Thursday, December 31, 2015

redvsblue Season 10

Season 10 marks the final season included in the ten year redvsblue anniversary set off Amazon. It is part two of two of the Project Freelancer saga (trailer), and clocks in at one of the longest RVB seasons yet at a whopping two hours and forty minutes! It continues the same narrative as the previous season where half of it is a prequel with the freelancer team working under the director (John Reed) and the counselor (Asaf Ronen) set “many years ago” before the events of the first seasons of RVB.

The other half of the narrative takes place in the present. The end of season nine was with Church/Epsilon (Burnie Burns) getting yanked out of the bizarre alternate reality he was stuck in. To his rescue is Caboose (Joel Heyman), Sarge (Matt Hullum) and former freelancers, Carolina (Jen Brown) and Washington (Shannon McCormick). They meet up with Grif (Geoff Ramsey), Simmons (Gus Sorola) and Tucker (Jason Saldana) as we find out that Carolina is leading them all to track down the director to settle some unfinished business.

That unfinished business is told through the prequel narrative with the freelancer squad as we follow them on a few missions in the opening half of the season. Not all is well as we find out that Agent CT (Samantha Ireland) is a traitor and she meets her maker courtesy of Tex (Kathleen Zuelch). Things get a bit intense on the prequel half of the season as the cracks forming between the agents in part one of Project Freelancer come to a head in part two with several alliances and rivalries erupting between the agents. Like last season the freelancer half of the story features the bulk of the stunning animation scenes that has been present since season eight of RVB. The animators Rooster Teeth has employed since season eight do some marvelous work with their super detailed battle scenes that are a joy to witness, and like last season I cannot help but feel spoiled while indulging them after several seasons without them.

Watching the freelancer side of the story this season is a bit edgier than the everyday lighthearted tomfoolery involving the reds and blues in the present storyline. The last couple years I have been getting into the Flash and Arrow TV series and it reminds me a lot of that similar dynamic between those two shows that both fall under the same story arcs. Like last season the two balance each other out nicely, because after seeing the bubbling storylines come to a boil and the heated firefights with the freelancers it is much appreciated to get a helping of some of the trademark humor from the reds and blues. I recall knowingly nodding along with Sarge as he quipped that it was hard to keep tabs on what was what with all the double crosses, time travelling, deaths and fake deaths transpiring. He is not kidding, because like I mentioned in last season’s blog, the RVB cannon is right up there with Lost on how to keep track of everything.

Even though this is the longest season of RVB yet, the storyline being split in two parts definitely helps make it go by faster. I particularly enjoyed how the final act went down. The freelancer prequel side ends fittingly enough with all the pieces falling in the right places and tying in directly to the beginning of the first story arc of RVB that is known as The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Back in the present, the reds and blues unite in a very memorable scene after an unlikely voice we have not heard from in awhile motivates them to overcome their differences where the reds and blues hook up with Carolina and Church/Epsilon against what else but insurmountable odds to lead them to their fateful meeting with the director. Make sure to watch after the credits this season also as there is a two minute stinger tying up some loose knots that were dangling throughout the season.

As usual we get the standard slate of extra features for season 10 of RVB. I dug the commentary track the most as it features several Rooster Teeth cast and crew members. There were rarely any lulls in the commentary and the cast had a great ebb and flow throughout as they pointed out easter eggs, timeline discrepancies, overall thoughts on filming with Halo Reach and visiting 343 to use their first Halo 4 machinima for the final sequence in season 10. If you want to know more about how they pulled off their animation, they have a couple animators on the commentary that definitely go into detail on certain scenes. Rounding off the extras are seven minutes of outtakes and five PSA bonus videos, with my favorite of the five easily going to their ‘net survival guide PSA. That PSA compares how the Internet has evolved over the years and what it takes to survive in the modern era dominated by social media.

While part two of the Project Freelancer saga is the final season included in theten year box set, it will not be the final RVB blog here. I only covered two of the four discs of extra features so far, so expect the next RVB article to detail the remaining box set extra features. I also own seasons 11 and 12 of RVB, so expect blogs of those in the next few months. Oddly enough, I had to purchase season 10 separate from the box set, because in a onetime only instance from the countless things I purchased from Amazon over the last 16 years, I had the case ripped open and the disc with season 10 was missing. Why only one disc was swiped from the 14-disc set will forever remain a mystery. Regardless, I will see you all again soon for at least a few more RVB entries to come.

Past redvsblue Blogs

Season 1 Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9

Friday, December 25, 2015

Dirty Work

Merry Christmas my dear readers! My gift to you is a blog on my all time favorite comedy film that finally came out on BluRay a few months ago with 1998’s Dirty Work (trailer). Why did it take so long to come out on BluRay you ask? In 1998 the DVD format was only a year old and Dirty Work was there with a DVD release and it became one of the very first DVDs I owned. Many film companies have put out their biggest hits on BluRay since that format arrived in 2006 and it still has a noticeable presence on retail shelves. However, the ubiquity of online streaming media like Netflix and Hulu combined with the surprising staying power of DVD sales resulted in BluRay not taking off as fast as DVDs.

BluRay still splits about 50% of home video shelf space with the aging DVD format at most retailers nearly 10 years after the debut of the BluRay. Compare that to the advent of DVDs where five years after the debut of DVDs in 2002 and the VHS format was about a year away from being gone on retail shelves all together. I am giving that little aside as a reason why some film studios are taking their time putting out their back catalog that were not originally massive hits on BluRay. This past year I finally got three of my favorite comedies in the form of The Replacements, UHF and finally here with Dirty Work making their long overdue release on BluRay.

Enough history, onto the film! Dirty Work stars Norm MacDonald as down-on-his-luck Mitch Weaver. The film opens with a nice montage of Mitch and his friend Sam (Artie Lange) growing up not taking crap from bullies and always getting the last laugh. Fast forward to the present and it is a complete 180 as Mitch just lost his girlfriend and his latest job, so he moves in with Sam and his father, Pops (Jack Warden). All is not well though as Pops has a heart attack and his doctor-turned-compulsive-gambler (Chevy Chase) reveals he needs a new heart transplant to live, and will bump him to the top of a transplant list if they give him $50,000 to pay off his bookies. So Sam & Mitch do the only reasonable thing and go back to their mischievous ways and open up a revenge-for-hire business with is aptly named Dirty Work in hopes of raising the cash.

