Monday, December 29, 2014

Who should take down Brock Lesnar?

As we head into 2015 and the Royal Rumble upon us, the big question is who will end up facing and ultimately defeating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 to become the new champion?  Will it be old faithful (you know who), the anointed one (Roman Reigns), one of the new favorites (Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins), or one of the people's champions (Daniel Bryan or Dolph Ziggler)?  There are reasons for each one to get the shot and for each one to be denied.  Let's run through them, shall we?

Roman Reigns

Reigns got on the fast track as soon as the crowd openly wished for him to win last year's Rumble instead of Batista when they were the final two, and his performance in that match was an obvious indicator that he is the future.  You put him in the match and give him the victory because you want him to be the man.  He looks the part and his limitations in the ring are more along the lines of the Rock than someone like Sid Vicious.  He can work a good match with the right dance partner, but you can't ask him to carry someone like Ryback for 15 minutes.  So why shouldn't they go with him?  The backlash potential is huge here.  In the second half of the year, when it became obvious what kind of push he was getting, some dissatisfaction began to surface among the fanbase because of the old 'don't force this guy down our throats' philosophy.  And even though those people are the same types who will demand someone be made champ and then not support them after they get the title, they are vocal and will show up at RAW or a pay per view event just to rain boos down on management's choice and will write troll commentary on their own blogs or in the comment sections of other people's work.  These are the same people who hate John Cena but when you ask them for a good reason why, they got nothing other than 'feelings'.  But if the performer they're trashing doesn't have a strong enough base of support they infect the rest of the fans.  Having Reigns win the Rumble and beat Lesnar will incur the wrath of these fans more than any other decision the company could make right now so it might be a wise move to hold off that for  little while longer.

Dean Ambrose

Ambrose is on a roll with the fans over the last few months, positioning himself as a 2014 Steve Austin-style rebel.  An Ambrose title shot and victory would not piss anyone off, and he can absolutely work well enough with anyone to carry the championship mantle in the ring.  There are two problems. One, he doesn't exactly look like he could take an imposing figure like Lesnar straight up.  And two, will he be able to generate the kind of post-WrestleMania support needed to be the face of the company even for a short time?  I just can't picture a world where kids and their parents go to see Ambrose headline a house show like they do with John.  And what happens when you have that May pay per view where the champ has a foregone conclusion title defense against someone like Mark Henry or the Big Show?  Can he sell that kind of show?  Your guess is as good as mine.

Daniel Bryan

Bryan already proved he can headline a WrestleMania, and a chance to do it again and get the post-event period right would be a big hit with the fans I'm guessing.  But given that he's been out for several months his ongoing health is a real issue that can't be ignored going forward.  Another title win followed by another serious injury would be a major setback for the company and you just don't want to risk that again. 

Seth Rollins

Rollins is as hot as a heel as Ambrose is on the face side, but him getting the shot would require a face turn that makes zero sense given his current position.  A Money in the Bank cash-in right after a victory by someone else is a remote possibility, but to end the big show of the year with a heel winning the title and in that kid of way is a departure from conventional wisdom that we're not likely to see.

Dolph Ziggler

Dolph is another people's champ like Bryan, and I do think he could deliver in the post-event period.  The only thing holding him back is management, really.  You just get the feeling that they don't see him as main event material despite all the great work he's put in over the last three years. 

John Cena

We know why not, but why would you?  Because he's reliable. Period.  If you want a sure thing who can carry the load until Summerslam he's your man. 


Now this is my bit of longshot fantasy booking.  Having him come back to avenge his only WrestleMania loss then retire as champ would be a great storyline in my opinion.  You can play up the over the hill angle the whole way up to the match for added drama, too.  The only reason not to do it would be that the match itself would not be very good.  Take out the shocking finish and last year's match was nothing to write home about.  You would have to book a killer show underneath it or else you could be looking at a checked out crowd for real.  

Randy Orton

This would only happen if you're going to do the Rollins cash-in.  It seems like Rollins and Orton should have some kind of feud going on once Orton gets back based on what last happened between the two on RAW.  So an Orton win followed by a Rollins cash-in to add some heat to it would be interesting.  Without the cash-in, forget it.  Orton has been tried as champion and did not draw.

So those are my ideas.  If I was in charge I'd go with the Undertaker.  And when he surrenders the title and calls it a career you can move forward with the future in some kind of tournament.  But that's just me.

End of the Year Stuff (Comics)

What was big in the comic book world this year?  Lots of stuff went down, some of which I actually stayed on top of.  I'm mainly a DC reader, although I do check out some Marvel stuff here and there.  Both major companies put out a lot of game changing (or attention grabbing, at least) material that generated a lot of commentary.  Here are the ones that stood out the most with me.

Best Event Series: Forever Evil.

Marvel had Original Sin, Death of Wolverine, and Axis going on this year and while I heard good things about both I chose Forever Evil for one reason: a good resolution.  The Original Sin conclusion left a lot of people saying 'is that it?' and the Death of Wolverine ended in a way that a lot of people I talked to thought was pretty lackluster.  Forever Evil, in my opinion, did not do so.  One thing that I look for in an event series is an extraordinary resolution.  After all, these series usually center around an antagonist that has overcome all the usual methods of opposition or a problem that is beyond the conventional methods of solution.  (Spoiler Alert) Forever Evil put Batman in a position of having to work with Lex Luthor and having Luthor, Sinestro, and Black Adam help save the day.  The Crime Syndicate didn't just get brushed aside in two panels on the last page the way Thanos got dealt with in Marvel's Infinity.  The event also shook up the Justice League and "killed off" Dick Grayson.  It made changes that are not going to be undone in time for the next movie or that will be bypassed in 2015 like Marvel is going to do with it's re-imagining of older storylines. 

Best Stunt - Sam Wilson as Captain America

Marvel closed out the year by starting up story arcs with major changes to Captain America and Thor.  Thor was replaced by a yet-unnamed woman after Odin's son lost his worthiness to wield Moljnor while Cap was replaced by longtime compadre Sam Wilson (the Falcon) when he was drained of his super soldier serum during a fight with the Iron Nail.  Both were seen by many as stunt re-castings that were designed to drum up interest and would be undone just in time for Avengers: Age of Ultron to hit the theaters with Rogers and Odin's son in their traditional roles.  Having read both series during these runs, I have to pick the Cap as the better of the two.  It moves a lot faster for my tastes and has been almost nonstop action, and has played up the differences between Sam and Steve in action as Cap without hitting us over the head with it.  I also looks like, given that we've only gotten two issues of Sam as Cap and three with Lady Thor that these will actually continue past May when Age of Ultron drops. Stunt casting always earns a collective groan from longtime readers/viewers, for good reason but so far this one has been done well. 

