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Total Nonstop Action Figures 4: Paint it black.

On balance I may have been a little harsh on some of these TNA figures but in my defence, the lows were far lower than the highs were high. Scott Steiner couldn’t stand under his own power thanks to some shoddy leg joints (of which I can sympathise, or should that be “Sympy-thise”),  Brother Devon was pretty good if you can look past the notion that he looked like he was struggling with a painful bowel movement and while “Samoa Joe” was a design marvel, he bared more resemblance to Disco Inferno in the middle of an allergic reaction than he did “The Samoan Submission Machine”. My main point is that apart from the usual knockoffs and trash I have on my slate for review, these TNA toys should have been immune to being ridiculed by a basement-dwelling man-child on the internet but in some way, shape or form, one major flaw drags them down to my level. There is a darkknight in the TNA toy box however that brings its A-game with no debilitating  flaws and a prestigious spot on the desk where I “write”. Ladies & gentlemen, boys & girls I present to you for your amusement, my 6-inch Stinger, Toybiz’s TNA Sting!

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Given Toybiz’s history as WCW figure manufacturers, they probably produced approximately 90 gazillion versions of the crow-faced warrior over the years so no one would begrudge them grabbing an old mold from storage to make another version, that isn’t the case however. Sting’s re-emergence in the Impact Zone saw him trim his hair and streamline his little soul patch, all of which is accurately captured in a brand new head sculpt for The Stinger along with that haunting, emotionless glare usually seen on the face of anyone who watched Sharmell versus Jenna Morasca.

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New parts and attention to detail form every part of this figure’s being, cast wearing his signature black duster coat, this Sting toy cuts a dashing silhouette and presence. The coat can’t be removed as the sleeves are moulded into the figure but to be honest, I much prefer the figure with the coat, it doesn’t feel too big and baggy like other examples of coat accessories and doesn’t get in the way of posing him at all.

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On the topic of pose-ability, Sting is bringing the metaphorical thunder as he has all the articulation of his stable-mates, but every joint on my figure works perfectly, no loose joints or stubborn ab crunches here, no-siree-bob. Sting can adopt and maintain any depraved tableaux you can conjure up with consummate professionalism. His head has two joints that allow for an amazing degree of movement. Torso, shoulder and elbow joints all work great and a waist swivel, multi jointed hips, knees and even feet all mean that just like Joe before him, getting Sting to accurately perform his signature Scorpion Deathlock is only a few twists away. Most toys would kill for that kind of  freedom.

As far as accessories go, Sting needs only one to complete the set. No oversized barbels or missile firing trash cans are necessary here, just throw in a black baseball bat & Sting is ready for action and it is here in all its menacing glory, even with some bonus sculpted detail to keep things interesting and in an amazing touch of attention to detail, Sting’s left hand is even sculpted in such a way that the toy can accurately replicate the famous “pointing with the black bat” Sting uses as his signature taunt. Clearly a lot of love and care has been paid to Mr. Borden here.

It’s pretty absurd for a 30-something year old man to spend a few hundred words spouting about how much he loves a toy, but behind every figure is a design and decision-making process to create a finished physical product that I admire and while I’m having great fun hunting down and having a laugh at some examples of when that process churns out some bizarre or downright rubbish toys at the end of it, I do want to celebrate when it all goes right and the essence of a wrestling character I genuinely love is captured in plastic that I can display and brighten up my own space. I have a lot of fun taking the photographs, playing around with the toys like I’m 9 again and coming up with the words that populate these reviews. It’s a process in itself that gives me a sense of pride in the product that arises from it as I attempt to keep the depression that threatened to consume me at bay. So permit me to revel in Sting’s quality this one time but don’t worry, I’ve amassed a real cavalcade of crap takes and blatant fakes to  keep these coming for a long time to come.

 

Thanks for reading

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Woeful Wrestling Figures: Total Nonstop Action….Figures.

Back in 2008, a local discount store took delivery of some clearance stock of TNA action figures, the ones made by ToyBiz before Jakks Pacific nabbed the TNA toy rights and of course I bought one of each figure they had. So while I wait for the postman to deliver my suspect packages, I thought I’d kick off a new mini series by looking over them figure by figure and see if like TNA itself, these figures are also playing catch up to the wwe toys. First up is a craptacular mirror match as two generations of Scott Steiner toys go head to head, one by ToyBiz and one by Jakks I picked up in 2013 to see which one is the true Big Bad Barbie Daddy, and which one only has a 33 & a third chance of being displayed proudly. Welcome to a Tale of Two Steiners!

