All posts by brian

PPRe-View: WWE Evolution (2018)

As stated before, I wasn’t happy with the build to Evolution, but the show itself was mostly good.

Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alicia Fox and Mickie James

This was fine. It was a nothing match. No stakes, a couple of messy spots, but not a disaster. Sure, it pops the crowd to see Stratus and Lita in the ring again, and they fared better than other legends brought in for a nostalgia match, but it wasn’t my favorite if only because I have zero to little investment in those two (as someone who watched WWE before and after their tenures), and Fox and James bump like wild but rarely get a win. Tonight was no exception.

20 Woman Battle Royal

As a battle royal, it was okay. Nearly all of the legends were tossed out right from the start. Kudos to Alundra Blayze for knowing where hardcam was and soaking in it. It had the (now required) spot where someone who rolled out of the ring early in the match makes a sudden re-appearance at the end of the match, and it was the tiny Zelina Vega attempting to toss out Nia Jax and Ember Moon before Nia overhead presses her and throws her at Tamina Snuka on the outside of the ring. Nia gets the victory and that’s a good pick, though I would’ve preferred Ember.

Mae Young Classic Finals – Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai

The match was shorter than I would’ve liked, but it was still fun. Storm and Shirai are both incredible wrestlers, so there was no wrong choice here, but Storm got the victory. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of them in NXT.

Bayley, Natalya, and Sasha Banks vs. The Riott Squad

Bayley and Sasha Banks were out here to remind everyone just how absolutely awesome they are when they’re let off the leash a little bit. There were some excellent tag team spots from all of the competitors, and it was infinitely better than the matches they’ve had on Raw recently. Banks pinned Morgan for a victory after a powerbomb by Natalya, an elbow drop by Bayley, and a frog splash by Banks.

NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship

As I said earlier this week, another great match from Sane and Baszler, with a small tweak. Baszler did some real nasty spots working Sane’s arm, which isn’t new to her repertoire but mean looking nonetheless. This time around, Baszler’s MMA girl squad were ringside and interfered after Sane threw Baszler at them. There was a bit of ref blindness as Sane was attacked three times before Baszler locked in the Kirifuda Clutch for a victory. I can’t tell if this makes Sane look like a stronger competitor or Baszler look like a weaker champion but this locks Baszler in NXT for a while longer and frees up Sane for an upwards (or is it sideways?) move to Raw or Smackdown.

Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a Last Woman Standing Match

Holy hell, this is why we got Evolution. Lynch and Flair are both incredible, they’ve been incredible for years, and they took each other to hell and back. Though this isn’t the first WWE Last Woman Standing match (I guess commentary are pretending NXT, who did Asuka vs. Nikki Cross Last Woman Standing, doesn’t count), it definitely set a high bar for any future Last Woman Standing matches. After beating each other with kendo sticks, chairs, ladders, tables, the Smackdown Women’s Championship belt, and (of course) the commentary table, Lynch throws Flair off the top rope onto her back through a ringside table, and Flair fails to get to her feet before the 10 count. This match mattered and both women fought like it mattered and it was amazing.

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship

This should not have had to follow the Last Woman Standing match. Everyone knew this would be the main event, but did anyone booking this think that it’d be a better match? Rousey judo-threw Nikki left and right before Brie Bella (ringside) interfered to give Nikki an opening. Nikki put in some offense before we went back to the judo throws and, finally, an arm bar. Every Rousey match could be summed up as “judo throws, selling, judo throws, arm bar”. It gave us nothing new and it was mercifully short.

Final Thoughts

This was a good WWE show, with the six woman tag match and the Last Woman Standing match taking a clear spotlight. I did notice that production on it was a lot less stable than usual, with some obvious hiccups and lower value, such as the ringside barriers being the cheap stuff they use at house shows, and the apron being a normal cloth apron and not the LED boards they use on Raw and other PPVs. I obviously wasn’t into Rousey vs. Bella but the rest of the card was fun. I hope WWE makes this an annual event, but I want even more for it to be booked properly, given an appropriate build up, and an A-team for production. Now excuse me while I ignore main roster WWE until after Crown Jewel. When’s Survivor Series?