While some of you may recognize Norm MacDonald now as the new KFC mascot and for his random live Twitter sports play-by-play tweets, back in 1998 Norm was riding high coming off a hot run on the long running Saturday Night Live satire news segment, Weekend Update. Norm added a unique twist to his take on Weekend Update by busting out a tape recorder and recording future notes to self so he can learn from the mistakes of others making headlines. Norm’s tape recorder bit was a hit with fans that it made its way into Dirty Work and plays a vital role in Norm overcoming this film’s antagonist Travis Cole, played by one Christopher McDonald who is fresh off as evil golfer Shooter McGavin from the Adam Sandler megahit, Happy Gilmore.

There are also a few other noteworthy cast members worth mentioning. Traylor Howard plays Norms love interest, Kathy. Adam Sandler, Gary Coleman, Ken Norton and John Goodman all have brief, but memorable cameos. Don Rickles and David Koechner have small roles as evil bosses early on that are on the receiving end of Mitch & Sam’s revenge business. Dirty Work also will go down as being Chris Farley’s final role (Farley is not in the official credits for reasons beyond me) as he plays a small supporting role in the film as ‘that guy’ in the bar in only a few vintage Farley-quality scenes, with his most memorable when he plays the wrong song on the jukebox in preparation for a bar fight. Finally I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Mr. Full House himself, Bob Saget took one of his few trips to the director’s chair in his career to oversee this production.

Dirty Work is about as slapstick as it gets, as you can nearly predict how the film plays out right from the beginning. The journey there is worth it however as the film is filled with countless great quotes and moments throughout. Trust me after seeing this film, you will think about used car dealerships and other films like Men in Black in a whole different light. Some of the jokes may not hit for all as the film has its fair share of dry humor moments peppered throughout, especially from Chevy Chase which I thought they were a fine balance to the many off-the-wall antics from Sam & Mitch.

MGM did nothing special for BluRay release. The original DVD release only had a trailer, and that is all we get on the BluRay. Somehow MGM found a way to take away bonus content as the original DVD menus had the Dirty Work theme in the background, and it is absent on the BluRay menu. The DVD also had a little two page insert with production notes and quotes from the cast and crew on what was the closest we got to a behind-the-scenes feature of the film, and sadly that is not included with the BluRay either. Yes, I had to be the guy who made sure to save my DVD insert and enclose it with my BluRay copy. The lack of extras is a bummer, as I imagined it could not have been that difficult to track down Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange and Bob Saget for a couple hours to record a commentary at the very least.

I am probably overhyping this film a bit by proclaiming it as one of my favorite comedies ever when I doubt this will be on many lists if you search Google for ‘best ever comedy films.’ Dirty Work came out at the right time for me, and the jokes and moments still hold up today for me. The film perfectly captures Norm MacDonald’s style of comedy he brought to SNL, and if you were a fan of that then you know what you are in for. If you were completely unfamiliar with Dirty Work before and stumble across it in the cheap movie bin or while browsing across a streaming service, I hope you give it a chance as it is a very quick watch right at an hour and a half and I guarantee it will at least get a few unconventional laughs out of you, if not many more.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs


3
12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Faster
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

Friday, December 18, 2015

ECW Unreleased: Volume 1

After several years of not releasing any ECW DVDs, WWE started off a new trilogy of ECW home video releases with 2012’s ECW Unreleased: Volume 1 (trailer). As the name of this BluRay implies, it features 22 matches never released on a WWE home video disc before. However, some of the matches on this very collection were released on home video before through ECW’s old video partner through 2002, Pioneer Video. I have most of those Pioneer releases and if you can track those down at a reasonable price I suggest you do so as they feature matches uncut, uncensored and do not suffer from WWE’s watchful editing eye as I saw some of that original content like signs blurred out when it appeared again on WWE Network or this very home video release.

The Pioneer DVDs also do not edit out the unlicensed entrance themes that WWE does not have the rights to. Some of the entrances helped really establish the characters and it goes a long way getting psyched up for a match when you see the crowd singing along to Rob Van Dam coming out to Pantera’s “Walk” and the crowd jamming out with Sandman to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as he drinks a six-pack through his meticulous walk through the crowd. On this release, the licensed music is dubbed over with their WWE themes, and other non-WWE wrestlers get painfully generic tunes dubbed over instead. I am anticipating an already lengthy blog so I will not try and give a detailed match-by-match breakdown but try to make sure to highlight the ones that really popped me instead.

Joey Styles kicks off ECW Unlreased: Volume 1 with a quick history of ECW’s origins as Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1992. ECW rebranded itself as Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1994 when Shane Douglas threw down the NWA title he just won in a match against 2 Cold Scorpio in favor of the ECW title instead. That match kicks off this collection, along with Shane’s infamous post match promo where he rechristens the ECW acronym and title, and we got our very first ‘ECW’ chant from the Philly faithful. That promo was indeed legendary for its time and it still feels special experiencing again today.

If you watched recent episodes of RAW you’ll notice their new ‘Extreme’ faction with Rhino, The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer going at it against the Wyatt Family. On RAW, Michael Cole keeps referring to Dreamer as ‘The Heart and Soul of ECW’ and you can see the match here where he won over the ECW crowd with that moniker with his bout against Raven at Hostile City Takedown ’95. Constantly on ECW montages on modern day WWE television you will see a classic ECW clip of Dreamer in the crowd chanting along with the fans, and that is what happened here directly after this match.

There is a pair of technical-savvy bouts featuring a pre-WCW/WWE Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero. One is a Heatwave ’95 tag match with Eddy & Taz teaming up against Scorpio & Malenko in a rare ECW tag match that features actual tag rules. On top of that, pay attention to the crowd in this match as it is apparently scorching hot inside the building as quite a few fans are shirtless and dripping with sweat. Fans who read Mick Foley’s book and remember his hall of fame speech will recall that he is good friends with Shane Douglas as the two were in the same training class, here you can see the only time to the best of my memory that they squared off during Cyberslam ’96. This bout features a lot of heat as it transpired during Foley’s “Take Me Back Uncle Eric” phase that was drawing massive heat in his final weeks in ECW. This match is really entertaining, and the ending is still intense to watch to this day as it draws heavily on Foley’s history in ECW and his old tag team partner, Mikey Whipwreck.

