TFW You Find Out You Weigh Nearly A Quarter Ton [Weight Loss Grind, Pt 1]

I’ve been making some pretty big changes in my life recently, so I can undo some changes I’ve made in the last few years. I hope you’ll join me.

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Banned Wipe, Gernader Jake, & Astro Sins 1st Trials Legit Flawless EDIT

This is a kill edit, from BW’s perspective, with music, fully authorized by BW.

I assume no ownership of the music or gameplay, and this is NOT monetized. Much love to the boys for an amazing and inspiring return to Trials of Osiris.

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Banned Wipe, Gernader Jake, & Astro Sins 1st Trials Legit Flawless EDIT

This is a kill edit, from BW’s perspective, with music, fully authorized by BW.

I assume no ownership of the music or gameplay, and this is NOT monetized. Much love to the boys for an amazing and inspiring return to Trials of Osiris.

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Destiny’s Not Dead, Episode 11 – Season Ten Looms [Trials Returns, & The Threat of Power Creep]

Jim discusses the concerns over a potential power creep/weapon expiration issue, as well as hype for Trials and Season 10 in Destiny 2.

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Destiny’s Not Dead, Episode 11 – Season Ten Looms [Trials Returns, & The Threat of Power Creep]

Jim discusses the concerns over a potential power creep/weapon expiration issue, as well as hype for Trials and Season 10 in Destiny 2.

Please rate, comment, and subscribe!

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Grind’s Head Podcast, Ep #24: 8-Bit Eric

Jim sits down with 8-Bit Eric to discuss The Game Chasers Movie, Indie Wrestling, Retro collecting, and a slew of other topics. Go check out 8-Bit Eric at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSxLDHfK2yzL7jhCJWG7EPg

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Grind’s Head Podcast, Ep #24: 8-Bit Eric

Jim sits down with 8-Bit Eric to discuss The Game Chasers Movie, Indie Wrestling, Retro collecting, and a slew of other topics. Go check out 8-Bit Eric at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSxLDHfK2yzL7jhCJWG7EPg

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Game Chasers Movie Wrap & Channel Update 11/26/2019

Jim talks the focus of the channel & promoting the Game Chasers’ Movie moving forward!

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Back Row Reflections – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I’m going to be frank here. I’m mainly doing this because there’s one major spoiler I want to harp on about after I give my general thoughts on the movie. So yeah, if you don’t like pedantic Star Wars fans? Read my general opinions, then leave. I won’t blame you.

That being said, if you’re sticking around, just remember there WILL be spoilers.
You have been warned.

Okay. So. General thoughts. Cast was great, the plot wasn’t really all that needlessly complex, and specifically Donald Glover was great as a young Lando. My God was that perfect casting. There was one character whose little sub-plot seemed a little forced, but not in a cringe-inducing kind of way, so I didn’t mind it. Plus, it did actually go somewhere so that was nice. Overall, the movie itself was good. Just good. Not great, not shit, not mediocre. I enjoyed myself for the most part, but I wasn’t blown away by any means.

Okay. Now we get into spoiler territory. I think I’ll ease in a bit instead of just going right for the primary issues I have. Since I’m easing in, a minor nit-pick I have is that they really seemed to want to get the main title graphic out of the way as quickly as possible. The movie hasn’t even been going a full minute it feels like before they show it. And it’s really only a nit-pick because there’s a much better chance to have used it about 5-10 minutes later. Again though, that’s a pretty minor nit-pick.

I guess I may as well actually give my thoughts on the portrayal of Han himself. And, well, the actor they hired does a fairly good job, but I really just can’t buy him as a YOUNG Han Solo. I’m sorry, but he looks too old to be ten years younger than the Han we meet in A New Hope. And that’s actually saying something, because the actor in question is not even a full year older than me and (as of writing this) I’m 27 turning 28. And that’s not even a knock on the guy’s physical appearance. He looks great, just not his age.

That aside, one thing I’m glad the movie did was kill off a few superfluous characters pretty quickly. On one hand their deaths didn’t really mean much to me because they’re characters we barely know, but on the other hand this movie really benefits from having a smaller core cast. That and one of them was a CGI character, so that probably helped the budget a bit considering the droid character in this movie was CGI as well.

Oh, and they finally make sense of the infamous “Kessel Run” thing. Which I have to admit, part of me didn’t really care too much about seeing before I saw the movie. But now that I have, I’m glad they bothered to go there. And hell, they even have Han starting to lie about it from the get go. Making it clear his “12 parsecs” thing is still bending the truth somewhat. Which seems like something Han would do, so it works.

