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News From Cook’s Corner 11.23.20: The Undertaker

The Undertaker’s retirement was easily one of the biggest talking points of the week! What else did Steve Cook find newsworthy?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! It’s been a busy week for me at work, which leads to me not wanting to spend my time off work doing work. So we were a column short last week, it happens from time to time. I know Greg was pretty busy on his end, that’s probably why he hasn’t yelled at me yet.

Turns out this one’s going to be pretty light. We got some Survivor Series results & whatever else I can find on the newswire, so let’s not mess around and talk about depressing things like Joe Burrow getting injured. We all knew it was coming…the Cincinnati Bengals can’t have nice things.

The Undertaker Actually Retired!

I say at least once a week that the first rule in pro wrestling is “Never say never”. So I won’t be completely shocked if Undertaker pops back up around WrestleMania time, or for his 40th or 50th anniversaries. OK, 50th would be pushing it. He’ll be 75 at that point, which means he’ll probably be running for President. Hey, if Kane can be a mayor, why can’t Undertaker be President? He’d probably keep Texas Red, if you know what I’m saying.

Come on now, that one was good! Don’t groan at me!

I think once you bust out the Paul Bearer hologram, you pretty much have to go away for at least a few years. The Undertaker’s Final Farewell made for a pretty cool light show. We thank Undertaker for his service and wish him many more years of success on Cameo.

Raw Team Dominance

I expected Team Raw to win the men’s match due to the amount of drama going on between the team members and the fact that SmackDown’s team didn’t have much better chemistry. Was I expecting a clean sweep, with each member getting a decision? Not really! The only solution I can think of is for AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Riddle & Sheamus to form a faction. Then again, I’d have to hear them arguing over who the leader was for the next few months, and I don’t have the patience for that.

The women’s match had a slightly surprising result, except a lot of people had floated out the possibility of Lana winning to play off the weeks and weeks of going through tables. It was certainly an idea, and I hope it works out for the ol’ gal. Also of note was Peyton Royce getting the pinfall over Bayley, which I’d have more hope of leading to something if she didn’t tap out to Natalya a minute later. We shall see.

SmackDown’s Champions Do Better

Outside of Sami Zayn coming up short against Bobby Lashley, it was a good night for SmackDown’s champions. The Street Profits just don’t lose on PPV, and their streak continued against the New Day. Sasha Banks beat Asuka to even the score in their rivalry that I don’t think we’ve seen the last of. And of course Roman Reigns beat Drew McIntyre because duh why wouldn’t he have?

People were thinking Miz would cash in that briefcase after Roman beat the snot out of Drew, but Miz was probably still worn out from winning the Dual Brand Battle Royal earlier in the evening. Plus, it would have killed the ThunderDome crowd for the Final Farewell main event.

The Gobbledy Gooker Returned!

Because it was his thirtieth anniversary! PWInsider reported that it was Drew Gulak in the costume, which would make sense as the Gooker attacked R-Truth & won the 24/7 Championship. Also, I’m told Gulak’s voice came out of the Gooker outfit. R-Truth was champion again by the end of the evening, so you all can rest easy tonight. Unless he loses it on Raw, but he’ll probably get it back anyway.

MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL: KEITH LEE HAS NEW MUSIC

That’s what I’m talking about, fools! Those tights were looking better too. I’m seeing a bright future for this kid.

So yeah, that was Survivor Series. We had some other things happen this week though…

Rhea Ripley Almost Goes Full Mick Foley

You never want to go full Mick Foley, trust me on that one. Ripley had five earrings forcibly removed from her left ear during her match with Io Shirai on last week’s NXT episode. I remember back in the old days when piercings were more rare that commentators would mention the likelihood of the rings ripped out. Now, nobody says boo about them, and here’s what happens!

Rhea will be fine though, they just had to cut little parts off of her ear to make it look all right. This is the difference between wrestlers and people like me. The idea of getting an earring doesn’t have much appeal to me, forget having a doctor cut away on my ear! Besides, getting an earring at this point in my life would merely continue my transformation into modern-day Tony Schiavone.

