It’s Showtime – The Running Man

29 03 2017

Have you ever considered appearing in a Game Show? Like many kids of the 1990’s, I used to dream of appearing in shows like Gladiators, The Crystal Maze, Virtually Impossible, and the biggest one of them all; Fun House. As time went on it became obvious that me appearing in any kind of Gameshow was probably not going to happen, but I kept some tiny day dreams for shows like Cross-Fire, Raven, Bamzooki, Jungle Run and of course Robot Wars (which given its return to TV has got me thinking about it once more). While I may not have been a contestant, many people have as is the point of game shows, many of them striving to achieve the grand prize of money, a holiday or maybe a boat. Win or lose though, many of them should be thankful that they were not competing for the right to stay alive.

Released in 1987 by TriStar Pictures and directed by Paul Michael Glaser; The Running Man is a Dystopian Action Thriller based on the book of the same name written by Stephen King (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) where a wrongly convicted man is forced to compete in a gladiatorial style TV game show known as The Running Man. The film is set in America between 2017 and 2019, where after a worldwide economic collapse; the country has become a police state and the government soothes the population with the airing of game shows where convicted criminals have to fight for the right to stay alive with a chance of being pardoned by the state.

Former cop Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is wrongly convicted for the mass shooting of civilians at a food riot after he refuses to follow an order to kill the civilians in the first place, and is now dubbed the Butcher of Bakersfield. He along with a few other inmates including William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and Harold Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) escape from a labour camp, with Ben going to his brother’s apartment to hide out only to discover that it is now occupied by Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso); a composer for ICS who are the broadcaster of The Running Man. Taking Amber as a hostage, Ben intends to leave the country for Hawaii, but while at the Airport, Amber informs the authorities and Richards is captured. Taken to ICS, Richards meets the host and producer of The Running Man; Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) who tries to persuade Ben into competing in the show. When he refuses, Killian threatens to enter Laughlin and Weiss instead; upon learning this Richards agrees to take part.

The next day the show begins with people all over America and from different backgrounds tuning in to watch. Backstage, Amber; who is working on the show that night discovers some evidence that some of the news made about Richards maybe untrue and goes in search to find out more. As the show begins and Richards is introduced, Killian reveals that he has entered Weiss and Laughlin into the show anyway. Richards threatens to return for Killian, before he and his other inmate pals are sent on their way through large tunnels on strange rocket powered sledges. The Idea of the Running Man is that the contestants are forced to run through a large area of urban wasteland while being chased by an elite team of Killer Stalkers; if they survive, they are pardoned for their crimes. The Audience though love all this brutality and cannot wait for the first stalker to be introduced; that stalker being a very large hockey player dressed character called Sub Zero (Professor Toru Tanaka). The three runners are penned into Sub Zero’s own specially designed area and are toyed with endlessly until Richards uses a barbed wire fence to strangle him, killing him in the process, the first time that has happened in the history of the show. With the audience in shock, the three runners use this advantage to get away. While in the game zone, Laughlin and Weiss use this opportunity to find the network’s uplink for the benefit of the resistance. Amber meanwhile has been caught, and is forced to enter the Running Man also; she arrives just before two more stalkers enter the game zone in the form of chainsaw wielding Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch) and arc electricity user Dynamo (Erland Van Lidth). Buzzsaw fatally wounds Laughlin, while Weiss is shocked to death by Dynamo. Richards kills Buzzsaw with his own chainsaw, but spares the life of Dynamo after his electric suit stops working. Richards agrees to carry out Laughlin’s last request of getting the uplink node information to the resistance within the game zone. Off camera; Killian sends a message to Ben offering him a job as a stalker, but he refuses, and Killian sends out the next stalker; the flamethrower wielding Fireball (Jim Brown). In the studio and outside however, the audience starts cheering for Richards given his unstoppable killing streak. While being chased around by Fireball; Amber discovers the decaying bodies of the supposed winners of the last series of the show, discovering that their victory was faked. Richards then kills Fireball by blowing him up.

Running out of options (and stalkers), Killian asks the help of retired and champion stalker Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura). Freedom however refuses as he does not like the way the show has become compared to what it was like when he used to do it. Using body doubles, Killian fakes the death of both Richards and Amber by the hands of Captain Freedom. Ben and Amber meanwhile are still in the game zone and have been found by the resistance and their leader Mic (Mick Fleetwood) and learn of their faked deaths. Using the transmitter info acquired by Weiss earlier, the resistance launches a two-pronged attack on ICS. First they show footage of what really happened at the Bakersfield riot and present details that Killian has been lying to the audience for a very long time. Then resistance fighters led by Ben and Amber break into the studio fighting the guards. Amber succeeds in killing Dynamo while Ben confronts Killian. Killian’s bodyguard Sven (Sven-Ole Thorsen) shows up, but decides not to fight Richards as he has had enough of his boss and walks off. Killian tries to convince Richards that he was only doing what the audience were asking for; saying that they love reality TV and televised violence. Richards decides to give the audience what he thinks they really want and sends Killian off in one of the rocket powered sledges down the same tunnel that Richards went down. Killian crashes into a sign on the way out bearing his image and dies, while Richards and Amber leave the studio sharing a kiss on their way out.