I could go on about that droid by the way, but I think I’ve put off the inevitable for long enough. Time to get into the stuff that truly bothered me.

First up we’ll go with the issue that doesn’t bother me as much, but still bugs me somewhat. It seems to be established canon, enough so that they mention it in behind-the-scenes stuff for The Last Jedi, that Han Solo’s dice were apparently dice he used to win the Millennium Falcon off of Lando. However, this movie either was not made aware of that factoid, or just decided that they wanted to ignore it entirely, because the dice are just his “lucky dice” that he seems to have always had that have no real significance.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt to a point though. The whole thing with the dice seems like it could be a fairly new thing, and the movie was technically being worked on script-wise before George Lucas sold off Lucasfilm. And if this movie was never really meant to take the sequel trilogy into account, it makes sense that it would ignore something those movies might be responsible for inventing.

Now from something I give them the benefit of the doubt on to something I just cannot let slide. Darth Maul is in this movie. Not for very long, but this movie states that he is alive within the canon of the movies. And my God, did this piss me the fuck off. I know people hate the prequels, I know people wanted Maul to be around longer. But guess what? I’m in the minority that actually didn’t care about him getting killed off in The Phantom Menace.

His death served a purpose after all. If he didn’t die in his fight with Obi-Wan then Obi-Wan probably wouldn’t have gotten an upgrade to a full-fledged Jedi in Phantom Menace. Can’t people just accept the fact that Maul died? Seriously? Just let the character die and stay dead. This shit has bugged me for a while. So, this movie playing into that shit actually made me audibly say “Fuck off” in the cinema.

Like, I know some people are gonna cream their pants over his scene, but I just cannot let this slide. It’s such a pandering, fan wanky moment. Dude even has a new dual bladed lightsaber. Which, yeah, has to be a new one. Unless people forgot his old one got CUT IN HALF. You know, just like he did. Speaking of, that’s always another thing that’s bugged me. The guy gets cut in half, and people assume he somehow actually survived that?

Anakin, who is a LOT stronger than Maul could ever hope to be, barely survived his fight with Obi-Wan because of severe burns and getting his hand and legs cut off. Cauterised wounds or not, I find it hard to believe Maul survived PLUMMETING DOWN A DEEP SHAFT AFTER BEING CUT IN HALF.

And before anyone tries to bring up the character’s use in The Clone Wars & Rebels, I haven’t seen Rebels, and Clone Wars is non-canon now anyway as far as I’m aware. Lucasfilm likes to cherry pick stuff anyway so the canon is all over the place. And hell, with Darth Maul’s appearance in this movie, Rebels might not be canon anymore if it ever was. So, have fun with that, people who actually like Rebels.

Anyway, I COULD go on about this all day, but I’d probably just end up repeating myself, so I’m gonna just end it there.

Overall, aside from the issues I had with the movie, pretty much all of which were fairly minor (except my rage at the Maul thing), the movie was still fairly enjoyable. Though I feel like this movie will only really appeal to people who care about the Star Wars universe. If people only have a passing interest in Star Wars I’d probably tell them to avoid it, or only go if they’re dragged along by friends. But that’s just me.

What do you guys think of the movie? Agree with me? Disagree? Want me kicked out of the Star Wars fandom for my opinions on Darth Maul? Let me know. See you all next time. Maybe with my thoughts on Infinity War finally.

Back Row Reflections – Love, Simon

The following contains spoilers for the movie “Love, Simon”. Pretty major ones too in some cases. If you haven’t seen the movie and want to, stop reading. If you’ve seen it or just generally don’t care, read on.

You have been warned.

So. Here we are. The movie is almost finished in my hometown and I just got around to seeing it the day I typed this up. Having done so though, I decided to shelve the write-up I was working on for Infinity War. Yes. This was that important to me to do that I shelved an MCU thing. Though to be honest I was close to shelving it until I see it a third time anyway so it’s fine. It can wait. This can’t.

“Love, Simon” is a movie I didn’t think I needed. But I did. As a queer teen romance movie, it’s finally a movie of this type I can actually relate to. And yes, I’m bisexual, not gay, but you’d be stupid to assume that means I can’t relate to this movie. Or that I’d somehow relate equally to a story like this featuring straight characters. There really just are very specific things you deal with as a queer person that straight people just don’t have to deal with. I’ll stop there for now on this sorta stuff, since otherwise I’d be here all day. And this is my thoughts on the movie, not a queer Tumblr thesis.

