Monday, July 27, 2015

A Bit Too Much Detailed Review Of Periphery's "Juggernaut"

This week, I've decided to take a look at an album that came out earlier this year by going in-depth. Two albums, technically, but they're two parts of the same whole:

                                 


Periphery "Juggernaut: Alpha" ** and 1/3
                "Juggernaut: Omega" **and 1/3

I'd like to start this review by saying these two albums are all over the place, and not really in a good way.   It's kind of a perfect illustration of my love/hate/indifference relationship with Periphery as a whole.  Their first album killed, the second one was...okay, but something was off, and "Clear" can be written off as an experiment, if not for the fact it illustrates just what I didn't like about "Periphery II" in the first place:

I liked this band before they turned into Protest The Hero.

They needed to do something different; lord knows if they'd stuck with pure djent, we wouldn't be here, writer and reader, about to embark on an analysis of these two albums.  But for some reason, I never dug Protest The Hero, and I figured it out after streaming "Clear," then going to work and hearing someone play "Volition" that Periphery decided to crib a LOT of PTH's style from their second album forward.  But even worse (though interesting on paper), they took the formula for "Clear", which had multiple genre experiments and songs written by individual members of the band, and applied it to a double album.  It's eighty minutes (not quite 81) of a band not even trying to find itself, but trying to be something, anything else.  Which is what's so frustrating.  There's a good band in there somewhere, if they'd just figure themselves out.  Instead, we're left with an uneven, yet workable album.  It's worth a listen, at least.

Right off the bat, "Juggernaut" does itself no favors, however.  One could almost just start with track five.  In regards to tracks one and three: Not really impressed with Periphery's morph into a pop punk band with seven strings.  "A Black Minute" and "Heavy Heart" are not only lacking guts, they're not catchy enough to justify such a direction.  It'd be one thing if they wrote really good pop punk songs, but they're still kind of tied up in melancholy and trying to be "deep".  It's Emo.  There, I said it.  Emo with competent lead guitar.  (I'm looking at you especially "Heavy Heart".)

"MK Ultra" is some bullshit death thing that isn't very good, that ends with a weird video gamey interlude to mesh with the emo song following it (named above).  "The Event" is a minute and a half of music that serves no purpose and goes nowhere.  "The Scourge" picks up a little, at least bringing a little bit of much needed "Oomph!" to the proceedings for the first 90 seconds.  It gets moody after that, but it's at least a nice atmospheric moody.  The second half of the song is some of what brought Periphery to the dance, that melo-djent goodness that they are actually better at than most other bands in this trend.

The title track "Alpha" starts with video game shit, which sounds like it at least belongs this time , and I decided "Let's listen to this with sixteen year old ears."  Not me at sixteen; God no.  I'd hate this more for Spencer Sotello's voice.  I wasn't "No Clean Singing!" exactly back then, but I was not a fan of the Blink 182's and Third Eye Blinds of the world either.  "Alpha" may not be the best song, but it's well constructed.  It does what it needs to do, and it's not jarring, out of place, annoying to listen to or something that makes you long for something else instead.  It's good for what it is.

It's at this point where I feel like if they'd cut some of the bullshit, this may have been a decent single album instead of a bloated double (which only needs 2CD's because of a minute long overrun).  For instance, drop the first three tracks on "Alpha".  There.  Three songs the world will never miss and the album is better without them.  "The Event" suddenly makes sense as an intro.

Moving right along, "22 Faces" is more muscle for the skeleton.  Sotello can be gutsy when he wants to with his delivery, and it makes this song so much better.  This stands out so far, because it's catchy, has gusto and is well written.  You feel the shit, main.

"Rainbow Gravity" is your basic melodic djent song, but because it's Periphery, they raise it a micron or two above the dreck this genre has become by showing some goddam restraint and not making it a technical wankfest.  They ride the groove.  Also, clean middle section was a surprise, as well as not just going straight back into the chorus out of the middle.  Nice touch.  The track runs right into the next instrumental interlude "Four Lights", which is a key of F# djent stomper.  It's fine, but kind of out of place as it's own track.

"Psychosphere" sounds like a decent closer, but there's a problem.  It's the closer to part one of the album.  You know there's 39 minutes to go, even if it's on a different disc.  Also, it's a good closer in the context of a full album, not this somewhat half-baked 40 minute, padded with interludes and emo songs half of one.  Still, it's a good last word type of song, beating out a sense of finality in A tuning.

[Not a good sign that the Booking.com ad before the next track is one of the legitimately more interesting things I've heard during this record.]

