Legal common sense, SummerSlam followup, and credit where it is due

Greets once again, little ones.  Tonight will not be the marathon that last night’s SummerSlam live blog was – particularly because as my first attempt at live blogging an event, I found that it is much more exhausting than just watching said event.  In all seriousness – I decided to do my thing here for my own personal satisfaction and as a form of coping that wouldn’t land me in a hospital or elsewhere – but the people that do things like this full-time amaze the living hell out of me all the more.  I gave my thoughts on Alanah Pearce of IGN the other day (and if you haven’t read that yet, you should) and I look forward to doing more such pieces in the future, as these people are fucking unbelievable.  Want proof?

blonde nerd
http://www.blondenerd.com

She does this full time and makes a living doing so.  I will be giving Brittney Brombacher her full due in a later post, but if you like games, anime, or any other nerdy pursuits, her site is fantastic and the amount of work and love that she pours into it is phenomenal.  I’d take my hat off to her, but I’m an Evil Wizard, and we don’t take off our hats.  Ever.  For any reason.

I’m also exhausted from a longer-than-expected day in court today.  For all of you out there who may one day, for one reason or another, find yourselves on probation with a court, any court – there will be a list of things that you must do, and possibly a list of things that you are prohibited from doing.  Now, I don’t know why this is so goddamn difficult, but it stands to reason that you should probably DO the things you are told to do, and for fuck’s sake, DO NOT DO the things you’ve been told not to do!  This is not rocket science, ladies and gentlemen.  You’ll save yourself time and money, and likely save my sanity and liver function at the same time.

Finally, just in case some of you didn’t get enough of my thoughts on wrestling last night – not that anybody actually gave a damn what I thought – but we learned tonight before Raw went on the air that Finn Balor, after a great match which saw him become the WWE Universal Champion, will be forced to forfeit the title tonight and miss the next 4-6 months with a shoulder injury sustained as a result of taking the Rollins powerbomb to the barricade that I pointed out last night shouldn’t be a thing anymore because it had already injured too many people.  But what the fuck do I know, right?  I’m sure all those big-wigs in WWE headquarters are fine with a guy they had just pinned as a new top star in the company missing half a year because they didn’t want to ban a move that had already ended at least one career and stalled a few more.  I’m a huge Seth Rollins fan, and I don’t personally blame him for this – he didn’t intend it, and I’m sure he feels awful about it.  But at some point when something happens by accident enough times for the same reason, you have to recognize it and take the steps needed to avoid it.  And that means not using that particular move anymore, Seth.  Frankly, even if the company doesn’t require you to stop, you should do it anyway out of respect to your colleagues in the business.

That’s all for tonight, lads and lasses, but remember – love who you are, love what you do, but hate Donald Trump with the burning intensity of a thousand suns. – EWE

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SummerSlam mumblings and musings

5:30 PM EST

Tonight is the night, folks!  The Biggest Party Of The Summer (TM)!  That’s right, it’s the night AFTER NXT Takeover Brooklyn!  Seriously, though – if are even remotely a wrestling fan and you missed the phenomenal NXT show last night, stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it.  Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura was one of the contenders for match of the year, and I think Joe might have actually broken his jaw at the end – those shots were STIFF.

But, TONIGHT is actually the yearly WWE SummerSlam PPV – and I’ll be here all night long to whine, bitch, and complain about all the horrible booking and strange finishes.  And if something good happens, there’s even an outside chance I’ll acknowledge that too – you never know!  So keep it here, as the whiskey will be flowing (and probably the tears, too).

UPDATE 5:50 PM EST

SummerSlam Kickoff starts with the panel, which I won’t even go into.  Seriously, Booker – I don’t know why you keep being given a microphone, but it is not now, nor has it ever been your strong suit.  From there, we get the obligatory 12-man spot-fest train wreck so that we can get absolutely everyone onto the card.  The entire match can be summarized with the following picture.

2016-08-21

Long story short, everybody hits their shit, and the faces go over.  If you’ve ever watched a single episode of Raw, Smackdown, or any other basic cable wrestling program, you’ve seen this match.  But when you’re making sure all your PPVs are about five or six hours now, you gotta fill time somewhere.

Now we go to a package on Ambrose vs. Ziggler, which consists of essentially highlights of Dolph Ziggler being better than 90% of the roster during his career and still getting buried.

UPDATE 6:05 PM EST

Well, I didn’t want to talk about the panel, but a couple of things must be observed.  First, Jerry Lawler is wearing a Superman insignia ring on his wedding ring finger.  I’ve heard of single men wearing a false wedding ring to attract certain types of women, but I don’t thing something you get for a quarter out of a machine in Wal-Mart is typically what most people use.  Second, apparently Baron Corbin won’t be on the card tonight – so those of you that saw the booking of Corbin vs. Kalisto and thought “Wow, that’s perfect!” (both of you), I guess you’ll have to live with Baron awkwardly threatening Kalisto on the panel.

UPDATE 6:20 PM EST

If any of you out there ever thought that there might be something Cesaro would be told he had to do in order to get even a shot at a push, and he’d finally snap and say “Fuck it, I’m done” then the following picture should put that to rest.