Anyway, I love just about everything in this movie. The acting is great, the reactions to varying things are all pretty realistic, and the dream sequence cutaway moments can be pretty hilarious at times. Including one set to the song “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston where he sees himself in college being “gay and proud” which amounts to a choreographed dance sequence with rainbow colours everywhere and him sorta dancing along awkwardly. Only to conclude he’s not “that kind of gay” or something. Which I can tell you right now, that entire sequence made me laugh so hard I started coughing for a good minute or two.

Aside from laughter though, I also got sort of pissed off and also cried a few times. We’ll go with the crying bits first I think. I have to admit I knew going in that if this movie was well done I expected to cry. But crying four different times or so? Yeah didn’t necessarily see that coming. The first time was when Simon comes out to his friend Abby and she tries to reassure him that it’s fine and she still loves him as a friend. Not entirely sure what brought the tears on then, but it happened.

The second time was after Simon had come out to his parents as a result of having been publicly outed. He’d and had been avoiding talking to them about it for a while but finally talks to his mother about, who reassures him they still love him regardless of his sexuality, and reaffirms his statement when he came out of “I’m still me” with “You’re still you”, and points out he’ll be able to be more of himself than he’d been in years now that he’s got this off his chest to them.

The third time is when his father finally manages to talk to it about him, apologising furiously for all the times he’d made what could be taken as off-colour gay jokes or just jokes assuming Simon was straight. And even though Simon tries to downplay it by saying he knows his dad didn’t mean it, his dad wouldn’t hear any of it. The fact his dad was not only so accepting, but felt horrible in hindsight about all the shit he realised must’ve hurt Simon to hear was easily one of the best scenes in the movie. And I would assume could be viewed as wish fulfilment for queer men who wished they’d had a similar interaction with their dad when they came out. Because while I can see some having had that experience, it’s easy to remember not everyone got off so easy.

The fourth time (and last time that comes to mind) was when we find out exactly who Simon’s secret pen pal was. That being a guy nicknamed Bram, who had previously been teased as the love interest but was ruled out as far as we knew after Simon walked in on him drunkenly making out with a girl. The two talk it out a little before Simon clarifies he’s not upset that Bram was the guy he’d been chatting with and they kiss on the Ferris wheel, cheered on by a crowd of onlookers from their high school. Because if there’s one thing this movie did, it was made me care about Simon enough to want him to have a happy ending.

Now to stuff that got me pissed. Some cause the movie wanted me to, others just because I related to Simon more than most people. As far as stuff that pissed me off cause the movie wanted me to, the main one, and the only one I’ll talk about, is a guy called Martin forcibly outing Simon. Martin had been blackmailing Simon with screenshots of the emails between him and the mysterious “Blue”, with his goal being to get Simon to help him get the attention of Abby. Out of fear Simon goes along with it, but when Martin does the stupid thing and makes a grand and very public gesture to try and win Abby over, and it fails spectacularly, Martin posts all the screenshots he took to Tumblr and outs Simon.

Simon gets a chance later to chew Martin out verbally but I can honestly say I’m slightly disappointed he didn’t punch him. Or even attempt to. I was half expecting him to rear back for a bunch at least. Or given that Martin was actually trying to apologise (and doing a horrible job of it), Martin could’ve easily offered himself up to get hit. And you could have Simon go for it but decide it’s not worth it. That’s my two cents anyway.

The other thing that bugged me was how pissed off Abby, Leah & Nick get at Simon after he’s outed. While I can understand Abby & Nick being annoyed that Simon’s interference didn’t allow them to get together sooner…those fuckers come off like that’s somehow equatable to BEING FORCIBLY OUTED TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL. Fuck you. You don’t get to be that angry. “Oh, boohoo, we weren’t dating earlier even though us dating was inevitable”. Cry me a river you little fucks. And then there’s Leah. “You’re gay and tried to palm me off on Nick even though I was into you and you didn’t take the hint cause you legit thought I was into Nick. You’re cruel”. What the actual fuck girly? Screw you. Someone you’re best friends with not only isn’t interested to the point he was oblivious of your interest in him, but that aside is gay so wouldn’t be anyway. Tough shit. Deal with it and move on.

