Wrestlemania 36: Night One Review

Wrestlemania 36. 18 matches. 2 nights.

“Too big for just one night”…jesus…I can’t wait to hear that 4.6 million times for all of its forthcoming iterations. But yes, the controversial show, that’s go-ahead teetered and tottered until the final few days due to the coronavirus pandemic, happened. So I shall quickly ransack my way through the first night.

All matches were pre-taped, so Wrestlemania wasn’t live, and it was filmed in the WWE Performance Centre with no crowd.

*All matches rated out of 5-stars.

(Pre-Show) Match 1- Cesaro defeated Drew Gulak

A short and sweet affair between two technically gifted athletes. But considering the pre-show was an hour, and this was the only match for night one’s precursor, I will bemoan the fact it was given under 5 minutes. Fun for what it was.

** and a half stars.

Match 2- Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defeated Asuka and Kairi Sane for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

A match that I don’t think many people would’ve been heavily invested in, but was given plenty of time and all four women put in a great amount of effort for the official night one opener. It was a great contest and was a surprisingly entertaining affair to open proceedings. Also, I’m so sad that a pirate-themed Wrestlemania happened and Kairi Sane didn’t get to appear on a pirate ship…

***

Match 3- Elias defeated King Corbin

Elias was so over when I went to Wrestlemania 34 it was untrue, it’s a shame to see how little he’s progressed, if not regressed. As for Corbin, he’s just boring isn’t he? The big angle coming into this match was the attempted murder of Elias barely two weeks prior via Corbin knocking him off of a huge platform to a concrete floor. Elias not only turned up for his match, his Superman-esque metabolism meant he displayed next-to-no injuries from the fall. It was a basic TV match with a roll-up finish. Yawn.

* and a half.

Match 4- Becky Lynch retained the WWE Raw Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler

Becky has been champion for a year, and her momentum has long since faded. Baszler is a beast. A legitimate beast. She should’ve won here, but I digress. I was frustrated that this went under 10 minutes as the work was really solid. But a cheap, roll-up kind of win for Becky keeps the belt on her and hands Baszler her first main roster defeat. Hopefully the rematch gets longer and the right outcome.

***

Match 5- Sami Zayn w/ Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura retained the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Daniel Bryan w/Drew Gulak

WHAT a disappointment. El Generico vs Bryan Danielson, at Wrestlemania, for the IC Title. Just give them 20 minutes, hell, give them 15 minutes to captivate us with a professional wrestling masterclass. But nope. Our worst fears came true and shenanigans dominated most of the match. This is why we should never get our hopes up.

**

Match 6- John Morrison retained the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships against Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso in a Triple Threat Ladder Match

Three men, competing for tag titles. We’ll let the WWE off because they’ve had to deal with a myriad of exceptional circumstances for this show.

As for the match itself, what else can I say? Bravo gentlemen. Some of the spots in this match were outrageous and unbelievably dangerous. Even with the occasional edit and piercing sound of ladders due to no crowd, this was so much fun. An absolute must-see spectacle.

P.S WWE, John Morrison is exceptional. Please give him a singles run in the future, the man is so talented.

**** and a half stars.

Bonus Match – Mojo Rawley defeated R-Truth for the WWE 24/7 Title

This title hasn’t been relevant in a long time. It served to give our Wrestlemania host Gronk (former NFL player, Rob Gronkowski) some rare TV time and set-up a segment for night two. Next.

N/A

Match 7- Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins

A great backstory coming into this one and the narrative was done justice. The Monday Night Messiah wanted to prove he was a god, Owens wanted to shut him the hell up. They really beat the hell out of each other and a live crowd would’ve eaten this up…until the sudden DQ finish by Rollins. He struck Kevin in the face with the ring bell and I was furious…

…Until Owens suddenly took over booking duties and restarted the match as a No DQ Match. This worked well, and then Kevin Owens got his Wrestlemania moment by probably becoming the only man till the end of time to leap off of the Wrestlemania sign, onto Rollins.

If they’d have just gone with the No DQ stipulation straightaway, this would’ve been even greater.

****

Match 8- Braun Strowman defeated Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship

First of all, I absolutely have to point out that Strowman WASN’T EVEN BOOKED FOR WRESTLEMANIA. 18 matches, no room for the Monster Among Men.

Secondly, not telling the audience why Roman Reigns was mysteriously omitted from the match is hilarious. Like, what goes through Vince’s mind? Why does he constantly have to treat his audience like garbage?!

But whatever, the match sucked. It was yet another finisher, spam-fest that we’ve seen a million times now. But the right guy won, regardless of the circumstances – Braun Strowman should be champion. His momentum should’ve been capitalised on 3 years ago, so let’s do so now. Or have him lose to Roman in a month or whatever. Goldberg needs to retire ASAP.

DUD

Match 9- The Undertaker defeated AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match

Now, I’ll keep this brief (as I’m going to write a piece on cinematic wrestling), but I loved this to death – ironically.

So entertaining, so captivating, and brilliantly masks the limitations of an ageing Undertaker whilst simultaneously reinventing him. His matches should be like this from now on. He and AJ beat each other up for a solid 20-25 minutes and we saw the following:

Druids, fire/pyro, AJ popping out of a casket, broken shovels, broken windows, blood, broken fences, solid acting/selling, Metallica, teleportation and 3 separate murders.

Even non-wrestling fans should watch this. It’s just entertaining. I’m also all for this new American Phenom persona. I’m also also also intrigued to see how you bring AJ Styles back considering he was quite literally buried alive.

R.I.P AJ Styles

****

Conclusion

This had no right to be as good as it was. WWE PPV’s usually suffer from an overperforming undercard and underperforming main card. The Ladder Match, KO vs Rollins, Strowman getting his moment, and the Boneyard Match was a hot home run.

Even with no crowd, all the performers found a way to overcome this and put on a great show. Clocking in at around 3 hours this was incredibly easy to digest and didn’t drag. Take out Elias/Corbin and add some time to Becky vs Shayna and you seriously have one of the best Wrestlemania shows ever.

– 8 out of 10 –

Check out the review for night two if you haven’t already!

Wrestlemania 36: Night Two Review

We’re back!

Night One was eventful and so eventful that I’m grateful we have a night two to look forward to. Another stacked night of marquee matches beckon, so without further ado, let’s dive straight in!

All matches were pre-taped, so Wrestlemania wasn’t live, and it was filmed in the WWE Performance Centre with no crowd.

*All matches rated out of 5-stars.

(Pre-Show) Match 1- Liv Morgan defeated Natalya

Not much to say here, Liv Morgan hasn’t done much since her 15 seconds of fame against Lana on her return. Natalya is a veteran and they both put on a decent match that can hopefully kick-start something for Liv Morgan.