One thing that stands out about The Running Man is that while it may not be the first among discussed films of the same genre, or even not as frequently mentioned as other Arnold Schwarzenegger films of note; it is still a very entertaining and enjoyable film. While maybe not Schwarzenegger’s best film or performance, this does not distract from how enjoyable the experience this film delivers. The Running Man is one of those films that is guaranteed to entertain an audience whether it be a seasoned viewer, or even those who are watching it for the first time. Saying that though is pretty simple, as explaining why is even harder. While I could immediately jump on saying that the film has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it, I think that could be considered cheating. From an action point of view, The Running Man delivers plenty of it. It does what any quality action film does, which is always having something going on, and never too slow. It has lots of running around, plenty of fights, death, explosions while also allowing the use of drama to give those scenes purpose. It’s swift and uneasy, but does not lose sight from its main plot or setting. It’s very basic levels of action uses its scene and scenario to ramp it up and create more meaning, providing the audience with a continued reason to watch. The film’s setting, while not being fully represented, still presents an idea of what it is like to live in a dystopian America, really representing the lives of rich and poor, but also presenting an idea of how a police state could soothe tensions within the populace to keep it under a better form of control than with strong levels of violence. One thing though that probably helps a lot in its film making is how that while you are watching a film; you are also an audience member of this TV Gameshow. The Running Man is presented like many classic American game shows with the charismatic host and big budget effects, to produce the best show they can. In the case of The Running Man the show has its charismatic and popular host; it has music, dancers, merchandise as well as a reality TV effect to it which always grabs an audience. Another thing in the shows profile is how it incorporates what Pro Wrestling was like around the time of the film’s release with a cavalcade of wrestling gimmicks. While said gimmicks are pretty much non-existent to a point these days, back then it was all the range, and with the show’s Stalkers; while they are blood thirsty killers, they are taking on personas with a detailed and strong gimmick. This combination of reality TV and Pro Wrestling along with everything else makes The Running Man Gameshow the kind of show people could actually get into to, even nowadays as it’s a perfect formula conjured up from some of television’s most popular programming. While you are indeed watching a film, you are still watching a Gameshow as presented in the fictional scenario. With the films level of action, small but basic plot, and unique presentation style; creates a very entertaining and enjoyable film. That does not mean though that everything is plain sailing, or perfect.

The Running Man is actually a very small film; not necessarily in length, more in the form of detail. There is a lot going on in the background and a very strong setting is implied, but not delved into. The film says that America is a dystopian police state, but the only evidence of that is a strong police force that could be considered more as security rather than peace keepers. There are a lot of city scenes, some showing a more privileged sector, and that of a down trodden and poor area too, but there are only two scene shots of this, one on a small street area, and the other on the outskirts with the city in the background, but it does not suggest police state, just city and slums; like many a large city. We are told there is a resistance movement but because we have no grounding as to how bad this police state is, there is no real building of reasoning as to why a basic resistance movement is required or needed. That’s the major problem with this film’s setting; that while we are told this stuff, there is no visual evidence to back it up with, other than some scenes with police forces casually walking around. The only thing we have is this TV Show, and that too causes a major plot problem in that supposedly bringing down the TV Station is all that matters. The resistance works hard to bring down a game show and TV channel; but if you are living in a police state where the political elites have control, why would bringing down a TV channel solve the problem? It’s a big foot hole in the plot, because the more you watch it, the more you want to tell everyone that it really doesn’t matter, it does not really solve much, if anything; it’s just going to get worse from here on out. So the ending is a bit unhooked. It’s a real shame really, because the city from a visual perspective looks really good.

On the perspective that the producers of the film could not see into the future, the film’s game show does not lend itself to the current modern-day culture that we live in. One thing that stands out with the film’s selection of stalkers is how they are designed not necessarily around practicality, but more around gimmicks and personas of pro wrestling at the time of the film’s release. In that respect when looked at now it could suggest that the film may not have aged well, but this is only in one short way. Yes the Stalkers do look a bit ridiculous now, but back then would have looked pretty impressive, and in honesty, they are not all that bad. This however brings me quite neatly into another of the films major issues, which is that the cast on the whole is a bit shoddy. The stalker gimmicks are nicely made and it’s easy to see where the ideas came from and what the film’s producers were hoping to achieve, but there aren’t many standouts. Dynamo for instance comes packed with a costume which even back then would have probably looked ridiculous with the glowing hair and light up costume, it looks dire. Buzzsaw does not really do much other than show off his teeth, and Sub Zero is rather wasted given that Professor Toru Tanaka is actually a pretty cool big guy actor when given an actual chance to show off. In reality it makes Tanaka’s performance in an episode of the A-Team far more career prestigious than in a big action film starring Schwarzenegger. In the end it does come down to Captain Freedom and Fireball, which in itself is rather sad. For the most part, both characters; while given major credited parts find themselves on the side-lines until necessary. Fireball’s introduction is rather late on, but has a much stronger stalker part than the others. His entrance and intro is one of the film’s best looking and most enjoyable scenes, plus he helps shed some light on the malpractices of the show. Jesse Ventura as Captain Freedom has a similar part as he is played as mainly the retired veteran of the sport who has great memories and respect for what he used to do and how he did it. His passion for the sport shows off well as he does not like the new wave gimmicks and probably would want to take on Richards if it was left to him and not Killian. Much like Fireball, he is a late intro and is only really referenced up to this point, but his veterancy and style portrays a really interesting character that creates an on-screen identity before he even becomes relevant. Both Brown and Ventura give good performances but it’s only worth between 10 and 15 minutes of the entire film; they both deserved well more.