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Our next match sees Sami Zayn and Don’t-Call-Me-Adrian Neville vs. The Dudley Boyz.  Michael Cole astutely points out that SummerSlam marks one year since the Dudleys returned to WWE, but neglecting to point out that the writers have managed to do absolutely nothing with them in that time.  You know, these writers seem consistently confused with what to do with some of the amazing talents that have come up from NXT.  I don’t want to see Neville and Zayn tagging against the Dudleys, I want to see Neville vs. Zayn tear the house down.  I don’t want to see Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho as a team, I want to see Owens throw Jericho all over the building.  And for that matter, why can Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have first names, but Neville had to drop “Adrian” when he came up?  Faces go over when a misque between the Dudleys leads to a Heluva Kick followed by a Red Arrow on Bubba.  Better than the car crash earlier, but still a second hour Raw filler match.  Can only dream what Neville and Zayn could’ve done in a 1-on-1 match.

UPDATE 6:55 PM EST

WWE Network then throws to a commercial for WWE Network, which is kind of like if I just sat here and blogged about how you should read my blog, followed by a link to my blog about reading my blog.  Seriously, it’s only a matter of time before there is a tiered subscription model – $9.99 gets you WWE Network, but $19.99 gets you WWE Network AND they stop trying to sell you WWE Network!  What a deal!

The final match of the Kickoff after another pointless panel segment is the first match in what is now a Best of Seven Series between Cesaro and Sheamus.  Of course, this is ignoring the fact that these two each have a win over the other the few weeks on Raw, but hey, nobody gives a shit about story consistency, right?!  Also, does anyone else find it painfully awkward the way they keep discussing the famous “Best of Seven” that Booker T was involved in without in any way mentioning his opponent, Chris Benoit?  I mean, I completely understand why they don’t do it, but it’s just strange to hear.

Decent physical match between two underrated, stiff workers that can just go in the ring – but who are saddled with horrific gimmicks and looks and just don’t have the stroke to tell creative to go fuck themselves.  I can’t even get down on these guys – if Cesaro tells whoever came up with his James Bond/Pimp/Gigolo tuxedo shtick where to go, what’s he going to do?  Go back to the indies?  Impact Wrestling?  Japan?  It just sucks that this is what these talented wrestlers are stuck with.

Some good false finishes between these two, including a great tease of a countout by Cesaro.  One of the nice aspects to a best of seven is that it becomes entirely possible for some of the matches to be won with something other than one of the wrestler’s standard finishers.  Every White Noise or Flying Uppercut delivered is a realistic chance of a quick pin, and it adds a level of suspense and intensity to the match that isn’t normally there.

Fantastic spot by Cesaro sees him climb up and then stand on top of the ring post before jumping onto the top turnbuckle and springboarding into a high crossbody.

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Finish comes with Sheamus heeling it up with a thumb to the eye followed by a Brogue Kick for the pin and a 1-0 advantage.  Very good, very solid match that arguably will outshine some of the matches set to air on the main card.  Hats off to both guys.

UPDATE 7:30 PM EST

SummerSlam proper kicks off with the Enzo and Cass making their entrance with microphones – which means this opening segment stands a good chance of actually being the most entertaining portion of the evening.

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Enzo does Enzo while Cass does a decent rendition of New York, New York.  Apparently the Jericho-Owens teaming is being called JeriKO – somebody actually got paid to think of that folks.  You know, I fully appreciate how huge this is for Enzo and Cass – big homecoming in front of a huge crowd – but as good as Enzo is on the mic, I prefer when he is riffing and a little less serious than when he’s super intense like he is now.  Not that it’s bad – just my personal preference.

Some back and forth action to start, which sees Cass actually toss KO around a few times like he was Jericho’s size.  Close call as Cass tosses Enzo over the top onto JeriKO and Enzo nearly catches his feet on the top rope going over.  If he can toss KO around, why is Enzo a problem?  The heels end up taking control, and it looks like for the moment we have Enzo “Ricky Morton” Amore.  Great moment sees KO mock Enzo’s rooster shuffle.  KO is just a fucking hilarious guy and I cannot wait until they take the shackles off of him and give them the push and face run that he just is screaming to get.

Hot tag to Cass and he beats the living hell out of the heels, but KO is able to stop the Rocket Launcher, which Cole calls the Boom-Shaka-Laka (……….), after the tag to Enzo.  Enzo then hits a top rope DDT, or as Cole says DDG (stop it, Michael), on Jericho.  But on the followup, Jericho hits a Codebreaker on Enzo for the pin?!  Oh, come on guys – there were three young guys in this match who all need their careers elevated on a big stage, and you had the pin go to the fifty year old part-time rock star.  What in the actual fuck?

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UPDATE 7:51 PM EST

Awkward backstage segment with Shane, Daniel Bryan, Foley, Jon Stewart, Stephanie, and even the New Day can’t save it.  Next up appears to be the Women’s Title rematch with Sasha Banks and Charlotte.  A video package recaps the feud for those of you who have been living under a rock.

