Author Archive

Picking Up the Pieces, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns break their silence after Seth Rollins’ betrayal. Awesome promo by Dean Ambrose this week. Everything from his face to his body language suggested a man who was an just an inch away from snapping. And that bit about rearranging Rollins’ face was excellent. The only downside to the segment was that Roman Reigns had to follow Ambrose. If I’m Reigns, I’d be a man of few words. Reigns is a little bit like Brock Lesnar or Batista, in that he does his talking in the ring. He doesn’t need to actually say very much in order to get his point across. In terms of verbage, less is more for Reigns.

Seth Rollins explains why he turned on The Shield. Aside from Seth talking about “destroying his own creation,” and what not. There really wasn’t much to this promo. It essentially seemed like your standard “He were never really my friend” post heel turn speech. One can definitely argue that Rollins was The Shield’s most gifted in-ring performer. But for my money, he was usually the weakest on the mic. From a delivery standpoint, he’s just not interesting to listen to. So it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of him now that he’s broken off from The Shield, and he’s working as a bad guy.

WWE announces Daniel Bryan will not be able to compete at Money in the Bank, strips him of the title. Championship to be decided in Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It’s good to finally have an answer to the question of whether Daniel Bryan will keep the championship. And in truth, this could be an instance where a negative turns out to be a heck of a positive. Bryan makes for a fantastic underdog. And for him to have his huge Wrestlemania moment, only to have it snatched away by an injury, is a hell of a story at the end of the day. And it’ll make for a hell of a comeback story too. So I say we let Bryan heal up, and come back better than ever. And for God’s sake, no more diving headbutts.

John Cena, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins def. The Wyatt Family. It was no surprise at all to see John Cena join forces with The Shield to take on the Wyatts. I’ll wager Cena and Bray Wyatt end up being the last two guys who qualify for the ladder match. If that does wind up being the case, Bray Wyatt could very well end up walking away with the WWE Championship. He just seems like the best guy for the role, quite frankly. He just seems like the most compelling choice. Of course, they could go the safe route and give it to Randy Orton.

Sheamus def. Bad News Barrett to qualify for Money in the Bank Ladder Match. As often happens, Sheamus had a hell of a match on this week’s Raw. He and Bad News Barrett gave us exactly what we wanted to see. A tough-as-nails Brit and an Irish brawler teeing off on one another. Great victory for the “Celtic Warrior.” Heck, it would have been the match of the night if not for…

Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam to qualify for Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Excellent match between Cesaro and RVD, capped off by Cesaro finishing Van Dam with a neutralizer. To his eternal credit, Paul Heyman has managed to put some heat on the “Swiss Superman,” as we saw this week with his tease of Brock Lesnar. But it’s still tough not to respect the hell out of the guy. Could he take the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank? My gut says no, but stranger things have happened…

Lana compares “girly man” Obama to Vladimir Putin in pre-match promo. The showing of those Obama clips seems like a Vince McMahon-inspired move. Still, their use, combined with Lana’s venomous words provided some nice heat for Rusev before he squashed Zack Ryder yet again. I think his face might have even changed expression this week. He actually looked like a live human being! Imagine that.

Ryback & Curtis Axel def. Goldust & R-Truth. So this week, Cody picks R-Truth as his brother’s partner, after picking Sin Cara last week, and Kofi Kingston on Main Event. What better way to build up for a heel turn than to team your brother with a bunch of jobbers?

Images from WWE.com. 

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A Batman & Robin: Requiem For Damian Review – The Dark Knight Weeps

TITLE: Batman & Robin, Vol. 4: Requiem for Damian
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Patrick Gleason, Cliff Richards
COLLECTS: Batman & Robin #18-23
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: 
June 4, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Most Batman readers know this story, but it bears repeating here: In 1988, DC Comics published A Death in the Family, a story in which Jason Todd, the second Robin, was killed by The Joker. In the years that followed, Jason’s death would haunt Batman, and serve as an example of the risks and sacrifices synonymous with being a hero in Gotham City. A quarter of a century later, it remains one of the most famous Batman stories ever published, and remains in fluid continuity with the company’s current New 52 canon.

