Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Diamond Dallas Page: Positively Living

Earlier this year three-time WCW World Champion, master of the Diamond Cutter and yoga sensei, Diamond Dallas Page received his long overdue home video biography from WWE with the release of Diamond Dallas Page: Positively Living (trailer). The biography is only a little over an hour, but it surprisingly hits almost all the notable points of his life and career, and the collection receives the standard extra feature treatment with several hours of bonus matches spanning his entire career.

The brief time spent on Page’s childhood years growing up is an inspirational watch as he explains how he had to overcome hurdles such as ADD, Dyslexia and a car wreck at age 12 that wrecked his knee. Page explains how the car wreck left only sport left for him to play was basketball and stated how he was awful at it initially but over many years of practice made the high school’s starting squad. From personal life to professional life it goes to show the theme here is hard work pays off.

I recall reading how DDP was in the night club business, and Page goes into how he spent most of his 20s running night clubs and experimented with wrestling briefly before an injury in his second match got him to exit the business for the time and go back to the club scene. Even though they are now divorced, many fans remember DDP’s ex-wife Kimberly being a big part of his career as his on-TV manager, and WWE interviewed her for the video and she goes on to state how they met at one of Page’s bars and how their relationship evolved.

I read Page’s autobiography, Positively Page, that came out all the way back when he was still in WCW in 2000 so I am a little familiar with his early life and how he broke into the business, but that was 17 years ago so this BluRay is a handy refresher and I gleamed many new things throughout. If you are unfamiliar with Page’s journey you may be surprised to learn he broke into the wrestling scene late, and did not make a TV debut until some connections from the night club scene landed him a manager gig in the AWA in 1987 when he was 30. They have clips of his manager tryout video which are awesomely-cheesy, and they are included in their entirety in the extras. WWE interviewed Scott Hall, Eric Bishoff, Terry Taylor and Goldust about meeting DDP in the clubs and helping him land his first job in the AWA.

DDP spent his first five years in the business as a manager in AWA, FCW and WCW, and even had a Wrestlemania VI cameo that DDP reveals on how it came to be. Hearing Page’s story on why he took up wrestling at age 35 and making his proper in-ring debut at the end of 1991 is one of the highlights of the documentary. It seems like an impossible task to start training at that age, but over the years Page kept plugging away and kept putting in the time to get better and the results are easily apparent over the years on how he became a top player in WCW. The documentary spends a little time with him progressing over this time, but the extra features are where it is more noticeable where they include a couple matches from each year of Page’s career.

Page’s memories and respect for Dusty Rhodes are among my favorite parts of the bio. Page loves him, and I was all ears for the few big Dusty stories Page peppers out throughout the biography on how Dusty helped him out and motivated him throughout his career. A lot of time is spent on Page emerging as a breakout main event star in WCW in 1997 by feuding with the nWo and his intense rivalry with Randy Savage that lead to a classic series of matches with him. Hearing Page relive his success with Macho Man had me nostalgic for that era and that rivalry was one of the few things WCW did right among their ‘Monday Night War’ success. Ditto with Page recounting his super-successful run teaming with Karl Malone to take on Dennis Rodman and Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach ‘98. I had no idea until hearing Page state here that it was WCW’s highest grossing PPV of all time.

The documentary moves along to DDP winning his first WCW World Title at Spring Stampede ‘99 and Page has a good tale on how he met his goal to reach that milestone. I was not so surprised Positively Living skips the final two years of his WCW career since that was when WCW was in a downward spiral to its demise, but there were still a few interesting DDP moments from that era I would have liked to hear Page comment officially on such as his other celebrity team-ups with Jay Leno and David Arquette and DDP’s time teaming with his friends Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Kanyon in the Jersey Triad faction. Additionally, the Ready to Rumble film is a guilty pleasure of mine and I would have loved to hear DDP’s memories of being the primary WCW wrestler used in the movie. This clip from a shoot video interview will have to suffice instead.

His final year in his full time career where he jumped to WWE following the WCW buyout is briefly touched on, and Page tongue-in-cheek admits he was not too big on how the whole ‘stalker’ character was handled but stated he tried his best to make it work. I am a big fan of his ‘positive’ character he introduced later on in 2001 and DDP said he was too and how it was an amped up version of himself. Kimberly has a nice memory of Page walking in and out as a champion at Wrestlemania X8 was a good bookend to his career.

Fans of DDP knows Page has had a ton of success post-wrestling with his yoga business. DDP & Kimberly go into detail about forming the yoga business after yoga helped DDP recover from injuries and after a couple rough early years their hard work turned DDP Yoga into a big success. I am glad they do not gloss over this part of DDP’s life as it has been tremendous for him and the countless others he has helped in the proceeding years. I vividly recall hearing how DDP was starting his yoga business and immediately scoffed at it and all the clichés that go with yoga. Then I heard and saw the success stories (DDP helping Jake Roberts in this Netflix doc is must-see!) of it with wrestlers like Scott Hall and Jake Roberts. Finally, after hearing Chris Jericho vouch for it on how it helped him recover from a back injury last year I took the plunge and ordered the DDP Yoga DVDs when I was dealing with some shoulder issues. After a few weeks I was surprised at how much better the shoulder and my general well being improved. Now, a year later I still routinely do DDP Yoga three times a week.

The documentary has a nice final chapter where DDP and his current wife Brenda are interviewed about how they met and how DDP is a proud stepfather. The WWE production crew also capture DDP’s genuine raw reaction to Triple H calling him and informing him that he would be inducted into the 2016 Hall of Fame class in a emotional scene that once again proves that DDP’s mantra of hard work does indeed pay off. I went into a lot of detail than I anticipated for an hour long documentary, but DDP was one of my ‘Monday Night War’ favorites and for the most part I like how this biography was handled.