Quietest Demise - Ultimate Marvel

I wrote about this earlier this year, and it looks to be coming true.  Within a month or so, the only remaining Ultimate Marvel series will be the Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man book.  All-New Ultimates is ending in January and Ultimate Fantastic Four is ending soon as well.  Ultimate X-Men ended during the Cataclysm event and never returned once that was wrapped up.  The Ultimate Universe has become known for killing off characters in droves; by the time Cataclysm was over such stalwarts as Captain America and Thor and another well known character in the Vision were dead or presumed so.  A previous Ultimate Event series, Ultimatum, killed off damn near half the Ultimate Universes' X-Men including Wolverine and Magneto.  In the last five years it's been open season on Ultimate Marvel characters and the end result is slim pickings for any current books.  There have been stories on all the rumor sites about the Ultimate Universe ending next year, along with a cryptic poster from Marvel with all the living Ultimate Marvel characters with the words 'The End" emblazoned on it.  As far as I know the company hasn't made any official announcements so we'll see.  The Ultimate Universe was supposed to serve as an alternate, more modern version of the 616 Marvel Universe (from the standpoint of character origins at least) but as the 616 universe has come to look more like the film universe that's becoming less important, not to mention the difficulty of maintaining an entire alternate comic universe alongside the regular one without writing the same stories twice or going too far out in an effort to be different.  A lot of the things you see in the Marvel films from both Marvel and Sony are inspired by Ultimate Marvel stories, so if it does cease to exist the Ultimate world will live on for a little while at least in spirit. I'm guessing that Miles Morales will be brought permanently to the 616 world through some kind of space-time continuum chicanery soon and that will be the end of it all.

Best Twist: Lex Luthor, Justice League Member

The resolution and aftermath of Forever Evil saw none other than Lex Luthor cheered across the world as a hero.  Now this isn't the first time Luthor was held in high esteem by the world (he did get elected President in pre-New 52 world, after all) and it isn't the first time he worked alongside the usual good guys of the DC Universe but what's different I that now he's doing it as a full fledged member of the Justice League.  Now he's still the conniving snake that he's always been and the other league members don't believe he's had a real change of heart but it's been refreshing to see him around to poke jabs at the often self righteous and sanctimonious members of the league like Superman and to even top Batman I calling out the hypocrisy of the others.  Him telling Bruce Wayne that they're basically the same guy (which is true in a way) and Bruce's defiant reaction has been priceless.  The current story arc involving a virus that Luthor created when he was more villainous getting accidentally unleashed now that's on the good side has been a good illustration of the complex relationship that he has with Batman, Superman and the others and when the falling out inevitably happens and Luthor is back amongst the permanent rogues gallery it should be epic.

So those are the things that stood out for me the most.  Lots of other great stuff was offered from both companies from the conclusion of the Zero Year arc, Superman: Doomed, Red Daughter of Krypton, the Green Arrow Outsiders War, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy series, the aforementioned Ultimate Spider Man series, and New Avengers, just to name a few.  Hopefully 2015 will bring as much good stuff as 2014 did.  Speaking of which....

Big Story for 2015: Comic world, meets film world

There were a few seeds planted in 2014, but one thing to really watch out for in 2015 and beyond is the convergence between the comic and film universes among the two major companies.  In the past we got movie/TV characters being later introduced in the print world, like Harley Quinn.  But now the print series are undergoing some changes to make them fit more with the TV/movie world.  Marvel is changing the origin of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch so they are no longer Magneto's children; obviously this is because the Marvel Movie Universe does not include Magneto so their origin in Ultron will have to be explained some other way.  On the DC side, John Diggle and Felicity Smoak have been added to the Green Arrow series; the writers of Arrow have taken over as the creative team behind the book so what they're doing here is bringing some synergy between the two mediums.  The Marvel re-imaginings of several of their classic tory arcs will likely include some tweaks to line up more with the Cinematic Universe and as the DC Film Universe moves forward we'll probably see film versions of the classic characters that look a lot like their New 52 print counterparts.  This will likely be a polarizing move, especially on the Marvel side where classic stories and characters could be changed to fit the existing but still developing film world.  DC will have it a little different since their film world hasn't really unfolded yet, but the New 52-ish version of Superman and Wonder Woman that we are and may be getting will definitely have their detractors.  As with everything, we'll see how it goes. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

End the Year Stuff (Movie Version)

OK, year's almost over are my 2014 superlatives.

Best Movie: Captain America: the Winter Soldier

This is out of the movies I've seen, of course.  Winter Soldier excelled in every way possible.  It exceeded expectations, which were pretty damn high to start with.  It cemented Marvel's place in the Superhero Studio Olympics.  Non stop action from start to finish, an excellent story, you name it.  The first Cap film was good in my book but it felt like a required building block to the upcoming Avengers film whereas this was a great standalone film on its own. 

Best Cleanup Job: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Days of Future Past was a good movie and the second good step in Fox's rebuild of the X-Men movie franchise.  But the best part of it may have been the great retcon at the end.  Everyone agrees that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were messy, disappointing movies so (SPOILER ALERT) Fox and Bryan Singer used the time travel/space time continuum aspects of Days of Future Past to effectively wipe those movies away from the X-Men film canon.  Some people hate retconning but I'm all for it if it means we can forget some bad storylines or poorly crafted events.  If you want to keep that abomination of the Phoenix Saga that we got in Last Stand for the sake of 'no retconning!' then do you, but that's not we roll here.

Best Movie News: DC announces its full movie slate and Marvel announces phase three (tie)

We get the plans for a fleshing out of the DC film universe and the release schedule for Marvel's phase three.  In all we got five years worth of movie plans from both companies.  After decades of waiting we will finally get a big screen treatment for Wonder Woman and on the Marvel side we finally got the answer to if and when a Black Panther film was coming, and to how the eventual Thanos confrontation is going to play out.  Good times everyone!

Worst Movie News: The Fantastic Four

No upcoming movie has been met with more disdain than the Fantastic Four film slated to drop in 2015.  Fox pissed off damn near everyone by casting Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, then they officially killed everyone's hopes when it leaked out that Doctor Doom is going to be some kind of computer hacker instead of the ruler of Latveria or even the evil tycoon from the first two Fantastic Four films.  I'm not a big Fantastic Four fan, so I'm not invested in what race Johnny Storm is or Doctor Doom's profession.  But given that the first two FF movies were considered ok at best and slammed by many (I found them watchable but nothing special), and that the Fantastic Four is at a low point in casual fan recognition and reader popularity, this isn't the time to get all creative with basic elements of the story.  At this point they've pissed off the hardcore FF fans and got the rest of us scratching our heads in confusion.  I have no idea what to make of it all and I could really see myself skipping this one.

Worst Movie: Godzilla

Why did I pick this one?  Real simple - 10 minutes of Godzilla.  Yes, in an over 90 minute film we got 10 minutes or so of actual Godzilla on the screen.  It's a movie about Godzilla for crying out loud.  I know you can't have a two hour movie with two hours of Godzilla, but ten minutes? we don't want some hackneyed story about the humans around the monster.  OK, you need some devotion to people trying to escape or figure out where Godzilla came from.  You might even need to spend half the movie on it.  But please......please........ it's not hard really.  But if you're going to make another one, you can forget me being interested.

