Thursday, January 2, 2020

WWE Hall of Fame suggestions through 2031

The new year means a few things: new year's resolutions.  Award shows.  The Super Bowl.

For wrestling fans it also means a few things: the Royal Rumble, the road to Wrestlemania and ... Hall of Fame inductions.

One of the best nights of the year has become the night of the Hall of Fame ceremony.  Colorful speeches, fun road stories and seeing wrestlers of yesteryear are all part of the night that kicks off Wrestlemania weekend.

Here are a few of my ideal Hall of Fame classes

The years aren't exact, but a rough timeline of what I think would work out well

2020 (in Tampa):
The Rock (headlining, obviously)
Christian (he's from Tampa)
Jushin Thunder Liger (he's retiring this month)
Molly Holly

The Undertaker
Rob Van Dam
The British Bulldog
Jim Cornette

The Big Show
The Steiner Brothers
Cyndi Lauper (Celebrity Wing)
Eric Bischoff
Luna Vachon

Rob Van Dam
Paul Heyman (I assume he'll have wrapped up most of his on-camera work for WWE by that point)
Brian Pillman
Dean Malenko
Lilian Garcia

Shaquille O'Neal (Celebrity Wing)
Al Snow
Miss Elizabeth
Great Muta

John Cena
Paige (unless she still has a regular on-camera role with WWE)
Sycho Sid
Lance Storm
Vickie Guerrero

The Hardy Boyz
Owen Hart (hopefully this can happen by then)

William Regal
Regis Philbin (Celebrity Wing)
Rick Martel
Bull Nakano
Earl Hebner

Chris Jericho (I assume he'll be wrapped with AEW by that point)
The n.W.o.
Santino Marella
The Nasty Boys
Marc Mero

Brock Lesnar
The New Age Outlaws
Bam Bam Bigelow

Rey Mysterio Jr (I assume he'll be retired by then)
Ivan Koloff
Mickie James (I assume she'll be retired by then)

CM Punk (hopefully WWE will mend this relationship)
AJ Lee (husband and wife being inducted on the same night would be pretty cool)
Chavo Guerrero Jr.
Chris Candido
Último Dragón
Joey Styles

Ronda Rousey
Tommy Dreamer
Michael Cole
The Brooklyn Brawler
Chyna (solo induction)

Randy Orton
Edge and Christian
Michelle McCool
Hardcore Holly
Hornswoggle (though it pains me to type that)

It's ambitious for WWE to patch up a few relationships (CM Punk, AJ Lee, Owen Hart's family, Demolition, Miss Elizabeth's family), but after WWE repaired relationships with Billy Graham, Warrior and Bruno Sammartino, I have faith it can be done.

You've got a headliner each year.  There's a mix of wrestlers and managers (and even a referee and ring announcer).

In some cases you've got two or three big names. CM Punk and AJ Lee together should sell some tickets together.  Lesnar, Sable and the New Age Outlaws are pretty big names.  Jericho, the nWo and Santino would work.

Cena and Paige is a strong combo, but Sid, Lance and Vickie definitely add to that.

The Hardyz may need another big name if they are going to headline, but I think they probably could headline a Hall of Fame.  Regis gives them a little bit of celebrity.  Regal is the guy for the hardcore wrestling fans and wrestling purists.  Bull Nakano should make a lot of women's wrestling fans and Japanese fans happy.

There's not a tag team included every year, but I don't think there needs to be.  There aren't enough Hall of Fame-worthy tag teams in my opinion.

If you start inducting one woman every year, one tag team every year, one faction every year, etc., etc., then you box yourself into a corner.

There aren't enough women, tag teams or factions to go in for the next 20 years.  So, yes, give us some variety.

Their biggest goals should be: inducting the glaring omissions as soon as they can and inducting legends while they are still alive.

