Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ECW Review, 3/31

Alright, time to review the pre-Wrestlemania edition of the show formerly known as ECW (I shall find a catchier nickname for this in the future).

Leading off, a Money in the Bank teaser tag match between the teams of Christian (whose new entrance music sucks) & Findlay, and Mark Henry & Kane. Henry gets the pin on Christian. They're really building up Kane and Mark Henry as dominant forces going into the MITB match.

I'll be honest, I have on clue who they're going to put over this Sunday. Vince McMahon basically hates Christian, and while most everyone in the business thinks he's main event talent, he won't get it if Vince has his way. CM Punk took it last year, it'd be odd to give it to him again... I think, anyway. I mean, after he lost the World Heavyweight Championship they put the IC Title on him. Kofi Kingston isn't there yet, I don't see Mark Henry as someone who can carry a major title on Raw or Smackdown, same goes for Findlay. Kane has been there before, but I'm not sure he could work again (although, if the story's right I wouldn't mind it). I'm gonna say either MVP or Shelton Benjamin finally get a big push, once their feud for the US Title is done with.

Video package about the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker match. See, this is my main problem with the WWE's treatment of this version of not-ECW. They treat it like a minor league show/recap show for Raw and Smackdown. We're a half an hour in and there's been ONE freaking match. Unacceptable. If you're gonna pass this off as a brand all its own, then fucking do it. Build the storylines and rivalries, get your talent matches and screen time. But if you're not gonna do that, change the name (well, they should do that anyway unless they plan on making in Extreme Championship Wrestling again) and don't market it as a separate brand.

And after the break, another fucking vignette. Jesus.

Hey, anyone know when that John Cena movie -- whatsitcalled? -- is coming out? I don't think the WWE has shown a single commercial for it.

Back from commercial, another video. Good grief.

Oh hey, a match, hot damn! Oh, wait, Diva match. Dammit. Well, at least it has something to do with the tag title unification match this Sunday between Miz & Morrison and the Colons? Weak sauce.

That, THAT is your main event. One hour show, two matches. Horrible. Who cares if WWE-minor league isn't well represented this Sunday, you can't just shaft it like that. You don't have your champ at all? You don't have arguably your most popular superstar, Evan Bourne? The only way to develop all that great young talent on the show is to get them in matches. Atrocious showing, guys, just plain bad.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday musings and a Raw review

> I'm very excited about the hiring of Anthony Grant to be the new Alabama basketball coach. He's young, he comes from a good coaching pedigree, he did nothing but win at VCU and perhaps most importantly, he's a no nonsense guy with an exciting style of play. The last item there is exactly what we need at The Capstone. Mark Gottfried did wonderful things here for our program, but his time passed and we needed a change. Grant's hire signifies that we are willing to do what it takes to build a contending basketball program here.

> My bracket was absolutely horrible this year. Not a single Final Four team made it. By far my worst year ever. That said, of the remaining four, UNC should win it. Before the year I said that if they stayed healthy, there's no reason that team shouldn't win it all. Ty Lawson has been incredible so far, and there's really no one who can stop him.

> OK, in an effort to start producing more content on here -- and to make my buddy CR happy, because I'm pretty sure he requested this some time ago -- I'm going to start doing wrestling reviews.

WWE Raw Review, 3/30

OK, the Raw before Wrestlemania. The final buildup for matches and feuds, meaning we should have a pretty solid show.

We begin with some huge Diva tag match, and while I normally hate this stuff, it does serve the purpose of building the Diva battle royal this Sunday. The Santino Marella bit was gold, because Santino is always GOLD. By far the most under utilized on-screen talent the WWE has. He is pure comedy.

Bleh, another vignette on the Randy Orton/Triple H. I don't think I've ever seen this many video pieces for a storyline before. While I think most of the stuff so far has been over the top, it is doing a good job of building the animosity between the two.

Next Chris Jericho is going to wrestle Jerry Lawler. The build up for Jericho's match against the Hall of Famers has been really good. Jericho is one of the best heels in a long, long time. He is absolutely superb in making the audience hate him. Obvious decision here to put him over Lawler, gotta build the heat going into 'Mania.

Oh joy, another commercial for 12 Rounds. God, how I already hate this movie and I haven't even seen it. A pity too, because I kinda like the premise and it has Tommy Carcetti from "The Wire" as the bad guy. This may be a DVD rental in the future. As for his match at Wrestlemania, I can't say I'm looking forward to it. Now, maybe if Vickie Guerrero would just go away...

OK, I get that The Legacy is part of the Orton/HHH match, and is fairly important to the build, but damn if I ain't sit of interviews and promos. Just show me a friggin' match already. However, I must say that I really like Ted DiBiase's potential on the mic, and as a heel. Cody Rhodes' lisp still cracks me up. I hope they make a run at the tag titles soon.