I’m not happy about the build-up to WWE Evolution

I can’t be nice about this; the build-up to Evolution has been awful. This is the first WWE all-women’s PPV. It culminates many years of fantastic women’s wrestling, despite being constantly minimized and downplayed by main roster. There is no doubt that WWE has extremely talented women on their roster who often do not get their due. Instead, it’s been built on nostalgia and WWE’s favorite rookie. Let’s beat this card up from most appealing to least.

  • Mae Young Classic Finale

No spoiler, but I’m extremely excited to see how this wraps up. This year’s MYC has been excellent and I can’t wait to see how it ends. We’ve had the whole MYC to build it, even if the MYC has been barely featured on main roster shows.

  • Sane v. Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship

These two are very talented and this match has had a good build up on NXT, but we’ve seen this match, what, twice? Three times? It’ll be good, but it would’ve been nice to see a different opponent for either of them.

  • Lynch v. Flair in a Last Woman Standing match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Both of these women are incredible and two of the best the main roster has. We’ve seen this match several times over the years, but it’ll still be good. The stipulation means that the match itself will be full of slow downs as we get numerous near-10 counts.

  • NXT UK Women’s Championship Match

Again, no spoilers, and literally no build up. This is a wild card. Until Wednesday rolls around, I don’t even know who’s competing and I didn’t know this was on the card until I looked up a list. Could be great, but again, no build.

It’s all down hill from here.

  • Banks, Bayley, and Natalya v. The Riott Squad (Riott, Morgan, and Logan)

All of these women are talented, with Bayley and Banks putting on some real MOTY contenders in the past, and this is a Raw women’s match. We’ve seen pieces of this for weeks. I’m watching Banks v. Riott right now, with the rest of them ringside. This match is a waste of their talents.

  • Stratas and Lita v. Bliss and James

Here’s our nostalgia match that has seen a couple Raw promos and zero action. I wasn’t watching when Stratas, Lita, and James were in their primes, and I’m sure they’re talented, but (except James) they likely won’t be sticking around in the ring after this match. There’s no stakes here.

  • 16 Woman Battle Royal

This one is a double-whammy of being a dumping ground for nostalgia (talented, but not staying) and women who’ve had prominent programs and title runs recently. Seriously, there are a ton of great main roster women in this throwaway match. I’m glad they’re getting a payday, but that’s it.

  • Rousey v. N. Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship

Here it is. Our main event. The flag ship match. The match with the most promotion and TV time. It’s a rookie champion that WWE couldn’t wait to put a title on versus a woman that’s good but not great, obviously dividing her attention between many other business ventures, and not likely to stick around after she loses. Instead of putting the focus on the women who got us to the point where an all-women’s PPV wouldn’t immediately be written off as a joke, we’re putting them behind WWE’s favorite new MMA star and a woman who hasn’t been present, let alone putting on great matches, for the last couple years.

While I was extremely excited to hear about Evolution when it was announced, I now want to just get it over with. I hope it does well enough to warrant another one next year, because I want WWE to get past this “historic first” PPV with all of its tributes to past glory and get on with showing us the incredible women’s matches that got us here in the first place in a proper showcase next year.

Streaming Schedule – Week of October 1st

I’m really struggling. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is going to be released this week but I’m not sure if I’ll get too play it on the 3rd or the 5th. And I’ve dropped CrossCode but I need to play something so I’m playing the first two hours of Vampire: The Masquerade –  Redemption for the thousandth time. This week’s Whatever will be one of those two games, Odyssey or Redemption.

Wednesday, October 3rd – 9pm CST – Whatever (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption)

Saturday, October 6th – 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Check out last week’s streams!

Whatever 26SEP18 (CrossCode)

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 9

Subscribe! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii

Streaming Schedule – Week of September 24th

OKAY. Now we’re back on a regular schedule. I’m thinking of doing nothing but horror/scary games for Whatever in October. This week, though, will probably be CrossCode, provided I can get out of this damned dungeon I’m currently stuck in!

Wednesday, September 26th – 9pm CST – Whatever (CrossCode?)