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At first glance the ToyBiz Steiner looks pretty decent, he’s wonderfully lumpy and bulging with plastic muscles and carries an amazing array of poseable joints, including rare finger and even toe articulation, there isn’t an action pose this Steiner can’t do. Sadly, getting him to stay in those poses is another matter entirely as clearly it is never leg day in ToyBiz Steiner’s world. Not only are his pins awfully thin compared with the rest of him, his left leg joints are incredibly weak, to the point that even standing under his own power is often too much for him even as he was taken out of the packet (which is why I assume he was in the discount bin). Thankfully he brought some accesories to lean up against to keep him upright. Not only did ToyBiz Steiner bring a squishy trash can stolen from a Konnan toy back when ToyBiz were making WCW figures, he also has a comically oversized dumbbell to show off with. This is even made of soft plastic so Steiner can bend it and show off to your collection of Bishojo Sailor Moon statues (or is that just my collection?).

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The other half of this equation is Jakks Steiner and anyone familiar with their latter run of Elite WWE figures will instantly recognize this Steiner’s pedigree. He brings with him a killer headsculpt that accurately resembles a screaming Steiner and his proportions are spot on, Scott Steiner always looked like he leaped out of Masters of the Universe so the roided out, hulking musculature of Jakks’ design is perfect here. He even boasts more detail than his older brother, with acres more detail paid to his tights designs and silly chest tattoo which on the ToyBiz Steiner looks like it has been drawn on with marker pens. Not so on Jakks Steiner who boasts a level of detail that would make any collector proud to show him off. as far as accessories go he has to settle for second place as although he came packeged with a whole other figure (what? that’s a kind of an accessory) all Jakks Steiner can bring to the fight is a chainmail headdress, that’s all booty and no daddy.

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If only ToyBiz Steiner wasn’t so, er, hamstrung by his legs and had a little more attention payed to the finer details he’d be a killer toy for youngins and a great stylised display piece but with like TNA itself, all the good is undercut by many small flaws that sour the product as a whole. These faults leave ToyBiz second place in a two horse race as Jakks Steiner takes the title of “Best TNA era Scott Steiner toy”, which is as prestigious as it sounds.

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Scott Steiner wins. FATALITY!!

Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

 

 

 

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Woeful Wrestling Figures: Unscrupulous Aggression.

Up until now my toy reviews have had an air of joy about them. Nearly every one of those figures may have been terrible and sometimes strayed into the territory of being knock-offs but rarely went the whole hog and thus kept a certain amount of cheeky charm. The Prince of Fear was clearly a Kane-a-like but still had enough kitsch appeal that I couldn’t stay mad at him and his ilk but after another scrounging trip to my local second hand market I emerged with two brazen hucksters, two contemptible con artists, trying to fool the unaware into believing that these are the genuine articles. These clueless cut price con men really do take the cake though & I refuse to give them a pass as I skewer them over the next couple of hundred words or so.

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First up is this awful Not-Batista to show off just how blatant these things are. Instead of original molds press-ganged into copycat gimmicks, Big Dave here is ripped straight from the original Jakks Pacific toys but in the cloning process, Dreck the Destroyed has suffered a staggering number of abnormalities.

I was never a fan of some of the Jakks basic figures but at least they felt solid and had decent articulation. This toy has neither, in true knock off tradition Barista’s plastic in his body and legs feels so light and flimsy that I expect to find a Kinder Surprise in his torso if I dared break him apart. Conversely his arms and head are composed of an entirely different plastic, with a different texture and mismatched skin tone and have very little give which given that he loses the elbow and knee joints of the original toy leaves Dave being very stiff indeed.

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To add insult to infirmity, he has a full compliment of Batista’s signature ink all across him with his huge dragon tattoo on his back (spoiled by the huge screw hole in his spine, that’s gotta hurt) and his bicep tats and even a weeny belly button tattoo he got on a hen party in Tenerife. These decals are actually pretty admirable but poor old Dave’s face gets no such love with slap dash painted eyes giving him the haunted thousand yard stare of a veteran of a dozen wars. I half expect him to start howling about long dead comrades as he stands on my desk. It’s okay Dave, they can’t hurt you anymore.

Okay, I’ll admit that Jared Leto does make for a striking Joker in the Suicide Squad movie but I also know that Chris Jericho would make an equally good clown prince of crime. How do I know this, you ask? Well, it’s because I saw this second fake figure here….