Then, in 2013, Robin died again. This time, the victim was Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s own son. In my mind, this raises two very important questions…

1. Should Batman ever take on a young partner again, given what’s happened to two out of the four Robins?
2. How will Batman react to not only the death of another Robin, but his own son?

Requiem For Damian doesn’t do much to answer question 1, but we definitely get an answer to question 2. To put it mildly, he doesn’t react well. Batman’s grief over Damian’s death pushes him to not only be more cold and distant than ever, but also irrational, and at times cruel. Even his closest comrades and confidants have trouble bringing him back to some semblance of normalcy. All the while, someone new enters his life: Carrie Kelley. Damian’s former acting tutors is asking questions about where her student went. Needless to say, that doesn’t bode well for the secrets of the Wayne family.

Requiem kicks off with an awesome silent issue, in which an emotional and violent Batman grieves, taking his inner torment out on the criminals of Gotham City. It’s a “deafeningly silent” issue to be sure, particularly when we get to the ending, and Bruce’s emotions finally boil over. Gleason gives us a heartbreaking recreation of the closing shot of Batman & Robin #12. Only this time, there’s obviously no Damian. There’s also a great page in which Commissioner Gordon is called to the roof of police headquarters to see dozens of tied up criminals tossed around the Bat Signal. Silent issues are a rarity in mainstream comics, so it’s great that Tomasi and Gleason used Damian’s death as an opportunity to give us such a creative issue in which Gleason’s art has almost the entire stage to itself.

From there, Batman goes through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) in a way that’s all his own, all the while acting like a jerk toward his extended family. Not to mention poor Frankenstein! In Batman & Red Robin #19 (beginning with issue #19, the Robin portion of the title was swapped out for whatever character happened to be featured that month), he dismantles the poor guy in an attempt to learn the secrets of undead reanimation, so that he can bring Damian back to life. Batman spends the majority of the book trapped in his own grief, making Requiem uniquely existential in that sense. Bruce is both the hero and the villain of the story.

I found Batman & The Red Hood #20 particularly interesting, for obvious reasons. It reunites Batman with Jason Todd. Our hero/villain brings Jason back to the site of his death, in an attempt to jog his memory and “maybe retrieve a detail buried deep in your subconscious that could help piece together how you came back to life…” To an extent, this issue missed a great opportunity to touch on the legacy of Robin, which is now bloodier than it’s ever been. But the confrontation between Bruce and Jason at the end of the issue is pretty compelling in its own right. Trapped in his own grief, Bruce is essentially glossing over the his failure (or at least perceived failure) with Jason’s death, so that he can makes amends for Damian’s. This is curious, in terms of what it says about Bruce’s feelings toward Jason, and what their relationship is like.

Incidentally, Cliff Richards tags in on the pencil for issue #22. His style is close enough to Gleason’s that the transition is fairly smooth. His renderings of Catwoman, especially early in the issue, are playful and fun. And by the end of the issue, we even get to see Batman crack a bit of a smile. Good show Mr. Richards.

In the end, Bruce’s grieving period kinda-sorta comes to a close after an issue spent with Nightwing. That’s a fitting end, for my money. While I’m not a fan of overplaying this card the way Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo did early in their Batman run, as the original Robin, Dick Grayson should have a special kind of access to Bruce’s heart and mind. And Tomasi and Gleason stick the landing perfectly with really raw, human moment between Bruce and Alfred. This series has a habit of cutting these characters to their core, and Requiem is no exception. If anything, we see it more in this book than ever.

Carrie Kelley’s introduction into the New 52 universe is fine. It just doesn’t end up going anywhere, at least not yet. It opens the door for her to discover Bruce’s secret down the road, but what’s curious is that she hasn’t been seen since the events of Requiem. Curiously, she was originally to have appeared on the cover of issue #24, but was pulled. A change from the editorial side of things, perhaps? Nah, DC would never do that

Two-Face also appears a handful of short, cryptic scenes meant to set up the next volume in the series, which re-tells his origin. This sort of thing certainly isn’t unprecedented. But in this case, it’s not necessary.

Requiem doesn’t exactly make for feel-good reading. It’s not an epic, rip roaring adventure by any means. But it’s a story that deserves telling, and there’s no team more qualified to tell it than Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.

RATING: 7.5/10

Images from comicvine.com. 