** and a half stars

Match 2- Charlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship

This was one of the matches I was chomping at the bit to see, my excitement was with reward with the greatest women’s match ever seen at Wrestlemania.

This was back and forth duel between two excellent wrestlers. It was hard-hitting, almost stiff, there were big moves, outside brawling and close near-falls galore.

In the end, my prediction won. I would truly have loved Rhea to win, but the NXT vs AEW war is a big problem for the WWE. They’re not just getting beat every week, they’re being trounced in the ratings. Charlotte is the greatest female competitor I’ve ever seen (my opinion) and will draw additional numbers, so it’s the right call.

A Wrestlemania Classic.

**** and a half stars

Match 3- Aleister Black defeated Bobby Lashley

Another match added to the card with no build as far as I’m aware, but it was surprisingly enjoyable nevertheless. Just hard-hitting again. They were certainly given enough time and they made the most of it.

The only question was always going to be, how much influence will Lana have? In the end – a lot. She basically cost Lashley who got the Black Mass into obscurity.

Aleister needs to be pushed up the card. Bobby should already eb at the top of the card…but now he can probably enjoy the end of a faux marriage.

***

Match 4- Otis defeated Dolph Ziggler w/ Sonya Deville

Undisputedly the best booked match of Wrestlemania. This sleeper story has rivalled some of the best told tales. Anything other than an Otis win would’ve soured Wrestlemania. To not only win, but get the girl as well; that’s just a happy ending all-around.

The work was solid enough, but the story is what people cared about.

** and a half stars

Match 5- Edge defeated Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match

Quite simply, I didn’t enjoy this at all.

I love gimmick matches, especially of the violent variety; but the only thing that could match the pace of this slog was a tortoise, a dead one at that.

It clocked in at around 37 minutes…I mean, what actually happened in that time? Two quick RKOs, a couple of gym spots, Edge busting out his best Spider-Man impression, a DDT on a car, Edge’s flying elbow and the inevitable con-chair-to? This badly needed 15-20 minutes cutting out in the edit.

This was the most personal feud heading into Mania, combined with Edge’s first 1-on-1 match in nine years. Where was the trash-talking? It was just two guys taking a worldwide audience on an all-inclusive excursion of the Performance Centre.

Edge’s acting and selling of the encounter bumps the rating up a bit.

* and a half stars

Match 6- The Street Profits retained the WWE Rag Tag Team Championships against Angel Garza and Austin Theory w/ Zelina Vega

Nothing to shout home about here. I guess it was just supposed to be a cooldown match after the Last Man Standing (Forever) Match. I actually enjoyed it more, which saddens me to say. It was another basic TV tag match with the plus point that Montez Ford didn’t do the pancake splat to the outside again like he did on RAW.

Also, Bianca Belair debuted. Something I’m a huge fan of because I’m a fan of hers. If you need evidence of how good she is, and how highly WWE think of her, go and check-out her Royal Rumble 2020 performance.

** and a half stars

Match 7- Gronk defeated Mojo Rawley for the WWE 24/7 Title

I don’t care. Gronk off.

N/A

Match 8- Bayley retained the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans, Naomi, Sasha Banks and Tamina

A more than serviceable showing from all five women here and it was fuelled by the will she/won’t she Sasha Banks angle. Will we finally get the Bayley vs Sasha feud we’ve been begging for for about four or five years now? Bayley retaining also makes sense.

Nevertheless, the action was solid and could’ve done with five minutes or so being shaved off.

***

Match 9- Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena in a Firefly Fun House Match

The word match, is being used in its loosest possible way here. There was precisely 15-30 seconds of wrestling on display here. It’s inevitable that echoes of the cinematic Boneyard Match from the previous night would be used for comparison, so once again, I’ll keep it short.

This contained much fewer professional wrestling tropes, and was more a introspective dissection of John Cena’s career; for better or worse.

Words cannot describe how much I revelled in its insanity. Creatively speaking it’s a masterpiece and an artistic triumph. The foreshadowing, the callbacks, the references, the easter eggs, the insinuations etc. I could not take my eyes off of it. To casual viewers it might’ve come across as a twisted, complex labyrinth of nonsense; to nerds like me, I loved it.

Also, John Cena has either been murdered or is trapped inside Bray’s Fun House. So we’ll make that casualty number four for Wrestlemania.

Entertainment value: ****

Match 10- Drew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman for the WWE Championship

The other world title match, AND it was pretty much the same kind of awful, laboured, repetitive match that so many world title matches have suffered from in the last four years (ARTICLE ON THE WAY ABOUT THIS).

A few F-5’s, Drew kicks out. A few Claymore Kicks, Brock doesn’t kick-out. Drew wins. Yay.

Let’s focus on the key thing here, it may have taken eleven years…but The Chosen One has finally won the big one. The first ever person from the UK to win a WWE World Title, and richly deserved. Drew McIntyre looks like Hercules, he commands a microphone and demands your presence. He is the prototypical WWE superstar and hopefully should be one of the best world champions in years.

Match sucked.

*

Conclusion

Ohhhh I so wanted this to be as good as last night, but it didn’t quite live up to the high standards of night one. We started off very strongly, but it went downhill from there. There wasn’t anything Elias vs Corbin bad, but there wasn’t enough quality to maintain the bar set from last nights success.

Two of the marquee matches for this show earned a collective two and a half stars between them. Edge and Orton just didn’t work and Lesnar/McIntyre could’ve been a brutal, physical fight only worthy of a Colosseum.

– 6 out of 10 –

Overall Conclusion

Despite the scrutiny, the opposition, the pandemic, and the race against time to tape all the matches, WWE pulled a rabbit out of the hat. The two-night format made Wrestlemania a lot more enjoyable and there were plenty of top matches over the two nights; some of which have been inches away from a ***** rating.

Given everything going on in the world, thank you WWE for a fun two nights.

– 7 out of 10 –

Check out the review for night one if you haven’t already!

Resident Evil 3: Remake Review – Some Glaring Oversights Are This Game’s Real Nemesis

By Kain Hunter

Just over a year after the release of the much anticipated, and brilliant, Resident Evil 2, the Resident Evil 3 Remake has dropped.

I have been eagerly awaiting its release ever since I completed my playthrough of the remake of Capcom’s second game, in their now 23 year old franchise, and was quite literally jumping up and down on the spot when I saw the beautiful green button on my steam browser allowing me to download and play the newest remake.

Upon opening the game, you’re treated to a live-action opening showing the sheer scale of the effect of the T-Virus on Raccoon City. It really hypes the player up for the forthcoming pandemonium on the streets and it really giving you an idea on just how things have gone downhill since the ‘Mansion Incident’ of the first game.

