IHAO on ... 7 x 7 Steakburger

I don't know if you know this about me, but I have insomnia.  Oh wait, I mentioned that earlier.  But even on nights that I get normal sleep, I'm a bit of a nightowl.  I tend to stay awake, watching films I review in the dark quiet of the living room, sometimes with my roommates, both of which also tend to be nightowls.  So when the munchies hit, I've been known to go around and enjoy the food of the masses late at night.  And there are of course some specials at some of those restaurants catering to the nightowls, the Who as I called this group of people once in an article that I am currently writing ... uh ...

Anyway.  Let's talk Steak and Shake.  My roommates LOVE Steak and Shake.  We go there ... well, I go there at least once a month.  They go much more often.  I suspect one goes twice a week minimum.  I can see the appeal.  It is like a nice trucker diner, a restaurant that provides consistency along with greasy diarrhea and questionable clientele after midnight.  Ok, a little harsh for the sake of the joke there.  I've never had a BAD experience at Steak and Shake.  I've had some ... iffy ones that definitely changed my health for a few days or weeks.  But hey, I love their chili, and their burgers are almost reasonably priced enough for me to never complain about the cost.

I say all this because we went on a journey for the legendary 7 x 7 Steakburger!  What is that?  Well, it is basically exactly what it sounds like: seven patties of the Steak and Shake classic thing steak patties, with seven pieces of American cheese, all on some basically non-descript buns.  Yeah, you can ask for some specialties to it, like adding some veggies or some condiments, but they are not put on the burger but on the side.  And it is quite difficult to put mustard on a burger 7 patties high, covered in enough grease to fill up a modest two-door sedan's transmission.

Tame this wild beast, stock photo hands.  Tame it!

All right, I realize that using the term "journey" was definitely an overstatement.  We got done with a game of Magic that went about 30 minutes longer than necessary, say it was 12:30, and we had all been wanting to try the mythical 7 x 7.  So we hop into a car and get there.  Not much of a journey.  But the anticipation made it seem so much greater.  How good was it going to be?  Or potentially how absolutely dreadfully horrible will it make us feel in the few minutes after we engorged ourselves with more steak-patties than a table of 7 would order on average.

We got there.  We ordered it.  They got my order wrong ... again.  I do not really understand how it can be so difficult to understand the concept of "no fries, yes chili" but whatever.  We get the mammoth burger.  And the first thing I notice ... it isn't that big.  I was expecting with 7 patties something hugely enormous.  Some monolith of meat, a skyscraper-esque burger that could feed the put upon laborers of whatever flowery language world I'm apparently using as my metaphor land today.  But yeah, no, it wasn't very big at all.  Sure, it was bigger than you could get your mouth around easily, but by the first few bites I didn't have a problem taking regular bites, didn't have to divvy the burger up into smaller portions, none of that.  Second observation: TOO MUCH GREASE.  I could squeeze mine and it was like a wet sponge filled with just the most vile tobacco spittle.

But I was there to eat the thing.  I was there to conquer this not so difficult to conquer challenge.  The joke price was excellent, by the way: $7.77.  Perfect.

Flavor for me ... I don't think that Steak and Shake burgers are much to write home about.  And this was ... just more of that.  It was heartier, there was more of it, but ultimately kind of bland.  Not bad by any means, but bland.  I don't regret the food, and I didn't get nearly as ill feeling the next day as the others with me did.  But ... I do not think I would recommend someone devour what we did.  But it was curious, and I'm happy to have finally done it.

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\

June 3rd through June 9th

From June 3rd to the 8th, I want to have TORTURE-JESSEL-A-THON!  I am going to put myself through the worst films and most hated films that all you guys can think of.  I'm going to collect them all over the next week, and debut the schedule on Monday, the 2nd.  Then for a whole week, you will get to see me go through pain for all your pleasure, ending with a very special, very controversial IHAO that was supposed to be filmed years ago but I never had the guts to actually shoot, featuring a movie that makes me fuming at the mouth angry, and might be my most hated film.

So, send comments, shares, etc. Thanks again!


IHAO on ... The Pokemon X/Y Wonder Trade Run!!!

Ok, so this is a little bit of a cheat, because I created it.  Or at least, I should say, I have not seen another person's attempt and have created my own rules to make a new kind of challenge mode for the popular Pokemon franchise!

One of my favorite things to do in Pokemon nowadays is to do a Nuzlocke run.  I even have episodes on this site of a Nuzlocke run I did for awhile.  Basically, it is a way to take what is mostly a not too terribly challenging game and adding a new level of immersion and difficulty to it.  It has revitalized a game that has ultimately become boring for me since the third generation (which very luckily is going to be getting an update with this current engine run, neat, huh?).  And my challenge run does similarly, but in a different way that is just as interesting, and potentially way more challenging or a breeze.

Ok, so here we go, some background and then some rules, then I'll give you some info on my first run, still ongoing.

In the current pokemon series, Pokemon X/Y, you can Wonder Trade.  Wonder Trading is trading with random people random things without knowing what they are trading back.  It is a great way to give away pokemon you no longer plan on using, but has also become a source of good nature, breeding chaf being thrown out for others, and jokes.  My favorite joke being trading out Snorlaxs that all are named "Yo Mama" and they are holding a Burn Heal.

Sick burn, bro!

With that explained, here is the schtick of a Wonder Trade run.  RULES!

These two "negative" rules are not strictly necessary.  You could start the game the very first time and do a Wonder Trade run, but I suggest playing at least for a little bit to get a feeling for both the story and the map, as well as to have cooler things to trade.

"Trademons" are my name for any and all pokemon that you are going to Wonder Trade.  A few basic conceits to keep in mind about Trademons.
 - Nickname everything.  Pokemon who are traded cannot get their names changed, so even if you just give your pokemon something lame, it will be much nicer for those who are Wonder Trading to get a cool named 'Mon instead of being stuck with an unnamed one you cannot give a nickname to.
 - Don't throw away trash.  The Wonder Trade pool is a tool for all players.  Don't just put a billion of the early lame normal types or a bunch of Luvdiscs or something in.
 - No Trademon should be higher than 25th level.  If they are, then people who receive them may not be able to use them because of level cap restrictions that make your pokemon not listen.  

New game time!  Time to start things up as normal.

If you haven't done this yet, you have a chance to do as I said to above except for this run.  MAKE SURE that your give a cool nickname to your "starter," because he is about to find a new home.

Try to beat first gym as fast as you can.  Collect enough pokemon to have 6 by the time you beat this gym, and if they are going to be your Trademons, remember the conceits I set forth above.

You have the first gym badge!  FANTASTIC!  Time to get this game REALLY started.

Open up your Wonder Trade menu and make sure you have all of your Trademon ready.  You are going to Wonder Trade them all away!  Do not keep a single one, they all go away.  Also, try not to trade away garbage unless you have to.  No one wants to get a lame Bunnelby after seeing sooooo many of them.  Oh, and if you get a shiny, make someone's day and trade it away, too!  Or bank it and catch/use something else.  But I would give away the shiny, in hopes others would do similarly.  :)

If you want, you can wait until you have gotten your first generation starter as well.  It doesn't matter if you decide to keep it though because ... 

There you go!  You got a group of six random pokemon from around the world, traded away to you as their new home.  See why you want to be courteous with the ones that you trade away?  Why you want to nickname everything?  Yeah.  

Now you may get some really crappy stuff.  But you will probably also get awesome stuff.  And certainly things you never expected to use.  This is your new team, and it is yours to beat the game with!!