There are 22 matches to indulge in the extras, or 27 if you go the BluRay route. Again, I really like how the first several matches feature Page in his early part of his career teaming with other before-they-were-stars talent such as Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Raven, Cactus Jack and Buff Bagwell in the early 90s. DDP is very green, but the matches just go to show for far he improved over the years. He has some breakout matches from 1997 in here that established him as a main event player with bouts against Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan and Curt Hennig.

His standout PPV headlining encounter with Bill Goldberg from Halloween Havoc ‘98 is here in all its glory, and to this day I still think DDP got the most out of Goldberg in the ring. Both of DDP’s celebrity tag matches from 1998 are in here where he tags with Malone and Jay Leno. The match with Malone actually has some surprisingly decent action, and Jay Leno is wisely only used for comedy spots (minus his armbar of doom). Not-so-surprisingly his tag match with David Arquette is not included. A couple of excellent US Title matches with Bret Hart are however, as well as both matches that saw him lose and regain the title from Sting on the same night (I will never forget being there live for those two matches and going nuts for that first match against Sting!). The extras close with DDP’s successful European title defense against Christian at Wrestlemania X8.

I give Positively Living the highest of recommendations. Minus a few nitpicks mentioned above, I was really happy with the biography since it covers almost all the major parts of his personal and professional life thoroughly and it has nearly most of his major matches included as well as a few hidden gems. Whether you were an avid fan of DDP or not, his unorthodox journey and inspiring message is one that should be witnessed by all fans.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
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
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania 32
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016

Saturday, June 10, 2017

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part Three

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)

24: Legacy – The anti-terrorist hit show 24 is back with a new lead star in Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins). Legacy follows the same abbreviated format of the last season a few years prior where it chops the season length in half, but still retains the same ‘real time’ format of the show where everything takes place within an actual hour of time each episode. This benefits the show greatly since it eliminates a ton of the filler episodes past seasons of the show had to suffer through with throwaway mini-arcs on inconsequential plots.

It is a hard task to ask anyone to fill in the shoes for 24’s previous lead star, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), but Hawkins does a commendable as Eric Carter. Like Bauer, Carter winds up having an unbelievable day with an insane amount of terrorist acts he attempts to stop. This show has always been a guilty pleasure filled with at least a few action scenes of high TV production quality. It also hits all the same beats that dominate past seasons of 24 such as a new director of CTU (the fictional Counter-Terrorist Unit where everyone works) being introduced midway through the season, an inept CTU employee having to overcome their emotional drawbacks in a big moment, CTU getting attacked by the terrorists and finally, discovery of a mole inside CTU! Who is this deceptive traitor!? I use to hate these same notes 24 repeated ad naseum, but after nearly 10 seasons of the show they grew on me and I became to appreciate and expect them much like one would do the same by the unmasking of a Scooby-Doo villain. Grade: B+

South Park – Last year South Park succeeded in having their first season-long spanning storyline so creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone attempted to repeat the formula but with mixed results this go around. The primary storyline for this season is an ultimate online troll being on the loose and messing with the students of South Park Elementary. It winds up being a funny mystery leading up to the reveal, and how the online society of the most vile online trolls track down the South Park troll and come together to stop the Netherlands from unleashing their troll tracker that would spell certain worldwide doom. That story arc is fun to follow along with and indulge how it all plays out. The backup story of Cartman finding his first girlfriend and renouncing his bullying ways in the name of true love is also a hoot to keep up with.

One wrench that got thrown in for this season however was the 2016 US election. The election was also part of the season-long spanning arc, but Stone & Parker admitted in an interview on the Bill Simmons podcast they did not anticipate the outcome and had to do last minute rewrites and make drastic changes to the remaining episodes of the season as a result. It is apparent some parts of the greater season-long arc fizzle out a little bit and lose their muster after the election where South Park’s version of Donald Trump (who else, but Mr. Garrison) becomes President. The episodes are not disasters by any means, but lack the punch of the usual unapologetically offensive episodes of the show. The creators stated in the same interview they learned their lesson and plan on going back to self-contained story arcs in single episodes next season. Grade: B

Horace and Pete – This show is Louis C.K.’s take on a dark, twisted version of Cheers. If that caught your interest, stop reading now and immediately binge watch all 10 episodes. For everyone else, Horace (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) run a dive bar with their uncle, Pete (Alan Alda) and sister, Sylvia (Edie Falco). There is a lot of family drama transparent throughout the series that rears its ugly head in each episode as Horace and Pete want to keep the bar running while Sylvia wants to sell it to pay for her cancer operation. It is honestly hard to watch, but in a good way if that makes sense because it touches on a lot of deep family issues that I rarely see other shows go into and I imagine there must be at least a couple of the issues that are apparent here that should resonate with most on some level.

Between all the family drama there are much needed moments of levity with the family dealing with a regular set of customers in everyday conversations that may or may not have a point to them but are a delight to take in because of how wonderfully the dialogue is written. The show is filmed like a stage play with limited camera angles and no special effects which is a perfect complement to the dive bar setting. Almost all of the scenes take place either in the bar or in the apartment Horace & Pete reside in directly on top of the bar. Again, there is at least one or two rough scenes to take in each episode because Horace & Pete tackles issues unlike most other shows and does not hold anything back, especially with its ending that left me speechless. Highest of recommendations! Grade: A+

Stranger Things – This was the original series that rocked Netflix last year. Imagine a TV series version of the hit sci-fi film, Super 8 from several years ago and that is almost exactly what is Stranger Things. I love how it nails the early 80s setting I hold so dear. Poor Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) gets kidnapped by a mysterious creature, and now his friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) team up with mysterious newcomer to town, Eleven (Millie Brown) to track down Will. Will’s older brother, Jonathon (Charlie Heaton) and his mom, Joyce (Winona Ryder) also go through their own unique journeys while tracking down Will. Ryder is in a word, awesome in her portrayal of gradually losing her mind while her home reveals clues to Jon’s whereabouts.