Seriously. While I feel the reactions can be deemed realistic (I mean, shit, they ARE teenagers), that scene bugged the fuck outta me because I was solidly behind Simon in that whole scenario, even though he had admittedly done some stupid shit. And hell, as much as I was just shouting at him to “JUST COME OUT IT SOLVES EVERYTHING!” it obviously isn’t that easy. For the character or for people in real life. Hell, I didn’t come out as bi until I was 25.

Looking at how long this is now I think I’ll try to wrap it up so I can get some sleep. So, once again overall, I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me both glad I saw it alone but also wish I had someone to cry with and hug. In some ways I’d argue this movie should’ve been to the queer community what Black Panther was to the black community. Even if on a smaller scale given this wasn’t a major blockbuster type release.

Though while I will thank 20th Century Fox for allowing this to be made under a major studio, I also have to ask that if this happens again, the marketing is done A LOT better. The only reason I knew this movie existed was because a gay guy I know shared the trailer on Facebook.

But I’ll stop now before I start rambling on. So, thank you to anyone who reads this. This movie meant a lot to me, so I felt I had to get my thoughts on it out there. I will most likely see you all next time for my absolutely-filled-to-the-brim-with-spoilers take on Infinity War. After I see it a third time anyway. So, it may be another week.

Back Row Reflections – The Last Jedi

The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
You have been warned.
Besides it’s been out for over a month now. You’ve had time, damn it.

Well then, this has been a long time coming. I first saw The Last Jedi back in December, four days after it came out. Then proceeded to see it again three separate times in January. Partially because I gave The Force Awakens three showings, so decided since I like The Last Jedi more it had earned a fourth one. Though also because I could afford it.

Now, I could honestly go on forever about what I like, what I love, what I think is a little questionable and what gripes people have I can concede to, but if I did that all in this one piece I’d be here all day, and these things take me long enough to write as is. So instead I’ve decided to split my thoughts into one or two (three if I can justify it) entries, with this one being more of a “general scope” piece, and any additional stuff I write on the movie being a lot more specific to certain aspects of the movie that I can write about for long enough to justify it. That all being said I think I’ve exposited enough, let’s get into the meat of this thing.

Simply put, The Last Jedi is arguably the best Star Wars movie ever made. And it’s also, arguably, the single most polarising film in Star Wars history. And that’s saying a lot after the mixed reaction The Force Awakens received. Hell, my own opinion of The Force Awakens went from “what the hell is this?” to “Okay I like it now” to “Okay this movie is trying way too hard”.

But when I saw The Last Jedi for the first time? I loved it. I almost cried, because this was the Star Wars sequel I wanted. The Force Awakens was trying too hard to piggyback off the nostalgia train and ultimately doesn’t hold up upon further viewing (for me anyway) for the most part. Having seen The Last Jedi FOUR times in the cinemas now, I can tell you it absolutely holds up for me.

I honestly went into Last Jedi with very low expectations, given my waning interest in Force Awakens. I just couldn’t find myself getting hyped up for it at all. How could Rian Johnson do any better than JJ “Mystery Box” Abrams? Well, at least in my opinion, Rian Johnson did astronomically better by taking a lot of what bugged me about The Force Awakens and either handling it better, or going against the expectations everyone had for what may happen next.

To go into a bit more detail about that, since I may as well, let’s go for the low hanging fruit first. It’s often joked that The Force Awakens is basically “A New Hope 2”, which is hard to dispute given how many blatant similarities the movies have. All the way down to them feeling the need to hype how superior their “planet destroying space station” is compared to the previous one, in a moment that reads like a rejected Paul Hogan sketch.


“That’s not a Death Star. THAT’S a Death Star”

On the other hand, you have The Last Jedi. While Last Jedi does take elements from both Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, it does something interesting with them, as opposed to purely playing them out virtually unchanged for the sake of nostalgia. As a friend of mine once said, “This is not The Empire Strikes Back”. Yes, the scenes that were inspired by Empire & Return are quite obvious, but they also actually do something different aside from execution.

The most glaring difference being exactly how Kylo Ren betrays Snoke, and the fallout of these actions. Unlike Vader before him, Kylo isn’t saving Rey from a torturous death, as she’d already been tortured for information. On top of that, Vader’s act of defiance in killing The Emperor solidified his turn back to the light before his death. We’re led to believe at first that Kylo has possibly turned back to the light, but it’s made apparent in short order that Kylo has no intentions of turning back. He’s too far gone at this point to even consider it an option.