Left Turn Award: Lucy

Lucy was an interesting movie.  When I saw it I gave it an immediate 3.5/5 rating.  Given a few months of hindsight I'd probably drop it down to 3.  It wasn't bad, but the ending really will leave you feeling some kinda way.  What started out as a thriller based on quasi/pseudo science turned into the Matrix in the last third of the movie.  Well......if you went into the movie knowing that's how it would turn then you were probably fine with it but if you didn't know, like me, then you might have been a little miffed by it.  At the same time if you like Scarlett Johansson and like seeing her in movies then you'll probably be able to watch it without getting to pissed off.

The Tap Out Award: Transformers

I gave up on Transformers this year.  After the third one it was obvious that Michael Bay was going to put together an incoherent mess every time out that would never reach it's full potential.  But even with that, seeing the Dinobots in the trailer had me ready to go back in.  Until I saw the running time, almost three hours.  So I stuck to my decision to pass.  And I'm glad I did, because from what I heard it was exactly what I was expecting.  I'm no longer willing to go sit through an almost three hour movie, and I'm not willing to go see something that I know is gonna be mediocre just because it involves something I grew up on and love.  Sorry guys

OK, that's it for the movies this year.  Next year should be awesome with Age of Ultron and that little Star Wars movie.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The CM Punk Interview

So.....the CM Punk podcast interview is all the rage this week.  If you missed it, Punk basically crapped all over Vince McMahon, Triple H, and the company in general.  He gave a terrible story about how lousy the WWE attending physician was with one of his injuries, complained about how he got paid for WrestleMania 29, what they wanted him to do for WrestleMania 30, dumped all over Ryback, and called his own career a disappointment because he never main evented WrestleMania.   How you received this depends a lot on what you thought of Punk to start with.  If you're a "CM Punk is awesome in everything he does!" guy then this interview was a major dose of well earned righteous indignation from a man who was repeatedly done wrong by WWE management.  If you're a Punk hater then this was 100 sour grapes that may not even be all that believable.  If you're somewhere in the middle like me, you saw some of it as spot on and some of it as sour grapes.  What do I think about the big points:

The Doctor Issue

Now this is one area, maybe the only area, where I will totally side with Punk no matter what anyone else has to say on the matter.  In short, Punk was misdiagnosed by the in-house doctor with what turned out to be MRSA.  The doctor was only giving him basic antibiotics and those weren't helping so he went to another doctor who told him he had MRSA and "should be dead".  There is no excuse for this kind of thing to happen.  This is obviously just another case where you should know that the team/company doctor is not your friend.  He works for the team or company and not for you; his or her job is not to get you healthy so much as to get you working again.  Punk was right to do what he did, and would have had every right to sue had he chose.

WrestleMania 30

One of the things that pissed him off was that at WrestleMania 30 he was supposed to work with Triple H, which he absolutely did not want to do.  From Buzzfeed, here's how it supposedly went:   

Punk reportedly told Triple H, “With all due respect, I do not need to wrestle you. You need to wrestle me. I do not want to wrestle you. I seriously resent you for not putting me over three years ago when you should have. That would’ve been best for business. But you had to come in and squash it… I’m in a position now where I can tell you that I don’t have to, nor do I want to wrestle you.”
He told Cabana in the interview, “I don’t care if I was supposed to win (which I was). I didn’t care. I didn’t want to give him the fucking privilege.”
Now we all know Triple H was once notorious for not putting people over, except for when it suited him.  For Punk to still be pissed off over a match result from three years ago is a bit much, though.  Before the famed Summer of Punk in 2011, Punk was very much running into a glass ceiling at every turn.  His World Title reigns ended due to injury angles and the company wanting the title on someone else to put a storyline over.  There was the loss to Triple H that he spoke of.  He lost to Randy Orton at a WrestleMania.  His Straight Edge Society angle came to a more abrupt end than he wanted as well.  He was Daniel Bryan before Daniel Bryan, basically.  And he still carried that around like a grudge years later, even after he'd made it, which that quote shows.  But it's kind of hard to keep pushing that line after you've had a 400-plus day title reign (the longest since Hulk Hogan's first run with the title) and numerous clean wins over the top star in the company.  Punk openly taking that kind of stance is like going up to a girl who wouldn't go out with you years later after you've gotten married and have a family.

Working with Part-Timers

Punk also expressed some real resistance to working with, and putting over part-timers.  Everyone knows who he's talking about here - The Rock, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar.  Triple H would have been the fourth part-timer that Punk would have had to work with in a little over a year, and that can be read one of two ways.  On the one hand the company keeps putting you in these spots to help get some guy over who doesn't show up very often, but on the other hand you're the one they trust to get a great match out of somebody who likely can't deliver one on their own anymore.  Punk's match with the Undertaker at WrestleMania 29 was easily the match of the night, and his Summerslam match against Lesnar was arguably the same.  He got better matches out of a beyond rusty Rock than anyone else would have.  The downside to these performances is that the other guy went over every time.  And while I do see his point, there is another guy who took on two of those same three part-timers (Rock and Lesnar) and put them over.......John Cena.  Cena jobbed clean to Lesnar at Summerslam this year in a more decisive fashion than he's ever lost to anyone.  And while we're at it the Undertaker opted to end his fabled, legendary WrestleMania undefeated streak by losing to Lesnar this year.  Punk was not the only big name guy putting over part-timers so he needs to just get over that.  This reeks of Bret Hart-ism, aka taking the results of the matches too seriously.

Main Eventing WrestleMania

Punk considers his career a disappointment because he never main evented WrestleMania.  Man, I guess.....  He is the only performer that reached his level with the company to never do it at least once.  Meanwhile, these guys have been in at least one:  Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton, King Kong Bundy, Sid Vicious (twice), Yokozuna (twice), Bam Bam Bigelow, The Big Show, Batista (twice) and The Miz.  In addition others who are more on Punk's level like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Randy Orton, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels have all topped the card at least once.  At the same time his 400-plus day title reign was longer than anyone not named Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund, or Hulk Hogan.  I can see why he feels bad about that, but there was always the option of staying with the company until he did it.    Given the way the roster has been decimated by the injury bug he very well may have a shot at it this coming year.  And when exactly when she he have topped the card?  He was a main event level guy (I'm talking status not ability) since 2011; there were three WrestleMania's that followed his ascent.  In 2012 Rock vs Cena was the big event, and there's no way that was going last.   And in 2013 they did the Rock-Cena rematch.  Given how that was a planned two year arc for Rock and Cena there was no way to fit him in. Yes he wanted a three way dance with Rock and Cena at WM 29, and he was deserving, but that would have Undertaker without a worthy opponent.  And this year he was slated to take on and beat Triple H.  If they'd gone with the Batista-Orton without inserting Daniel Bryan I could see his gripe, but they went with what the fans wanted so all was well.  Again, man....I guess.