The actual sci-fi parts of the show dealing with the creature and alternate dimensions were a little bit on the weak side for me, and for whatever reason did not blow me away. I was more a fan of the family and Sheriff Hopper’s (David Harbour) journey piecing together the mystery and tracking down Will and taking in all the callbacks to the early 1980s setting and lifestyle. There is also a side story for Jon where he tries to win over love interest Nancy (Natalia Dyer) from the school jock that is a guilty pleasure trope of mine. I liked a lot of the characters and certain parts of the show, but I am not as infatuated with Stranger Things as most others. I am still happy to hear Netflix picked it up for a second season and plan to keep up with it like almost everyone else on Netflix. Grade: B

Summer Viewing Plans - TV viewing plans for the summer is to burn through the rest of Riverdale and catch up on a lot of HBO programs. The final season of Leftovers just wrapped up and I loved how season two ended so I am psyched to grind through that series. Of course I plan on eating up the latest season of Game of Thrones once that premieres within the next month. Finally, I hope to catch up on The Rock’s original HBO show Ballers I am a season and a half behind. If all goes according to plan, check back here for a summer TV recap blog!

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part Two

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow))

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 1 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 3 (24: Legacy, South Park, Horace & Pete, Stranger Things)

For part two of my annual year in review of TV I will be focusing on three Marvel TV properties, in addition to another show based off another comic book publisher.

Luke Cage – I am a big fan of the Luke Cage character portrayed by Mike Colter when he debuted in a supporting role in Jessica Jones last season. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to see him get his own show. This is not a by-the-numbers, lighthearted villain-of-the-week superhero show. It is a darker take on the genre taking place in the gang-ruled streets of Harlem that has Cage trying to hide his powers and make an everyday living working multiple jobs. Life changes for Cage when a drive-by at his workplace barbershop spells the demise of his mentor. The rest of the season plays out more in a grand crime mystery caper than a superhero show. There are still plenty of enticing scuffles and brawls throughout the season, but the focus is on Cage tracking down several suspects while being on the run from an investigator hot on his tail in the form of Misty Knight (Simone Missick).

Watching the mystery unfold was fun to follow as I got to learn more facets about the cast such as Harlem’s lead gangster Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) and his right hand man Shades (Theo Rossi). Those two villains in particular were the most captivating antagonists among a slew of bigger players introduced this season. My only drawback with the debut season of Luke Cage is that it felt a few episodes too long and were hitting a few predictable clichés throughout the season that would have made for a tighter season if a couple episodes were cut out altogether. Regardless, this was a breath of fresh air from the Marvel Netflix formula, and I hope it sticks with it for future seasons. Grade: B+

Iron Fist – I was surprised to hear so much negativity about Iron Fist shortly after it debuted. Up until this series, the Marvel Netflix shows had a strong batting average. There is so much wrong with Iron Fist. The first couple of episodes are a slog to get through as star Danny Rand (Finn Jones) escapes back home to New York after training with monks for over a decade in a monastery to become the legendary ‘Iron Fist.’ He tries to reconnect with his siblings Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward (Tom Pelphrey) but the show spends the first couple episodes with the family dismissing him and casting him off in a rehab facility that was just a slog to get through and made for near-unwatchable television.

Eventually Danny gets out of the mental hospital and the show kind of gets on track for a couple episodes. Danny tags along with local martial arts teacher Colleen (Jessica Henwick). Unfortunately, Colleen gives Wally West a run for his money as ‘dopiest character’ of the year because her arc is written so terrible. She starts off the show as trying to help kids stay off the streets by joining her dojo, but learn later that she has an uncontrollable rage she likes to unleash in underground MMA fights. However, that arc magically disappears for the second half of the season without reason. The worst part for both Danny and Colleen is they both commit one of the worst comic book tropes of getting irked and declaring they are going to kill off their enemies only when it comes time to deliver on their promise like all good heroes they get reluctant and preach about not committing a crime. I can maybe let that slide once, but the duo repeatedly commit this awful comic book stereotype multiple times in the last several episode to the point that it is beyond a joke, and just blasphemous.

Speaking of villains, I was pretty high on the second season of Daredevil until they introduced the mystical Japanese ninjas known as ‘The Hand’ into the mix. For the unaware, they are the equivalent of the TMNT’s foot clan soldiers and Daredevil treated them as meaningless cannon fodder. Apparently, Marvel loved them so much they decided to double down on The Hand as the primary villains for Iron Fist. The bulk of the season is spent contradicting Daredevil by making The Hand appear as the ultimate threat, because…ninjas, but it is impossible to take them serious at all, and eventually they again become worthless cannon fodder. Most characters are written poorly that it is impossible to get behind anyone. The only couple of saving graces from this show being a straight up failure are Jessica Stroup and Rosario Dawson’s performances as Joy and Claire, respectively. I was a big fan of Stroup in The Following and she and Dawson are the only two that shine in this mess of a show. Grade: D

Legion – This show is officially part of the X-Men universe, but I would not blame you if you did not make the connection because as only a casual X-Men fan myself I did not notice any of the popular mutants from the acclaimed Marvel series here. It only seemed the term ‘mutants’ was only referenced a handful of times throughout the first season’s eight episodes. Legion is incredibly hard to follow. Mix X-Men, Split and Inception together and that is essentially Legion. Dan Stevens (David Haller) is the star of the show who gets locked in a mental facility as he learns he has split personalities and the ability to jump into other character’s dreams, and like Inception those dreams have layers and you can jump into multiple dimensions of dreams.