All right, sure there should be some exceptions.  I believe two allowances should be made for what you can make exceptions for.
1) Trade/release away anything you get a duplicate of.  If you for some reason get two ... Slowpokes, you should definitely trade one away.  If you get an Abra and a Kadabra, get rid of one of them for similar reasons.  But do not trade away a Banette if you get a Gastly.  They are two different pokemon, so even though they are both ghosts, you just get to have two different ghosts!  COOL!!!
2) Trade/release away any Pokemon that you could have caught on the way here other than Starters.  Bunnelbys, Fletchlings, those are boring, and you could have had one of those if you hadn't Wonder Traded.  Just go ahead and give yourself some leeway.  BUT ... if you get a Pidgey, or a Patrat, those are not from Pokemon X/Y's opening areas, so they don't count.  Keep em!

And that's it!  That's the challenge!  You get six random pokemon you didn't pick, you didn't synergize, you didn't meticulously plan, and you try to beat the game!  It should possible, though it may be incredibly hard.  You aren't allowed to use any other pokemon this run AT ALL!  Good luck!

Bam!  You can do it!

And there you go!  Let me now show you what I'm running with in my very first run!

I collected a few things in a previous run to trade away specifically for this, but not everything was!  Here's what I traded and what I got:

GottaGoFast, Chespin --> Beldum
GottaGoBird, Fletchling --> Eevee
GottaGoSage, Pansage --> Zigzagoon
Vinegar, Croagunk --> Bunnelby
unnamed Dugtrio --> Taillow
Guerrero Jr., Hawlucha --> Bunnelby

So yeah, two Bunnelbys.  I released them both and traded away two more things ...

unnamed Meinfoo --> Tentacool
Jolene, Snubbull --> Chingling

That there we are!  It is a crazy team, and one that will be really fun to go through the game with.  I decided to turn the Eevee into a Sylveon to get a fairy-type, and BAM!  Got me team.  I look forward to beating the game and then doing this again.  And I hope I can convince a few of you to do it as well.  If you do, let me know!  We can share with anyone interested, and try to make this a new thing!!

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\

June 3rd through June 9th

From June 3rd to the 8th, I want to have TORTURE-JESSEL-A-THON!  I am going to put myself through the worst films and most hated films that all you guys can think of.  I'm going to collect them all over the next week, and debut the schedule on Monday, the 2nd.  Then for a whole week, you will get to see me go through pain for all your pleasure, ending with a very special, very controversial IHAO that was supposed to be filmed years ago but I never had the guts to actually shoot, featuring a movie that makes me fuming at the mouth angry, and might be my most hated film.

So, send comments, shares, etc. Thanks again!


IHAO on ... Insomnia + Depression PLUS Announcement

It is hard to start talking about any of your own deficiencies or flaws, especially mental or physical ones, on the internet because of a lack of context.  I could tell you "I have insomnia and depression" and that doesn't really mean anything.  Yes, those words have meanings, and people who have those sometimes quite debilitating illnesses/problems certainly may suffer.  But in the magic of internet land, the only things that actually exists are words, and people's perceptions of those words.  I could tell everyone/anyone reading this "I have a purple cat named Checkers" and you either read that and say "sure, I believe that" or "whatever, probably a lie, that doesn't particularly matter."  But you take it to a more personal level, telling people "my uncle just died" and the natural skeptic comes out.  You may still say "sure, I believe that", but there are plenty who go "whatever, probably a lie, that doesn't particularly matter."

So when you get to folks who have legitimate problems, such as the Frogman over on tumblr (a great dude who puts out some great content, if you for some reason are brand new to the internet and didn't take the Introductory Class that puts him onto your radar for semi-daily content viewing) or to a lesser extent myself, it is hard to completely grasp or even care what they have going on outside of the content they put out.  I suffer from insomnia, an illness that ultimately makes it difficult for me to achieve successful and restful sleep, and depression, which I really don't feel like talking about.  Wikipedia exists if you want info on it.

I say this because every now and again, one or the other of the two flares up.  Maybe I get a thought stuck in my head that makes it hard to motivate and accomplish anything.  Maybe I go 5 days with a total of 6 hours of sleep.  While those things are sucky, they generally are not worth talking about.  When both stack on top of each other ... well, then I a week without doing any work and get stuck continuing to not do any work for this site.

So what's the point of bringing this up?

Good question ... I think?

Yeah, I dunno, it isn't really to enlighten or inform.  Really just to ... start talking again.  To get back to the screen and start talking.  The hardest thing about wanting to be a writer professionally, whether it be fiction, comedy, or critique, is that you gotta flippin' do it!  You gotta start putting words down.  Good, bad, doesn't matter, you gotta do it every day.  And I did not.  But I'm working on it.  And I'm sure sometimes I'll go another week without putting anything up again.  That'll suck, but I'll come back and continue to do what I need to do.

So yeah, thank you, ultimately is where I'm going.  I do not generate a lot of views, but I love every single one!  I love every share and comment, and I appreciate them all.  So I want to show you my appreciation.  I try to do a Reader Request every week, and I have one that will be going up in the next few days (once the holiday hijinks gets over with and I can sit down and finish watching it).  I also make sure to cover any big wrestling events that happen, and two are coming in the next seven days.  So I want to do something special for you folks that read me every day after and beyond.  Especially the ones that make it down here to the bottom of this mostly boring little article.

From June 3rd to the 8th, I want to have TORTURE-JESSEL-A-THON!  I am going to put myself through the worst films and most hated films that all you guys can think of.  I'm going to collect them all over the next week, and debut the schedule on Monday, the 2nd.  Then for a whole week, you will get to see me go through pain for all your pleasure, ending with a very special, very controversial IHAO that was supposed to be filmed years ago but I never had the guts to actually shoot, featuring a movie that makes me fuming at the mouth angry, and might be my most hated film.

So, send comments, shares, do it on facebook, send them over email, put them in the donation box with a little cash attached (that'll make it MUCH more likely to get done coughcoughhinthintaskingformoneybutnotseriouslyenoughtonottrytocoveritupwithabadjokecoughcough), put them on post-it notes and sneak them into my pants pockets when you see me out and about buying groceries, whatever!  You got one week to give me the most horrible daggum things you can think of to watch and torture me with for a full week of reviews.

And again, thank you for your patience, support, comments, and most importantly, your attention every now and again.

/\// tOrtUrE-jEssEl-A-thOn \\/\

June 3rd through June 9th


IHAO on ... The Hungover Games AND The Starving Games DOUBLE FEATURE

I had always intended to do more Double Features, but this marks my second one for the site.  I suppose it is because I didn't have enough things to really watch and correlate to unless it was something like Rocky Week I did a little while back, which was just too much information for a single article.  But oh ho HO, did this one work out.

How and why can there be two Hunger Games parody films, both out at relatively the same time?  Who knows, but I watched them both marathon style.  My roommate bought the Hungover Games and the Starving Games is on Netflix.  So let's do this!

Hungover Games is a pretty unique take on the spoof genre in that what it tries to do is to mesh a spoof of The Hangover with a spoof of the Hunger Games, using both plot elements to create a new spoof-ing property, as well as making a lot of other jokes, mostly focused on how Hollywood creates films to present them to the masses.  Also, Jamie Kennedy is all over this thing, as writer, producer, and in a small handful of roles.  This smells like it could be disaster, with a bunch of Johnny Depp roles, a Ted spoof, a gay Thor, a Borat parody, and just a billion other things.

But it works.  It works surprisingly well.  And that comes down to two factors: writing and acting.  The writing of this film is impeccable.  They really did take the two films and smash them together to create a single film that hits all the plot points of both franchises, the Hangover and the Hunger Games.  You have the Ed Helms character from the Hangover series also playing the role of Pita ... well, really all of them do, but Ed Helms is the most specific a combination character as he does all the Pita jokes of falling down and being completely useless, but all the plot points for Pita uses the whole Hangover gang.  You really wouldn't think this would work, but it does.

