AEW and the importance of storytelling

Despite the fact that I probably come off as someone who hates AEW and and think WWE can do no wrong based on how much criticism I have for AEW, I don’t hate them at all.  It’s just that they do so much weird shit that makes me scratch my head, and if there’s anything at all about the promotion that I really don’t like, it would probably be Tony Khan, because he just comes off as this privileged mark with money and means to have created his own toy promotion, and is running it wackily but under the guise that it’s for the fans, and unfortunately a lot of people have gotten drunk off the Kool-aid.

In all fairness, I think WWE is pretty putrid these days, and I’m kind of the living embodiment of the popular meme that nobody hates professional wrestling more than professional wrestling fans, based on how it really does seem like I have nothing good to say.  However, I am willing to post about the shit that I do like, it’s just that there’s not a whole lot of it these days, unfortunately.

Anyway, mostly through scuttlebutt, I’ve been casually following AEW’s progress through the year, and aside from purchasing Ring of Honor, they are making some impactful moves and making a lot of noise in the industry.  The AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door show they’re going to have is going to be a pretty major deal for better or worse, and despite the fact that I will probably not see it seeing as how I have zero intentions of actually paying to watch a pay-per view anymore, I’ll still be very interested to see how the show shakes out.

The thing is though, as much as the internet seems to think it’s going to be the biggest show since the last Wrestlemania where they made up numbers to make it sound like the largest in history, there’s a ceiling to just how good Forbidden Door is going to be.  It’s going to be the same ceiling that hindered Double or Nothing, or pretty much any other AEW show since its inception: the sheer lack of comprehensive storytelling throughout the promotion.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any storytelling at all, but rather it’s the fact that AEW doesn’t have much quality storytelling, save for a few exceptions where it’s clear that all available attribute points are put into a single arc; usually ones involving Kenny Omega or the Young Bucks, exhibiting nepotism at its most flagrant, seeing as how they’re still VPs of the company, no matter how much power Tony Khan has allegedly stripped them of.

Matt Hardy once was on record talking about how AEW doesn’t have any writers, and that much is very obvious considering how paper thin and lacking in any substance the vast majority of the promotion’s storylines end up being.  But it also verifies the weakness and validates the importance of quality storyline, because week after week, a promotion can’t slap together these repeatedly inane 5- or 6-man team matches full of big names in an attempt to give as many members of their horrifically bloated roster tv time, and actually expect anyone to care when there’s no story behind it.

Like CM Punk just won the AEW World championship from Hangman Adam Page.  How did that storyline materialize?  Punk got out of his feud with MJF and then one week after a match, he pantomimes he wants a belt.  Next thing you know he has a few face-to-face confrontations with Page, and a match is suddenly booked.  Seed planted, match had, title swapped, in less than three months.  Despite the rise of Hangman being one of the more interesting stories to have happened to the promotion, Tony Khan didn’t know what the fuck to do with him after he had reached the top of the mountain.  And unfortunately for Hangman, it’s his ass who has to do the job because of their lack of writing ability.

Taz’s son Hook, is a perfect example of the perils of not having writers, because here’s a guy that fans latched onto like gangbusters when he finally debuted, but instead of having him actually grow and make any progress in his character, or give him any meaningful storylines to embark on, AEW has paired him up with fucking Danhausen, whom I just don’t really see the appeal in because I’m old, but you’ve got this young silent killer paired up with basically a circus clown of a character, and somewhere it’s expected that Hook will actually grow from this?

To the fairness of AEW, they have demonstrated a legendary ability to open; talent debuts, seeds for stories, general ideas.  But that’s about all they can do, is start page 1.  I imagine Tony Khan is the kind of guy who has a folder on his desktop with like, at any given time, no less than 58 Untitled-1 (##) with ideas for storylines and bookings, but aren’t more than a paragraph.  But instead of actually hashing them out and trying to formulate some quality storylines out of them, he passes them onto the talent, tells them to start them up, and then wing it from there.  Last time I checked, professional wrestling and improv aren’t always mutually exclusive, but they also aren’t things that just anyone can do without experience.

Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland are good examples of guys who came in to a lot of buzz and impact for two seconds, but then absolutely jack shit was done with them since their debuts.  Worse off, they’re now paired as a tag team because the roster is so bloated, and now neither will really have any room to develop as singles guys.  Toni Storm and Ruby Soho are also good examples of acquisitions who came in to big pops, but are just treading water.

The bottom line is that AEW’s lack of storytelling is always going to be a hinderance, and isn’t helped by the sheer volume of the roster that needs some creative direction.  But good storytelling is capable of making diamonds out of one guy, or fifty guys, if it’s done well.  But seeing as how AEW has no writers, and the whole show seems to hinge on Tony Khan’s visions, the promotion will always have a ceiling that they’ll struggle to crack through, if they want to have any chance in the future of actually sustaining themselves in the battle to combat the WWE.

An observation about Obi Wan Kenobi

*No Plot Spoilers*

I went in blind as Ray Charles with Obi Wan Kenobi.  Didn’t even know it was in the works, didn’t know when it was going to drop, didn’t know a single plot point behind the entire series.  But when I heard that it had dropped, I figured why the heck not, considering mythical wife and I have mostly enjoyed all the other Disney+ original series based on Star Wars properties thus far.

So as stated above, I will give nothing away because I don’t feel like writing about anything other than the impetus to this post, and frankly nobody reads my shit anyway so it’s not like I have anyone but myself to appease.  But if there’s absolutely one observation that I feel like bringing up from the first two episodes of Obi Wan, it’s just, what the fuck are all these Asians doing in a Star Wars production?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for and support moar Asian representation in media, but there’s been no secret that racist-ass Lucas hasn’t exactly been sprinting to the forefront at including Asians into their hallowed universe.  But two episodes into Obi Wan, and I’m seeing so many Asian people in the cast, credits and as extras, I’m beginning to wonder if this whole series is an HK knockoff that D+ absorbed the rights to or something and released themselves.

And Sung Kang in the show, as a presumable regular?  Get the fuck out of here.  Han from Fast & Furious, as a character in Star Wars.  This is unbelievable and unprecedented.  Surely, he has to be the first Korean guy to crack a visual role in Star Wars, right?

We’ll see what happens to his character as the season progresses, but I for one am tickled pink at just how laughably blatant the Star Wars universe is trying to inject diversity into the IP.  Because nothing says progress like corporate initiatives, statistical evidence and the need for representation in order to tap into demographics and their wallets!

Love Death + Robots S3: The magic is gone for me

I don’t have a lot of time to myself much less time to watch television, so I really do have to put a lot of time and thought into just what exactly I want to spend my limited time watching.  When I saw that Love Death + Robots was dropping its third season, I made a point to prioritize that, since I was a fan of the first two seasons.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the second season wasn’t really that close at capturing the magic of the first season, and I had hopes that S3 could work out all of the shortcomings of S3 and deliver a banger of a season that would be the perfect reprieve from daily life, at very time economical and bite-sized episodes that I really relish at this stage in my life.

Well unfortunately, it saddens me to say that such was not the case, and as was the case with S2, season 3 continued that downward trend for me.  The best way for me to describe it would be saying that David Fincher began to turn the knob up on how David Fincher-y he could make the series, in the sense that he’s notorious for allowing things to go off the rails on a long enough timeline, and by the time Jibaro, the last episode in the season was over, I was just sitting there thinking, what the fuck?

The funny thing is that Fincher served as a producer and the one episode that he directed was actually my favorite one, but the collection of stories as a whole were a little too all over the place, and if I really had to put my finger on it, I’d say that the season as a whole was definitely lacking in the whole Love part of Love Death and Robots.  I feel like the first season captured a good balance between the three core elements of the series which is why it was so good, and as the series and seasons progressed, the stories began to lack the balance which made it to alluring.

That being said, S3 still had a moment or two of collective brilliance, and if anything at all, the technology and varying artistic executions of each episode are still respectable and visually stimulating to see the variety.  I don’t think I’ll be as excited for future seasons, if there are any in the pipeline, but I’d still watch them, but perhaps at a much lower priority, because as much as I loved the first season, the magic is gone for me now.

