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Andrew’s Top Albums, TV Series, Wrestlers & Matches of 2021

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So I’ve done this the last two years 20192020; and each year it changes slightly. Last year I dropped movies from the list because well…we know why. This year the wrestling section will be a bit smaller because I couldn’t sit through any product this year without having to do it for coverage.

That being said, the albums aspect became a more prevalent focus on my writing and most of the ones in my Top 12 were covered in articles here. I managed to find something to help trudge through the here; so let’s see if any of my favorites are a shared feeling!

Top 12 Best Albums:

  1. Weezer: OK Human – As I said in the article, this album was not met with as glowing of an interpretation as I had. I was definitely in an interesting headspace through this year, so that could’ve helped. But if you enjoy interesting concepts, a theatrical approach to the song transitions and songs with awkward yet upbeat depression beats, this is definitely worth a listen! Notable Songs: All My Favorite Songs // Here Comes The Rain
  2. Diablo Swing Orchestra: Swagger and Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole – Sweden does it again with bands that come out of nowhere and just really hook me. Calling themselves avant-garde metal is of course a tad pretentious, but their music is such a fun mess/journey that you can overlook the theater kid need to be “unique” in the band labeling. If you like music, you’ll probably find a song that fits your taste through their discography. From Muse to Mariachi…it’s a bit of everything. Notable Songs: Celebremos Lo Inevitable // War Painted Valentine
  3. Knife: Knife – Now I was not expecting a Black Metal band to ever rank this high for me, let alone Blackened Speed Punk from Germany. But there’s something fantastic about the throwback approach, melodic while aggressive song construction and since the vocals are just gruff and not Cookie Monster swallowing a microphone…this was just fantastic. Definitely not for everyone, but if you’re more of a modern metal or Venom fan, this could check boxes for you. Notable Songs: K.N.I.F.E. // Demon Wind
  4. Aeonblack: The Time Will Come –A NWOBHM inspired band from Germany. This was one of the more impressive albums from lesser known bands. It has a lot of Judas Priest influence from the vocals to a lot of the rhythm section. You also get moments of Thrash and Power, so if Rob Halford was the lead singer of a Megadeth/Cryonic Temple fusion band, you’d get this band. Aeonblack has only been around since 2003, but most of the members were from Groggy Elks which was formed in the 80s. So the 80s Power/Thrash stylings makes far more sense the further you dig. Notable Songs: Fire Wheels // The Phantom of Pain
  5. Blacktop Mojo: Blacktop Mojo – A funny music video for Wicked Woman put this band on the map just in time for their newer album to drop onto my radar. While my only real criticism was that most of the album is a little sad and not really a “cruising” album, it’s all done well. The music matches the lyrics perfectly in each song and it’s hard to ignore such great craftsmanship even if the subject matter gets redundant. So if you have an ex you’re mad at or need a band to help you verbalize a rough patch, give this a listen! Notable Songs: Cough // Wicked Woman
  6. Gojira: Fortitude – Well now Gojira is usually not my favorite genre either. But starting with their album From Mars to Sirius, I found that I can tolerate their approach. More of a progressive/technical death metal doesn’t put a huge emphasis on the Cookie Monster and allows you to get lost in the musical ambiance and actually enjoy the deep lyrical quality. Also being technical/progressive they venture outside of the pure death metal aspects of just blast beats and guttural vocals. This album is much like most of their discography where it’s intricate, smart and really fun to listen to. I know this was some people’s Album of the Year, but I wasn’t quite THAT blown away. Notable Songs: Another World // The Sphinx
  7. Twelve Foot Ninja: Vengeance – Well I’m actually mad. I recently read that the band is parting ways with their current vocalist on amicable terms so he’ll stick around for the current tour and help them fill his spot. These guys were such a breath of fresh air in music, and the vocals were definitely a big factor. I’ve always said they were like Mike Patton on an acid trip, so unless they get Mike Patton to join; I’m just tempering my expectations for the next album. This one was great, lots of fun, lots of different genres contained in one song, ear worms everywhere. So take in the really tall ninja as it is now, in case it changes for the worse! Notable Songs: Long Way Home // Over and Out
  8. Exodus: Persona Non Grata –There was a big theme of older bands who maybe fell off a little, finding their footing coming out of the pandemic. Exodus was no different. As much as I enjoyed their 80s stuff, multiple singer changes, direction changes and just a really spotty discography had them fall off pretty hard for me. After going back to Zetro Souza for the last album, they continued with him here and this was actually wonderful. It was aggressive while keeping the 80s tongue in cheek moments as well. Can’t overlook the educational aspects of some songs from Thalidomide to political situations. This covers a wide breadth of topics really well. Notable Songs: Prescribing Horror // R.E.M.F.
  9. Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever – See, not everything I ranked well was Hard Rock or Metal. Billie is an interesting situation where I feel like she gets unnecessary hatred because her songs are vapid so people think she’s trying too hard to be deep. But the songs are written with such a simple note of relatability, that anyone hating is just doing it purely to be “edgy”, but I guess Hot Topic exists for those people still. I can only hope they are legitimately 15 and not mentally 15. Another album that was generally depressing throughout, but it makes sense given the state of the world. Clever lyrics, catchy enough beats. There’s no club bangers like Bad Guy, but the album itself is worth more than just one song on repeat. Notable Songs: NDA // Halley’s Comet
  10. Midnight Spell: Sky Destroyer –Another one of the NWOBHM inspired bands. Out of Miami, we get a surprisingly wonderful band that also sounds like they’re straight out of the 80s. Sonically there’s a bit of a Def Leppard/Scorpions vibe and I’m here for it. Great vocal range, smooth and fairly ridiculous lyrical content in the cheesey 80s nostalgia way. A definite diamond in the rough. Hell, Lady in the Moonlight is probably my most listened to song this year, it’s just soo good. Notable Songs: Lady of the Moonlight // To The Stars
  11. Accept: Too Mean To Die – We brought up older bands who came back to form and it was never more evident than with Accept. Dude this reminds me of my thoughts on Body Count last year. A band I all but forgot existed because the music has generally been awful for far too long, just punches you in the mouth with some fantastic balance. Even though Udo is again no longer with the band for the 3842 time, their new singer does great. Mark Tornillo is an awesome addition and really reignited my interest in the band. Notable Songs: Overnight Sensation // Best is Yet to Come
  12. The Offspring: Let The Bad Times Roll –Another band that was hit with awkward news shortly after I did the review. Not like that changes my opinion, but I can see if it soured people on the new album. While it wasn’t a complete return to form like a few of the other bands, it definitely felt more like their classic Pop Punk days and less like the post-Splinter sound. Also I really enjoyed the re-imagining of Gone Away, it was a nice evolution using the same words just a more stripped down version for new emotions. Notable Songs: Opioid Diaries // We Never Have Sex Anymore

