Lucha Underground: The Very First Episode

Standard

When it comes to Lucha Underground I am far behind in what’s going on. Sure, I caught a few episodes of the most recent season and I’ve seen some random clips thanks to the Tube of You; but I’ve neglected the wave of awesome which is: Lucha Underground. Now thanks to Netflix, I can tend to an all new addiction!

YAY!

That brings us to this series, where I start at the very first season of Lucha Underground and work my way to the present.

Let the violence begin!

blue-demon-chavo-guerrerro

Right away the show begins to establish and identify itself as just the kind of entity that it is: which is not your standard WWE programming in the slightest. The pilot weaves together the history and culture behind lucha libre in order to educate viewers; whether they’re seasoned fans or brand new to that style of wrestling.  Hell one of the ways it does this is by having the first ever match on the show feature two legacies/legends of wrestling: Chavo Guerrero Jr and Blue Demon Jr. They too are used to further the history and storytelling aspect Lucha Underground is trying to establish right off the bat.

The entire premise of this program seems simple and is outlined in the very beginning. The point is to be an alternative to what’s out there. They’re unapologetically violent and utilizing a style all their own.

son-of-havoc-sexy-star

The first episode also establishes how women are used in their programming. It’s simple: they’re used as fighters that are just as valued as their male counterparts. Through using an intergender match on their very first episode it establishes how different the program is from others, which is incredible. It’s boldly making a statement: that no matter their sex, talent will be used equally and it isn’t using genitalia or gendered stereotypes to depict it (unless of course, you have your occasional misogynistic d-bag, but that’s just a character type, not a booking standard).

From the start it’s making sure the viewers know that female competitors are equal to (or even better) than their male counterparts by having the first intergender match be Son of Havoc vs. Sexy Star. Sure, Sexy Star lost, but not for a lack of trying, and she wasn’t depicted as a woman afraid to go in and fight. She was shown as strong and relentless, and that’s the type of portrayal and representation I can get behind.

pxd7ks0

Yes,  the programming is brutal but, it does not try to pretend that it’s not vicious or hide what it’s like.

I’d also like to point out the commentary team, which really is the equivalent of ‘mood music’ for the show. The duo of Vampiro and Matt Striker are holding down the commentary table. I must say–I’m into it. It’s very comfortable, and relaxed. Nothing feels forced, and in fact, it feels like you’re watching the programming with two incredibly knowledgeable friends just shooting the breeze. Their commentary style meshes well with the overall tone of the programming, something which I think is incredibly hard to achieve.

wrdypvw

So far, I’m very pleased with starting this show from the very beginning.

Advertisements

An Ode to the Deadman

Standard

It’s a feeling that I won’t ever forget. The chill that runs down my spine. The goosebumps that pop up all over from excitement. For 20+ years now a simple gong has inspired fear in his opponents, and excitement from fans. He is the Demon of Death Valley, the American Badass, the Deadman, the Phenom… he is the Undertaker and if this is indeed now his final ride we should soak it all up and enjoy what could be the last few months of the his legendary run in sports entertainment. This is my ode to the Undertaker.

Before I get into it I just want to take a quick second to introduce myself. My name’s Russell, I’m from Brooklyn, NY and this will hopefully be the first of many articles of mine on this awesome site. Now let’s get down to it. I love the Undertaker. I’m willing to bet that you do too. How could you not? He embodies the spectacle that is professional wrestling.

undertaker-entrance

Awesome entrance? Check. Memorable ring style? Check. Memorable signature and finishing moves? Check. Awesome attire? Check. Memorable debut? Yes. There’s no mistaking the Deadman. There is no other like him. He has tombstoned just about damn near everyone in the WWE and has taken quite a few superstars on their last rides. And now let me address the man directly.

Dear Undertaker,

Whether it’s your dark and terrifying persona or the American Badass rolling in on a Harley, you still laid and continue to lay the beat down on any who stand in your way.

Countless superstars have fallen to you.. Edge, Batista, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, JBL, Randy Orton… you name a superstar and at some point in their career they have fallen victim to you.