A Quick Opinion on Rhea Ripley

I was going to write a column about Rhea Ripley before I got derailed by work and other things like getting drunk and chatting about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel with the homies. The jist of it was this: Around this time last year, Ripley looked like she was going to be the next big thing. Her team won at NXT TakeOver: WarGames & Surivor Series. She won the NXT Women’s Championship from Shayna Baszler. She was as hot as hot could be…but eventually cooled off a bit. Lost to Charlotte at WrestleMania, which was allegedly going to lead to something but hasn’t as of yet. (Charlotte’s a bit preoccupied these days.) Hasn’t done much of interest during 2020 unless you’re really high on her feud with the Robert Stone Brand. You might be.

So 2020 wasn’t the Year of Rhea Ripley. I thought this was a bad thing for awhile, but things clicked for me recently and I realized it wasn’t so bad. Why?

-She’s still young. 24 years old as of October.

-It’s really hard to kill people off if they have supremely great talent. Bayley’s WWE main roster booking has been criticized to all hell since she got there. The Bayley/Sasha feud/friendship got a ton of criticism early. Few would argue that all that wasn’t all for the best now. Plus. WWE keeps almost everybody under contract forever, so they’ll get around to pushing you again even if you fail once. It’s not like the old days where one bad run can kill you off forever.

-Who wants their year to be 2020, anyway? This whole year has been a dumpster fire. It’s very hard to tell if people are really getting over or not. Is Drew McIntyre a hit as WWE Champion? I have no idea, since I never get to see what an actual crowd thinks of him. Sure, I can click onto social media and figure out what folks like me think of him, but it’s just different. I could try to interpret TV ratings, but I’m not Dave Meltzer. Rhea’s big push is probably best off waiting until things are somewhat normal again.

-It will come at some point. I was reminded of this while watching that Shirai match. She’s too good and has too much going for her not to get the big push.

I was originally going to stretch that out to around 800-1000 words or so, but things got in the way. Hopefully these news columns don’t become dumping grounds for things I didn’t get around to writing about, but who knows what the future might hold!

WWE Settles A Class Action Lawsuit

This one kind of flew under the radar since we can’t get mad about WWE going to Saudi Arabia anymore. I ripped it off of Wrestling Inc. Warren, Michigan’s City Police & Fire Retirement System had sued WWE, and some other folks joined in as well. Basically, WWE was accused of deceiving investors on all the Saudi Arabia stuff, claiming that WWE didn’t mention that those proposed business agreements like TV deals weren’t quite consummated yet. WWE hyped them like they had happened, then sold a bunch of shares at fraudulently inflated prices.

I know, sounds a bit dull to me too. WWE trying to cheat people out of money? You gonna tell me water is wet next? Of course, WWE would never admit to doing such things, so they went with the quick settlement. Probably for the best. Anyway, let’s talk about something more fun…

UNDERTAKER CAMEOS

Seriously, I’ve got nothing else for you this week. Just click on some Cameos and laugh your way into a short work week. Not for me, but for pretty much everybody else! We’ll be back soon with the annual list of things we’re thankful for. Have a good one, and keep your stick on the ice.

 


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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Big boy monster throw down of the year! The Nerds return with a current movie review, and this one should be interesting. Is Dave too forgiving? Is Patrick taking his role as the German judge too seriously? Find out where the overall ratings lands between these two!

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different movie from the Nerdosphere.  This week Dave and Patrick review the fourth installment of kaiju cinematic universe Godzilla vs. Kong!

The Flick:  Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

What’s it About:  A researcher believes a hollow world beneath the Earth’s surface is the birthplace of the mighty Kaiju.  He convinces and old friend to help him take the mighty Kong to find his birthplace even if it means incurring the wrath of the King of Kaiju Godzilla.   The battle between the two alpha Kaiju could result in the end of all mankind.

Metacritic Score: 59

The Nerds’ Take on Godzilla vs Kong (2021):

Dave It is time for the Main Event of Legendary’s MosterVerse, the showdown we have been waiting for: Godzilla v. Kong. If you have been following along with our Nerd Reviews, then you knew this was coming. What you don’t know is whether we feel the climax to the series is worth your time or not. Well allow me to give you my take on that topic.

Plot wise, it has been some five years since Godzilla defeated Ghidorah and things have been relatively quiet and peaceful. Meanwhile, on Skull Island, Monarch has created a dome like structure to observe and try and control Kong. Kong has developed a relationship with a little girl, Jia, who seems to be the last surviving member of her clan. Jia has, for lack of a better term, been adopted by Dr. Ilene Andrews. Jia is deaf and she seems able to communicate with Kong through sign language.