Regardless, here’s my rankings of the episodes, as I’ve done with the prior seasons:

  1. Bad Traveling (#2)
  2. Swarm (#6)
  3. Night of the Mini Dead (#4)
  4. Mason’s Rats (#7)
  5. In Vaulted Halls Entombed (#8)
  6. Three Robots: Exit Strategies (#1)
  7. Jibaro (#9)
  8. Kill Team Kill (#5)
  9. The Very Pulse of the Machine (#3)

MLB x KBO would be pretty awesome

Interesting: MLB and KBO have been having discussions over some collaborative projects such as having games in each others’ venues and the possibility of MLB vs. KBO all-star exhibitions

At this juncture in my life, I don’t really have that much drive or even want to go to any baseball games.  Usual spiel about how I have no time and how I’m trying to be more selective of what I do with it when I have it, and frankly I don’t like crowds, I don’t like dealing with the aggravation of parking and traveling to and from venues, so the idea of going to baseball games isn’t nearly as appealing to me now as it might have been many years ago when I had more time and zero children.

However, if something manifests from this potential collaboration between MLB and the KBO, that would definitely pique my interest.  Especially if it ended up with KBO games being played at MLB facilities, that would definitely be interesting to me.  I’ve long wanted to go watch a KBO game, but the opportunities have never been available in the two times that I’ve been home to the Motherland; the first time was during the Korean Series, and the Doosan Bears basically closed out the series right as I had arrived, and the second time I went was in the winter when there was no baseball.

So if ever there was a possibility that KBO would hold games in America to try and raise awareness of their game, I would definitely be interested in going to see that.  And I’d definitely be interested if there were ever any KBO vs. MLB all-star exhibitions, although I get the impression that those would probably take place in Korea over the United States, much like how MLB sporadically does an MLB vs. NPB series in Japan every so often.

Obviously, I’d be pulling for KBO squads against MLBers, even if there were some Braves and/or Freddie Freeman on the squad, because if it really came down to it, I’d rather see Koreans beat Major Leaguers.  I’d hope to see a repeat of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, where Team Korea trounced Team USA at Angel Stadium, and honestly?  I guess I think MLB is so arrogant, that I’m content to even see Japan own them too, and although it seems highly unlikely considering the quality of KBO pitching, I’d be over the moon if a KBO all-star team no-hit an MLB squad of cobbled together players called an all-star team, much like Japan did a long time ago.

Either way, none of this happens without this collaboration coming to light, so here’s hoping that MLB and the KBO can work something out, so that I can have something fairly unique and novel to help me regain some interest beyond the casual level again, one day.

Sasha & Naomi: if this isn’t a work, then Sasha’s kind of screwed

As much as I wanted to just yell my two cents into the void and call it a day, the wrestling community has been incapable of letting go of the story of Sasha Banks and Naomi, the then-current WWE women’s tag team champions, turning in their belts to management, citing a lack of respect for them, the championships they held, other grievances, and then walking out of the company, during the middle of an episode of RAW in which they were already booked and advertised for.

My knee-jerk reaction to this whole story was it’s a work (wrestling lingo for scripted), primarily because it was acknowledged on television, and has been repeatedly acknowledged on television since it occurred.  Although professional wrestling is an always moving, always evolving entity that has shown great ability to adapt, typically throughout history if something has been genuinely legitimate along this kind of nature, it’s usually not acknowledged on television, to such in-depth detail.

Usually if something genuinely controversial happens, then suddenly it’s an injury angle, or the offender was assaulted off-camera, leading to them having been rushed to the local hospital, or some kind of hokey excuse to justify why someone isn’t showing.  The WWE acknowledging and naming Sasha Banks and Naomi and the specific things they did, doesn’t exactly sound the alarm of legitimate controversy, but more like an elaborate storyline is being executed instead.

Furthermore, it sets up some future storytelling opportunities, like Naomi having an excuse to break away from the tag team scene to where she can ultimately join the Samoan Bloodline group, since she’s the real-life wife to Jimmy Uso, and would make an excellent addition to the team and give them a designated female member to start collecting women’s titles.  But instead of a vanilla breakup storyline with Sasha Banks, she can instead vanish from television outright, before being unveiled at a later date, when people might actually have begun to believe she was indefinitely removed from the company.