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Channing Tatum Hopes to “Change the Superhero Movie” with Gambit

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

While nothing is official at this juncture, signs continue to point to Channing Tatum portraying Gambit in upcoming X-Men films.

Different reports have pointed toward Tatum’s Gambit either showing up in X-Men: Apocalypse, or debuting in his own stand-alone picture. But in any event, Tatum seems to want the opportunity to shake up the superhero film genre with Gambit.

“We’ve talked about it being a standalone, first, and actually trying to change the ‘hero, superhero movie,’” Tatum said in a recent MTV interiew. “Because Gambit is not your typical hero. He’s a thief. He walks on the gray. I’m hoping we can change it a little bit, and then ultimately feather into the other ones.”

However, in the words of Tatum himself, his Gambit aspirations are only conversations and dreams right now, really.”

Source: MTV News

Image from nacionvirtual.com.

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Josh Trank Will Direct Star Wars Stand-Alone Film

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Coming off the recent announcement that Godzilla director Gareth Edwards will direct a Star Wars stand-alone film, a director has been announced for another stand-alone: Josh Trank.

Trank has previously directed Chronicle, and will direct the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot for 20th Century Fox.

“The magic of the Star Wars Universe defined my entire childhood,” Trank said via press release. “The opportunity to expand on that experience for future generations is the most incredible dream of all time.”

Source: StarWars.com

Image from liveforfilms.com.

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A Forever Evil Review – David Finch, Nightwing, and the Definition of Evil

TITLE: Forever Evil
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: David Finch
COLLECTS: Forever Evil #1-7
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
GRAPHIC NOVEL PRICE: $24.99
GRAPHIC NOVEL RELEASE DATE: September 3, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well, we certainly know where the title Forever Evil came from. It damn near took forever to get all seven issues published…

But in any event, Forever Evil manages to open a lot of new and interesting storytelling doors, including inserting Lex Luthor into the Justice League, and turning Nightwing into a secret agent. But to tell those new stories, we had to put a new spin on an old one.

Various incarnations of the Crime Syndicate of America (Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, etc.) have appeared in the DC Universe since 1964. In essence, they’re an evil version of the Justice League. In Forever Evil, Geoff Johns and David Finch give us their take on the group, as they trap most of the Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark inside the Firestorm Matrix. As such, they have little opposition as they take control of the Earth. But what they haven’t counted on was a resistance led by perhaps the most unlikely of heroes: Lex Luthor.

I was actually somewhat disappointed at the end of Trinity War, when the big reveal turned out to be the Crime Syndicate. It was a decent hook for Forever Evil. But in terms of the big reveal, instead of it being an “OMG!” moment, it was more like an “Oh, they’re doing the Crime Syndicate again,” moment. Then again, if you’re looking for originality, American superhero comics aren’t always the best place to look, are they?

Like Civil WarBlackest NightAvengers vs. X-Men, and various other event comics from the big two, the main Forever Evil book simply gives us the broad strokes and major plot points of a story with an enormous scope, which could potentially spin off into a thousand smaller tales (some of which we’ve seen in books like Justice League). In that sense, it doesn’t dive in and give you some of the little details you want. For instance, we don’t necessarily get to know the Crime Syndicate very well. That stuff is saved for the supplementary material. It’s a decent book in it’s own right, but it’s hardly Johns’ best event comic.

As for David Finch, his overly dark and shadowy work, which I’ve condemned him for in the past, is actually a good fit for Forever Evil. Ultraman does cause a lunar eclipse, after all, which plunges out story into darkness. The three-page fold out where we see all the villains that have assembled with the Crime Syndicate is pretty cool, too.

This being said, Forever Evil does suffer from some of the usual David Finch problems. At certain points the characters’ faces look lifeless, like mannequins instead of living people (see the final page in issue #2). Batman’s appearance on the over issue #4 is downright bizarre. Between his cartoony expression and his awkward pose, it definitely makes for a “WTF” moment. In issue #2 Atomica (the Syndicate’s equivalent to The Atom) jumps also shrinks, and jumps inside Wonder Girl’s mouth, only to jump out later. Aside from not having much of an idea what she was even doing in there (though I suppose we can assume she was choking her or something), the miniaturized villain is proportioned a bit too largely for it to be believable, even by superhero standards. There’s also a panel where Ultraman breaks Black Adam’s jaw that ventures into the realm of unintentional humor.