Halfway across the globe, Apex Cybernetics is engaged in some sort of experimentation that attracts the attention of Godzilla, who shows up and annihilates their facility in Florida. Godzilla’s attack shatters humanity’s notion that he is their friend. Bernie Hayes is an employee of Apex, but he also hosts a Podcast focusing on conspiracy theories involving the Titans. He is soon joined by Madison Russell (from Godzilla: King of the Monsters) who is a fan of the Podcast, and her friend Josh as they start poking around the remains of the Apex site in Florida. We soon discover that Apex is looking for a massive power source that they believe is located in Hollow Earth. Hollow Earth is really more of an Earth within the Earth (Middle Earth, perhaps?) and the quandary is how to survive the trip to Hollow Earth. Nathan Lind is a Hollow Earth expert whose brother perished in a prior expedition to Hollow Earth due to a reverse gravitational effect. But Apex has developed vehicles that can survive the voyage. They just need Kong to lead them there.

In the process of transporting Kong to Antarctica, which has an entry point to Hollow Earth, Godzilla senses his old rival and attacks. Godzilla definitely gets the better of this battle, forcing the expeditionary force to transport Kong by air to Antarctica to avoid detection by Godzilla. Kong gets the group to Hollow Earth and it becomes clear there has been an ancient rivalry between Kong’s ancestors and Godzilla’s. Kong discovers an axe made out of portions of Godzilla’s ancestor’s skins. Back on the surface, Bernie, Madison, and Josh have been whisked away to Hong Kong and they discover what Apex is really up to….Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla can be telepathically controlled and it is Dr. Serizawa’s son who is pulling the strings, using the severed head of Ghidorah to do so. The problem is that to utilize Mechagodzilla to its full potential, they require more power, much more power to be exact. This is where the search for the Hollow Earth power source comes into play.

Mechagodzilla is activated and this attracts Godzilla. Godzilla also senses what Kong is doing in Hollow Earth and he sends a blast of atomic breath from Hong Kong to, in essence, the center of the Earth. Kong and the Hollow Earth expeditionary force follow the hole made by Godzilla to the surface. Everyone emerges in Hong Kong for a massive fight between Kong and Godzilla. Kong fares better this time around but is ultimately rendered near death by Godzilla. At about this time, Mechagodzilla is imbued with the power source from Hollow Earth and he also achieves sentience. This leads to the big brawl between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla and it is a mismatch in favor of Mechagodzilla…. until Kong is revived, evening the odds in an enormously predictable moment. Godzilla supercharges Kong’s ax with his atomic breath and the two Titans take down Mechagodzilla. Godzilla and Kong show each other a sign of respect and go their separate ways. Apparently, there can be two alpha Titans after all.

Let’s talk about the good stuff first: the monster fights. They are all fantastic. The battles between Kong and Godzilla feel as big as you would expect. They are titanic clashes in every sense of the word. Godzilla fans will have bragging rights after watching this movie because it is clear that Godzilla whups Kong’s ass on more than one occasion. Kong fans save face though by noting that without Kong, Mechagodzilla would surely have triumphed. As for Mechagodzilla, his appearance in the movie was not a secret and he did not disappoint. The clash between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla was done very well to show just how much more powerful Mechagodzilla was and why it took the combined might of Godzilla and Kong to turn the tide. If massive Kaiju action is your thing, then Godzilla vs Kong is definitely your movie.

Now for the bad: The people. Now, I know what Patrick is going to say. That the movie shifts the focus to the people too much and detracts attention from the monsters. I know he thinks the concept of humans using a defibrillator on Kong is absurd. I am OK with those points in a movie like this. The problem I have with the people is this: They don’t matter. Not at all! They are white noise in the purest sense of the word. 90% of the characters are wholly uninteresting and meaningless. They add little to the plot and just get in the way. So, to be real, Patrick and I are, to a certain extent, talking about different sides of the same coin. The exceptions to this involve Jia, who is quite important to the whole notion of establishing Kong as the “good guy”, and Bernie, who is a fun character and kind of represents a microcosm of conspiracy theorists that are quite common in the real world today. Bernie epitomizes the notion that just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t watching you. But, beyond those two, the characters are quite dull and just felt very pointless.