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Credit where it is due – Charlotte has successfully recaptured that same air that her father had at his peak.  She’s beyond being a face or a heel really, she’s just a Flair.  And the epic robes don’t hurt either.  Back and forth to start, but then an AWFUL looking spot that sees Charlotte attempt to throw Sasha over her head from the top rope, but instead drops her accidentally and Sasha bounces off the ropes before landing in a sick heap on the back of her head and neck.  Shit, that was horrid and it would not shock me if Sasha is handicapped the rest of this match as she clutches at the small of her back.

They end up back on the top rope, and Charlotte sets up to deliver a crucifix powerbomb (Razor’s Edge for you kids) off the second rope, but it’s reversed by Sasha into a hurricanrana – except Sasha lands right on top of her head again.  Damn, if Sasha can even remember her name or what city she’s in when this is over, I’m going to be amazed.  Sasha then locks in a modified Boston crab on the top rope.

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They go to the outside and Sasha hits the double knees to the chest from the second rope to the floor.  Back inside, and Charlotte goes for Natural Selection, but it’s reversed into the Bank Statement until Charlotte escapes.  Charlotte hits Natural Selection, but Sasha kicks out.  Finish comes when Charlotte goes for a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, which Sasha reverses into the Bank Statement, but Charlotte rolls it over for a three-count pin and the title.  Refs are in right away to talk to Sasha about her back.

Incredible match, even more so if Sasha really was injured from the beginning by that drop off the top.  They gave these two women time to work and they both left it all out there.  Even if Sasha isn’t legitimately injured, these two are both going to be sore for days.

UPDATE 8:10 PM EST

Backstage segment with the Club reuniting over some of Big E’s urine samples (I can’t make this shit up) and being joined by Finn Balor to remind all of us of better days in New Japan.  They try to welcome him back to the fold, but Finn won’t throw up the sign because now he’s a good guy, I guess – seeing as how I believe the Bullet Club was started by him, that seems strange, but whatever.

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Back out to the ring, and it’s time for everyone’s favorite quiz show: What the Hell is Miz Wearing on His Face This Week and How Can a Guy Wearing That Be Married to Her?  IC Champ Miz vs. Apollo “Don’t Call Me Creed” Crews is next up.

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Now, I can appreciate Miz accomplishing everything he has given where he started at, but there is NO REASON why the talented and athletic Crews shouldn’t win the IC title here and Miz can go continue to do movies and media work.  So naturally, after Crews gets a few minutes of using his freakish athleticism to bounce Miz all over the ring, Miz hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for the pin to retain.  This is, in theory, the second-biggest title in the company and the match for it was shorter than the WWEK 2K17 commercial that followed it, as well as the video package for Styles/Cena that aired next.

You know, if you don’t give a damn about the IC title anymore, just get rid of it and let old bastards like me reminisce about the good old days.  But stop shitting all over it by giving it five minutes on the card and leaving it on a guy nobody cares about.

UPDATE 8:42 PM EST

Confession time – I’m not a John Cena fan.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one of those haters that says he can’t wrestle, etc.  That’s bullshit.  Some of the best matches we’ve seen in the past decade have involved him, albeit it always has more to do with him being in there with an artist like CM Punk or AJ Styles and rising to their level.  But as they say, it takes two to tango, so that’s not my problem.  My problem is that his character portrayal by the company has been completely stagnant for that decade.  And the crowd has reached the point of tiring of it completely, and even he knows it, but the company just REFUSES to do anything natural to evolve it.  So what we get is a situation like tonight: where John Cena, ostensibly the shining hero of the match, comes out, gets booed out of the building, has 15k people telling him he sucks, and giving them a smartass smirk and a bow.  But he’s totally not a heel!

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Meanwhile, his opponent, AJ Styles, has his every action cheered, and the entirety of the crowd wants to see him win to the point that you actually begin to think that they have forgotten that this is a work.  But he’s totally not a face!

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These two are both so good that you owe it to yourself to watch the match yourself, plus the back and forth is enough that I can’t enjoy it and still do a play by play.  One thing I will complain about though – there is a difference between a good and bad false finish.  A good false finish comes off of an impressive, impactful move or a painful looking hold that IS NOT the wrestler’s normal finisher, where the crowd legitimately believes the match could end.  But wrestlers regularly kicking out of the other guy’s finisher is just lazy.  If you do it every once in a while in a big match, maybe it comes off as “boy this guy is just THAT TOUGH!”  But when you do it with the regularity that they book it in WWE, it just renders the finishers meaningless.  Nobody should kick out of the Styles Clash, even Cena.  And likewise, I’ve reached the point where I never believe anything short of 3 Attitude Adjustments will win a match on PPV.  Likewise, Stop it.

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All my bitching aside, this was a fantastic match overall, and the booking decision was correct, as Styles gets the pin clean in the middle of the ring.  If you haven’t watched this, go do it now.

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UPDATE 9:05 PM EST

Jon Stewart takes the fall as the guy who has to follow that classic by coming out to “replace” Big E in the New Day, to the fascination of absolutely nobody in the crowd.  I’m probably one of Stewart’s biggest fans, but his appearances in wrestling are just painful to watch.