And my God, Kylo Ren, now there’s a turnaround worth talking about. If there’s one thing this movie did right, it was the character progression for Kylo Ren. In The Force Awakens he’s a bit of a whiny emo living in the shadow of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Over the course of Last Jedi, that angst turns into a focused rage. Sure, he can’t bring himself to kill his mother (I’ll get to that later), but at least at that point he’s still unbalanced, so it made sense that he wouldn’t have it in him to do it. Plus, he’d never expressed hatred for his mother. So again, the hesitation makes sense.

Another interesting evolution Kylo has undergone is the gradual journey from someone who wants to be Darth Vader, to wanting to be his own man. As he himself says “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become who you were meant to be”. It’s in this one revelation alone that we could possibly have foreseen Kylo’s eventual betrayal against Snoke and ascension to Supreme Leader of the First Order.

And then there’s Rey. Rey…doesn’t ultimately change too much in the grand scheme. I mean, sure, she’s had to hear some hard truths from Luke, but ultimately her undying optimism (which you could argue becomes Jedi arrogance) is almost her undoing. I would like to point out, however, I’m not saying the fact she doesn’t change much is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, I feel her character was generally handled a lot better in Last Jedi than in Force Awakens. You could argue it’s odd that she holds her own against those guards in the battle after Snoke’s death, but I was honestly okay with it.

Rey does okay, yes, but it’s clear she’s struggling a lot more than Kylo is, which makes perfect sense. It’s more so quick thinking on her part that saves her at one point more than skill. I mean, hell, at least now she’s had a tiny bit of training. It’s better than Force Awakens, where apparently all it took for her to beat Kylo was to remember the force exists and concentrate really hard. Sorry if it seems I’m being too harsh on Force Awakens by the way, but that’s kind of what happens when my only point of reference right now in modern Star Wars is Force Awakens (No, Rogue One doesn’t count).

I think that will do it for now on that subject, so since this is already longer than I expected, I’m going to move on to the elephant in the room. Leia’s “Superman” scene. I honestly didn’t mind it. I can kind of understand why people think it’s stupid or silly, but, this is the daughter of Darth Vader we’re talking about here. If Luke can force-project across the galaxy, and Vader can do half the crap some of the expanded universe has allowed him to do? I think we can let Leia saving herself from the vacuum of space, only to go right into a coma a bit of leniency. Don’t you think? By the way that most of why I give it a pass. It’s not like she’s totally fine after the fact. She’s in a coma for several hours in-universe, and needs a cane to get around after she wakes up.

As far as the last major talking point I have goes, I have an idea for something else I’m going to write that doesn’t allow me to talk about Luke’s portrayal much here. However, I will say I loved how they portrayed him. And to anyone who thinks his reasons for going into exile are “weak”, just remember he almost killed his own damn nephew out of fear and was the catalyst for Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. If you can’t believe the depression that would bring on would be enough for Luke to want to hide away from the world? I don’t know what to tell you.

That being said, I also loved the force-projection stuff. Especially the attention to detail. At first the whole thing confused the hell out of me, personally. “Why does he look like he did the flashbacks? How did he get there so quick? (I know, light speed travel, but still) Why hasn’t he got his green lightsaber?”. Once it became obvious I almost had to applaud them. Especially upon further viewings, and noticing that while Kylo disturbs the ground every time he moves his feet, Luke’s projection never does.

Moving on from that I think I’ll round this out by finally mentioning my favourite talking point. The fact Rey is NOT a Skywalker. So many people seem confused or angered by this, and I don’t see why. Sure, her seemingly natural ability with the force would probably be a lot easier to hand wave away, but I prefer the notion that she’s a nobody. It actually makes her more interesting in my opinion. Besides, we already have a third-generation Skywalker in the mix with Kylo Ren, so they’ve checked that box already.

Wow. This really did end up being a lot longer than I thought it’d be. Apologies for that, but I’d rather get everything out there than regret leaving something out later. There were some things I didn’t mention, but they were fairly minor by comparison so I don’t mind leaving them out. So, what do you guys think? Agree with my thoughts? Disagree? Think I should rot in hell for not liking The Force Awakens? Let me know.

WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Review

So, hello. Been a good while since I’ve done one of these, and with good reason. I decided rather than doing catch-up reviews I’d just actually bother catching up on the PPVs before reviewing them again.

Kick-Off Matches

Kalisto, Gran Metalik, & Lince Dorado vs.
TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak

Very solid six-man tag match. Kind of bugged me that the crowd was so dead for most of it, but I guess to be fair the fans had only started getting let into the arena a short while before this match. Best spot of the match was when all three of the faces got up on the same turnbuckle and all hit a moonsault onto someone on the outside. The faces ultimately got the win when Kalisto hit TJ with the Salida Del Sol.