As far as this being the series finale, I greatly enjoyed the movie. The dynamic between Kong and Godzilla is interesting and keeps you engaged, regardless of whether you are rooting for one, the other, or both. There are some interesting concepts in the movie, specifically how Hollow Earth is different than you might expect and much more interesting, no matter how far-fetched the idea might be. Interestingly, this movie really showcases just how bad ass Godzilla is. I am not sure why it took three movies to get it right, but I digress. Then there is Kong, who ends up being a multi-layered creature that is shown even more heroically than he was in Kong: Skull Island. As for me, I always favored Kong over Godzilla and I left the movie feeling fine with the outcome of everything. If there is a downside it’s that it appears the MonsterVerse has come to an end, just when it was getting really good. That’s too bad. As for Godzilla vs Kong, the awesome action sequences and special effects vastly outweigh the issues involving the people. This is a very good final installment (we think) in this franchise. It is the best of the movies involving Godzilla. I still liked Kong: Skull Island more, but this was a close second.

Dave’s Rating: 4/5

Patrick:  Here we are again covering the fourth film in the Warner Brothers/Legendary produced Kaiju Monster universe.  And once again this film somehow finds a way to mess up a simple concept.  If you recall, in my review of Godzilla King of the Monsters I said good kaiju movies minimize the involvement of human beings in the film and let the monsters take center stage.  Unfortunately, the folks at Warner Brothers still have not quite grasped the concept here in its fourth Kaiju film. The result is an uneven film that shines when the monsters are on screen and leaves me tuning out when the focus shifts to the little primates.

In this fourth installment, we learn that Monster research organization Monarch I closely monitoring Kong.  Going so far as to create an enclosure around Skull Island so that he is safe from Godzilla.  This of course will not last because, well, humans.  One human in particular, a man named Nathan Lind comes with the backing of a mysterious tech corporation called Apex to search for “Hollow Earth.” Hollow Earth is a world beneath the surface of our Earth that is believed to be the birthplace of all Kaiju.  Lind visits his friend and Monarch researcher Ilene on Skull Island.  Lind believes Kong is the key to finding this hidden world.  Despite knowing, Godzilla will attempt to kill Kong, Ilene agrees to embark on the expedition.  Of course, Godzilla attacks and we get the first of three rounds of monster battling that we paid for.

Unfortunately, to get to round two and three, the audience has to sit through overwrought dialogue and subplots all in an attempt to help the audience connect to the experience.  It’s all really boring.  You know why?  PEOPLE DON’T WATCH KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS. But, I digress.  Naturally the tech corporation Apex is not on the up and up with Lind.  Color me stunned, but Apex turns out to be the real enemy to both Kong and Godzilla.  I haven’t even covered the conspiracy theory guy and his gang of teenagers trying to expose Apex from the inside.  Again, no one cares because, read it aloud…NOBODY WATCHES KAIJU MOVIES FOR THE HUMANS.

But this isn’t the end of the dumb.  The audience is treated to an ancient history between Kong’s ancestor and the other Kaiju where we see Kong find the ancient axe of his ancestors.  Because a monkey wielding an axe is cool looking.  Did I mention Kong can charge the thing up with Godzilla’s radioactive breath?  AWESOME?  How about the humans using a high tech battery as defibrillator to revive a dying Kong?  Just dumb on top of dumb followed by more dumb.  And humans.  All of the humans.

The cast for Godzilla vs. Kong is quite the list of names.  Alexander Skarsgard essentially fills the role of human protagonist Nathan Lind.  Honestly, he is the only human character given anything to work with.  Kyle Chandler is back in his role as researcher Mark Russell, but if you blink you miss him.  Millie Bobby Brown is also back as Madison Russell, but horribly wasted in a sidekick sort of role to the previously mentioned conspiracy theorist.  She is limited to trying to discover why Godzilla has started attacking human cities.  Someone of her talent could have and should have been used better.  There are tons of other folks in this movie, and yet I struggle to understand why we needed them all.  All they do is distract from what the audience wants to see which is GODZILLA and KONG FIGHT.

Ok.  So what’s good about this film?  Well, the Kaiju.  The special effects team outdid themselves crafting these battles.  Kong and Godzilla’s bouts all feel epic.  I was also impressed with how much more well lit some of the night scenes were.  As Kong and Godzilla battle at night in a Chinese city, everything is well lit without appearing phony.  The choreography of the battles are terrific, albeit a little silly at times.  Again, radioactive monkey axe.  But the joy of Godzilla vs Kong is in these epic clashes.  I watched the movie on HBO Max, I can only imagine how amazing it would have appeared on an IMAX movie screen with Dolby sound shaking my eardrums.

