Saturday, January 30, 2021

Who should return for the 2021 men's Royal Rumble?


The Royal Rumble is always a fun match.  It's probably my favorite event of the year, beating out Survivor Series (which has become a boring Raw vs. Smackdown event) or even Wrestlemania.  One of the main reasons I love it is because it's like a giant Avengers movie.  You see people cross paths who normally don't cross paths.  You have history and new feuds all happening at the same time.

Another reason is the surprise returns.  I always hope for at least a handful of them.  We've seen Kevin Nash, Goldust, Booker T, Bubba Ray Dudley and others blow the roof off of the arenas with some of their surprise Royal Rumble returns.

So who should appear this year?  Which surprises would be refreshing and/or memorable?  Here's my list:

X-Pac
He recently stated he’d like to return in some capacity for one more run.  Why not give him a return at the Royal Rumble?  He’s one of the most talented guys of the 90s and deserves some shine.


Disco Inferno

This one may seem a bit odd, but I’d love to see some WCW flavor in a Royal Rumble match.  Disco has one of those gimmicks that is memorable and would get a pop from fans in the arena or watching at home.  Certainly, he wouldn’t be a contender to win the match, but I’d prefer seeing him over a Hornswoggle or Santino.


James Elsworth

Even James Elsworth would be preferred over the regulars that WWE brings back over and over (and over) again.  A little comedy.  A familiar face.  In and out.  He’s not a bad option.


Ken Shamrock

I always hold out hope that Shamrock’s music will hit on a legends night or at a Royal Rumble.  It probably won’t happen but I hope does because he’s so severely underrated and way ahead of his time, transitioning from MMA to pro wrestling back when not many people even knew what MMA was.


Heath Slater

I’m not sure what Heath’s current status is with Impact, but if it’s a pay-per-appearance or not an exclusive deal, then why not a Royal Rumble return?  They don’t need to hire him back full time but a return for a night and to pop the crowd wouldn’t be bad at all.


Christian

His longtime former tag team partner, Edge, returned last year.  It’d be really cool for Christian to have a Royal Rumble return as well, even if it doesn’t lead to additional matches.


CM Punk

The only way CM Punk should return in the Rumble is if he wins it.  He’s too big of a name to return for a quick elimination.  So, I'd like to see him return and win and feud with Roman or Drew or whoever the red or blue brand champions are.


Damien Sandow

This was a well-liked character from a few years ago.  With the NWA situation being up-in-the-air due to COVID, a one-night return at the Royal Rumble would be a welcome surprise.


David Hart Smith

Tyson Kidd recently said that he’s been trying to get Davey Boy’s son to resign with WWE.  With years of experience in Japan, MLW and other organizations, I’d also like to see that.  Even if he’s not the most charismatic on the mic, give him a manager like Robert Stone and push him.  Brock Lesnar isn’t a great talker either but that’s why he has Paul Heyman.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Who should win the 2021 women's Royal Rumble?



2018 - Asuka won the first ever women's Royal Rumble.  2019 - Becky Lynch won the women's Royal Rumble.  2020 - the third female winner of the Royal Rumble was Charlotte Flair.

So who wins 2021?  Let's look at the options.

Bayley
If you're looking at the past three years, then one of the other two 4 Horsewomen (Bayley or Sasha Banks) have the best chances of doing so.  Given that Sasha is the Smackdown Women's Champion, she won't actually be competing in the Royal Rumble.  So, Bayley may have the best odds of winning.  The only problem is that Bayley vs. Sasha just happened.  It just wrapped up.  Sure, we could revisit it, but WWE would need to make it fresh after the feud this past Fall.  I don't think she will win, but I think Bayley will be one of the final four women in the match.

Charlotte Flair
WWE allowed Steve Austin to win multiple Royal Rumble matches, so they could do the same with Charlotte Flair this go around, but I doubt it (and I hope not!).  She won a Women's Tag Team title on her first night back in December.  She doesn't need another Royal Rumble victory.