Top 10 TV Shows:

  1. Arcane (Netflix) – Now this rightfully got a lot of hype. I’ve played League of Legends (the source material) since 2013 so I’m fully aware of these character and the fact the game community is complete garbage. However, aside from episode 1 being the typical “setting the table” style of presentation, this might be the best animated series I’ve ever seen. The struggle between Zaun and Piltover, hell even within both nations. Struggles mirrored between Silco and Vander/Jinx and Vi. Silco’s evolution from seeming like a typical bad guy to being on the best representations of a father in media. Hell they even acknowledge Vi and Caitlyn as being a thing, used normally in a derogatory way from Jinx but it was never really rejected. So you get politics, characterization, emotion, great fights… just all around near perfection. Riot proves once again, as long as it’s not the actual League of Legends game, they can do things competently.
  2. Loudermilk (Prime) – A little bit of an exception I’m making here. Originally released in 2018 on the AT&T Audience Network, it was left homeless in 2020 when Audience ceased operations. So Amazon purchased the 3 seasons and made it available to US audience in March 2021. So it technically isn’t a 2021 series, but since it was on an obscure network and Amazon saved it, I’m giving it the credit it deserves. Ron Livingston (main guy from Office Space) is the titular character Sam Loudermilk, a former music critic, recovering alcoholic, leader of a substance abuse group, and generally just a curmudgeon; so I relate to a few of those. Will Sasso plays his best friend and sponsor, shenanigans thusly ensue. The comedy is dry and offbeat much like Office Space, but it’s quite relatable if not exaggerated a little because it’s a show. Give this show a check, it’s really complex and yet very easy to get absorbed in to.
  3. What We Do In The Shadows S.3 (Hulu/FXX) – The Vampire based mockumentary directed and partially written by Taika Waititi and James Clement. If you are aware of the movie, or the other 2 seasons, I don’t really need to say much. Smart references, clever resolution and just general buffoonery to keep everything moving forward without feeling too serious until it has to. This definitely walks that line between insanely stupid and so moronic it’s genius. Which is what makes it so high on my list this year.
  4. My Name (Netflix) – After watching Squid Game I went into a little bit of a Korean series rabbit hole. This series focuses on a young girl, whose father is killed for his affiliation with a drug gang. After trying to get the police to give her answers, she turns to her only option, the gang themselves. The leader of the gang takes her in to train her to be a killer, at times even acting like a surrogate father, before sending her to infiltrate the police to find her answers. While I won’t spoil the ending here, the twists are fun, the acting is pretty damn solid and when you’re supposed to hate someone…you really hate them. Also makes me realize that South Korea kinda looks like America in 90s, just with current technology. So it’s got an oddly retro cop drama appeal while being modern.
  5. Squid Game (Netflix) – The show that took the internet by storm. Okay, so the hype was mostly warranted though I feel the last say, 1.5 episodes really hurt the show. I loved the pacing up until we are supposed to be getting to the grand climax. Then a kind of wet fart of a finish into malaise from the main character just because his motivation for winning was no longer around. It felt insanely forced when the show painted him as a miscreant with the worst luck but generally good intentions. I also hate the last few scenes. Instead of moving forward he opts to abandon his daughter AGAIN just to go do what? Play hero? Feed a second season in an inane way? Oh you have no clue how much that last bit made me lose some respect for the show on a whole. The first 7.5 episodes were nearly perfect though, so even if I take points away it’s not nearly enough to drop this into the garbage can.