The whole schtick is to use the Hangover plot as a framing mechanic and as the lead characters and their motivations, and then the Hunger Games plot as the actual moving parts of the film, including setting and setup, with representatives from each of the 12 Hollywood Districts being in the games: puppets district, gratuitous nudity district, superhero district, Johnny Depp district, etc.  The way these are weaved in, it makes all the references that could be just terrible one-offs all plot relevant, as well as giving them meaning and importance.  I do not care for either franchise this film spoofs, but knowing what I do of both enhanced my viewing of this film, which already worked alone and is just funny.  The jokes make sense and are great, like Bruce Jenner's just absolute hatred for nudity as the commentator for the game, or everyone constantly reminding Ed Helms that Katnip (the Katniss parody) is 17.  Hell, the contestants in this film are more well developed and expressed to the audience than they are in the ACTUAL Hunger Games films, either of them.

The second reason it works is the characters.  These characters have to be able to act and do all the emotions of the story, selling it for real just like you normally would in any film, but are also being really spot on impersonations.  The three Hangover guys are actually named for the actors they are spoofing PERFECTLY: Zach, Bradley, Ed, and Doug is still Doug, which is a great joke in and of itself.  Hell, the worst actor of the bunch is Jamie Kennedy, which is unfortunate, because he is doing a good job trying to portray the characters he is, but the lines just aren't as funny (I hope they were not improvised) and he doesn't quite do Johnny Depp-Wonka or Woody Harrelson-Hamish very well or recognizably.  But everyone else just does perfect.

The movie has some jokes that don't hit, and there's some stuff I hated, like Ted's teddy bear penis being out the whole time or a few of the referential gags that just don't hit well.  But overall, this movie is the most clever spoof I've seen in a very long time, and it really surprised me with its quality.  The way that they mashed the two films together still astonishes me.

Grade: B+

The Starving Games is another from the guys who ruined spoofs for everyone, the Selzer brothers.  Every atrocious thing you think about spoof movies comes from their films.  Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, Date Movie, Superhero Movie, all that garbage.  Their films are notorious for instead of creating story, jokes, characters, or plot, instead they shoehorn in references, poop jokes, sex jokes, and awkwardness.

Starving Games is exactly the same.

Yet it is somehow even worse.  No character is well acted, no shot is well shot, there is nothing redeemable about this film.  Together with my roommates, we counted 5 funny jokes, and I didn't agree with one of them.  That is one one hand the number of jokes that made us laugh and were well crafted.  But this movie is worse than that.  It included a 4 minute blooper reel at the end of the film to pad things out before the credits.  This is after the already created padding of a Sherlock Holmes spoofing where Cantmiss (Katniss' parody name here) imagines the best way to subdue her attackers ... then you see the exact same footage again.  They use the same reaction shot from the games maker 4 times.  And this is in a movie where his joke is that he has corporate logos in his beard ... except they should change as the film goes forward (and do) but on this same shot they use over and over it is an old sponser.  That is how little they care.

Oh oh oh, here here, check this.  A burn wound from Thor's hammer is CGI on a dude's arm.  A burn wound.  A thing that would have cost maybe $5 to buy the makeup for to look as good as the REST of this film's crappy makeup effects, they opted to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to make it an effects shot because they couldn't be damned to work hard.

This movie angered me in its laziness and lack of skill.  It knew that people would watch it and buy it because it was a spoof, and that was the end.  They absolutely did not care at all about making a good film, or even worse, thought they were making one and gave us this instead.  I loathe this film.  It is one of the worst comedies I've ever seen on a technical level, right there with Leonard Part 6 and the Pest, but I despise it more than The Pest.  Maybe more than Leonard Part 6.  Jury's still out, I think.

So yeah, avoid this one like the plague.  But give The Hungover Games a chance.

Grade: F--


IHAO on ... Here Comes the Boom

(This is from my facebook archive, before I started writing these longer and more in depth.  Every now and again I'll go through those and find some that I want to expound on, or just share again.  Here we go!)

Kevin James gets a bad rap ... ok, I don't like him much.  So maybe it isn't a bad rap.  But I do think that he's got some talent to exploit or whatever.  And when he puts his mind to really working hard and making something, he can really do a good job.  And that's what Here Comes the Boom is.

This was a great movie.  Or more accurately, this was a very good movie I absolutely love.  Take Happy Gilmore and a sports/fighting/tournament movie, smash them together with a little Mr. Holland's Opus.  That's this film.  Here Comes the Boom hits every note really well, has really good acting, great looking fight choreography, an amazing moral, one of the best portrayals of Christian characters I've ever seen in film (they never once say "I'm a Christian" or preach at the audience, but just do small subtle things).  Just a wonderful movie.  It is a very earnest movie about how art and music are important in the life of children, and how working hard and feeling good about yourself causes ripple effects in those around you.

The movie is very PG, by design, and that might put you off, but I hope it does not.  It is meant to be able to be swallowed by everyone, and is enjoyable for all ages as well.  It is really just a great passion project for Kevin James, who very clearly loved the film, considering the amount of work he did to go from being the chubby "lovable" Paul Blart to a convincing MMA fighter.  He met UFC fighters through doing King of Queens, and had the idea to do this, and trained his butt off to get into actual muscular shape beyond the dough-boy physique that Adam Sandler has made him synonymous with.  He ... no, everyone who was involved with this flick should feel good about the message they created, and the work they put into it.

Put almost as much work into it as Sam does to try to act ... at all.

I've said a lot of good things, but it isn't a perfect film, by any means.  The story is a little hackneyed, a little standard.  Oh, a better way to state it: you can tell they worked super hard to make the movie a good movie.  Think of it like a quilt.  You want to expertly weave the pieces together, to sew it all up, into a cohesive whole of a beautiful blanket.  This movie is like that, except you can see all the seams.  They are perfectly fine seams, very well made, but you aren't supposed to see them.  The opening and first act of the film is color coded blue for sadness, the middle act red for growing intensity, the denouement after the climax is all in white for hope and happiness with a final shot of the red, white, and blue American flag.  The writing is very clearly taking its beats from other movies before it.

This movie is a lot like that kid that wrote four extra pages of extra credit on his paper.  It is working really really hard to be good, and in a film, seeing that work, seeing the artifice and the seams actually detracts a little. Despite that, I still say this is a film everyone can enjoy, and highly suggest everyone sees.

Grade: B+


IHAO on ... Unhung Hero

I am not much of a documentary person if the documentaries are not about wrestling.  I've seen a handful, and I am kind of getting into a few of them, though.  Generally ones about people, or with an interesting voice/perspective.  Especially about things I either like or can relate to.  And so ... this one ... about a guy with a small penis, going around the world to see ... just ... anything size related.

I do not wish to be crass, and I very much try to keep things PG or close around here.  So this one ... a little hard to talk about, considering it is all about penis size, and mentality, and sexuality, and all that.  So hopefully the actual aspects of this doc won't turn you away, but I get it if they do.  Tomorrow will ... I dunno, be kids movie or something, you'll enjoy that more, come back for that!

This gif is peripherally relevant.  And is also Denver the Last Dinosaur, who was great.

It is an interesting documentary.  It has aspects of travel, aspects of history, aspects of social understanding ... but what it is really about, and what is the real selling point to me, is it being about a man who was injured, whose pride had been hurt very publicly.  A comedian and actor I had recognized but couldn't put a finger on it until they showed a clip of his small part in How I Met Your Mother, he publicly proposed, and was rejected.  And one of the reasons why he was rejected was because his penis was small.  And that sent him on this journey.  He went to ancient tribes, sexologists, masturbation clubs, plastic surgeons, museums, night clubs, everywhere to learn about whether "size matters" or not.