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Look at it, no really, LOOK at it. Have you ever seen a more terrifying visage in your life? That is supposed to be Chris ‘your dad during his mid-life crisis’ Jericho and I only know this because on his hollow legs are some hastily slapped on Y2J logos without which I’d struggle to think just who this harrowing hominid was trying to be. He does remind me of something though, did you ever get to the end of the first Batman Arkham game, Arkham Asylum? The one that end with a lacklustre boss fight against a muscled-out Joker hopped up on super steroids? Yeah slap a little white paint on the face, colour the hair in green and this could pass for a statue of that boss fight. That’s something it could pass for as it’s doing a horrible job passing as a good toy.

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Urgh, I feel dirty for having paid these two so much attention I can only hope that now I’ve got this done and dusted that BaPTSDsta & Jokericho will rot away in the plastic bag I’ll leave them to fester in. One can only hope so.

Thanks for reading and don’t have nightmares.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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UN-Skippable: Deee-Lite, Groove is in the heart.

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Dee-Lite may be a good candidate for being music’s true “cult of personality”. For a very early 90s dance act based in the US where very little house music was being produced and coming from a background in drag acts there is absolutely no way that Dee-Lite should have had a hit, let alone one that is just this good. Just hearing rough demos was enough for Bootsy Collins to drop everything and fly out to play with them on their album, Maceo Parker played the sax on Groove is in the Heart and A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip wanted in as well and you don’t pull that caliber of talent without having something truly special up your sleeve.

Calling it “Special” may actually be doing Groove a disservice, this song is as close to a perfect pop song as it is possible to get and still be crafted by humans and not some musical deity. I don’t know of anyone who has a bad thing to say about this song and I honestly don’t know what I’d say to one if I encountered someone who did. Everything about this song is so tight and laser-focused yet sounds like it’s loose and carefree, it makes me want to dance and I have an entire wardrobe of left feet to overcome. Every single piece of this song works with every other part to keep your heart grooving and extremities moving and it’s all propped up by one of the truly great bass lines of all time, but hey, that’s Bootsy baby. This, some great arrangement, a cacophony of random noises and some bafflingly charming lyrics delivered by the Lady Miss Kier all blend so seamlessly to create this heady mix of sixties influenced funk with modern sensibilities that truly give Groove a timeless quality. And not “timeless” in a way that makes it seem like a throwback no, I mean that I’m confident that Groove is in the heart could be released tomorrow and still be as popular and big and respected as it was way back in 1990 it’s just that good. This is a quality seldom matched in mainstream music except perhaps for Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk that shares many of the qualities I love about this musical masterpiece, but that’s another article.

Sadly Dee-Lite never really followed up on Groove and never had another hit as big and that’s a little sad. It’s easy to look at Groove and wonder why they weren’t the biggest stars of the 90s but alas, the pop gods ordained that it was not to be, but after you debut with the perfect pop song, what else is left to accomplish?

 

Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon ( @BunnySuicida )

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Arcade Imperfect: the curious case of Marvel Vs Capcom EX.

By Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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Not everything is certain in videogames but there is one universal truth that cannot be denied: the Playstation 1 had real trouble with 2D fighting games. History shows that the little grey box of tricks could do amazing 3D graphics and effects with ease but when it came to sprites, it didn’t have the processing grunt to accurately pull off faithful ports of some of the late 90’s biggest and boldest arcade fighting game hits. In most regards this didn’t have too much of an effect on many games, a few missing frames of animation here, some absent background animations or other flourishes there and only when placed side by side with superior ports or the arcade originals would the PSX’s shortcomings be revealed. In three cases this would be much more pronounced however, fundamentally altering the games at their core. I speak of capcom’s VS series, X-Men VS Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes VS Street Fighter and Marvel VS Capcom. This trio of late 90s excess introduced the “crossover battle” system with players able to choose a pair of fighters and swap between them at will during matches and utilize team attacks that cause screens to erupt in a riot of colour and spectacle. Such hyperactivity was beyond most home consoles at the time, indeed Sega’s competitor to the PSX, the Saturn is regarded as a 2D powerhouse machine and even that needed a special cartridge to be plugged into the console, boosting its memory capacity in order to cope with the demands of the games.