The commercials for Guitar Hero: Metallica are kinda chuckle-inducing.

I am sick and tired of Rey Mysterio and his David vs. Goliath shit. Seriously. We get it, he's the underdog. Everyone has two feet and 300 pounds on him. Good god, enough already. Look, I want a seriously rivalry for the Intercontinental Championship to develop, but not JBL/Mysterio. So, either have Mysterio win it Sunday as he did tonight and pit him against some high flier like Kofi Kingston or Evan Bourne, or have JBL win it and put him in a story against someone like William Regal or Mike Knox. Or, better yet, maybe since JBL calls himself "a wrestling god" you can pit him against some youngster like Sim Snuka. Whatever you do, no more David vs. Goliath.

Once again they are putting Big Show over as a dominant force, seemingly unstoppable. But they never put the belt on him. Maybe this time? Probably not, with the end of match beatdown by Edge, they seem to be playing the "John Cena overcomes all challenges" card again.

Another great promo for the Shawn Michaels/Undertaker match. Love the fact that they're hyping HBK's boldness, love the light vs. dark angle, ad love that Undertaker is getting frustrated by Michaels out-dueling him at mind games. Should be a great match.

I like what the WWE has done with the Money in the Bank participants. Now, maybe I would've had some individual matches to build some feuds, but they've kind of done that within all these 8-man matches (the MVP/Shelton Benjamin US Title rivalry). Also, I wonder if they're ot teasing a CM Punk heel turn with his recent disagreements with Kofi Kingston. Sure, he's immensely popular, but it could work.

Ugh, another promo to end a show. Really? You can't think of some match to end Raw with? Yes, at least it ended with some action, but come on. Nice touch with having the McMahons return, though. This should be the best match this Sunday.

OK, solid show tonight. They did what they needed to do by building all the Wrestlemania matches. Still, a little less talk and a lot more action, boys.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let's go dancing!

Don't you just love this time of year? Here's my quick look at this year's NCAA Tournament.

Midwest

I like Louisville. Their D is downright nasty, and defense is the way to win. I've always loved Rick Pitino's style, and this may be the best team he's had at Louisville. Any team that wins both the regular season and tournament championship in the Big East is going to make noise. I don't really see any huge obstacles in their way, other than their horrendous Free Throw shooting (see: Memphis, 2008).

Dark horse: West Virginia, never count out Bob Huggins.

West

The West is my upset special region... sort of. I have chalk going deep, with Memphis beating UConn to earn the Final 4 birth. However, I like Mississippi St., Northern Iowa, Utah St. and Maryland to all win their first round games. But, in the end, Memphis gets back to the Final 4.

Dark horse: Missouri, that style of play can give anybody fits.

East

All chalk. I would love for my Dukies to make a run, but unfortunately they have no answer at all for Pitt's DeJuan Blair. The Panthers make the biggest dance of all.

Dark horse: Xavier is getting close to Memphis/Gonzaga territory as one of the best non-big conference teams. A big run this year would solidify that.

South

Call me crazy, call me stupid, I don't care. I just have a hunch this year: Gonzaga finally breaks into the Final 4. I like their matchups, I love their fast-paced style, I love their athletic defense, and I really love their awesome FT shooting. I think Ty Lawson's injury is too much of a liability for North Carolina.

Dark horse: LSU won the SEC regular season title, and got an 8-seed to show for it. Don't be surprised if the Bayou Bengals play with a huge chip on their shoulder.

Final Four

Louisville over Memphis, Pitt over Gonzaga. Louisville wins the all big East final.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday tidbits

Good blog entry by Tommy Deas over Tidesports about the ridiculousness of the NCAA. Here's the most interesting point:
...it is a violation of NCAA rules for a student-athlete on athletic scholarship to get a textbook that a professor recommends for his or her class.
Yes, you read that right.

Jack White has a new band, again. This one is called The Dead Weather, and Rolling Stone has a little something on their sound. The album is slated to come out in June, and from what I read, it should be another Jack White success.

This season of the Real World sucks. Everyone is boring. Seriously, when your biggest drama is a dispute over cleaning dishes... I mean, can't MTV manufacture something interesting?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Watchmen

I hate reviewing movies, I really do.

Exactly what am I supposed to base a review on? There is no scale for such a thing. How can I compare one movie to the next? What one director does has no bearing on what another will do, different styles and all. You can't compare The Godfather to Animal House because they're entirely different movies.

I mean, look at critics. There is no "International Movie Association" ranking formula. Now, yes, you obviously tell if actors are lousy, the script makes no sense, the effects are lame, etc. But it all comes down to personal taste more than anything else. One critic will laud a movie as having a "detailed, intricate plot that sucks you in" while the next will say the exact same movie is "far too long and plodding." What sense does that make?

I suppose that's just one of life's unanswerable questions, like why the local sandwich shops have thicker napkins than the wings place.