"Omega" kicks off with a reprise, which, again, would be unnecessary if this was a single disc.  It doesn't suck or feel out of place, but it stops dead in its tracks and yields to "The Bad Thing", which sounds like Emmure with the use of their frontal lobes returned to them.  It's nothing to write home about, but they can actually read and write is what I'm saying.  (It gets better as it goes along, but it's too late to truly capture the momentum it needed to get to that point.)

"Priestess" opens up with an acoustic guitar, which sounds purdy, but once Spencer starts singing, it sounds so much like A Simple Plan (or if I'm being generous Tokio Hotel) that it hurts.  It gets better in the middle, but you have to really hold your nose to get past the first half of the song.

And then, what goes perfect after an early 00's emo power ballad on steroids than a fucking thrash metal song?  "Graveless" starts out like that, but has that poppy chorus which is a blessing and a curse to Periphery's style.  They can never be taken seriously, but they hook the kids.  And even their thrash song is kinda wussy, because by the middle they pull out a few light drum loops and have a clean section for the short solo.  The song's tuned to A; why does it not feel hard?  It's because they can't decide what kind of song they're writing here.  There's splashes of djent hung on a thrash skeleton, sewn together with poppy choruses and a clean solo with drum loops.  Hell, that sounds impressive, interesting even on paper, but the execution just leaves me going "Hmmm.  Okay."

"Hell Below" is clearly played with 9-string guitars, and it sounds like ass as a result.  We reached the bottom limit of guitar tunings with 8, people.  Get over it.  (Update: According to Wikipedia, this is actually played on de-tuned 7-strings, but in a tuning that matches the bass note with a 9-string guitar.)

Okay, here we are at the title track, and I can see we're in for Periphery's second longest song at just a shade under twelve minutes.  It starts well enough, with a delightfully bright but sinister intro, then goes into some blast beat shit, climbing back to the original theme from there.  After two short verses, some chords out of Meshuggah's "Sublevels" happen, pretty yet dissonant; diminished even.  Reminiscent of Metroid or something.  The section starting around the 4:25 mark is pretty sweet.  It's like intergalactic inspirational adventure theme music or something.  This is definitely a highlight of the album.  Unfortunately, I kinda saw the late song flame out coming where it just goes all wobbly and soft.  It's not a bad section they put after all this, but once you get to 8:25 or so, it's hard to think of this as the same song.  (Nerd note: I can hear in the drum fill a minute before the end that Matt Halpern actually has some rack toms on his kit.  He usually just has the floor.)

"Stranger Things" falls into the chaff category, as it's over seven minutes long and nothing from it jumped out at me.  Just put "Phychosphere" here instead, and you've got a decent crescendo.

Long story short, there's plenty I would cut from this album to make it one volume, but overall you're left with enough meat to make one volume in the first place.  Not a lot of projects are that fortunate.  It's a shame that Periphery continue to hover in the "Good enough...I guess..." category when they started out legitimately Good.  Just like this album: Lots of potential, but plenty of extraneous bullshit bogging it down.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eulogy For Lorraine Nutter

Yesterday was my Grandma's memorial service.  I figured I'd share what I read:

I loved my grandma.  She was always sociable, always a gracious hostess...made the best cookie bars you've ever tasted.  Almost always smiling.  I think that's what I'll miss the most.  That beaming smile.  It reflected back into you and lit you up in return.

Everybody, do me a favor.  Just close your eyes a sec.  Close your eyes and imagine Lorraine smiling.  Eh?  I see it.  That's what I'm talking about.  That smile.  That ability to impart joy onto others just by interpersonal radiation.  If you hold onto one memory of Lorraine, as long as you live, hold onto that.  That feeling.  It's no wonder she was such a good waitress for so many years.  My Grandma was no doubt a people person.  She knew how to connect.

I didn't get to see my Grandma but twice a year growing up.  We lived in Hartland, her and Niles lived up here.  In the 80's it was a six hour drive one way, but with better roads and higher speed limits, it only took four to get here today.  It was when she was moved down to Oregon that I was able to visit her more.  I got to know her as a person instead of this...force of nature.  I mean, when you're a kid, it's sun, wind, rain, parents, grandparents, right?  It's not until you get older that you get to know them as a person, because by then you've become a person.  You've grown into that.

...I wish I'd gotten to do it sooner...Alzheimer's is a terrible thing.  But you could tell she was still in there.  So I'm thankful for that, and for all she's done for me over the years.  I even got to interview her for a term paper about the Great Depression.  And I'll have you know she literally walked two miles to and from school in a foot of snow.  She declined to tell me, however, if it was uphill both ways.

I'm gonna miss her.  We all are.  And that's sad.  It's painful.  But Lorraine wouldn't want us to mourn forever.  That just wasn't her.  Lorraine Nutter lived a long life.  She'd be 94 now.  Not many of us make it that far, but the Hagstroms are hearty stock. 

