Video Game Review: WWF King of the Ring (NES)

The original WWF wrestling game for Nintendo was a piece of shit. I mean, it was passable in 1989 when I first played it but it’s a clusterfuck of buggy controls, strange physics and is limited by its roster and only having one match type.

This was the fourth WWF game for NES, after the three Wrestlemania games. This one took the King of the Ring tournament format and brought it into the game.

Now while this is limited by having basic one-on-one or tag team matches, it does boast a bigger roster than the original Wrestlemania game.

However, what makes this much, much better than Wrestlemania is that it is playable!

This game isn’t hard to figure out pretty quickly and you certainly don’t get as frustrated with it as you do the other early WWF titles. Sadly, there isn’t much as far as move sets go. I’m not even sure if you can do finishers. This is basically a button masher and as long as you can adapt to the patterns of the game, it’s really damn easy.

But because of this being a basic bitch of a wrestling game, it gets repetitive fast and after playing through one tournament, there isn’t much else to keep your attention.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES wrestling games: Pro Wrestling, Tag Team Wrestling, WCW Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania Challenge.

Documentary Review: WWE 365: Alexa Bliss (2019)

Release Date: June 23rd, 2019
Cast: Alexa Bliss

WWE Network, 49 Minutes

Review:

This was the first of the WWE 365 documentaries that I watched. But based off of this one, I will probably check out the others.

I watched this one because it aired immediately after a pay-per-view I was watching and because I have really dug Alexa Bliss since she was first called up to the main WWE roster in the summer of 2016.

For having less than three years on the main roster, she has already carved out one of the best careers out of any of WWE’s female superstars in history. Sure, she’s not quite on the Trish Stratus or Fabulous Moolah level (yet) but her rise to the top was almost immediate and she hasn’t let go of that brass ring other than where injuries kept her out of action.

What’s really compelling about this documentary is that it follows her for a year and it was the year where she started out on top but had to work through a lengthy and dangerous injury in an effort to get back to form and to once again rule the women’s roster.

Alexa has a great personality, is pretty damn likable and she gets to be herself and not just a character on television. Her charm and charisma come through and this solid episode of 365 allows you to connect with her on a real level.

You learn about her past struggles, her loves outside of the ring and you see her in a different light, as she has mostly been a villain since winning her first (of many) championships.

For wrestling fans, WWE 365 is worth checking out. For fans of Alexa Bliss, this installment is a must watch.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other WWE 365 episodes, as well as their other documentary series, WWE 24.

Video Game Review: WWF WrestleMania (NES)

I was so excited for this game when it was coming out. I remember my cousin and I playing this game all night before Wrestlemania V. While we were waiting to see the Mega Powers due battle on the “grandest stage of them all” we simulated the upcoming match, over and over, taking turns as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

But I also remember how frustrated we were playing the game. The mechanics stunk, even for a wrestling game from 1989. We tried other characters but none of them seemed to work too well.

For those wondering, this features a massive roster of six WWF superstars: Hulk Hogan, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, Andre the Giant, the Honky Tonk Man and Bam Bam Bigelow, who made us laugh our asses off because his special move was a friggin’ cartwheel.

Playing this game now is even worse than it was in 1989. Sure, Pro Wrestling had bad controls but one can still play it and figure things out. This game is just a mess though and it’s damn boring to look at. At least Pro Wrestling and Tag Team Wrestling had a bit of visual flair to them.

WWF WrestleMania is just mindnumbingly bad. But WWF games would get better in time. The follow up to this at least looked better. But really, WWF games didn’t start to flourish and improve until the next generation on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES wrestling games: Pro Wrestling, Tag Team Wrestling, WCW Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania Challenge.

Comic Review: Whoa, Nellie!

Published: 1996
Written by: Jaime Hernandez
Art by: Jaime Hernandez

Fantagraphics Books, 60 Pages

Review:

I’ve known of the Love & Rockets comic book series for quite some time. However, I wasn’t aware of this spinoff title until I saw Jim Rugg talk about it in an episode of Cartoonist Kayfabe (a YouTube channel that every fan of the comic book medium should be subscribed to).

This looked like my cup of tea, though. I love indie comics, I love ’90s comics and I love old school territory wrestling before Vince McMahon bought the entire world.

Whoa, Nellie is a lot of fun but overall, the story is a bit short at only three issues. I would’ve liked to have gotten to know these characters better but it still told a good, self-contained story over those three issues.

I really like the art style of Jaime Hernandez, it’s clean, crisp and the way he captures action, primarily all wrestling holds and moves, is pretty dynamic and damn accurate. He’s got a good sense of anatomy, even if he uses more of a cartoonist’s style than a more highly detailed Marvel or DC style.

Even though this is over twenty years-old, it feels like a comic from a bygone era before that. It respects its subject matter and it also seems to exist in a world that’s very true to it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Love & Rockets comic book stories.

Film Review: El Santo and Blue Demon Vs. Dracula and the Wolf Man (1973)

Also known as: Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo (original Mexican title), Santo and Blue (US subtitled version)
Release Date: July 26th, 1973 (Mexico)
Directed by: Miguel M. Delgado
Written by: Alfredo Salazar
Music by: Gustavo Cesar Carrion
Cast: El Santo, Blue Demon, Aldo Monti, Agustin Martinez Solares, Nubia Marti

Cinematográfica Calderón S.A., 90 Minutes

Review:

I have the same sort of love for Mexican lucha libre movies that I do for Japanese tokusatsu. In fact, they’re very similar in a lot of ways, other than lucha pictures don’t tend to feature giant monsters and they always star a big professional wrestling superstar.

In the case of Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo, we’ve got a film with two big lucha libre superstars: El Santo and Blue Demon.

