It’s April and for every wrestling fan, that means only one thing and that is Wrestlemania. The long storied tradition has been the mainstay and the biggest showcase of the immortals for the last 34 years.
This year, located in New Orleans at the Super dome, was a highly anticipated show with many wrestlers in dream matches and a card fully stacked with lots of talent and future hall of famers. The main problem with Wrestlemania this season is that the hype is all there but the end result usually leaves the fans (or in this case the universe) with a bitter taste or apathy at the end with us hoping that the Monday Night Raw giving us more to cheer for. So, with the show being over five hours long including the pre-show, I’ll be breaking down the matches (not move for move because you can write a novel with that) and giving overall opinions based on the end result and give an overall praises and disappointments from the show as well. So, we got five hours to get into a review, so, let’s roll up our sleeves, get those tights fitted and walk down that unnecessarily long ramp way as we delve down and review Wrestlemania.
First, as part of the pre-show festivities was the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal. The goal is for the wrestlers to throw others over the top rope and have them touch both feet on the ground. The match featured more veterans and no real surprises from NXT or indie darlings. The cluster of wrestlers felt very slow and the pacing was drawn out. The couple of highlights featured Goldust being in the match for a while and putting aside a feud with R-Truth before eliminating him. The shocker of the match, if you will insist on, was when “Woken” Matt Hardy was saved by Bray Wyatt as he helped Matt win the match and the two embraced with a handshake and a hug. The will continue the story line for what is going on with Bray and what will become of Matt’s brother Jeff.
The cruiser-weight title was the next match featuring Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander. I was disappointed this was regulated to pre-show as I thought it could’ve been the first match to get the crowd going. With that being said, the match was fine featuring some good spots and some stiff hits along the way but the pacing was very reminiscent of the earlier 205 live days when Vince was at the helm. The new 205 they were showcasing for the last couple of weeks was fast, hard hitting and told a great story along the way and was fun. This match was slow, had some good story and some spots but was a little lackluster and with it being on the pre-show, probably fit it there too. The winner was Cedric Alexander when he hit the lumbar check on Mustafa.
The next match was the 1st womens’ battle royal. This battle royal had more of a story going along with the match with wrestlers like Bayley and Sasha Banks continuing their feud as well as the Riott Squad and Absolution trying to use their stable as a way to keep other wrestlers in check. I enjoyed it more than the mens royal and it featured some NXT wrestlers showcasing their skills and their ability to get the crowd cheering their name. It was quite fun and I think if WWE continue to push women more and more, then the following years to come with get better and better. The winner was Naomi eliminating Bayley when Bayley thought she won by throwing Sasha Banks over the rope.
The pre-show has officially ended and now we start the main show. The first match is for the Intercontinental Championship. We got a triple threat match with Finn Balor vs The Miz vs Seth Rollins. This was one of the best matches on the card. It was face paced, strong shots, false finishes and it told a great story. This had a lot going on that I knew this was a great way to kick off the show with getting the crowd invested. This was a potential show stealer. Seth Rollins won the match and became the new IC champion pinning the Miz after the stomp.
Charlotte Vs Asuka was the next match for the Smackdown Womens championship. I was quite surprised they started out with two huge matches with titles back to back on the line but I was not disappointed. This had lots of great moments with strong strikes by Asuka, Charlotte hitting a top rope Spanish fly on Asuka and Asuka, at the end of the match, having her undefeated streak (longer than Goldbergs) end with the figure 8 leg lock and Asuka tapping out and bowing down to the Queen. This and the IC title match were the best matches for the show and everything else, even though it might have had bigger names or dream scenarios, did not live up to the expectations and floundered.
The next match, we now take a deep breath and start to get our blood pressure to drop since it is now the fatal four way with Rusev vs Bobby Roode vs Jinder Mahal vs Randy Orton. Bathroom breaks and snack lines was for this match. It was slow, not really interesting and it seemed Randy just didn’t really care or bring any kind of investment into the match. The crowd was hot for Rusev and was hoping for his victory but it fell to Jinder Mahal winning the title. The match was forgettable and just was meh.