As is so often the case, we are here to celebrate the past and commit it to the future, so that its memory will live on.  Her memory will live on.  Love you Grandma.  Miss you.  Thank you.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed

Here are three music reviews. The title refers to them, and you can guess for yourself which is which:



Incubus "Trust Fall (Side A)" (EP) (2015)  ** and 2/3

This EP is a bit of a mixed bag.  The title track is a decent attempt at getting back to the "A Crow Left Of The Murder" sound, which is honestly the best one can hope for from Incubus at this point.  "Make Out Party" is a bizarre choice for track 2, as it sounds like an 8 or 9.  It might be the slowest song the band has ever done pace wise, Brandon Boyd does a falsetto for the verses, then there's a Floyd-ish keyboard lead in the middle, all with really grungy guitars sludging it out.  It gets better as the song goes along, but when you hear it the first time, it's really out of nowhere for the band and in the context of the EP.  "Absolution Calling" (the single) starts like its gonna be an electronic song, but manages to be a somewhat decent minor key alt rock song.  "Dance Like You're Dumb" sounds like they're going all big bottom by playing two distorted basses on a faster-paced number that may'nt've been out of place on "Light Grenades" (except for the 70's keyboard solo in the middle).

Overall, "Trust Fall" is interesting as far as post "Morning View" Incubus goes.  It's better than "If Not Now, When?" at least, which is a step in the right direction for any band.




Queens Of The Stone Age "...Like Clockwork" (2013)  *** and 2/5

Take Queens Of The Stone Age's previous work and filter it through David Bowie and Trent Reznor, and you have "...Like Clockwork".  This album was a lot dancier and a lot fancier than I imagined it would be, with a lot of variety in pace and influence.  More harmonious than I expected, too, yet still on the frame of a hard rock band.  Definitely interesting.



Last Action Hero (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1993)  ***

Okay, so here's a question: Why in 2015 should I review the soundtrack to a movie that a) Came out 22 years ago, b) Was a COLOSSAL flop, and c) Is filled with B-Sides and curiosities?  Well, I'll tell you.  First off, they may be B-Sides, but there is some decent material to be had.  Second, soundtracks were a BIG fucking deal back then.  1993 is the year when The Bodyguard went apeshit and became one of the biggest selling albums of all time.  The Crow soundtrack the same year was big bid'ness in launching industrial alt rock into the stratosphere.  There's a reason so many soundtracks now litter the 50 cent bins of used CD stores: a LOT of people bought these shits.  The other point I'd make is that every band on this CD is still together twenty-two years later.

What have we got on here?:

AC/DC's "Big Gun", which is one of their best post "Back In Black" songs.

Alice In Chains with "What The Hell Have I" and "A Little Bitter" which were recorded for "Dirt" but work better here in my opinion; they would've changed the whole flow of that album.

"Angry Again" is a decent mid-paced Megadeth jam, and it foreshadows the half step down tuning and slower direction of "Youthanasia".

"Real World" by Queensryche has Michael Kamen guesting, though "taking the fuck over" would've been more accurate.  The second half of the song is the climax of an action scene instead of the "Silent Lucidity Part II" of the first half.

It's a good thing I proofread these, because on the first run-through, I totally forgot about "Two Steps Behind" by Def Leppard, in spite of listening to it, AND reading the Wikipedia article about it (yes, there is one).  The song is that unremarkable.  It's an acoustic ballady thing that managed to keep Def Leppard relevant for another year past their sell-by date.

I've always had a soft spot for "Poison My Eyes", though now that I hear it again, I think the production on this and Anthrax's "Sound Of White Noise" alike are way too smooth.  I don't know if it's the passage of time or the experience in working with music I have now, but this shit deserved more grit.  It's a cool fuckin' song, though.

There's a live version of "Dream On" by Aerosmith and an orchestra, and it's before they became too old for this shit, so it works.

Cypress Hill comes out of fucking nowhere with a rap song because this is when gangsta rap was at its zenith and when white kids REALLY started buying this shit.  "Cock The Hammer" is a Cypress Hill song.  It's from their peak period of commercial and critical success, so if you like Cypress, you'll like this shit.

"Swim" is a song I used to love (and is honestly the heaviest song on this album; those chords are BOSS), but I over-played the SHIT out of it at three different points in my life (when I first got the soundtrack, when I first got Fishbone's album with it, and when I had it on three different mix tapes for my car).  It's a cool song, if a little quirky, but I have to skip it any time it comes up.  I've burned it out for good.

Tesla does the title track (which can be heard over the end credits, for all the good it did the band).  It sounds like an 80's band trying to find themselves in the early 90's.  It's not terrible, but it's nothing to write home about.