Natalya
She's loyal and a good worker, but she's not at the level of winning a Royal Rumble and being the centerpiece of a feud going into Wrestlemania.

Bianca Belair
She's young and athletic, but she is also not at the level of winning a Royal Rumble and being the centerpiece of a feud going into Wrestlemania.  I could see WWE pulling the trigger on her, though.  Sasha vs. Bianca as faces?  I don't know that this would work all the way through Wrestlemania.  I think Bianca would have to turn heel, which is fine by me because I think she's better that way.

Naomi
WWE could give this fan favorite her chance at a big moment.  She's certainly won titles and battle royals in the past, but she's never had as big a win as the Royal Rumble would be.  Naomi vs. Sasha isn't a bad idea for a Wrestlemania match.  It's more of a face vs. face unless one of them turns heel, but that may be a nice change.  Maybe some heel turn teases with neither one actually going full heel?

Sonya Deville
I've seen her name thrown around as a possible winner and I wouldn't even be disappointed with it.  She doesn't have a lot of big match experience but Sasha could walk her through a match.  Sonya came into her own in 2020 and developed a strong heel persona.  She improved as a character and on the microphone thanks to her feud with Mandy Rose.  I don't know that she'd walk out of Wrestlemania with a title win, but she'd be a solid heel for Sasha to feud with.

Rhea Ripley
She got a Wrestlemania moment with Charlotte in 2020, but Rhea could be the one winning this year and challenging Asuka or Charlotte (assuming Charlotte wins the Raw Women's Title before Wrestlemania) or both of them in a triple threat.  I just don't have an interest in anything involving Charlotte, but I don't have faith WWE will put effort into anything not involving Charlotte.  So, I guess I'd settle for a triple threat.

Nia Jax
She has a certain credibility to her, due to her size.  Even if she's not the best worker, she could convincingly win a Royal Rumble on any night.  I don't know how she lines up in any feuds, though.  Asuka vs. Jax has happened several times before.  It wouldn't be a bad match to have.  If Nia won and challenged Asuka for the Raw Women's Title, then you could have a secondary feud between Charlotte and Shayna Baszler going into Wrestlemania as well.  It'd be refreshing to not have Charlotte in the title picture (which means WWE will probably throw her right into the title picture).

Shayna Baszler
Just like her tag team partner, Shayna could win the Rumble.  She could face Asuka at Wrestlemania.  She could face Flair at Wrestlemania (should Flair win the Raw Women's Title before then).  However, I think WWE will simply have Shayna and Nia turn on each other in the Rumble match with a big 'payoff match' happening on a random Raw instead of culminating at a pay-per-view.

Ronda Rousey
A returning Ronda Rousey would be my pick to win.  She shows up, cleans house and goes onto Wrestlemania.  Asuka would probably lose her Raw Women's Title to Charlotte Flair at February's pay-per-view and then it'd be Charlotte vs. Ronda Rousey (the match WWE wanted back in 2019).  I'd actually prefer Ronda Rousey vs. Asuka, but I doubt WWE would leave Charlotte out of a match like that, so, if I want Asuka / Rousey, then a triple threat Asuka vs. Rousey vs. Flair is probably the only way it'll happen.

Monday, January 4, 2021

9 musical collaborations I'd like to see

Some singers collaborate and they are like peanut butter and jelly.  Their voices complement each other, their attitudes are similar or they are so different that it just works.



Pink and Nicki Minaj

Cardi B is the 'it' girl these days but I kind of prefer Nicki Minaj.  Her pop songs are catchy.  Pink and Nicki seem like a good combo.

Pink has collaborated with Kenny Chesney, Eminem and, of course, the other singers on 'Lady Marmalade.'  Nicki did one of the best collaborations since 'Lady Marmalade' when she teamed up with Ariana Grande and Jessie J for 'Bang Bang.'  This just seems like it would be a fun collaboration in music video form and in song form.


