Monday, 30 January 2012

On a rocky road to Wrestlemania: The Royal Rumble review

Wrestling; its a guilty pleasure of mine. There are few things that made for memorable TV in my eyes than what the WWF/WWE had to offer in its prime. A death defying leap from Shane McMahon off the titantron at the Backlash Pay-per-view for instance.

Or how about the tag team matches between the Dudleyz, the Hardy Boyz, and Edge & Christian? 

And while I, like every sane kid at the time, learned the inevitable truth that its all an act, there still is something to be said about these unique performers, that regularly put themselves at risk from a thousand injuries if even the smallest part of the match goes wrong.

Its entertainment at the end of the day, and I was lucky to have had the defining Attitude era childhood, an era that I doubt will happen again in the WWE for quite some time. Stories were risqué and not orientated strictly for children, matches were more intense, and any Pay Per View was a guarantee of satisfaction, no matter the price on Sky.

Which brings me to see what went wrong at this years Royal Rumble Pay Per View; it had a poor representation of the "feuds" that were going on, none of the matches had a 'WOW' factor, and, for these recessionary times, the price to pay was simply not worth it.

(for those that do not follow wrestling at all, you may get lost from here on in, but even a vague bit of WWE/F knowledge from the past will help)

Lets start with the reason I watched it to begin with; the Royal Rumble match. The idea of a big bunch of lads (and a lady this year) baiting the crap out of each other until one is left standing is great, but this years match lacked a lot of quality superstars duking it out. 

As to be expected there were participants for comic effect, such as the god awful Michael Cole trying to act tough, and Ricardo Rodriguez, who wasn't too bad pulling off a bizarre part in the match. Also to be expected was the inclusion of characters from older times, such as Mick Foley, Road Dogg and Jim Duggan, the original Royal Rumble winner. But there was a distinct lack of big draw wrestlers. Obviously the likes of Steve Austin or the Rock were not going into the ring, but there was opportunity for Kane to re-enter after his earlier match, to tie or beat Shawn Michaels record of most wrestlers eliminated in the royal rumble match, but nope didn't happen.

And this somewhat brings me to something which really displeased me about the match. When wrestler #30 appears, the last entrant,  you expect to see someone with the ability to destroy, surprise or bring the crowd to its feet with amazement. The rumours were swirling from the likes of Christian, The Undertaker's return, or perhaps even Brock Lesnar to stir things up.

The superstar I expected to see.....

This all went out the window when the Big Show entered, and proceeded to take out the Miz,Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler.

He just destroyed the future WWE talent in 60 seconds
This just did not work, for a variety of reasons. You would expect at a PPV as big as the royal rumble that the creative team would have the sense to put someone like Lesnar or the Undertaker in at 30; the former as a cameo entry at the very least, that still brings great spectacle when he enters the ring. The latter to start his momentum to Wrestlemania, where hopefully he will have a 20-0 win record afterwards. The Big Show, on the other hand, lacks both wrestlers drawing power, and much motive to be a championship contender, as he had already been in a heavyweight match that night, so appearing again was overstaying his welcome. Add in that he took out the younger, promising talented stars in around a minute, and it added to an unpleasant time to watch him in the ring.

The win for Sheamus, Ill admit isn't a bad thing, nothing wrong with a great Irish fighter to compete at the biggest stage of them all. What IS wrong is how he won it. Back to the Big Show and his pointless entry, had Sheamus knocked out the younger guns one by one, and with great moves, it would have been more deserved than simply seeing them fly out of the ring. We know Sheamus is capable of doing so, so why did the creative team do THIS???
The Blurst of Times

Chris Jericho's return was not what it was cracked up to be either. Despite a solid end to the rumble match, the afterthoughts are more on why Jericho lost as opposed to why Sheamus won. He was a favourite along with Randy Orton in the end, and after all this hype he put up of the end of the world, its odd that the WWE would simply do a U turn to go for Sheamus at Wrestlemania.

The unlikely contender

as for the rest of the Pay Per View, it did nothing in developing John Cena's 'rise above hate' turn, making him neither a superior face, nor a growing heel. This was a perfect opportunity to have Kane beat him fair and square, and make him 'embrace the hate' afterwards, setting the stage for a brilliant showdown with the Rock at Wrestlemania, a classic good v bad affair. What we have instead is the obvious good in the Rock, against a John Cena that is still making his mind up on whether to stay in a stale face or be liked for once as a bad guy, and it appears the boat has sailed.

The squash match between Brodus Clay and Drew McIntyre felt unnecessary, and both could have been put to better use, such as making contenders for the main match, utter filler.

Models, not wrestlers

The usual Diva match, I am not a fan at all of these. Models cant wrestle, unless your ring name was Lita. Its a sexist remark, but I want more women like Chyna or Trish Stratus kicking ass, and not these attractive women trying to act at...well, ultimately acting.Kharma seems like the best of the bunch, and you wouldn't want her in your bed at the end of the night *shudders*, more actual wrestling than normal but still just to please the randy lads.

To be fair, both championship matches were impressive, particularly the CM Punk/Dolph Ziggler matchup. The Triple threat cage match felt like a one on one between Daniel Bryan and the Big Show though, Mark Henry was out with that injury for a fair while. I am enjoying the prospect that maybe Bryan will go against Sheamus at Wrestlemania, a good matchup.