In a predecessor to the TLC matches we see today, there is a match featuring those weapons pitting the Eliminators against RVD & Sabu from Cyberslam ’97. Match is a big ‘ol spotfest with no real build, but was something special at the time. Another big spotfest is the grudge match that had a ton of buildup culminating to ECW’s first PPV, Barely Legal that had Taz and Sabu square off. It is entertaining witnessing Taz deliver many variants of suplexes, but he cannot pull them off like Brock Lesnar can today. Make sure to skip over the November 2 Remember ’97 bout with Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow. It is technically sound, but very slow and dragging, with Douglas wrestling in a modern day SuperCena underdog match where he is lying dead for 80% of the match before making the predictable heroic comeback and ‘overcoming insurmountable odds.’

There are a few of RVD matches on here worth seeing when he was in full-on “Mr. Monday Night” mode. At Heatwave ’98, RVD & Sabu team up against two Japanese sensations in an all out awesome tag battle with nonstop action that actually had a story and made sense! In a Hardcore TV match a few months later you see one of his classic bouts against Jerry Lynn for the TV Title. At Heatwave ’99 RVD and Lynn put their differences aside to team up against Justin Credible and Lance Storm in another excellent tag bout that is noteworthy for a literally out-of-nowhere Sabu spot.

As I alluded to before, Taz was a big deal in ECW, and for those who know him now from his podcasting and announcing days make sure to check out his glory days in the ring here. That counts doubly so for his big ECW moment when captures the ECW Title from Shane Douglas at Guilty as Charged ’99. Taz had a second big ECW moment, while under contract as a WWE talent. You probably heard the story a billion times, but Joey Styles does a great job in the studio recapping how Taz won the ECW title a second time. Then you get to see Tommy Dreamer’s big moment when he beats Taz for the ECW Title at Cyberslam 2000, and Taz gave a very memorable post-match speech to Tommy to be a fighting champion, only to see Tommy get jumped by Justin Credible in his victory speech and grant him a immediate title match and, well, poor Tommy is all I got to say on how it goes down.

There is a pair of Rhino matches on here defending the TV Title against Sandman and Spike Dudley on Heatwave 2000 and Massacre on 34th St, respectively. He destroys both guys, but both Sandman and Spike do put up a believable fight. Sandman is fun to watch here as he is fresh off his short beer money stint in WCW and you can tell he is happy to be back with all types of dumb fun hardcore spots that only he can pull off. The final match on the main feature takes place on ECW’s final PPV, Guilty as Charged 2001 and is a triple threat tag featuring the FBI, Tajiri & Whipwreck and Kid Kash & Super Crazy. The bout features lots of nonstop action and surprisingly no use of weapons.

There are two matches as BluRay exclusives, both come from the 1994 TV special titled ‘The Night the Line Was Crossed.’ The first match is Jimmy Snuka against Tommy Dreamer. Snuka had a smidge left in the tank in 1994, and I got a kick of him getting into it with a few fans at ringside and raging on a then suspenders-wearing Dreamer by delivering three superfly splashes off the top turnbuckle. The other match is a 60 minute time limit draw that features what I believe is the first ever triple threat match in wrestling history. Yes, ECW is responsible for that innovation that seems almost commonplace in modern day wrestling. It features Terry Funk defending his ECW Title against Shane Douglas and Sabu. It is a fun match, but I can see why it is only included as a BluRay exclusive because there are a few expected lulls and ECW camerawork in 1994 left a bit to be desired as the camera could not keep up with the combatants as they brawled outside the ring and all over the arena. There is also a pretty good post match press conference tacked on afterwards where in glorious stereotypical wrestling fashion, it concludes in a big ‘ol pull-apart brawl.

Thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far. I try not to focus this in depth on the matches in my wrestling blogs, but since ECW Unreleased: Volume 1 is primarily a match collection it felt like the right thing to do. The only new content on here is when Joey Styles pops up every several matches to set the stage for the next bout, much like Diamond Dallas Page does on the Best of Nitro volumes put out by WWE.

If you are a newer fan of wrestling and want to see the prime years of many former big WWE and WCW names, than this is definitely worth checking out as it features a lot of big moments and a good chunk of the matches on here range from pretty solid to great. Some of the edgier hardcore spots like chair shots to the head are a little hard to watch knowing what we do now of concussions and the unfortunate aftermaths of some of the wrestlers involved like Mike Awesome and Bam Bam Bigelow. Also, since WWE has really stepped back the amount of weaponry and hardcore spots with their TVPG rating from the last several years, a lot of ECW’s content really pops with intensity in comparison. So yes, ECW Unreleased: Volume 1 is perfect for newer fans to see a gateway to a whole different era of wrestling, and even ECW fans to experience a bunch of matches that were either hard to track down and/or never-before-released on video.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials Summer 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

redvsblue Season 9

Season nine of redvsblue kicks off the third major story arc in the RvB universe, Project Freelancer (trailer. This far into the RvB saga, the lore and mythos behind the freelancers and their respective AIs is almost as complex as the Metal Gear Solid canon. At the end of the season eight, we saw Church (Burnie Burns) realizing more of his true nature as he rediscovered himself back at good ‘ol Blood Gulch, and season nine marks the first season shot entirely in the Halo Reach engine, so expect a few tweaks to the famous multiplayer map and a nice coat of paint to spruce up the scenery a little bit.

Shortly into season nine you realize Church (Burnie Burns) has once again stumbled back in time. Instead of constantly jumping into different timelines however and repeatedly failing to fix the past like in season three, Church is now locked in this version of the past. This one appears to take place in an alternate timeline as the events that transpired here are similar to the very first season of RvB, although things are a little different. Sarge(Matt Hullum) is now a laid back superior, and Grif (Geoff Ramsey) is a super hard working trooper who refuses to take a break, seriously, and Simmons (Gus Sorola), well, he is still Simmons. Tex (Kathleen Zuelch) makes another emergency fill in situation for the Blues, and Church has a whole new destiny waiting for him. Since this is a prequel of sorts that means Donut (Dan Godwin) is back in the mix too, and I absolutely love his character this season.

Most of the characters on Blood Gulch in season nine end up in the same spot or as the same character as they did by the end of the first season, just the path they got there is a whole different, amusing journey. In a weird way as I watched this season it kept reminding me of the final season of Lost and how things were all kinds of messed up with their flashbacks, flash-forwards and flash sideways and then by the last season they had time travel integrating between all these timelines to keep you scratching your head throughout. The end of this season on Blood Gulch completely came out of left field for me and has me on my toes for the events of season ten.