Chris Daughtry and Eric Church

These two North Carolina boys who both love rock music could put together an incredible song.  While Daughtry is more rock and Church is more country, they both have some overlapping themes and sounds in their music.

Both have delivered very good albums not too long ago, but they didn't get the attention they necessarily deserved.  Maybe a team-up is in order for another hit on the radio for both of them?


Pink and Kelly Clarkson

I think most of their fans are waiting on this to happen.  Hopefully it does.  If it does happen, hopefully it's not left in the vault like Lady Gaga and Cher's collaboration or Pink and Christina's team-up.  

Technically, Pink and Kelly did have a duet together at the American Music Awards, but the song choice wasn't great and, besides, it was a cover.  I'd prefer an original collaboration over covering someone else's music.


Sugarland and Darius Rucker

Two awesome country acts and two awesome voices here.  Sugarland has been a tremendous duo for several years.  Darius is no stranger to a group act, so harmonizing shouldn't be a problem.  He did great with Adele several years ago.  Darius and Sugarland both had a sound that can be mainstream or flat out country.  I don't care what genre they produce as long as they produce a song together.


Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga

These two can siiiiiiiing!  Two great voices that work with just about any musical style you put them into.  Both of these Super Bowl halftime performers on the same track?  

It could end up being really disappointing (e.g. Chris Stapleton and Pink), but it could also turn out really cool.  I'd love to see them at least take a shot at doing something great.
Drake and Maroon 5

Maroon 5 has worked with all kinds of people in the past, but Drake would bring a different flavor for them.  I think Adam and Drake's styles could complement each other very nicely.  You'd get an interesting beat, some rap and some pop.

Again, it could be a top 40 hit.  Or it could be one of those tracks that ends up on an album that goes more unnoticed and unrecognized than it deserves to be.  Either way, we get to listen to it.


Dustin Lynch and Kelly Osbourne

These two are friends in real life but couldn't be more different musically.  Sometimes those are the times when collaborations work the best.  Those unexpected musical styles can meld together and turn out something great.

Usually, whether it's in movies or sport, real life friendships translates to success in other areas.  It could end up being the same with these two as well.


Miley Cyrus and Shawn Mendes

After seeing them perform together at the Grammys, I think a duet on their own song would end up sounding great.  Like I said with Kelly Clarkson and Pink, singing together at an awards show is great, but performing an original is preferred.

Between Cyrus' twang and Mendes' own unique voice, they'd end up with a very top 40-friendly hit.


Fall Out Boy and Sia

This collaboration seems kind of odd, but kind of perfect at the same time.  Fall Out Boy has a history of working with all kinds of acts -- from Elton John to Courtney Love to Demi Lovato.  Meanwhile, Sia has a unique sound that could mesh very well with a Fall Out Boy song.

Sia's collaboration with Pink was far too overproduced so 'Waterfall' didn't make any kind of dent on the charts.  Sia and Fall Out Boy could get the job done though.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Some of the best and worst movies of 2020

Boy, who could have ever predicted what 2020 would bring, huh?  It was supposed to be the year of the female superhero, with Harley Quinn, Black Widow and Wonder Woman dominating the screen.  That didn't quite happen, but the Harley Quinn movie did end up being one of the top grossing movies of the year.  That probably wouldn't have happened without COVID-19.

Despite the pandemic, there were some good movies released in 2020. 

A lot of the movies you'd expect to see in theaters were released on HBO Max, Disney+ or one of the other dozen streaming services that exist these days. 

I saw one of the movies pre-pandemic and most of them after the pandemic while in the movie theater, in the past 2 months. 

So let's take a look at this years relatively small list (be warned, SPOILERS are below ...)
   



The Kid Detective
I saw this trailer and thought, 'Huh, I'd watch that.' It's not one I probably would've ever gone to see in the theater typically, but in 2020?  It made the cut. I'm glad it did. It's a quirky dark comedy that has some surprising depth, tackles a serious subject matter and gets a few chuckles. 

