Thoughts on The Walking Dead “Finale”

Although I can’t promise that what words come from my fingers in ensuing paragraphs might not be blatant spoilers, don’t read too much into the quotation marks in the title.  S11E24 of The Walking Dead was most definitely the finale to the series, but there’s a lot of nonsense in the final eight minutes of the runtime that very much implies otherwise, and that’s all I’ll say about that, at least not without a tastefully placed cut.

Honestly, leading up to the long-coming series finale, I actually did not have any high expectations that it was going to be any good.  Frankly, I still maintain that the series still peaked with Negan and the Saviors, which I think was season 7 or 8, so that means the last 3-4 seasons have definitely been on a downhill trajectory.

However, all things considered, in spite of the low bar I had set, the final episode was actually better than I had anticipated.  Without giving anything away, the episode resolves the supposed final conflict fairly early on, so the rest of the episode was actually allowed to breathe and methodically wind things down, instead of a mad dash of trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible in a sloppy manner /coughGameo Thrones.

I make the analogy a lot, but The Walking Dead also feels like the Rurouni Kenshin bell curve, where the television series peaked hard with Shishio and the Kyoto arc, but then went downhill until the series was mercifully ended.  TWD’s surprisingly positive finale still doesn’t save it from a similar fate, and much like Breaking Bad ended with generic Jack the White Supremacist when Gus Fring was so good, Pamela Milton and the Commonwealth seems like such a weak antagonist to end with, especially after Negan.

Alright, enough with the eggshells.  Continue reading “Thoughts on The Walking Dead “Finale””

The Qatar World Cup is going to be not great-great

It’s not that I’m an Islamaphobe, it’s just that I happen to disagree with a lot of their cultural customs, and when it comes to things I’m interested in, I tend to be disenchanted with whenever an Islamic country hosts things, but imparts their, what I think are archaic and frighteningly draconian, rules and customs onto them.

I have little interest in whenever the WWE runs events in Saudi Arabia, regardless of the egregious amounts of money that clearly sways them, and I can say that I have fairly similar opinions about the World Cup being held in Qatar, right fucking now, instead of the usual summer in which most World Cups tend to be played.  The difference is, professional wrestling is still fairly niche and there are way less people interested in the industry than they are about futbol, and the whole every-four years aspect about the World Cup makes it harder for me to ignore regardless of my disagreement about Qatar.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a yacht full of money somewhere involved to where FIFA agreed to have it in Qatar, but what has been ironically entertaining is the sheer amount of disdain and expectations of utter failure and ownage that the event as a whole is being scrutinized over, and after day 1 of the World Cup, it appears that the watching world is in for a great ride in the sense that it might just be a brilliant shitshow.

Obviously, Qatar really has no business being in the World Cup, only being allowed to play by virtue of an archaic rule that gives the host nation a spot in a group, and it was no more evident when they became the first host team in World Cup history to ever lose their opening game.  Now I’m not the biggest futbol enthusiast in the world, but I thought there was a constantly missing “in X amount of years” because the World Cup has been going on for a long time, and even if it’s every four years, surely in some point in time a host country had to have lost at some point, especially since the United States hosted in 1994.  But no, it really has been a 92-year streak where the host nation, has never lost their first match; sure, there’ve been some draws, but still no losses.

Until Qatar, who was basically de-pantsed in 15 minutes, allowing Ecuador to score twice, and basically never challenge them for the remaining 80 minutes of the game.  Every opinion that Qatar didn’t belong was validated, and frankly, I’m looking forward to their next two matches, and hoping they don’t score a single fucking goal, which is a very viable possibility.  They may never even have a single target shot on goal.

Amusingly, it seemed like the refs might actually be as unimpressed and disenchanted with being in Qatar as most peoples’ opinions are; I figured they would have all been bought off, like most host nations tend to do with the refs, and Qatar was going to win the match.  But be it Qatar’s lack of skill, the refs ambivalence of being there, or whatever circumstance, Qatar players were getting nailed with fouls and yellow cards at an alarming clip, and I before I sat down to start watching, I knew the narrative already.