Match Rating – Solid B+

The Revival vs. The Club

Honestly this match was nothing to really write home about. Not a terrible match necessarily, but fairly forgettable in hindsight. The Revival getting the win was nice to see though, since this was basically them getting a win back on Gallows & Anderson. Yeah nothing else to really say. Again, not a bad match, but also fairly by-the-numbers.

Match Rating – Solid C+

US Championship Open Challenge: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Mojo Rawley

Was kind of surprised to see Mojo Rawley be the challenger, but it works. Although I’m a little disappointed in hindsight that Mojo didn’t interrupt someone else answering the challenge by beating them down and taking their place. Would’ve given him some more heat going into it, but oh well. The match itself was okay. Not the best match these two could’ve had by any stretch, but like the former match I didn’t exactly hate it.

The main thing that bothered me was the finish being a bit sloppy. Roode goes or a Tornado DDT from the second turnbuckle but rather than doing it properly, he ends up landing on his feet before hitting a normal DDT. I don’t know if that was a case of miscommunication or not but it was really weird. To the point I thought Mojo would kick out and Roode would hit a normal Glorious DDT. But he didn’t. So yeah, serviceable match, but hindered a bit by that iffy finish.

Match Rating – Solid C-

One last thing I’d like to mention is the absolute hilarity of the crowd hyping themselves up by counting down every time the counter to the main show got to ten seconds and even making a buzzer noise. I got a few cheap laughs out of it. Thanks for the laugh Philadelphia. Hopefully you keep that enthusiasm the rest of the night.

Main Show

Handicap match for the WWE Championship:
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Not the match I was expecting to open the PPV if I’m honest, but a good match none-the-less. I’m definitely glad they also exploited the fact this was a handicap match by having Sami or Owens help the other from succumbing to AJ’s finishers, since it helped to protect them a little. The finish itself was initially a little confusing until I realised they did it on purpose. That being Kevin Owens getting pinned despite clearly not being the legal man.

AJ comes away with the win in any case and both Sami & Kevin looked good despite losing. Hell, the victory roll finish helped with that I’d argue, but generally the way they worked the match made it believable that AJ could beat the two. I assume this feud or the Sami/KO & Shane feud will continue into whatever the next SmackDown PPV before blowing off at Mania, but who knows.

Match Rating – Solid A-

2/3 Falls for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships:
The Usos (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable

Holy shit was this match good. It took forever to get one fall, but the build to it was great. That said I did not see The Usos winning two straight falls coming at all, and the latter fall almost seemed a bit unintentional as well. It legit looked like Gable was supposed to break it up to me but fucked up his timing. That said that’s just one minor nit-pick in an otherwise fantastic tag team match.

Match Rating – Solid A+

Men’s Royal Rumble match

Funny how we have to make that distinction now isn’t it? What a time to be alive. I’m honestly surprised this match was the third match in, but I guess the novelty of the Women’s Rumble being a first-time thing makes sense for it to go on second. That said rather than write out varying thoughts on what happened I’ll list some moments/aspects of the match worth mentioning.

• Corbin gets eliminated then knocks out Balor, Rusev & Slater (as Slater comes out)
• Elias sings because everyone’s knocked out
• Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas is a surprise NXT entrant
• Tye Dillinger draws #10 again only to be taken out backstage
• Sami Zayn takes Tye’s place
• Slater eliminates Sheamus in about two seconds after finally getting in the match, then gets eliminated
• All three members of New Day are in at once
• Adam Cole (BAYBAY) is another surprise NXT entrant
• Jinder eliminates Big E & Xavier before being eliminated by Almas
• Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt eliminate each other
• The Hurricane returns then gets almost immediately eliminated
• Almas lasts almost a half hour before finally getting eliminated
• Rey Mysterio is a surprise entrant at #26
• Dolph Ziggler returned to WWE after about a month off TV as #30
• Final 4 are Reigns, Cena, Balor & Shinsuke

And finally, SHINSUKE WINS MOTHER FUCKERS! WAHOOOOO! HOLY SHIT! I am SO happy right now. I’d kind of had it spoiled for me but I marked the fuck out when he won regardless. And they even custom made it to have the biggest pop possible by having him eliminate Cena and then Reigns to win the whole thing. Honest to God this is the best Royal Rumble match I’ve seen in YEARS.