It all got extremely difficult to follow, but like Gotham I eventually turned my mind off and accepted whatever they threw my way. Being a FX show, Legion pushes the envelope with its content and there are some extra graphic scenes with the powers doing some lethal damage. For better or worse, the show evolved into ‘shock TV’ so I could see whatever jaw-dropping moment would transpire next. I had a very loose idea of what was going on by the end of the series, and I would benefit greatly from rewatching the Legion, but I have so many other shows to grind through. I will give this an unorthodox recommendation if you are into seeing a bunch of weird and crazy scenes for shock value alone with a mildly cohesive plot on top of it. Grade: B

Riverdale - I am only two episodes into this and cannot give a conclusive grade to the show based off the hit light-hearted high school comedy line of Archie comics I grew up with. This show is so not that, they bring over nearly the entire cast from the comics, but with a hard TVMA rating. Once it took me an episode to get over the fact that the cast is in their sophomore year of high school and everyone looks AT LEAST 10 years older, I instantly got hooked on the show. Riverdale takes the approach of Twin Peaks and Veronica Mars with a murder happening at the beginning of the season and the show spending the season trying to discover what really happened. The show stays topical by having new twists on characters that were not the case in the comics like certain sophomores being homosexual, having ADD or engaging in flings with teachers. I imagine there will be a few more to come once I get further along into the series. There is still a lot of the teeny-bop high school drama in here, but the show easily masks that underneath the big murder mystery at play and a cast that is well over high school age. I am intrigued and look forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out. Grade: n/a

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

2016-17 TV Season Recap Part 1

Previous TV Season Recaps – (2013-14 | 2014-15 | 2015-16)

2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 2 (Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Legion, Riverdale)
2016-17 TV Season Recap, Part 3 (24: Legacy, South Park, Horace & Pete, Stranger Things)

It is time for my annual TV season recap blog. Check out the links above to previous seasons in case you missed them. Like last year I wound up keeping up with a few too many TV shows so I will split this up into a few parts and link them above. For part one, I am going to focus on the four TV shows I followed based on DC Comics properties.

Gotham - If you thought last season of Gotham was off-the-rails, then be prepared for a whole new level of craziness for season three. I do not know where to start. How about with my only real qualm being, like in actual comics is that no one stays dead. Thanks to the science experiments of Hugo Strange (BD Wong), he keeps finding ways to bring back past fallen villains of the show, for better or worse. Yup, the writers found another way to bring back Fish Mooney (Jada Smith) for a few more episodes this season, and she is just as dreadful to endure as past seasons.

We do have a few new villains join the fray this season, and if you grew up with the classic animated Batman TV show you will be delighted to see Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel), Poison Ivy (Maggie Geha) and Mr. Freeze (Nathan Darrow) join the mix of the ever-growing list of Gotham antagonists. The big foil this season is a blood virus that Mad Hatter unleashes upon the city of Gotham that turns people into blood-lusting lunatics. It affects a number of major and minor players on the show this season and watching them succumb/overcome the disease lead to some compelling television.

Other favorite parts of this season for me are the constant love/hate/love relationship between Penguin (Robin Taylor) and Riddler (Corey Smith). Both wind up playing the political field this season before declaring war on each other to amusing results. Another constant dynamic I enjoyed playing out through the season was Barb (Erin Richards) getting more twisted each episode as she bosses around Tabitha (Jessica Lucas) and Butch (Drew Powell) to do her bidding to middling results. Once again, Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue nail the roles of the two primary detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Bullock is now the head of Gotham PD and Gordon starts out as a private detective hauling in baddies on his own terms. His season arc is unbelievable if I lay it all out for you now so you just have to tune in to see it. Finally, David Mazouz is really coming into his own this season as Bruce Wayne. He spends most of the season feuding with the underground Gotham society, the Court of Owls. I loved that comic arc from a few years ago and really dug Gotham’s take on that faction.

There is so much more that happened this season and other major characters I have not even touched on yet. It does get to be a bit much to keep track of, but last season I just said “screw it” and rolled with whatever Gotham threw in my face and let the recaps starting off each episode serve as a much-needed refresher. I very much enjoyed this season, and my only takeaways are Fish Mooney and a couple other minor villains that did not hit the mark of the many they introduced this season. Also, if you were following week-to-week like me then it got to be a bit difficult to keep tabs on everything since Gotham took two extended midseason breaks this season and I had trouble recalling if certain events transpired in specific seasons. Grade: A

The Flash - This is difficult to admit, but The Flash lost its way for its third season. Last season introduced Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) into the mix, and he just never clicked with the rest of the Star Labs crew. The writers of The Flash took this criticism to heart and doubled down on Wally this season by having him mope around the first several episodes about not having superpowers like the rest of the team. Then he finally gets powers and redubs himself Kid Flash and instantly becomes annoyingly arrogant. He is scripted to be as gut-wrenching as Spider-Man was in the disastrous Amazing Spider-Man 2 from a few years back. Wally West sir, you hereby are the runaway winner for my ‘dopiest character’ of all of TV this past year.

The third season of The Flash also doubles down into exploring the 52 Earths of the DC-Multiverse. If you do no recall from my recap from last season, there are 52 Earths/alternate realities where each one has its own version of Team Flash members. It seems now the writers are getting into a new comfort zone where if they need to write off a certain character they will bring in a new multi-verse doppelganger to take their place. Each season has had a different version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), with season three’s being a very lighthearted, coffee addicted version who calls himself ‘HR.’ HR is a fun addition to the team, but by the end of season three there were so many different multi-verse versions of each character introduced that it got to be groan-inducing whenever they time jumped to a new multi-verse.

The primary villain for season three is the mysterious Savitar. An early season episode shows a flash-forward of Barry’s love of his life, Iris West (Candice Patton) meeting her demise at the hands of Savitar so Barry (Grant Gustin) and the rest of Team Flash spend the bulk of the season trying to prevent that from happening. How they get there and what they wind up doing to try and save Iris is an interesting journey, but it has severe consequences that wound up being a big turnoff and does not have me anticipating season four whatsoever since the ending (light spoilers ahead) essentially implies that the cringe-worthy Kid Flash will be taking over as the new protagonist. There are still a fair amount of decent episodes this season (the annual Christmas party is a feel-good scene that delivers again this season), but I could not help but shake this season as a real letdown. Grade: C

Arrow - This is a big redemption season of Arrow after a couple of good, but not great seasons. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) starts the season as the new mayor of Star City and he still somehow manages to moonlight as The Green Arrow in his downtime. With season four leaving the old Team Arrow in disarray, Oliver recruits several new vigilantes to take under his wing for season five. This reminded me of the not-so-desirable new recruits Gordon was in charge of in season two of Gotham as most of these new characters just did not cut it and they become early cannon fodder for season five’s primary antagonist, Prometheus (Josh Segarra). There was one likeable new recruit though that stayed on board the entire season with the codename Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez), and I dug his story arc as he wound up teaming with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) for most of the season and the two meshed well together so much that I was always glued to my device whenever the two were onscreen.