The rest of the cast is pretty much near hit and misses with very few of the headliners actually standing out. I don’t really get much of a feeling for Mick Fleetwood’s character, nor Weiss, and while Amber’s character does improve towards the end of the film, it just feels rather late. There is some interesting cast minors such as Killian’s assistant Brenda (Karen Leigh Hopkins), The Running Man’s director Tony (Kurt Fuller) and of course Sven who sadly could have had more of a part. From there though we do get some cool characters; Laughlin for instance has great on set chemistry between himself and Richards. If it was not the case of these two needing to work together, he could be a really good nemesis for Schwarzenegger, but in this case what we have is a strong ally for Richards. While he does meet a gruesome end at the end thanks to Buzzsaw, he does produce one of the film’s most powerful and poignant moments backed up with that killer soundtrack. It is an interesting but good casting as it’s one that could have worked either way, be it friend or foe. Richard Dawson is an inspired casting for the part of the cold and ruthless game show host. Given his background and history of Gameshow hosting, it comes more naturally to him, as he looks and feels like a game show host, no matter what the context. He is able to draw popularity to himself through a natural form of charisma, but on top of that he is also able to play a character, one who enjoys a level of ruthlessness that comes with the power and joy of presentation and production control, one that also makes himself believe that whatever he is doing is not necessarily selfish, but right. It is an incredible part and one played by a naturally talented persona that produces a real sense of reality to a very fictional product. Arnold Schwarzenegger for me is someone whose career I have known about but have seen him in very few roles. I have seen most of the Terminator’s, Batman and Robin and Kindergarten Cop, and it’s hard not to think of the large brutish character we have come to expect from said roles. He is a big muscle guy, but it’s hard to see him in other light especially with him playing very archetypal roles. This however does allow me to see another side to him. Yes, he is the muscle-bound hero, but there is more to him here. There is compassion to his friends, love (in the end) for him and Amber but also a sense of belief between right and wrong given his introduction and background. While the film makes use of his well-known line from The Terminator (just 3 years earlier), there are more lines to come, including a very daft form of spoken humour when it comes to the stalker deaths. While he does have a very physical role to play, he shows and does more than that, and in the process allows audiences who have only seen one real side of him to see more of what is quite a cool and diverse actor when provided with a chance.

The Running man does have some interesting and nice effects to it, all be it though come mostly down to some nicely designed and created set pieces such as the tunnels and the main stage of the game show itself. The jumpsuits (I had to at some point didn’t I) are not too putting off; yes they look weird, sort of like how Arnie would look if he was asked to play Wolverine in the iconic spandex (I really don’t think bright banana yellow is his colour), but altogether look ok in different colours. It’s not the best effects of the film but more than most is definitely not the worst. But it’s not really the films effects where I want to look at; more the film’s incredible soundtrack. The Running Man’s soundtrack (composed by Harold Faltermeyer) on the whole sounds very futuristic, but also very low; not sad but grimmer, helping to construct the idea of a dystopian future. It has a lot in common I think to Escape From New York with powerful and hard-hitting keyboards with a sense of fast and light rock. There are four pieces though I would like to make particular mention of; the start of the show, Laughlin’s death, the broadcast attack and the end credits. Mick’s Broadcast attack features this very light siren like sound to begin with which appears rather irrelevant, but quickly builds to include other sounds. It is a pretty light track until the fast repeating drums come in. Before this, they feature the Running Man’s general theme, something which can be heard throughout the film; but once those drums come in, a different piece comes to the stage. It actually breaks the tension and grim sounds of the previous pieces of music and allows a lighter sense of hope as an attack comes its way. It’s in no way optimistic or celebrating, but it gives a lighter more hopeful energy which suggests change in the film’s plot. It’s still dark, low and tense and continues to produce, but it’s a different vision of what once was and is now to come.