 The actors were all engaging and the story had a couple of twists that I didn't see coming.  Usually I see the twists from a mile away, so I was surprised it got me.  

There was some unneeded swearing (I wasn't offended by any means, but it just wasn't needed) but that was probably one of the only negatives.  It was a comedy some a few unrealistic situations can be forgiven.  It's not meant to be serious.

It's not a movie that will leave you walking away happy, but the story was complete and I think it probably ended the way it should've. 

Final rating: 3 stars 



Mulan
I wasn't sure how good this movie would be. Disney's live action movies have a pretty spotty record. They range from bad (Maleficent 2, Aladdin) to boring (Dumbo) to okay (The Lion King, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast) to really good (Maleficent) to awesome (The Jungle Book). I thought Mulan may be a little better due to the fact that it was an action movie. That didn't help. 

It was an OK movie but nowhere near as good as the animated version. I'm not sure why they change things from the original. I'm not sure what the actual story of Mulan entails --- if there was a version before the Disney version and, if so, if Disney took liberties with it --- but the movie version included unnecessary changes. 

The female villain really wasn't needed in this story.  The main villain (Bori Khan) didn't compare to Shan Yu. The actor did a fine job, but I'm not sure why they didn't just use the Shan Yu character instead.

There never really was a great, epic moment or a scary moment. The movie didn't drag but it never really took off either.  The action was OK, but certainly nothing that impressive in the age of Marvel movies.  It seemed like a few too many people had the power of the chi, too. 

When 4 or 5 people in the movie can do all kinds of flips and twists and turns, it takes away the excitement.  It's not special anymore.

It seemed like this movie focused a little too much on female empowerment instead of the main character, Mulan. 

Final rating: 3 stars 



Birds of Prey
I was probably one of the few who liked Suicide Squad, but I was hoping this movie would be really good and provide some fun.  It did provide some fun but I wish it would've taken itself a little more seriously.  Harley Quinn taking out a squad of police and an entire cell of inmates in the matter of minutes was hard to believe, superhero movie or not.

That being said, the visuals were not boring.  Margot Robbie was entertaining in her return as Harley.  There was a different flavor than Suicide Squad so the character is evolving.

The rest of the cast was OK, too.  Rosie Perez was probably my favorite of the rest of them.  Jurnee Smollett wasn't a great Black Canary.  She didn't seem intimidating or athletic.  All of the Arrow versions have been much better.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress wasn't that impressive either.  She wasn't bad, but I doubt the character will be remembered 5 years from now.  Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain was a good casting choice.

This version of Victor Zsaz wasn't very good.  I'd have preferred the Gotham version.  Ewan McGregor as Black Mask was a bit off.  I don't think the character or the casting really delivered.

The format of the story was disjointed but it worked.  The ending though?  That scene on the docks?  Anti-climactic.  Cheap looking set and visuals, too.

It was good advancement for Harley Quinn but you need a good supporting cast of characters to carry a movie.  One good character just doesn't do it.

Final rating: 3 stars.


Wonder Woman 84
There's some controversy about the movie reviews right now.  Some people liked it.  Others didn't.  I can see both points of view because I'm somewhere in the middle of this debate.

I don't know enough about the Wonder Woman character, so I can't speak as to whether Patty Jenkins followed the origins of the characters here.  I've always been familiar with the character, but I never watched the TV show or read a solo Wonder Woman comic.  Everything I know about the character is from team up comics or Justice League appearances.

It seemed like Patty threw some treats the way of the more avid Wonder Woman fans (the invisible jet, a  Lynda Carter cameo) but apparently she changed the origins of Cheetah and Maxwell Lord.  I didn't mind seeing as how I don't know the origins of those characters.  Also, if we're complaining about that, we have to complain about Hela and others in the MCU.

Kristin Wiig was a good choice for Cheetah.  She was a compelling character.  She was one of the best parts of the movie, frankly.  I'd like to see her return at some point, but I'm not sure that will happen.