That is not everything that happened in season nine as we have duel prequel timelines this season bouncing back and forth throughout its just under two hours runtime. One timeline is the Blood Gulch prequel, the other is a prequel involving the Freelancers. Their timeline opens with them performing a routine seize and escape mission, but you can tell the Freelancers are crumbling throughout as the Director (John Reed) is manipulating a scoreboard ranking them all in his own twisted version of Darwinism.

Remember how last season was the first to implement motion-captured animation? In season nine, the animators at Rooster Teeth kept the super slick looking motion-captured animation exclusive to the Freelancers timeline of this season. It is probably the right call because there are a handful of very detailed action sequences with them on their action-filled missions. The animators take it up another notch with most of the Freelancers removing their helmets and we get some well crafted facial animations throughout this season, with very top-notch animated lip syncing, and we are not talking about of the Vic-quality either in the early RvB seasons.

However, I cannot help but feel a little off at RvB looking this….professional looking. The way the animators pulled off some of these elaborate gunfire exchanges and chase scenes looks so well done, that it feels a little too good for the web series that until the previous season had a charming DIY vibe. If there is anything to take away from these exquisite motion-captured scenes it is that a couple of them overstay their welcome as they went a little too overboard with the Freelancers kicking ass and I just wanted them to move on already.

The standard extra features accompany season nine. There are five short deleted scenes, with one of them standing out as it features cameos from two characters that since they are regulated to this deleted scene wind up with no actual involvement in season nine. There are four behind-the-scenes features tallying up to just under a half hour that are worth checking out as they are really well shot interviews with the cast and crew. Back to Blood Gulch has the cast answering fan questions, while Meet Project Freelancer has the cast and crew pretty stoked about doing a prequel. RvB Visual FX is a in depth look at how Rooster Teeth handled the detailed animation on the Freelancers side of the story I recommend checking out if you are just the tiniest bit curious on how they pulled off the animation. Finally, there is a commentary that I recommend not skipping over as it features the series creator and director Burnie Burns with a rotating cast of guests throughout to keep the conversation on point and nonstop references to RvB lore, and little nods to the fans of certain scenes and even more details on how they pulled off their animation.

I will give props to Rooster Teeth for shaking things up a little bit with part one of Project Freelancer as the dueling prequel timelines is a fresh way to mix up the storytelling of the RvB universe. I dug the whole alternate ‘how did we get here’ aspect of the Blood Gulch timeline, especially with its cliffhanger at the end, and the Freelancer’s timeline helped give a lot of back story on Tex, The Director and a few other freelancers we have seen throughout the seasons. I am intrigued to see how it all ties together as Project Freelancer wraps up with season ten, so make sure to join me next month for my coverage of it here!

Past redvsblue Blogs

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Tooth Fairy 1 & The Tooth Fairy 2

It is now time to cover another gag gift from my movie backlog box. For newer readers to the blog, my friend Matt and I have a tradition of gag gifting each other bad movies for the holidays, which we then have good times ripping apart together. Last year I covered Bounty Hunters, a Canadian indy-action flick starring former WWE Diva Trish Stratus in the lead. It is about as good as that description sounds. Last weekend Matt and I met up with another friend for one of our customary bad movie nights, where one of the films of the night was a Matt gag gift in the form of The Rock’s vehicle for mainstream family fun, 2010’s The Tooth Fairy (trailer).

The Rock was in one pickle of a situation when this movie hit theaters in 2010. Hollywood was initially bragging him up to be the next big action star after The Rock’s big breakout success in 2002’s The Scorpion King, but The Rock never reached that level of fame in his following action films. He found mild degrees of success with 2003’s The Rundown and 2004’s Walking Tall. Unfortunately for Rock, 2005’s Doom flopped hard. Rock needed to mix it up, and after seeing how Vin Diesel found success in 2005’s family friendly hit, The Pacifier, The Rock realized he needed to branch out to expose himself to a wider audience. So in 2007 he unleashed his debut family film, The Gameplan to mammoth box office success to a $147.8 million box office on a $22 million budget. After that film did gangbusters, Hollywood called again for another family fun follow-up, and thus we were bestowed with The Tooth Fairy.

The Rock and director Michael Lembeck did not reinvent the wheel and played the kids movie formula by-the-book. That said this was still quite painful to endure. Watching this with a couple friends and poking fun at it was the only way to enjoy this. If you do not remember the plot for this big family hit, The Rock stars as Derek, a former big time hockey player now stuck in the minor leagues. He is also struggling to be a stepfather figure to his girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd). Derek accidentally spoils the tooth fairy myth to one of Carly’s children, and the mythical tooth fairies track Derek down and punish him with tooth fairy duty in order to restore faith in the tooth fairies.

The film is full of kid friendly humor, with The Rock going out of his way to make over-the-top faces while decked out in his colorful tutu outfit to appeal to them directly. Stephen Merchant portrays Derek’s tooth fairy case worker, Tracy. My friends were surprised to see him in a children’s film, and we speculated he must have stumbled upon hard times in 2010 or lost a bet with Ricky Gervais to appear in this. There is not really a whole lot to say about this film as it is as paint-by-numbers as it gets. Derek is a cocky sports star who must learn the error of his ways, and by being punished as a tooth fairy he finds newfound respect for children and his family. The kid jokes were rather unbearable and full of groan-inducing puns, but super young kids will most likely enjoy it and not know any better. I suggest only forcing your children to watch this if they screw up as punishment when they could be enjoying other classics instead.

I wish this blog was done, but unfortunately Matt gifted me the ultimate DVD in a 2-pack special packaged with 2012’s direct-to-video sequel, The Tooth Fairy 2 (trailer). What better fit for a direct-to-video lead then no other than Larry the Cable Guy? I remember seeing commercials for this and instantly groaned and took solace in that I would most likely ignore this film, but I guess the joke is on me. Nobody from the original cast returned for the sequel, but the plot is identical. Larry is playing Larry Guthrie, who won a bowling contest at the beginning of the film at the expense of losing his girlfriend Brooke (Erin Beute). He tries to win her over later on in the film, but accidentally spoils the tooth fairy myth to a child in the process, and thus Larry must don the tutu outfit for his crime against humanity.