Luckily, WWE knew people would come back from bathroom and snack line to see the debut of Ronda Rousey. She teamed with Olympic gold medalist and WWE hall of famer Kurt Angle to face Mr and Mrs Stephanie McMahon (Stephanie and HHH). The tag team was a smart idea because you dont want to throw Ronda into a match without someone there to take some of the pressure off of her. Overall, she did very well. She showcased her striking abilities, she took some big bumps in the match and she got the win by hitting the arm bar on Stephanie. The funny thing is that Angle and HHH looked very rusty and I wonder if they did it to not steal Ronda’s moment. Overall, very good match, little on the longer than necessary side, but still a very good match and I’m happy for Ronda and she has done very well since her transition to pro wrestling.
Smackdown tag team match was sloppy and they just wanted to showcase the Bludgeon Brothers as the dominant strong force for Smackdown. They destroyed both the New Day and the Usos. It was a slobber knocker and it was just the Brothers manhandling the two teams. No surprise, they won the titles.
John Cena emerges from the back and we think he might wrestle the Undertaker. After some build up and some lightning and special effects, the dead man emerged from the back and in a weird twist of fate, it was a squash match. I think because Taker gave Cena a rub after his first match back in the early 2000’s, this was a way of Cena making the Taker look strong in probably his last match in the WWE. It was just nice to see the dead man but the match was nothing but Taker showcasing his classic moves before he won the match.
Since the last match had emotions with Undertaker, the WWE wanted more emotion and they used the return of Daniel Bryan next and it got everyone throwing their arms in the air kick starting the return of the “Yes” movement. With Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn facing Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, I was invested and hoping how a 3 year absence from the ring would plague Daniel. He hit all his moves, took bumps to show he can still take them and got the victory with his yes kicks, running knee and the yes lock. This was just a welcome back Daniel match and I was still very happy seeing it happen.
The Raw women’s championship was next with Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax. Another bathroom break match. It was slow, had a couple of spots but the match itself was lackluster and I never thought that Alexa really stood a chance of even winning. Not the best and since it was almost 10 minutes, hopefully the lines at the restrooms were flowing. Nia won the title.
AJ Styles vs Nakamura was a match years in the making since their epic encounter back in NJPW years earlier and it was considered one of the best matches ever. In the WWE, it was another match. I’m not sure if AJ’s injury was hindering or if they were forced to wrestle a certain style but whatever emotional connection they had in Japan kind of fell in WWE. The match was fine and maybe my expectations were so high since they are considered some of the best in the world but something didn’t click as much as I hoped. These two deserved to showcase more than they were given. AJ won and the highlight came after the match with Nakamura giving AJ the low blow and kicking him out of the ring. I’m happy to see a heel Shinsuke and maybe a new stable of “Chaos” in WWE?
The Raw tag belts were next. Bathroom break part three. The Bar faced Braun Strowman and a child from the crowd. Always nice burying the tag team division. Braun beat both Sheamus and Cesaro on his own winning the tag team belts. Good for Braun doing a little comedy setup with the child and the Bar getting those hands.
Last match, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the Universal title. When the crowd chant boring and are more interested in gigantic beach balls in the crowd, that shows that no one is quite interested in the match. Brock took Roman to suplex city and Roman was getting a beaten up similar to when Brock destroyed John Cena. Roman got busted open and did get some offense in the fight but, ultimately it took 5 F-5’s and one on the table and Brock shockingly retained his belt. The rumors were that Brock’s contract was due to expire by midnight. Him retaining makes the fan wonder when he will drop the belt and when he will just go away since fans are now sick of seeing German suplexes and F-5 boring matches.
That was Wrestlemania 34. Overall, the show had its high moments and some low points. The highlights of the show were the IC title match and Charlotte vs Asuka. They both put on some stellar matches and showcased themselves in a great way with hard hitting, story telling and putting together some nice highlight reels for the network. The disappointing segments includes the Raw tag team match, which was just an elongated squash match, the Raw Womens title for the same reasons as the Raw tag team. The WTH moment was the return of the Undertaker. He squashed John Cena, which was awesome, but, it was kind of random and though I was happy seeing him, I wanted more Taker to do more post match.
Overall, Wrestlemania 34 was a decent pay per view with some highs and lows. The best matches seemed to have happened in the first half of the show and the last couple of hours had some lackluster matches and underwhelming championship defenses as well. It wasn’t one of the best but not the worst. It would be somewhere in the upper mids for Wrestlemania. I was happy to watch it but happier seeing NXT the night beforehand. If you like wrestling, watch NXT Take Over and then watch Wrestlemania and see what the difference between storytelling and wrestling is between the two different brands.
Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.
Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2
A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!
It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.
Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.
Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.
Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!
Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!
If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one!
Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive!
So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise.
Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party.
The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe!
Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now!