Saturday, September 29th – 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Check out last week’s streams!

Whatever 19SEP18 (A Hat in Time)

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 8

Watch me on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii

Streaming Schedule – Week of September 17th

So much for a regular schedule. I had a little seasonal thing, but I’m okay now! Not sure what I’ll be playing tomorrow but I got a new mini condenser mic so hopefully I sound better!

Wednesday, September 19th – 9pm CST – Whatever (???)

Saturday, September 22nd – 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Check out last week’s streams!

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 7

Watch me on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii

PPRe-View: WWE Hell in a Cell (2018)

Hi! I’m trying something new here and I’m posting up my review of a WWE PPV in an already crowded market of average dudes reviewing WWE PPVs. Whatever. I watch this stuff, I have opinions. Enjoy!

Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton in Hell in a Cell

Great match with Orton and Hardy displaying their signature styles. Orton methodically tried to destroy Hardy with his punishment based offense, including a spot where Orton shoves a screwdriver through Hardy’s ear lobe and twists (which looks more uncomfortable than it is, but Hardy sold it). Hardy fought off Orton with high flying attacks and using his body as a weapon. The end was almost perfect, with Hardy hanging from the top of the cell and then dropping onto a recently-vacated table face first, the ref calling for medical, and Orton forcing the ref to count the pin because somebody has to win the match. Orton took a beating but was victorious and Hardy was carted out on a stretcher. Solid opener.

Smackdown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

This match was alright. Each spent the whole match working each other’s target limb for submission (Flair working Lynch’s legs for the Figure 8, Lynch working Flair’s arm for the Disarm-her), but then Lynch wins it with a roll-through after being speared and pins Flair. It all felt like WWE was course-correcting from SummerSlam. Lynch gets to be heel-ish but now she’s the champion, and Flair is a sad babyface because she lost her championship and her friend.

 

The Shield (Dean Ambrose and Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins) vs. Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler for the Raw Tag Team Championship

Another great match from these two teams. McIntyre/Ziggler aren’t exactly a tag team, but they’re great together and much better than champions than The B Team. This might be the match of the evening because everyone is on their A game and it’s pretty much non-stop chaos. McIntyre/Ziggler get the win with a Claymore/(inadvertent) Zig-Zag combo and Ziggler falling on top of Rollins for the pin. Everyone looks good here but I question why Rollins has the intercontinental title and it’s not a factor in this feud with the former IC champ Ziggler. Feels like we should be adding a champ vs. champ stipulation if WWE are keeping this feud going.

 

WWE Champion A.J. Styles vs. Samoa Joe for the WWE Championship

Another great match from two veterans who know how to work with each other extremely well. The end came with Styles countering the Coquina Clutch into a pin, but there was a Dusty finish as Styles was tapping out to the Clutch while the ref counted the pin on the otherside of Joe. It was almost an exact replica of the finish to Sane/Baszler from Takeover Brooklyn III, except Sane never tapped. Styles retains but Joe still has a credible claim to the championship. Expect another match, maybe with a no DQ stipulation? But why wasn’t this match in Hell in a Cell in the first place? It’s not their first match up, and there was plenty of animosity to warrant the cell.

 

Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse

This was the lowest point in the show. Bryan and Miz are, of course, great, but the mixed match rules make no sense whatsoever, and Brie and Maryse aren’t exactly the hottest competitors in the women’s division. We got the spot where Brie and Bryan are doing the Yes kicks to Miz and Maryse in parallel, and they both do the big wind-up and miss. The big wind-up misses so often that I have to question Bryan’s sanity for continuing to use it. The Miz and Maryse get the win with Maryse pinning Brie. Everyone involved in this match deserved better.

Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship

Not a terrible match, but I have one question: why? Why wasn’t this a Raw re-match? With so many hangers-on at ringside, why wasn’t this in Hell in a Cell? This wasn’t the SummerSlam squash match we saw last month, but why not? Bliss didn’t significantly improve, so Rousey must have forgotten to do her research. Rousey gets another submission win but I really can’t tell who was supposed to look good coming out of this.