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Kofi and Xavier are out first, followed by – sigh – Dr. Anderson and Dr. Gallows, carrying urine samples from the New Day, including Jon.  Remember a few weeks ago when Gallows and Anderson hit the ring and just annihilated the New Day?  What happened to that?  That’s much more effective than this shit.  Back and forth to start, per usual, until the Club take control on Kofi, which is somewhat surprising given that Xavier is involved in the match.

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Surreal moment for me personally as at the exact same moment I’m wondering if Xavier is going to hook his Iron Sheikh boots on the top rope and fall on his face, Michael Cole states that Xavier’s elbow drop was reminiscent of Macho Man Randy Savage.  Oh, Michael.  Michael, Michael, Michael.

Savage

The finish sees Jon Stewart try to distract the Club, who respond by trying to shatter Stewart’s testicles on the ringpost, only to be stopped by the returning Big E.  Big E levels the Club for the DQ.  I saw so much more potential in this match, and hopefully this feud continues and these two teams get more of a chance to show what they can do.  Big E ends the fun by drinking from the “sample” jar.  Alrighty, then.

UPDATE 9:30 PM EST

Up next, for some reason, we have the WWE World Title match, going on before the US Title match.  And the Women’s Tag Team match.  Two hours before the end of the PPV.  Visions of the last brand split swim before my eyes.  WWE please, please, please – start respecting these guys instead of thinking that Reigns vs. Rusev is what brought people to the show tonight.

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Neither man can keep control for long over the other, as each will his a succession of moves only to have it quickly turned around by the other.  As the match progresses, the storyline seems to be playing out of Dolph being the scrappy underdog everyone is rooting for and Ambrose beginning to heel it up and mock Ziggler.  Each guy tease going for their finisher but are reversed, and a series of moves lead to several two-counts.  See, you can have a great match without prostituting each guy’s finisher and rendering it meaningless!

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Not so much a complaint here, but an observation – when you have a match between two guys known for almost comical levels of overselling at times, you’re going to get a few awkward moments, like Dolph hitting a superkick outside and Ambrose visibly lifting himself up onto the barricade and then falling back down.  But I’m a bit of a mark for both of these guys, so screw it.  Back in and each guy slaps the other in the face, and then Ambrose blocks Sweet Chin Music but eats a Zig Zag (god I hate that move, I hate that name…) for 2.

Both guys up top, land on their feet…and Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds out of nowhere for a 3-count and the win.  Absolutely nobody saw this one ending here – it feels like the match had just gotten going.  Maybe they were running long and had to cut time somewhere, but the World Title match?

UPDATE 9:45 PM EST

Apologies to all of the ladies involved in the six-woman tag up next – including a returning Nikki Bella to replace the suspended Eva Marie, who continues her meta-gimmick of never wrestling anyway – but I may miss the next match as nature is calling, etc.

(Restroom, kitchen, etc., return to couch).

Wait, then entrances aren’t over?  You gave us a ten-minute World Title match between Ziggler and Ambrose, then took fifteen to introduce the next match?!  Are you people even trying?!

Ok…ok.  We are going to stay calm, we are going to make the best of this.  Sure, the crowd that has been on fire almost all night, and insane since AJ-Cena, may be completely deflated now, but these ladies will bring it back right?

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……………………………………………………..  Goddamn you, creative.

The six women involved here are all very good athletes, but the bottom line is they are not on the level of the Sasha-Charlotte match earlier, and the crowd knows it.  Between that and them being restless following the aborted finish to the previous match, and I just feel bad for them.  Heels go over when Nikki Bella hits the Rack Attack to rebury whatever progress the Women’s Division has been building in her absence.

UPDATE 10:30 PM EST

Backstage segment with Rusev and Lana – because that is so much more important than a long, solid World Title match.  Well, from there we will go to the US Title…wait, what?  We’re having the Universal Title match next?  So the top title matches for both Raw and Smackdown are before the US Title match.  Because Roman Reigns is in it?  Seriously?  I mean, I understand Lesnar-Orton closing the show – but Reigns-Rusev being bigger than TWO world titles?  This?

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Well, whatever.  But I’m going on record right now – if Balor-Rollins gets five minutes so Reigns can preen on the top rope for ten minutes before his match, I’m going to have even more anger issues than I do now.  A video package summarizes why we need a Universal title post-brand split, without mentioning what an incredibly stupid name Universal title actually is.  And apparently they decided to go all out differentiating this title belt from the World title belt.

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So once again, I’m not going to go blow-by-blow here because these guys are too fast and too good for that.  Instead, I’m just going to offer some general thoughts and commentary.  Such as, does creative for the main roster have instructions to take anything that got over and worked well in NXT and absolutely destroying it once it gets to Raw or Smackdown?