The last song has Michael Kamen and fucking BUCKETHEAD, possibly before anybody knew who he was.  (Well, considering he wears a mask and a KFC bucket on his head to hide his identity, does anybody really know who he is now?)  Anyway, this is a few movements from the score.  Standard action movie soundtrack fare with a very toned down version of Buckethead's theatrics in the back half.


So there you have it.  More than you ever wanted to know about three albums you may never listen to.  I'll be around this here internet thing, continuing to do my thing when you least expect it.  In the words of my great-aunt Cathie, "Ta-ta."


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Retail Therapy

Hey there!  It's been awhile, I know.  But here I am, writing blogs again.  This is based on me having a day to myself and going a) "Dude, new Usagi Yojimbo?  Keys, stat."  and then b) "You know what?  Fuck it.  I'm going to the record store."  I'd been in a bit of a funk lately and this has, thankfully, shaken me out for the time being.  Starting to feel more plugged in.  Anyway, here's what I picked out and a review of each item:


Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Look Back At The Tournament To End All Tournaments

Here are the results for each round (it's a LOT to take in):

Round One
Round Two
Round Three
Round Four
Round Five
Round Six
Round Seven
Round Eight / The Finals

Well, here we are.  Finally...The Blog...HAS COME BACK...to normal.  Thank you for reading this insane project, even if you only dipped your toe in.  For those of you die-hards that followed me through a year and a half, through crippling self-doubt, though some of the worst times in pro-wrestling history, through 50,000 plus words...I can't thank you enough.

I got this idea after a) Writing The Big Four Song Challenge Series and needing something new to do with this blog and b) Watching old episodes of Super Card on ESPN Classic and wondering how some of these wrestlers would fare against the stars of today (especially considering Raven, Mick Foley and Booker T were in there).  What I should have done was cut myself off at 352 wrestlers (22 brackets of 16; still insane, but way more manageable).  Probably less.  But no.  I went the full 720.  45 brackets of 16.  Hell, while I'm throwing out numbers, here's the ones of note:

Word Count: 50,403+ (at 250 words per page, that's 202 pages)
Number of Posts: 91
Number of Times I had to Suspend The Tournament: 3
# of posts before Tournament: 357
# after: 484
Number of Matches: 717
Avg. # of Words per Post: 554 (rounded up)
Duration of Project: November 4th, 2013-May 8th, 2015 (551 Days)

A lot can happen in 551 days.  During the course of this tournament, The Undertaker's Streak came to an end, The "YES!" Movement came and went, we lost The Ultimate Warrior, Verne Gagne and Connor "The Crusher", BOTH Royal Fumbles happened, CM Punk quit the business and we all went to Suplex City.  The two WWE world titles, separate since 2002, were unified.  Santino Marella retired.  TNA crashed and burned, and now they're in "Tree falls in a forest status," and rightly so.  (That's what happens when you have a wrestling company run by gibbons.  If it weren't for The Carter Family fortune, they would've (and perhaps should've) folded.)  The Network was launched.  Yes, I started this when PPV buyrates still mattered.  Lucha Underground wasn't a thing yet.  New Japan didn't have American TV yet.  Global Force Wrestling still didn't exist.  (GFW: A vaporware wrestling promotion.)  Sting made his WWE and Wrestlemania debut.  All of that has transpired in the last year and a half.  And it was inspired by watching twenty plus year old C-Level at best wrestling shows on ESPN Classic (shows which the McMahon family purchased the rights to a few months later, as it happens).

It's been a helluva run, but I'm thankful that it's over.  This tournament was WAY way more work than I bargained for.  I frankly can't believe I stuck with it.  But I did.  And now it's finished.  I hope you enjoyed reading The Tournament To End All Tournaments, and if you'd like to read my next book length project, I have a poetry book coming soon!  Solutions To Manmade Problems is my next project ("Seriously, this time I mean it!" -Me in 2012/13/14/15)

Until then, I'll keep throwing up blogs, so check back here every week or so.  Just remember this:




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Eighth Round AND The Triple-Threat Elimination Match To Determine It All


"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS Brock Lesnar

This match would be ugly.  It would be uncomfortable.  It would me Ivan Drago murdering Apollo Creed.  Lesnar would take his time with the most prolific world champion there has ever been, savoring each suplex, each ground and pound, each impact of fist to flesh and flesh to canvas.  The suffering of this man (who is one of the best sellers in the business, but would have gone limp and silent after seven or eight minutes of punishment) eliciting something approaching glee from the Beast Incarnate.  Blood dribbles from Flair's mouth first, then the old crimson mask, earned hardway.  After about ten minutes, even Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar's manager and advocate, is begging him to stop.  He's proved his point!  He's done enough!  But for Brock, it's never enough.  He chains five more german suplexes together to make a grand total of eighteen, then F-5's The Nature Boy one more time just to rub it in that he.  Cannot.  Be stopped.  Lesnar is going to the finals.



