So I was thinking…

September 24, 2008

I mentioned last week that I was hoping that my wife enjoyed her birthday. Well, she did. She got spoiled by me and we enjoyed a nice dinner at a nice restaurant, just the two of us.

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Just finished reading “The War Within” by Bob Woodward. This book is the fourth volume in his “Bush at War” series.

Now I am a big fan of Bob Woodward’s books — I have All the President’s Men, The Final Days, Shadow, The Secret Man and the previous three volumes of his “Bush at War” series (Bush at War, Plan of Attack and State of Denial) in my library. His latest book provides yet another fantastic look at the Bush White House and the continued state of the Iraq War from 2006-2008.

Now I’ve moved from that to Duane Swierczynski’s The Wheel Man and I’m hopeful that this will be just as good as The Blonde.

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Got a request from a reader who is just starting to get into Ring of Honor and asked what DVDs I would recommend for new viewers. So to anyone who is looking to give Ring of Honor a try, here’s my top 10:

1) Joe vs. Kobashi. The first full ROH show that I got on DVD and it was worth every penny. The entire card is fantastic and the main event is one of the best matches I have ever seen. Throw in a raucous New York City crowd (which started chants of “This is Awesome” a minute into the main event) and you have one of the best events ROH has put on.

2) Manhatten Mayhem II. This is a great card that is highlighted by two match-of-the-year candidates: The Briscoes vs. Steen and Generico, two-out-of-three-falls for the ROH World Tag Team Titles; and Brian Danielson versus Takeshi Morishima for the ROH World Title. It is amazing that Danielson finished this match after his retina was detached by a Morishima punch five minutes into the match (the whole match went a total of 18 minutes).

3) World Title Classic. The first match in the Joe-versus-Punk trilogy that is credited with saving the company in 2004. This match alone is worth the price of the DVD.

4) Man Up. Features a rematch between Morishma and Danielson and an absolutely insane Ladder War match between the Briscoes and Steen/Generico for the ROH tag titles. (This match was so brutal that ROH officials banned any future ladder matches from taking place).

5) Punk: The Final Chapter. Punk’s farewell match in his hometown of Chicago. Also featured an insane match between Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal against Homicide and Low Ki that went all over the arena.

6) Supercard of Honor 1. Features the first Dragon Gate Six-Man match (which was rated five stars by the Wrestling Observer); a 56-minute match between Roderick Strong and Brian Danielson for the ROH World Title; a Shimmer six-way match; and yet another bloodbath between Homicide and Colt Cabana. A great show that spans two discs and clocks in at around four hours in length.

7) Glory by Honor V Night Two. There is not a bad match on this entire card, which is universally called one of the best ROH shows in history. Features Danielson against KENTA for the ROH World Title; Naomichi Marufuji vs. Nigel McGuinness for the Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Heavyweight Title (the first time this title has been defended in the U.S.); and Samoa Joe and Homicide against the Briscoes.

8: Sixth Anniversary Show. Just one of the best booked shows in ROH history. The world title match between McGuinness and Danielson alone is worth of the price of this DVD.

9) Supercard of Honor III. The best show ROH has put on this year. Features another fantastic Dragon Gate six-man match and a great match between McGuinness and Austin Ares for the ROH World Title.

10) Joe vs Punk II. The second match between Joe and Punk, which is an absolute classic. The rest of the card sucks, but the main event alone is worth purchasing this DVD.

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Immortal Iron Fist is fast becoming one of my favorite comics. I came onto this title late (Issue 16) and had to pick up the two trades in order to catch up on everything. Now I’ve never been a fan of the Iron Fist character, but the work that Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction did in reinventing this character (and the history behind it) was fantastic. Brubaker and Fraction ended their run with issue 16 which saw Danny Rand (the current Iron Fist) discovering that of the 66 people who have been Iron Fist before him, all but one has lived past their 33rd birthday … and guess what birthday Danny Rand just celebrated. It’s from there that Duane Swierczynski picks up the title, and he is keeping the storyline and the action flowing.

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That’s it for now. Keep smiling:)

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So I’ve been busy ….

September 19, 2008

Ok, I’m back. I know – it’s been a month, but I’ve been busy. Sue me:)

Anyway before I start getting into my thoughts at this time, I need to ask for a moment to remember everyone who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

Thanks:)

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So Raw’s rating for this past week dropped to a 2.6, which is the lowest rating in over 10 years. Have you gotten the message yet, Vince? Raw sucks. How doing something different, maybe something that won’t make me ashamed to be a wrestling fan.