2033 and beyond:

WWE has several current superstars who could end up in the Hall of Fame when their careers are over.  Daniel BryanBecky LynchCharlotteSasha BanksBayleyKofi KingstonThe New Day (as a group), The UsosAsukaNatalyaRonda RouseyA.J. StylesThe MizThe Bella TwinsDolph ZigglerR-Truth, Charles Robinson and Michael Cole have all pretty much had Hall of Fame careers already.

They all qualify in enough ways to get in.

Heck, Jonathan Coachman may even be a good inductee ... maybe.

Kevin OwensLio RushNaomiRenee YoungRusevEmber MoonSamoa JoeAlexa BlissFinn BalorSeth Rollins and Roman Reigns could all go into the Hall of Fame by 2050 if they keep going and play their cards right.

So WWE doesn't have to worry about future inductees ... at least for a while.

As long as they keep making stars and giving them individual accomplishments (Asuka's undefeated streak, for example), they'll continue making legends in front of our very eyes.

Final note: Chris Benoit should NEVER be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I understand that the Hall of Fame is about in-ring contributions and not personal lives, but the line has to be drawn somewhere and a double murder-suicide is a very clear line to be drawn.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Dumbo (2019) - reviewed.

I'll give Dumbo credit.

While Aladdin made unnecessary changes from the 90s version and The Lion King was pretty much an awkward, lesser CGI'd version from that 90s version, Dumbo told an original story. The problem is: that it just wasn't very good.

To me, there's still no better live action movie than Maleficent. It reminded me of 'The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.' It told the story from the opposite perspective.

Dumbo added several characters that weren't in Disney's classic animated version, but most of them weren't that exciting. The movie had some predictable greedy characters and some dull heroes.

Michael Keaton, Danny Devito, Colin Farrell and Eva Green weren't bad casting choices, but their characters weren't that exciting.

The children meant nothing to me. I had zero cares for them. They had way too much screen time.

The writers actually gave one of the kids a line in the movie where she said, 'Dad, that's Mrs. Dumbo!' as though it was some sort of revelation.

This was after they just saw Dumbo and his mother holding reuniting, holding their trunks together. Well, no kidding that's 'Mrs. Dumbo.' The entire crowd of 50 people around you should have figured that out.

The Jungle Book provided some great CGI, but Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King all left a lot to be desired in terms of the CGI. I don't know if they are using different studios, but they need to replicate The Jungle Book if they are going to bring all of their animated characters to life.

I'm kind of worried about how The Little Mermaid will look after watching Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King this year.

I was impressed with how they incorporated the pink elephants into the live action version. I wasn't sure how they'd get some of the original content into a 2019 live action movie, but they did. Kudos on that.

I didn't have much of an emotional attachment to this Dumbo character though. The animated version was never at the top of my Disney movies list and this version didn't improve the character's standing.

The ending was fun, a plan the characters came up with, that had a purpose and that came together well.  But you have to get through the first half of the movie to get there.

I appreciate the effort to tell a new, entertaining story. They tried to tell too many stories all at once and it wasn't enough. It wasn't cohesive.

Like I said in the beginning of this blog, the problem is: the story just wasn't that compelling.

Dumbo was set in a circus, but there wasn't much magic in this movie.

Related Content:
Aladdin (2019) - reviewed.
Avengers: Endgame - reviewed.
Captain Marvel - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - reviewed.

I was not looking forward to seeing this movie. I thought about skipping it until it was released for renting, but I caved in and saw it in the theater.

I'm glad I did! Rise of Skywalker was a good movie. J.J. Abrams fixed a lot of what Rian Johnson messed up in The Last Jedi.

I mentioned my disappointment on The Last Jedi in my review two years ago. Now, I wouldn't have disliked that movie so much had it not taken such an odd turn from The Force Awakens. Also, I would've had a different reaction if there was some indication that some of the unanswered questions I and a lot of other fans had were going to actually be answered.

That wasn't the case. There was no hint that there's more to come. I remember walking out of the theater when the movie was over and everyone was just silent. No applause. Nobody talking about how good it was or discussing their favorite part. The excitement was drained out of all 100+ people in that theater.