See, when Finn Balor was in NXT, he still did the Demon alter-ego gimmick for the big-time matches.  He’d be almost entirely pained jet black, with the maw and the fangs, etc.  But he’d still be FINN BALOR.  He was still introduced as Finn Balor.  The Demon was just a sign to show that shit had gotten real now, that it was on.  Kind of like how Kane, when he wore the mask, was still just Kane – not Demon Kane.  But no, now that Balor is on the main roster, apparently we all need constant reminders that “Balor” means Finn has transformed into the “Demon King” – such as writing Demon King all over him rather than just painting him, and changing his introduction to “Finn Balor – the Demon King!”  Why?  Does he start eating worms next?  Does he creep around and startle other wrestlers in comical backstage segments?

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Match is every bit as athletic and amazing as anyone who follows either man would expect it to be.  Quick note: I can’t believe that WWE still allows Rollins to utilize that running powerbomb into the turnbuckles or barricade.  It ended Sting’s career, and has injured a few other wrestlers.  It isn’t necessarily Seth’s fault – it’s just an unsafe move because neither wrestler has the ability to soften it or protect the receiver of it.  It’s asking for a guy to get hurt every time it’s used.  They stopped Seth from using the Curbstomp because of it appearing to look injurious – the Buckle Bomb actually is but they still allow it.  Don’t get it.

But before I sound like a Rollins-hater (granted, I hate a lot of things, but not Rollins) a moment arrives where Finn misses the Coups-de-Grace and Rollins hits a Pedigree, Finn kicks out, and Rollins goes into hilariously over-the-top disbelief.  Just a great performer.  A few more finishes are reversed, and then Balor hits the Coups-de-Grace for the clean pin and becomes the first-ever WWE Universal Champion.  Great match – congrats to both guys.  Finn, I just wish your title didn’t have such a stupid name.

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Update 10:40 PM EST

Ironically, I think Dolph just got more ring time in the video of him as Col. Sanders wrestling Chicken Suit Miz than he did in his title shot tonight.  And by ironically, I mean in the worst possible way.

Next up is Rusev and Reigns, which you almost feel bad about because there is no way these two guys can possibly live up to the standard that was just set by Balor and Rollins.  And apparently they know that because before the match can start the two of them begin to beat the living hell out of each other all around the ring.  Referees are out quickly to separate them, but the savage, dominant Reigns can’t be contained, much like WWE’s efforts to get him over with fans that hate him.  The entire match is tossed, as the crowd hilariously chants for Heath Slater, followed by the return of the CM Punk chant. Well done, creative – after a couple of years, you’d finally managed to put that chant to bed, and this screwy decision making managed to bring it back.

FINAL UPDATE 11:12 PM EST

Here we are.  Main event time.  Beast vs. Viper.  Lesnar vs. Orton.  F5 vs. RKO.  Suplex City vs. Viperville.  That last one sucks and I wish they would stop saying it.

As Brock Lesnar makes his way to the ring, a guy is waving a “Got Juice” sign in his face.  Ladies and gentleman, that right there is either the bravest or stupidest human being on the face of the earth because if there was one person I would not be surprised to see reach out and rip that guy’s face off, it’s Brock Lesnar.

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This isn’t going to be a “great match” so much as it is going to be filled with “holy shit” moments.  The essential story is, “can Orton survive Lesnar throwing him around long enough to find a way to hit an RKO?”  Right out of the gate, Lesnar drives Orton into the corner, doesn’t sell any of Randy’s blows, and begins suplexing him all over and out of the ring.  On the outside, he throws him over the barricade, then throws him back over the barricade through a table.  Orton has essentially had no offense whatsoever.

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And no sooner do I type that than Randy Orton hits an RKO outta nowhere on top of the announce table, followed by a draping DDT on the ropes, and then a second RKO in the middle of the ring – which gets a two count.  So Randy decides to punt him in the head and runs directly into an F5, but kicks out.

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This upsets Brock, who takes off his gloves, and proceeds to beat Randy Orton’s head wide open and causing the officials to stop the match by TKO, which I didn’t realize was a thing in professional wrestling.

After the match, Shane McMahon goes to check on Orton and predictably eats an F5, leading to Paul Heyman going into classic Paul Heyman hysterics.

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And…that’s that.  SummerSlam goes off the air with Brock Lesnar surveying the destruction in his wake.

Overall, this was a solid show.  Not spectacular, but solid.  The order of matches was really poor in the second half of the show, but the matches themselves were mostly quite good.  The six-woman tag and Rusev-Reigns were weak points, but I think that was to be expected.  The disappointment of the night by FAR was the horrid lack of time given to Ambrose and Ziggler – it almost felt like an aborted end to the match, and it took the wind out of the crowd all the way until the Lesnar-Orton match.  Was it as good top to bottom as NXT TakeOver Brooklyn?  Not on your life.  But all in all, it was a solid effort.  Now hopefully creative doesn’t find a way to fuck up the momentum it has generated.

Thanks for following along with my first attempt at live blogging an event, boys and girls.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If not, well…that’s really too bad.

 

Quick Take: No Man’s Sky

So, sadly, reality has conspired to prevent me from giving a full take on the recently released No Man’s Sky.  I’ve spent some time in the game, however, and I do have a few quick takes for any of you that might care.  And if you don’t care, well – why’re you here?  Trolls.