I went into the second film with much lower expectations since it starred Larry the Cable Guy, and ended up loathing it marginally lesser so as a result. Larry does not get quite as over-the-top with the cooky faces like The Rock did, but I think it is because he is incapable of doing so. The filmmakers made sure to make up for it though with added special effects such as Larry farting out glitter and sparkles in one scene in a stealthy attempt at nabbing a tooth. Make no mistake, this is still as dreadful to take in as the first film and is filled with just as many corny jokes and cheap puns for easy laughs for the kiddos.

Each DVD in this two pack had a few extra features to take in, but to be honest with you I only watched a couple as background noise while tending to other errands around the house. Trust me, you do not want to hear my thoughts on a Rock sing-a-along extra feature and very generic behind-the-scenes pieces with Larry the Cable Guy on how thrilled he and the rest of the cast was to work on the sequel. You win again Matt! This gag gift was absolute torture to indulge! For parents out there throw either The Tooth Fairy or The Tooth Fairy 2 in for your kids if they are under five to distract them for a couple hours around the holidays, or use it to torture them if they are in their early teenage years and you really want to punish the runts for screwing up!

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs


3
12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Faster
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes!

Earlier this year fan favorite, Daniel Bryan finally got his first fully featured WWE Home Video release, complete with a documentary and a hearty amount of extra matches. Prior to this all we had was a very bare bones Superstar Collection release that consisted of only 90 minutes of matches. You can finally replace that video with this beast of a collection that has a documentary and nearly eight hours of extra features (of which one hour are exclusive to BluRay). This being a WWE Home Video release, it gets the required catchphrase title treatment as you can find this in the video section and online shops as Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! (trailer)

WWE has been doing their best to keep Daniel Bryan still in fans’ minds while he is out on his latest injury sabbatical. Bryan has kept up with international promotional appearances, and aside from this home video, WWE also released an autobiography of him right around the same time Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! hit stores. I just finished reading it a few weeks ago and I found it to be a perfect supplementary piece to the documentary, as it goes into more detail on the chapters of Bryan’s career that are lightly touched on in a lot of places on the documentary.

Around Wrestlemania 31 at the beginning of this year WWE debuted their new WWE 24 mini-documentary series, a series of half hour quick career retrospectives with a theme attached to them. WWE 24’s debut episode was all about Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania XXX weekend experience where he won the WWE Title, and throughout Daniel’s weekend they splice in scenes that quickly chronicle his career and rise up the WWE ranks. I am referencing this because a lot of the interviews and footage in that half hour feature is reused for this home video feature that lasts just over an hour. This is admittedly a bit of a bummer, as a lot of the chapters of Bryan’s career they could have went into more detail, but are quickly only touched on or glossed over which is why I recommend you track down his autobiography for a more in depth account.

I am use to prior documentaries spending a decent amount of time about the featured wrestler’s childhood and family. Usually there are several minutes of interviews with family members and friends, where here all we get is just a couple minutes of only Bryan himself reflecting growing up before quickly transitioning into how he started training in the business. There is a couple of scenes showing footage of Bryan training in Shawn Michaels’ old wrestling promotion and thankfully they were able to work with Ring of Honor to allow them to show footage of some of Bryan’s work of his many years in that promotion to get across how Bryan spent many years on the indy scene honing his craft.

I am happy WWE dedicated some time to Bryan’s RoH days, but they could have done so much more. In CM Punk’s documentary from WWE they really went out of their way to show how much RoH was to Punk’s career and even gave a good nod to his feud with Samoa Joe in RoH while Joe was under contract with TNA when CM Punk’s documentary hit stores. I remember watching about a dozen RoH shows before Bryan signed with WWE, and he was usually one of their featured acts from the very beginning when he headlined their first show in February 2002. Bryan spent over a year as their champion and as ‘the man’ in RoH in a run he never quite had yet as ‘the man’ in WWE. Again this is all very briefly touched on, but the book goes into far more detail.

Naturally, the bio gets a little more in depth covering Bryan’s WWE days starting with when he made his televised debut on the first episode of the SyFy incarnation of NXT in February 2010. I will give props to Bryan for declaring his hatred of his time in NXT and getting his early termination for jumping the TVPG guidelines on the first Nexus invasion angle that the documentary covers in good detail. Up to this point and throughout other parts of the feature there are quite a few interview clips with John Cena and Seth Rollins referencing their respect for Bryan’s indy work and working with him. It was also amusing to see Miz say he never heard of Bryan before when he found out he was working with him in NXT, while Cena was very familiar with his indy work when he first worked with him way back in 2003.

I am glad Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! spent some time covering Bryan’s unfortunate early Wrestlemania appearances with Sheamus, as both Bryan and Sheamus recount how frustrated they were that their matches at Wrestlemania XXVII and XXVIII got the short end of the stick to give other matches more time. I share their frustrations because I was there at XXVIII and was unbelievably pissed off when the two were only allowed to have a 18 second match. The good to come out of that though was the “Yes Movement” taking off where fans started chanting “Yes” over and over throughout the show in rebellion and many shows thereafter that lead to Bryan breaking out into superstardom that the biography definitely makes sure to get right.

From there the bio goes to Bryan rehabbing his unfortunate shoulder injuries he has suffered through the past year and a half. The biography here gives a more positive perspective on Bryan getting healthy and overcoming his injuries and I am glad they strayed away from how Bryan talks about injuries in his book where he practically boasts about lying to doctors so he could work through injuries so he could not miss out on paydays.

Of course we get a scene dedicated to how Bryan met his true love in Brie Bella and how their relationship evolved. This all transitions into Bryan’s big Wrestlemania XXX weekend where it culminated with Bryan winning the WWE Championship on the biggest wrestling stage of the year, and topping it off with getting married to Brie and moving into their new home just days later to finish up the feature on a positive note. It is probably for the best that the bio ended on a positive not and did not go into the many injuries that have plagued Bryan’s career since.

The extra features do kind of touch on Bryan’s post-Wrestlemania XXX career. In a refreshing take on the extras of WWE Home Video compilations where it is usually match, match, match nonstop, here in Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! we get a quick interview snippet with Bryan and maybe another superstar involved setting up the match and talking about where Bryan was at this point in his career. They are great little resting points between matches to serve as a mental break and help set up the feud going into the next match getting covered, and I hope WWE does this more in future home video releases.