He'll be Back

Contrary to his final claim, he will be back.  Why?  Because they always come back.  Bret Hart had a much bigger set of gripes against Vince McMahon, and he came back.  Hulk Hogan testified against Vince in a criminal case that could have sent Vince to jail, and he came back.  Next to those two, Punk is just a frustrated employee. He'll find out soon enough that those 'CM Punk!' chants will fade over time, and he'll want those back if nothing else.  He will find no better place to work than the WWE.  Going to TNA or back to Ring of Honor are out of the question.  That leaves the inevitable day when he'll be relegated to doing signings at local house shows for low level promotions or at Comic-Cons.  Punk has a huge ego, despite anything he says, and that will prevent him from staying away forever.  Main eventing WrestleMania is a hell of a white whale and I do no think that if the chance came he would turn it down out of spite.  He is human, after all.  The other things I thought was a little iffy was when he talked about money.  Whenever someone starts a riff with 'it's not about the money' you better believe that it absolutely is about the money.  And of course, after saying he didn't want to talk about money he complained about not being paid as much for WrestleMania as Cena, Undertaker, etc.  So yeah, not buying it.  All in all, it was a great interview and how you take it will largely depend on how much you like Punk to start with like I said.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What I'm thankful for

Being that this weekend is Thanksgiving I figured I'd name a few things that I'm thankful for from the subjects I cover here.



Good Superhero Shows - When I was little I watched reruns of the old Adam West Batman show, the Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, and even some of the George Reeves Superman Show.  The only show that was running current episodes was the Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk show.  All of those were enjoyable programming for a young boy not yet 10 years old. Trying to watch them now fluctuates between amusing and painful.  West's Batman was not a serious show so you can live with that but the others were supposed to be and that just makes them worse now than they were then.  After those days other than a very short lived Flash series there wasn't much being offered.  There was Lois and Clark, which I didn't watch so I got no real opinion on, and then not much else until we got Smallville. Smallville ran for 10 seasons so it had a following and I won't bash them.  But after a season or two, I just couldn't stick with it.  And while that was going on there was a short lived Birds of Prey series that I really wanted to like hindsight it wasn't very good.  Now that may sound like a lot, but mind mind you that this all happened over a span of 30 years.  Given the sheer number of series that come and go on broadcast television, that's a drop in the bucket.  So for there to be four quality superhero shows on now (Arrow, Flash, Agents of Shield, and Constantine) on now with more on the way (Supergirl, Marvel's Agent Carter miniseries, and a possible Teen Titans series on TNT) is huge and something we can't take for granted.


We went four for four on superhero movies this year - Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy.  There was also a lot of stuff that I didn't get around to seeing but was very successful - Godzilla, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The Hobbit series wraps up this December as well.  Next year we get Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Fantastic Four (I'm not particularly optimistic about it but I'll still give it a chance), and we close out the year with a little movie called Star Wars - The Force Awakens.  With the Star Wars teaser trailer dropping today, the Internet may actually break. This is high tide to be a fan of these movies.  For the next five or six years we're going to get a plethora of goodness between the Marvel Studios films and the DC film Universe getting kicked into gear and Star Wars getting jumpstarted.  Don't listen to the naysayers and enjoy it all.


It's been a tough year for the WWE with major losses financially (largely due to the costs of the WWE Network they started up this year), injuries to key players like Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, and departures from stars like CM Punk and major contributors like Alberto Del Rio.  But despite all that, the company has given us some great things.  When the fans turned on the originally planned Batista vs. Randy Orton WrestleMania main event, they listened and gave them what they wanted by inserting Bryan into the match and putting the belt on him.  When Bryan went down they smartly put the belt on John Cena as a placekeeper to set up a decisive win by Brock Lesnar at Summerslam.  And when all looked lost heading into Survivor Series they gave us Sting in a WWE ring to turn what would have been a forgettable night into one a lot of us will remember.  Hopefully, the injured players will be able to go again in 2015 and more people will sign up for the network.  The Network is awesome - there is no reason to skip out on it if you are a fan.  You get every current Pay Per View Event, along with access to the entire back catalog of WWE and WCW Pay Per View shows, and old shows from damn near every company that was relevant in the 80s and forward (with the obvious exception of TNA).  I highly recommend it for any fan out there, and hopefully it will turn profitable because it was a great addition in 2014.


There was lots of good stuff in the print world.  DC's Forever Evil event series wrapped up with a bang, Lex Luthor joined the Justice League, Future's End and Batman Eternal have entertained on a weekly basis and we got another great Superman event with Doomed.  On the Marvel side there was Death of Wolverine, Orignal Sin, and the Axis series.  Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider Man was excellent all year as were some other series that I don't read personally that scored high with those who do - Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Hawkeye, and Superior Spider Man.  As we end the year with new chapters of Captain America and Thor with Sam Wilson and an yet to be revealed lady taking on the titular roles in both books. Both major companies put out some really great work this year and I'm especially thankful for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, Gail Simone's Batgirl, Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow run and anything done by Geoff Johns.  On the Marvel side I'm thankful for the Guardians of the Galaxy series, Black Widow, and Storm.  All three have been great reads.

So yeah, a lot to be thankful for in 2014, with a lot more to come in 2015!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WWE Survivor Series - Sting to the Rescue

Sting made a shocking debut at the conclusion of the 2014 WWE Survivor Series.                   
Well, the Survivor Series is definitely going in the books as a night to remember.  Going in, things were really looking bleak for the show as injuries and departures depleted the roster to the point where there just wasn't much they could do make for an interesting six or seven match card.  Even the five officially announced matches looked like slim pickings.  But boy did they make the most of a limited hand.  That image at the top gave a million wrestling fans goosebumps.  I figured that once Sting signed a WWE deal that he would do at least one match, and once it was announced that he would be appearing at the show it was obvious he'd involve himself in the big match some kind of way, but that didn't diminish the moment one bit.  Seeing two icons of the business stare each other down the way he and Triple H did was an all time mark out moment for anyone who watched NWA/WCW wrestling back in the day.  Sting is the one guy who never crossed over to the WWE; all the other big names had at least a short run there but even after WCW was bought out and shut down he didn't join the company.  A lot of that was because Vince McMahon didn't want to spen the money to buy out the biggest contracts of course.  So when went over to TNA to spend the rest of his full time working days, it was just kind of assumed that we would never see him in a WWE ring. But now, he's here.

If you didn't start watching wrestling until after the Monday Night Wars were over then you have no idea just how much of a big deal Sting really was.  Imagine if, instead of going back home to Cleveland Lebron James went to the San Antonio Spurs.  Or if Derek Jeter's last few years as a baseball player were spent in a Red Sox uniform.  Or going to see Avengers: Age of Ultron next year to witness Wolverine, movie rights be damned, show up in the final scenes to help Iron Man and Captain America defeat the bad guys.  When the NWO was the hottest thing going in the business back in 1996-97 it's no coincidence that the man chosen to be their ultimate antagonist was none other than Sting.  Before then, when both he and Lex Luger were seen as many fans as being on equal footing Ric Flair (allegedly) used backstage politics to keep from dropping the championship to Luger but didn't oppose losing it to Sting.  From 1992 through the end of the decade Sting was as important a figure in the business as anyone out there.  And like I said earlier he was the only one on that level who never set foot in a WWE ring.  Luger, Flair, and Goldberg all gave it a shot at one point or another.  But Sting stayed away, through a combination of failed negotiations and reportedly not liking what plans they would have had for him had he come over.  But all that's gone now and here he is.