RE3 jill

After the brief opening to the game, the player wakes up inside of Jill Valentine’s apartment with a very filmic, noire filter displayed over the first person camera perspective. Slowly making your way over to the bathroom, you come to realise Jill has been racking up a couple of extra dollars to her water bill by leaving her tap on.

Once interacting with said tap, a short sequence plays with Jill mutating into one of the undead monsters. Upon realising the horror that is facing back at her in the mirror, she reaches for her gun, rests the cold barrel to her temple and pulls the trigger…

…And then the game starts.

Yes that’s right, the previous scene was just a dream sequence and offers some great insight into how hard Jill is finding it to deal with the demons of her recent past. It also plants the seeds into the player’s mind that she might be infected too.

It’s a very strong opening to the game no doubt, and I will refrain from spoiling much more of the story as even players of the original will be unfamiliar with some parts of the story to this game – which is sadly one of the big problems I have with this game.

By no means is Resident Evil 3 a bad game. No, in fact it’s a fantastic game. But it does have one or two glaring issues and problems that I just cannot overlook. Maybe because the original Resident Evil 3 is my favourite game of all time or maybe because some of the issues I have with the game make it feel as if it was designed with speedrunners in mind.

The game takes roughly four hours to complete if you focus purely on the story, and a further five to six hours if you also want to go full Indiana Jones and explore the game world for goodies. Now that probably sounds short, because it is, but Resident Evil games have never been sixty hour epics.

Resi 3 graphics

The shortness of the game isn’t what bothers me however, it’s the fact that the game could’ve taken advantage of the beautiful RE engine to bring back some of the classic and unique locations of the third entry. This would’ve provided some much-needed fan service and could’ve quite easily added a bit more enjoyment and valuable minutes to the game.

Just like Capcom redesigned and re-imagined the iconic Raccoon City Police Department in the Resident Evil 2 remake, they could’ve done just the same with Clock Tower that was a pivotal part of the story in the original Resident Evil 3. Instead, the Clock Tower section is condensed down to a very unsatisfying boss battle with no further exploration of it available.

Along with the Clock Tower section being completely omitted from the remake, fans of the original may have also noticed another section of the game that is completely missing… The Gravedigger Worm.

Now this leads me onto another negative, the sheer lack of variety in the boss battles. Two boss battles with Nemesis are exactly the same, both taking place in a circular arena that requires the player to run circles around the leviathan. If they had just included the gigantic Gravedigger Worm, not only would this have added a bit more playtime to the game, but it would have also introduced a different enemy to fight and altered the dynamic for the better.

Resi 3 Nemesis Action Shot

Just to reiterate, this remake is nowhere near being a terrible game – it is fantastic – it’s just the boss battles I have mentioned are like a budget and much easier version of a boss battle that you would see in the Dark Souls franchise.

Also, with Nemesis only really chasing you twice through the downtown Raccoon City sections, it makes the Tyrant from Resident Evil 2 feel more worthy of the “Pursuer” title.

However, this game does shine for the most part, having solid gameplay and no glitches through the five playthroughs I have done of the game. Its gunplay mechanics have been overhauled from its predecessor by introducing a quickstep mechanic. If pulled off perfectly, it allows the player to channel their inner Neo (Matrix, duh) and slow down time to score a perfect a shot on the enemy they just evaded.

In addition, the graphics in this game are pure and simply, disgustingly beautiful. They go the extra mile to capture the visceral detail of Raccoon City and underline just how badly the city has been crippled by the virus. Our big teddy bear, Nemesis, looks amazing and he is a much more frightening prospect than his 1999 counterpart.

Resi 3 PS1

We’ve come a long way since 1999…ain’t that right Nemmy? Yes Nemmy…stars.

Also, another area that usurps the original is the Hospital section of the game. Not only is the section much bigger this time around, but it still manages to capture the dark and claustrophobic atmosphere its corridors created back in 1999. Coupled with being chased by a Hunter Alpha and you’ll definitely feel like you need to change your underwear in this section of the game.

Conclusion

Overall the Resident Evil 3 remake is a fantastic game that I believe everyone should play at least once, but don’t go into it thinking that it will be a sixty hour epic because that’s simply not the case. You will find yourself completing it in between 4 to 6 hours on a first time, moderate playthrough. There a couple of key areas in which I believe Capcom did miss the mark, which is disappointing, but as a Resident Evil game standing on its own two feet, it is definitely still a brilliant game.

Maybe Capcom will release some DLC in the future, perhaps with some separate campaigns, adding in those missing areas and even the much loved mercenaries mode.

We live in hope anyway.

– 7 out of 10 –

Easter Exam Getaways With Wave.co

We’ve all been there before haven’t we? The stress of impending exams. The last-minute ruffling of notes, the misplacement of cue cards and the anxiety of wanting to pass your module/course so you can start to build your life.

You just need something to take the edge off, right? Well in steps the hero of the hour, Wave.co.

Wave.co are a company with a brand new campaign aimed at young adults, worried adults I might add, that are in desperate need of a quick-fix to settle themselves before exam week.

Stress exam

If you’ve never been a burrito of stress, have you even lived?

Exam week is generally one sleepless night after another with the temptation to reward yourself with “one last game of FIFA” or “one harmless search for shoes” lasting many hours. All the while you’re being judged and ridiculed by your own textbooks.

So what is Wave.co’s solution? A enjoyable weekend, maybe even longer if you’re crazy enough, during the Easter Break that is friendly on the purse strings and high in fun factor; maybe even sun factor too.

Wave.co are providing cheap holidays, aimed at students, that can erase any lingering fears and doubts for a few days and turn complex equations, economics and psychology jargon into a tasty, ice-cool mojito.

mojito-sun-and-sea

I mean, really, who wouldn’t want this for a few days?

Should you feel guilty you ask? Absolutely not! You’ve probably worked hard all-year, applied yourself and you deserve a break to remind of what you can look forward to when you inevitably pass.

Everyone deserves a holiday and Wave.co are a reputable company with a penchant for providing cheap and affordable holidays for students in need.

So for one week, put down the pen, cast aside the skyscraper of nonsensical notes that are threatening to dictate your life, and get yourself away for a few days in the sun.

Astro Bot VR Review: The MUST-HAVE Title

When I initially heard about this game, my gut reaction was more lukewarm than a forgotten cup of tea. The silly bots had first appeared in Playroom and they were nothing but a cute, throwaway novelty. Not for one second did I think they warranted their own game.

Even when I had an opportunity to play Astro Bot at EGX 2018, I still refrained from sampling the averageness it looked to possess. Then it did indeed hit the market and it earned glowing reviews from all corners.

I wanted a new, top-tier VR title and took a stab in the dark on it. Boy am I glad I did.