The Undertaker VS Kurt Angle

The Undertaker once made short work of Kurt Angle in the summer of 2000, but I'd argue that Angle had yet to hit his stride.  Once he did, The Undertaker never beat him again.  In ultimate god mode, Angle could outwrestle just about anybody, and if he stayed away from Undertaker's power game, he could win it.  Angle advances.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Hulk Hogan

Once again, I have to refer to the 1983 match between Hulk Hogan and Antonio Inoki.  The way Hogan was able to stand up to an absolute 5-Star Ring General like that makes me think that, in a work, he could've made a win over Joe Stecher look convincing.  Also, it's Hulk fucking Hogan we're talking about here.  Dude's a boss.


Brock Lesnar defeats Ric Flair
Kurt Angle defeats The Undertaker
Hulk Hogan defeats Joe Stecher

Because this was never about fantasy booking an entire match or storyline or whatever, and because this has taken more than 550 days off our lives (also because I’m in the middle of finals, and I just want this to be OVER with), I’ll keep the finals brief.  Besides, two of the three men involved have had far more fantastic matches against one another than my words could ever do justice to.  Typing out a hold for hold recount of an imaginary encounter between two men that have already had plenty of real ones just feels redundant to me.  Adding Hogan and making it a Triple Threat actually makes it...awkward. 

THE FINAL ROUND:

A Triple Threat Elimination Match To Determine It All:


Brock Lesnar VS Kurt Angle VS Hulk Hogan

Hogan is eliminated about twelve minutes in.  He is a bloody mess.

Angle pins Lesnar after a missed shooting star press at the thirty-nine minute mark.  (Lesnar kicks out, goes for the F-5, but Angle counters with his FIFTH Angle Slam.)

!!!!!KURT ANGLE WINS IT ALL!!!!!

Come on back for a look back at this ridiculously long tournament!

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Seventh Round


"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

As it happens, Ric Flair is Steve Austin's favorite wrestler.  So it shouldn't bother him doing the job for the Limosine Ridin', Jet Flyin', Kiss Stealin', WHOOO!!!, Wheelin' Dealin', By God Son-of-a-Gun!  As good as Austin was, Flair was better.



"Macho Man" Randy Savage VS Brock Lesnar

Legend or not, this is the end of the line for Randy Savage.  Macho Man goin' to Suplex City.



The Undertaker VS Pat O'Connor

Sorry, Pat.  The Undertaker is more than even the only man to simultaneously hold the NWA and AWA titles at once to surmount.



Kurt Angle VS The Rock

An Attitude Era match guaranteed to put goosebumps on The People's Arms.  The fact is, The Rock never beat Kurt Angle one-on-one.  One on one, I think Kurt Angle was better than The Rock.  Of course, The Rock really was The Great One, so expect a Wrestlemania level match out of these two insanely talented performers.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Frank Gotch

A dream match that almost happened, but because Gotch broke his leg never did.  Many felt Stecher would have been the best opponent for Gotch since Hackenschmidt, but I think that undersells Stecher a bit.  I don't honestly know who'd win this match, but I'm putting my money on Joe Stecher.  It seemed like he was primed to take Gotch's title.



Hulk Hogan VS [BYE]

It works out like this because of the Fourth Round draw between Antonio Inoki and Daniel Bryan.  (Though it's not like The Hulkster needed a bye...)


Ric Flair defeats Steve Austin
Brock Lesnar defeats Randy Savage
The Undertaker defeats Pat O'Connor
Kurt Angle defeats The Rock
Joe Stecher defeats Frank Gotch
Hulk Hogan advances on a bye

Come on back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!!!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Sixth Round


Jim Londos VS "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair

Compare this: Ric Flair has been NWA/WCW/WWF Champion for a combined total of over 3,700 days in his lifetime.  Jim Londos was World Champion for a total of 2,628 days during ONE reign.  It's the second longest run as champion, and he retired with the belt.  Tough to parse, but Ric Flair has a more well-rounded body of work and had to wrestle a far more diverse pool of opponents than Londos did. 



"Stone Cold" Steve Austin VS Booker T

They had this fight already in a grocery store.  Let's just pretend it's this match again, because it was awesome the first time, and I don't think that in a tournament setting like this Booker would go over Austin anyway.



Harley Race VS "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Harley Race may have been pimpin', but the Macho Man was the MAN.  This would be an old-school wrestling fan's wet dream, though.  Savage wins this clash of the ring titans.



