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A Serenity: Leaves on the Wind Review – The Sequel 10 Years in the Making

TITLE: Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
AUTHOR: Zack Whedon
PENCILLERS: Georges Jeanty, Fabio Moon. Cover by Dan Dos Santos.
COLLECTS: Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE:
November 5, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So here’s a question: Why did it take us so long for us to get a comic that substantially picks up where Serenity left off? Why did it take so long for us to get the next chapter? Dark Horse has published a variety of comics and graphic novels set in the Firefly universe, some of which inched the story forward. But why did we have to wait so long for a significant follow up to Serenity? 

In any event, thanks to the magic of comics, we finally get to see the fallout from that movie that came out 10 years ago with Serenity: Leaves on the Wind. Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of the Serenity are the most wanted outlaws in the ‘verse. However, they’ve planted an all-too-valuable blemish on the Galactic Alliance’s reputation by revealing that the Reavers (space cannibals, basically) are actually byproducts of their experiments. What’s more, the ship is running low on food and supplies, and Zoe on the verge of giving birth. To say the least, our heroes are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Something’s got to give.

Whedon and Jeanty give us a pretty strong opening, jumping right into the damage done to the Alliance’s reputation by the Reaver scandal, and the “New Resistance” created by the controversy. They make us wait a bit to see Mal and his crew, and that wait carries a lot of, um…weight to it, as when we left them in Serenity, they were in a fairly vulnerable state.

About halfway into the first issue, we learn that Mal and Inara finally gave into all that romantic tension at some point between Serenity and Leaves on the Wind. For yours truly, that’s a creative disappointment. We spent all that time becoming invested in their relationship, and then we don’t get the pay off? Lame. If they’d wanted to, they could’ve built this entire miniseries around the moment Mal and Inara finally reveal their true feelings. But instead, they simply jump into bed in issue #1. What a missed opportunity…

Zoe comes out of this book looking particularly strong. In the span of one story, she has a vision of her dead husband, gives birth to the child she conceived with said husband, gets tossed into an “unnamed prison camp,” and kills a man, among other feats of badassery. Character-wise, one can argue Zoe has never been more interesting than she is in Leaves on the Wind. She’s incredibly vulnerable and emotional, but still tough as nails. Zack Whedon more than lives up to his brother’s standard for strong female characters.

Leaves on the Wind also adds a pair of new crew members to Mal’s ship. The first is Bea, leader of the New Resistance. Aside from her fierce contempt for the Alliance, she’s not fleshed out much here, but that’s understandable given how much other ground we have to cover here. Interestingly, she seems to have attracted the romantic interest of Jayne. Coupling Jayne up with someone might make for interesting storytelling down the road. But as we now have Mal and Inara together, along with Kaylee and Simon, that might run the risk of making things too “coupled up.” Toward the end of the story we also meet Iris, a victim of the Alliance’s experiments much like River. She serves as an interesting illustration of how far River has come since we first met her, and could lead to some further development for her down the road.

Leaves on the Wind isn’t necessarily friendly to fans who haven’t seen Firefly or Serenity, which is fair enough, I suppose. But if you haven’t seen the source material in awhile, you may need a review session before jumping into this book. It took yours truly some time to remember who The Operative was, and how he was connected to Mal and the crew. We also see Jubal Early again, which is delightful. But keep in mind, he only appeared in one episode of the series.

Georges Jeanty’s art is hit or miss for me here. At times his characters perfectly evoke the actors that played them in Firefly and Serenity, and at other points they don’t. As a reader, that’s frustrating. Either make your figures look like the actors, or render them in a way that suits your particular talents. But pick a direction and stick with it. What’s even more frustrating is at times, is when Jeanty really nails an actor’s face. Zoe, for instance, looks like Gina Torres a good portion of the time, which is part of the reason why she comes out so strong in this story. Mal on the other hand, vaguely resembles Nathan Fillion. Other characters, like Kaylee and River, go back and forth in terms of accuracy. Realistically, unless you’re an Alex Ross, there’s only so much you can ask from any artist in terms of photo-realism. But it’s that touch-and-go factor that irritates me.