Visuals were off and on in this sequel.  The 80s vibe was definitely there in terms of the outfits.  The soundtrack could've taken a page out of the Guardians of the Galaxy playbook and used some classic songs to set the mood, though.

The action sequences left a lot to be desired.  They weren't fluid at all.  I think the original Superman movies had more fluid, convincing flying sequences.  If they can make Aquaman seem like he's really swimming under water, I'm not sure why Wonder Woman's flying and leaping and running seemed so poorly enhanced.

One of the best scenes of the movie was the opening one, with the games being held in Themyscira.

The story was a little bit all over and, as a result, it hurt the pacing of the movie.  There were some sloppy moments that the writers just didn't seem to care about (an airplane from the Smithsonian just happens to have enough fuel to make it across the Atlantic??).  There were other moments that were just too convenient (they quickly found a guy with a book that explains exactly what the Dreamstone does). There were also some really fun moments like the mall scene and the White House scene.

I don't know that I laughed once.  There were some one-liners but D.C. (or at least Patty Jenkins) just doesn't do comedy like Marvel does.  Gal Gadot is a gem and delivers all of her lines as they should be delivered.  Chris Pine is convincing in his role as well.  Maxwell Lord was fine, but it felt a bit too much like the writers were trying to duplicate the 90s Batman movies where one villain just wasn't enough.  I don't think that's always needed.

All of that being said, Wonder Woman continued to evolve and, while this adventure wasn't needed, I can't say I'm disappointed it happened.  I am hoping the third version gets back on track because while this was an OK pit stop, it seemed a bit off course.

Final rating: 3.5


Freaky
Finally, the best of the bunch, was a version of Freaky Friday.  It mixed comedy with horror.  It was released on Friday the 13th.  The name is a play off of Freaky Friday.  It was a fresh take on a classic tale.

The movie was part comedy and part horror, so you can't really take it seriously, but the actors believed in themselves and I did too.  Sure, you sit there and think 'a head doesn't really split that way when put through a table saw,' but as one of the only comedy / horror body switch movies there is, it doesn't really matter.  

The scene where the Blissfield Butcher approaches Millie on the football field is somewhat intense because you want her to escape, but it's also entertaining seeing her run in the mascot uniform.

Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton were equally entertaining as they reversed roles.  The rest of the supporting cast was really good, too.

This kind of movie doesn't really lend itself to a sequel, but if you're a fan of the body switch genre, this was a fun movie to see.

Final rating: 4 stars


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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)
Vader
Taz
Molly Holly

2021:
The Undertaker
Rob Van Dam
The British Bulldog
Jim Cornette
Victoria

2022:
The Big Show
The Steiner Brothers
Cyndi Lauper (Celebrity Wing)
Eric Bischoff
Goldust
Luna Vachon

2023:
Batista
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

2024:
Kane
Shaquille O'Neal (Celebrity Wing)
Al Snow
Miss Elizabeth
Demolition
Great Muta

2025:
John Cena
Paige (unless she still has a regular on-camera role with WWE)
Sycho Sid
Lance Storm
Vickie Guerrero

2026:
The Hardy Boyz
Owen Hart (hopefully this can happen by then)

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

2027:
Chris Jericho (I assume he'll be wrapped with AEW by that point)
The n.W.o.
Santino Marella
The Nasty Boys
Melina
Marc Mero

2028:
Brock Lesnar
The New Age Outlaws
Rhyno
Sable
Bam Bam Bigelow

2029:
Rey Mysterio Jr (I assume he'll be retired by then)
JBL
Tajiri
Finlay
Ivan Koloff
Mickie James (I assume she'll be retired by then)

2030:
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

2031:
Ronda Rousey
Sheamus
Tommy Dreamer
Michael Cole
The Brooklyn Brawler
Chyna (solo induction)

2032:
Randy Orton
Edge and Christian
Michelle McCool
Hardcore Holly
Sabu
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.