Nigel McGuinness VS Brock Lesnar

Brock takes care not to leave Nigel in a puddle of his own blood, vomit and piss because McGuiness had his career cut criminally short by contracting hepatitis c, but nonetheless, not even a former ROH World Champion is nearly enough to withstand the onslaught of Brock Lesnar.



The Undertaker VS Andre The Giant

Many have speculated aloud what would've happened if The Phenom had ever squared off against The Eighth Wonder Of The World.  Shockingly, I think The Undertaker would win.  I know, it's Andre, right?  In his prime (and well past it) he was un-fucking-stoppable.  But so was The Undertaker, and only part of that was his character being a zombie.  He's a legit 6'10" tall, and can do things most big men never dream of, like a plancha and the Old-School top rope clothesline.  He wouldn't be able to chokeslam, Last Ride or Tombstone Andre, that's for damn sure (Andre wouldn't let him), so he would have to rely on high impact strikes and his submission game.  After about three minutes in the Hell's Gate, Andre The Giant has no choice but to tap out.



Pat O'Connor VS George Hackenschmidt

George Hackenschmidt earned his world title, legitimately.  No one can ever take that away from him.  I'm still going with Pat O'Connor.  We'll say...Hackenschmidt failed to train adequately for his match because he held newfangled "workers" like O'Connor in contempt, and so lost any and all endurance he may have had.  This allows O'Connor to pick him apart in no time.



Kurt Angle VS Bret "The Hitman" Hart

The best wrestling match that never happened.  I can't do this one justice by prattling on about how relentlessly awesome this match could've been.  Two of the best wrestlers of all time, one ring, one winner.  I pick Kurt Angle, because I think he is an evolution of Bret Hart; a step just above.  (And hey, the Olympic Gold Medal in Men's Freestyle doesn't hurt either.)



Lou Thesz VS The Rock

...y'know what?  Fuck it.  The Rock wins.  You can talk all you want about how amazing Lou Thesz is, but The Rock is electrifying....



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Ed "The Strangler" Lewis

These two were rivals in and out of the ring.  Stecher refused to do business with The Gold Dust Trio and started his own rival promotion.  He even bought out the Trio's champion Stanislaus Zbyszko just before a match where he was supposed to drop the title.  In the ring, Lewis and Stecher have had...what's a word that means "beyond epic"?  Insane?  That fits.  They had insane matches.  One was two hours and only ended when Lewis was thrown from the ring on accident and landed head first on a chair.  Another was a FIVE.  AND A HALF.  HOUR.  DRAW.  Lewis is the man who took the title from Stecher on two different occasions, but the second in 1928 was a business deal.  I'm not really sure who would win once and for all, but I pick Joe "Scissor King" Stecher. 



"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner VS Frank Gotch

Frank Gotch bend Scott Steiner in half.  Make him humble.



Hulk Hogan VS Shawn Michaels

I went back and forth on this one.  I wanted Shawn Michaels to go over, badly, mainly on the strength of the bullshit politicking that went into the Summerslam '05 match these two had.  But like I said last round, this is 80's Hogan here.  Pretty much his match against Antonio Inoki in '83 sealed it for me.  If Hulk could pull that kind of performance out of himself to combat the Heartbreak Kid, then he has what it takes to overcome the onslaught of one of the greatest the game ever had to offer.


Ric Flair defeats Jim Londos
Steve Austin defeats Booker T
Randy Savage defeats Harley Race
Brock Lesnar defeats Nigel McGuiness
The Undertaker defeats Andre The Giant
Pat O'Connor defeats George Hackenschmidt
Kurt Angle defeats Bret "The Hitman" Hart
The Rock defeats Lou Thez
Joe Stecher defeats Ed Lewis
Frank Gotch defeats Scott Steiner
Hulk Hogan defeats Shawn Michaels


Monday, May 4, 2015

THE TOURNAMENT TO END ALL TOURNAMENTS: The Fifth Round

Because I'm hardcore and so is wrestling sometimes, we're doing Round Five IN ITS ENTIRETY TODAY.  Rounds Six and Seven will be the same, and Eight and Nine will be on the same day Thursday.  LET'S DO THIS SHIT!



Jim Londos VS The Iron Sheik

Gotta go with the Grapplin' Greek here.  Dude was the second longest reigning champion of all time behind Bruno Sammartino.  (A fact that I found out at the cost of spoiling the main event of Wrestlemania 31 for myself.  My friend and I couldn't get together to watch it until the next day, so I figured I was safe on Wikipedia looking up wrestlers from the 30's & 40's, but not 15 minutes after Seth Rollins did his thing, his picture was already on the list of WWWF/WWF/WWE Champions page.  I was so pissed I didn't unclench my entire body until I woke up the next morning.)  (For the record, it goes Bruno: 2,803 days, Londos: 2,628 days, Verne Gagne: 2,625 days.)