This issue also includes the 2012 Free Comic Book Day exclusive, Serenity: It’s Never Easy, the short story in which we learned Zoe was pregnant. Illustrated by Fabio Moon, it’s far more cartoony-looking than Leaves on the Wind. But on the plus side, it lacks the inconsistency of Jeanty’s work. In truth, it’s only there to lay the foundation for Zoe’s pregnancy, which is fine.

Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is a bittersweet creation in a lot of ways. If the world were a fair place, we wouldn’t need this book to exist. Joss Whedon and everybody involved with Firefly would have gotten to make their TV show, and it wouldn’t have become one of the biggest missed opportunities in the history of television. It’s actually painful to imagine what Firefly could have been, and I’m not even a die-hard Browncoat. Leaves on the Wind is flawed, but I doubt you’ll hear a lot of folks complaining about it. Hell, it’s new Firefly! Just kick back and enjoy the positives, folks. And hey, maybe there’s reason to be hopeful. Now that Star Wars is leaving Dark Horse, there’s a hell of a void to fill.

And to that I say, why not Malcolm Reynolds?

RATING: 7/10

Front page image from comicbookresources.com. Image 1 from gonnageek.com. Image 2 from mygeekygeekyways.com. 

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A Grayson #1 Review – “Dick” Jokes, Guns, and The Midnighter

TITLE: Grayson #1
AUTHOR: Tim Seeley, Tom King
PENCILLER: Mikel Janin. Cover by Andrew Robinson.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: July 9, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Though this issue just hit the stands this week, Grayson has, for my money, had problems for months…

First and foremost, the series tag line: “You think you know Nightwing…You don’t know Dick.” That’s literally the worst promotional line I’ve ever read for anything, ever. His name is Dick. Dick is also a phallic euphemism. So let’s go ahead and use the same stupid, third grade quality pun we heard in that timeless cinematic classic, Batman and Robin. That’ll hook the fans! To me, that line borders on disrespecting the Dick Grayson character, who by the way, is one of the founding heroes of the DC Universe. Having made his debut in 1939, he predates Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and most of the other pillars of the company’s mythos. “You don’t know Dick.” What a joke.

Secondly, while putting Dick Grayson in this super spy role does indeed have some interesting storytelling potential, exactly how much desire was there from a fan’s perspective to have him removed from the Nightwing role? Nightwing possesses that oh-so-important cool factor that many of DC’s heroes are (arguably) lacking. At the tail end of his career as Robin, he stood up to Batman and opted to become his own man, with his own set of principles. That being said, he still loved Bruce like a father, and would chip in and help when he needed to. Then in the ’90s he got that awesome black costume with the blue “V” stripe, he got his own city to protect, his own series, and he was off to the races. He also had plenty of sex appeal for female readers. Dick was a ripped, athletic superhero with a dark and tragic origin who you could also take home to mom. Mind you, some of his appeal has been watered down since the New 52 reboot. But it was still a fact: Nightwing rules. Yes, this spy stuff has potential. But why fix what isn’t broken?

Thirdly, the cover. Dick Grayson with a gun. No. BIG no. Granted, Tim Seeley has said they’re going to dive into the issue of Dick having to use a gun on the job, which is fine. But still, no. There were plenty of other directions they could have gone in. And even if they had to use the gun, this cover still sucks. I like the use of color, but what does Dick’s face say? Nothing. It’s essentially a blank expression. His body also looks too slim and lanky for my taste. Oddly enough, somewhere along the line his hair got changed. In the original solicitation (shown left), his hair was short, and bit more militaristic looking. Now it’s longer, and more reminiscent of his Nightwing look. I’ll give them this much: That was a positive change.

And so, with all that working against it, we open Grayson #1 and find…something that’s really not so bad.

After the events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson/Nightwing is thought to be dead. In reality, he’s been dispatched by Batman to be a mole in the top secret espionage organization known as Spyral (see Batman Incorporated). Now, guided by the mysterious Mr. Minos, Grayson and his new partner Helena Bertinelli must save the life of a Russian man carrying a bioweapon inside his body. And in this first issue, Dick crosses paths with none other than The Midnighter of The Authority fame.