Can’t praise it enough. Sure, some eliminations bothered me, but guys like Rhyno & The Hurricane weren’t gonna win anyway so it’s more of an issue based on personal bias. But yeah, damn, the women’s Rumble match has a lot to live up to now.

Match Rating – Solid A+

RAW Tag Team Championships match:
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) vs. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)

Three of these men were in the Rumble that just happened. Speaking of which I really wish the Men’s Rumble had happened after this instead of before. The match itself was interesting, though I’d half think Jordan was working through an injury for how little he was in this match. He got smacked into the post and then did literally nothing aside from tag himself in, then tag back out to sell the post.

Also, I gave so little of a shit about this match that I almost finished writing this review up before realising I hadn’t finished my thoughts on it. Take that how you will. Though I didn’t hate it. But I do hate short title runs, so you know, there’s that.

Match Rating – Solid B+ (Decided to be nice since Rollins put in a good showing considering how long he lasted in the Rumble)

WWE Universal Championship match:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane

I don’t give a flying fuck about this match Why? Because Lesnar won. Fuck you Lesnar. Drop the title or retire already.

Match Rating – Solid Z (Fuck you I can rate this as badly as I want, it’s my review)

Women’s Royal Rumble match

Well thank God, my prayers were answered. Since the men’s Rumble didn’t close the show, this one did. And really, I hope that’s how it goes from now on. That being the men’s and women’s Rumble matches take turns closing the show. Like before I’ll just point out moments of interest from the match as opposed to making five or six paragraphs talking about stuff in detail.

• First women ever involved in this match are Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch
• Lita makes her in-ring return as a surprise entrant at #5
• Kairi Sane makes her main roster debut at #6
• Tamina becomes the first woman ever eliminated from the Women’s Rumble
• Torrie Wilson makes her in-ring return to WWE as entrant #9
• Molly Holly makes her in-ring return as a surprise entrant at #12
• Michelle McCool gets 3 straight eliminations
• For some bizarre reason Vickie Guerrero is a surprise entrant at #16. Way to waste a spot WWE.
• For some other bizarre reason Kelly Kelly is also in this match at #19
• Jacqueline makes her in-ring return in WWE at #21
• Ember Moon makes her main roster debut at #23
• Beth Phoenix returns as a surprise entrant at #24
• Trish Stratus makes an in-ring return as the final entrant
• Final four are the Bella Twins, Asuka & Sasha Banks

And finally, ASUKA WINS! I mean yeah sure, we all knew Asuka was gonna win but damn it’s still good to see happen after how disappointing I’ve heard her main roster run has been so far. Even if the finish was a bit clunky. Then after the match we have this really random and awkward segment where Ronda shows up, points at the Mania sign, stares at Asuka, Bliss & Charlotte, points again, shakes hands with Steph and then leaves. And that’s how the PPV ends.

What should be Asuka’s crowning moment in WWE gets spoiled by a woman who does basically nothing aside from show up. I really feel they should’ve just saved this for the RAW after the PPV instead. Or have just had Rousey be present for the entire match so this whole thing didn’t come out of nowhere. Seriously, watch that segment and try to convince me it didn’t seem anti-climactic.

Either way, Asuka wins, yay, I don’t care who she faces since either match should be good. That said I feel the men’s Rumble was ultimately the better overall match. The women’s Rumble wasn’t shit by any means, no, but I just felt a lot more excited for the men’s Rumble, and ultimately what we got was a better overall experience.

Cut some of those bizarre entry choices out and it would’ve been a lot better than it already was. Again, it was a solid match, but just didn’t live up to the hype for me, unlike some of the other “first time in WWE” women’s matches have.

Match Rating – Solid A-

Overall Thoughts

Aside from my unbridled hatred for how Brock “I win lol” Lesnar is booked this was a very solid PPV, which makes me happier than I’ve been in a while for a big four PPV. I really hope they keep this going leading into WrestleMania. Mainly I hope Lesnar drops the title at Elimination Chamber. A man can dream, right? Anyway, I may as well stop now or I’m just gonna keep finding ways to bitch about how Lesnar is being used. So yeah, solid PPV, fuck Brock Lesnar. I’ll see you guys again for Elimination Chamber.

Overall PPV Rating – Solid B+
(Would’ve been at least an A or A- but my hatred of Lesnar brought it down)

Back Row Reflections – Blade Runner 2049

The following article contains minor spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner 2049”.
You have been warned.