Now the first thing the naysayers will bring up is that Sting is 55 years old and cannot be counted on to do anything significant at this point.  I agree with that wholeheartedly and don't expect him to.  I expect a few run ins and an eventual showdown with Triple H at WrestleMania 31.  Triple H can still work a good 10 to 15 minute match, Sting is still decent enough to keep up, and you can make it no holds barred so he can bring out the sledgehammer and Sting can use his trademark black baseball bat.  No one with any sense is asking for a 30 minute technical showcase here.  And once that's done maybe he can do the whole Raw GM thing for a few months and retire to doing the whole legends circuit thing like Hulk Hogan does now.  Win-win for everyone involved.  But for right now, we can just continue to revel in him saving the day one more time like he used to on WCW Monday Nitro every week. Thanks for turning what was looking it was going to be a show that the company itself was just trying to survive into something memorable.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The depleted roster

We're almost to Survivor Series, and it really looks like the depleted roster has finally caught up to the WWE.  Since January, the following people have been lost to injury, transition into a less active in ring role, or straight up quitting or termination:

  • CM Punk
  • Daniel Bryan
  • Christian
  • Alberto Del Rio
  • Rey Mysterio, Jr
  • Roman Reigns
You add in the planned absences of Chris Jericho to meet his music schedule and Randy Orton for a movie shoot, and Batista seemingly ending his comeback after it went south earlier and you've got anywhere from six to nine guys who the company was counting on having around for this event.  (Christian, Del Rio, and Mysterio were rumored to be on the fence after their contracts ended earlier this year.  It's unlikely that they were slotted for major roles in the year's booking decisions but they still might have been around.)  Now there are rumors that the Great Khali may have been released.  This is some major pain here.  Right now we're less than two weeks from Survivor Series and we have the following matches on tap:

  • 10-man tag team match with Team Cena vs Team Authority
  • AJ vs Nikki Bella for the Diva's Title
  • Dean Ambrose vs Bray Wyatt 
There will probably be a Tag Team Title match and two other matches thrown in for good measure if they can find people to put in them.  But this shows just how depleted the roster is.  If the six people at the top were available, or even just Punk, Bryan, and Reigns, things would look a lot different now.  As it stands they have to get through Survivor Series and then TLC before we get to the Royal Rumble when Bryan and Reigns should be back.  I haven't been particularly sympathetic towards Punk's attitude and departure, but even I'll admit that they sure could use him now.  I will say, however, that up until this point they were really overachieving given the roster limitations.  Hell in the Cell was a very good show after a so-so Night of Champions card in September.  But now it looks like the numbers game has finally caught up with them.  If I were them I'd go with Lesnar vs Cena in a TLC match for December; that would be a good way to close that program out.  You can add Orton vs Seth Rollins, Mark Henry vs Big Show, and a bunch of title matches for what would be a good show to close out the year. 

And once we head into 2015 calling up some of the NXT talent would be warranted, especially if there are going to be more releases.  It's been a rough second half of 2014, but 2015 can definitely be better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spider Man Isn't Walking through that door

It's just not going to happen, people.  Marvel is not going to get the rights back for Spider-Man, or the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four.  You've got to stop holding on to hope that it's going to happen.  No amount of complaining, or hating on movies that are actually good, or hoping that movies flop at the box office so that Sony or Fox will surrender the rights back to Marvel is going to make that happen.  It's getting really ridiculous people, and it just has to stop already.  Please stop clicking on those stupid pieces from rumor sites and stop sharing them with your friends.  If a Marvel exec says "never say never" when asked about getting the rights back for any of those properties that doesn't mean that it's about to happen, or that Marvel is talking to Sony or Fox about it.  The only thing it means is that if by some chance Sony or Fox was looking to sell, then of course Marvel would listen.  It doesn't mean that anyone's actually talking about it.  If Andrew Garfield is asked about showing up in a future Marvel film as Spider-Man and says "yeah, I'd be good with it....we'll see what happens.." that doesn't mean he's hiding something.  It just means that hell yeah he'd like to do it.  I'm sure if you asked Henry Cavill about showing up in a Marvel movie as Superman he wouldn't say "well, seeing as how Superman isn't a Marvel character I just don't see how that would be feasible or a realistic thing to expect."  He'd probably just chuckle and say "sure, why not?"  Which of course would launch a thousand rumor site posts about Marvel buying DC.  That's the level of stupid we're dealing with here.  So far this is the kind of tomfoolery we've seen on these fronts:

  • People calling Amazing Spider Man 2 a flop when it made the same amount of money as Captain America: the Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  And when you bring that up, they hit you with 'well, it cost $400 million to make it, so the profit isn't that high' or 'they expected it to gross $1 billion so it's a failure'.  Sigh.......  If it really did cost $400 million total to make and market the movie, then it still made a $300 million profit.  I guarantee you there is not one other Sony product that netted the company that much money.  And some guy in the executive suite getting a little loose with it when talking about how much money they could gross doesn't mean the studio was counting on a $1 billion gross.
  • People dumping all over Amazing Spider Man 2 when it was truer to the source material than any of their beloved Sam Raimi films.  The only real problem with ASM 2 is that it wasn't made by Marvel Studios.  I guarantee you that if you took the exact same movie, scratched out 'Sony' and replaced it with 'Marvel Studios' before it was released 90% of the bashing would have never happened.  I'm not going to go through a point by point refutation of the idea that the Raimi films were better.  I've already done that here and it's been done in other places.  Just stop already.
  • Jumping to conclusions that Marvel was going to get him back - When Marvel first announced the Robert Downey, Jr was going to be in Cap 3, and that it was going to be title Civil War, some people couldn't help but think that since Spider Man was a key piece of the Civil War print story they would have to include in the film version.  Yeah....not really.  The film version isn't likely to resemble the print version any more than Winter Soldier or Age of Ultron do or will.  So there is zero reason to make a run at getting rights to Spider-Man so you can give him a 30 minute subplot to a two hour movie.  Sorry folks.
OK so why aren't they getting Spider-Man back?  Two reasons, really:
  • Sony isn't giving it up - ASM 2 made at least $300 million in profit.  Like I said earlier no Sony product netted them that much.  Not to mention that Spider Man is one of the few movies properties that can survive a truly bad outing.  Spider Man 3 was really bad, and yet they were able to wait a few years and start everything back up successfully with a new director and new cast.  Just like how WB has done with Batman and Superman.  There is no scenario in which owning the movie rights to Spider Man is a bad thing for Sony.  So they're gonna keep him.
  • Marvel doesn't need him - Marvel has a fully planned out movie universe through May of 2019.  Adding Spider to the current mix would throw everything off.  And no, they can't drop him in currently planned films as a second banana.  If they got him back, all of you would want full blown Spider Man movies, not cameos or supporting roles.  And honestly if you're going to reacquire the movie rights you'd be stupid to limit him to the same role that, say, Falcon played in Cap 2.If by some miracle it did happen you wouldn't see a Spidey film until after the Avengers business was all wrapped up, which means fall of 2019.  You really want to wait that long just so you watch a Spider Man film with a Marvel Studios label on it?
So please people, just stop hoping and praying for Spider Man to come back to Marvel films.  It's just not going to happen.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Marvel movie slate