I gave The Last Jedi a 3-star rating. Possibly too generous at the time. But, I think that's still probably about right.

Now, as the middle part of the trilogy (having seen all three movies ... and having just re-watched The Last Jedi), I would maybe add half a star to The Last Jedi, so 3 and a half stars.

While they had to have had some of these plans in place given that Carrie Fisher is deceased and she already filmed some of these scenes, I don't think they had a clear plan in place. Kathleen Kennedy is probably more to blame for that than Rian Johnson, but Rian Johnson's pompous 'I do no wrong' attitude he seems to exude doesn't gain him any points with me.

After watching the entire trilogy, I think they should've been titled:
- The Force Awakens (great title, good movie)
- The Rise of Skywalker -- instead of The Last Jedi (still not a great movie)
- The Last Jedi -- instead of The Rise of Skywalker.

Swapping the titles of the second and third movies in this trilogy helps explain the story a bit more in my opinion.

Anyway, questions are answered! I'll elaborate more in the spoiler section below.

First up, the NON-SPOILER notes:

Abrams did a good job in helping to wrap this story and saga up. It didn't have the epic feel that an Avengers: Endgame did (the culmination of a multi-movie journey). The Rise of Skywalker did put a bow on some things though.

True, some things are predictable. Some things are cheesy. There are a few new questions that weren't really answered. Overall, though, after the mess that The Last Jedi was, this movie was good.

It's kind of like the X-Men movies, where they didn't really have a solid direction. It was more of a 'This movie did well? Great! Let's make another.' Marvel still leads the way (over DC, over Transformers, over Star Wars/Disney, over Sony, over Fox) when it comes to mapping out a game plan and telling compelling stories that make sense. All the space chases, blasts and visual effects in the world can't save a story that isn't thought through.

C-3PO had a bigger role in this movie. Finally, he was given a purpose.  He seemed more like an after thought in the last couple of movies but I laughed at a lot of his lines here.

Leia's character was handled well considering Fisher wasn't around to do reshoots.  They had to use previously unreleased footage with her and they made it work quite well under the circumstances.

Chewbacca is still a great character.

Rose was fine in this movie. I liked the actress in the last one and I somewhat liked the character until she prevented Finn from saving the day. Thankfully, they didn't make that same mistake twice.

Lando returning was a welcome addition.  there were a couple of additional characters that fit well for the parts of the story they were involved with.  It was easy to establish a quick connection to them.  I'm not sure what all Disney+ has in store for them, but those characters could easily be used in that area.

BB-8 didn't get as much screen time and I was OK with that. They also introduced a new droid.  His appearance was fine as well, but some respect needs to be given to R2D2.  His inclusion felt lackluster.  The OG save-the-day droid needs some love!

Poe, Rey and Finn aren't a bad replacement trio for Han, Leia and Luke. Those are big shoes to fill, but now that this new trio finally had a chance to work together as a team, it was entertaining. I wish we'd have seen more of that in the previous couple of movies.

General Hux was better this time around. He wasn't the Hitler rip-off (something that made me feel uncomfortable anyway) that he was in the last two movies.

Darth Sidious is still one of the best villains out there --- I'd say even better than Vader. He delivers every time!

There were some great fight scenes in The Last Jedi --- namely the Kylo / Luke battle on the salt planet and the showdown in Snoke's throne room. The Rise of Skywalker doesn't disappoint either.

They have a fun chase on a desert planet with a few Storm Troopers.

 There's the scene you've probably seen on posters and in trailers --- where Kylo and Rey duel it out with their lightsabers on the wreckage of the Death Star while incredibly powerful waves crash upon them.

There's a fun warp speed / hyper speed scene with the Millennium Falcon.  Rey has a cool training sequence as well.

Lastly, one of my favorite scenes, involved our heroes atop horses that were galloping towards battle on a destroyer.

I won't explain anything else about that scene or when it happens in the movie. I'll just leave it at that.