  6. Cobra Kai S.3 (Netflix) – Now this doesn’t rank as high as the last season, mostly because it felt a little padded. Getting the Karate Kid 2 trip to Japan in there, Daniel’s osmosis way of mastering concepts and the slow burn to Johnny and Daniel finally joining forces, just felt like too much filler. The touch with Elizabeth Shue having to return to be the bridge between them when she was original the cause of their hatred, was pretty poetic and not a bad angle. References are still great, Miguel’s recovery was fun, and the life turmoil from all perspectives was relatable. I guess only other small nitpick is Tory’s story felt a little ignored, so general pacing issues and personal gripes with focus knocked it down a little, but it was still pretty damn good.
  7. Cowboy Bebop (Netflix) – The series that got cancelled like two weeks after release made my Top shows?! Yes, yes it did. This was a great branch in the Cowboy Bebop universe. Spike was wonderfully portrayed by John Cho, he was more human, more relatable and just very fun. Daniella Pineda’s Faye was nearly perfect for the same reasons, because the anime was unrealistic in how always cool everyone was. Most of the people who complained about this don’t understand a few things. Firstly, it wasn’t the anime so people expecting exact copies of personalities, looks and stories are idiots. Secondly, the way the fights and some scenes were shot is on par with the fact the source material is an anime and lines up with the slightly campier approach that Japanese and Korean action tends to take. Lastly, it was supposed to be like the Evangelion rebuild movies where it immersed you into the world with familiar stories and interactions before taking things in its own direction. YES, I will concede that Vicious was too cartoony. They made him Vicious in the over dramatic little brother way, so that wasn’t really a good characterization, but given the way they backed things up and how they adjusted Julia…it works better than the anime version. So if you actually understood the Cowboy Bebop universe, you enjoyed this and I honestly liked this series more than the anime. The anime is just “too cool for school” so people who think that is superior don’t understand the first thing about character depth.
  8. Miracle Workers S.3 (TBS) – Daniel Radcliffe has become one of my favorite actors post-Harry Potter. His comedic work in all 3 of these seasons is great, especially paired with Steve Buschemi. This season it’s the Oregon Trail, and the jokes are amazing and wonderfully topical. Smart humor, dark humor, great satirical tone and a throwback like Little House on the Prairie kind of intro. Just wonderfully done, watch all of it. Heaven, Middle Ages and Oregon Trail, comedy gold.
  9. The Witcher S.2 (Netflix) – So the first season was a smash hit, and with Henry Cavill being something of a nerd himself, the world feels very true to what I’ve seen of the games personally (I haven’t read the books). This season split up the main group but slowly brings them back together in logical ways. While this season focuses a little more on relationships, personal growth and story, it’s never really slow. There’s a lot of places to think about the information you’re being given; even if the action is a little sparse and lacking. Gerolt’s relationship with Cirilla really evolved in a logical way and it comes to a great head when Cirilla and Yennefer have a conversation about helping him. In a cold unfeeling world, the concepts of love ring true strongly in this season; just many different variations of love. The Witcher Keep was also a great addition to the cast.
  10. WandaVision (Disney+) – Some may be shocked that more of these Marvel series didn’t make it on my list, but come on now, are you really shocked? All of the series started off slow, and this was no different. Funnily enough, I hated episode 1, to me it wasn’t an homage to the Dick Van Dyke show, it was just a hollow mockery that came off flat, forced and poorly acted. Now that being said, episode 2 grabbed me a bit more and the third one actually sold me. None of these shows blew me away, but the gradual progression of watching Wanda’s psyche crack as she processed her grief in the form of her own little self-isolation bubble was pretty fantastic. Also getting the cameo from X-Men movies Quicksilver was a cool touch on top of giving the Marvel universe the answer to how “mutants” came to be now that they have control over that IP. So while it wasn’t close to perfect, I feel it rebounded the best and kept me engaged from a deeper level than just liking these characters from movies or a comic book.