So......Marvel announced it's whole slate of movies for the next three years.  By now you've seen it a million times already so you don't need me to splash it up here for you.  But just in case you didn't, here's a rundown:

  • 2015 - Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man
  • 2016 - Captain America" Civil War and Doctor Strange
  • 2017 - Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther
  • 2018 - Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans
  • 2019 - Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2
You combine that with DC's movie lineup, Fox's X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, and Sony's future Spider Man projects and you have a treasure trove of good stuff coming over the next five to six years.  Marvel is the clear leader in the clubhouse here. They've already put out ten successful films to date, four of which are almost universally praised for being awesome (Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy).  The jury is very mixed on their other offerings (a lot of people I talk to don't like the Iron Man sequels at all and are just meh on the first Cap movie and the Thor films) but Marvel as a whole is such a trusted brand that everyone assumes going in that they're going to give us something good.  So it's to be expected that we all went bonkers in anticipation when the announcement came down.  It also put to rest a lot of the baseless complaints that were being lobbed about that Marvel wasn't doing much in the way of giving us a world of diverse characters.  Marvel bigwig Kevin Feige's words in a recent interview (that he was for having movies centered around female characters and characters of color but the timing had to be right) were twisted to sound as if he really wasn't interested, when in reality they were planning it all along and just had to line things up before they announced it all.  So what do I think this all means?

  • I was kinda wrong about Civil War - In a previous post I told everyone to chill out with the "yeah, they're doing Civil War!" talk.  Well, it turns that Cap 3 will indeed be titled Civil War.  Where I will at least claim to be partially right is that the story in the film will not be the one from the comics just like Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron borrowed the titles from comic stories but little else.  So obviously there will be some kind of falling out between Cap and Iron Man over their place in the world, and that Black Panther will be involved in the movie some kind of way.  Other than that, you got me.  Obviously with the movie coming in 2016 there won't be any Spider-Man to play out his arc from the print version.I don't see Tony becoming a full on government man based on his previous skepticism of all things SHIELD in earlier films but we do have a year to square that.  So we'll see what happens there.  
  • No Black Widow film - Those wondering when we'd get a female led film, especially in light on DC's Wonder Woman announcement, have been answered with the Captain Marvel announcement.  But some people were wondering why we're getting a film for Marvel and not Black Widow, who's already been introduced on film and played a big supporting role in both the Avengers and Winter Soldier movies.  I think the answer is pretty obvious: she's not that big of a deal, really.  Before the movies Black Widow was a C-list Marvel character at best, and he prominent place in the film universe is largely due to Marvel studios having to dig deeper in their well of characters because of all the film rights issues.  Even without the X-Men and Fantastic Four rights there are still several female characters who rank higher than her, Marvel being one of them.
  • The other guys - With things laid out through 2019, you can forget about Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I know that so many people have been hoping and praying for Marvel to get the movie rights to all of these characters back but I just don't see it happening.  First of all, Fox and Sony have to relinquish or sell back that rights, and that's just not going to happen.  I'm convinced that a lot of crapping on the Amazing Spider Man films comes from people hoping the movies tank so that Sony won't want to do them anymore and sell the rights back to Marvel.  Amazing Spider Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past both made over $700 million worldwide.  Those aren't flops no matter how you try to spin it. Even if the movies started to lose money, the properties are still too valuable to hand over.  And look at it this way: having those characters on board would squeeze all of the oxygen out of the room.  I'll explain that later.
So we know what Marvel has in store for us along with DC.  Good times ahead everyone, enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hell in the Cell Recap

 WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Hell in the Cell is in the books, and for the third year in a row it's screw the good guy in the main event time.  In 2012 it was Ryback, last year Daniel Bryan, and this year it was Dean Ambrose. It's also the fifth straight time the bad guy has gone over in the main event.  All in all I thought it was a pretty good show.  The matches were good, the results weren't all obvious going in, and the booking was decent although some things didn't make a lot of sense to me.  This show seemed to be a major program-ender of sorts; most of the matches had an air of finality to them in the results.  So what all went down?

  • Intercontinental Title Match - The show opened with the two out of three falls match for the I-C title.  Dolph Ziggler won the match to retain the title, which is fine, but the booking was strange.  He got a quick win in the first fall then wins the second fall and the match.  That's the kind of finish you would book if Cesaro was leaving the company.  The match itself was good and Ziggler didn't job so his fans didn't get another knife stuck in their backs.  Maybe one day he can actually get a win over Seth Rollins.  This also looks like that's it for Cesaro this year.  He's competed for every major title without winning any of them and took clean defeats from everyone involved.  Oh well, maybe next year.
  • Tag Team Title Match - The Rhodes Brothers beat the Usos again in another good match.  Not surprised or disappointed here.  I would suggest getting some new challengers for the Rhodes' and letting the Usos get a little break before maybe getting the belts back sometime next year.\
  • Nikki vs Brie Bella -  The match wasn't bad; the Bellas aren't as bad in the ring as some people think.  Obviously neither of them should be champion but they did OK here.  Nikki wins, naturally, but did so cleanly.  So now we get 30 days of Brie foiling Nikki's plans as her personal assistant as per the match's stipulation.
  • US Title Match - Sheamus beat the Miz to retain the title.  Again, no surprise.  Miz and Damien Mizdow are funny in their whole routine and the match was pretty entertaining.  The ending and aftermath again looked to be the last go round for this program.
  • Big Show vs Rusev - Show jobbed to Rusev as expected.  The Mark Henry people were expecting turn did not come. Show went out clean so there's no reason to continue this one.  It's probably time for Rusev to get a title match with Sheamus or Ziggler and get a belt around his waist before he goes on to be fed to Cena in a few months.
  • Diva's Title Match -  AJ wins again.  It's time to end the AJ-Paige show now.  The matches were good, sometimes very good, but we've seen it a million times already.  Time to send in a new challenger.  Once again I vote for Natalya.  She's a good wrestler and the two of them can have some excellent matches trading submission holds and what not.  After that if they want to bring Charlotte up from NXT, have at it.
  • Hell in the Cell : Cena vs Orton - OK, color me surprised here.  I had Orton winning to further the rift between he and Rollins.  Instead, Cena wins with a spectacular Attitude Adjustment through a table to become the number one contender.  And with that, all the Cena haters began to groan with fear that this is the first step towards Cena beating Brock Lesnar to get the title back.  I don't see that happening, honestly, unless the plan has changed to Cena putting over Roman Reigns at WrestleMania.  That would actually be a much better match than Lesnar vs Reigns but whatever.  Once again the Cena haters need to give it a rest.  He's not going to lose every time, OK?  You guys get your share of Cena jobs more than you realize; get over it already.
  • Hell in the Cell : Rollins vs Ambrose - Contrary to the rumors, they saved this match for last.  You know, sometimes these guys do know what they're doing.  Loved this match up until the finish.  Lots of cool spots, both guys brought their A games.  The table use was top notch all the way.  Rollins winning with help was one of my expected outcomes, but that help coming in the form of Bray Wyatt left me perplexed.  Wyatt's beef with Ambrose will likely be explained on RAW but it all seems kind of abrupt.  Of course if the intent was to end the Ambrose-Rollins program and move both guys on then some kind of clean break was in order.  What's next for Rollins?  Not sure.  The simmering rift with Orton can continue, with him ribbing Orton for losing while he won and Orton giving it back to him for needing help.  The only question is whether it drags out to Survivor Series or happens in time to set a match on that show between the two.  We'll see.
Overall, my assessment of the show is that it was entertaining but not earth-shattering.  Another WWE Network special, worth the $9.99 you pay a month but not worth the $50 it would have cost for pay per view.  It will be interesting to see what goes on tonight on RAW to follow up.