However, it is not like TNA is much better these days. Sting is in the main event at Bound for Glory for the third straight year, despite not actually wrestling for much of this year. I’m trying to understand the logic behind putting a guy, who has not drawn a damn dime during the three years he has been on the roster, in the main event of what is supposedly the company’s biggest show of the year. And if they make Samoa Joe put him over, I’ll literally shoot my TV set.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I’m pretty sure TNA will load up the undercard with even more stupid gimmick matches — cage match, Monster’s Ball match, ladder match, stripper on a pole match (sorry, went off on a tangent there). The sad thing is this is what they believe will draw in viewers. No – all it is does is beat the viewers over the head with gimmicks. Let me ask you a question — do you remember the big gimmick match at the Hard Justice PPV for TNA? How about the main event at Summerslam? Hard Justice had four gimmick matches on the card — four! And they couldn’t make their fans care about any of them. Meanwhile the WWE puts on a Hell in the Cell match – the first in a year – and that is what they sell their PPV on. Guess which effort probably resulted in more PPV buys.

The funny thing is TNA has, in my opinion, a better talent roster than WWE. If the bookers at TNA actually had a clue as to what the fans wanted, they might actually put on a hard-hitting, no frills, logical show that would not insult their fans, instead of attempting to be WWE-lite. However that concept seems to be lost on the powers that be in TNA.

Now onto wrestling companies that actually give a damn about entertaining their fans: I had an opportunity over the last couple of weekends to get through a few ROH DVDs and the last Shimmer volume that I purchased (vol. 18). And while the production quality of these companies is not on par with say TNA or WWE, the effort these companies — and its wrestlers — puts into entertaining their fans is amazing.

Shimmer Vol. 18 had a great series of matches on the card, highlighted by Wesna against Amazing Kong (this is a hard-hitting, brutal match) and the Shimmer title match between MsChif and champion Sara Del Ray (which is one of the best women’s matches I’ve seen this year). The difference between Shimmer and say WWE is that these women look different (in WWE most of the women there look like supermodels) and they actually, *gasp*, wrestle. It truly is different than what the majority of mainstream wrestling fans are used to. On a sidenote, women’s wrestling is one thing that I — and apparently a good section of TNA fans (since these segments get the highest ratings) — enjoy watching in TNA. The company’s Knockouts division is filled with great women’s wrestlers who can actually perform.

This brings me to Ring of Honor.

I’ve been a fan of Ring of Honor since 2006, and I have many of their shows on DVD. The majority of those shows are very, very good (several are in the fantastic range) and not one has disappointed me. Recently I just watched the Sixth Anniversary Show (which contains the greatest booking that Gabe Sapolsky has ever done), Supercard of Honor III (which was a fantastic show from top to bottom), Take No Prisoners (a PPV which featured a great example of how to create a new star that WWE and TNA officials should take notes on) and A New Level (the company’s first show in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City). And while there may be some low quality matches on these cards (anything that has Jack Evans in it usually makes me shudder), the majority of these showers featured great action and logical storylines. And TNA take note — none of these matches were marred by outside interference (something that TNA loves to do to make sure that nobody in their company actually loses cleanly and elevates someone in the process).

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I’m proud to be a Chicago Cubs fan. Hopefully this is the year they finally win it all. Of course, I thought this back in 2004 and had my heart broke then.

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My wife’s birthday is this Friday and either two things are going to happen to me — she’s going to love me even more because I spoiled the hell out of her or she is going to yell at me because I spoiled her.

I like to spoil my wife. She truly deserves it. She is a loving and caring person, who always puts other people’s needs ahead of her own. And she’s married to me, so that’s worth at least some jewelry each year, right?

Besides, I’ve been saving for the past couple of months so I can properly spoil her with a few extra gifts and dinner at a nice restaurant. Trust me, she really does deserve it.

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I love being a dad. Every day that I get to make my son smile is a great day in my book. He is just a great kid. Now if I can just get him to stop coloring on the TV….:)

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Just finished Brad Meltzer’s The Book of Lies last week. In fact, I finished it in two days because I could barely put it down. It was that good. I encourage anyone who is looking for a new author to try out to give this book a read. Some other works by Meltzer that I can recommend include The Tenth Justice, The First Counsel and The Book of Fate.

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That’s all for now. Keep smiling folks:)