From the offset, the premise of the game is made clear. Nasty alien invades, smashes up lord god-tier bot and steals his gadgets. Plot wise, it’s on par with any Mario game. Nasty dinosaur-turtle invades, steals princess and runs off with her. Protagonist has to travel through different worlds to perform a heroic rescue operation.

Astro Bot Controller

Astro Bot operates on the same varied principle. You take our painfully adorable bot, Astro, through 5 different worlds, all populated with different enemies, obstacles, themes and motifs; all the while collecting some fun, distracting collectables.

Each level has 8 different bots for you to rescue and also a well-concealed chameleon somewhere amidst the trials and tribulations of each level. Some levels are breathtaking and it doesn’t take long to realise how much detail has been put into them as you notice additional details in them; despite the fact Astro will never even set foot near them.

There’s no comprising the game’s quality in order to save on space and improve the frame rate etc. In fact, I never had any such issues, never had any calibration issues and the performance was generally smoother than warm butter.

Thanks to the stupendous use of VR here, which is far from a gimmick here, these collectables are actually fun to find. So often in this day and age collectables are just haphazardly thrown into a game with little more than “because we can” behind it. Artificially extending its lifespan and serving next to no purpose.

Astro Bot Baddie

You do need a small quota of the bots in order to progress with the game, but it’s minimal. But you’re depriving yourself of content if you just go for the bare minimum. The bots can be anywhere, you can look over the edge of a cliff and you’ll see one trapped a long way down, you may have to stand up a tad and see the troubled blighter hanging from something. They’re even in places you didn’t know existed, hence the urgency to engage Indiana mode.

It’s testing to find them all, and sometimes it’s even more testing to find the chameleon. It’s virtually invisible, save for its eyes. But once the game recognises that you’re looking at it, it takes a couple of seconds and it becomes your treasure to keep.

It’s also quite important that you keep an eye out for these elusive shape-shifters as each one you find unlocks a challenge level. In addition to the 26 levels, there is also the possibility to do 26 challenge levels too.

You don’t need to do the maths to realise that this is a fully-fledged title stacked to the rafters with content.

The robustness of the game play is so satisfying. Each jump is weighted perfectly allowing for seamless platforming, the necessity to look up high and time your times using depth perception is inventive. The emphasis is most certainly on running and jumping, given how the only controls, apart from the touch pad, you need are X to jump and [] to attack.

Movement is tight, flows so well and I just never got bored. On top of that, every level felt interesting and had its own individual character and flavours.

Astro Bot Brother

For instance, Astro could be assisted by a titan-sized version of a bot to move things for you in one level, another one will see you forging a path through lava; or even using your controller to shine a torch and reveal an obscured path in a spooky-dooky haunted level.

The controller is very much a tool to use as it can be become a rapid fire gun, a water cannon, a grappling hook and even a makeshift shuriken launcher of death.

Each world traditionally ends with a formidable, formulaic boss. It’s in VR where these really shine. One particular foe battles you whilst you’re out in the middle of the sea, and this rather toothy chap looks super-imposing. You can’t help but marvel at the sheer scope of the battle.

Astro Bot Octopus

Sound check. That’s all spot on too? Awesome. The music is never annoying and never gets repetitive. A sign of a good game. It’s solid all-around and a couple of pieces stuck in my head for a while; a forgotten art in modern gaming. It’s not quite Aerith’s theme god bless her soul, but it’s clear that effort was put into it.

Even after completing all the aforementioned levels, I was still found myself amused by the personality of the game and the intricate touches that add to its charm. If you make Astro look up at you then he’ll wave at you. If you’re underwater and Astro gets to close to you, then he’ll squish to your VR mask…and then smile and wave at you.

He’s a walking advert for Madagascar.

Astro Bot Smile and Wave

If all this content wasn’t enough, then you can reap the rewards from your adventuring exploits on an optional ship area. Accessible from the main menu, you’ll be warped into a small room within the ship and be joined by any bots that you’ve rescued. Rescue all 200+ of the little menaces and you can hit them, throw a beach ball for them to chase, hit them, make them jump off a trampoline and even hit them!

Additionally, each level is littered with a pirate’s haul worth of gold and coins that you need to collect. Well, you don’t NEED to collect them, but having them will allow you to have a go at the holy claw machine packing goodies.

Inside this beast is a whole host of collectable balls containing concept designs and statues of enemies, bosses, weapons, locations etc. Even if you’re not entirely fussed about seeing the behind the scenes element, it’s still more stuff to accomplish and the inner-perfectionist in you will make you want to do it. Don’t lie to yourself. You’ll do it.

In Conclusion…

Between the 50+ levels of gameplay, the exquisite game design, the replayability, the sound design and much more; I really don’t see how this is anything but a complete game. Colourful environments, more charm than Robin Williams’ portrayal of the genie and a darn good time.

This is a system seller and proof that VR is more than just shooting galleries and roller coaster rides. Let’s have more of this in the future please.

– 10/10 –

 

WWE Should Fear AEW

**This was written before Double or Nothing.

A typical brash, ill-informed comment from the usual internet wrestling smark surely? However you look at it, I’ve been watching wrestling for over 20 years and I’ve learned a thing or two from my time watching it.

World Wrestling Entertainment is the king. The grand puma. The almighty Zeus that sits his immortal, perky buttocks on top of a fluffy cloud in Olympus pelting lightning bolts at all those who dare try to impose on his superiority.

They’ve absorbed ECW and WCW. They’ve nullified the slight threat that was TNA. Now, they’ll be keeping an eye on the new kid on the block.

Right now, All Elite Wrestling is just simply merchandise. Their first show, Double or Nothing takes place on May 25th in Las Vegas. It will be an historic event. All-In was a dry run, the first real flavour of an independent show being operated on a Hollywood level.

AEW Doulbe or Nothing

Between owner Tony Khan and the endless list of Vice Presidents: Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega; AEW has a well-balanced hierarchy. You have a knowledgeable and successful businessman that has owned sports teams before, so knows about operational costs and the day-to-day running of a company.

Mr Khan is then supported by men who collectively have over 100 years experience in the wrestling industry and have a good idea as to what makes a good wrestling show etc.

Double or Nothing will be a pivotal moment in the company’s standing obviously, but it could be a seminal moment for the future of wrestling. For years people have wanted healthy competition for the WWE, many have tried, generally failed…so what makes AEW so different?

Firstly, AEW will appeal to the typical wrestling fan. It’s going to be narrative-driven and storycentric. Why do I know this? Because they’ve done it before with All-In. For those less-informed, go on YouTube and follow “Being The Elite”. It’s a fantastic YouTube channel chronicling the life of these associated wrestlers, all the while crafting and interweaving story lines into the videos. All-In’s backstories mainly came as a result of the stories they’d created on BTE.