Including the BluRay exclusives, there are a total of 17 matches. Noteable matches include Bryan’s first WWE tryout match in February 2000 with him and Shooter Shultz against Lance Cade and Brian Kendrick. The match has no commentary and it was cool to see how these four guys in front of a WWE crowd started off with the expected silence of being a bunch of unknowns, but won the crowd over with their relentless action and highspots. Early big matches in Bryan’s career are featured here like his NXT debut match against Chris Jericho, winning the US title from Miz and cashing in the Money in the Bank to win his first World Title against Big Show.

I really liked how Bryan in the extras reflected on having good one-on-one matches with Big Show and Mark Henry on Smackdown and live events. If you buy this, please make sure to watch Bryan’s match against Big Show on a January 2012 edition of Smackdown. I was giddy at this match’s inclusion, not only was it a fine match where Bryan brought out the best in Big Show, but it also featured some amazing commentary from Mark Henry who put Michael Cole in his place when Cole was doing his run as the ultra annoying evil announcer. Bryan and Sheamus have more thoughts on their Wrestlemania memories I recommend checking out, especially for Daniel Bryan sharing a funny Great Khali story which helps set up Bryan’s awesome rematch against Sheamus at Extreme Rules 2012.

Only a little bit of time in the bio went to Bryan’s fun run as Team Hell No with Kane. I am glad they at least touched on it, and it is too bad the extras only feature one match from their run as champs and that was when they won the tag team titles from Kofi Kingston & R-Truth in a forgettable match when I remember Team Hell No being part of a few very intense and climatic tag matches against the Shield in the summer of 2013 that were a big part of Bryan reaching main event level status. If there is one reason to get the BluRay, it is because the BluRay exclusives feature several of the awesome anger management sketches with Bryan & Kane, including the classic ‘Hug it Out’ sketch I will never forget.

Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! did a solid by making sure to include Cena and Bryan’s awesome 2013 Summerslam main event match where Bryan won his first WWE Title and debuted his new running knee finisher. The match easily holds up on repeat viewing a couple years later, and Bryan has some good introspection here on why the match was not a hit on PPV in the pre-WWE Network era. I get having the Batista/Orton/Bryan triple threat that headlined Wrestlemania XXX on here because it had a couple really good moments in and after the match, but I would have preferred that they include his match with Triple H from earlier that same show which I recall being the match of the night.

The main extra features unfortunately conclude with Daniel Bryan putting over Roman Reigns at Fast Lane from earlier this year. Yeah, Bryan got a lot out of Reigns that night, and if Bryan insisted on having his match on this collection than more power to him, but I got a feeling he did not have a choice on the matter and I would have preferred them to finish off the collection with him winning the Intercontinental title in a awesome ladder match at Wrestlemania 31 instead. Aside from the anger management sketches, other BluRay exclusive highlights include the infamous match against John Cena on a 2003 episode of Velocity and a cage match when he was briefly part of the Wyatt Family when he teamed up with Bray against the Usos in early 2014. Rounding off the BluRay exclusives are 22 minutes of random Daniel Bryan stories that were nice little tidbits to indulge.

This blog is nearly double as long as I usually go, but there was a lot to cover and Daniel Bryan is one of my favorite wrestlers, so please pardon me for endlessly rambling on. If you were intimidated by the blog length (I do not blame you), and skipped right to the end for the final word then this is all you need to know: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! skimped out on the documentary a bit, as it really needed another half hour to give the full Daniel Bryan story, but what is there is still a solid Cliff Notes version of his career. The extras definitely make up for it with interviews setting up many must see matches and help fill in a few gaps and expand on others that the bio negated. If all you want to see is primarily the documentary, just watch the WWE 24 special on Daniel Bryan instead. If you want a slightly more uncut version and a really good collection of matches, than you cannot go wrong with Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes!

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials Summer 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Cabin in the Woods

We are a few days shy of Halloween, and sure enough there was a spooky movie to be consumed out of my backlog box, so today’s entry is for 2012’s The Cabin in the Woods (trailer). If you are completely unaware of this film, I suggest you watch that trailer, skip this review and come back immediately. If you did not heed my advice and only watched the trailer and know nothing about the film beforehand you probably thought the trailer made it seem like this was a stereotypical teen slasher flick with maybe some little twist (which I will be spoiling below) to keep you on your toes. Turns out that little something extra wound up being a whole new dynamic that made CitW stand out unlike any other slasher film before it.

I did not catch this in theaters until it was out for a few weeks, and during that time a couple friends and hosts on podcasts I listened to all said along the lines of “I cannot discuss this movie without giving away key plot details, just go see it!” Somehow, I managed not to see any trailers or details about the film beforehand and essentially went into the movie thinking that this was going to be unlike any slasher film I saw before. That indeed was the case, and it made for an unforgettable theatrical experience with my friends and me cracking up at the ingenuity of the film and being completely unprepared for what the filmmakers were going to throw at us next.

CitW features five college kids going out for a weekend getaway off the grid in the middle of the woods. The five victims-to-be include the burn-out Marty (Fran Kranz), the girl next door Dana (Kristen Connolly), the sports jock Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the tempting vixen Jules (Anna Hutchinson) and the scholar Holden (Jesse Williams). Worth noting is that this film finished post-production a couple years before it hit cinemas, but Lionsgate held off releasing the film until the year after Thor hit theaters so they could understandably capitalize on Chris Hemsworth’s newfound fame.

From the beginning of the film, that the trailer just barely shows a glimpse of, you are introduced to three of the top executives (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford and Brian White) behind putting this gang of misfits together in the cabin. The film winds up referring to them as ‘the puppeteers’ who play a key role in determining the fate of the kiddos in the cabin. These puppeteers tinker away with settings in their control room by filtering in elements like nerve gas that alters the thinking of our protagonists to play along with slasher film clichés like the obligatory isolated sex scene, and splitting up while on the run from danger. When this all came to light in the film, this new dynamic completely caught me off guard and I immediately embraced the wild ride I was taken on throughout the rest of the film.

Watching the dorm rats try to figure out what is really going on with the cabin with every type of monster imaginable after them made for an entertaining journey. So were the scenes jumping back to the puppeteers and the mysteries on why they are doing this are gradually revealed. The unique nature of this film made it more of a comedy than a scare flick, and even the expected gore and death scenes are handled in a lighthearted way to make this film friendly for both hardcore slasher flick fans wanting something different and people who do not care for gratuitous gore and jump scares.

