero. I could not imagine being that close to such a terrible situation and Rex puts your right there. He finally gives us, the fans, the real deal on the whole tragedy from his perspective. The way the book starts off with the funeral and then goes back in time to day one was a great move. We all know the end but we need to see the beginning for that extra dose of appreciation.

The book is a collaboration between Rex Brown and Mark Eglinton. Told through Rex’s eyes we get a really down to Earth view on how he came to be a phenomenal bass player, meeting the brothers for the first time, meeting Phil, and then taking off around the world hundreds of days at a time for fifteen years with Pantera. It’s an extremely honest look at the behind the scenes of one of the biggest bands of all time. He pokes a few holes into the fabric of our perception of band life and what being a rock star is all about. Now, what I liked about the book was that it’s the story of Pantera but also the story of Rex and what he had to overcome as well as the addiction that plagued him his entire adult life. It’s a realistic portrayal of burning through cash faster than you make it, drinking to excess, living in a confined space with the same guys for years on end, and just purely living for the music, which is a point that comes across extremely well. Rex Brown lives to play and at the end of the day that is who he is.

If you are a fan of Pantera and road stories then you should definitely pick this book up. It will make you laugh, choke you up, and blow your mind with the reality of what some of your favorite personalities are really like.

 

The Great Muta

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This is a painting I did of The Great Muta. My first painting with acrylic on wood. My concept is original as I wanted to highlight some of his masks within the rising sun in the foreground. Rock and Roll.