But the real treat here is that we’ve also got a pair of classic monsters with Dracula and the Wolf Man. Granted, they aren’t played by Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. or Christopher Lee and Oliver Reed but they’re still classic horror monsters squaring off against lucha libre stars in a showdown for the ages!

Sadly, the showdown is pretty weak and the film doesn’t seem to follow the rules of these two classic monsters, as the Wolf Man is killed alongside Dracula by being impaled by wooden stakes.

Most people in the States will probably find this movie to be unpalatable. Lucha libre is certainly an acquired taste as an athletic competition, as well as in the movies. For those that love it and the legendary lucha stars of yesteryear, this goofy movie will be a lot of fun in its action heavy sequences.

Most of the non-action stuff is pretty boring and its hard for an American such as myself to follow, as all the details are in Spanish and that isn’t my native tongue. I know enough to get by and I get the gist of the plot but tracking down subtitled or dubbed versions of these films is very difficult.

The special effects are bad, the make up is laughable and the sets look like they’re from a community theater production but it all works for what this is.

I actually liked how they filmed the wrestling matches. Instead of doing them in an arena with thousands of screaming fans, they’re done against a solid, colored backdrop with canned cheers added in. While this is a really cheap way to create these wrestling scenes, it fits the strange tone of the film and its clunky, cheap sets. But it also feels otherworldly, which just works here.

Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo is not a film that most people will enjoy but out of the long history of lucha libre motion pictures, this is one of the better productions that I’ve seen. Plus, two superstars are better than one.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other movies starring El Santo and/or Blue Demon.

Zubaz Are Bullshit

*The Bullshit Series started on an older blog but I wanted to bring these articles back here, as I have new installments for the series that I want to release over time. The series focuses on things that I think are bullshit… like filet mignon, Zubaz pants, the Pro Bowl and diets.

*Written in 2014.

Zubaz. God, just the name of these atrocious pants sends a tsunami-like wave of horror and nausea down my spine. Born in the late ’80s and popularized in the early ’90s, these ugly, baggy, zebra vomit covered polyester/cotton blended abominations have been in my nightmares since I first saw some idiot in my middle school walking around the cafeteria in them. They’re worse than a fucking eyesore and have been known to induce migraines and instantaneous diarrhea in those with just little-to-moderate fashion sense. There is nothing good that has ever come from these fluorescent parachute faux animal pelts.

To give a bit of history on these awful things, they were invented by the mega-successful wrestling tag team the Road Warriors a.k.a. the Legion of Doom. For those who don’t know or remember, these were the big meathead guys who ran around with mohawks and spiked football pads. While quite alpha and intimidating in their appearance, they probably shouldn’t be designing fashion for the general public. In doing so, they have created the worst fashion statement possible in an era that can only be described as the worst fashion era in the history of the world.

Go back to the late ’80s and early ’90s and check out what people were wearing. Look at the bullshit that was the most popular: Hypercolor t-shirts, Baja hoodies, Z. Cavariccis, Skidz, No Fear shirts, overalls with one strap down, Cross Colours gear, hip-hop Looney Toons shirts, Starter jackets, Mossimo shit, Stüssy shit, patterned vests over t-shirts, Blossom hats, sweaters as hip-warmers, Bugle Boy, denim button down shirts, the list goes on and on. However, if you put all that shit in a big cauldron and mix them into a big horrible fashion stew, they still wouldn’t be as bad as Zubaz.

Zubaz were designed by big meathead guys with no fashion sense for other big meathead guys with no fashion sense, all in an effort to give them fashion sense while still feeling alpha badass and cool. Well, from a fashion stance they failed… miserably.

That doesn’t mean that dude brahs all over didn’t rush out and buy these things like they were a guaranteed golden ticket to alpha eliteness. These horrible pants were hugely successful as far as sales go but then, so is Nickleback. Despite looking like a Tiger Force G.I. Joe toy, gym rats and middle school boys had to have them and couldn’t get enough.

In fact, Zubaz started producing pants in every sports team color combination available. When that wasn’t enough, they evolved from zebra and tiger stripes to even more atrocious designs. Within a few short years, males and even females were walking around with puffy pants that looked like magic eye posters (another horrible ’90s cultural turd).

Luckily, Zubaz died out not too long after they peaked and were washed away like other fashion disasters from that era. All was fine with the world and I was sure that I’d never have to see them again. Then some sort of weird resurgence happened. Sports teams started resurrecting them and had Zubaz nights. Even my beloved Chicago Cubs had a night last season celebrating these horrible fucking pants. The Cubs even gave them away! What the fuck is wrong with the world?

I’d like to state that I feel like the resurrection of Zubaz in sports is a curse to those who buy into it. In 2008, independent baseball team the St. Paul Saints wore Zubaz during a game. They were shutout by the Sioux City Explorers. The Russian curling team wore Zubaz in the 2014 Winter Olympics. They finished 7th out of 10 with a record of 3-6. This year the Detroit Tigers were dominating the American League, then they wore not just Zubaz pants but Zubaz jackets. They are now in 5th place overall in the AL and 2nd in their division behind the Kansas City Royals. Going back to last year’s Cubs team, they weren’t great when they celebrated Zubaz night but they were improving. As soon as they gave Zubaz away at Wrigley Field, the Cubs plummeted for the remainder of the season. The proof is in the pudding and sports teams should steer clear of the Zubaz Curse.

I hope that this Zubaz resurgence stays small and quickly fades away. I don’t need my favorite athletes looking like cougars wearing leopard print hoochie dresses out on the prowl for young meat. Essentially, that is what Zubaz are. They don’t make a man look tough and badass, they make him look like a sloppy man cougar who doesn’t understand fashion expiration dates. Besides that, no one has ever said, “Damn, that motherfucker looks sexy in his Zubaz.” And no one ever will.