Our first page is somewhat akin to what we saw when we opened All Star Superman #1. Four panels, each with sentence fragments to fill us in on Dick’s backstory. It’s not nearly as epic as it could have been, because we’re stuck with the crappy New 52 Robin and Nightwing costumes. But Seeley and Janin got most of the exposition out of the way early, so I give them credit for that.

Dick starts out the issue in a blonde wig, which is pretty damn surreal. But once he takes it off and the action kicks in, it becomes apparent that this is in fact the Dick Grayson we know and love. As a longtime Nightwing fan, that was a big relief. Seeley and King have changed the character’s M.O., but they’ve kept his personality intact. What’s more, Seeley writes a better Dick Grayson than I’ve seen in awhile. Maybe the best since the New 52 began.

The Midnighter’s appearance in this issue came as a surprise, though not an unwelcome one. It serves as an interesting reminder that there are other black ops heroes out there whose interests could collide with Spyral’s (Checkmate also gets name-dropped in this issue). The motion effects do a lot to accentuate the fight, and add a certain flow to the proceedings. There’s also some pretty good dialouge in there…

Midnighter: “Disciplined, but not averse to improvisation. You fight like jazz.”

Dick: “…you talk an awful lot for the grim and gritty type.

We also get a little more time with the New 52 incarnation of Helena Bertinelli (not to be confused with Huntress, who is from Earth 2). Now an African American agent of Spyral, she’s apparently attracted to her new partner. But Dick isn’t keen to let her get too close, as he’s a mole in the Spyral organization. That’s obviously an interesting dynamic, and of course, plays up Dick’s status as the company’s resident male sex symbol. So the pieces are in place for some interesting storytelling there.

In the end, Grayson #1 is flawed. But it’s not nearly as flawed as it could have been. Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, and everybody involved with this series has turned it into a potential hot commodity. But let’s make sure we underscore potential. It’s only one issue, folks. There are a lot of places we can go from here.

Front page image/interior image from scifibloggers.com.

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Harry Potter Returns in New J.K. Rowling Short Story

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Just shy of seven years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling has returned to Harry Potter in a new short story on PotterMore.com.

Formatted as a newspaper article in the by gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, the story takes a look at the adult Harry Potter, his wife Ginny, as well as Ron and Hermione as they attend the 2014 Quidditch World Cup.

Oddly enough PotterMore.com also notes that the Skeeter character will have a new book, Dumbledore’s Army: The Dark Side of the Demob, published on July 31 (Harry Potter’s birthday). In the world of Harry Potter, Dumbledore’s Army was the name given to a group of rebellious students led by Harry who rebelled against the ultra-strict Dolores Umbridge.

Rowling is currently involved with the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film trilogy, based in the world she established in the Harry Potter series.

Image from telegraph.co.uk.

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Protecting Roman Reigns, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Let’s talk about Roman Reigns. I mean, why not? Everybody else is.

In the past year or so, much has been made of Reigns’ potential to become a main event level talent. Out of the three former Shield members, he has clearly emerged as “the chosen one.” While Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins were immediately pit against each other, Reigns has graduated to multi-man pay per view main events with the likes of Kane, Randy Orton, and John Cena. He’s also been getting into staredowns with Triple H (as we saw last week on Raw). Signs are definitely pointing to Roman Reigns as WWE’s choice for the next top babyface.

But here’s the thing: If you want to be WWE’s top star in 2014, the stars really need to align in your favor. The WWE machine, as bizarre as it is sometimes, needs to be behind you. More importantly, the fans have to be behind you. And as we saw crystal clear earlier this year, sometimes those two groups want very different things. WWE had constructed the main event program for Wrestlemania XXX as Batista returning to disrupt his old mentor’s regime. But when “The Animal” was met with almost universal boos, they were forced to go with the people’s choice, Daniel Bryan.

Whether it’s the ever present “Cena sucks” chants, the flat out rejection of Batista’s babyface return, or the question of pushing wrestler A over wrestler B, what WWE creative wants has an undeniable tendency of clashing with what the fans want. And now, the WWE machine wants Roman Reigns to be a top star…

But do the fans want Roman Reigns to be a top star? They seem to be receptive to him, but a lot can change between now and Wrestlemania XXXI. I’m of the mindset that Reigns can be a star if he’s protected.