The Force versus The Dark Side --- that's what the entire saga has really been about, told with the personal Skywalker stories, so it was fitting that it wrapped up this way.

A unique element that was brought to this movie was the ability to fight each other despite being in two different places.  The link Kylo and Rey had in The Last Jedi is increased.  They battle each other while being in two different places --- because of their connection I guess.  It's interesting.  I don't know that it follows what we've seen before (other than Luke doing this in The Last Jedi) but it's interesting and creative anyway.

My problem with the entire trilogy is that it's been very emo.  Kylo and Rey don't come off as endearing characters who are trying to overcome their personal struggle -- at least not always.  Instead of being a romantic link of some kind or balances to The Force, they come off as a little too into their emotions.

I laugh out loud to the people that claim Kylo is a better villain than Vader.  Kylo is much better than Anakin from Episodes I-III, but he doesn't even touch the fully-turned Dark Side Vader.

When you break it all down, though, Star Wars isn't one cohesive 9-movie unit.  It's bits and pieces of awesomeness that are sewn together through sometimes bad acting, sometimes bad writing, sometimes annoying characters and sometimes pointless missions.

The Rise of Skywalker finishes up what it can and leaves a satisfying conclusion to what's been a bumpy ride at times.  It's fun, there are some creative fight scenes and it's not as all over the place as The Last Jedi was.

You can't ask for much more given the road traveled to get here.

Oh -- and the final scene was very fitting.  Very well done.

If Star Wars continues on with some new stories (with these characters or others), please, for the love of God, get a writer's room and map it out!  Gone are the days of the disjointed X-Men movies or the contractual disputes that prevent Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill from continuing on in their roles as Batman / Superman.  Marvel is kicking your butt when it comes to foreshadowing and storytelling.

They'll continue to do so if you don't even give them some competition.

SPOILER section below (scroll down a little).

..... ok, here we go:

  • The Kylo / Han scene was nice.  There was some repetition in the dialogue, which I appreciated.  For a moment, I thought he was going to turn the lightsaber on the memory of his dead father.
  • The yellow lightsaber at the end was cool.  I'm not entirely sure where it came from.  But it's a new take on a lightsaber and that was fun.
  • Rey being Palpatine's granddaughter was fine.  It wasn't exactly what I'd have probably chosen if given free reign to craft a story but it's better than her parents being 'nobody.'
  • Is it bad that I'm kind of glad to be rid of Kylo?  He was too emotional and back-and-forth for me to really connect to.
  • There was a little too much life giving / Force giving in this movie.  Rey gives to the sand worm thing.  She gives to Kylo.  Kylo gives back to her.  Had seeds been planted in previous movies, that'd be one thing.  But 3 times in one movie?  I get that this wasn't mapped out very well to begin with, but it was a bit much.
  • The planet killing weapons attached directly to the destroyers were a cool progression.
  • The visuals for the way the planet exploded could've been much better
  • Darth Sidious' lair was really cool with all the lightning and electricity
  • The new group with the horses (with tusks on their gear) were really cool.  It was Native American-esque and was something we haven't really seen in a Star Wars movie before.
  • I liked the voices that gave Rey the strength to rise up, but it would've been cool to see some Force ghosts there --- Leia, Luke, Yoda, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, etc.  It probably would've taken away from the Luke / Leia Force Ghosts in the final scene, but I think they could've come up with a cool way to make those two scenes different.