But the best part was undoubtedly the seas of empty seats throughout the arena, and the cameras catching locals leaving the game while it was still going on.  Much has been made about, how being in an Islamic country means no alcohol at the stadium (unless you’re a VIP in a VIP lounge apparently), as well as the reported attempts to basically buy influencers to pretend like they were having a great time, but once the matches begin, Qatar gon’ Qatar, and fans who can’t have a good time are going to bounce, and clearly Qatari fans are pretty fairweather, and don’t want to stick around if their team is getting trounced.

Either way, it’s only been a single day, but I have to say that the Qatar World Cup has delivered on its fuck-uppery in an entertaining way so far, and I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what ironic bullshit is going to emerge in the coming weeks of play.  Also, I’m looking forward to being able to make the obvious dad joke on Thanksgiving about how I’m going to watch futbol instead of football americano, because again, of Qatar’s bullshit demands, we have World Cup over Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving Day just so happens to be the day in which Korea has their first match where they’ll probably get trounced by Uruguay but I’m obviously still going to watch because O Pilsung Corea motherfuckers

Trails, Green Ranger

That was unexpected: Jason David Frank, most famously known as the Green Ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, found dead at the age of 49, as a result of suicide

The reason why I don’t bid happy trails to JDF is that in a nutshell, I don’t really respect suicide, especially of those that have some degree of celebrity.  Reasons may vary, but it really boils down to the unrelatable, how can your life be so hard if you’re famous opinion that I have.  And considering just how many outlets and the fact that TMZ has picked it up, JDF was clearly famous enough to be put into that category in my mind.

Supposedly, from what I can put together with as limited effort I want to put into it, JDF cheated on his wife at some point, was caught, and his wife initiated a divorce.  Presumably, JDF can’t take the heat of divorce, and offs himself; in spite of the fact that suicide is about one of the worst possible things anyone who claims to be all pious and Christian could do, and let us not forget that JDF had or endorsed some company/motto of Jesus Didn’t Tap, to where he even had it tattooed onto his body.

Some belief in Christianity there, eh Tommy?

The worst part of this to me, is the fact that his wife, who by all intents and purposes didn’t do anything wrong in this whole saga, is going to be eating the brunt of the heat from the fallout of all this, because the narrative is going to see her actions as being the catalyst for JDF’s demise, and she doesn’t deserve that.  But be it through her own self-torment, or the rage of the internet, she’s undoubtedly going to be having fingers pointed at her regardless.

But before I really dig myself into a hole of speaking ill of the dead, I have to say that this whole shitshow triggered a brog post, because it spoke to my nostalgia, it spoke to my fandoms, and regardless of what path he headed down after I grew out of it and he moved on from Power Rangers, I was a fan of JDF at some point.

I remember seeing a teaser on FOX Kids about how A NEW Ranger was going to be introduced and he was green, and I have vivid memory of seeing the exact scene in the above gif, and being immediately sucked in that they were introducing someone who was to be the combat equal to fucking Jason, which seemed pretty inconceivable to my fifth grade brain.

And then, they introduced DragonZord as the zord that he would get, and I was all in to being all about the Green Ranger.  For years afterward, even when it was really not cool to be into Power Rangers at the age I was at, I still fanboyed over it, and as I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, it was some of my life’s ambitions to try and get my very own Zord toys, which took like nearly 20 years later before I actually did.

But man, was I fan of Tommy, and his journey of turning face as the Green Ranger, before Rita and Lord Zedd made a Terminator-like mission to end him.  And then Zordon christening him as the White Ranger, which was pretty cool because Saba bogarted all the other ThunderZords which let the Red Dragonzord fight in its own battle mode which I always preferred.

Needless to say, in spite of how much I had to hide it as a kid, Power Rangers was a notable blip in my childhood, and JDF as Tommy did have something to do with it.  Seeing him kick the bucket, even if it was in the deplorable suicidal manner, is still like seeing a piece of my childhood getting a spinning jump back kick to the face, and that is always sad.