AllIn

AEW can essentially become an extension of the foundation they’ve already built, just appealing to a slightly broader audience. One of the WWE’s many criticisms is that there’s no continuity and no creativity in WWE’s story lines.

It’s another reason I think AEW can be successful. They can be the voice of the people. Any displeasure ever voiced about the WWE can be capitalised on by AEW and used to their advantage.

Do you know something that wrestling fans like watching by the way? I’ll give you 16 and three-fifths guesses. Still not got it?…..

WRESTLING.

Some good honest sweaty graps. This is why we get looked down upon as fans isn’t it…

Anyway! AEW will house some of the finest wrestlers on the planet (including one of the very best in Kenny Omega) and it should hopefully unearth some hidden gems along the way too.

At the end of the day these are wrestlers, not sports entertainers. The wrestling will be at the forefront of the content and the emphasis will need no additional reinforcement; it’s just common sense for AEW.

Expect the fans to be listened, expect AEW bookers not to put themselves over constantly as not to abuse their power *wink wink WWE’s Kratos lookalike*, and they’ll be realistic.

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that we should be realistic. When their inevitable TV becomes a reality and they are broadcasting syndicated TV, they’ll know not to compete directly with the WWE straightaway. That’s a big no-no-Jo-Jo.

Mojo Jojo

If Mojo says no-no then adhere to Jojo and go-go and do your own thing. Don’t monkey around thinking about the competition. I needed an excuse to use Mojo Jojo.

There is room to compete if AEW do it right. At one point, TNA managed to draw 2.2 million people in for an episode of Impact. Whereas last weeks episode of Monday Night Raw drew 2.158 million viewers. At one point in time, TNA would actually have toppled RAW for a week. Obviously there’s a lot of extraneous variables to consider, but the fact is, WWE is in a state of decay.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alfredkonuwa/2019/05/03/wwes-viewership-is-tanking-fast-with-no-signs-of-slowing-down/#7a440f1a7a3f

What does the Fox say? It says “here you go WWE, here’s one billion dollars that you don’t need. Do stoof.” Fox’s obscene deal has given WWE an unbelievable war chest on top of King Midas McMahon’s already substantial gold mine. So they literally can offer their talent even more than they normally would. Why go to the indies when you can be paid half a million a year to wrestle on Main Event every week?

Now the good thing is that AEW does indeed have lots of money to compete if it so desires. Tony Khan is a very rich man and has already provided lots of start-up capital by signing many guys and gals up to juicy contracts that come with health insurance I do believe. So the staying power is there and if people want to go around and break a leg or three, then your bills are covered you psycho.

This is one of many benefits that current WWE talent are eyeing up, in addition to everything else that will come with AEW. It’s no secret that people are eyeing up AEW as a potential destination; the ongoing stories of The Revival and Sasha Banks continue and then you think of all the mid to lower-midcard talent that could seek a career renaissance.

FTR.gif

Zack Ryder, apart from winning the RAW tag titles recently and THAT IC Title win at Wrestlemania 32, he’s a ghost. Someone like Dolph Ziggler could go and be the star he feels he is. Tye Dillinger, Heath Slater, Tyler Breeze, The Ascension. All perfectly good wrestlers that aren’t having their potential utilised.

‘That’s because they suck’. Is it? If that’s the case, then why have WWE kept them around for so long? It’s because they’re good at what they do without having the attitude to demand of the WWE, meaning WWE can keep them toiling away on B-shows earning a good living.

But now, people have a reason to leave. The grave istake that AEW could make is replicating TNA circa 2010, in which they abandon their laurels, disregard their homegrown talent, and seen an influx of disgruntled ex-WWE superstars.

Chris Jericho is most certainly an exception. He’s a worldwide draw, he can still go and has developed himself into pure star power. Having his name on the marquee for AEW is big. Like, Andre The Giant big.

If Chris Jericho is willing to work for AEW, who’s to say any other noteworthy names won’t follow suit.

BUT…

Again…AEW must avoid the key mistakes e.g paying a big sum for a part-timer to steal the spotlight on a regular basis *cough* Bork *cough*.

It’ll be interesting to revisit this in a year’s time. Hopefully Double or Nothing is not what it says on the tin, don’t be one and done. Be the first step on the road to success.

**After the events of Double or Nothing, I firmly believe that AEW can change the landscape of wrestling. It’s an exciting time to be a fan.

– Andy.H. –

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Do We Really Need The PS5?

The year is 2019. Sony has usurped its competition to dominate the console market with a whopping 96.8 million in lifetime sales. By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with its 30 million and quickly rising.

http://www.vgchartz.com/article/436094/switch-vs-ps4-vs-xbox-one-global-lifetime-salesjanuary-2019/

By the end of January 2019, the Xbox One had hit 42 million in sales; with the Nintendo Switch tearing up the ground behind it waiting to swallow its rival whole with over 30 million and counting (and a 4-year head start).

PlayStation’s current consoles may even beat the long-standing dominance of the famed PS2, so it begs the question, is one more addition to the catalogue something we need?

Naturally a new piece of hardware will entice lots of thirsty, early adopters that would buy a wet piece of cardboard with a shoddily drawn Sony log on it. But as for the majority, they will need convincing.

GIMME GIF

I’ve argued before that the leap from PS3 to PS4 wasn’t AS spectacular as previous generation gaps. Technology continues to advance, but a wall will be hit at some point and you can only run with this success for so long before you smash into the wall and rearrange your own face.

Mark Cerny, the Lead System Architect for Sony, revealed all the juicy new details for Sony’s newest toy. The godlike power of their imminent behemoth was revealed.

-A third-generation AMD, Ryzen line chip with 8 cores of new 7nm Zen 2 micro-architecture.

AND

-Top of the line ray tracing for realistic reflections, light rays and advanced lighting models.

I understand that technology as well as geordies understand the idea of wearing layers. It’s essentially jargon for, “our new console is more powerful than the last one”.

Now…I don’t know about you, but my PS4 Pro + 50″ 4K, HDR-enabled TV combination is absolutely stunning. Crisper than a pack of Walkers. So am I really too bothered about an 8K upgrade when that will mean upgrading to an 8K TV?

Furthermore, the human eye has a hard time recognising any discernible difference between 4K and 8K. It’s just science.

Another notable detail revealed about the PS5 is its processing power and in-turn, faster processes for games. For example, Mr Cerny used Spider-Man as a test subject, its PS4 fast travel time took roughly 15 seconds to traverse the map and put you back in control of Spidey. Whereas the new PS5 tested the same thing and it took a whopping 0.8 seconds!