For Sasha Banks however, I’m not really sure how this benefits her, other than the fact that it gets her out of tag team purgatory and capable of vying for a women’s championship sooner rather than later, without having to eat a loss in order to drop the tag titles.

And frankly, it’s only because Sasha Banks is involved in this at all, is the only think that clouds up the waters that it might not be a work, even though I maintain that it is, solely because of the fact that Sasha Banks has already walked out on the company before, and if the reported reasons for this one are true, then it’s basically history repeating itself, and she probably just needs a minute to chill and come back to earth before ultimately coming back from yet another self-centered hiatus.

The thing is though, if this isn’t a work, then I have to think that Sasha Banks is kind of screwed.  Her wrestling career won’t be over, because she can always jump to AEW, and there’s no doubt the WWE would bring her back, because I’ve always said that Vince McMahon would hire the murderer of his wife if he thought there was money to be made with them, and Sasha Banks would be no exception.

The difference would more likely be the reception she gets from her peers in the industry, because if legitimate, this would be the second time that Sasha has walked out on the company because more or less, she didn’t want to eat a shit sandwich of not being in a prominent, championship-caliber program for a few minutes.  The problem is, there is nobody in the entire history of the industry where a shit sandwich or fifty were not on their menu at varying points in their careers, and I’d guess that her peers would be less than enthused with her sense of entitlement and unwillingness to go through the grind as everyone has to in their careers. 

In wrestling speak, if this is a legitimate situation, then there’s bound to be a lot of the mythical, heat, on both of them, but more on Sasha Banks.  It might not sound like such a big deal, but heat has been known to have derailed even the most promising of careers throughout the history of the business.

By now, I’ve heard all sorts of arguments from the endless rabbling scuttlebutt of the internet community, as well as random discussions with my circle of bros that I like to bullshit about wrestling with.  Real or not, it’s good that the perception is that both Sasha and Naomi both know their worth, which makes flexing on the company remotely possible, but when the day is over, if this really isn’t a work, then Naomi is probably more critical to retain than Sasha is. 

Being an Anoa’I by law as well as a good worker means she has influential backing within the company as well as a role in a storyline that will eventually require her.  But as for Sasha, as much of a fan of the worker I am, if this is legitimate, then I kind of lose some respect for her, because I’m feeling like she thinks she’s a little too good for the business to not solely be in championship storylines. 

Sasha might know her worth, but it’s not like she isn’t still ultimately replaceable; Charlotte and Becky Lynch are still the faces of the women’s division.  Bianca Bel Air is the present and future.   Bayley, Asuka and Rhea Ripley are strong workers, Alexa Bliss is still wildly popular, and there’s a ton of women’s talent out there that could be poached or developed, and no one talent will ever be bigger than the industry.

The bottom line is that I still think this is a work, and it’s only a matter of time in which both of them come back, with Naomi joining the Bloodline, and Sasha probably being a masked assailant of Ronda Rousey or something, after she decimates the division because she’ll seemingly always booked to the moon.  But if it isn’t a work, then this’ll probably be the beginning of the end for Sasha Banks, and hopefully Mercedes Varnado has made enough friends or can get hooked up through Snoop Dogg, to transition into a performing career.

Dad Brog #087: Don’t look now, my daughter’s a model

Available nationwide: Baby Girls’ Peach Dress with Hat by Carters just one you®, at Target

Just like that, #2 has earned her first real paycheck before hitting ten months old.  High expectation Asian dad is satisfied by this development.

For reals though, I’m over the moon by this, as is mythical wife.  Obviously biased, we’re always going to think that our daughters are the most beautiful children on the planet, but it’s nice and validating to know that corporate America also favors them in the eye test to the degree where they can be legitimate models for baby clothes.

It also helps that Carters corporate is based out of Atlanta, so we residents of the metro area have the luxury of basically getting first dibs at any of the calls they make out for model talent.  And mythical wife, ever the eye for opportunities like this, always threw our kids’ names into the hat, and it just so happens that we finally got one of them into a little bit of national spotlight, with a genuine featuring at Target.