Prometheus proves to be one of the major villains that Ollie has ever encountered as the two have several impactful moments throughout the season. They manage to outdo themselves in their final confrontation in a pivotal showdown between the two that had me in goosebumps throughout. Fans that follow Arrow every year know that each episode has flashbacks that lay out what happen each year that Oliver was away for the five years before returning to town in Arrow’s first episode. For the fifth year of Arrow flashbacks Ollie is in Russia teaming up with the Russian gang known as Bratva and his antics there all tie in to how he winds up back at Star City at the very beginning of Arrow. The final flashback scene is another powerful moment that combined with Green Arrow and Prometheus’s final showdown as one of the best season finales in the history of a TV superhero show and capped off one of the best seasons of Arrow yet. Grade: A

Legends of Tomorrow - The show featuring the castoffs from Arrow and Flash returns for a slightly more streamlined second season. Instead of focusing on a huge superhero roster of 10, they slimmed the team down to seven Legends this season due to how the first season wrapped up. The season starts off with team captain, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) lost in time and Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz) taking over the captain’s chair to lead the Legends to track Rip down.

Season two has a new team of former Flash and Arrow villains dubbed the Legion of Doom (Whaaaaaaaat a rush!) consisting of Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). I was a fan of these guys before, so seeing them team up and intentionally ham up the evil villain factor made them the perfect foils for the lighthearted Legends. This was a much improved season that stayed on point better, did not feature love triangle plots that overstayed their welcome and a better group of antagonists. The Civil War zombies episode I imagine will be a hit with a certain audience. Even though they improved a lot this season I would still state Legends of Tomorrow is not a top tier superhero show, as even with a slimmed down roster, there was still a lot to keep track of, and new Legend member Steel (Nick Zano) is a little too cheesy and requires a high tolerance level. Grade: B

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
2015-16 TV Season Recap
Adventures of Briscoe County Jr: The Complete Series
Angry Videogame Nerd Volumes 7-9
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
OJ: Made in America: 30 for 30
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Roseanne – Seasons 1-9
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle
Superheroes: Pioneers of Television

Monday, May 29, 2017

The War

Today’s film has been sitting unwatched in my backlog longer than most of the other films I have covered so far. I recall buying it around 2001/2002 when visiting Best Buy was a regular payday occurrence to see what was on sale. One of those DVDs I impulse bought is today’s entry which I first viewed shortly after its original release in 1994, The War (trailer). The Simmons family is barely surviving trying to make ends meet in a typical hot and humid Mississippi summer in 1970. Siblings Stu (Elijah Wood) and Lidia (Lexi Randall) are toiling away their summer building their dream tree fort while engaged in an intense feud with rival rural neighbor siblings, the Lipnickis. Meanwhile their father, Stephen (Kevin Costner) struggles to find stable work while suffering the effects of PTSD coming back from the Vietnam War.

When I originally saw The War when it hit theaters I was 11, which is right around the same age as Elijah Woods’ character here so suffice it to say Stu easily resonated with me. A big part of this movie is about Stu and Lidia making their local quarries and woods the ultimate summer hang out spot and engaging in their own brand of rural warfare with the Lipnickis kids and the film makes some extreme correlations relating it to flashbacks from Stephen’s drama he experienced in ‘Nam. That is no hyperbole either, because in the film’s big final act the Simmons and Lipnickis are beating the tar out of each other in a sick/awesome slow-motion montage of preteen kids pounding each other with their own unique weaponry while Stu pauses and takes it in and has visions of his father’s Vietnam stories. It is a bizarre scene you just have to see to believe.

I tried to hunt down that iconic scene on YouTube, but was met with failure. I will link instead to another big moment from the film where Lidia’s friend Elvadine (LaToya Crisholm) stands up for herself in summer school class when the teach attempts to segregate the classroom. Again, like the tree fort fight, the scene is amped up, but that is a good thing as the filmmakers here just go for it and hold nothing back like they do with other scenes, for better or worse. Stephen finally finds work at a high-risk mining job, and the film instantly foreshadows doom and gloom, but instead of dragging out a few scenes with routine days on the job, The War wastes no time and has Stephen experience hard times no less than 30 seconds into his first mining scene.

I want to give props to director Jon Avnet for nailing so many little things that went a long way with me like the way the actors sulk in those dreadful, humid summer weather and how everyone’s southern accent is spot on throughout. There are a few scenes where Stu gets up to no good and winds up in impromptu fights with random Lipnickis siblings and Stephen intervenes and preaches to him to rise up above violence and not to think with his fists. It is a big life lesson moment, which I could not help but crack up at as Stu continues to ignore it and winds up in more fights and skirmishes throughout the movie.

A lot of people will rightly first associate Elijah Wood for voicing the iconic videogame character Spyro the Dragon….just kidding we all know what he is primarily known for, but The War was one of his first films and he won a handful of young actor awards from it that recognized him with some serious acting chops. It was a breakout two year span of films for Wood in 1993-94 that put him on the map along with his performances in Adventures of Huck Finn and North that have only lead to bigger and better roles for him to this day. The War also was the debut film for another actor I covered recently here, where Lucas Black made his big screen debut with his performance of Ebb Lipnicki. Black is just as cocky and gung-ho here as an obnoxious eight year old as he was about 12 years later in his leading performance in Tokyo Drift.