Spider-Man Fast Travel

Yep. Blink and you’ll miss him.

I legitimately had “shock face” upon hearing this statistic. But once I settled down and began to look past the smoke and mirrors in front of me; I realised a couple of things.

Firstly, the reduced time is a positive no doubt, but this is based off last generation software. When new games are being developed that begin to harness and extract all the bits of power they can from the new console, then I start to wonder what the actual fast travel times will then be.

Secondly, and very crucially, a near 15 second reduction in loading times is great; hell, it may expand to even 20-30 seconds for some games, but is an extra £300-400 worth it for a few extra seconds of waiting? I’ll leave that one with your wallet.

Another thought that contravenes the idea of gaming innovation is cloud gaming. Google have just thrown their name into the hat with the recently announced “Google Stadia”. But Sony have already played their cloud gaming service card with “PS Now” and whilst it can be developed and improved on for the PS5, it’s something else that is not exactly a deal clincher.

It’s a testament to hardware developers that they can keep bettering themselves and creating all-powerful processors to gift us these massive, meaty experiences to feast on. Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted, God of War, Assassin’s Creed, some of the most universally revered franchises that even penguins in the Antarctic have played at some point; although you think their webbed feet would favour Spider-Man.

Big, open games brimming with detail. Technical marvels that have flourished on the current gen. But the rise of open world games has arisen as a result of better game engines. As a result developers, bereft of ideas, are looking more towards open-world games as easy cash. However, most of them tend to be big, bold and emptier than my tear ducts after playing the opening to The Last of Us for the millionth time.

PS5

I always love these futuristic, concept designs that people come up with. Wouldn’t mind this to be honest.

I fear mistakes will be repeated on the PS5 with lots of samey, open-world games saturating the market and creativity dwindling more so.

The Nintendo Switch has been a resounding success due to the way in which its changed how you can play games. Handheld. On your TV. That’s why its selling so well.

I’m sure the same will apply to Sony’s competition too. If history is anything to go by, Microsoft will look to reboot franchises and do their best to create some stellar IP’s to compete with Sony’s; with neither really looking to make any substantial footprint on the innovation front.

Will I buy the PS5? Absolutely. I am indeed one of those sorry saps that will gladly queue up for one of the first slices of that moisty, wet cardboard.

But will your Average Joe (in his gymnasium) really want to fork out another few hundred pounds to play the newest FIFA or Call of Duty?

Perhaps Sony will have to avoid a dodgeball and throw a curveball our way.

Maybe like backwards compatibility across ALL previous Sony consoles…?

There’s your next article spoiler …*clicks fingers in Thanos*

– Andy.H. –

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Sony Fanboy Here: You Should Buy a Nintendo Switch

With the exception of a Mega Drive in my early years and several Gameboys (to toast the Elite Four with a high-level Charizard), Andrew has predominantly stuck to the Sony systems.

Once the sacred PS1 entered our domain, a very young Andrew’s eyes had been introduced to this incredible new polygoncentric world of entertainment that seemed too good to be true. The words “Rule number 95 kid, concentrate” became ingrained onto my brain as I mercilessly battered the Hercules demo that came with our first demo disc.

Fast-forward to my mid-20’s and barring a 3DS, I’ve had all the Sony consoles and nothing else.

That is until 2019.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really understood who or what the Nintendo Switch was and what it was capable of. It seemed kind of neat in all honesty. I’d always admired Nintendo’s franchises, yet simultaneously criticised them for being the same thing over and over again.

So, after putting it off for a while, I gave up being patient and got sick of those endless nights salivating over juicy deals. The raw want had consumed me. So I sought out that very piece of hardware and claimed one for myself.

My word, Nintendo have crafted something special. But I think they had to after learning a valuable lesson from the sorry state of affairs that was the Wii U.

Wii U

You did bad.

I was working in Game around the time of the Wii U’s life cycle and I barely remember anyone buying them. The controller design seemed bland, there was a significant lack of software support for the console and it ultimately flopped harder than Willy the whale.

It wasn’t too long before the poor thing was taken off of life support for good and Nintendo was already hard at work trying to rectify their mistakes. The old playbook was quickly dumped into a shredder and its newest creation showed that you CAN teach an old Mario new hat tricks.

Before I proceed any further with this rhetoric, I’ve still got Sony very much coursing through my blood and it will forever remain as my number one. However, I do know some close-minded people exist in this world. I want them to know, it’s actually safe to expand your horizon as you don’t owe loyalty to anyone.

Some people will stubbornly stick to one name, for what?

At heart, I’m a gamer. I love games. Until November 2018, with my 3DS I had never so much as sniffed the cartridge of a Zelda game. Whereas now I’ve experienced the wonders of A Link Between Worlds, Breath of the Wild and the legendary Metacritic deity that is Ocarina of Time.

Nintendo Switch

The pleasure I’ve had with BOTW is indescribable. Factor in Let’s Go Pokemon, Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8, Tetris 99, Mario Party, Bayonetta, Smash Bros. Ultimate etc.

The Switch’s offerings already far exceed the Wii U’s its even re-releasing some of the U titles that would’ve otherwise gone untouched. The crisp graphics, docked or not, are fantastic and its seamless transition from docked to handheld is just magnificent.

So many time I’ve been downstairs, something is on the TV and I’ve been playing handheld. I’ve then vacated the room, gone upstairs with it and docked it to enjoy it to its most powerful version on my TV. Quick. Easy. Simple. Takes but mere seconds.

Nintendo Switch Preview Event

I’ve not even touched on the sophisticated nature of the technology yet either. The Joy-Cons are a quite literal joy. See, that’s why I’m such an advocate for the Switch, its got so many ways of being played and enJOYed.

If you have multiple people round for a chaotic Grand Prix in Mario Kart, you can unclip the two Joy-Cons from the side of the Switch, and then they can then be each used individually as controllers. It’s not fiddly and with the ability to get some sexy Gamecube controllers for the console too, you should never be short of hardware possibilities.

*Disclaimer: blue shells are unavoidable however. #antiblueshellparty

With upcoming games such as Luigi’s Mansion 3, rumoured Metroid games, the newest iteration in the long-running Pokemon franchise and another Zelda game in production, there’s just so much projected longevity in the offing. All of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home or commuting OR whilst you spend a hard-earned break during work.

Whilst I have bemoaned Nintendo’s lack of new IP’s throughout the years, I’ve realised it’s because they don’t need them. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Zelda and Kirby amongst others. They all have franchises WITHIN franchises. Why? Because they do them well. Consistently. Barring the first two or three Zelda games, I think virtually every other game has gone on to garner universal acclaim. Mario Galaxy 1 + 2 are two of the best received games ever; ditto Super Mario Odyssey.