Ultimately, this documentary isn't really about that.  It's hard to talk about documentaries, I find, because it isn't like spoiling the plot of a film, and to talk about the thing I have to talk about where it ends up going.  Basically, I found that the whole thing ended up being about himself.  And I think he did as well.  It was not easy.  And I enjoyed that.  And Patrick Moote was a great viewing lens for this journey.

This isn't the slickest thing, but it very much works.  And like I said, I was really intrigued with how they went about it all, and Moote himself was so interesting to watch and kept me along for the ride.  I think people could enjoy this, doc-lovers or not.  And I think the points brought up and the information learned, while not groundbreaking or anything, all come across as earnest, and are interesting.  I recommend.

Grade: B


Fantasy Booking - WWE World Heavyweight Title storyline through Summerslam

So Daniel Bryan needs some neck surgery.  Nothing too major, but good to take care of it now.  But man, has it been rough, such an emotional series of months.  But this is perfect to get the fans behind Bryan, as well as to make new stars.  Lemme show you want I mean with a little bit of ...
Fantasy Booking
There isn't a cool font, leave me alone.

Okay, fantasy booking time for the WWE World Heavyweight Title storyline.  Next week on Raw, you have Stephanie come out, and say that Daniel Bryan will be out for three months, and you can't run a wrestling company without a champion, so she strips him of the championship "he doesn't even REALLY deserve".  Then she crowns a new champion, a man who is powerful, who is a monster, who is everything this company needs as a champion ...

FEED ME MORE.  Ryback, alone, comes out, to huge booes.  Stephanie claps for him, and explains why he is the perfect candidate.  He is the future, so on so on.  Then she awards him the championship, and you make a big deal of him being WWE Champion Ryback.  Crowd is in shambles then ...


Ziggler comes out, being his natural self, talking about how terrible Ryback is, how Great Khali deserve the title more than him, how Ziggler deserves the title more than Ryback.  So Stephanie says FINE, you want to prove a point, if you can win in the main event tonight, you can be Ryback's first challenger at Payback.  Ziggler agrees without hearing what the main event is going to be.  Stephanie laughs, then puts him in a gauntlet match or some other "odds are against him" kind of match.  Ziggler wins, is number 1 contender.

Payback, Ziggler wins.  Big celebration.  Ryback gets his rematch at Money in the Bank.  Ryback wins because shenanigans, now a two-time champ, I like to think Steph kicks Ziggler in the balls behind the ref's back.

Ryback and Ziggler get another match at Battleground ... but that Monday, Daniel Bryan returns "a month early" and kicks Ryback in the head!  Ziggler and Bryan have an unhappy alliance going into the match, but ultimately, Daniel Bryan wins, champ again ...

Then out of nowhere, Brock Lesnar shows up and F-5's Daniel Bryan 3 times, just like he did to Undertaker.  Paul Heyman comes out during this, explaining that Lesnar has a contract for the title at Summerslam.  That match will make money.  Put Ziggler and Ryback in one final rubber match with Ziggler ultimately winning as well.  Boom.

IHAO on ... Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend

Ah, the 90s and/or 80s.  A time to combine cute precocious kids and animals, or old crotchety actors with animals, or really anyone and animals.  There were a lot of reasons and genres, but man did these person/animal mash-up films happen a whole bunch.  Lots of monkeys at the time, though there was also Pandas, Elephants, Wolves, Pigs, Dogs, Geese, Killer Whales, a Bear, Horses, a reindeer, a Dragon, a unicorn, a robot, a spaceship,  a CAR, an alien a whole bunch of different ways including a Purple People Eater, hell even a Baby in some films.

If only Three Men and a Baby was about the Baby from THIS movie!

Also, it was a time of DINOSAURS ARE AWESOME!  That capped off with Jurassic Park, because that film finally gave us what we needed: believable dinosaurs on film.  But ten years before that, another film tried to do it.  And it did it with all the plot regularity of the stuff I mentioned before.  And it just so happens to be the movie I’m reviewing this time!

So the plot here is that these scientists of … some kind go to Africa, are dating, and they find a dinosaur when their boss murders another scientist for his dinosaur information.  Then the evil scientist murders one of the dinosaurs, tranqs the female, and the two young dating scientists save the baby, and are trying to stop the murderer and save the mom.

This thing is boring.  Not only because of its standardness, but in the way it treats everything.  Oh, and there are a huge huge huge number of just out in the open boobs in this PG movie.  Even some penis.  It is really weird.  And this was made after PG-13 existed, so I don’t know what is going on.  I guess they argued “it’s national geographic nudity, not porn nudity” but either way, there is just a LOT of it.

Like I said at the top, this came ten years before Jurassic Park, and you know what, the dinosaurs they made are really good.  And some of the scenes with them are super super good.  The death of the father dinosaur is almost super amazing, and even then, it is really really good.  And as long as you don’t look directly at the baby’s face, it looks super good as well.  The acting is … the best actors are fine, are acting like themselves, and are naked or mostly naked.  The actual actor actors, including the Greatest American Hero and Girl-from-Blade-Runner, are … boring.

Being boring is the worst thing a movie can do.  And that is probably why this thing I found on blu-ray for $4 at Kroger.  Even though it very much should be because of it’s very nature of being about dinosaurs and stuff, it is just kind of forgettable.  And that’s really too bad.  It is in no way incompetent or bad enough to be even close to nanar, which was my hope.  It just ends up being a big boring standard ole kids-and-their-dinosaur movie.  Kids and baby chase down the bad guys to get the mom.  Then kids and mom chase down the bad guys to get the baby.

Grade: C … yeah, no minus, just a C


IHAO on ... Odd Thomas

Sorry, but this Japanese poster is flippin' awesome.

I'm not sure if you remember this, but way back a month or so ago, I did a trailer trash where I featured the Odd Thomas trailer.  I was crazy excited to see it in theaters!  And then ... it didn't come anywhere near me.  Problem of being a critic in a small town I suppose.  I saw that it was out on DVD/Blu Ray, so I figured I'd just wait to save up the money to get it.  Then while going through Netflix, queuin' up my viewin' for the week, I spotted Odd Thomas sitting there in the New Releases!  I was stoked.  I was so excited to see it, and I sat down and watched it, hoping against hope it would be as cool as I thought it would be.  And ...

Honestly, it was better than I hoped.  I hope for MIB-style just fun and intriguing.  What I got was a dark action supernatural thriller with a great Peter Parker-esque lead who just absolutely steals the screen, and an amazing supporting cast, super awesome effects from Stephen Sommers (who, while I do hate Van Helsing, has overall continued to put out good, funny, action supernatural films) and a film that is way deeper and more interesting than I thought it would be.

I really don't have too much bad to say.  Uh ... actually, sitting here and thinking about it, I don't have ... ANYTHING bad to say.  Anton Yelchin is just perfect.  He is able to keep a dour and serious demeanor while still doing really funny quips.  Odd is such an incredibly interesting character, and played just perfectly.  Every one of the lead actors is great: Addison Timlin as a great non-damsel love interest; Willam DaFoe plays a great father-figure cop; Gugu Mbatha-Raw has the greatest name in film, and always plays a really nice believable mother with slight psychic abilities ...

Hold down slow up there, need some context for all this crazy talk.

Oh, right, I guess I should talk plot.  Odd Thomas can see ghosts, and has some interesting variations on psychic powers.  He can also see hell-demons called Bodaks who live off the coming fear and pain of imminent bad stuffs.  So we see him trying to help police chief DaFoe with a new lead ... but this one is way crazier than he's ever seen, and the Bodaks are out in larger numbers than he's ever known.  It is a race against time to save untold numbers of people from a threat he has no clue how to look for, as those around him who know his secret try to help.

It is a very lean film, very focused on its thrilling plot and mystery, but with a lot of great character to cement it all together.  I really cannot say a single bad thing about the film.  I liked it a whole bunch, and I bet a lot of you out there would also love it.  Give it a shot.