A good film plot, as many people will tell you is about change; change from one thing into something else. The Running Man is a film which features a small but dramatic change, the change of a country from one that is cut in half by class, to one united by a common goal, the same could be said for the change in Richards, as he goes from a criminal, to that of a free man. While the broadcast theme suggests change and hope, the end credits (Restless Heart by John Parr), actually present one, as it’s a theme that is much lighter. Gone are the low-toned sounds of a despotic regime raining down on its citizens, in comes the sound of willful change and hope as we see a nation now with hope for a change in attitude, even if it is very much only suggested. It’s a nice light theme for the film to end on in general and has a nice beginning to it, which really helps provide that breath of fresh as it all comes to an end, all the excitement and adrenaline is now over, so remember to breathe.

The ICS Theme for the game show itself is actually pretty light and does not feel as hard-hitting as a game show’s introduction should be. It does not feel catchy or memorable, just light; but mix it in with the dancers, and a different perspective is revealed, that of less a game show, more of an event, and one that requires and deserves a level of build up to get the audience going before the main event begins. It’s a similar idea I think to when in The Hunger Games there is that 1 minute countdown to the bloodbath, the calm before the Storm, but held in a slightly more glorious way as this time the whole nation is backing it, and because it’s the kind of show which gives audience participation, there has to be that level of joy for them too as the show begins. One track in The Running Man that is not joyous is that of when Laughlin dies. The Running Man’s general musical theme is this sort of keyboard based riff which can be heard in several parts of the film, more of an atmospheric track than anything else, but when Laughlin dies it is played a lot heavier. It’s the loss of a good strong friend and his message for Richards, one which Richards agrees too, but also from belief that Richards should have died not Laughlin. It is a pretty funky track and sound, but especially more so at this point when the notes are pretty much being slammed by the soloist. It is a game of life and death, but becomes more real at this point, and the soundtrack goes out of its way to use this point as the most poignant reminder of this, creating the film’s and film’s soundtrack’s best and most memorable moment.

The Running Man critically is a very hard one to judge. Yes it has its issues ranging from a mainly makeshift cast, to a setting and theme which is not really delved into enough to really provide scope. On the other hand though it delivers an incredible soundtrack, some wonderfully designed set pieces, some interesting moments, but on the whole a lot of very enjoyable moments of action. As a dystopian thriller, it definitely does not hold a lot of ground and there are far better ones out there than this. But as a dystopian action film; this is one of the best. While I still prefer the Hunger Games and Battle Royale; I would happily put this up a good level. It has something that every action film fan would enjoy while also using a unique perspective to create something that is truly unique in cinema. Trust me on this when I say that this is a truly enjoyable film; I mean it, give it a go.

GENEPOOL (The poster is a bit off-putting).





Top 8 WWE Tag Teams From The Mid-2000’s That Did Not Get A Proper Opportunity

8 02 2017

WWE Logo

When I started watching WWE in 2004, the Tag Team division (at least on Smackdown) were alight with some cool tag team matches. Around at the time were teams like The Dudley Boyz, as well as a string of other tag teams made up of singles wrestlers including the teams of: Paul London and Billy Kidman, Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio as well as Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki. While it may not have been a golden period for tag team wrestling, it was still pretty good. Come a few changes in the line-ups (less than a year later) however, and the tag teams were pretty low in terms of quality. You had MNM on Smackdown engaging in competition every week with the supposedly ‘only’ tag team around at the time made up of Charlie Haas and Hardcore Holly, where as Raw was pretty much doing what Smackdown had done one year previously, creating tag teams made up of singles wrestlers such as Eugene and William Regal and William Regal and Tajiri.

Dudley Boyz

As 2005 started to round down however, things began to change, with a string of tag teams entering the company, not exactly made up of well-known single wrestlers, but teams specifically put together for the purposes of tag team wrestling before they debuted. This was a major move for the company as it was an opportunity to create new and potential future stars, as well as lighten up a division which had been pretty static all this time. Some of these did go on to achieve some success, even winning a few tag team titles; teams like the aforementioned MNM, as well as Deuce ‘n Domino, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, Spirit Squad, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, as well as the rebooted L.O.D. made up of long time Road Warrior; Animal, and the fledgling Heidenreich (although this could have been done more to promote a recently released DVD). Some of the Tag Teams though that appeared during this time (and there were a decent few) did not really get an opportunity to shine, which was a shame as some of them were pretty good. OK, yes some were pretty bad too, the main ones coming to mind (at least in my opinion) being; The Dicks (the Heart Throbs were not too bad although they were pretty much near the same as The Dicks).