All that said, here's my take on Watchmen!

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Zack Snyder stayed very faithful in his adaptation, while at the same time adding his own unique style and artistic touch.

Visually, it was stunning. Snyder gave the film a fascinating, comic book-like look. It was beautiful, smooth and really fun to watch. Of course, there was the issue of Snyder's penchant for slow motion fight scenes. Naturally, they were there; but Snyder managed to reel them in and let scenes play out without bogging the film down with slow motion a la 300.

The acting, for the most part, was superb. Jackie Earle Haley stood out above the rest, because he absolutely nailed Rorschach (although when I read the novel I didn't imagine him with the Christian Bale Batman growl). However, I wasn't the biggest fan of Matthew Goode's portrayal of Ozymandias (more on that later).

But Snyder's biggest feat was pulling off the complex, layered story on the big screen. This was as good a comic book/action movie as I have seen. Gone were the cheesy cliches, shallow stories and contrite commercialism. In Watchmen, characters were actually developed, the plot was actually well thought out, and corners were not cut in favor of flash and flair. The run time of the movie barely falls short of three hours, but Snyder uses every minute of it so well that it flies by.

I highly recommend this one. It's an intelligent, fun, involved movie experience. It's a great alternative to the cheap thrill-filled blockbusters that dominate the genre. However, I do suggest you read the graphic novel first. While Snyder did about as good a job as you can do in transferring the novel to the silver screen, there are still so many little things and side-stories to pick up in the book.

OK, now for specifics...

***SPOILER ALERT***

OK, I said above that I wasn't impressed with Goode's version of Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias. Now, for those of us coming into the movie having read the book, we already know that he's turns out to be the villain. But, in the movie, Goode's acting is so brooding, so dark that it's almost obvious. What was an absolute shock in the novel was almost a foregone conclusion in the movie.

I was a little disappointed with the lack of the newspaper stand side-story. I thought both the newsstand's operator and the comic provided a nice subtext to the overall story. However, I can understand the difficulty in trying to translate them to the big screen.

The ending might upset some hardcore fanboys, but I was perfectly fine with it. It still kept true to the novel's main idea; and while adding his own twist Snyder didn't compromise that idea.

OK, sleepy time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Phew, that was a close one

In what has been a largely disappointing offseason thus far, the Ravens agreed to terms with Ray Lewis today. Thank God. Losing Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard to the Jets was rough enough, but losing Ray Ray would've been lights out. Yes, he's getting up there in years, but he's the team leader and is to the team what Cal Ripken was to the Orioles. It's impossible to envision him in another uniform. ESPN.com blogger James Walker gives his thoughts on it here and here.

The team also made up for the loss of center Jason Brown by signing six-time Pro Bowler Matt Birk.

For those that have access to ESPN Insider material, Doug Gottlieb has a little piece on what Alabama and Georgia should be looking for in their respective coaching searches. Personally, I want Mike Anderson of Missouri. He's a Birmingham native, did wonders at UAB, and currently has Missouri in the upper tier of the Big 12. Plus, he's a Nolan Richardson guy, meaning he could bring a version of the "40 Minutes of Hell" to a program that's had an incredibly boring offense for years upon years.

The Mountain West has proposed an eight-team playoff to the BCS. I'm sure the committee will treat it with the utmost respect...
MWC: Daddy, can I have a Playstation 3?
BCS: Well kiddo, why ruin the toys you have now? [Dad picks this off the shelf.] There, this is just as good.
MWC: But Dad--
BCS: Hush now, boy, this is just as good.
MWC: Daddy!
BCS: I said simmer down, son. [Pops eyes the 17-year-old busty blond at the register the way Tim Tebow eyes his next pair of jorts.]

So I went to a Bama basketball game tonight

And it's still the same rubbish it was when I last saw a live game in 2006.

Seriously, our basketball program is about as pathetic as the fact that Katy Perry doesn't even kiss a girl in the video for "I Kissed a Girl" (really, she doesn't, what the fuck is that all about?). We still lack identity and organization on offense. Still have lackluster fundamentals. And we still have yet to figure out perimeter defense. And we still have a largely apathetic fanbase (normally, this is where I would link to a column I wrote about three years ago demeaning the Alabama basketball fans for their lack of passion. Problem is, that was published on Dateline Alabama, the University's student-run online news site. However, the College of Communications apparently doesn't think online media is anything important, so the site is now defunct. Brilliant.)

Hopefully, we can bring in someone like Mike Anderson to turn the program around. But enough about that.

What I really went to see at Coleman Coliseum tonight was the presentation of the Foy-ODK Trophy. For the uninformed, that would be the trophy awarded to the winner of the Iron Bowl each year. Six long years it stayed on the plains of Auburn, and now it's back where it belongs in Tuscaloosa.

RMFT.