Grade: A+


IHAO on ... Dead Heat

Have you ever wanted to watch a gross-out zombie film, but it never has enough buddy comedy in it?  Have you ever wanted to watch a gritty 80s cop action film, but it just doesn't give you enough Evil Dead nightmares?  Have you ever said "I really like Treat Williams, but I wish there was a movie that paired him with a Saturday Night Live alumni most people never knew existed"?  Dead Heat is just the perfect movie for you!

This movie starts as one genre, 80s buddy cop action film, including angry black boss cop guy threatening to take away their badges.  It is hilarious, not in "this movie is funny" way, but in a nanar kind of way.  Treat Williams, man of a bunch of very very low-grade action films, and Joe Piscopo, a man I quite literally never knew even possibly existed and thought was just a guy related to Lou Ferrigno.  The jokes are terrible, the sets are ridiculously cardboard looking, but the gun fight is ridiculous and entertaining enough.

Wait for it ... 

Then they go and fight a three-faced biker zombie and Treat Williams dies in an asphyxiation room.  And he is then brought back to life with the Resurrection Machine that made three-face zombie, but he's going to deteriorate in 12 hours if they don't solve the case.  Oh, and the love interest is replaced with another love interest, but the new love interest turns out to be a zombie, too, and she dissolves into nothing in a gross display of awesome, and the original love interest gets all kinds of murdered by the bad guys.

Worth the wait, wasn't it?!

This movie is nuts.  I didn't even talk about the absolute best, most disgusting, most nightmare fuel zombie scene I've ever seen in buddy cop film.  And then on top of that, on top of all the ridiculous, there actually is some pretty decent acting going on from Treat Williams.  Only him.  Well, him and Vincent Price, but he's just in a cameo.

The movie isn't terrible, not really.  Ok, yeah, it is.  It really is.  Cheesy and terrible and lucky it is shot on location most of the time because other than the one set, all the built sets look like poo.  It is just ridiculous beyond all reason.  It isn't QUITE bad enough for me to willingly call it nanar, but it can definitely scratch that same itch.  There is so much I want to just share and tell you about this movie, but I'm actually very surprised to find very few people have heard about it or talk about.  Even the reviewers I follow that specialize in just this kind of crazy ridiculousness, no one has touched on it.  So hey, it was crazy fun, absolutely ridiculous, and needs to be watched.  Even if the quality isn't actually all that high.

Grade: D++


IHAO on ... Neighbors

Woooo!  Partah!  Wooo!  Beer!  Wooo! Marajuana joints and clumps and bongs and mushrooms!  Wooo!  Penises and dildos and a little bit of boobies!  Woooo!  Characters that are interesting but have nothing interesting to do! Wooo!  A barebones plot that gets summed up in Act 2, so it has to be manufactured to continue into the rest of the movie, making the films protagonists look like the worst people on earth!  Woooo!

So yeah, this movie.  I have no doubt it will do perfectly fine.  And it is just that, fine.  Not on purpose.  And I mean, the directing is really good, as Nick Stoller tends to be.  Seth Rogan isn't quite up to his normal lovable goof here, but he's got a lot of good will built up that spills over.  Rose Byrne is beautiful and funny and kind of despicable.  Dave Franco is charming and also the clearly less talented Franco.  But hands down, the most interesting character and best actor is Zac Efron's Teddy who is clinging to the last few months where he will matter to the world because he's too stupid to do well in the real world.

This movie COULD have been really really poignant.  It COULD have had really great underlying themes like This is the End does, or the Goon, or Knocked Up.  But it doesn't.  Because the script just isn't that well handled.  It has all the pieces to have those things, and there are brief flashes of it.  But the script only wants to touch on them.  And with the film being a brisk 96 minutes, knowing a lot got cut, I suspect that the things Stoller would choose to cut were more of the party "jokes."  Except they aren't jokes, just ... happenings.

This is a comedy about characters.  About being stuck in the middle, somewhere between adult and kid.  About figuring out what your responsibilities lead to, and what life is like after you have to grow up.  But the film doesn't spend very long on any of those things.  It really just wants to get to the gross out, party comedy that is also slightly racist.  Really, the three characters of non-Caucasian decent, one is completely removable from the film (he had to be pointed out to me he was even there) and the other two the dumbest characters in the movie.

I really like what this movie could have been.  Teddy at one point calls himself a "supernova" that burns bright in college and dies young.  It is profound, and interesting.  But that is the only line that he says that.  And the only other mention of that is a joke so bad that I'm going to tell you the punchline right now: Teddy doesn't know what AT&T is.  Yeah.  That is supposed to be treated semi-seriously.

The actual gross out comedy and party stuff, it is all well and good.  And the actors all do their absolute best.  But the script itself is inherently flawed in that it doesn't strive to be anything that it could have been.  And it suffers for it.  Characters are fully fleshed out, with interesting flaws and quirks and themes and thoughts, but then after we meet them, none of those things matter any more.  And our "heroes" end up being huge dicks trying to screw with the frat, even though the war is won about halfway through the film.

I'm not angry at you movie.  I'm just ... disappointed.

Grade: B


IHAO on ... Adventures in Babysitting - READER REQUEST

This has been one of the hardest reviews I've had to write since I started doing this blog daily.  It has been absolute murder for me to put my thoughts down into words that can be read and make sense, as well as be both objective and share my real opinions on this movie as well.  The difficulty in how I try to review is to give you a good analytical sense of these films, as well as just sharing the necessary information if you want to see it, and also making it very clear how I personally feel about the thing.  But ... goodness.  Look, here's my second attempt to start writing about this movie:

"This movie should be called Adventures in Increasingly Improbable Coincidences.  Wow."

And that's it.  It's a pretty funny opener, and accurate, but I had no words after that.  I wanted to cop out, and just give a grade.  But I do not do that for my daily reviews.  Sure, in an AMA I don't mind.  Or for a film I've already seen quite often and just want to put it up on facebook, why not.  But for these, the whole article is important to me.  And I had nothing else.  I wrote that on Tuesday this week.  I watched the film Monday.  And in my second attempt, I could only get that far.  My first attempt was longer but ... well, look.

"I may have talked about this before, but let me talk about why torture comedies are my least favorite form of comedy.  The conceit of the torture comedy is that those little terrible things that happen in your life that suck, like a flat tire, or running into your boyfriend cheating on you, or losing a ring, or being stuck with people you don't like that torment you ... see, the idea is that you are seeing likable characters getting hurt.  Physically or emotionally or mentally or some combination or all of it."

That isn't even a complete, finished thought.  You know why?  Because I cannot quantify the point I was trying to make, at least not easily, in that that set up sucks really bad.  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  Uncle Buck.  These are torture comedies where likable people are hurt for no reason.  They suck.  There's also the opposite side, where the characters are just jerks the whole time, and aren't likable in the slightest: Funny Farm; Trading Places; Saving Silverman.  All of those movies suck.  Torture comedies I think that work: The Vacation series (for the most part); Just Friends.  They have likable characters ... but flawed ones.  You both enjoy seeing Chevy Chase get hurt, and you also empathize with him when it isn't his fault.  It gets the perfect mix.

This movie falls in the suck category.  But it isn't very fair, because I really like Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting.  She is indeed a likable character that I don't want to see get hurt, and she is believable, and--

See, just now, I took a fifteen minute break because I go so tired of thinking about this movie.  Writing about this film is a chore of Leonard Part 6 levels.  Before we jump too much farther, Leonard Part 6 is an infinitely worse film.  It fails in every regard.  And there is some good stuff to Adventures in Babysitting.  Like I said, Elizabeth Shue is great.  And the opening, with her lip syncing and dancing ... I fell in love.  How could you not?  She was great.  Also, little Thor loving kid is ... memorable.