Also, in issues #2 and 3, Batman and Catwoman return to S.T.A.R. Labs, their costumes torn from battle. The Dark Knight’s mask has a sizable tear, exposing his entire right eye. Yet neither Catwoman, nor anyone from the lab recognizes that Bruce Wayne, a public figure, is standing before them. Even if you buy the idea of superhero masks effectively concealing a person’s identity, this is pushing it. Quite frankly, it makes everyone in the scene look stupid. Especially Catwoman, who even gets to accompany the goddamn Batman back to his goddamn Batcave.

Johns uses Catwoman as the story’s major source of comic relief. Sadly, much of it feels forced, essentially turning her into the Jar Jar Binks of the story. She also spends much of her time pining for Batman at what is literally the worst possible time to put that kind of thing out there. Lady, there’ll be plenty of time to get his attention after you make sure the world doesn’t end!

Forever Evil pulls off a major stunt in the first issue by having the Crime Syndicate unmask Nightwing on worldwide television. Thus, his true identity as Dick Grayson is exposed to the world…and yet only one person is able to connect Dick Grayson to Bruce Wayne, and then Bruce Wayne to Batman. Perhaps I’m a bit fuzzy on DC’s purposefully ambiguous New 52 canon, but Dick Grayson was raised by Bruce Wayne, right? And Bruce Wayne is a world famous socialite, right? This means it’s probably common knowledge, at least in some circles, that Bruce and Dick are connected. And yet only one person is able to figure it out. Not Commissioner Gordon, or anyone at the GCPD. Not cunning journalists like Lois Lane or Perry White. Not The Riddler, who as we’re learning in Batman: Zero Year, is as smart as he’s ever been. Not Catwoman, who is looking directly at a half unmasked Batman as he learns what’s happened to Dick. Just how stupid are these people?

Of course, half of an event comic stunt’s merit is what you do after the event. In terms of DC’s plans for the now ex-Nightwing, and the upcoming Grayson series where Dick is a secret agent, I’m doing my best to withhold judgment until I see the content. But was anyone really dying to see Nightwing as a secret agent? Was that, like, a thing that I missed?

I’m also interested in this book’s definition of the word “evil.” During his big speech to all the villains in issue #1, Ultraman talks about how the Crime Syndicate’s motives are fueled by the concept of natural selection. That’s actually a pretty interesting notion, and helps make the crime syndicate more than just generic bad guys who look like the Justice League. That is, until we get to the end of the speech…

“Your world fights against the most basic rule of evolution: Natural selection. The progression of the human race has been halted by allowing those who offer society nothing to consume, procreate, and breathe. This place has allowed the inadequate, incompetent and ignorant to thrive. The destitute are winning. But the war is not over. You are the strongest there are. Join us and we will take this world together. Aeternus malum. Forever evil.”

See? They worked the title in there.

The problem I have is with those last four words. The word “evil” (at least according to the dictionary I’m using) means “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked.” You can debate about the connections, or lack thereof, all you want. But with those four words, Ultraman is labeling himself and the Syndicate as the bad guys. And that doesn’t match up with the rest of the speech. In his mind, he’s correcting something that’s wrong. This plays into the notion that most people who do bad things actually believe they’re doing good things. Heck, in Forever Evil we get inside Lex Luthor’s mind, and we see that he fully believes he’s doing the right thing by opposing Superman. He thinks he’s saving humanity, preventing the race from becoming stagnant and relying on superheroes to save the day. He’s not “evil,” per se. In essence, that’s true of the Crime Syndicate, despite all the horrible things they do. They just have differing philosophies. It might have been interesting to see Johns and Finch play that up a bit more. Mind you, this is a superhero comic book, not a debate about natural selection. But it might have helped add an extra dimension to things.