What do we mean by protected? It’s a simple case of accentuating the positives and hiding the negatives. Admittedly, Reigns doesn’t have many negatives. But there’s one glaring blemish on his game: His mic work.

When he was part of The Shield, Reigns was really effective at wrapping up those three-man promos with Rollins and Ambrose. He didn’t have to say very much at all. He’d just give us a line or two at the end to put an exclamation point on what they were saying. Something like “Believe in The Shield” was all it took. That quite and menacing demeanor, his look, and his intense physicality in the ring were enough. But whenever Reigns took the mic for a more extended period of time, he came off very weak, especially compared to someone like Ambrose. If Reigns is forced to rant and pander like Cena and Sheamus tend to do, he’ll be dead in the water.

Case in point? His promo to kick off this week’s Raw. It was decent, but not at all what you’d hope to see from the next big superstar. Hell, in the middle of it the Montreal fans started chanting about Cena. To his credit, Reigns ran with it. But the fact remains: The mic work is painfully absent.

This is why, even though he’s on his own now, the old Shield formula really shouldn’t change much. Let’s let Reigns keep that mystique about him, and keep him a man of very few words. Emphasize his look and his ring work, and let his actions do the talking. That way when he does get on the mic for a little bit, it’s that much more meaningful.

Also: No attempts at WWE-style comedy, i.e. bad comedy. That whole shtick from a few weeks ago where he put something in Stephanie’s coffee? Stupid. Roman Reigns should not be funny. He’s a serious, stone faced destroyer with an understated charisma, who’s on his way to the top whether The Authority likes it or not. He’s a locomotive that takes down everything in his path. Now THAT’s a character you can get behind.

Thoughts From Raw:

The Authority is “on vacation,” not at Raw this week. As I recall, this has been done a few times since Triple H and Stephanie have been put in their current on-screen roles. It always turns me off. From a fan’s standpoint, if the two people who run the damn show can’t be bothered to show up, then it must not be that important. So why should I show up?

Obviously, Hunter and Stephanie aren’t there because their real-life positions at WWE prevent them from being at all the international shows. But hey, here’s an idea: Bret Hart is in the building. Why not make him the guest general manager? That’ll inject a little extra excitement into the show!

But no, instead they put Bret in a segment with Damien Sandow. Hey, it’s always nice to see the Hitman. But come on…

Chris Jericho def. The Miz. I’m interested in what Miz is doing with the whole “no face shots” M.O. It’s sort of a callback to what Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels did at Wrestlemania VIII all those years ago. It could be cool to see Miz focus a decent portion of his in-ring offense on face and head shots, and then in turn by terrified to take them.

As for Jericho’s latest run-in with The Wyatt Family, Bray gave us some pretty good mic work, and we got a peek at his morivation before Y2J cut him off with the “Shut the hell up!” catchphrase. Not quite the response promo I would have liked from Jericho, but there’s still plenty of time.

Randy Orton def. Dean Ambrose. So…about Ambrose’s jump from the top rope. Did Orton miss his cue? Did Ambrose jump before Orton knew where he was? I’m not trying to place blame. I’m just curious about what actually happened. Still, Orton and Ambrose had a pretty good showing otherwise.

Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler. One of the reasons I miss guys like Jim Ross and Joey Styles being on commentary, is that they’d actually call the wrestling moves. What the hell was that move Del Rio hit Ziggler with from the top rope? According to Michael Cole it was: “What a move!”

Rusev def. Rob Van Dam via submission. I liked the increased emotion from Rusev, especially put combined with a good guy the fans can really get behind, and actually mount a believable offense against the big man. Slowly but surely, the Rusev/Lana act is getting better. I do, however, wish RVD hadn’t had to tap out.

Bo Dallas def. El Torito. Considering El Torito actually holds a victory over Drew McIntyre, I was actually concerned Dallas was going to lose this one. It was nice to see a more despicable side of the Bo Dallas character, though. Perhaps we’ve got more than a comedy act on our hands.