Seeing how this is an ancient DVD originally printed in 1999, there is little on here in the way of extras. It has a trailer, production notes and film-ographies. Not many DVDs have production notes and film-ographies any more and I kind of miss them a tisch. The IMDB app has made film-ographies irrelevant for many years now, but I always scour through production notes whenever I see them on a DVD. Do not let the lack of extras sway you from checking out The War however. If you have older parents this would likely be up their alley. I recommended it to my 76-year-old dad after watching it again as I constantly hear him harking back to stories from his childhood years running wild on a farm, so The War should easily be in his wheelhouse.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Welcome back to my latest entry going through the Fast and Furious franchise. Today I am covering the third movie in the series, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (trailer). If you are going through my blog archives and am curious why there is no entry for 2Fast, 2Furious, that is because as I stated in my blog for the first film that is the only film in the brand that I loathe and do not own so I am going to pretend it does not exist.

-I always considered Tokyo Drift a side story in the F&F universe since Vin Diesel & Paul Walker’s characters take a backseat and this film focuses on one Sean Boswell (Lucas Black). After getting in a nasty wreck in a street race gone awry with high school rival Clay (Zachery Ty Bryan), Sean is sent packing overseas to live with his father (Brian Goodman) in Tokyo. Even in the Far East Sean cannot escape the thrills of the underground street racing scene after getting introduced to it by new friend, Twinkie (Shad Moss aka Lil Bow Wow).

-I ended up watching Tokyo Drift twice. The first time I watched it with the Giant Bomb staff commentary like I did with the first film, and the second time with director commentary from Justin Lin (Tokyo Drift marks the first of four straight F&F films that Lin directed). The Giant Bomb crew once again was a riot to listen to especially since GB head honcho Jeff Gertsmann flew nationwide to join up with the East Coast office’s crew to specifically watch this film with these guys. Jeff has a lot of awesome stories about relating to this film with his rambunctious street racing tales growing up and lays down some knowledge on drift culture and goes in depth on some car industry lingo when appropriate. Lin also had a lot of nonstop insight throughout and had a lot of love for the cast and I got a kick of his memory of car enthusiasts riding him on swapping out the engine of a Dodge Charger in order to make it drift-worthy. I also appreciated Lin explaining what it took to pull off and how grateful he was to get a certain cameo at the end of the film.

-The opening race scene where Sean and Clay race is awesomely cheesy where the two demolish a new expansion of residential areas under developmen. There is silly a BluRay GPS extra feature where each driver’s location is shown on an overlay map on the screen. I nodded along enthusiastically following the dots with intense driving action playing out to Kid Rock’s “Bawitaba” in the background.

-Tokyo Drift is the final movie in the franchise to have street racing be the primary focus of the film. Tokyo Drift’s hook on the racing is by introducing drifting to the street races. I recall being surprised at how the film made it seem like it was this revolutionary technique that was only applicable in Japan, but that was probably because I played too many driving videogames that had a drift feature such as various Need for Speed and Burnout games by 2006. Regardless, I loved how the film embraced drifting here by introducing the antagonist street racer of the film, DK aka Drift King (Brian Tee). He smokes Sean in an early race in the film as Sean is flummoxed at this radical new car technique, but luckily Han (Sung Kang) takes him under his wing and shows him the ropes at making him a master drifter in a well-produced montage.

-Spoilers ahead, skip this paragraph if you have not seen Tokyo Drift. Yes, Han makes his F&F debut in this film, and even though he bites the dust to set up the final act, Justin Lin loved the character so much that he brought him back for the next three films. When asked about this in interviews, Lin simply stated that F&F 4-6 all take place before Tokyo Drift. Sure, why not. That is fine, because Han is an awesome character and Kang nails his laid back role and even has a couple throwaway loose references in Tokyo Drift on how he use to ride with ‘The Family’ that formed in the following films so it all makes sense anyways. If you are new to the series and absolutely want to watch the films in the proper canonical order then the correct way to do so is starting off with the first two movies, then skip to four through six, but skip the post-credit scene at the end of six, then watch Tokyo Drift and then the F&F6 post-credit scene and continue on to seven and eight. If you can follow that, then you will be set and the timelines will all fall into place….I think.

-The two best scenes in the film are when Sean and Han have a serious life moment with rooftop soccer in the background and the final mountain-top race showdown between DK and Sean. It is appropriately ridiculous and filled with countless ‘yeah right’ drifts and stunts. This race went out of its way to show how advanced Japan cell phone tech was in 2006 by being able to live stream and broadcast the race with the latest flip-phones available at the time. Also, I hope you made the connection by now that F&F 4-6 all take place a couple years before the introductions of smart phones, so even though they are ubiquitous in those films, just think of them as alternate model flip-phones and avoid thinking twice about it. The race was the ultimate thrill ride and a fitting end to a surprisingly enjoyable film that did not prominently feature any of the cast from the first pair of films.

-There is a significant amount of extras on the BluRay, but unless you are seriously into car culture and drifting then you can easily skip at least half the extras. If you are a big gearhead, you will absolutely eat up Drift: Sideways Craze a one hour look at the pro drift racing scene and a few other shorter extras on drift culture. If I were to recommend just two of the 11 extra features (totaling around two and a half hours!), then check out Han’s Last Ride and Tricked Out to Drift. Those two extras break down the gang car chase scene and how the filmmakers modded the Dodge Charger in the film to make it drift-worthy. There is also a feature-length ‘Picture-in-Picture’ BluRay exclusive extra that combines all the extras and constantly switches between them all when appropriate throughout the film so that could be a better way to take in all the extra features, but I would rather suggest checking out the director commentary from Justin Lin instead.