No such luxury could be afforded the PSX however, it didn’t have the ability to expand its processing power so like many arcade ports right up until the dawn of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era, difficult compromises had to be made. Upon hearing that Marvel VS Capcom et al were getting ports to the PSX, many wondered how the little grey box could possibly cope with such demanding titles. The answer was, it couldn’t. Capcom knew it couldn’t release the games as was on PSX so opted for a very unusual and at the time controversial step of removing the crossover from the crossover battle, turning the games into one on one ‘EX’ versions to meet the limited memory of the host console. Some crossover elements would survive the change, players still picked a second fighter but this teammate is relegated to a support role, able to leap in with attacks to aid their partner before jumping back to the sidelines. Characters can be swapped, but only between rounds or fights at predetermined points. It seemed that the entire reason for these games existing had been stripped away and thus were regarded by many (me included) as inferior curiousities, especially as a Saturn and later Dreamcast owner, my versions of these games were largely intact.

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So for nearly 20 years I would scoff at the PSX games, laugh at how butchered they were and use them as examples of why my chosen consoles were superior pieces of electronic hardware, and then I played them.

 

It seems time for me to eat a lot of very stale humble pie right now, firing up the PSX version of Marvel VS Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes reveals a game that looks familiar, feels very unfamiliar but is an incredibly enjoyable experience, one I realise that I secretly wanted all this time.

Stripping the game back to a one on one fighter is an inspired choice, it allows individual characters room to breathe and allows players to concentrate on finding one fighter’s strengths and weaknesses without the added pressure of having to do the same for another fighter at the same time. The inclusion of a best of three rounds system also allows for more time as the whole game goes from a frenetic, hyperactive light show to a more measured and balanced game. The actual fighting is still faster than the norm but the chaos feels more controlled and in many ways, more preferable.

All the time I spent on the originals was sometimes tempered with the wish that I could play these games as traditional fighters but now having actually played traditional versions of them I was far too harsh on them for far too long, the PSX versions of these are very different animals to their bigger and brasher brothers but definitely hold their own as enjoyable fighters in their own right and in some ways are even superior to them.

Now can I get some ice cream to go along with all this humble pie, please?

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Woeful Wrestling Figures:Royal Grumble.

So it looks as though I’have in fact exhausted Poundland’s supply of cheap wrestling toys for the foreseeable future but I still have a need to give you the lowdown on some polymer pugilists. Instead of some lousy fakes I’ve taken a step towards respectability in an odyssey to official merchandise and a sextet of WWE Rumblers, tiny titans with real wrestling action! Highly stylised and playfully chunky, I’m about to review some more toys.

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First up is Randy Orton setting a high standard on aesthetics and actions. His sleeve tattoos and Orton pose ™ are all on display and are a perfect miniaturisation of the menace to carry on luggage and this little viper is ready to strike with his special springy surprise. Twist Orton at the waist and let go to unleash a devastating right hand to any toy that stands in his way. Watch out Tickle me Elmo!

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Question. Since when has John Cena looked like The Great Gazoo from the Flintstones? Also, when was he known for his jumping ability? Oh deary me John, you do not suit this design. In fact you look more lumpen and put of proportion than in reality and your push down “jumping” action is woeful. All you manage to accomplish is a passable recreation of the Flair flop and don’t think your ‘I’m a little teapot’ pose helps matters, being ‘short and stout’ is not a good look for you, honey.

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Who’s that jumping out the sky? Why it’s R-E-Y Mysterio and this figure blows! That’s actually a little unfair as little Rey Rey certainly looks the part but he’s been saddled with the same lame jumping action as John Cena that is just a recipe for disaster. These figures also have no mobility in their legs so in Rey’s case that’s more true to life than any other.

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Oh dear Kane. From the neck down you are a fantastic figure. You’ve got an actually decent slamming action and the angular, chunky look of everything really suits a monster character like the big red machine but head north and OH MY GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?! I know the mask is supposed to be frightening but this is ridiculous, this Kane looks like a terrible gargoyle that somehow looks too fat to be Kane. In fact the Prince of Fear’s Picasso features would pass for Kane more than this misshapen lump. So very nearly good.

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Now this is more like it, Rumbler Undertaker is a killer slab of plastic. He may be missing some details like tattoos and any real decals but proportionally this is on point. Taker even borrows Randy Orton’s punchy gimmick but wisely sticks one arm out to deliver a Vader-like (Big Van not Darth) haymaker. 9/10, Phenom af.

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I present to you the best Rumbler I think there ever could be. The mighty Brock Lesnar looks extremely good in this style. Even his pose is spot on to deliver more knock out punches and with the undersized legs and over developed upper body, Little Brock, Arkansas could easily be mistaken to be in scale with the real thing. If only there was a teeny tiny Paul Heyman to complete the set.