Ok, so everyone that isn't Elizabeth Shue can very easily be put into one-dimensional categories.  There's the "awkard, lovestruck kid," the "precocious little girl" though she does have a love of Thor for complete plot convenience later on, the "horny kid," the "flustered nerdy best friend," not to mention all the homeless people who are thieves and crazy, the gangsters who are ... well, gangsters.  Even the doctor is standard jokey-one-dimensional Indian doctor.  There are only two really interesting, fully fleshed characters, one being Elizabeth Shue, and the other being a car thief who takes them to the chop shop in their Increasingly Unlikely Series of Events While Babysitting.  I for the LONGEST time throughout the runtime thought he was going to be an undercover cop, or perhaps the love interest ... but nah, he's just a character that for some reason that is beyond me got to have a bunch of facets and dimensions to his character.

I just realized that it sounds like I am complaining about that ... and I kind of am!  You create a second character that is likable, interesting, with motives of his own, a sense of loyalty and kindness, but is still a car thief who is stuck working with the mob.  And he's relegated to just ... lackey with a few lines.  Almost just a glorified cameo.  Let me know more about him.  Tell me his story.  What a crazy day it is for him, to be stealing a car when 3 kids and a teenager get in and you have to take them to safety from a guy shooting a rifle.  And then they steal your boss's boss's Playboy that he wrote all his damning evidence in.  Oh yeah, I should mention, Elizabeth Shue looks like the centerfold for this issue of Playboy.  It is a running "gag" in that it comes up a lot and is supposed to be funny?  It is just another coincidence in the long train of coincidences.

The comedy in this movie ... not comedy.  It isn't funny.  There aren't jokes and punchlines or set ups or anything.  Just ... things happening.  And they are odd.  And their oddness is what makes them funny.  Oh, the mechanic that got mentioned earlier looks like Vincent D'onofrio playing a mechanic who I guess could look like Thor so that the little girl can think he's the real Thor even though she is in no way young enough for that to make any sense that she believes it.

Thor.  Thor, ladies and gentlemen.

Or hey, a homeless woman took flustered nerdy best friend's glasses, so now she can't see.  And oh no, she picked up a rat because she thought it looked like a cat, that's so hilarious.  I am a man with terrible eye sight.  I recently had to get new glasses, and even at the thinnest they could possibly make them, they are still just about a centimeter thick, maybe thicker.  So let me assure you, that even if her eye sight is as bad as mine, THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN.  There is more than one sense, movie.  Rats don't smell, sound, or feel like cats.  And I would be willing to wager they don't taste like cats, but I've never eaten a rat.

This movie ... I don't like it.  In fact, I hate it.  I would not tell anyone to watch this movie, ever.  I'm pretty sure that there is a lot of nostalgia built up into it, and perhaps for some this kind of trainwreck of a plot and haphazard attempt at "comedy" works.  But for me, there is only one redeemable thing about the movie beyond Elizabeth Shue.  And that is that I never ever have to see it again.

Grade: D--- (it is shot competently enough that I am hard-pressed to give it an F ... but I stared at this grade for a very long time arguing about it.)


IHAO on ... 50/50

Boy howdy, do I find it funny how these Joseph Gordon Levitt films go with me.  He's clearly a competent actor, who does good work, but man of man do his films just never break that glass ceiling into be a great movie.  Ok, so let's dive into this film.

JGL works for NPR, and is working on a  SYMBOLISM OH MY GOD THIS IS SYMBOLISM DO YOU GET IT YET, IF NOT, IT IS OK BECAUSE THE WHOLE MOVIE WILL POUND IT INTO YOUR HEAD piece on a volcano that looks like it is dying but suddenly it springs back into life.  He has a terrible girlfriend, a great best friend, and gets cancer.  He goes to his therapist, who is terrible at her job and is also Anna Kendrick, and we watch him deal with cancer.  Kind of.  More we watch his personal relationships with his family, friends, girlfriends, and other folks as he goes through what is a very difficult thing.

First thing first, I do not have cancer.  I do not have a family member who has had cancer.  So there is an emotional value to this film that I cannot get onto without the film using art and film language to get me onboard.  If you find this movie touching and wonderful because of that emotional connect, that is awesome, and I think that was the film's goal.

With all that said, this movie could have been SOOO good.  It had all the parts.  From everything I had seen in trailers and stuff, I thought it was going to be about his relationship with Seth Rogan, which was the best part.  Look at the tag line in the poster up there.  "It takes a pair to beat the odds."  That implies that this is a film about the two of them and their relationship as JGL deals with his cancer.  Nope.  Rogan is nowhere near enough in the film to justify that tag line.  I wish he was.  Like I said, his relationship and demeanor with JGL were the best parts of the film.

And when he first met Matt Frewer and Phillip Baker Hall at chemo, I loved seeing that relationship grow as well.  But all the stuff with his girlfriend and her cheating on him, and she isn't cheating on him because of the cancer, she's cheating on him because she's a [I do not curse on this blog ... she makes me want to curse] and has been since before he found out about the illness.  The family bits, while a little over the top because of the addition of a father with alzheimer's, were really great.  And there is a moment at the end, as JGL is in surgery that you first see Rogan waiting outside.  Then you cut to the parents waiting inside.  Then you cut to the surgery prep.  Then you cut back, and Rogan is sitting with JGL's parents, and his mother reaches out to hold Rogan's hand.  That is powerful.  That is friendship moving beyond to brotherly bonds of love and family.  That was a powerful spot in the film.  Immediately ruined by Anna Kendrick.

Don't give up now that I've said something you don't like about an actress you like, faithful readers!

My wife is a professional therapist.  That is what she does.  I like watching films with particular strong backgrounds of information I never would have had.  Such as, in college, my roommate for awhile, Jason, was super into guns and FPSs and knew all about them.  So watching a movie, they pull out any gun, and he could tell me about why that gun was significant for the character, or why it was out of place.  It was neat.  So of course, my wife does similarly with people in her profession.  And Anna Kendrick in this film should have been fired and burned her degrees.  She quite literally does everything wrong.  And it is all just to build up to a romantic relationship at the end.  It isn't Anna Kendrick's fault, really.  She acts perfectly fine.  Not great, not bad, just fine.  But the part written for her is abysmal and even worse, distracting.

Oh yeah, spoiler, he survives.  I normally really care about not spoiling movies, but this one was spoiled from the very beginning because of the way the film is made.  You know from the beginning he survived.  I sat here, with a full house of roommates, their girlfriends, and my wife, as we watched the final minutes, and I just openly asked for the movie to have some balls, and to not have him survive and date Anna Kendrick at the end.  But that is what happened.  And it is just a slap in the face of any kind of realism they were trying to sell with this thing.

The more I think about it, the less I like this movie.  Which is really frustrating, because I had such high hopes for it.  I spent my hard earned donations on it (thank you oh so kindly to the donator, of course, you made my month with your satanic donation number).  So yeah.  Not happy with this one.  But I can very much see how many others would be.  I just wonder if JGL will ever be able to break that glass ceiling and finally star in a really great film.  Time will tell.

Grade: B--


IHAO on ... Short Poppies

Yesterday I talked about mockumentaries and Derek.  Today, time to talk about Rhys Darby, New Zealand, and his show Short Poppies.  You may recognize his name.  He was a character on Flight of the Conchords, has done a few films, and has shown up on @midnight if you happen to watch that show.  He's an odd fella, but now that I've seen his show, I think I understand.

This show is much more in line with what you think of as mockumentary.  It is very Christopher Guest-ian.  You have a host going about actually hosting a travel documentary with his crew, going around a small New Zealand town looking to meet regular New Zealand people.  Each episode focuses on a new person.  And Rhys Darby plays all those people.  You then see the funny things these simple folks are up to, and how all their lives interact with each other.