Those though that were at least pretty good to a point though did not get much of an opportunity to shine, many of them sometimes receiving tag team title shots, but in the end did not actually get them, and although some lasted a while, in the end most were either released, or broken up (which created numerous other problems which did not work out either). The thing is though, for me personally, I had high hopes for these teams, and still fondly remember them to this day, and so I wanted to do a post on these teams. Originally I was going to do a post with just the top 5, but I wanted to be as inclusive as I could be, so I thought about doing 7, then 8 because I remembered one other team. So here and now then are the Top 8 Tag Teams from the mid 2000’s in WWE that I fondly remember, as well as I feel did not get their justly right opportunities.

la-resistance

8. La Resistance (rebooted) – When WWE brought back the ECW promotion in 2006, I was pretty excited given what I had heard about the ECW brand. How wrong I was to be excited; it was basically more like an episode of Heat with a Hardcore match each week for about 3 weeks, and then it just became Heat. Anyway, there were some good things for a time on it, things like TEST, Marcus Cor Von and a rebooted La Resistance. La Resistance were a tag team on Monday Night Raw for a few years made up of members Rene Dupree, Rob Conway and Sylvan Grenier. They had some pretty good success and for a time was the main tag team on Raw winning the championship 4 times overall. The group though eventually split, and Conway and Grenier had some interesting time as singles performers. Just over a year after ECW returned, Grenier and Dupree were brought back together to fight on ECW. Given how much Grenier improved in singles competitions, plus both he and Dupree’s Tag Team pedigree; I was pretty interested (was a fan of Dupree on Smackdown too) to see the result. The problem though was that they were on ECW, a promotion that had no real Tag Team division, nor tag team titles. So they eventually just disappeared after no more than 1 match. It was a shame really; I can still fondly remember their entrance music.

7. The Pitbulls – The Pitbulls is a name that has been used for many Tag Teams in the past, but I am talking about the team of Kid Kash and Jamie Noble. Both of these wrestlers were in the cruiserweight division and had some success in singles competition; but when they formed together making the Pitbulls it was a pretty exciting moment. At the time they were very hot single cruiserweight wrestlers, and teams made of cruiserweight wrestlers (like London and Kidman) usually were good value. These two though were not plumped on ECW, No, they were put on Velocity. Heat and Velocity were the shows WWE put on before the big events like Pay-Per-Views, Raw and Smackdown, just small things to get the audience going.  But if you were on one of the main shows and then went to Velocity or Heat, it was nearly a career death sentence. Some people did alright from it like Val Venis, but most of the time, it was where guys went before they were released from their contract. The Pitbulls had a few matches on Velocity and were pretty good, but it all ended rather abruptly after Kid Kash was released. Jamie Noble still stuck around for a time though.

jesse-and-festus

6. Jesse and Festus – In many cases with Tag Team wrestling, it’s not uncommon for teams to be made up of one little person, and one big person. During this time in wrestling Val Venis (not saying Val Venis is a small person, but…) was paired up with Viscera. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just the case that it can sometimes look like one certain person is doing all the work. That was not necessarily the case with these two, but the way they worked it out it could certainly look like that. Jesse and Festus played the parts of two wrestlers supposedly from the Deep South. Jesse was like a cruiserweight, Festus was definitely a heavyweight. Jesse was the talker/spokesperson of the team, whereas Festus was the muscle (it doesn’t help does it). It was a strange tag team in all honesty, as Festus looked like someone who should have been more in singles competition. Basically, Festus did not do any talking at all. He stared blankly into the camera, but supposedly had some kind of condition, which made him change personality from this dopey looking figure, to an enraged monster: when he heard the bell ring. Despite the strangeness of the team and its issues here and there, they were pretty entertaining, at one point acting like a removal firm. They had some good back stage moments, and some good in ring matches, including a good one between The Undertaker and Festus. But like many good, and entertaining Tag Teams in WWE, the two were split up. Jesse tried to become a member of Cryme Tyme, while Festus went on to be a sort of hard man enforcer type for many wrestlers like CM Punk in his Straight Edged Society. Jesse was eventually released from the company, later followed by Festus. It’s not all sad though, as Festus has returned to WWE once again in Tag Team competition as a member of The Club with AJ Styles and Karl Anderson; albeit now being called Luke Gallows.

tyson-tomko-and-gene-snitsky

5. Gene Snitsky and Tyson Tomko – This was another one of those cases where two mainly singles guys were brought together. Gene Snitsky had played the part of a large monster on Raw for a good long time and had scored a victory over Kane, and had been featured in a few main events including the main even at Survivor Series in 2004. But he began to dwindle after a time. Tyson Tomko was a big guy who could physically go, but spent most of his time acting like a bodyguard to Christian (much like Luther Reigns did for Kurt Angle), and we very rarely saw what he could do. So teaming these two together seemed like a good scenario, as two of the biggest and most imposing guys in WWE at the time would finally get an opportunity to show off. Well, to begin with you did not really get to see them, their main claim to fame was some kind of neck kink incident that John Cena walked in on. They did get one or two tag team title shots, but never really got it and then it just ended. It was a real shame; Tyson Tomko was one of these guys, much like Luther Reigns, who did have a good physical stance, but very little allowance to wrestle, and are instead hired to be bodyguards; Gene Snitsky meanwhile had proved what he was capable of, but this was never allowed either, and while this teaming up should have been a major move by WWE, it never went anywhere, and then they just disappeared.