You showed Shawn Michaels what fear feels like when you massacred him in the first ever Hell in a Cell match. You made sure Mick Foley would never be the same when you launched him off and through that same hellish structure. You terrorized the entire WWE when you formed the Ministry of Darkness. You showed the locker room that two brothers of destruction can take down all who come in their path.

mankind_vs_the_undertaker_hell_in_a_cell_match_king_of_the_ring_1998_7

Of course this wouldn’t be a proper thank you without bringing up the streak. Your record now stands at 22-1 but no one will ever forget that you went 21 straight years without a loss at the grandest stage of them all. You struck down legend after legend and some more than once. Some have never beaten Triple H in their entire career and you beat him three times at Wrestlemania. You showed Bray Wyatt he has a lot to learn before he can call himself the new face of fear. You showed the Big Show and A Train that even a numbers advantage means nothing when someone challenges you at Wrestlemania. You showed a 16 time World Champion in Ric Flair that there are some battles even he can’t win and you showed your brother Kane that the Deadman will always prevail against the Demon.

You had the greatest match in the history of professional wrestling when you took on Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 25 and showed the world that even at his absolute best, the Heartbreak Kid was still no match for the Phenom. A year later, you would prove it again under the bright lights of the University of Phoenix Stadium at Wrestlemania 26. HBK would never topple you.

undertaker-vs-shawn

I could keep going on and on about your accomplishments and about the path of destruction you’ve left in your wake but there’s much more to you than just what you left and continue to leave in the ring. You continue to haunt the dreams of every WWE superstar, you continue to show us the drive and passion and energy you have for the fans and the company. You have an aura about you that commands respect when you enter the arena. You give me people a reason to stand up and cheer in a world where there are so many things to be unsure about.

If the rumors are indeed true that you will feud with AJ Styles for the WWE title and win it, there is no one more deserving at this point in their career. For you to go out a champion would be the cherry on top of possibly the greatest pro wrestling career in history.

picture-8

I want to say this final thank you to the Undertaker. Thank you for some of the most memorable moments in the history of professional wrestling. Thank you for giving the kid inside of me something to cheer for every time you enter the arena. Thank you for your continued service in WWE and your continued service to your fans.

Wait… there it is again… that unmistakable sound of a gong. That unmistakable sound that we soon may never hear again. That sound that reminds us all that a deadman still rules the land of the living.

takerwm29_crop_north

By: Russell Hartman

The IWC: Too Much Power…

Standard

The IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) is quite good at starting movements. From the rise of Daniel Bryan to the Diva’s Revolution. However, do these movements actually work? Does the IWC have too much power? Shall their power be used for good, or for pure unadulterated evil?

Originally posted on Smark N Mark. To read the full article, please click here.

TRIPLE H & VINCE MCMAHON REALLY LOVE ROMAN REIGNS

Standard

Surely over time Triple H has become a bit more similar to his father-in-law, Vince McMahon. However no one expected them to have similar taste in bed. Surely no one expected them to love Roman Reigns as much as they do. Finally, no one expected them to have such awful ways of wooing him.

Originally posted to Smark N Mark. To read the full article, please click here.

Sheamus’ Identity Issues

Standard

Sheamus has undergone a complete overhaul of who he is. However, I’m afraid this is a result of a man having no sense of identity that’s his own. In an attempt to create his own person, he seems to be adapting traits of everyone he admires or loves.

Originally posted on Smark N Mark. To read the article please click here.

 

WWE: Blame Charlotte, Not Us!

Standard

Do you remember Vince’s old attitude? How it was all about having brass balls? Basically, he ran these two shows that did whatever he wanted? There were matches against God (wow, I know), bra-and-panty matches…some in mud, that’s always fun! There were raids against neighboring territories, a crazy old man on commentary that had such an obsession with ‘puppies’ that he should have gone with David Duchovny for sex-rehabilitation.

Or you know, probably should have had charges filed against him.

Still, WWE has been known as always pushing and raising the bar, and were they ever apologetic?

Nah. They stuck to what they did.

You don’t want to see God in a match? Well, too bad, take your hurt feelings elsewhere because it’s about to get holy up in here. Didn’t like seeing a casket holding Big Show’s father in it? Eh, that’s minor! We here at WWE laugh at the dead.