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Some of the design choices and sculpting are a bit suspect for official merchandise but Rumblers were a fun little line of compact characters that deserve a place alongside my other figures (the real ones, no way am I putting Lex Legend on any kind of pedestal). With the passing of time these figures can be found quite cheap and of you’ve got a hankering for wrestling toys but not a lot of space, these should see you right.

As ever, thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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John Skyler’s NeXT Chapter in Wrestling

by William Renken

 

Just before we launched the New Blood Rising Podcast in March of 2015, I had the chance to interview Mike Mooneyham, famed wrestling columnist for the Post and Courier who to this day spins many a beautiful tale of recap and nostalgia of today and yesterday. This was a dream interview for me being someone hustling through the new age (or maybe New Era?) of pro wrestling journalism. One of the questions I had circled and marked because it was so important for me to ask Mooneyham about was the first time he remembered seeing Ric Flair. I found this important because as Mooneyham covered Crockett in the Mid-Atlantic during the time of some of the hottest wrestling in the country, this also was the time he would strike up one of his most important personal and professional relationships in seeing Ric Flair ascend to iconic Nature Boy status. Continue reading “John Skyler’s NeXT Chapter in Wrestling”

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Bioshock Infinite & The Business of Art.

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A warning from the author. This post contains spoilers for the plot themes of Bioshock Infinite, you have been warned!

 

The concept of art as a product has fascinated me for years, especially where artistic design or creative endeavours must be compromised or even abandoned in the cause of commercial success. This is a thread that can be followed in almost any form of entertainment and not always to the detriment of either side.  Some great entertainment (or”art” for the purposes of this post) exists purely thanks to the commercial needs or wants of a business where the corporate mandating and efficiency of “the machine” produces a satisfying work that doesn’t (or at last appears to not) sacrifice their creative “soul” in the process. Recently, the movies coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the new Star Wars entries at least appear to strive beyond corporate box ticking within their formula and reveal themselves as works with real art on display. Sometimes however, the creative spirit  behind a project can find itself battered and even broken by the whims of a business side eager to mold it to fit current trends in an effort for greater returns. Many high-profile movies, music and videogames have fallen prey to this situation and have either emerged unscathed, bruised and battered or in some cases never emerged at all and recently I came upon a product that seems to bear its scars clearer than most, 2013’s Bioshock Infinite, developed by Irrational Games and published by Take Two Interactive as part of its 2K label. Continue reading “Bioshock Infinite & The Business of Art.”

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WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures 3: The Chode Warriors

My toy story continues! Those nice folks at Poundland have gotten their mitts on another clutch of plastic wrestling figures of questionable origin. In the next part I’ll have something different in a troupe of miniature figures complete with enough weapons and accessories to make New Jack jealous but before that the heavyweights are back with a triplicate of tragic tusslers eager to get into the ring with their polymer playmates. Continue reading “WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures 3: The Chode Warriors”

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TWx3: How Irish is Larry?

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“And that Geography is all the children need to know!”

 

AWA Superstars 13th of March, 1988.

Like a blogging Scott Bakula, my quantum leaping through the ages brings me back to the AWA this time in the year 1988 to see just what the past has in store for me. This time out is a special St Patrick’s day edition of AWA’s version of Superstars and Larry Nelson is in the mood to celebrate with his co host Kathleen. Instead of the traditional celebrations of copious drinking and sudden views on political union, Kathleen’s idea of tribute is to decorate Larry’s face in shiny Shamrock stickers. The Faith and begora continues as the screen turns green, because Ireland I guess. Anyway during this we learn that today’s show will feature Bad Company in action, the legendary Baron Von Raschke and The Midnight Rockers facing recent arrivals the Nasty Boys in the main event. Continue reading “TWx3: How Irish is Larry?”

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WWE Payback 2016 Recap

by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)

 

Chicago is in for what could be a hell of show tonight! Most of–if not all–of the matches on Payback have been built solidly, at the very least. Intrigue surrounds the main event, we’ve got a lot of new faces on the scene post-WrestleMania and a bit of a fresh feel on the product overall. WWE promises this to be “the first PPV of the new era” so let’s see how Payback delivers!

Continue reading “WWE Payback 2016 Recap”

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TWx3: I HATE YOU LAS VEGAS!

AWA All Star Wrestling 25th January 1987.