Images from wwe.com.

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A Rocket Raccoon #1 Review – Ready For His Close Up

TITLE: Rocket Raccoon #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Skottie Young
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 1, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ah, Skottie Young. Nobody draws mischievous, cartoony little scamps quiet like you do. And in the farther reaches of the Marvel Universe, our resident little skamp is Rocket Raccoon.

Rocket Raccoon, Young’s first attempt at an ongoing series, sees our titular character framed for murder by someone who’s apparently of the same species he is. Considering Rocket is thought to be the last of his kind, that’s a heck of a revelation. Now Rocket, with the aid of his fellow Guardians, must unravel the mystery. But our hero has some powerful, vindictive enemies from his past who want him dead…

Skottie Young seems tailor made for Rocket Raccoon, setting a light-hearted, cartoony, fun tone for the series. This book has much of the same appeal as Young’s various adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. He gets to draw various quirky, out-of-this-world characters in his trademark style, which is so much damn fun to look at. A portion of this book is set at a pro wrestling event, and Young hits us with an awesome onslaught of alien creatures, not to mention humans dressed in freaky get ups. It almost has a Mos Eisley Cantina feel, except it’s much more lively and colorful.

Mind you, calling Young’s art “lively” is a hell of an understatement. His characters are so expressive in that exaggerated, cartoony way. This is true for almost everyone we see in Rocket Raccoon, but Rocket himself naturally give us our best example. In this issue alone we see him run the emotional gauntlet. First he’s cocky and confident, then he’s riled up and excited, then he’s charming (in his own mind at least), after which we go to frightened, angry, discouraged, and then cocky and confident again. All this is evident not just through Rocket’s face, but his body language as well. Young is always quite adept at making his art silly and fun, but not so much that the tension in the story dissolves, and things simply become a farce.

Young also gives us an iconic cover right out of the gate. Oddly enough, I just saw that image on a t-shirt the other day. The issue wasn’t even a week old, and it seems to already be paying dividends. Sadly, the confines of a XxX comic book cover don’t truly do the image justice. More casual fans may not realize that’s actually Groot that Rocket is standing on. Yes, Rocket’s in a nice pose. But to me, that contrast of the giant tree figure with the relatively pint-sized raccoon is what makes the image.

Certainly the timing of this first issue couldn’t be better, what with the Guardians of the Galaxy film coming in August. As someone who admittedly is fairly naive about Rocket, the Guardians, and that portion of the Marvel Universe, I can tell you Rocket Raccoon #1 makes for a hell of a hook. But the movie notwithstanding, Rocket Raccoon #1 is a must-read for anyone who likes a healthy does of fun and laughter with their sequential art.

Front page image from marvel.com. Interior image from comicvine.com.

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A New Captain America Coming to Marvel?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Marvel announced on July 4 that Steve Rogers may soon be out of a job. The company took to Twitter to tease a new Captain America.

The company tweeted: “Who will be Marvel comics’ NEW #Captain America? Learn more this Monday on http://Marvel.com ! #4thofJuly”

Obviously, fans can look forward to an announcement on July 7.

Many fans are speculating that Sam Wilson, a.k.a. The Falcon, will step into Cap’s boots. This would make him the first African American to portray Captain America.

Previously, Steve Rogers’ former partner Bucky Barnes stepped into the role after Rogers’ apparent assassination in the story arc The Death of Captain America. He subsequently returned in Captain America: Reborn.

Source: @Marvel on Twitter

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Superman (Apparently) Comes to Gotham in New Batman v Superman Teaser

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Judging by Warner Bros’ new promo image for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman is coming to Gotham City.

Released this week, the image shows us Henry Cavill’s Superman for the first time since Man of Steel, standing in a dark and rainy city. While it’s not “officially” Gotham City, it can certainly be considered Gothamesque.

In an interview with USA Today, Snyder confirmed Superman will indeed come to Gotham in the new movie, and that he will be interacting with various other heroes. Snyder added these interactions will change his view of the world at large.

In addition to Batman, Cavill’s Superman may be crossing paths with Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (rumored to be played by Jason Momoa).