No Man’s Sky is a fantastic cautionary tale about the positive and negative effects that pre-release hype and media attention can have on a game.  People, including some in the games media, have erroneously labeled No Man’s Sky as a AAA title, on par with the likes of Metal Gear or Uncharted in terms of development and expectations for the game.  It is not.  This is an indie game.  Mind you, it is quite possibly the most well-backed and publicized indie game of all time – but it is still a game made by a team of like ten people.  And despite this, due to an unbelievably zealous marketing campaign from Sony and a development cycle of several years that just saw that hype grow over time, everyone seemed to expect it to fundamentally change gaming and how we approached it.  Let’s just get this out of the way – nothing, not Super Mario, not Zelda, NOTHING could have lived up to the levels of hype that No Man’s Sky was living under by the time it finally saw release.  It was inevitably going to fall short of expectations because those expectations had grown exponentially out of proportion.

2016-08-16

So is it a “bad” game?  No, in my opinion.  In my time with it, going in with as few expectations as I could due to not wanting to feel disappointed, No Man’s Sky has been a tranquil, beautiful, almost Zen-like experience.  This isn’t a game that I put on the moment I get home form work and play hardcore for hours on end.  This is a game I play for a little while each night before I go to bed – to unwind, to disconnect, to relax.  Its universe is nigh-incomprehensible in its vastness, and is incredibly lonely – the odds of seeing another player, if that is even possible, are infinitesimally low.  But sometimes, for some people, that’s exactly what they want.  They want to just explore a gorgeous and surreal environment, locate its treasures and resources, and document its wildlife, before warping onward to the next planet.  For that set of gamers, No Man’s Sky is everything you could want.

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More thoughts next time, but until then kids, remember this story – I was told earlier today that there are “worse things” than Donald Trump being our president.  After thinking for a moment, I realized that this may be true – but finding those worse things would require such a vile, profane act of demonic summoning that even an Evil Wizard such as myself shudders to even contemplate performing it.

The inspirational Alanah Pearce

Something new today, boys and girls – far less snark and far more sincerity.  You see, I’ve come to believe in telling people how important they are while we still have the chance – both because you never know what tomorrow will bring, and because they deserve to hear it.  And I thought about applying that concept to some of the more public members of the various communities that I either follow or travel in.  These are men and women whose work I respect tremendously, but who have also made some kind of positive personal difference – whether they realize it or not.  For my inaugural effort to that end, I have chosen IGN’s Alanah Pearce, known to her many followers as @Charalanahzard.

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Alanah’s success is a story that is best told by the amazing young woman herself, which she recently did on the new and phenomenal podcast Pockets Full of Soup with Jared Petty (note: this series is truly amazing – watch them all, and go to Patreon to support it).  Alanah gracefully and humbly describes her upbringing in Australia and her own inspirations in achieving all of the things that she has accomplished.  It is truly a fantastic podcast, and I can’t do justice to her story more than she herself can, so I will not spoil it any further, other than to say you should listen to it right now.

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What I will do is tell you that Alanah is not only an extremely talented writer and journalist at IGN, she is also a frequent and extremely entertaining YouTuber, a skilled and witty host on multiple podcasts such as Podcast Beyond and Podcast Unlocked, and an amazing DJ.  And on top of all of that she is also a kind and considerate human being – and if Pockets Full of Soup didn’t convince you, I can vouch for it from a moment that was a small gesture which meant a tremendous amount to me.

Several months ago, I went through the most crushing and heartbreaking personal experience of my life.  Details aside, one thing I discovered was that I could no longer listen to music – something that had helped me cope with things my entire life.  Now, music simply reminded me and brought all the painful emotions flooding back.  But neither could I stand the lonely silence, and so I turned to gaming podcasts to fill that void.  It was then that I first discovered Alanah and her colleagues at IGN.  They helped me to reconnect with people and to be able to laugh again, even though they didn’t have any idea that they were doing it, or even who I was.  So, I decided to tell them.  I sat down and I wrote them an email explaining to them what had happened to me and the difference that they had made in helping me to cope with it.  It was the first time I had fully opened up to anyone about it, maybe because I didn’t really expect any response and so the feeling that I was just another anonymous listener made me feel like I wouldn’t be judged for my failings.  But I did get a response, very shortly after I sent the email.

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This incredibly busy woman, who had absolutely no idea who I was and was under no obligation to do so, not only took the time to read my email – which wasn’t exactly short – but was compassionate enough for a total stranger to reach out and let him know he wasn’t alone.  It might seem like a small thing to some of you, and it may have even seemed like a small thing to her – but for someone feeling lost in depression and sadness, it meant quite a lot.

So that’s the story of how, with one Tweet, Alanah Pearce gave me back a small piece of myself when I couldn’t do it myself.  I’ve said to her before, but if she happens to see this, thank you, Alanah.  I am amazed by all of the positive things you have accomplished so far in your life, and I too wish you only more and more positive things to come.  To anyone reading this, follow her endeavors and support her along the way – if anyone is deserving of it, it is certainly her.