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Last time on TWX3 I dropped into the AWA to see the debut of the future Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels and the very beginning of his teaming with Marty Jannetty in a hugely enjoyable episode. The next edition of AWA Television is almost a year later so let’s see what has changed in the meantime.

The impressive CGI intro of last time’s ESPN show has been replaced with a slightly less impressive game show style introduction complete with jazzy music as the AWA logo flies through space.

This looks to be a compilation of matches recorded from the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas, the same location as last time, strung together with links by Larry Nelson and new to me partner Gary Ryan who proudly announces that “we’ve got the Super Ninja on deck” as well as highlights from a bloody title bout between Curt Hennig and champion Nick Bockwinkel, an appearance by tag champs Doug Summers and Buddy Rose and an unsettling appearance by the controversial Jimmy Snuka. So with the Ninja aboard the first match can begin with that man again, Shawn Michaels facing Frankie Defalco. Continue reading “TWx3: I HATE YOU LAS VEGAS!”

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Tales from Hill Valley: Win One for the Kipper

by Billy Carpenter (@4CR_Billy)

 

Entering 1992, World Championship Wrestling found itself in a most tumultuous state. 1991 proved to be an absolutely disastrous year, as they managed to somehow trump their failures of 1990 both financially and creatively. With Dusty Rhodes back as booker after Ole Anderson’s failed stint and with Jim Herd horribly mismanaging the company, 1991 is often looked at as one of the worst periods in the history of not just WCW but of any wrestling promotion at any point. The company’s direction towards the over-the-top gimmicks and departure from emphasizing in-ring action turned the NWA/WCW faithful away in droves. To further exasperate WCW’s woes, long time flag bearer and, at the time, reigning World champion Ric Flair not only leaves the company for the WWF but he takes the belt with him—all due to well-documented issues with Herd.  In January of 1992, three years after becoming executive vice president, Jim Herd resigned and WCW fans simultaneously breathed a massive sigh of relief while wondering who would succeed him. Enter Kip Allen Frye, Continue reading “Tales from Hill Valley: Win One for the Kipper”

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WWE NXT Recap (4/20/2016)

by Billy Carpenter

 

 

Enzo Amore & Big Cass make their way out in what is, I believe, their NXT swan song as the second set of tapings from WWE Axxess gets under way. They challenged American Alpha last week to a non-title affair and Cass proclaims that on this night, they’ll find out if Gable & Jordan are S-A-W-F-T. Enzo & Chad start the match and Gable breaks out a series of moves that wouldve made Les Kellett grin. American Alpha tag in & out while working the arm of Amore until he can finally get a tag to Big Cass. Jordan & Cass face off as we head into our first commercial break… Continue reading “WWE NXT Recap (4/20/2016)”

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WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures.

Written by Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida).

Wrestling figures are great aren’t they? From Remco to Hasbro and Jakks Pacific to Mattel, wrestling toys have let the young and young at heart recreate some of Sports Entertainment’s greatest moments as well as craft whole new ones completely from the imagination. Hulk Hogan versus AJ Styles? Easy, The Legion of Doom vs Abyss and The Boogeyman? Alright if you insist, Jim Ross vs Joey Styles in a hardcore Mic on a pole match to crown the greatest announcer of all time, with a run in by Bobby Heenan? Actually that sounds pretty awesome! Toys can be played with like well, toys or displayed like mini statues in honour of our heroes but, and this is a Rikishi sized but, not all figures are created equal. For every über collectable Elite line or knockabout “With Smashing Action!” Basic figure there is a bottom of the barrel knockoff aiming to muscle its way into a collection or toybox and that just won’t do. Continue reading “WWF: Woeful Wrestling Figures.”

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TWx3: The Ballad of Bun Boy Barton.

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By Martin Dixon ( @BunnySuicida )

And so a bold new era begins. I leave the cut and thrust of the Monday Night War and delve deeper into the dark recesses of the WWE network for something really old school and find myself beginning a new education in the AWA, the American Wrestling Association. I had always been aware of the AWA and it’s history but only through reference material and retrospectives. Never had I actually sat down and watched any shows from beginning to end so in an effort to refresh my blogging and the wider scope TWx3 affords me, I fired up the Network and dove headfirst into the Vault section to watch the topic of this post, the March 4th, 1986 edition of AWA ESPN Championship Wrestling, from the Showboat Hotel in Las Vegas. Continue reading “TWx3: The Ballad of Bun Boy Barton.”