I came into Godzilla vs. Kong with pretty low expectations.  I want to stress that I loved, loved, loved the action sequences involving the Kaiju.  Unfortunately, you have to sit through an inordinate amount of human exposition to get to those epic moments.  That’s not to say the humans and their stories need to be gone entirely.  The audience does need a guide and some context.  But Godzilla v. Kong would have been so much stronger with a pared down human side of things and a focus on the monsters. It seems Warner Brothers and Legendary pictures still haven’t learned the key to Kaiju: it’ all about the monsters.

Patrick’s Rating: 2.24/5.0

 

Overall Nerds’ Rating on Godzilla vs Kong (2021): 3.12/5.0


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NXT Minus 6: Stand and Deliver…After

Brad breaks down the NXT Takeovers and his favorite matches! Do you agree?

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These are the six best matches from Takeover week, plus a new bonus feature! 

The John Report: WWE NXT Takeover Stand & Deliver 2021 Review – Night 2 - TJRWrestling - WWE, AEW News, TV Reviews, PPVs, More!

6. Jordan Devin versus Santos Escobar, 4.3 stars Devlin turned in a star making performance. His moonsault off the ladder was absolutely perfect and batshit crazy. Escobar is technically so sound, everything he hits looks great, and he’s top notch on the mic. But he’s not a cruiserweight, and I will never forget that fact. Still, an exciting match that surpassed my expectations.  

Bate battles Dar and more: NXT UK highlights, Dec. 19, 2019 - YouTube

5. Tyler Bate versus Noam Dar, 4.3 stars This match was a blast. Both guys have such a wide array of moves, you’ll never see the same match twice from either of them. The only thing holding this back was the Heritage Cup format. I like it, but it’s hard to have the sustained exchanges necessary to elevate a match to greatness. The breaks slow things down right as they are speeding up. Give these two a straight 20 minutes for the NXT UK championship #1 contender, and you’re look at a MOTY.

WWE NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver results – Night One – 07/04/2021 (New Champions crowned) » FirstSportz

4. Gauntlet Match, 4.4 stars Another match that was just pure fun. Leon Ruff continues to prove he’s not a fluke champion. Cameron Grimes is 100% working the rich hillbilly gimmick. They made the right call by getting L.A. Knight and Dexter Lumis out quickly. And in another star making performance, Swerve Scott started the match against flyweight Ruff and ended it against Bronson Reed. That kind of versatility is enough to earn my #3 Star of the Night. 

WWE NXT Stand & Deliver Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and More from Night 1 | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

3. Io Shirai versus Raquel Gonzalez, 4.5 stars

This was the intense, inspired Shirai I don’t think I’ve seen since her match with Dakota Kai at Takeover 30. If this was her last match, as some are speculating, then she’s leaving on a high note worthy of her greatness. As good as Gonzalez was in ring, her performance after the match was even better. You could tell she kept flipping from “Holy crap, this is real and I couldn’t be happier” to “Yes, I’m a bad ass and I’ll power bomb every one of you chumps.” 

MSK def. Grizzled Young Veterans and Legado del Fantasma to win the vacant NXT Tag Team Championship | WWE

2. MSK versus Legado Del Fantasma versus Grizzled Young Veterans, 4.5 stars

Some other federation might be on their level, but nobody does tag teams better than NXT. All three teams got considerable time to shine. In a match stuffed with terrific action & individual performances, Wes Lee shined the brightest. His hot tag was Cesaro-level awesome, and his athletic ability rivals Ricochet. He is a star in the making, and his performance earned him my #2 Star of the Night.

  WWE NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver results – Night One – 07/04/2021 (New Champions crowned) » FirstSportz

1. WALTER versus Tommaso Ciampa 4.7 stars

I gave Ciampa about a 1% chance of winning. Despite the lack of necessary drama, these two told a masterful story with near flawless execution. Something about WALTER brings out the best in whoever he faces. He did it with Tyler Bate and Ilja Dragunov. He did it with Ciampa. This was easily his best performance since his return from neck surgery. People say he’s a brawler, while guys like Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong are known for their gas tank. Ciampa showed that he can run with the best. His effort against WALTER earned him the respect of Imperium and my #1 Star of the Night.


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