The BluRay of CitW is packed with extras. It’s not what you Think is a bonus picture-in-picture viewing mode that randomly splices in unique interview snippets with the cast and crew throughout the film. I did not watch too much of this as the interviews mute the film’s audio and made it a little too distracting. I did listen to the commentary track though with producer, Joss Whedon and director, Drew Goddard. The two have a natural chemistry and there is never a lull in their commentary. Noteworthy commentary anecdotes include getting the studio fully on board for the nature of the film, giving unique props to one of the scene decorators, and Whedon glorifying pot use throughout the commentary.

There is around an hour and a half of behind-the-scenes extras. We are not who we Are is nearly a half watch primarily revolving around the film being Whedon and Goddard’s passion project and how CitW came to be. Secret Stash is two shorter features where Franz guides us through the various pot props and Whedon gives a tour of the cabin. Army of Nightmares and Primal Terror are 12 minutes apiece and are all about the practical effects, monster costumes and CG special effects and how they tried to get the most out of practical effects and only use CG when they really needed to. Finally, there is a Q&A with Whedon and Goddard that took place at a comic convention where the two answer questions from fans for nearly a half hour. If you are into special effects I think you will get a lot out of the two effects features, and the Q&A does have a few worthwhile production stories to be had, but the only must watch of the extra features I feel is We are not who we Are.

I was a little tepid if CitW would hold up on my second viewing knowing the plot’s twist beforehand this time, but I quickly put my reservations to rest because it was still as entertaining to endure as it was the first time. Like I said above, I am not usually too big on scare or slasher flicks and I had no problems getting through this. If you know a friend or peer that is unaware of this film, drag them to your place and be entertained as they get wrapped up in the unique beast that is The Cabin in the Woods.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs


3
12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Faster
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

redvsblue Season 8

Season 8 of redvsblue is a major milestone for the long running machinima web series. First and foremost, it wraps up the second major story arc of series, Recollection, with season 8 being part three of three of this arc and titled, Revelation (trailer). Season 8 happens to be the final season filmed primarily using Halo 3. Finally, it is the first season where the folks at Rooster Teeth Studios start implementing CG-animation of our favorite Spartans that makes them perform all kinds of unique motion-captured animations that are not possible in the game. However, through the hard work at Rooster Teeth they manage to make it seamlessly blend in and appear that it was taken entirely from the game.

Revelation starts off with the return of Doc (Matt Hullum) who has been away for quite some time. He is answering a distress call as a result of the unfortunate ending of season seven, but it ends up being a trap set up by our antagonists for this season, the team of The Meta and Agent Washington (Shannon McCormick). Doc winds up being their obliviously naïve prisoner, and he has a great dynamic playing off Washington throughout the season. Last season I mentioned how Church (Burnie Burns) returned in a new way. In Church’s new presence, he has a legion of alien followers he willingly takes advantage of with an awesome eulogy scene commemorating all the fallen soldiers at the end of the big season seven battle. Not all is moonshine and gravy for Church however as he starts having flashes of his past haunt him, and allude that big happenings are soon-to-transpire.

Caboose (Joel Heyman) takes Church to a secret facility to discover some long-anticipated answers to the series’ cannon. Sarge (Matt Hullum), Grif (Geoff Ramsey) and Simmons (Gus Sorola) are not too far behind as they have been trying to fend off Meta and Wash in some slick looking, CG battle sequences. When I first watched this season I had no idea of the new tech Rooster Teeth had in mind for me and I had to do a double take and rewind before I realized what they were doing. It is really remarkable looking CG, and I am surprised at how seamless they got it to work within the Halo 3 engine.

Probably a standout use of this new CG tech is a big skirmish between the reds and the return of an even more powerful Tex (Kathleen Zuelch). Eventually Tex, the reds and blues all settle down before they discover their true nature and the answer to the long-running question of the show, ‘Why are we here?’ It is quite the stunner, and I definitely dug Sarge getting pissed off upon discovering these answers. This all leads to a dramatic showdown against Washington and the Meta in an even more impressive display of CG to close off the final big firefight of the season. The epilogue features some nice touching words after the intense final showdown. Rooster Teeth gives us a great taste of what is to come in season nine with the first shots captured from the Halo Reach engine during Revelation’s final moments.

There is the usual slate of extra features on hand. First is a three part mini-series, Holiday Plans, which lasts just under 15 minutes and is a dumb fun holiday special featuring most of the redvsblue crew. There is 20 minutes worth of bonus special videos/PSAs. The standout bonus videos this season are probably Rooster Teeth’s 101 guide on how to make a successful YouTube video and them running down video game review scores and ratings. There are two mini behind-the-scenes specials, one is about breaking down how they implemented the aforementioned CG animation which I highly suggest checking out and another interviews the two primary female voice actors of redvsblue: Yomara Cruz (Sheila) and Kathleen Zuelch (Tex).

There is the usual smattering of deleted scenes and outtakes, and rounding off the extras is a commentary track with several members of the Rooster Teeth team who swap out at random intervals. Notable talking points on this season’s commentary track feature the crew explaining Doc’s absence, their love for the film Walk Hard, setting up the first big CG sequence and working 20 hour days for the final elaborate CG scene and a nice tidbit on how Bungie let them get early access to Halo Reach for the final shot of the season.

It is a little hard to say right now whether I prefer Blood Gulch Chronicles or The Recollection as the dominant of the two major story arcs so far. I will probably give the nudge to BGC since a majority of that arc is easy to follow and it takes place primarily in one location while The Recollection is quite the ambitious project while it jumps across many maps and really explores the vast edges of the redvsblue cannon. It was a bit overwhelming on my first experience which caused me to walk away from the series several years ago, but watching the three seasons now back-to-back over three months made it more convenient to consume and it all pieced together far better for me this time around. Join me again next month as I tackle season nine!

Past redvsblue Blogs

Season 1 Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7

Monday, October 12, 2015

RoH Supercard of Honor VIII

Welcome back to my continuing coverage of Supercard of Honor (SoH), the only major Ring of Honor (RoH) show I go out of my way to watch a year. Occasionally I will catch an episode or two of their weekly syndicated TV show off the RoH website a year, but SoH is the only major RoH event I try and watch each year because most of them transpire within miles of the hosting venue of Wrestlemania the day before the biggest WWE event of the year. So naturally RoH tries to put on a stacked show that usually draws one of their best crowds of the year.