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TWx3: Lucha Underground and me

It’s safe to say that I’m a little bit in love with Lucha Underground. The whole project clicks with me on multiple levels and well, why not write about how and why they do. So lend me your eyes for a few moments and indulge me as I write a gushing love letter to the Temple. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways….

Being a gentleman of considerable carriage I never feel wholly comfortable evaluating in ring efforts because I admire anyone willing to risk life and limb for wrestling. Instead I look at the stories behind the matches, both the content and delivery and it’s here that Lucha Underground basically had me at hello. Continue reading “TWx3: Lucha Underground and me”

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Total Nonstop Action Figures 3: Joe Blow.

Ladies and gentlemen out there in toyland, I now present to you a figure that is simultaneously one of the best and one of the worst figures I’ve ever seen. First up, the good news….

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This figure poses like nothing on earth, I can’t believe the range of motion and the tightness of the joints that mean not only can he assume all manner of wacky and wonderful positions, he can hold them indefinitely thanks to some superb weight distribution it feels like an engineering project rather than a wrestling toy. Such an explosion of posablity is damn near perfect for a wrestling figure, this one can even perform a muscle buster if paired with a suitably flexible opponent, thanks to several arm and hand joints, each with a wide range of movement.

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It’s a similar situation south of the border too and the legs are equally as limber as the rest of him, meaning that he can even wrap himself around another figure like a Boa Constrictor and squeeze out a victory with a very convincing Kokina Clutch.

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You may have noticed that I’ve yet to say who this is a figure of, that’s because whoever this is it is clearly not Samoa Joe. The head looks like an old Disco Inferno noggin scrounged from the WCW mold bin and has odd pursed lips, like he’s eaten something exceptionally spicy. This curious crainium is sat atop a Frankenstein’s monster of seemingly random parts, weirdly muscular in some places and more evocative of Joe’s rather “Rubenesque” physique in others. The toy is a patchwork of differing plastics too, smooth to the touch here and more roughly hewn there, this feels like a toy that needed longer in the oven to really nail everything and satisfy as a toy to play with and as something cool to collect.

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If Mary Shelly was alive today and reviewed wrestling toys on the Internet (don’t pretend you haven’t had the same dream), she would take one look at DiscJoe Inferno here and throw her hands in the air shrieking that this was exactly what she envisioned when crafting Adam, the monster in Frankenstein: the modern Prometheus. This “modern Joe-metheus” is a toy engineering masterpiece that is unfortunately stricken with such a hideous and shocking appearance even I reach for a burning pitchfork when I catch sight of it out of the corner of my eye. It’s such a missed opportunity but then again, if it was perfect, I wouldn’t be writing about it here now, would I?

Thanks for reading.

Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

Total Nonstop Action Figures 2: Devon knows I’m miserable now.

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For all the jokes I’ve thrown at TNA for what seems like centuries, it seems that their toys are possibly the best things they ever produced, with the possible exception of the reverse battle royal (that’s a real thing, see Google if you don’t believe me). The quality of merch heading out of the impact zone in the mid-to-late 00’s is perhaps some of the finest I’ve ever come across, quality such as that which festoons Brother Devon here.

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It feels odd to lump Devon in with the rest of the tat that comprises Woeful Wrestling Figures so far but a theme is a theme and there are some flaws to pick at later I suppose but on the whole Bubba Ray’s brother from another mother is an excellent lump of polymer.

First off he feels weighty, dense heavy plastic forms Devon’s very core and he feels a lot more solid and less fragile than the ToyBiz Scott Steiner from last time. As I said then ToyBiz Steiner was horrifically flimsy and unable to stand up under his own power. Not the case with Devon, not only does he feel like he could be used as a blunt weapon in a Dark Souls game, he has more posable joints than I have ever seen in a standard action figure line. Two joints in his neck alone mean there isn’t anything Devon can’t see, double jointed elbows join bicep swivels, multi directional wrists and finger joints to mean that Reverend Green can express himself in any way he can think of (if his head wasn’t made of plastic. And hollow.)

Things get even more impressive as you drift below his belt (stop that giggling). Huge ball-joints at the hips give him a staggering range of movement, as do the double knee joints that move with a satisfying “click” of a ratchet joint at regular intervals (incidentally, my knee also click but aren’t on ratchet joints and are incredibly painful) and you don’t need to be Tony Atlas to fall in love with Devon’s feet as he comes complete with an ankle tilt, not a swivel but a full on ball joint that means when Devon is planted down, he’s not going to topple over without a fight. He also has toe joints but that’s just showing off at this point.