On top of all this, third-party support is very much a thing for the Switch. DOOM, Dark Souls, Mortal Kombat and Crash Bandicoot are big examples of third-party titles on the Switch with many, many more slated for it.

Switch MK 11

The impact of having this gory, fighting game behemoth is huge. It shows that Nintendo aren’t bereft of Adult-themed games. Although I think Bowser would’ve been amazing in this.

My Switch is my second console. All my main and third-party games will be bought for my PS4 Pro. End of story. But is it fair I deprive myself of all these other fun games? Absolutely not.

Now excuse me, I’ve just placed 4th in a game of Tetris 99 and I would very much like to get a win…or should I find that final pesky moon on Mario…hmm…

– Andy.H. –

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PS VR Moss Review – A Couple of Whiskers Away From Being Incredible

In the two years since virtual reality emerged onto the scene in a mist of excitement and anticipation, it’s had plenty of good games to show off this sophisticated technology. However, there’s not too many that have stamped their authority and made their way into the upper echelons of must-have, game of the year contention.

Moss is a game that has all the potential in the world to reach those dizzying heights as it’s a delightful adventure with an endlessly enchanting protagonist.

Our dear mouse, Quill, is living peacefully in her village, until an evil snake by the name of Sarffog, incites chaos and runs amuck. Quill’s uncle is captured and whisked away to a place unknown.

MossBook

This is obviously troubling for our delicate hero who rebels against her uncle’s wishes to remain safe, and goes off in search of her relative. Long story short, that is the story. It never gets any more complicated, and additional exposition is provided in the form of an interactive storybook inside of a spacious cathedral.

The narrative is played out on these pages that can you can turn using your controller. I always appreciate these little niche touches as I feel they enhance your overall experience It differentiates the gameplay from anything else whilst simultaneously engrossing the player.

So off Quill goes on a journey of bravery and self-discovery, with yourself as her loyal overseer to guide her to victory. Quill acknowledges your masked presence, which you can see in the reflection of water around you. It further strengthens the bond that you’ve already created and it’s moulded and shaped as the game progresses.

MossPlayerReflection

So, did you see that ludicrous display last night?

Polyarc’s art design is simply wonderful, from the initial village you start off in to dark, mystical forests and ominous castles later on in the game. It’s one of the better looking VR games I’ve had the chance to play too as it boasts some rather tidy graphics; a benefit of the PS4 pro.

The visual aspect is helped by the structuring of each chapter as the camera is fixed for each ‘segment’ you have to overcome. So upon Quill entering the frame, you are confined to this section of the level until you successfully cross the invisible checkpoint that sets Quill running off to the next section of the chapter.

It allows the game to place a greater emphasis on the obstacles you have to overcome, all the while showing off an impactful back drop e.g a dirty, ugly swamp on the horizon whilst Quill is tackling enemies in front of you.

MossSectionBackdrop

As for the gameplay itself, you’re introduced to the platforming elements step-by-step. Moving, basic jumps, shimmying across a ledge etc. It’s not too long before you’re in your first fight either. The combat is simple enough as there’s no combos or any real depth, it’s simply mashing the square button and occasionally rolling to one side; Dark Souls style.

But that’s not what Moss is trying to achieve here, it doesn’t demand that you learn a whole host of stylish executions, the combat is merely a softer way of portraying conflict. The aim here is trying to boast a lovable character in a curious land. You’ll rarely fail a section in the game as the straightforward combat is something that I don’t believe a fly would have trouble mastering within half an hour.

But this is where the main problem for Moss begins; ironically. Just as you’re starting to get comfortable with Moss, just as you’re arching your recliner back and beginning to tenderly nibble on the succulent, greasy chicken wings by your side, it’s over.  In about 2-3 hours, possibly even less.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a glorified tech demo as that would be doing this game a complete disservice. However, I just couldn’t shake that gut feeling of disappointment when it clicked that I had moved all the cheese. There was nothing more to sample. I thought I was going crackers personally.

Don’t get me wrong, the time we do get is a treat and I enjoyed virtually every second of it, as easy as it was. But from a critical standpoint, the length sadly has to count against it with this being a £20-30 purchase. As I alluded to earlier, the foundation here is rock solid, I just hope the next adventure can be a bit longer than the average feature film.

Throughout the game, the puzzles evolve and lots of it requires precise use of the motion controls to pull objects towards you. Requiring you to rotate contraptions in order for Quill to make inroads.

MossPuzzleDemonstration

Sometimes the gameplay blends puzzles together with enemies and they intertwine to create some slightly more tasking challenges later on, but again, nothing too strenuous.

Another example really of how lacklustre and bare the content is here is that there’s only two different recurring enemy types in the game: a rather harmless bug-type creature with a basic lunge attack, and a variation of this bug that can fire a projectile.

In fairness to the game, it does have some replayability due to its two type of collectibles that are scattered throughout the adventure. Each section tends to have a smattering of classic destructibles e.g barrels. Within these breakables are relic dust, so you’ve got a set amount of that to locate in each chapter.

On the other hand, you’ve got the slightly more obscure scrolls that can easily deceive you. There’s only about 20 or so, but some of them will take a bit more deduction and sleuthing to pinpoint.

An effective, and necessary method to finding some of them, is by cleverly using your environment to your advantage. By that, your first-eye view of each section is just a static frames essentially, but your vantage point is sometimes obscured by a pillar say.

If you lean in slightly, you’ll be able to peer around this obstruction and reveal tucked away secrets or otherwise inaccessible areas. Not only is this a fantastic way to keep you engaged, but a cheeky glance will uncover another opening that was impossible to see from your original position; ergo a secret scroll.

So if you do finish the game and you’re short some relic dust and a couple of sacred scrolls, then you’ve got the added incentive to go back and see what you’ve missed. You also get another chance to see Quill’s sheer delight at finding these collectibles. Cute.

MossRunning

In conclusion…

Moss has an aura about it that is assertive in what it wants to accomplish; establishing a character that you care about and building an intrinsic world that you will have fun in exploring, albeit a fixed one.

There’s no real openness to the game, but there doesn’t need to be. Each section is filled with plenty of depth and layers to make it feel fuller. Quill handles smoothly and the gameplay is generally accessible to all-comers.

The length and general ease of the game does bring this gleeful story down a peg or two, which is a shame as the ideas here are so positive. Plus, with the open-endedness of the ending, it’s very easy to see a more gratifying and expansive sequel in the future.

I wouldn’t even be hesitant in expecting an idealistic follow-up as my brief time with Moss was really that enjoyable, and the flaws aren’t even that substantial.

If we Polyarc can just knuckle down on delivering more content, more enemies, npc’s and taking the platforming to new heights, then maybe potential game of the year status will beckon.