The humor is not all character based, but it starts there, using it as a base, and Rhys Darby almost flawlessly plays each of those unique and quirky character.  Of the 8 he plays, there was only one that didn't sell it for me in his episode, but when that character returned, I was sold.  So that's pretty solid.  But not only are the characters, who are all funny, good, but the situations they are all in are funny.  And all the little bits and pieces, lines and prop jokes and the look-to-the-camera spots are all great.  Such as, every episode opens with the documentary host trying to do a lead in, but he is always interrupted.  It makes me laugh, because within the premise of the show, that we are watching this documentary, that is the take they went with, all his flustered and upset looks, because they opted to see more of the characters.  I really enjoyed it.

The show is a bit of a slow burn.  The first episode got a chuckle or two because of its ridiculousness.  The second one got some sad laughs.  Then the third one pointed out how brilliant Rhys Darby's mind works as I see how the characters I've met are intertwining.  And then episode four murdered me with laughter.  I was absolutely dead.  I called the cops and reported that I had been murdered with comedy genius.  They didn't respond well.  I also didn't do that.

... because I'd rather have actually been murdered than put a Fault in Our Stars gif in here.

Sometimes, a comedy is just rewarding for its use of humor and character.  But Short Poppies goes beyond that and actually crafts a world that paying attention to small things rewards you later on.  Jokes are set up without you thinking about them in early episodes and paid off later.  It reminds me of all the things people say Arrested Development is, except that is actually funny to begin with on first view, and you like all the characters instead of all the characters being cringe-worthy terrible people.  And with it being shorter, only eight episodes, you can knock it out in a night.  And I really think you should.  It is so much fun, and so well created, that I really hope you give it a chance.


IHAO on ... Derek

I had originally planned to review a film I received in the mail and watched this weekend with my first hard earned donated funds!  But these two shows came across my way in just the past few days, and I had to touch on them immediately.

A mockumentary is a comedy artform of telling a comedy from the view point of a documentary crew.  It is all the rage now to replace the sitcom format.  The Office, Parks and Rec, Modern Family, they all use this technique to varying degrees.  And I have two I want to share with you.  Both on Netflix right now.  Today, I want to talk about Derek.  Tomorrow, I'm going to talk about Short Poppies.

Derek is another outing in the format by the man who brought it to the front and center of television viewing, Ricky Gervais.  I've seen quite a bit of his stuff.  Loved some (Life's Too Short), didn't care for others (the original Office), and hated others (An Idiot Abroad).  So I looked up Derek ... it has just terrible reviews.  Just the worst.  Go take a gander at all the things said about it that just the wikipedia page shares.  Did you take a look?  Ghastly stuff.

Pokemon humor.  :)

On a whim, I gave it a chance anyway.  The schtick is that Derek is handicapped/autistic/something and works at a care home for the elderly.  And the first episode ... it is very hard to find the words.  I loved it, I hated parts of it, I laughed, and I openly wept at the incredibly touching finish.  So I watched episode two.  I just keep watching, and I am just infatuated.  I love watching Derek, and Hannah, and Dougie.  I love seeing them just try to make life a little better for their little corner of the world.  Every episode takes me through every emotion.  It is funny, it is poignant, it is charming, it is sad, it is wonderful.  I am in love with this show.  It is profoundly well made from a character place, and is unabashedly positive in its mindset.

There are minor technical things that could be changed or be improved upon.  But they are minor.  They are not worth mentioning, is what I'm saying, and I'm working hard to make a living of mentioning those things.

I implore you all, just watch the first episode.  It is odd, and different, and foreign ... and ultimately, if you have fallen in love with this story, with these characters, with what you are seeing, then I think you will be happy moving forward.  If you are intrigued, if you are curious about the nature of Derek and what makes him so unique, then I think you will be happy moving forward.  If you laughed, and smiled, and maybe even teared-up or cried, then I think you will be happy moving forward.  If you couldn't help but focus on the documentary format, or the not quite that good acting from some of the cast, or the lack of just jokes on jokes, then you'll know, and you can move on.  But I hope this show touches you profoundly.  I hope you can revel in the joys of this show.  I could not be more pleased with my viewing experience.


IHAO on ... Extreme Rules 2014

Huzzah, another PPV or "special event" as the WWE are now calling them, successfully broadcast on the WWE Network.  Lots of really interesting things happened all throughout, but can I go ahead and say that this PPV wore me out.  So many matches were just drag out fights with high energy and emotion.  It was draining.  And I don't mean any of that insultingly, I actually mean it as a compliment.

Before I get too much further, I want to linky to the source of all the gifs I'll be using this review!  He's an awesome fella on the Tumblrs who has just straight up said it is no problem to use his gifs, so from now on, that's what I'll be doing, and I hope you'll take a look at his stuff, because he live gifs PPVs and Raws, and makes all sorts of other good ones throughout the weeks.  Here he is: wrasslormonkey

Here we go, EXTREME RULES!

Preshow: El Torito beat Hornswaggle in the first ever WeeLC with a springboard leg drop through a mini-table

This was pure spectacle.  Little people commentators, little person ref, little person ring announcer, and the two little people wrestlers currently in the WWE doing everything they could to be entertaining to the EXTREME.  It worked.  And even better, the big men in their corners, Los Matadores and the 3MB bumped for everything.  Drew Mac threw himself over the top rope into a table.  Heath Slater took two mini chair shots and threw himself through 4 tables stacked up magically behind him for that spot.  Los Matadores and Jinder went through four more tables and two ladders in another magically set up spot just for some damage.  Even the little person little announce table took a diving elbow through it.

What can I say?  This was never going to be amazing ... but it kind of was!  It was entertaining, everyone worked hard, including the 3MB guys who get a bad rap for sucking because they are jobbers.   But everyone earned their PPV paychecks this time around, and I really enjoyed myself here.

Verdict - Exactly as entertaining as it was going to be

Cesaro defeats Rob Van Dam and Jack Swagger in a triple threat elimination match

So Cesaro got the big win at Wrestlemania, turning on his team partner, and winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royale.  The next night, Paul Heyman became his new manager.  Cesaro is a good guy, Paul Heyman is a bad guy, Rob Van Dam just came back and has a histoy with Heyman, and Swagger and Zeb Coulter are still upset.  Through a few other bits and pieces, this match ends up happening.  And it was bloody brilliant.

Really, this match was everything I love in a wrestling match.  Lots of great maneuvers, lots of great counters, lots of great just MOVES of awesome skill.  Cesaro and Rob Van Dam fight like beasts.  And once Swagger is eliminated, they even pull out a trash can to get a little ECDub about it.  That's how I like my extreme/hardcore, by the way.  Just a chair, or just a trash can.  Just a little bit.  You don't need to go crazy with the weapons.  Personal taste.

This match was impressive, and everyone worked hard, though Swagger and RVD were the MVPs here.  Especially since RVD busted himself open with a trash can by doing the frog splash to it.  It was a really great opening that really got the crowd on their feet, and continued the upward swing of Cesaro!

Verdict - Really great, possibly match of the night for quality

Alexander Rusev squashed R-Truth and Xavier Woods in a handicap match

Oh good.  We go from really fun to really great to really terrible.  I just figured it out, too.  Rusev is Ivan Drago.  That is what this is.  Though Lana is was better than Drago's wife in Rocky IV.  Anyway, I've been watching Rusev crush people for too long.  I don't care.  I'm off the boat.  I do not care in the slightest.  And the handicap nature of this match is immediately defused by Rusev kicking Woods in the head, so it was a pointless addition.  This was garbage.  The only really fun part was Lana enjoying herself as she got some heat talking about her idol, Putin.

Verdict - Absolutely pointless

Bad News Barrett wins the Intercontinental Title from Big E

This match was interesting.  This match had one big goal to figure out: is Bad News Barrett a babyface?  And I believe the resounding answer is "YES!"