Obviously, Lex Luthor is the character that gets the big rub from Forever Evil. Johns highlights the more human side of the character, and shines a light on the notion that despite his narcissism, he really does want to save the human race. And where it leaves him at the conclusion of the story is almost worth having to wait as long as we did for the series to play out in its entirety. The sort of master/pet friendship he develops with Bizarro is kind of interesting. Though in issue #7, Johns pushes things a bit too far when something pretty bad happens to Bizarro, and Lex exclaims: “But he was my monster!” I get where he was going with it, but…no.

All in all, Forever Evil is strictly okay. It’s a new take on an old story, which is fine. But I’m not sure we’ll be looking back on it with much reverence in the coming years. It got us to a fairly interesting place, and gave a lot of new creators the opportunity to give us fresh takes on DC’s catalog of villains, both of which redeem it a bit. But we’ve certainly seen better.

RATING: 5.5/10

Front page image from dc.wikia.com. Image 1 from theweeklycrisis.com. Image 2 from insidepulse.com. Image 3 from jilianscharr.wordpress.com. Image 4 from comicvine.com. 

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Seth Rollins, Bluetista, Crowd Control, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Seth Rollins turns heel on The Shield. I’ll say this much: I didn’t see that coming. I was expecting Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to turn on Roman Reigns. But obviously, the decision was made to go with Rollins alone. I think that’s a wise move. Ambrose is such an awesome talker, it would likely be difficult to get a good portion of the fans to boo him. And of course, WWE is grooming Reigns to be a big babyface. In turns of turning just one member of the group heel, Rollins was the best choice.

So I suppose that’s it. That’s the end of The Shield. WWE breaks the group up at the height of their popularity, which is exactly the way it should be done. Break it off when the fans are most invested. I imagine this will lead to Rollins & Orton vs. Ambrose & Reigns at Money in the Bank.

Bryan to defend at Money in the Bank, or the title will be decided in the ladder match. Wow. So it really is touch and go with WWE and Daniel Bryan. I’ll give them credit. At least they’re trying to keep the belt on him. But I’m ready to have a WWE Heavyweight Champion, even if it isn’t Daniel Bryan.

Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Hm. I wonder who the fans would have rather seen in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match…

Stephanie McMahon strikes back at Chicago crowd chanting for CM Punk during PaybackI’ve got to applaud Stephanie McMahon, and whoever came up with that line about the fans wanting Daniel Bryan to quit “just like CM Punk.” That was not only an effective way to strike at the heart of those same fans who wanted to hijack Raw before Wrestlemania XXX, but an interesting way for WWE to say: “Hey, it’s not us. It’s him.” And that’s not exactly a false notion, is it? Punk walked out on WWE. I’m not bashing him for that. But, at least to the public’s knowledge, that is what happened. He did what he felt he had to do. And thus, it seems WWE is doing what it feels it needs to do in terms of the public’s desire to see CM Punk. It’s a sad situation, but it is what it is.

Bray Wyatt absent after losing to John Cena at Payback. If I may be so bold: Fans who think Bray Wyatt got “buried” in his match against John Cena at Payback seem to be unable to see the forest for the trees. Bray Wyatt is a villain (at least in theory). Villains can lose and come back quite easily. How many times has The Joker lost to Batman? The Green Goblin to Spider-Man? Lex Luthor to Superman? Bray Wyatt is coming off a lengthy program with the WWE’s biggest star, and has upped his game in the process. There are great things in store for Bray Wyatt. Heck, he might even be carrying around a Money in the Bank briefcase before long…

Batista “Quits” WWE. This was expected, as Batista is apparently set to start the publicity tour for Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s certainly sad we didn’t get to see a big pay per view match between Batista and Daniel Bryan. With luck, that’s still in the cards for later this year. For as much crap as I, and other fans gave Batista when he came back earlier this year, I now give him a lot of credit. He helped save Wrestemania XXX by contributing to an awesome main event that revived the crowd after Brock ended The Undertaker’s streak. Then he proceeded to lose on three consecutive pay per views.  Considering what he was likely told he’d get when he came in, that’s a pretty rotten deal. So kudos to Batista on being a professional. Or is it Bluetista now?

Luke Harper and Erick Rowan def. The Usos. The Usos had a nice little promo before this match, which helped showcase their personalities a bit more. The match that followed was solid, and set up a title match between the two teams at Money in the Bank, which the Wyatts could very well win. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Wyatts walk out with the tag straps, and a Money in the Bank Ladder match victory in the same night.