the highlanders

4. The Highlanders – The Highlanders were a team of wrestlers apparently originating from Scotland who made a name for themselves mainly in Canada and in OVW. They came into WWE as two large, brutish wrestlers who had their own comedy and entertainment value and who in their first couple of weeks had shown what they could do, this swiftly ended with a loss to the Spirit Squad, and they just wandered for a long time. They became less a wrestling team, more a couple of guys backstage brought out for entertainment value, not wrestling value. This did change about a year later with a pretty good heel turn, which sadly did not last. When they first showed up they were very impressive and looked like ‘the team’; the ones everyone should look out for, the ones who got so hyped that they were going to be the tag team divisions next big thing, but sadly it never happened.

cryme-tyme

3. Cryme Tyme – For both Wrestling skill and backstage entertainment; no-one was better than Cryme Tyme. Cryme Tyme first appeared with a series of vignettes/promos where they appeared to be portraying a very stereotypical view on American street gangs. This view was shown by having two guys rob shops and beat people up, but in a way that was made to look entertaining. When Cryme Tyme finally appeared on Raw, they set the whole division ablaze with two wins against the Spirit Squad in a row. Their tag team skills in the ring were very good and they had some good finishers and good tactics (such as Shad Gaspard getting the pin, while JTG would distract the other team-mate). It was a good in ring team, but when they went backstage, they lit up the scene with a load of inappropriate sketches where they would greatly disrespect authority figures and rip people off. Their time as a team was sadly short, but they did get another go which went pretty ok too, but for a team that more than most showed they deserved a run with the titles; they never got them, and much like Jesse and Festus, they were split up in a move that was genuinely a bad move. Cryme Tyme were a fantastic team, and their combination of in ring skill and back stage antics made them one of the most memorable tag teams of that time if not more.

the mexicools

2. The Mexicools – The Mexicools were one of the first in the wave of teams that came about during this period of new tag teams. They were originally a stable made up of three very successful cruiserweight wrestlers; namely Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis and Super Crazy. The team was made to look like another group of stereotypes mainly that of Mexican immigrants employed to do house work. To this end the team would always come to the ring on a trio of Lawnmowers. The team originally started as just a group who would invade and disrupt matches, but soon would actually get involved with matches. This took the form of Juventud working as a singles wrestler and the group’s leader, and both Psicosis and Super Crazy in Tag Team competition. Within a short space of time, the group showed off with ease how good a team they were; displaying incredible tag team manoeuvres as well as spectacular single in ring performances including amazing high-flying skills. At the time, this team were more than obvious the ones who should have been getting title opportunities, and they did, nearly. Basically, the Mexicools got a shot at MNM’s tag team titles for the 2005 Armageddon Pay-Per-View.  The Smackdown before that said Pay-Per-View, Batista and Rey Mysterio won the Tag Team titles; so you would instantly think that come Armageddon, the Mexicools would face Batista and Rey Mysterio instead right? Wrong! Yes despite winning a shot at the titles; when the titles were won by somebody else, the team of Psicosis and Super Crazy did not fight that said team, but would fight MNM as usual, despite MNM not being the champions at that time. It was just stupid and ridiculous, and with the Mexicools finally on course to get something, they lose it for stupid reasons. The Mexicools hung round for a while after that, but Juventud had left, then Psicosis, and Super Crazy had a short singles run; until what became one of the most promising, and most deserving tag teams out there, became nothing!

the gymini

1. The Gymini – The Gymini were an interesting team. First introduced by Simon Dean on an episode of Smackdown, (with a cool entrance theme) one of them appeared followed by another. It was two rather large, muscled men who looked like a spitting image of one another. They showed no signs of being singles wrestlers pushed into one; they were in fact two real life twins also known as the Shane Twins who had some success in other companies. They came to WWE and quickly dispatched the hot tag team of the time; Paul London and Brian Kendrick, and they did this over a good few weeks. They stood out as a team; they both came with good individual in ring skills, as well as a series of team based moves which mostly involved throwing people in the air. They were as big as many singles performers and were dominant in every match. But again, were not given their just opportunity. They sort of stagnated and had one or two matches here and there, but instead of getting anywhere near the titles, they just dwindled, with the titles surprisingly being given to: Paul London and Brian Kendrick, the same guys the Gymini had destroyed on weekly occasions. It just did not make sense. The Gymini did not get a major full run compared to some other teams on this list, but for that very brief period in which they showed up and dominated the scene, they were in my opinion the best Tag Team of that period, and the one I wanted to see more of, and success brought too.

GENEPOOL





Play it Again Philip

22 06 2016

Philips DVD Player

This past Saturday, I bought a brand new DVD player. Not much in the extraordinary I understand: people buy DVD’s and DVD Players all the time; so why is mine so special? Well, I say this, because, the previous DVD Player I had I received all the way back in November 2005. Yes, I have had the same DVD Player for nearly exactly 11 years. Yet again, maybe not the most extraordinary thing out there to talk about, but given the time I had it for and had become acclimatised too, plus the panic and nerves I created in buying a new one, I thought it could be an interesting blog post (if anyone is interested in history of personal items belonging to other people, sort of like those posts I wrote last year about my Bed).