-I still recall regretting going to the theater when initially seeing The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and thinking it was going to be a complete waste with none of the noteworthy cast in it. I was glad to be proven wrong. Tokyo Drift is far from the best film in the series, but I would still give it a strong recommendation because it is a fitting swan song for races and driving being at the forefront of the movies before the series transitioned into the over-the-top-yet-amazing-what-will-they-do-next CG experiences that we know them as today.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

3
12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Creed
Dirty Work
Faster
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Gravity
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Hitman
Ink
Interstellar
Jobs
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
TMNT
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
UHF
Veronica Mars
Wild
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

In 2014, after nearly 20 years of a tumultuous relationship with the WWE, the Ultimate Warrior (the former Jim Hellwig who legally changed his name to ‘Warrior’) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Wrestlemania XXX weekend. It was the final step of a healing process welcoming Warrior back into the WWE fold after easing his way in by participating in the previous year’s video game ad campaign and getting interviewed for a DVD collecting his greatest matches dubbed The Ultimate Collection. What many people did not anticipate however was him suddenly passing away from a heart attack three days after his induction.

WWE immediately aired a bunch of tribute programming on the WWE Network that week which I covered here shortly thereafter. Nearly a year after his death in early 2015 WWE put out another home video with a brand new documentary on the life of the Ultimate Warrior, as well as collecting an assortment of previously unreleased matches and promos and called this collection, Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe (trailer). Read on to find out if WWE went to make this video as a ‘make good’ from their 2005 DVD that made him come off as the worst person in the business, or if the WWE doubled down and continued to disparage Warrior after his passing.

The documentary kicks off with Warrior’s unintentionally telling promo on RAW on the eve of his passing. I could not help but get chills watching in a new light a few years later. From there the feature starts off with Warrior’s first days in the business teaming with Sting and striking out in the Memphis and Mid-South territories in the mid-80s. Jerry Lawler, Sting, Warrior & Zeb Coulter are all featured here in interviews admitting they were way too green and had no idea what they were doing. I dug seeing all these old-school clips of the team, and instantly recalled a few of those so-bad-they-are-funny-matches of a very green Sting and Warrior teaming up off of Sting’s Into the Light BluRayI covered here last year.

A few minutes was dedicated to the year Warrior spent in WCCW where he credits finding himself as a single act as ‘The Dingo Warrior.’ I wish they spent more time about Warrior in this era where it is apparent how he evolved into the Ultimate Warrior persona there by the end of his run there, but Warrior does comment some about how he came into his own in World Class and there are a handful of matches and promos from his WCCW run in the extras that I recommend going out of your way to check out. From there the doc shifts to him landing in WWE by the end of 1987 and current and past stars such as Hogan, HHH, Batista, Kofi Kingston, Ziggler and Cesaro are interviewed about how they went gaga over the infectious Warrior character and entrance.

The documentary transitions into his meteoric rise up the WWE from winning his first Intercontinental Title from Honky Tonk Man to the big showdown with the Hulkster at Wrestlemania VI. I still recall watching that match as a kid and could not help but get that big feeling from that match and watched it countless times on Coliseum Home Video as a kid and for a few years it was my favorite match. The documentary got that feeling across on how that encounter was larger than life. I own the BluRay of Always Believe, and one of the BluRay exclusives is a unique ‘Arena Cam’ (AKA ‘HardCam’) only perspective of the Hogan/Warrior match with no commentary so all you here is the pandemonium of the sellout crowd from Toronto. It resulted in a fascinating take on that landmark match, and made it worth reliving again.

Throughout Always Believe there are little clips of Warrior backstage during Wrestlemania XXX with him engaging with current and past stars. At one point there is a funny exchange between Warrior and Sgt. Slaughter which served as a perfect transition in the film on how Warrior losing his title to Slaughter set up his killer feud with Randy Savage for their ‘retirement match’ clash at Wrestlemania VII. Of his initial successful WWF years I was bummed to see he that his feud with Rick Rude got the shaft with no mention of it at all here, but it is overall a much better recollection on his early years than the 2005 version of it.

The feature then shifts to Warrior’s heated years with the WWE in the early-to-mid-90s where he held the company up for cash and promptly got fired, and got fired again for missing shows in his ’92 and ’96 runs. Actually, only about 10 seconds is dedicated to his three month stint with WWE in ’96 which I could not help but crack up on how WWE glossed over it. I guess Triple H did not want to repeat his comments about his Wrestlemania XII match with Warrior this time around. I also cracked up with how Warrior’s brief run in WCW in ’98 is highlighted here. Warrior admits he only went there for the payday and he obviously was not a fan of all the hocus pocus infused into his character over there, but stated it did not matter in the end because of the big time money that came of it. Hearing Hogan admit how the feud wound up as one of his all-time blunders was nice of him to own up to as well.

I may rag in my yearly Wrestlemania blogs about the philanthropy nature of the ‘Warrior Award’ at the WWE Hall of Fame where we get to see Warrior’s widow, Dana present the award each year, but do not let that dismiss the fact that Dana and Warrior’s two daughters come off as legit wonderful people in the documentary. All three are charismatic, genuine talkers and the scene covering how Warrior and Dana met and how their wedding went down is easily the best feel-good scene in Always Believe. Speaking of the ‘Warrior Award’ however, I will take this moment to get on my soapbox and call out to WWE to please rephrase this award to Warrior’s original vision of it in his induction speech as an award to recognize the hard work of the little-talked about workers behind-the-scenes of WWE such as Jimmy Miranda and Mark Yeaton.

On the Self-Destruction DVD the interviewees were quite malicious of the Warrior character disparaging how he got gassed by the time the match started and how he was one of the most careless workers in the ring in history. A decade later in Always Believe, some of those same interviewees like Hulk Hogan and Triple H have a somewhat change of heart and still recognize Warrior’s shortcomings, but are more constructive with their criticism and eventually justify Warrior’s act by essentially saying it worked because it brought in good business. If you never saw the 2005 DVD before I recommend watching that documentary before this one because it is absolutely fascinating to see the 180 degree shift in tone on the Warrior in general. I wish they were this constructive the first time around, because while I agree with a lot of the shortcomings of Warrior’s act, it was ridiculous at how much WWE disparaged him in that original documentary. I am saying this as not even a big Warrior fan growing up (I was more of a Big Boss Man-kid). I still vividly recall that documentary’s ending being Christian’s blunt thoughts on the Warrior’s legacy being “like it or not, he is going to be remembered.”