I am sure I will be back to some less sentimental issues soon – but every once in a while, even Evil Wizards need to say thank you.  Next time, my thoughts on my time thus far in No Man’s Sky – but for the moment, I will acknowledge a fundamental deficiency in naming ability.

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Until next time, kids, remember – the only thing that stops me from believing that Donald Trump and his supporters are horrifically awful people is that I cannot reconcile them with actually being “people” at all.  But I can’t call them any kind of lower life form without insulting said lower life form.  The struggle is real.

Oh the inanity!

Dear God,

I’d like some clarification – is it just me you abhor, or is it all lawyers in general?  I mean – we just finished between 3 – 5 years of schooling, months of feverish studying, and the most nerve-wracking 3-day exam any foul torturer has ever devised for their own cruel amusement (and I speak from a fair amount of experience) and so you thought it’d be a great idea for the first thing to have us do when we FINALLY become actual attorneys was require hours on end of continuing classes?  Not for lawyers long out of school who may need to brush up on the law, no – new lawyer training seminars.  Maybe it’s just me, but if these are the new lawyer training seminars, WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK did I just spend all of that time and money doing the last 3 years?!

And it’s not even new material!  It’s the same damn things we JUST had drilled into our heads and where then tested on.  And we do it – we do it with a smile on our face, we bend over and grab our ankles and say “please, sir, may I have some more?”  And for those of you that don’t know, it is NOT as if the majority of lawyers are raking in gobs of money and this is just some penance they pay for a lucrative career.  I’m a public defender – far more common than the occasional high-end corporate attorney you may run into.  I defend indigent clients below the poverty level by court appointment, and in turn am paid by the State of Ohio.  The kicker?  If I were ever to make an idiotic mistake and pick up some minor charge or a DUI – like, hypothetically, I don’t know, assaulting the worthless piece of garbage that my fiance cheated with and left when they were caught – I would probably qualify for the appointment of one of my coworkers as counsel based on income!  So then, the State says, “hey, make sure you cough some of that back up to us for CLEs and license fees.”  This is the kind of shit we put up with on a daily basis – and if I sound like I hate it, that’s the real kicker – I LOVE MY JOB!  This is how fucked up we are – we choose to do this and most of us wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, now you know, dear reader, why it is that, when someone tells one of those godawful, unoriginal, done-to-death lawyer jokes, the lawyer in the group just gives a kind of blank stare and self-deprecating chuckle – because if he or she didn’t, they’d be doing what the last paragraph has me thinking about right now:

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Until next time, remember – Donald Trump is a lying, psychotic, infantile piece of waste product who doesn’t even deserve the effort it just took me to type that, much less anyone’s vote for president.  And if you support him, you are either 1. every bit as bad, 2. a complete idiot, or 3. both.  That’s a PSA from someone that knows better than you – which, sadly, isn’t saying a whole lot.  God, my head hurts.

Delay Tactics (Ogre)

See what I did there? Ha! I’m so clever. It’s no wonder I have so few friends – my incredible wit drives them away. Or it could be that I’m a jackass – that too.

So the late breaking rumor of the day was that the LONG anticipated Final Fantasy XV has been delayed yet again. NeoGAF’s source now indicates that the game is expected to drop on Nov. 29, 2016 rather than the previously announced release date of Sep. 30.  This hasn’t been officially confirmed by SE as of this moment, but NeoGAF’s source is stated to be “credible” and has provided accurate release and delay information in the past.

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Above: You know Noctis points at every girl that passes and yells “Call me, maybe!” You know it.

If true, while obviously a disappointment considering the game has already had a ten-year development cycle (you remember FF Versus XIII, right? Sure you do!), I can’t say it’s that big a deal because THE GAME HAS ALREADY HAD A TEN-YEAR DEVELOPMENT CYCLE.  At this point, what the hell are two more months? Bottom line, there is no way on god’s green earth that FF XV sells enough copies to be profitable, or even break even, for SE after this much time and effort.  And frankly, I don’t mind if they need some more time to polish up the game. I played through the Platinum Demo, and frankly found it…underwhelming. It wasn’t that it was bad – it just wasn’t anything, really. It was pretty. But I just didn’t experience anything that made me go “Holy shit, that was awesome, Final Fantasy is BACK, baby!” Maybe I’m in the minority, maybe I’m just a cynical old man – well, no maybe, I am a cynical old man, but that still doesn’t mean I’m wrong. And the demo footage I saw from E3 2016…yikes. That did not look good. But I really want Final Fantasy to be great again (fuck you, Trump), so I hope the extra two months, if true, are used to make that happen.

In terms of things I can play right now, I’m going through my backlog and working through Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together on the PSP. Why am I doing this? Well, it’s a long story that involves my fiance sleeping with her law professor and getting caught by his girlfriend then dumping me…but the tl;dr version is I have a lot more free time and a lot less desire to spend it with people lately. But if you think I sound dark and bitter, I’ve got nothing on the plot of this game.

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Above: Um, sir, usually by the time we regret it, it’s because we CAN’T put him down…oh, forget it.