The whole match was built around figuring this out.  From Barrett testing the audience reaction with claps and signature spots, him getting a babyface fighting comeback, the signal of his Bullhammer finisher, all of it was done this time around to get the crowd's reaction, and the crowd was ecstatic!  Not only that, but the finale was thrilling.  Dodging the one Bullhammer, only to be hit on the return!  It was glorious, and Barrett ends up a 4-time champ.

The big problem is Big E LAG-ston (credit to my roommate for a joke to show how boring Big E is).  You see, he's athletic, just like a bunch of guys they like to bring up.  But he's got no charisma.  No spark of interesting.  He's just a bit ole athletic guy.  Like Shelton Benjamin before him.  Or Ahmed Johnson.  He can do some real impressive things, but he doesn't tell a good story.  He just isn't interesting.  He literally hurls himself full force at Barrett with an impressive spear through the ropes, and the fans cheer when Barrett stands.  Whenever Big E tried to do his babyface comeback or signal his moves, either the crowd didn't care or they booed.

Now, this could still get screwed up.  I don't think it will, but WWE could not treat Barrett as a babyface.  Cesaro is running around in "not quite babyface" land.  But I hope that doesn't happen.  I hope Barrett just comes out on Raw tonight, "I've got some ... BAD NEWS!"  And the crowd says it along with him, and we have our rematch at Payback.  And then Sheamus turns heel and kicks his head off.  That'll be great!  Or any other heel, really.  Barrett can easily continue to be face by instead of insulting the audience with his bad news, he uses it to make fun of his opponents.  I look forward to seeing a man I've loved for 4 years for the FIRST time a face I can cheer for without being a smark, hopefully finally getting his chance to get up to the top again!

Verdict - Good match, great character, awesome News

The Shield defeat Evolution

This ... I'm shocked it wasn't the main event.  Good on HHH for keeping the ego in check and putting the title at the top slot.  It makes the title look important.  That said, this match was really really really I don't have enough reallys good.  It was crazy and hectic and filled with as many crazy bumps and spots and hits and thrashings and brawlings you can imagine.  Old guard versus New Guard.  Youth versus experience.  It is a classic tale.  And the Shield continues to be dominant.  And everyone shined.

I wish I had more to say about the match.  It was a technical masterpiece.  Shield matches never are, really.  But it was a big brawl.  It was better than the big brawl with the Wyatts at the Elimination Chamber earlier this year, that's for certain.  Everyone looked good.  Ambrose was great ...

Reigns is an absolute beast who I am in love with ...

But I'm sure spot of the match goes to Rollins.

Verdict - Really really really really really good.

Bray Wyatt walked out of the cage, beating John Cena

Oh Cena.  I've talked about you before.  And you continue to do the same old schtick, except no smiling here, because you don't win.  Just alternating between absolutely dead and perfectly fine because that's what you think selling is.

Cage matches have gotten stale for me.  Especially WWE ones, where the stupid door can be opened to walk out, just so you can always have that spot where the door is kicked into the guys head.  I don't like em.  They end up being spot fests that are basically uninteresting to me.  Oh, and this match went just slightly longer than the Shield v. Evolution match.

They do a few spots I haven't seen before, mostly with the interest of the Wyatts keeping Cena in the ring for Bray to continue to torture and beat on.  But ... bah.  Whatever.  On first watch, I liked this match fine, though the finish (I'm getting to it) was lackluster.  On second watch ...

Unpopular opinion time - I'm getting tired of the Wyatts.  They used to be these great heels.  But now they are actually embracing the fans and ... just don't get heat.  So they can get any real bad guy stuff accomplished.  Which makes them boring.  Bray is still pretty good in the ring, but he needs a guy who is all fire and vinegar, like the Shield or Daniel Bryan.  Cena is a terrible opponent for him to have a spotfest match with like this.  Their match at Wrestlemania was a little boring but told a good story.  This match was even more boring, and the story it told was ...

Ok, the finale.  All Wyatts down, Cena walking out the door, then lights out, and ... at that moment I was rooting for another member of the Wyatt family.  I was hoping that they would get CJ Parker, an NXT guy with a terrible gimmick but a great look, and have him show up as a new Wyatt convert, a smaller, wiley, angry, barefaced Wyatt.  It would have been fantastic.  But instead ... we get WWE going with safe.  "Hey, the choir thing totally worked on Raw.  Let's do that again!  Oh oh oh, but this time, let's have just one kid!  And let's voice modulate him to be CREEPY!"  And so a little kid with a microphone sings the public domain song of the Wyatt's loving choice, scares Cena, and then bam, Sister Abigal, Cena loses.

I don't like this match.  I don't like where this is going.  And I don't care about any of the parties involved anymore.  They are going to have a rubber match, this time a Last Man Standing or some other standard fare third-in-a-series match for a Cena feud that will let Cena do extreme stuff to win at all costs and Never Give Up blah blah blah.  Wyatt isn't winning this storyline.  If they had treated the Wrestlemania match as if he had won by losing, then we'd be somewhere different.  But I was too optimistic.  Cena just beat Wyatt there.  And now Wyatt wins here.  And at Payback ... probably an I Quit match so Cena can win again.  Ugh.

Verdict - I didn't like it, and I cannot bring myself to care about it.  Spots were fine.

Paige retained the Divas Championship against Tamina

The crowd was tired.  And they thought they were going to get a breather.  They instead got Paige and Tamina working really hard to have a really good match.  The crowd just didn't have the energy for it, though.  Watching the match in a vacuum, without listening to the audience, and you have a really solid match.  Lots of great moves, lots of good offense, a nice clever babyface doing what she can to win, a powerful heel trying to just break the champ.

But the crowd was just dead.  I like this match a lot.  I really wish they had moved the terrible squash match up the card to act as a buffer between the cage match and this.  But after the big 3 v. 3 fight and then the cage match, the audience was too tired to be able to actually pay attention to a Divas match.  I think that this match shows a great trend that the Divas matches are going to continue to get better and better.  And the audience is going to know that, and get more and more behind Paige and these matches.  This is the first step on a bumpy road to fix a division that has been filled with terrible models for too too long.  But Paige, Emma, Charolette, Tamina, AJ, we have real athletes, real wrestlers working their way up.  I appreciate the match, and I think the fans do too.  They were just worn out.

And the best was still yet to come.

Verdict - Really solid, good match.  

Daniel Bryan retains the title in an Extreme Rules match against Kane

This match is everything you want from a hardcore match, without the blood.  They beat the crap out of each other.  They had planned breather moments.  They had a comedy moment ...

Or two ...

And one was even planned, though I wouldn't call it "comedy" but perhaps a lighter, babyface moment ...

But despite all that.  Despite the kendo sticks, the crowbars, the chairs, the car spots, the tables, the tables on FIRE, this match was about emotion and storytelling.  These two knew what they were doing.  Kane is getting a little old, he doesn't take moves as well as he used to.  But that didn't matter.  Because we got what we needed.  Daniel Bryan has proved over and over he can out wrestle anyone.  But this match, he out "rassled" Kane.  Gloriously.

That flying headbutt is a thing of beauty.  And this match was everything you want from a main event and more.  This match had all the emotion, all the heart, and all the spots.  And it still had the wrestling, though not as much as I personally like in my matches, but it still had it.  And it was really really good.  Great even.

Verdict - Really great, definitely match of the night for emotion

This was a really great PPV.  I'm worn out talking about it.  I'm worn out watching it.  But it was really really good.  A new era began at Wrestlemania.  And it continues tonight.  Things feel special.  This PPV was special.  And I cannot wait for Payback.  Though I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm even more excited about the next NXT special event later this month!

It is a great time to be a wrestling fan.