8/10

 

– Andy.H. –

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My Favourite Wrestling Matches of All-Time – The Rock vs Stone Cold – Wrestlemania 17, 2001.

“You’ve got the WWF Title Rock, and I want it.”

No clever titles here for this one. We’re just going to lay the smackdown and get straight to the bottom line of this one. See what I did there? Hell yeah? Hell yeah? No? You totally did. You didn’t?… IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU DIDN’T!

This will be an easy series to write and one that’s going to be a lot of fun. A self-indulgent, self-righteous look at the professional wrestling encounters that my brain has deemed to be at the apex (predator) of Mount Grapsmore.

Even if you’re a casual fan, chances are that at least one of these masterpieces will hit home with you. Otherwise, I hope this gives you a new match to watch and piledrive into your head.

And I will say this now…any other subsequent entries into this series will not be in any order.

THIS…is the one. This has been my favourite match for the better part of 15 years. Nothing has topped it. It’s possible nothing will. Enough promo work, let’s shoot from the hip and get to work.

The Setting

The Astrodome in Houston, Texas. 67, 000 people. The greatest wrestling PPV ever put on by any company.

A night that had featured…

An emotionally charged father vs son Street Fight.

WM17ShaneC2C.gif

An indescribable, car crash stuntfest in the legendary TLC II match.

WM17TLC2tablesspot.gif

An absolute 5-star, wrestling clinic between Kurt Angle and himself (joke).

WM17AngleBenoit

And two, future, Hall of Famers trying their best to end each other’s career, all across the arena in a battle for the ages.

WM17HHHUndertaker

This night is fondly remembered for a plethora of reasons. But, even if the madness had ended after the first eleven matches, it would still be a contender for best wrestling PPV ever.

Then you had the main event.

Two of the greatest of all-time.

WM17RockAustinStaredown

The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Attitude Era’s two biggest stars, for the WWF Championship.

Before the era of 7-hour Wrestlemania’s that were so bloated, you’d have thought they’d gorged on a 3-course meal of gluttony, greed and a side helping of gluttony, you had a perfect show like this clocking in at less than 4 hours.

The crowd had already been treated to some astonishing entertainment and they were still, fresh off the grill, hot for this sumptuous final match in prospect. It was the main event that everyone wanted, and before Vince’s senility kicked in, he actually used to know what his fans wanted.

The Story

Rocky was the champion, Austin was the plucky challenger; not an underdog by any means. Despite the partisan atmosphere within the venue, this was very much a face vs face scenario in the main event of Wrestlemania. Given how traditional the WWE are with regards to their match psychology, it made for a unique dynamic.

The pre-match package is still the best I’ve ever seen, and it still gives me goosebumps now. Limp Bizkit’s ‘My Way’ was such a fitting song that really narrated the inherent desire of these two men to walk out of Wrestlemania with the most coveted title in all of pro wrestling.

It was that simple. I’m better than you. They fought on RAW and Smackdown in the weeks leading up to it and you just didn’t know which way this was going to go.

The Match

Needless to say, the spine-tingling pop when Disturbed’s awesome version of ‘Glass Shatters’ hits sets the tone from the get-go. Austin fearlessly made his way to the ring. Rock soon followed to a large chorus of boos. He was a face, but this was Texas. Rattlesnake country.

Another modern day trope that this match avoided is the pre-match, in-ring introductions to give it that big fight feel. Literally, Rocky descends from the top rope after doing his signature pose and Austin just blasts him in the face and the bell ring-dings.

This main event, at a fairly hefty 30 minutes, absolutely flies by. Even Sonic The Hedgehog experts couldn’t do Green Hill Zone Act 1 quicker than this match takes to complete.

If you went to a bar and asked for a specialty drink of its finest liquors, it would be this match. A blank canvas delicately sprinkled with sugar, spice, and everything nice…not to mention some tasty blade jobs too. Man do these guys bleed in this match; a rarity given how rarely The Rock bladed.

WM17AustinSharpshooter

The argument can be made for no chair shots in modern day wrestling (which if protected would be fine), but some colour can really add to the drama of an intense match. The claret certainly flowed in this match and so did the action.

Brawling in the ring, brawling outside the ring, brawling in the crowd. Wrestling in the ring, wrestling outside the ring…more brawling in the crowd. They absolutely held nothing back in this No Disqualification, championship epic.

They used chairs, announce tables, the ring bell, the WWF title itself; anything that wasn’t glued down would normally be considered an illicit object became a tool of destruction in this physical, sordid war of attrition.

In addition to all of this tomfoolery, the storytelling is simply on a different level here. Harking back to the pre-match package; the mission statement here was clear, win at all costs.

As the match motors towards its epic finale; both men, beaten and battered, begin to pull out a variety of manoeuvres, in desperation more than anything. The Rock commonly used the Sharpshooter in his matches, so Austin stole it. Austin even used ‘The Million Dollar Dream’, a submission hold he hadn’t used since the days of his old ‘Ringmaster’ gimmick. You just wondered if he would fall short.

The iconic play-by-play of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman really added to the ferocity of the action and sold the action beautifully. The match crescendoed magnificently into a game of ‘what’ve you got left hombre?’They hit their own finishers. Still they kicked-out. They hit each other’s finishers. They still kicked out. The crowd was absolutely electric and they went berserk for everything.

WM17StunnerNo one sold the Stunner better.

…and then it happened.

Vincent Kennedy McMahon idly, trundled towards the warzone; I mean, he is the owner of the company so he can pretty much do what he wants. The Rock basically had Austin beaten after a People’s Elbow and McMahon would aid Austin in his conquest to capture the gold. Vince lobbed a chair into the proceedings, leaving Stone Cold caught between a rock and a hard chair.

After a admirable display of intestinal fortitude from The Rock, Austin lost his cool, and metamorphosed from fan-favourite ass-kicker, into his heelish don’t give two sh*ts about anyone psychopathy.

One vicious steel chair beatdown later, and Austin won the WWF Title, aligning himself with his long-time nemesis in the process. It’s a heel turn that is largely regarded as a failure, it did have its moments, but who’s honestly going to boo Stone Cold Steve Austin? Really?

WM17ShakingHands

This was a main event clash that blended technical wrestling, attitude era-style brawling, unteachable ring psychology and organic storytelling.

An unrelenting pace of face vs face that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura could really have learnt from for their disappointing Wrestlemania 34 match. That was two babyfaces competing for the WWE Title, but lacking any serious heat or proper motivation; which is amazing when you consider the talent on-show.

I’ve been watching wrestling for nearly 20 years, nothing has bettered this match in my eyes…yet.

Till next time folks. What’s your favourite match of all-time? Let me know.

– Andy.H. –

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