Which is exactly what they did on Monday Night RAW for the November 16th episode. Technically they didn’t laugh per se, but they did make a segment out of the death of Reid Flair during Charlotte Flair’s main event contract signing with Paige.

Oh boy, where to even begin when it comes to this subject? It seems as though it should be touched with a 40 foot cattle prod. Whether or not it’s actually morally decent of them to use him and his name as such is an entirely different discussion to be had over coffee, perhaps with security nearby to keep the very divided fans at bay.

Let’s forget for a moment about how tasteless or genius this comment was received. The real focus right now is the accountability.

Who the hell gave it the A-O-kay, hmm?

Did the parents Elizabeth and Ric Flair give it the okay?

No, they did not. They were not asked, nor did they approve this part of the segment to happen on Monday Night RAW.

Well then, that only leaves for one person to have been accountable in giving this the okay. That would be Charlotte Flair, whom WWE even insists was the one who pushed this forward.

Hmmm….interesting.

Now on his own podcast, Ric Flair stated that he doesn’t believe Charlotte gave it the okay. Seeing as how she’s still fresh on the main stage, she isn’t exactly in a position to say no. She has no seniority, no veteran’s say in regards to what she will and will not do once she’s in front of the cameras. Now, once you’re given an opportunity no matter what, you kind of have to just roll with it, right? Or, sit on the bench in the ice-box where all other forgotten talents are, hidden away from the camera.

Now, regardless of the sour taste it left in the mouths of many, let’s get one thing clear here, WWE. Take some accountability and responsibility when it comes to your product! You’ve pushed something out and saw it had received negative backlash, so what do you do? Blame it on the sister of the dead in which you spoke ill off?

Now that is tasteless and a prime example of cowardice. What happened to those brass balls Vince used to tote around so much? I had no idea that a ‘PG’ rating actually stood for ‘No Integrity’. Take responsibility for the product you’ve put out. Rather than blame it on the talent, why not something like.

“We realize we’ve done something incredibly insensitive, and we sincerely apologize” rather than something like “Yeah well she said it’s okay so everybody can forget this now pretty please.”

This action just seems to add on to the issues plaguing WWE these days, no integrity to stand behind what’s been done. This is just as bad as having someone win RAW, only to have them lose on SmackDown just to keep both sides of the coin happy.

Stick with your guns, or your brass balls, man.

Why SmackDown is Infuriatingly Bad

Standard

Let’s face it, SmackDown is a complete and utter joke and has been for quite some time. Granted, there are instances in which SmackDown doesn’t seem to be such an atrocity–but lately those are rare.

Now just why is SmackDown so infuriatingly bad?

For one, it’s an awful recap of RAW. As though RAW doesn’t offer enough recaps during the show as it is, SmackDown is comprised completely of reminders of events that took place on Monday night. Not just in the form of clips being replayed either–but actual matches. What’s so disheartening is that these matches are mostly in place to ensure that the loser from Monday night gets a win, that way no one goes home with sour feelings. It’s as though whoever is in charge of these matches is afraid of upsetting people. Huh, what an interesting concept.

Everyone wins! Give EVERYONE a belt for participation then, that’s basically the equivalent of what’s happening.

Or in the rare event that it’s not a match being repeated from Monday night–it’s just something that was thrown together. I imagine the process is like taking a bunch of arrows with the wrestler’s heads on them and just chucking them to a dart board and seeing which two land the closest together. Rather than actually develop something remotely compelling, they stick two people together randomly for a two minute match so they have enough time to show a twenty minute segment from RAW.

Though a personal favorite is always when the gang all packs up and goes overseas. It leaves SmackDown in shambles, as mostly anyone involved in a storyline is cast away to do live events. In the mean time, people who haven’t been on television for months or who have absolutely nothing happening at the moment put on a lovely two minute match as filler time before the video package of RAW is ready to play.

It’s just so unfortunate what SmackDown has become. A joke of the WWE: A recap show of  Monday night consisting mostly of commercials and disappointment.

Yay!