– This year has definitely been more entertainment focused for me since wrestling in general has become a chore. Nothing was overly captivating and even for what was good, it wasn’t enough to get me to engage in the product (besides needing to cover IMPACT). 2022 promises to start off stronger with NOAH kicking things off in Budokan and NJPW actually treating the Wrestle Kingdom shows like something interesting.

That allows for some hope, but here’s the wrestling aspects of this article.

Top 5 Wrestlers:

  1. Roman Reigns (WWE): Now none of his matches may have made my Top 10, but that doesn’t mean I’m ignorant to his overall impact this year. He’s been a dominant champion, turned his career around, effectively carried the company and finally has the swagger and confidence to be someone the fans don’t want to Boo out of the building. WWE isn’t built around 5 star matches and honestly, pro wrestling for most of history wasn’t focused on that either. They make characters, they make brands to buy into. Roman is the most lucrative brand in wrestling currently.
  2. Shingo Takagi (NJPW): Though it was a generally down year for New Japan, Shingo lit things up in nearly every big singles match he had. When he lost the New Japan Cup to Ospreay and then the following title challenge, myself and many others thought New Japan was really missing the boat. Then Ospreay got hurt, and they had to pivot. Shingo may have honed his skills in Dragon Gate, and he may never be seen as a “New Japan guy”, but in 2022, he was the only guy in New Japan that mattered. So they avoided a major catastrophe by deciding to use him as a Plan B. Now if we could just get them to stop with EVIL.
  3. Bryan Danielson (AEW): Much like Roman, even though I can’t stand the AEW product, I give aspects credit where they deserve it. The story telling is still childishly bad, the character work is even worse and it’s just a giant eFed for kids who weren’t old enough to enjoy the Attitude Era, but Bryan Danielson at least adds in-ring legitimacy. Completely eclipsing Adam Cole’s debut, and being the only thing to keep people buzzing after CM Punk’s initial pop turned into literal no tangible change in viewership or product, he’s all they got. The whole company is a joke, Tony Khan just shot a lot of his good faith in the foot with the Big Swole interaction, but maybe Danielson can work some Mania 30 level of magic to bring people back on board.
  4. Syuri (Stardom): A Joshi wrestler! Nani the fuck, am I right? But let’s be serious, she made headlines with Utami Hayashishita after their Cinderella overtime draw match from Meltzer and the rest of the internet. THEN, she caps off her 2021 by finally winning the belt from Utami. Syuri has always been a legit and accomplished female wrestler, with a background in MMA, Kickboxing (championships in both as well) they don’t get much better than Syuri. She fell into the background early in the DDM days when they were pushing Giulia to the moon, but since she was out, Stardom decided to steer into serious wrestling for at least the main event. Syuri being the hurdle that Utami never could beat, and then the person to end Utami’s 409 day reign was a great capstone to Syuri’s year and solidified her as a major player for overall wrestler of the year.
  5. Josh Alexander (IMPACT): Now this may feel like a biased pick since IMPACT is the only thing I’ve really kept up with, but he got great matches out of so many different people, was involved in major angles and has a lot of general good faith in the IWC. A great technical wrestler with decent enough speaking skills to not seem like a buffoon, but the type to let his actions do the talking. He’s been one of the major shining stars of this current iteration of IMPACT, and should be in line to get a decent Heavyweight title reign in 2022.