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out May 16, 2016. Principal photography is in progress.

Image from usatoday.com.

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Deathstroke Gets New Ongoing Series in October

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Deathstroke will get another crack at his own ongoing series this fall, as Deathstroke #1 hits the stands this October.

The series will be written by Tony Daniel, with Daniel illustrating alongside Sandu Floreau. In an interview with MTV, Daniel said he’s always been a Deathstroke fan, as he’s “always been drawn to characters with a dark side and I think that makes him complex and compelling.”

Daniel continued, noting that while Slade Wilson was cast in a more heroic light in Forever Evil, the man he’ll be writing in Deathstroke is still a mercenary, and thus a more sinister character.

“I’m writing him in a way where he is still pretty much a bad guy but because of his methods…But the people he’s up against here are clearly evil bastards. If anyone deserves to be disemboweled, it’s this group. Deathstroke is a murderer by all definitions, for the most part, he’s going after his targets.”

However, Daniel added that in the book’s first story arc, Deathstroke is not only the hunter, but “also the hunted.”

When DC Comics’ “New 52″ initiative began in September 2011, Deathstroke was given his own ongoing series. It was eventually cancelled in May 2013 after 20 issues. The character, however, has continued to be largely featured throughout the DC Universe. He was also prominently used in the second season of Arrow, and in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Deathstroke #1 hits the stands October 22.

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Chris Jericho, Miz, AJ, and the Night of Returns. Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Chris Jericho returns to Raw, spoils The Miz’s return, comes face-to-face with The Wyatt Family. The news about Chris Jericho returning to Raw this week leaked a bit before the show aired. Happily, yours truly avoided the spoiler, and experienced Jericho’s latest comeback in all its glory. Seeing him come back in that segment with The Miz would have been enough, I suppose. But adding the Wyatts to the mix made it a true Raw moment. That’s the match that’ll sell Battleground, or at the very least, get folks to tune in for the next few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how long Jericho stays around this time.

While Miz’s return obviously played second fiddle to Jericho’s, it’s great to see him as a heel again. The whole “cross brand” star thing, or whatever it is, should be a good fit for him. Miz is as easy to dislike as just about anybody. The question is, can he make his act in 2014 different from his act from two or three years ago?

AJ Lee returns, wins the Divas Title from Paige. I was honestly convinced we weren’t going to see AJ Lee again. At least not for awhile. She just got married, to CM Punk no less. Thus, the rumors she was pregnant weren’t exactly unfounded.

John Cena wins the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Money in the BankLike a lot of folks, I’m not particularly upset that Cena won the title at Money in the Bank. It’s a means to an end, folks. And that end is Summerslam. You want a big money pay per view match? John Cena’s been a key ingredient in a lot of big money pay per view matches. And if the rumors are true, that opponent will be Brock Lesnar.

Incidentally, Stephanie should do more “rap dancing,” or whatever she was doing when that WWE 2K15 poster dropped. Those five seconds were pretty damn entertaining. She seems to be having as much fun out there as she’s ever had.

John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Kane announced for Battleground. Eh, I’ve seen worse filler between major pay per views.

Seth Rollins wins the Money in the Bank briefcase. Not surprised to see Seth Rollins take the briefcase home. The briefcase element always works best when used with a heel. It just doesn’t behoove a babyface to attack a champion when he’s vulnerable. Oddly enough, the only face to really have a great Money in the Bank briefcase pay off (no pun intended) was the man Rollins faced tonight, Rob Van Dam. Come to think of it, Cena was the champ back then too…

Kofi Kingston is annihilated after come-from-behind win over Cesaro. As good as Kofi Kingston is, it’s gotten to the point where when I hear his music, my brain goes: “Heel enhancement match.” Tonight was no different. Even when Kofi wins, he loses. He beats Cesaro, but then proceeds to take one of the worst ass kickings of his career. Some things never change, I suppose.

Intercontinental Championship vacated due to Bad News Barrett’s injury. That separated shoulder is a terrible break for Bad News Barrett. He was obviously doing some of the best mic work of his career, and he and WWE had turned the whole “Bad News” persona into something entertaining and cool. Here’s hoping he can parlay a comeback into a babyface turn in a few months.

Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter emerge to challenge Rusev and Lana. This segment was packed with intrigue. Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter as babyfaces? Why not? The fans seem like they’ve been ready to cheer Zeb and the whole “Real American” thing for awhile now. And they were actually chanting for Swagger! Who’d have thought that?

The Wyatt Family def. Sheamus & The Usos. That big boot from Luke Harper to Sheamus deserved all the replays it got. Right in the damn face!

Nikki Bella is placed into a handicap match with the Funkadactyls. I can’t hear either of the Bella Twins talk without thinking of the Kardashians…

Images from WWE.com.

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Vickie Guerrero’s Sloppy Swan Song, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Stephanie McMahon def. Vickie Guerrero, forcing her out of the company.  A Vickie Guerrero babyface turn? A bunch of Eddie Guerrero references? Well damn, there was no way this wasn’t her last night. Some might cry fowl over it being a slop match. But really, what else were they going to do? Neither of them are wrestlers. And in the end, Vickie got her moment in the sun. Incidentally, Layla El gets a lot of crap here, but that splash she made into the slop was awesome!

I give Vickie Guerrero a world of credit for going above and beyond expectations during her WWE tenure. Did anyone ever envision her becoming the heat magnet she became? She was never the best pure promo on the roster, but what she delivered was so over, it really didn’t matter. Once she started with the “Excuse me!” line, and started venturing into that annoying teacher/boss routine, she was made. So kudos to you, Vickie, for living up to the Guerrero family name, and ultimately doing your husband’s memory proud.

Kane is added to the WWE Championship Ladder Match. Um…sure? This makes sense, I suppose. Although I wish they could have added Kane sooner. That way he could’ve taken the place of someone like Cesaro or Bray Wyatt, who might have benefitted from carrying the briefcase around for awhile. But Kane was kind of in that weird limbo space for awhile, due to Daniel Bryan’s injury. So I suppose it is, what it is.

Triple H announces that Dolph Ziggler, Rob Van Dam, Bad News Barrett, Kofi Kingston, and Jack Swagger will join Seth Rollins in second Money in the Bank Ladder Match this Sunday. What really interested me was Hunter’s remark about the audience thinking he doesn’t appreciate Ziggler’s talents. That’s a curious thing to say about someone the office is supposedly trying to “bury.” Even Jim Ross has speculated on The Ross Report that Ziggler “isn’t high on somebody’s list.” But why? And how long do we all have to wait before Ziggler moves up said list?

Also, Rollins had a really focused, effective promo this week. Much better than anything we’ve seen him do on the mic previously. That. combined with the match he put on with Rob Van Dam, gave me a bit more hope for his future as a solo act in WWE.

Dean Ambrose baits Triple H and Rollins into adding him to the ladder match. I always have to roll my eyes a bit when something like this happens. I understand we’re dealing with wrestling logic, but come on. Rollins wants to “keep an eye” on Ambrose, so he gets Hunter to put him in a position to earn a guaranteed title shot any time he wants? Yeah, that makes sense.

Alicia Fox def. Naomi, as Cameron and Paige join the announce position. Cameron’s definitely a heat magnet, I’ll give her that. She’s somewhat reminiscent of Michelle McCool and Layla El back when they were a team, in that her heel mic work is so grating and irritating that it almost prompts one to hit the mute button. Even Cole seemed to be irritated: “Well, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but you just continue to ramble on.” Paige on the other hand, as good as she is in the ring, came off like the stereotypical white meat babyface.

Big E. def. Damien Sandow, who is dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Okay…so the idea behind Sandow doing all the crazy stuff he’s being doing lately is that he wants to be “entertaining.” Alright, I guess that kind of makes sense. But where does it go from here? Also, what the heck was Big E. trying to do in that post-match promo? Was he channeling some kind of overcharged preacher? Either way, I don’t recommend he revisit that idea.

Bo Dallas def. Titus O’Neil. Did they really need to start calling him “The Inspirational” Bo Dallas? I think most of us got the point…

Images from WWE.com.

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