Friday, October 24, 2014

WWE Hell in the Cell Preview

Hell in the Cell goes down this Sunday, part of what I called the doldrums of Fall for WWE events. Unlike Night of Champions last month, this one actually has a little drama to it and some implications for the near future.  This is also the second year in a row that we're getting two Hell in a Cell matches with Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins followed up by John Cena vs Randy Orton.  We also get four title matches, a second Diva's match, another victim for Rusev and the conspicuous absence of the WWE World Champion Brock Lesnar.  As is the case with today's WWE, the in-ring action will be mostly very good and the storyline stuff will be up for interpretation as to its quality.  If you're a regular WWE storyline basher you will likely find fault with the show; if you're not then you should be fine with what transpires as long as you personally like the results.  What do I think is going to happen?  Here goes:

  • Hell in Cell: Cena vs Orton - The big stipulation here is that winner gets the next title shot against Lesnar.  I've seen some complaints that this match is going to be the main event, largely from the usual Cena-hating suspects.  Get over yourselves, already.  Cena goes on last because people other than you want to see him up top.  And besides, you're going to get your wish here as Orton will be winning the match.  Of course, the Cena-haters will give John exactly zero props for putting somebody over yet again (this will be the fourth time he puts Orton over since last December).  I'm supremely confident in the result here because Cena already faced Lesnar twice so a third time with the same result (Lesnar walking out as champ) would be major overkill.  Orton wins here, gets the title shot, and that will lead into a program with Rollins as rumored and hinted at.
  • Hell in Cell: Ambrose vs Rollins - This is a hard one to figure, as there are reasons for both guys to win.  Rollins won their first match so Dean getting the favor returned makes sense.  Then again, this kind of match is an easy place for match deciding interference from the Authority, be it Triple H or Kane, on behalf of Rollins.  I'm betting on Ambrose here, given my call for the main event.  A Rollins loss plus an Orton win adds to the drama leading to their eventual blowup.  This should be a great match and could join the Hell in a Cell matches that everyone remembers years later.
  • Tag Team Title Match: The Usos vs The Dust Brothers - These two teams work great together, the match should be excellent.  I got the Dust Brothers retaining the titles here.  I really hope this culminates in a TLC match either at TLC in December or at WrestleMania.
  • US Title Match: Sheamus vs the Miz - I have no idea here, really.  Sheamus has held the title for a while now, so having him drop it probably isn't a bad idea.  Miz is coming off the Intercontinental title program with Dolph Ziggler, and would be fine as U.S. champ.  I like his Hollywood character and Damien Sandow is a hoot as the stunt double.  I just don't want another 24 hour title reign for him (he's had two of those in the past two years already).  I got Sheamus retaining the title by some kind of disqualification; I think he's a big enough deal that him losing a title should come under a different set of circumstances.
  • Intercontinental Title Match:  Dolph Ziggler vs Cesaro (two out of three falls) - This could be the sleeper match of the night.  Both are great performers.  I got Ziggler winning here.  The two out of three falls format allows Cesaro to get a win in one of the falls and still look strong.
  • Rusev vs Big Show - Show jobs to Rusev here, to continue the march towards being fed to Cena at WrestleMania 31.
  • Divas Title Match: AJ vs Paige - These two have good matches, so this one should be, too.  Expect Alicia Fox to get involved on Paige's behalf some kinda way, but for AJ to keep the title.
  • Nikki vs Brie Bella (loser has to be the winner's personal assistant) - Nikki wins, but Brie will use her personal assistant job to cost Nikki future matches.  We've seen this movie before.
 This should be a good show, and more interesting than Night of Champions. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DC Movie Schedule Drop

Warner Bros released it's entire planned schedule for it's movies from the DC Comics Universe.  Here's what we got:


In addition there are no dates but plans for a Green Lantern Reboot and a Cyborg movie, probably in 2020.  So contrary to what a lot of people were thinking and spouting off about on the internet, DC did indeed have a plan they were cooking up.  What's intriguing here is that DC will be getting into the meat of their schedule as Marvel goes and finishes up Phase 3 with the big Avengers-Thanos throwdown in 2018.  By then the murmurs about Superhero fatigue you're getting now will be full throated roars, so having a new slate of characters and stories up and running can breath any necessary new life into the genre.  Holding off until 2016 to start things off also means that you won't have a situation where both companies run out of steam at the same time and we hit with a plethora of second rate films on both sides.  The order of releases is interesting also.  We get Dawn of Justice then an immediate changeup to the Suicide Squad.  That gives an opening to introduce ARGUS (DC's version of Shield, with a little less morals) and some of the DC villains.  Wonder Woman gets her big introduction, and then the Justice League's big bow follows.  Then we get the Flash and Aquaman movies to expand on whatever introduction we get to them in the first Justice League film followed another full feature for the whole team followed by Shazam.  And once that's all wrapped finished we get Green Lantern and Cyborg movies to flesh out those characters.  Holding off the Green Lantern film until later also allows them a chance to get a better Green Lantern in place so that no one will care about that debacle with Ryan Reynolds anymore.  There's still a lot of time (almost two years) before we get the first movie so there are a lot of questions to be answered between now and then.