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If there’s one thing that is quintessentially Dudley Boys it’s the humble wrestling table, a species that has a shorter life span than that of a mayfly, so it’s the icing on the cake that Devon came packaged with. This table comes lovingly emblazoned with the copyright dodging ‘Team 3D’ name Brothers Ray & D’von were forced to adopt upon leaving WWE in 2005, you could ask “Devon knows how they make it so legally distinct?” (Bonus points if you got that reference). True to his breed, this table can break apart when some uncaring wrestler dares to dive onto it to recreate all those famous “getting wood” moments. It’s a nice addition to an already great set.

It’s not all sunshine and lollipops however as for all his wonderful joints, Devon’s torso crunch appears to be the suggestion of articulation and instead remains steadfast and immobile which sours some posing potential and for some reason the makers have saddled Devon with the facial expression of someone trying to deal with a particularly painful bowel movement. See, I said there’d be flaws to pick at, in fact I think this may have been the intention and what we have here is a figure of a pooping Devon after all! Truly a woeful wrestling figure then. Phew! Gimmick saved.

Thanks for reading.
Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

Unskippable: Gamebreakers 2 by GameBreax.

By Martin Dixon (@BunnySuicida)

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And so I find myself drawn back into the world of videogame music although this time instead of looking at something directly taken from videogaming, I’m looking at something inspired by various games and their themes as evidence of my theory that any subject matter can make for excellent music when approached with care and love.

Gamebreakers 2 is the latest release by North Carolina collective GameBreax, comprising previous Unskippables subject Omega Sparx and SWATS and their vision of electronic infused hip hop called “Nerdcore”, and that’s a genre I can get behind.

I’ve spent decades deep within the realms of videogame fandom and as someone very much of the old school end of the spectrum, some of the deep cut references sprinkled throughout the album are what struck me immediately upon firing up the album for the first time. Track One, “Hard Edge” is perhaps the best example of these deepest of cuts as it’s one Rock Howard, the star of one of my personal favourite fighting games Garou: Mark of the Wolves that provides the inspirations and themes of some more “fight music” that I’m so fond of with a sweet sauce of lightning quick rhymes peppered with numerous Fatal Fury references that each bring a smile to my face slathered on top. This sterling heavy rap track shows me that love, care and attention have clearly been paid in the album’s creation.

Listing all the various references that punctuate the whole release would be an article all in itself so without letting my enthusiasm running away from me I’d best just say that if you’ve ever taken an interest in any of the biggest games of the last 30 years or so, there’s something in here to make you smile. Although special mention must go to the amazing idea of a Sonic the Hedgehog vs Knuckles the Echidna rap battle that meant that the grin had to be surgically removed from my face.

Nostalgic references are my personal favourite aspect of Gamebreakers 2 (I am after all a lover of language more than beats perhaps) but that isn’t the only thing GameBreax have going for them, far from it in fact. Nostalgia can only go so far so the ultra modern beatwork and rhymes are by far and away the best reason to check this release out. With the charts strangled by “trap rap” that, although I’m no expert on the subject, sounds incredibly lazy to me, the constructed, layered and melodic beats on here are so refreshing and enjoyable to listen to instead of being abrasive and ringtone focused. I also hate to single out individual rappers but Future’s mush-mouthed slurring is simply destroyed by every featured artist on here. To the point that it’s baffling that GameBreax aren’t more of a force in the genre at this point. I can’t be sure if these are the intentions but I hear a lot of DMX and Busta Rhymes while listening to the album and to my ears that is a very positive thing indeed as I’m a fan of both those artists.

On a broader theme it’s also nice that such a work of technical wizardry and craftsmanship can come from such an often derided medium like Videogames, far from the accusations that games breed generations of layabouts and simpletons by certain corners of established media, GameBreax show that great wit, dexterity, talent and great inspiration can be drawn from gaming as a whole. As someone who once made a living from videogames seeing them represented so well here warms the heart.

In conclusion Gamebreakers 2 doesn’t require the listener to be in a position to get where every single reference and sample comes from to be enjoyed. From the beats to the rhymes, the energy and scale of the whole production can be enjoyed on any level by any fan of hip hop hoping to experience a fresh take on the medium. It hits the top of the flagpole, it collects all seven Chaos Emeralds, it scores a Flawless Victory, it’s a Hyper-Combo finish and comes thoroughly recommended by me. Hugely enjoyable and almost essential.

Thanks for reading.

Download Gamebreakers 2 HERE!

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