New Bed with Bedding

Back in 2004, I got into watching Pro Wrestling. Every Saturday morning for a time I would watch WWE Smackdown on Sky One. As time passed by, I bought some WWE DVD’s to watch, however the only DVD player in the house was down stairs, and it was hard to watch any WWE event on DVD on the DVD Player as other people were not necessarily a big as a fan of WWE as I was. After several months, I decided to buy my own DVD Player, and put it in my room with my TV. So, the day after my birthday, I bought one from Currys, took it home, hooked it up to my TV and was able to watch programming. I cannot remember much about that player, except the title screen showed bubbles, the manufacturer started with an S and it had this blue streak across the front of the machine. That machine was pretty problematic as it would not play some DVD’s, would majorly struggle with others, and by October (less than 5 months after buying it), the machine packed in and had swallowed one of my DVD’s (WWE Armageddon 2004). My Mam took me to Currys, but they could not fix it, and the following Monday when I returned, they were able to take out the disc, but the machine had already totalled. As I still had the receipt, I was able to swap it though, and under the advice of a store clerk, I bought the Philips Machine, which worked brilliantly for over a decade.

Philips DVD Player 2

The machine was a nice silvery colour, and the controller was short and fat, but easy to control. It was a wonderful machine. I remember the week I picked it up, going to Currys with the old one after College, swapping it over, watching some DVD’s on it, then breaking my Knee Cap the following Saturday. It’s not the DVD Players fault, it just happened within a few days of each other. Anyway, it was good and I liked it. Back then I had an old TV which my family had previously rented before buying which I then utilised for my room. It was perched on a table which I still have, and the DVD Player was next to it. The early history of the machine was tumultuous as there were some scart issues. The old TV had only one Scart Plug, so over the years when I got more items requiring a socket, I would have to switch from one to the other, which weakened the connection, so it was hard for it to sit in the socket properly, which was even harder when the TV would get shoved aside, which would cause colour issues. At one point I bought a multi scart from Comet which I was assured by a store clerk would work well, but did not, and it was covered by those ridiculous small prints that once the package was opened could not be returned; I wasted some good money on that thing. Eventually however, I received the old downstairs TV (a JVC), which was bigger and had multiple scart sockets, so problem solved in the long-term.

The TV

What followed was many more entertaining and wonderful years of watching DVD’s, until just a few weeks ago. I had begun to re-watch the first season of Arrow on DVD. After playing the episodes, the DVD Player would struggle to reload the menu screen. I just thought that may be due to the disc being a previously used copy, but it just got worse. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch Hellboy, but the machine really struggled to load the DVD, it took forever. I cleaned the disc best I could, but once again struggled. I was able to watch it in the end, but I decided to run a test, if it was the DVD, or the player. I took out my DVD copy of Pacific Rim, something I had only run in the machine twice, meaning the disc was still relatively new. I put into the machine, and it did not load. The player was really good for loading a disc in less than about 12 seconds, after 30+, it did not load. I tried to empty the machine, but it even struggled with opening the tray. Luckily I was able to get it out. I then took the DVD downstairs and put it into one of the Players down stairs, and the disc loaded in seconds without a hitch (once I put it in the right way). I tried one more time a week or so later, and it was the same result for the Philips. I did not bother trying it down stairs; it was obvious the machine was dying.

Philips DVD Player Controller

In the end, I decided to buy a new machine. The Philips I had for all that time was a very good machine and had served me well, but even I knew it was time to say goodbye. I did some pre-checking in PC World and Currys, before then deciding that this past Saturday would be the day I would buy a new machine. It was quite handy too as I had been in town before purchasing it to get some books, and watch Princess Mononoke at The Dukes. I went into Currys and had a look. It was nerve-wracking as for one I did not want to spend too much, but two, because the TV was old, it would need some form of old connection as standard in order for me to be able to use it (and three, having previously bought a terrible Matsui from Currys many years ago, was hoping to buy something not so terrible). While I was in Currys I did ponder whether it would be best to get a new TV too, but given my current employment status (desperately looking for work) I knew I would have to raid my savings to buy a new one. So for now it was just the DVD Player. In the end and with some help, it came down to 2 machines, a Sony and a LOGIK. Knowing it would be better to get a more trusted brand, or at least one I had heard of, I went originally for the Sony as it had the Yellow White Red connections in the back, but when someone in the shop said that strangely the box might not contain those cables, I thought in that case I would buy the LOGIK as it had a Scart Connection too (although did not come with the cables, but I could still use the one from the Phillips) plus the coloured connectors and USB (and HDMI I think). After purchasing it plus buying some other bits and bobs quickly, I brought the machine home, and soon after set to work plugging it in.