Today I am covering 2014’s Supercard of Honor VIII. At SoH VII last year SCUM was the dominant bad guy faction that had a presence throughout most of the show. At some point between SoH VII and VIII, SCUM dissolved and from its ashes another dominant faction emerged called ‘The Decade.’ It consists of a bunch of RoH vets who have been there since the promotion’s early years and the faction had a big presence on SoH VIII’s opening matches. Roderick Strong represented The Decade in the opening match with a victory over Cederic Alexander. As I noted in past RoH blogs here I am not a fan of Strong because he usually is in one of the main events of the show and the guy is one of the least charismatic headliners I have seen, and most of his bouts I have seen tend to be a chore to get through. However in the opener here with Alexander, it is a very quick paced affair with plenty of quick highspot moves to get the crowd riled up like a good opener should, but does not overstay its welcome.

The rest of the Decade at ringside stuck around for their six man tag team match next which featured BJ Whitmer, Adam Page and Jimmy Jacobs of the Decade against ACH, Everett and TD. This was another match filled with rapid-fire action in a scramble format so no tags were necessary. ACH stood out as the most charismatic of the six and had an organic connection with the fans and Everett recovered from a botched flip and made up for it with a few other big moves that dazzled the crowd. However, the dirty tactics of the Decade secured them their second victory of the night. There was a pretty dumb angle next where Matt Taven was scheduled to face a mystery opponent representing the no-good Truth Martini. I am guessing a deal must have fell through for a mystery opponent because what we got instead was Truth Martini coming out and rambling on for a few minutes before shooting a flame out of his vintage “Book of Truth” he carries with him wherever he goes at Taven. Taven tried to seek revenge against Martini later on backstage, but Martini shot another fireball at him again off camera, and Taven finished off the night with medical aids at his side in a surprisingly poor angle that is usually rare from RoH. I wonder if this will result in Taven wearing an eye patch like Chris Harris did in TNA for nearly a year.

Something crazy must have happened to RD Evans in the last year, because at SoH VII he was just a manager, but a year later at SoH VIII he is now a wrestler with a lucky undefeated streak of 82-0 going into this show. Evans dresses like Fandango, but is just a little more acrobatic than the WWE dancer-turned-wrestler. He is facing off against Silas Young, who looks eerily like a carbon copy 80s AWA Scott Hall, complete with Magnum PI mustache. Just watching this match alone I am guessing Evans’ gimmick is that of a modern day Honky Tonk Man who keeps his record alive with lucky DQs and non-finishes because that is what happened here where it appeared Young got the victory, but it got reversed after the match’s original ref came to after a ref bump and disqualified Young.

Mark Briscoe and Mike Bennett face off next in a No DQ match that lived up to its name that featured all kinds of crazy brawling into the stands and plenty of weaponry getting involved. Briscoe looks legit-crazy and reckless as always and I love him for it, but Bennett got the W after knocking out Briscoe with a move before locking in his new crossface-style submission. RoH’s version of Hornswoggle, Cheeseburger is tossing out shirts to the crowd in the next segment when Matt Hardy interrupts to endorse RoH champ Adam Cole to the chagrin of the crowd who takes pleasure in absolutely shitting on Hardy. Hardy rewards the fans by beating up the loveable Cheeseburger.

Next up was a triangle tag team match between the ReDRagon, Hanson & Rowe and the Forever Hooligans. Match started off a little slow and disjointed, but eventually all three teams found their groove for an entertaining final few minutes with ReDRagon emerging victorious. Next match was for the TV title that saw Jay Lethal challenging the defending champ, Tomassa Ciampa. I just saw Ciampa compete this past month in a couple episodes of NXT in part of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. I think he is part of the roster there now, and hope he has success there because he looked promising in NXT and here where he lost the title to Lethal after Lethal accepted a weapon from Martini at ringside and used it against Ciampa to win the title and turn against the fans in the process. This was kind of a big moment because I cannot recall Lethal as a villain before, and I heard he went on to have a big year in RoH following this so it looks like this night was a big catalyst of future success for Lethal.

Kevin Steen (aka Kevin Owens) squared off against Michael Elgin next in this battle of the big men. For big guys, both are capable of doing high-flying moves so part of this match was a big-man slugfest and another part consisted of tons of high-flying spots that dominate a lot of RoH matches. Elgin won with Steens’ own cradle pilderiver move for the finish, and even though the crowd was really into this match I was just not feeling it. I cannot help but think whenever Steen wrestles that he really should drop a good 40 pounds with all the high-flying moves he does before he suffers a heart attack in the middle of a match. Elgin gets a pass because he has more of a natural-big bone body, much like Rusev in WWE where Steen/Owens is just straight up overweight.

Jay Briscoe challenged Adam Cole for his World Title in the main event in a ladder match. The two pulled out all the stops here with countless vicious looking spots that resulted in Jay bleeding all over the place. There were also countless chair shots to the head throughout this match, but I think sometime after this show RoH incorporated WWE and TNA’s policy of banning chair shots to the head. A lot of run-ins in the bout’s final moments made for an intense crowd, and it was too bad Cole struggled getting the titles unclamped from the hook for a moment too long that made for an awkard final minute of the match. Despite that hiccup, this was easily the best match on the show.

Closing thoughts on SoH VIII was overall this was probably one of the weaker SoH events. I am glad to see the lighting and TV production aspects of RoH continue to improve, and the first two matches were solid openers and the main event delivered, but the rest of the card was kind of all over the place in terms of quality. I love the Briscoes so to have them both lose their single matches was a bit of a bummer. Matt Hardy just does not seem like a proper fit in RoH, and the crowd definitely let him in on that here, and the whole Taven/Martini angle throughout the show took more away from it then added to it. It is worth noting there is a two disc version of this show available on RoH’s website with a bunch of bonus matches and promos from RoH TV on the bonus disc, but I stuck with the single disc version. The ladder match was the only standout match of the show, but I cannot give this DVD a recommendation based on that match alone, so feel free to give this show a pass, which is surprising to say about an RoH show that usually has a far better track record.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Its Good to Be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
Memphis Heat
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All TimeTough Enough: Million Dollar Season
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
WWE Network Original Specials Summer 2015