 

Universal Champion Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship in Hell in a Cell

Woof, what a mess. Let’s start with the buildup. Strowman, Mr. Monster in the Bank, goes from “I’m going to watch you two beat each other so I can cash in on the winner”, which is a smart use of the briefcase because it puts his opponent at a clear disadvantage, to cashing in weeks in advance but getting to set the stipulation that it be in Hell in a Cell. As we are reminded throughout the evening, Hell in a Cell is no DQ’s, so Reigns and Strowman beat on each other with kendo sticks, stairs, tables, etc. At some point, McIntyre/Ziggler do a run in only to climb the cell itself and the remaining Shield members also do a run in to pursue them. While Strowman and Reigns take a nap in the ring, we’re given a little side match between these two pairs on top of the cell, continuing this feud and maybe setting up a Survivor Series match, but definitely detracting from the in-ring action. The match reaches a chaotic climax when Brock Lesner makes a surprise appearance, kicks open the cell door, and attacks both competitors. Heyman sprays guest ref Mick Foley with “pepper spray”, which seems unnecessary as Foley hadn’t been a factor in the match at all. Then Lesnar walks out of the cell and a replacement ref calls for a no contest finish without any count-outs, which doesn’t make a lick of sense because Hell in a Cell is no DQ, no count-outs. The point of Hell in a Cell is that someone has to win. We end with Ziggler and Rollins laying on top of tables they’ve fallen onto, Ambrose and McIntyre somewhere on top of the cell (production kind of forgot about them), Reigns and Strowman laying in the ring, and no winner. Copyright graphic, cut feed. Terribly unsatisfying, bordering on nonsensical. It also has the ignoble distinction of being a second consecutive failed Money in the Bank cash in that didn’t have to happen the way it did. I guess the lesson here is to stop giving Money in the Bank to rookie heels.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, an alright show that peaked with Raw tag team championship match and was terribly marred by the second half. With only seven matches on the show, a lot of very talented people were not here, but I appreciated that they gave every match time to breathe even if it ended 20 minutes early. I would have liked for less crappy finishes and more logical consistency in the booking decisions. There was just too much digging out of previously dug holes, and digging new holes that don’t add anything to the stories.

Streaming Schedule – Week of September 3rd (I’m back?)

Some time off, between the holiday weekend and just doing less for the last 10 days, really recharged my batteries so I’m ready to get back into the streaming! But some things going on this week are going to mix up my schedule a bit. First, Whatever will be starting at 9pm CST until November. ALSO I’m going to a local indie wrestling show on Saturday evening, so Saturday Night Stardew is going to be more like Saturday Afternoon Stardew. Still doing this thing on Twitch, so uh, I guess one thing is staying the same. Thanks for bearing with me!

 

Wednesday, September 5th – 9pm CST – Whatever (Battletech? Destiny 2?)

 

Saturday, September 8th – 3pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

 

Watch me on Twitch! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii

Ow my back

Hey so two days ago, I was doing deadlifts in the gym and something popped and now my back is all screwed up. I’m not going to be a big downer about it, but it hurts to sit up, it hurts to bend over, it hurts to recline, etc. About the only things that don’t hurt is lying down and standing mostly motionless. The doctor thought I might have a pinched nerve, but also I’m missing some cartilage in between spine bones and I have some kind of bone build up in the same area. I’m just hoping this is a temporary thing.

Until I’m comfortable sitting down, I’m not going to be streaming. No one wants to watch me wince everytime I move. I don’t want to talk through a game while I’m messed up on painkillers. I’ll make a big deal out of when I’m ready to do it again.

Streaming Schedule – Week of August 20th

After a week off for technical difficulties and great wrestling, I’m back and ready to go! This week, I’m going to be streaming at Twitch. I hate to switch over but it’s becoming clear that YouTube isn’t the place for live streaming. I ran a test stream pin Twitch and I was really impressed with the amount of tools they give streamers that YouTube just doesn’t have. No change in schedule, just a change in venue. 

Wednesday, August 22nd, 7pm CST – Whatever

Saturday, August 25th, 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

New URL! Subscribe! https://www.twitch.tv/emnii