The day I’m writing this is the day I saw both the original Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) and the subject of this article, the 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049. As such my thoughts are gut/initial reactions to both, so keep that in mind, please. That said, this will primarily be my thoughts on certain aspects of the sequel. Though there are some thoughts on the original that I’ll be bringing up when they’re relevant.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to it.

(Final note: Occasionally I’ll simply refer to the sequel as “2049” for short)

Blade Runner 2049 is a movie I’m surprised actually managed to turn out the way it did. This, a sequel to a neo-noir sci-fi movie from the early eighties that actually manages to keep the spirit of the original intact. Logic dictates this should’ve been an action-filled mess, or generally have just missed the point of the original entirely.

I would assume the involvement of Ridley Scott (who I was surprised to learn was just an executive producer, not the director for this) helped with that. And the safe assumption the director, Denis Villeneuve, was committed to keeping the tone in line with the original. Also helps that one of the original writers was on board. Generally speaking, the stars seemed to align in this specific case, and the movie is all the better for it.

The main talking point I have is something I might as well get out of the way now, and is a nice segue from the point I just made. 2049 has several moments where it looks like it could turn into an action-movie out of nowhere. But it doesn’t. Sure, there are some action scenes, but they’re very subdued and brief. The most “action-movie” thing that happens (apart from a few, very brief fight scenes) is when the character “Luv” and some lackeys come to kidnap Deckard.

They blow a section or two out of the side of the building Deckard & K are in, which knocks them (and Deckard’s dog) back as a result. From memory that was the only explosion in the movie, and even then, it was a fairly small one. Especially given the size of the building being hit. This was one of few key instances where I expected the movie to devolve into a typical action set piece…and (thankfully) that never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I like big action set pieces as much as the next person. When they actually belong in the movie in question. Blade Runner & 2049 are not action movies, and they never really try to be. While I’m not sure how much this made Blade Runner stand out back in the early eighties (given I wasn’t born yet), I know for sure it makes 2049 stand out among the movies of today.

Of the few sci-fi/sci-fi-related movies I have seen (and one yet to be released) this year, 2049 stands out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. I have a feeling Hollywood thinks this kind of movie can’t be made anymore, or can’t make money. Hopefully the fact that 2049 has already made its budget back proves them wrong. Though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t make them try to milk the franchise dry. Given rumblings of sequels to 2049 I won’t hold my breath though.

Tangent aside, I’ll now end on my thoughts comparing the original to the sequel. Straight to the point, I actually like 2049 more than the original. While I will concede I may have to give Blade Runner a proper watch later on (and also watch The Final Cut, as I’ve only seen the Director’s Cut), there’s just something missing from it that I feel 2049 actually has. And while I can’t pin-point too much, there is one major factor 2049 has over the original. Time. 2049 has a run time of almost three hours. Blade runner, no matter which version you’re watching, falls short of two hours.

While this might seem like an odd thing to bring up as a flaw of the original, I really do believe a lack of time is what hinders it slightly in comparison to 2049. 2049 has plenty of time to set up the plot and characters involved, especially the main character K. Blade Runner has some characters that you could honestly cut out entirely and it feels like you ultimately wouldn’t lose much. At least from a story perspective.

Whether it was thought a two-and-a-half-hour movie of this nature wouldn’t sell in 1982, or Ridley Scott just envisioned it as being as long as it was, I don’t know for sure. But again, I feel an extra half hour could’ve been added, which could’ve allowed for certain aspects to be expanded upon. Oh, also, I feel 2049 has a better/more fulfilling ending than Blade Runner. Sue me.

All-in-all I enjoyed the absolute hell out of Blade Runner 2049. And while I am very sceptical about any potential sequels that may happen in the future, I feel the future is bright for this franchise so long as the team behind 2049 is kept around to make sure it’s handled correctly.

The Podcast Without Banners: The Dragon And The Wolf

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas, Maeve & Bill give their thoughts on the season finale of Game Of Thrones season 7.

The Podcast Without Banners: Beyond The Wall

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey & Bill Silvia give their thoughts on the penultimate episode of GoT season 7, “Beyond The Wall”.

The Podcast Without Banners – Eastwatch

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey & Bill Silvia give our thoughts on episode 5 of GoT season 7, Eastwatch.

The Podcast Without Banners – The Spoils Of War

The Podcast Without Banners returns, this time they give their thoughts on episode 4 of Game Of Thrones season 7. Due to technical difficulties, only Bill Silvia & Maeve LaFey will be giving their thoughts on this episode.