  • Will we reach peak whining fanboy? - It's only been a couple of days, and it's already been unbearable.  I've heard that DC took too long, that they're rushing things, that they're copying Marvel, that they're not copying Marvel enough (by not connecting the movies to the TV shows), and that the movies are gonna suck anyway (I swear DC has seemed to have cornered the market on pre-hate).  And then there's the crying about the casting choices.  They chose to cast a different actor to play the Flash than on the TV shows; that set a lot of people off even though many of them didn't like Grant Gustin being chosen to play him on TV until three weeks ago when the show debuted.  Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot have been panned as choices for Batman and Wonder Woman ad nauseum, as has Jesse Eisenberg as the pick to play Lex Luthor.  I'm getting real close to asking the White House to name a new national holiday, Smack a Fanboy Day.
  • Will we get any major story adaptations? - Obviously doing something huge like Blackest Night or Crisis on Infinite Earths is too much to ask.  But will we get something like Tower of Babel (which was already adapted into the animated film Justice League: Doom), or the Justice League - Origin from the New 52 continuity (which was also turned into an animated movie, Justice League: War)?  Maybe.  The separate films slated for Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman could be based on one of the well known story arcs as well.  More than likely you'll get an adaptation in name only, where the title and some elements of a known arc are used but with an original story (like Captain America: Winter Soldier).

  • Who else are we getting? We know about the Justice League members, Lex Luthor, and the Suicide Squad.  But as these films continue who else from the extended DC Universe will we get to see?  When they get around to doing another Batman film I'd like to see the extended family (Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood, Batgirl) in action.  I'm hoping that Green Lantern will be John Stewart (or Simon Baz if they really want to get crazy with it) and not just Hal Jordan again.  What other bad guys will we get?  Ocean Master (for Aquaman), Cheetah (Wonder Woman), Sinestro (Green Lantern)?  Or could we get the Red Lanterns?  There's so much there to work with beyond Luthor and Darkseid.
 We got a year and a half to speculate and find thing out.  I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Calm down with the 'Civil War' talk already, will you?

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OK, so the news that Robert Downey, Jr. is set to play a big role in Captain America 3 got everybody running 90 miles an hour with the crazy talk.  With 30 seconds of the announcement, there were a million pieces being filed with the title "Civil War' in the title.  By the end of the day it seemed that a lot of people had settled on it being a done deal that Cap 3 would either set off or be totally about story based on the 'Civil War' Marvel series from about ten years ago.  You would think that there was an official studio announcement that yes, the subtitle of Cap 3 would be Civil War and that the story would be based on it.  But I sure as heck didn't see that anywhere.  Remember folks, until you get an official studio release anything you hear is a RUMOR and nothing else.  'Sources close to the studio' could be anyone from a top executive to the guy who wrote the piece.  Some of these websites do talk to people, but it's more often than not it's a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.  They don't have Joss Whedon or Kevin Fiege answering their phone calls.  A lot of these stories are people projecting their desires onto anecdotal evidence and creating a narrative.  And these sites are wrong more than they're right.  Now, they very well could be doing a Civil War-type story but I doubt it.  Cap 3 comes out in 2016 and there are way too many things that would have to be set up in order to make it plausible.  Here's my short list:

  • Need more people - Right now, we have the six Avengers (Cap, Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, and Thor) and we're getting Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision in the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. And you can throw in War Machine/Iron Patriot and Falcon.  So that's eleven people. A Civil War story is going to need more people in order for the factions to have any weight to them.  Now there will be more available as the Netflix projects drop, but for a movie coming out in 2016 they don't have a whole lot of time to finish shooting.  
  • A place to fit in - Marvel is building towards a big throwdown with Thanos for Avengers 3 in 2018.  Everything they've done has pointed that way.  How do you fit a Civil War story in there, deal with the fallout, and then get back to the Thanos story?  And when is Cap going to fit in time to find Bucky, which is what he was setting out to do at the end of Winter Soldier?  Assuming that he hasn't succeeded on that mission by the time Ultron comes out, that still has to be resolved doesn't it?  2015's slate of films is already set with Ultron and Ant-Man.  Yes, you could use season three of Agents of Shield as your runway, I guess.
  • Spider Man? - Spidey is a huge part of Civil War in the comics.  He is the first to comply with the registration act and unmask himself, then goes to work for the establishment side before having a change of heart.  As you know, Marvel doesn't have movie rights to Spider-Man so unless the rumors are true about a sharing agreement being worked out there is no Spider-Man for the film.  Now you could use a character they do have to play that role in the story if need be, but that would kinda suck.
Of course what is very likely to happen is that the movie has the subtitle 'Civil War' and have an entirely different story.  That is, after all, what they did with Winter Soldier and are doing with Age of Ultron.  We'll see folks.  Until then, don't jump to any conclusions.

The doldrums of Fall


I haven't had much to say about WWE for a while, and there's good reason for that.  I'm not bashing it at all; I think they're making the most out of a roster that's decimated by injuries.  No Daniel Bryan, no Roman Reigns, and even no Wade Barrett has made it harder to put things together hese past few months.  And while they made the right call to have Brock Lesnar go over at Summerslam to become the champion, his schedule leaves a whole in a three hour show every week to feature your title holder.  Yes, Paul Heyman coming out to do his thing on Brock's behalf is gold almost every time but without a match to hype it doesn't carry as much weight after a few weeks.  The last month of RAW and Smackdown has been a game of 'how can we rearrange John Cena and Dean Ambrose vs Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, and Kane this time?'  And now we have a big show in two weeks where there will likely be no title match and some mishmash of Cena, Orton, and Kane to go along with the Ambrose-Rollins match in the main event.  And while that match will likely be awesome, it's coming a few months before they wanted to do it because of Reigns' injury.  Ambrose was supposed to out longer due to being put out of action by Rollins and Orton but Reigns getting sidelined forced him to come back earlier.  And once we get through this month, we still have Survivor Series and TLC ahead before they can reset at the Royal Rumble when Bryan and Reigns are slated to return.  This truly is a stretch that makes you wonder if we need all these big shows.  (I wrote about that in a piece for Get on the Ball Sports before Night of Champions.)

The post-Summerslam period is usually a time to tread water until the Rumble in January.  The difference for this year is that everything we're getting now is coming at least a month or two before it would have had the roster been full.  My guess is that Lesnar was going to win the title in August regardless, but the victim wold have been Bryan and not Cena.  Cena would have gotten chances to beat Lesnar in the fall and winter instead of losing the title to Brock and trying to win it back in September.  The Shield breakup definitely got fast tracked due to needing some action near the top to make up for Bryan's absence.  So now we're faced with two months of the company trying to make chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what.  And you can expect two more months of gratuitous company-bashing on the internet, as people take advantage of the current situation to unload every nonspecific gripe they've had about the company in an effort to get clicks.  The decimated roster does not vindicate your 'John Cena shouldn't have gone over at WrestleMania 30' post from April, OK?  The next two months are going to be hanging by a thin thread, by no fault of the company's own.  What they do have going for them is that the in ring product below the main event is as good as it's been.  Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, the Wyatt Family, the Uso, Gold and Stardust, Miz, Sheamus, etc. can provide plenty of good matches for our entertainment until January.  Let's hope that can hold the fort down for these next two months.