Speaking of that DVD, Warrior and his wife are interviewed here about it, and rightfully trash WWE for releasing that and hold nothing back about how much that documentary hurt them. The feature then covers Warrior’s libel suit against the WWE and Vince McMahon and Hulk are on hand defending how their comments by saying they were misconstrued at the time and how the case was eventually dropped and nobody came out ahead at the end of it. There is a lot to read between the lines during this scene, and if you were following the business at the time, catching Hogan, Vince and Warrior’s thoughts about the DVD and the proceeding lawsuit several years later made for a very compelling segment of the feature.

Dana is then featured detailing how Hunter was imperative on repairing Warrior’s relationship with WWE. Vince, Steph and Hunter are all here commenting about what it was like to bring Warrior back for the hall of fame. Seeing Warrior’s final days backstage in these final scenes during Wrestlemania weekend is both ominous and fortunate to see how a lot of his final exchanges were captured on film. The big moments featured here from that weekend are Warrior and Hogan talking for the first time in many years and ‘burying the hatchet.’ Vince and Warrior also have a moment backstage where Warrior gifted Vince the children’s book The Little Engine that Could with his own personal foreward to Vince! Hearing Vince reflect on that moment and how he and Warrior got together for one last photo saw a rare, emotional moment for Vince on film when talking about it for Always Believe. The documentary wraps up with Dana detailing how Warrior’s last day transpired with him suddenly collapsing in the midst of traveling back home. Dana and her daughters then reflect on that weekend and Warrior’s legacy and wrap up by reading letters to their father and husband in a touching scene.

Like most of WWE’s BluRays, Always Believe is packed with a ton of extras and the first disc has 21 Warrior matches on it. WWE is getting better with most of their newer home videos only featuring matches never before put out on video, the tradeoff to this however is all noteworthy Warrior matches have already been released on other DVDs over the years. They got around this with the special ‘ArenaCam’ perspective of the Wrestlemania VI match. This is fine for the Warrior, who was like an early version of Goldberg who I primarily wanted to see for his larger-than-life entrance and to see him run rampant and squash nobodies. Believe me, there are a bunch of Warrior squash matches on here from the weekend shows I grew up with like WWF Challenge and WWF Superstars. It was actually refreshing to relive these old-school squash-fests.

There are also numerous house show matches that WWE use to record in the late 80s/early 90s. These are longer, traditional PPV-style matches, but worth taking a look at as Warrior faced off against Rick Rude and teamed up with Jim Duggan against Andre and Rude. There are a pair of fun Saturday Night’s Main Event matches on here where Warrior takes on Haku and Sgt. Slaughter where the crowd was eating up everything Warrior was doing around his championship run. Finally, there are a few surprisingly long, decent matches with Warrior facing unlikely opponents in these scenarios where Rick Martel, Demolition Smash and Owen Hart all got a surprising effort out of the Warrior.

Disc two has a whopping 2 hours and 41 minutes of Ultimate Warrior promos. This is vintage Ultimate Warrior where he mostly shouts nonsensical phrases I could not help but enthusiastically nod along too because of his organic charisma. The bulk of these promos are quick one to two minute rants of only him going off against a blue screen, but there are several longer interviews of him on the Brother Love show and having entertaining exchanges with Sensational Sherri and Ric Flair. His hall of fame speech is here in its entirety, and the aforementioned RAW promo the day before his death is here as well. It took a few sittings to get through them all, but I did not mind taking the time to get blown away by nearly three hours of random Warrior intensity. His tribute montage the week after his death is not on here, so here is a link to this very-well produced tribute.

There is just over an hour and a half of BluRay exclusives. Once again, I recommend going with the BluRay because of the alternate perspective of the Hulk Hogan match alone. There are four other BluRay bonus matches, with his WCCW match against Rick Rude and teaming up with Legion of Doom to take on Demolition in a bout that probably set a record for featuring the most face paint standing out the most. There are also 19 minutes of exclusive ‘stories’ with Dana sharing some fun Warrior courtship memories and Batista and Triple H sharing some bonus thoughts about the Warrior too. Natalya also is awesome here as she challenges one of Warrior’s daughters to an unofficial match.

Always Believe is an exponentially better documentary than 2005’s Self-Destruction. This does not hide Warrior’s wrestling shortcomings and controversies (though it does hide his real life political remarks and controversies), but it addresses them in a far more professional manner and it does not make Warrior come off as the quintessential slime ball like the Self-Destruction DVD did. Warrior is far from being my personal favorite wrestler and/or person, but he did serve up a number of timeless moments in wrestling for me in my impressionable years and Always Believe is a perfect way of celebrating those moments of the Ultimate Warrior character for past, present and future fans.

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Best of Monday Nitro Volume 3
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes Yes Yes
Dusty Rhodes WWE Network Specials
ECW Unreleased: Vol 1
ECW Unreleased: Vol 2
ECW Unreleased: Vol 3
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
OMG Vol 3: Top 50 Incidents in ECW History
Owen: Hart of Gold
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
RoH Supercard of Honor VIII
RoH Supercard of Honor IX
RoH Supercard of Honor X
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Sting: Into the Light
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Top 50 Superstars of All Time
Tough Enough: Million Dollar Season
True Giants
Ultimate Fan Pack: Roman Reigns
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
Wrestlemania 30
Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania 32
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too
Wrestling Road Diaries Three: Funny Equals Money
Wrestlings Greatest Factions
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2015
WWE Network Original Specials First Half 2016
WWE Network Original Specials Second Half 2016