Questions that are finally answered:

  • Who the Hell was Supreme Leader Snoke? That is answered. Darth Sidious created him. I'll accept that answer.
  • How did Darth Sidious return from the dead? He's a Sith Lord. Ok. I'll accept that, too.
  • Who are Rey's parents? No, they aren't 'nobody.' They were Palpatine's daughter/son and the in-law.
  • Who would Rey have ended up with (Finn or Kylo)?   -   based on the kiss, I guess Kylo, but I prefer to think it'd have been Finn
  • Where did Leia get her Jedi powers?   -   she was finally shown training and using a lightsaber, so that whole coming back to life in space scene from The Last Jedi is a little more acceptable (not not much)

New questions that this movie left unanswered:

  • Did Palpatine really want Rey dead?   -   I'm still not sure
  • What was Finn going to say to Rey?   -   Apparently he was going to reveal that he's 'Force sensitive,' but I'll pretend that silly statement wasn't going to happen and that he was going to tell her 'I love you.'
  • Where did all those Sith come from?  Why didn't they at least try to help Palpatine while he was doing battle?   -   I guess I'll just accept that they weren't fully 'risen' yet and that they were trying to come back from the dead too?

Not too bad, overall.  Not too bad, J.J.

Related Content:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - reviewed.
Justice League - reviewed.
Aladdin - reviewed.
Avengers: Endgame - reviewed.
Captain Marvel - reviewed.

The Lion King (2019) - reviewed.

I'm torn on the Disney live action movies. There are a couple (Maleficent, The Jungle Book) that have been surprisingly good. Some (Cinderella, Beauty & The Beast) that have been just OK. Then there are some (Aladdin, Maleficent 2) that haven't been that impressive at all.

The Lion King falls into the 'OK' category.

While those in charge of this movie didn't make the same mistakes that Aladdin did in deviating much from the original script, they had mistakes of their own.

If you're not telling a new story (like in Maleficent or Dumbo), then why exactly are you making the movie?

If I want to watch The Lion King, then wouldn't I just watch the 90's version? What's the point? So that I can see overdone CGI instead of colorful animation? Sure, I guess it has the 3-D aspect going for it, but I couldn't care less about that.

Disney is really in a no win situation. They can make a live action version of the same 90s classics we love (again, what's the point?) or they can change the 90s classics we love (and be met with resistance from fans).

They're making money, but that's more due to the fact that they are Disney (it's a well-oiled marketing and money-making machine) than producing quality content.

Alright, onto the movie.

A lot of people claimed that they had an issue seeing the CGI animals speak. I didn't have an issue with that. It didn't seem off-putting to me for the most part.

My biggest issue is that, just like with Disney's Christopher Robin, the CGI really has a negative impact on the color.

Zazu was a colorful blue Dodo bird in the animated version. But he's bland in this version --- both in color and voice, actually. John Oliver was alright, but not as good as the 90s version.

Scar wasn't as good as the movie version either. The color wasn't as vibrant. His black mane from the animated version wasn't probably realistic, but it sure made him stand out. Chiwetel Ejiofor's vocal performance was OK, but nothing compared to the classic version. Nothing at all compared to that version.

The rest of the voice actors were fine. I didn't take issue with any of their performances.

Actually, Seth Rogan was a great choice for Pumba!

While I'm glad they followed the classic, I kept thinking to myself, 'I should really watch the animated version again.'

I could've done without some of the updated lines of dialogue.

'Let's do this' was a line Simba used before going off to make the rounds with his father. It seemed pointless -- as though it was just for the purpose of updating the movie.

Some of the updated lines of dialogue actually made me feel sorry for Scar.

At one point, Simba says something along the lines of, 'My dad says when I'm king, I'll give you orders. How weird is that?'

Nothing like being a spoiled, little brat. The original dialogue goes like this:

   Simba: Hey Uncle Scar, guess what?
   Scar: I despise guessing games
   Simba: I'm going to be king of pride rock
   Scar: Oh goodie ...
   Simba: My dad just showed me the whole kingdom and I'm going to rule it all (chuckles)
   Scar: Yes, well, forgive me for not leaping for joy. Bad back and all
   Simba: Hey Uncle Scar, when I'm king, what will that make you?
   Scar: A monkey's uncle
   Simba: (laughs) You're so weird.
   Scar: You have no idea

Now, I admit, the part where he says he's going to rule it all --- that's a little brat-like as well. But Simba genuinely wants to know what Scar is when Simba is king. There's no curiosity in the new line of dialogue where kid Simba comes to visit Scar just to brag about being his future ruler.