#2 was picked for a camera test, then the subsequent fitting, and then actually picked for formal shooting, and we knew it was only a matter of time before we’d eventually see her out in the wild.  The thing is that they don’t tell you when and if they’re going to use what photos, and companies like Carters and Target hoard assets for years sometimes, so the question was just how soon, if at all, were we going to see our daughter in advertising?

Fortunately, it wasn’t that long, which is what mythical wife was suspecting, since she had a better understanding of what outfit to expect to see, since she was there for the shooting.  And just like that, #2 graces the Target brand, representing their own collaboration with Carters, and people all over can actually see my child on a national level.

And lest I overlook my eldest child, #1 was actually a Carters baby as well during her first year.  Picked for a camera test as well as a fitting, unfortunately she decided to have a meltdown during the fitting, and proceeded no further than that, but for all intents and purposes, she too, was a formally selected Carters baby as well.  And most importantly, she still got a paycheck for her troubles too.

I couldn’t be prouder of both my beautiful kids, and hopefully this won’t be the last time they see the spotlight.  But even if it is, I can still have the privilege to say that my kids have done a little bit of modeling in their lives.

Feebly attempting to play catch up

It’s been a minute since I last took some time to write.  Long past the period of time where I begin to get anxious because I haven’t written anything in a while, and to a point where I start to get dangerously apathetic about doing it at all.  The problem, as I’ve alluded to numerous times is that I’m a peculiar personality that really likes to have so many conditions met before I find it possibly adequate time to write, and pretty much all month, they just haven’t been met.

Most obviously, the time factor.  It’s not like this is going to devolve into an angsty dad brog where I make all sorts of poorly veiled remarks about how hard parenting under my circumstances are, because frankly the girls haven’t really been much of an issue other than the fact that one or both of them seem to pick up some rando sickness every single month this year.  But they’re eating well, sleeping is improving, and those are the key things at this stage of life, and I can’t say that I’m having so many ragey emotions at how overworked I am on account of the difficulty of parenting.

No, it’s just that I haven’t have any adequate time to do any writing.  I get up, feed the girls breakfast, go to work; if I’m at the office, I actually get a good amount of shit done, and I get to hit the gym on most of those days which elevates my feeling of well-being.  Or if I’m working from home, my days kind of wrap up sooner, and regardless of which, I go right into the fires of the chaos of a toddler and infant until it’s dinner time, bath time and then bed time for them.

But by the time they’re down it’s usually 8 pm-ish, and if mythical wife and I haven’t eaten yet, then it’s a mad dash to get something to eat because we’re probably starving and we don’t want to cook and every food option is close to closing since we’re out in the burbs.

Then comes the nightly reset which somehow I’m the only person who does any of it, which takes about another hour or so of cleaning, straightening, cleaning and filling bottles and just getting everything ready to get used up and torn up the next day.

Sometimes I have work I need to catch up on, and on my work-from-home days, I mandate treadmill runs to compensate for not going to a gym, to which yes, is an activity that would classify as a me-activity, but I treat exercise like a job in itself, so often times I don’t want to run, which is exactly why it is that I have to.

And then the clock is at the point where I don’t feel like I have adequate time to write something before I need to get to bed so that I’m not completely dead the following day.  I get angsty about this, and instead of starting and stopping something in text, I usually just end up playing Fire Emblem Heroes on my phone or doing surveys or waiting for the next day’s Wordle to queue up before going to bed feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing for myself.

But TL;DR, I’m finally at a point where I feel the compulsion to write about something, but also feeling like that because I haven’t written anything in so long that this pile of word vomit needed to be stated first before I can actually get to the gradually growing list of topics and things that I’ve earmarked as having to want to write about, and hope I can mentally get back into the right places to where I can.

Otherwise, kids are good, job is going fine, my health has been a bit wonky since I hit 40, and I’m sure I’ll delve into it more in depth if/when things straighten up, but I’m still able to workout and run.  It’s just the same old song and dance, with probably less angst than when my second kid was younger and still working out her sleep issues.  Went to Savannah for a brief spell, for a wedding of a former co-worker, which was quite pleasant, so that’s where the image above comes from, where I sacrificed sleeping in when I could, because I really wanted to jog along River Street while we were staying right on it.  Priorities.