"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair VS Rusev

If Flair could beat Vader in his prime at Starrcade '93, he can beat Rusev in his prime now.



Chris Benoit VS "Stone Cold" Steve Austin

Going with Austin, because yeah, Benoit is the better wrestler, but Steve Austin was the man.  (Also, not comfortable with letting Benoit go much farther in light of what happened.)



Booker T VS Kane

Mr. "5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time, 5-Time WCW Champion!!!" was a lot more versatile than the erstwhile Isaac Yankem/Fake Diesel/Unabomb/Big Red Machine/Devil's Favorite Demon/Jacob Goodnight ever was, and don't get me started on Corporate Kane.  Kane was good, but Booker deserves his Hall Of Fame status.  Dude was extraordinary.



Harley Race VS "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes

This match happened multiple times in the 70's, I'm sure.  I'm giving it to Harley Race, though.  More world titles, a reputation as one of the most legitimately tough men in the business, and just seems pimpin'. (And how can he not looking like a hard boiled Bob Ross painting tough into the world instead of trees?)



"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles VS "Macho Man" Randy Savage

Dream Match Alert!!!  Could you imagine what would've happened if The Phenomenal One and The Macho Man had ever collided?  This match would've been siiiick.  Savage would still go over, though.  Not necessarily because of size or strength; AJ has beaten Sting, Matt Morgan, Bully Ray, Samoa Joe and plenty of larger, stonger opponents.  With technical skills I might actually give the edge to AJ.  Experience goes to Savage, but even that would not be enough against a veteran like Styles.  To beat The Phenomenal One, you have to have an intangible.  You have to have an extra well of insurmountability deep down inside.  In short, you have to have:


A RAP ALBUM, MOTHERFUCKER!!!


No, no, just kidding.  The thing that will get Savage over here is his fucking intensity.  This man was wound tighter than a shithouse watch.  When he said "Snap into a Slim Jim!"  He meant psychotic EPISODE into that motherfucker!  DO IT!  NOW!!  THE MADNESS COMMANDS IT!!!  How could even a foe as worthy as an AJ Styles stand in the way of that?  Macho advances due to the Macho Madness!!!



"Superstar" Billy Graham VS Nigel McGuiness

I'm gonna strike a blow for the new guys, and put McGuiness over Graham.  ("Holy shit, WHAT!?!?!?" a wrestling nerd might say while spitting soda all over their device.)  My reasoning is two-fold.  First, let me tell you about Edgar Manske.  He comes from a small town in North Central Wisconsin called Nekoosa (which I discovered because it is the birth place of Ed "The Strangler" Lewis, and because I'm from Wisconsin, so I clicked on the link).  He was a Chicago Bear (BOO) for four seasons, the first of which had him as a teammate with Bronko Nagurski, and the last of which got him an NFL Championship in the most lopsided game in history, with a score of 73-0.  He played two seasons for the Eagles before that and one for the Steelers after.  He is also the last NFL player to play without a helmet.

What does any of this have to do with "Superstar" Billy Graham or Nigel McGuiness?  Nothing directly.  But Edgar Manske, who played seven seasons in the NFL without a helmet, all a year before Pearl Harbor was attacked, DIED IN 2002.  If you played without a helmet today, you could die on the field.  During the game.  This got me thinking about eras perhaps not being equal after all.  And think about this: "Superstar" Billy Graham lost the WWWF Championship to Bob Backlund after an ATOMIC.  DROP.  Nigel McGuiness has so many more devastating holds in his arsenal that aren't even finisher that I shan't bother to list them all.

And then there's my other point.  I wouldn't dare call Graham a slouch; he did beat Bruno and basically lay the blueprint for Hulk Hogan's character a decade later, but watching Superstar's matches is a chore.  You could chalk that up to me not getting into wrestling until 1991 and having lived through the Attitude Era, but I could sit through Buddy Rogers VS Pat O'Connor from 1961.  I watched all there is to watch of Bronko Nagurski and Jim Londos from 1938.  I've seen five Antonio Inoki matches that have gone an hour and have little to no action for the first forty five minutes.  AND I ENJOYED THEM.  Nigel McGuiness, in my opinion is a better wrestler.  He's just...better.  I rest my case.



Brock Lesnar VS Rey Mysterio

SQUISH!



Batista VS The Undertaker

This would play out like Wrestlemania 23: The Young Lion tries and fails to slay the Wizened Dragon.  Taker advances.