Philips and LOGIK DVD Player Controller's

It was relatively straight forward in the end, just swap out the Philips, plug-in the LOGIK and then test it. Yeah, pretty simple. When it came to testing it which was simple enough, I knew I needed something good and clear to test it with. The TV is not HD, and frankly I do not care about HD, but I still wanted a clear enough picture. So, I chose the film AKIRA. AKIRA is of course the animated Japanese film from the late eighties, and knowing due to the film’s high sophisticated choice of colouring, knew it would be ideal to test it with. And it worked absolutely fine. It loaded very quickly, and it was a clear picture.

Neo-Tokyo

The controller is a lot thinner than the old one, but still easy to use, and unlike the Philips, does have an open/close button. Once I watched a little Akira, I tried it again a couple of times later, watching an episode of The Detectives, and the video diary of Tim Vine (from one of his DVD’s). Altogether, I like my new DVD player. It’s thin and black and fits nicely where the old one used to be. It’s black so fits in with the Virgin Media box sitting comfortably on top (both are very light, but did not fancy placing the player on top the box, as it’s wider), is quick, and very easy to use. So turns out I did not have to worry so much. So, so far so good. Will it last another 11 years, I don’t know, but as long as it lasts a good comfortably long period, I won’t need to worry about buying another one for some considerable time. So, all in all: good.

LOGIK DVD Player

GENEPOOL (Pop Quiz Hot Shot: What is the above title a line reference too that most people get wrong)?





SLAM

14 04 2016

Wrestling

In walked the opponent,

His eyes glaring,

The audience cheering.

He walked down the ramp,

And into the waiting ring,

Awaiting the ding.

First a blurry of fists,

Tenderising him like he was chops of lamb,

Before connecting with the slam.

One, Two Three it was over,

The champion with the belt held high,

Before waving the crowd goodbye.

GENEPOOL





More Reasons To Watch WWE

29 02 2016

WWE Logo

Back in 2014 I wrote a piece about WWE suggesting that there was not much left to watch about it other than about 3 Wrestlers; AJ Lee, Paige and Sting. Well since then a lot has happened that has brought me a lot of joy and entertainment since then. While this may not have returned me to diehard fan status, there is a lot more interest in it for me once again and so I thought I would do a quick post highlighting all the good stuff recently and that there is in WWE right now. It’s not exactly an additional post; it’s more just a list of things as to why WWE is worth keeping an eye on.

Paige

Paige: One of the things that always grabs my attention in WWE is Paige. Not just because she is British and it’s great to see some British Wrestlers in WWE, but also because she is a very good wrestler, and storylines surrounding her are always enjoyable, and is one I like to keep up to date with.

Becky Lynch: While we are on the subject of Divas; there is one recent addition to Raw who sounds promising, and while I have not seen much of her, it’s still pretty good to have someone from the UK region who is also being touted as one of top performers right now. Also she has a fantastic sounding entrance theme/titantron.

Dudley Boyz

Dudley Boyz: While it has been a while since they were last seen on TV, as far as I am aware; It’s still fantastic for such a great team, especially from the late attitude era to be a part of WWE once again; especially seeing how child friendly it all is today.

The New Day: Albeit just for the things they say to the ring and backstage, The New Day are just funny to watch, and sometimes emulate.

Sting Champion

Sting: Wrestling is so much more fun when ting has something to do with it. Yes, he has been on and off since his debut, yes he has yet to win a single match, but merely his presence is enough to set off the audience. He does not even need to fight, he could just stand in the ring staring at the crowd blankly and ominous. But that’s not to say his wrestling is not Fantastic also, he is just a one of kind person who improves something by simply appearing, anything more than that is just another fantastic bonus. Also he is due to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year.

Undertaker

The Undertaker: The big resurgence (along with the word Resurgence) most recently is of course the re-appearance of The Undertaker in a more substantial way other than simply appearing at WrestleMania. The Undertaker remains my favourite Wrestler to this day, and much like Sting, his appearance alone is just Fantastic, and creatures an urge, a spirit to see more of him, and when he finally does make a much bigger appearance, it was all the worth it. Well, with WrestleMania now on the Horizon, it should not be too long now.

AJ Styles: The one thing that has me more interested in WWE right now more than anything is the arrival of AJ Styles. A wrestler who I have watched for many years in TNA is now in WWE, and it’s already looking like big things are being planned for him, what with him engaging with Chris Jericho in his first match. I am hoping that this will mean a WWE Title shot sooner than later, but I don’t want his career in WWE to be jinxed so quickly, as first he really needs to build up and show that he is worth it. But if Sheamus can do it in just a few months, why not Styles? In any case, it is just fantastic that such a high calibre wrestler like Styles is now in WWE where a much larger audience can see him, although I am not too sure about his Entrance Music, as I always preferred ‘Get Ready To Fly’.

GENEPOOL (All we need now is a return from Booker T – and possibly a few others – and WWE will be even better, possibly).








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