First things first, if you aren’t a fan of SRPGs ala Final Fantasy Tactics, this will do nothing to change your mind. Though you should change your mind; what the fuck is wrong with you? It’s like chess juiced up with whatever shit Brock Lesnar injects into his ass. The plot is so full of political intrigue, plotting, and backstabbing, that you may need to take notes just to keep track of what the hell is going on. But it’s SO GOOD! The localisation and writing have been polished to a goddamn glow. And the lemon twist in the martini is the ability to rewind time.

In most SRPGs, if you make a mistake in combat, things can get out of control quickly, and you’re left with the option to start over a lengthy battle and lose all your progress, or watch units die (sometimes permanently if you can’t revive them in time) and maybe eat a game over. But Tactics Ogre says, “fuck that shit.” Instead, you can access a rewind function that lets you rewind a battle by up to fifty unit turns – which in practice means almost any battle, at any time, can be rewound to at or near its beginning. That flanking squad you sent out end up getting eaten alive? Rewind and try not sending everyone zerging up the middle instead. It’s just a fantastic quality of life addition that makes playing an SRPG on a portable device like the PSP so much nicer.  What’s more, there is another rewind feature, the Chariot, that actually allows you to rewind the plot of the game itself back to branching points. Don’t like the dark path you’ve been treading since you decided to slaughter *Edited to avoid spoilers (I’m not a total asshole)*? Use the Chariot to go back and choose a more noble solution instead. This makes going back and unlocking the various potential endings to the game a hell of a lot simpler than replaying the entire thing from scratch over and over again, because who the fuck has that kind of time? (Weeps silently into whiskey glass while looking at empty spot in bed).

The combat, much like the rest of the game, is not going to set the SRPG world on its ear, but man is it polished and addicting. First of all, characters classes level as a whole – once one Knight is level 10, then anyone who changes classes to Knight is level 10. No need to start over each time you decide to change up a particular character’s game. The catch is that if you change a character to a new class that you haven’t had before, that does start at level 1 – and you’re going to have to park that guy in the back of some random battles and hope to god nothing looks at him until the fights are over and he has gained some levels.  Luckily, this usually doesn’t take too terribly long.

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Above: See that winged red-head? Yeah, you’re going to be using him a lot.

Characters not only have class options, but different races provide different benefits as well – such as the Winged, who can ignore elevation restrictions (i.e., fly up to rooftops and snipe the fuck out of people while laughing maniacally at them).  Add to that a ton of weapons, armor, items, and a fairly robust crafting system, and you will have a lot of things to do for a very long time. As an added bonus, the horrible slowdown that plagued SE’s remake of Final Fantasy Tactics – War of the Lions is nowhere to be found here. Spell effects and skills execute with nary a hint of chugging.

Bottom line: this game is very good in general, and if you are a fan of the genre, it is a must play. Just fantastic design and a level of polish that I wish went into every game. Even if you aren’t a lonely, depressed attorney-hermit, find the time to track this down and play it. I guess if I have to give it some kind of rating (goddamn lazy people don’t want to read anymore) I’ll pay tribute to @AdamSessler of X-Play fame and give Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together 4 and 1/2 whiskeys…out of 5.

Until next time, kids, remember – vote early, vote often (joke), unless you’re voting for Trump, in which case, why the fuck are you still here?! (not a joke).

Greets!

Oh, hey, look at that!  I actually, finally made good on all my threats to start a blog.  I mean, it took heartbreak, depression, and spending most of my free time drinking alone to do it – but hey, omelets and eggs and all that shit.

So, what is this about?  Fuck, I don’t know.  I’m making this up as I go along.  Well, kind of – see, I’ve decided to combine the things I love and am not-completely-terrible at doing into one barely-coherent series of rants that may amuse, entertain, inform, horrify, disgust, or baffle you.  Or you may end up just not giving a damn, in which case, well, fuck me, I guess.

What are those things, you may ask?  I’m glad you asked!  Or that I assumed you asked; it doesn’t really matter, does it?  Anyway, I practice law for a living.  I like to think I am not terrible at it, and my clients seem to agree, insofar as I have not been sued, shot, or stabbed yet.  My coworkers also seem to appreciate that I have a masochistic liking for legal research.  I also have a lifelong love affair with games, books, anime, and manga.  In short, dear reader, I’m one of the biggest goddamn nerds you’ve ever seen in your life.  I also tend to add occasional crushing depression and nihilism to the mix – just to spice things up.

So look for my thoughts on law, games, politics, books, current events, classic anime – you name it, and at some point I’ll probably babble on about it.  I’m currently playing Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together on PSP – I will delve more into my thoughts on that soon, but at a glance, I will say this: I haven’t seen more depravity and backstabbing outside of the Trump 2016 campaign.  Except that Tactics Ogre is entertaining fiction, and Trump is a goddamn horrifying reality.

Before I go, shout out to IGNGameSpotRPGamer, and RPGFan for the inspiration to even attempt this.  Those are amazing, talented professionals, people – I’m just trying not to fuck this up too royally.  Should I ever have the privilege to meet any of you, first round is on me.