I will never not enjoy seeing Tennessee lose

ICYMI: South Carolina defeats #5 Tennessee, 63-38

Man, this game is proof of the power of sports.  I had a pretty rough day, having to be on double duty all morning with the kids, and while they were down for their afternoon nap, I took my wife to the airport, and got obliterated on the way home in traffic, enraging me to thinking Thanos had a good idea, and how lucky the 2% of people who vanished in The Leftovers must’ve been to have been on a version of Earth without 98% of the population.

All I wanted was for the kids to go to sleep without too much warfare, and perhaps have a quiet evening where I could veg out and watch more television from my listed queue.  Instead, I caught wind that unranked South Carolina had hung 21 points on overrated #5 Tennessee, and I was like hmmmmmm and decided to watch, and hope for the upset; seeing as how my interest in South Carolina is merely in-law, but an opportunity to see Tennessee lose made it feel like it was kind of a no-lose situation for me.

Three hours later, my mood is uplifted, and the aggravations of the day earlier are melted away as ESPN cameras begin monitoring the crowding of the students section of Williams-Brice Stadium, after the inevitable upset is complete.

Seeing Tennessee get obliterated, and effectively dashing any remaining hope for playoff contention is the real win here.  Hendon Hooker demonstrated that his mediocre tenure at Virginia Tech was not the fluke, but his performance for Tennessee was, playing way over his head for an equally overrated and ballyhooed program as the Volunteers are in the SEC as Tech often had been in the ACC.  Instead of blowing out the unranked Gamecocks and making a case to leapfrog the Horned Frogs who needed a last-second field goal to beat Baylor, Tennessee will undoubtedly drop out of the top-10 outright and might not even get a New Years Six bowl.

South Carolina winning, and it pleasing my in-laws is merely the cherry on top. 

Spencer Rattler, oft-being labeled a bust after his much-hyped transfer from Oklahoma exploded on Tennessee like Soldier Boy from The Boys, throwing a double hat-trick of touchdowns that even Al Bundy would have to scrunch his eyes and tilt his head over.  If he performs similarly next week and the Gamecocks can upset Clemson, it’ll have to be one of the more legendary finishes to an otherwise adequate season.

But what a game though, really.  Who doesn’t love a good upset, regardless of the loose skin I might’ve had in the game?  Sure, I don’t like Tennessee and I am not a fan of turncoat Hendon Hooker.  But my in-laws are all South Carolina fans, and I like Shane Beamer being the son of Frank Beamer, and it was a treat to see that ol’ Frank was there to revel in this win. 

Speaking of Frank, it was also nice to see that Virginia Tech didn’t lose eight in a row.  Hard to believe a win against Liberty would be considered such a massive upset, but it also equalizes when they upset the Hokies in Blacksburg just a few years ago.

It was touching to see that both teams, and as I realized, all across the CFB landscape were wearing UVA stickers on their helmets to show solidarity and honor the victims of the senseless deaths and gun violence from earlier in the week.  Regardless of my personal team allegiances, nobody ever likes to hear of anything like that, and it seems pretty unprecedented that it hit multiple, active, student-athletes, whom people literally saw on television just days prior.

All in all though, this was a good example of just how effective sports can be, at being able to make a difference in the lives of people.  For me, it was a great catalyst to improve my day, for some, it’s a reminder of strength, solidarity and mourning, and for many in South Carolina, this is probably one of the better days of peoples’ lives.  Yeaahhhh sportsball

And as the subject says, I will never not enjoy seeing Tennessee lose.  Even when they’re back to being the middle-of-the-pack SEC East program they are, or when they’re having shitty years, but it’s even better when they’re completely overrated, and brought back crashing to reality.

Happy trails, Batman

This one really hurts: Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman the Animated Series, passes away at the age of 66

I remember I was in the fifth grade when Batman the Animated Series debuted on FOX Kids. It was slotted at 4:30 after Tiny Toons and Animaniacs.  I was dubious about how good it could be, considering it was intended to be a kid-friendly cartoon, and to that point I was already aware that Batman comics were pretty heavy-handed, gritty and violent.

Despite my skepticism, before I knew it, I was hooked on the show, and I was amazed at how the show reimagined the entire property to be kid-friendly but still tell great stories and implement all sorts of Batman expanse and really open my horizons to more characters, villains and arcs.  Without the show, I never would have become as big of a fan of Batman in general.

