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The Wrestling Debate Club – The Undisputed ERA

Rey Ca$h is joined by his friend and Wrestling Headlines’s own Clive to debate the state of the Undisputed ERA in NXT.

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The Wrestling Debate Club - The Undisputed ERA

Rey Ca$h is joined by his friend and Wrestling Headlines’s own Clive to debate the state of the Undisputed ERA in NXT.

Clive: Welcome back to 2021’s first Brand Extension Wrestling Debate Club, with myself and good friend / sparring partner, Chairshot’s own Rey Ca$h, as your hosts. Mr Ca$h, how fares thee on this meteorologically miserable start to the year? 

Rey: Well ya know, pandemic, insurrection, schizophrenic weather, and family issues notwithstanding, I’m living the dream! Just tryna get some of that good ol’ McMahon blood money. But it always good to be with you, my brother

Clive: Get those Peacock stocks in the bag, my good man! So, this time around, we’re looking at our beloved NXT. Specifically, the Undisputed Era. While we both share common ground in that the Era has run its course, our reasons for said opinion differ. Mine? Well, all members have won gold. All members have had memorable feuds throughout all divisions. And with their apparent decision to stay on NXT – a place that routinely has an in and out policy, over that of the main roster’s revolving door style booking – the Undisputed Era has nothing left to do that will see it reach the relevancy and stature it once had. Rey? Your thoughts?

Rey: Yeah man, it just feels different. NXT in its most current iteration was never meant for stars to stay longer than two years. They debuted, ran through their feuds, won or challenged for titles, had one farewell feud, and moved to Raw or Smackdown. In August, the ERA boys will have been in NXT for FOUR years! Nobody stays in NXT that long. Well, nobody but Aliyah, but I digress. So they’ve always been around. Pre-USA Network. And they’ve been in EVERY major story, match, and title picture.  Even had a successful face turn. So what else is there for them to do, other than implode and fight each other?

Clive: Even with that, I don’t think there’s been much so far to tell us that is in the cards. NXT’s decision makers had the perfect opportunity to do this at New Year’s Evil. You posited that it was the thee time for Adam Cole to turn on Kyle O’Reilly. Irrespective of the title match outcome for the air guitarist extraordinaire. All we got, though, was O’Reilly’s second clean loss to Finn Balor, and Cole appearing more supportive of his stablemate. Usually by now, some foreshadowing will have presented itself that would suggest Cole may soon attack O’Reilly. But even as keen an eye as yours is for foreshadowing, you, too, struggle to see any payoff in this. The question I ask is: Has NXT missed the boat to rejuvenate and bolster Undisputed Era’s stock? Or is it too late? 

Rey: Well, as WWE has shown, they only need 30 minutes and renewed interest to rejuvenate a wrestler. See Nakamura, Shinsuke. So I’m not concerned with timing. My concern, however, is reasoning. Should they rejuvenate them? Should the Undisputed ERA become the standard bearers again?

The two things that the ERA has going for them is that they’re the best collection of talent on the brand (maybe the company), and fans go bonkers for them. So maybe it’s just a necessary change of scenery that’s needed. The ERA running roughshod on Raw or Smackdown would be one of the stories of 2021. And with O’Reilly’s new-found singles success, the group is that much stronger.

Here’s a question for you, Clive. Why do you think it is that the Undisputed ERA feels like they’re at a crossroads and have possibly run their course?

Clive: Two reasons. The first being that NXT’s modus operandi doesn’t lend itself to wrestler rejuvenation, as is evidenced above. The second, that four is a big, big number to come over to either Raw or Smackdown and not only stay as a unit, but work well as one. I know main roster promotion being cursed isn’t what some in the IWC believe it to be, but it’s a tough ask for all four Undisputed Era members to come up and remain as they are, never mind book them all well. On top of that, I am one of the few who does not believe Adam Cole possesses that quality shared by other smaller wrestlers who went on to superstardom.

Rey: See, that’s interesting to me. I think I tend to disagree with both of those assessments. I think that NXT is a rejuvenation place, but only for new wrestlers or Raw or Smackdown folk coming down. Zack Ryder, Tyson Kidd, and Ember Moon come to mind. But more pertinently, stables, traditionally, are the one thing Vince normally books consistently well. Especially one that’s as seasoned, talented, and over as this one. But I think we agree on one thing. All of these potential happenings are contingent on Adam Cole breaking out into true superstardom. I think that not only he can, but he will. Much like his predecessors (Punk, Bryan, Styles, Balor), he’s the perfect mix of hype, ability, and charisma to strike big in Titan Land. If you don’t think he will, however, then this all is a moot point.

Clive: So is it fair to say, then, that what it all boils down to is if Mr. Cole has enough of the above variables to gain Daddy Vince’s attention, approval, and admiration? I wonder if this is why, according to yours and my relatively seasoned wrestling fan eyes, NXT didn’t pull the trigger on huge dissension within the ranks at New Year’s Evil. One has to wonder if a main roster call up is indeed on the cards, but on hold due to an injured Bobby Fish? The three fit members’ absence in the Royal Rumble was at least mildly conspicuous. And with the Raw after the Rumble in the bag (time will tell with Smackdown still to air tomorrow), there are no signs of any immediate promotion.

With all of this in mind, is it simply the case that whatever is going on in NXT is just Uncle Paul et al treading water, pending Fish’s return to fitness? If so, will these months in no man’s land damage them in any way? 

Rey: To answer your second question first, I don’t think they’re necessarily in no man’s land. Kyle O’Reilly has had a critically acclaimed pair of matches in the main event against NXT Champion Finn Balor. Adam Cole (BAY BAY) and Roderick Strong are probably headed to another Dusty Classic final. And the ERA as a whole is just months removed from the feud of the year against Pat McAfee and his Kings of NXT. So they’re not languishing. They’ve just overstayed their welcome.

With the other question, I do think they may be just in a holding pattern until Monsieur Fish returns. But I still am on the fence about them ever being “called up”. With NXT as a third brand now, on cable TV no less, they need guaranteed draws and mainstays. That’s why I think they’re still there, along with guys like Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. So it all depends on where they see them making the most money for the company, because their “overness” with the audience has never been in question.

Clive: I suppose I agree that they have overstayed their welcome, rather than that they find themselves in no man’s land. And yes, NXT is in the business of becoming a fully fledged brand, rather than a testing ground for Raw and Smackdown. Perhaps that’s what it is. Perhaps, just like the red and blue brands, wrestlers on the black and gold will go through peaks and troughs of relevancy, use, and fan engagement.

It’s a real doozer, this one. An instance where our opinions aren’t so far apart from each other, but merge somewhere in the middle. I guess one could say this has been more of a conversation rather than a structured debate. So, in this instance, we’ll ask you, the reader, for your stance on where Undisputed Era currently finds itself. Has the outfit outstayed its welcome? Are its days at the tippy top of Wednesday nights a thing of the past? And when – or if – the Era is transferred to Raw or Smackdown, do you see it being a success?

Rey, despite our wading through the fog on this one, I still feel it was a good conversation, and one that should be posited by the IWC as a whole.

Rey: But I still won, right?

 

Clive:

Well, ladies and janitors, that concludes another installment of the Brand Extension Wrestling Debate Club. Rey and I thank you for reading our old man shouting at clouds routine (some of us admittedly younger than others, wink wink). We’ll see you next time.

FIN


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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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Opinion

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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