Randy Orton VS Andre The Giant

Andre wouldn't even be able to take an RKO, would he?  Gotta go with the Giant.



Pat O'Connor VS Verne Gagne

Pat O'Connor impresses me more than Verne.  Sacrilege, yes I know, but hey, at least it's two mat legends of the same era.  O'Connor and Gagne have fought before (there's a newspaper clipping from 1953 to prove it, though you'd be forgiven for not believing it since it was so long ago Verne Gagne still had hair), and from what I gather Gagne went over him as AWA Champion once or twice, but O'Connor just seemed more...kick ass, y'know?.  As lame as that sounds, there's no shame to lose to Pat O'Connor, even if you're the great Verne Gagne.



Meng/Haku VS George Hackenschmidt

As bad as I want to put Meng over, given that Hackenschmidt was injury prone and kind of a whiner at times, there's no fucking way I can let the first ever World Champion go down like that.  Hackenschmidt survives.  Barely.



Sting VS Kurt Angle

This match has happened in TNA, but they're dead to me, so forget that.  I'm talking about Kurt Angle from 2002 against blond, spiky-haired Sting from 1992.  The Sting everybody keeps clamoring for, in spite of the bald spot Steve Borden has now at 56 that would make blond, spiky haired Sting look real sad.  Point is, Sting was great but even at his best, Kurt Angle could beat him.



Goldberg VS Bret "The Hitman" Hart

The beginning of the end of Bret Hart's career came at the foot of Bill Goldberg.  At Starcade '99, a botched superkick gave Bret Hart such a bad concussion, he more or less had it for two years.  Then when he felt like his life was finally coming back to some kind of order, he had a stroke.  Bill Goldberg has apologized personally to the Hitman many times and still feels bad to this day about the incident.  But that doesn't mean Bret Hart would pass up a chance to exact some revenge on the man who put him on the shelf.  And Bret Hart has beaten Goldberg.  Twice(-ish).  Bret Hart stretches the irresistible force for all he's worth, and that's that.  Wins off a school boy after Goldberg posts himself on a missed spear.



Lou Thesz VS Samoa Joe

As much as I love Joe, many professionals consider Lou Thesz one of the greatest to ever leave.  I have to put him over on pedigree alone here.



The Rock VS Roman Reigns

Hmm, isn't this ironic?  The People suffer no succotache, Rock.  Give 'em the elbow & let's get the fuck outta here.



"The Scissor King" Joe Stecher VS Stanislaus Zbyszko

Stanislaus Zbyszko had over 900 wins (allegedly) until he met Joe Stecher.  The Scissor King became the 1 in 900-1.  The same happens here.



The Crusher VS Ed "The Strangler" Lewis

Sorry, but nepotism only goes so far.  The friend of my family loses to the muscle behind the Gold Dust Trio.



"Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner VS Stu Hart

Speaking of muscle, I have to go with Scott Steiner.  In a worked match, Stu wouldn't go over a former World Champion who could mat wrestle quite well in his own right.  (Not that he could hold a candle to Stu; just saying that in a work, it could be made to look like he could.)  Steiner advances.



Bronko Nagurski VS Frank Gotch

Gotch takes it.  The man retired as champion after the fifth longest run on top in history.  Bronko was a two-time champion himself, but Gotch was the man and nobody ever proved different.



Hulk Hogan VS Michael Elgin

Speaking of "The Man", if it isn't Hulk Fucking Hogan.  'Sup, Brother?  Michael Elgin would give him a run for his money, but this is 80's Hogan, remember?  Dude really was immortal.



Shawn Michaels VS "Ravishing" Rick Rude

This match would be better than most people would suspect.  If these two had ever had the chance to meet in singles competition, it may have been a great little gem.  Michaels goes over in a surprise classic.


Jim Londos defeats The Iron Shiek
Ric Flair defeats Rusev
Steve Austin defeats Chris Benoit
Booker T defeats Kane
Harley Race defeats Dusty Rhodes
Randy Savage defeats AJ Styles
Nigel McGuiness defeats Billy Graham
Brock Lesnar defeats Rey Mysterio
The Undertaker defeats Batista
Andre The Giant defeats Randy Orton
Pat O'Connor defeats Verne Gagne
George Hackenschmidt defeats Meng/Haku
Kurt Angle defeats Sting
Bret Hart defeats Goldberg
Lou Thesz defeats Samoa Joe
The Rock defeats Roman Reigns
Joe Stecher defeats Stanislaus Zbyszko
Ed Lewis defeats The Crusher
Scott Steiner defeats Stu Hart
Frank Gotch defeats Bronko Nagurski
Hulk Hogan defeats Michael Elgin
Shawn Michaels defeats "Ravishing" Rick Rude

Come on back for Round Six!