Before I can go off in the wrong direction with this, it all really started with Kevin Conroy’s performance as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.  Unlike the Adam Wests and Michael Keatons who  portrayed live-speaking Batmans before the cartoon, Conroy transforming his voice to adeptly transition between the two personas really raised the bar of what the character should have always been portrayed like.

It only happened a few times in the life of the show, but I always got a tremendous kick out of whenever Batman in full Batman gear, would use the Bruce Wayne voice, usually over the speaker phone in the Batcave.  And his eyes were always animated more happy and not the angry stern look that Batman typically has, and once the phone calls were terminated, we’d immediately be back to the cold and calculated Batman voice before the episode resumed.

The point of all this is that as far as I’m concerned, Kevin Conroy is to me, truly the one and only Batman, as I am sure he is to all sorts of Batman fans out there that share my sensibilities.  His passing is one that genuinely hurts and really does take chunks of our collective childhoods with him into the grave, because he really was one of the actual voices of my generation’s childhoods.

On a personal level, Kevin Conroy’s passing truly is up there with Sonny Chiba and Bobby Heenan for me. His portrayal of Batman really was one of those things that helped raise and shape me, and there’s a very clear reason why he was always tapped to reprise the role for all sorts of shows and video games, long after the Animated Series had ended its original run.

So happy trails, Mr. Conroy.  You will forever be remembered as the official voice of Batman, and although comics live forever, the world is a poorer place without your talents and legacy.

WTF is AEW doing #192

There are a lot of times I find out of what’s going on in wrestling solely based on one of my close friends sending me a random text message commentating on something that he’s watching live and I’m not.  Just the other day, he sends me a message saying:

We’re going to see if we’re right about Jeff Jarrett being a company killer

I laughed because of the time of day it was and that it was on a Wednesday, I knew that Jeff Jarrett had finally decided to become hashtagALLELITE and that he had shown up on AEW.  The real question was who he bashed his balsa wood fake guitar on, because Jeff Jarrett literally does nothing other than that spot.

A quick Google search confirmed that Jeff Jarrett was definitely ALLELITE and had done so by bashing his balsa wood fake guitar over Darby Allin, which I probably could’ve guessed in maybe three or four tries, because for some reason, Darby Allin seems to be completely okay with being a gatekeeper for the company in which all incoming talent seems to gravitate towards, and usually beats the unholy shit out of him at some point.

Regardless, let’s get back to Jeff Jarrett, and the claim that he’s a company killer.  After all, the Jarrett family is somewhat low country wrestling royalty in the regard that they’ve been running promotions for generations now, but Jeff himself has been varying degrees of involved with primarily TNA which is now Impact! Wrestling, but also the NWA, Global Force, GCW and even with some appearances with New Japan.  At no point in his involvement with any of these promotions did they ever really light the world on fire, and only in his time with TNA was Jeff himself remotely close to being anything of a superstar in the industry.

The reputation comes from the fact that none of these promotions ever really benefit from the addition of Jeff Jarrett, feeding the narratives that the WWE put onto him that he was never really more than a mid-card ceiling kind of guy.  Furthermore, Jeff Jarrett has been around long enough, to where he’s gotten to be involved with various factions and trends throughout the years, but again, not in a particularly good way.

I ilke to describe Jeff Jarrett as kind of wrestling’s version of the Family Guy joke killer meme, where once Family Guy makes a reference to something popular, that thing is immediately uncool and dead in the water right then and there.  Jeff Jarrett had the misfortune of being added to the nWo 2000 stable during his time in WCW which lasted all of like a month; it’s easy to say it’s because WCW couldn’t book a fish into water, or that Bret Hart’s career was already over, but let’s be real, it was because it was Jeff Jarrett was a member.

Nearly 15 years later, after Jarrett had lost TNA and was spinning his wheels with Global Force, during a show in partnership with New Japan, Jeff Jarrett shocks (read: surprises nobody) when he brandishes a balsa wood fake guitar with the Bullet Club logo on it and bashes it over Hiroshi Tanahashi, effectively joining the evil gaijin stable.  Needless to say, all the coolness of Bullet Club flew out the window faster than the hopes and dreams of everyone trying to win Powerball, and the stable hasn’t recovered since.