Top 10 Matches:

  1. Syuri vs Utami Hayashishita: World of Stardom Title – Tokyo Dream Cinderella Special
  2. Walter vs Ilja Dragunov: NXT UK Championship – NXT: Takeover 36
  3. Shingo Takagi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: NEVER Openweight – New Beginning Nagoya
  4. Shingo Takagi vs Jeff Cobb: NEVER Openweight – Wrestle Kingdom 15
  5. Takashi Sugiura vs Kazuyuki Fujita: GHC National Championship – NOAH The Glory
  6. Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay: – NJC Finals
  7. Josh Alexander vs Chris Sabin: X Division Championship – Victory Road
  8. Kento Miyahara vs Jake Lee vs Yuma Aoyagi: Triple Crown Championship – AJPW Champions Night
  9. Bryan Danielson vs Minoru Suzuki: – Buy In
  10. Willie Mack vs Moose: I Quit Match – Genesis

– There we go, a lot of my top matches are focused towards the front half of the year, but that’s to be expected since I generally lost interest. Aside from things being very Shingo Takagi heavy, I think there’s way more variety in the 10 than I expected. But that’s all for 2021, now let’s hope 2022 starts strong to help me find that spark again!


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Bandwagon Nerds #241: Star Wars Sexy Time?

The Nerds witness Homelanders continuing slide into insanity, check out new trailers, and discuss the possibility of Star Wars going R-rated?

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BWN got preempted for a day due to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. But that does not mean that there is not a lot to discuss on this week’s installment of BWN. The Nerds continue their review of The Boys, Season 4. This week, they review Episodes 3 & 4 and in the immortal words of Dr. Peter Venkman, Homelander has gone bye-bye. Things go from bad to very worse over these two Episodes and the gang has you covered with all the details. A visit to the Trailer Park finds the Nerds checking out the latest trailers for Kinds of Kindness, Smile 2 and The Penguin. In News Around the Nerdosphere, they guys explore the possibility of a Netflix-centric theme park (of sorts), confirm that Spaceballs 2 is happening, mourn the loss of Donald Sutherland, and try to come to grips with the possibility that Star Wars could go R-rated?

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Hockey Talk- Collapse & Expansion [062424]

Hockey Talk discusses Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Plus PC Tunney joins the show to discuss March Madness possibly expanding.

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On a special Monday edition of Hockey Talk, the guys discuss Game 7 of the Stanely Cup Finals, coming up later tonight. A series that seemed over and done with just a week ago has seen one of the most unlikely comebacks in NHL history. The Edmonton Oilers, once down 3-0 in the series, have come roaring back to force a Game 7 in Sunrise, FL later on today. How did we get here, what must each team do to hoist the Cup….and who do the guys think will come out on top? In the back half of the show, PC Tunney arrives on Hockey Talk to discuss the story that broke this week concerning the likely expansion of the field for March Madness. What is driving this and where do Tunney and Patrick see things ending up? Tune in and find out!

Today’s hosts: Dave Ungar (@AttitudeAgg) and Patrick O’Dowd (@WrestlngRealist) with a special guest appearance from PC Tunney (@PCTunney).

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