Another updated bit of dialogue that comes off as juvenile is the scene where Simba confronts Scar at Pride Rock.

The lioness' come to Simba's aid and Nala says, "Simba is the rightful king (just like in the animated version)," but then adds "If you want to get to him, you have to go through us!"

Why add that? We've heard that line (or some version of it) in so many movies. Why add something so lame -- just for the sake of updating it? The way it was done in the animated version trumps the 2019 live action sequence.

Overall, the 2019 version of The Lion King paid a lot of homage to the original by not going too far from the original movie, but it made me want to watch the original (and better version) instead of the movie I was watching.

I'm assuming that wasn't the intended point of making this movie.

Related Content:
Aladdin - reviewed.
Avengers: Endgame - reviewed.
Captain Marvel - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Aladdin (2019) - reviewed.

Where to start with this one, huh?

When I heard that Will Smith was cast as Genie, I was actually pretty happy about it. He is close enough to Robin Williams in the ability to deliver an over-the-top performance but he's not a complete replica. He's got his own style.

Then I saw the horrible Entertainment Weekly cover with no blue makeup and I, like many others, was not irritated that they weren't making him blue.

Then I saw the horrible makeup job with the blue paint and I thought, 'Maybe he shouldn't be blue.'

Besides Genie and his lack of blue / poorly done blue makeup, the costumes looked like cheaply made (but still overpriced) Halloween costumes you'd find at The Disney Store.

Lastly, the casting is way off here. Mena Massoud looks like Aladdin, but he doesn't have half the style or swagger that the animated version does. Marwan Kenzari neither looks like Jafar or has his demeanor.

Oh --- and the animated version of Abu > the crappy CGI version of Abu.

Those were my issues after seeing the first full trailer --- long before the movie came out -- so this movie had an uphill climb to win me over.

I can't say that it really did. The movie was as I expected.

Will Smith did well in the Genie role. He really did, despite the bad blue CGI.  He stole the show here.

Robin Williams made Aladdin a really good movie, but Aladdin, Iago, Jasmine, Jafar and the non-speaking magic carpet all had more personality and value than this new cast did.

Most of the performances were wooden.  It was disappointing to sit through, wishing I was watching the original version instead.

Some of the musical numbers were good.  I'll say that.

The flying carpet looked pretty cool in CGI form -- much better than Abu or Iago.

Outside of those few things, I don't have much positive to say.

Naomi Scott's performance as Princess Jasmine made the character even more annoying than the original Jasmine. Scott doesn't look Jasmine at all.

Personally, Jameela Jamil would've been my choice to play Jasmine. She looks like her and seems like she'd deliver a good performance as well.

Bad casting choices aside, the story wasn't very compelling. They changed some things but they were all off the mark.

Jasmine, as a strong 2019 woman, isn't rescued. She saves herself. Congrats to you, but it didn't make for a good story.

I'm fine with changes so long as they are done right, resulting in improvements.  Instead, all the changes made in this movie made it a far inferior product than the animated version.

For example, they added Dalia as a servant / confidant for Jasmine and a love interest for Genie. Her role didn't add anything genuine, comedic or entertaining to the movie.

There's an extra dance / musical sequence added, but it lacks any of the magic the other (original) performances had.

Despite making box office bank, this movie is not worth your time if you're particularly enjoyed the original movie.

I guess you could look at it as though it were an adaptation from a book --- making changes to the original content rather than doing a live action version of the same content.

Then again, that doesn't do much for me because I generally prefer the books to the movies when changes are made.

Two and a half stars may be a little harsh.

I'd probably give it three or three and a half if I weren't comparing it to the original, but that's the box Disney put itself into with these live action movies: it has to be better than the original because people will be comparing these movies to the animated versions.

Related Content:
Avengers: Endgame - reviewed.
Captain Marvel - reviewed.
Aquaman - reviewed.