Earlier this year, Jeff Jarrett has been clawing at relevancy in any way shape or form, derailing promotions left and right.  For all the exposure and life Matt Cardona had injected into GCW, all it took was Jeff Jarrett appearing on their THE WRLD ppv, where he buried Effy, and GCW hasn’t recovered since.  Jeff Jarrett was Ric Flair’s LAST MATCH EVERRRR, and it’s almost like the marks who put the show together were trying to hedge their bets by preemptively calling their Jim Crockett Promotions show a one-time deal, but it’s really like they’re restauranteurs who already saw the writing on the wall when working with Double-J and didn’t bother promoting anything beyond the single show, if it meant being associated with him.

Even the WWE wasn’t safe from the stink of Jeff Jarrett, as he was brought in for some reason to be a special referee for the feud between the Usos and Street Profits, and not long afterward, the Vince McMahon scandal blew up, and of all the people and shots that have been fired at him throughout the decades, really all it took was having to work with Jeff Jarrett that seems to have effectively killed such an unkillable career.

So, hopefully Tony Khan knows what he’s doing in getting into bed with Jeff Jarrett, because as history has proven throughout the millennium, doing business with Jeff Jarrett has often come with some seriously bad consequences.

WTF is AEW doing #169

He’s got a point you know: Dax Harwood, one half of the current ROH, AAA and IWGP tag team champions, FTR, gets on a mic (at a NJPW show) and reminds AEW owner Tony Khan that they still work for him, and that they should be booked, brother

The takeaway I get from this story is that Tony Khan literally has no ability to book a wrestler beyond the thrill of the chase.  FTR is one of numerous examples in AEW’s short history, where talent is in pursuit of some form of greatness, be it a feud, one championship, or multiple championships, and eventually they achieve it, but then absolutely dick or butt happens with them after the payoff, and it’s a matter of time before they’re basically on Dark: Elevation, or like in the case of FTR, forced to rely on other promotions to actually get any screen time.

If the way Tony Khan books AEW is any indication, any person who has the courage to become involved with TK, I feel bad for them, because he will undoubtedly wine and dine, woo and pursue for a year, and have probably the biggest rager of a wedding ceremony there possibly could be – but then he will absolutely and completely forget about his spouse in a week. 

Hangman Adam Page’s pursuit of the AEW world championship was a fantastic ride, but once he actually made it to the top of the mountain and dethroned Kenny Omega, TK literally had no idea on the planet what to do with him, eventually feeding him to CM Punk, unceremoniously at that.  Wardlow’s journey to be freed from under MJF’s employ was one that was pretty decent and allowed Wardlow to really show his in-ring talents, but after he squashed MJF, TK has no idea what to do with him either, other than having him squash Scorpio Sky and taking the TNT title from him, barely after he had won it, and now Wardlow is completely directionless, picking random fights of the week, solely because he has the network blet.

The All-Atlantic championship had more qualifying and tournament matches to crown its first holder, than the title has actually had television time with PAC, whose duties are split, because he’s also a third of the Trios champions, whom hasn’t seemed to have had any screen time in their own right since winning the supposedly coveted championship.

I mean, with 15-17 championships currently circulating within the company and only three hours of network television time a week, it’s no surprise that they’re having a hard time getting all these supposed commodities some screen time, but at this point it’s more humorous than anything at how goofy the booking of AEW is, in spite of all of the actual talent they really do have on their roster of like 150.

And it really doesn’t matter how good or accomplished the talent is; Hangman was a world champion and FTR literally is holding three tag team championships at the same time.  Once TK has booked the thrill of the chase narrative out of a guy(s), he simply has no idea what to do once it’s over, and unfortunately the default reaction appears to be neglect. 

At least let FTR win the AEW tag blets again, and be quadruple champions before they’re eventually booked to start dropping the titles back to their respective home promotions, because it would be pretty baller to see two guys lugging around eight blets.