So obviously, if you have managed to read through this, you will know that in my opinion the event just was not worth the 20 euro price tag. While it was entertaining in parts, it just didnt feel like a true Royal Rumble, a supposed explosion of awesomeness and entertainment. I know I focused on the main match, but thats the main reason to watch in the first place. No wrestler is really at fault though, they all played their roles and did so very well. the problem is with the creative team that needs to wake up and make their minds up on storylines, what to do with the outcomes, and make Wrestlemania worth watching with a solid buildup. It felt like an extended version of RAW or Smackdown rather than something to pay, and that for me is a disappointment.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Haywire Movie Review

Two things on my somewhat large list of things I hate in cinema are the overseas depiction of the Irish, and sports entertainment endorsed films. The former can best be summed up by the god awful Leap Year, which had  stuff harking back to the D'arby O Gill days, and a trailer which depicted Cardiff as within driving distance to Dublin (no joke, look at the link!). It also depicted women as if they were from the older times too, since when was it a law for women to only be allowed propose on the 29th Feb?

Also you have to be married to go to a B & B, god help they may have sex outside marriage! the times we live in...

The entertainment sports is the other sore spot, most transitions are just horrible, particularly basketball stars like Shaq and Michael Jordan, they just cannot pull off good leads for their life. the WWE has a hit and miss record, hitting where Dwayne Johnson stars, and missing with pretty much every other superstar of the last decade, Steve Austin perhaps an exception in the Expendables, but its been a bad line up. Take Hulk Hogan's performance in Suburban Commando. 

Which brings us to Haywire, Steven Soderbergh's latest action film with a large portion set in Dublin, and starring MMA star Gina Carano. this has the recipe for disaster out the gates for the afformentioned reasons, but here's something I didn't think I would say once the credits rolled...

Its not that bad.

It has an effective score throughout, makes the most of the Heroines abilities in the ring, and is the first overseas film in quite some time to not depict the Irish as leprechauns. While the star studded cast do help as side characters, it focuses on Carano, and ONLY Carano. Its a bit of a fault not to develop the baddies a bit more, even when you have the likes of Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas and Channing Tatum taking the roles in varying shades of evil. But keeping on the protagonist is not a bad thing when she kicks ass and then runs along the rooftops like Ezio Auditore every time she has to. She is not a bad lead in the slightest, only talking when needed, and letting the moves do the talking, a great performance.

Carano is a part of a PMC of sorts that solves some terrorist problems around the world behind the scenes. She starts off in Barcelona, then sticks around in Dublin before going to various parts of North America, be it the snowy borders or Mexican beaches. Tatum helps out in Barcelona, and Michael Fassbender helps out in Dublin, acting like a mix of his secret agent in Inglorious Basterds, and the man who swims to New York to say sorry in the Guinness ad. shortly after her oirish adventure she finds herself on the run and must clear her name and kill all the baddies for some reason that is too clever for its own good, it had me muddled.

If there is a major criticism to be had at the film, its a lack of consistent pacing or build up. The first half is flashbacks and the second is followed by the american trips, but it keeps going back and forward, so its hard to focus on the grand scheme of things. Also there is no real final ending or build up, it just drags over the guts of 20 minutes rather than go out with a bang. Its like a horrible kind of tantric sex, only to realise you have to wait ages for the actual thing, and by then all feeling is gone, so what was the point in building up to a 'final ' scenario if the the real one was 20 minutes down the road?

It tries to surprise, with the first scene showing the viewer whats to come, but luckily the director realised that this is a straight up action film, not a thriller, and keeps shocking moments away afterwards. He sticks with a lot of beat em' upping, and some strange sense of cool throughout, though this may have to do with the excellent score by David Holmes.

The end result; it tries a bit too hard to be clever, but if you want to just see some asskicking from a woman to loads of action stars in a non-Leprechaun Dublin, then this is the film for you. Give it a pass if you want to see some smarter film at work

+Great lead performance
+Authentic settings

+Strange sense of cool from the score
+Fassbenders abs (im not gay!)

-Convoluted plot

-Side characters underdeveloped
-No grand finale

Monday, 23 January 2012

WWWW1 (World Wide Web War 1)

The year is 2012,
The greatest information source known to man is under attack by various governments and businesses around the world, due to its free nature of illegal file sharing and ultimately piracy.

Lamar Smith, a US Representative, is the architect behind a new piece of legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. T
he proposed bill would enable individuals or organizations claiming copyright to block any website they suspect of infringing their rights. They would simply send complaints to advertisers, payment services, search engines and even internet service providers operating in the US, who would stop doing business with the suspected site. It would have enabled law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing material posted on a single blog or webpage.

Multinational Corporations defend the proposed legislation, saying it is a necessary step to impose copyright law and to protect intellectual property.

However, the internet is being defended by millions of ordinary citizens, myself included, who believe it is an action that threatens free speech, denies rights to privacy, and is too vague in its methods of action to enforce.

After mass protest online on January 18th 2012, the bill has been shelved for further inspection, but other countries, including this very emerald isle have seen legislation being proposed, and this is not going to go down lightly. After the shutdown and arrest of the founders of MegaUpload in New Zealand, courtesy of US Federal prosecutors request, the internet's users are getting ever uneasy, and backlash to proposition gets ever more likely.

sign the petition, keep the internet as it should be, free without prying eyes.