Bo Dallas def. Kofi Kingston. Bad camera angle on that “Running Bo-Dog.” Kofi’s head didn’t even come close to the mat. Still, I’m definitely a fan of the whole “Bolieve” character.

Ryback & Curtis Axel def. Goldust & Sin Cara. So Cody wants his brother to have a “better tag team partner,” and yet he picks a guy who can’t win a match unless Scooby Doo is with him at ringside. Yeah, way to not be transparent, Cody…

Images from WWE.com 

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Game of Thrones, 12 Years A Slave Stars Cast in Star Wars: Episode VII

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

StarWars.com announced this week that Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie have been added to the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Nyong’0 won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year for her performance in 12 Years A Slave.

Christie is best known as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. She will also be featured in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

“I could not be more excited about Lupita and Gwendoline joining the cast of Episode VII,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of LucasFilm. “It’s thrilling to see this extraordinarily talented ensemble taking shape.”

Directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: Episode VII comes out December 18, 2015.

Image from telegraph.co.uk. 

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Charlie Cox Cast as Daredevil in Netflix Series, New Showrunner Named

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Charlie Cox, best known for his work on Boardwalk Empire, has been cast as Matt Murdock/Daredevil in the upcoming Netflix series, Daredevil.

In addition, in the wake of the announcement that Drew Goddard will no longer be the showrunner, Stephen S. DeKnight has been named his replacement. DeKnight has previously served as the showrunner for Starz’s Spartacus. Goddard will remain aboard Daredevil as a producer.

Daredevil is scheduled to run 13 episodes on Netflix. The series will be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Filming will begin this July.

Netflix and Marvel are also developing shows for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Image from imdb.com.

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Delaying the Inevitable? Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Daniel Bryan hangs on to the WWE Championship…at least until PaybackAfter this week’s show, I suspect Daniel Bryan will indeed be hanging on to the WWE Championship. They’re weaving the will he/won’t he stuff into the underdog fabric of his character. I think if they’d gotten bad news back from his surgery, they would have gone ahead and taken the title off him by now. I think he just won’t wrestle at Payback, but we’ll get the Kane rematch/blow off at Money in the Bank.

On the subject of injuries, I’ve never been a fan of wrestling moves being banned outright. But as long as WWE is banning certain manuevers (i.e. the piledriver), I say ban the flying headbutt. I was watching Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story this weekend, and it really became clear just how little sense that move makes. A guy takes a front bump off the top rope, and in theory, butts heads with his opponent. That would take just as much out of the wrestler performing the move as the one receiving it, if not more. Why Bryan felt the need to incorporate that into his arsenal is beyond me. But let’s just get rid of it.

Randy Orton & Batista def. Cody Rhodes & Goldust. I had a good feeling about the Batista & Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust match when that pre-tape aired, in that this match would likely further the budding animosity between the Rhodes brothers. We didn’t really get much in terms of Cody being angry with his brother. But what we did do is build up some good sympathy for Goldust. I’m wondering if next week, we’ll see Cody say mouth off to him about this match.

The Shield and Evolution’s contract signing erupts into chaos. Triple H’s portion of this week’s finale was pretty good. The talk about how he watched the ink dry on The Shield’s original contracts gave us a nice perspective on how new the “Hounds of Justice” are, compared to Evolution. It put the match in a compelling new light. As for the match this Sunday, I expect it’ll be an interesting night for Roman Reigns. Whatever happens to him at Payback may go a long way toward building to a big singles match at Summerslam.

Bray Wyatt attempts to attack Jerry Lawler. It’s nice to see Bray Wyatt actually act like a heel this week, and pick on Jerry Lawler,  who as far as WWE is concerned, is weaker than he is. They obviously played up the whole heart attack thing, which I’d like to think will be the catalyst for Lawler returning to the ring some time soon (assuming he’s healthy, of course). All in all, it was a good segment. At least Bray didn’t do quite as much singing…

Triple H and Stephanie fire Brad Maddox. Were we supposed to feel bad about Brad Maddox getting beat up and fired? He’s still a heel, right? Well, I suppose we saw him so seldomly, it doesn’t really matter. So does he become a babyface now? Or perhaps he takes over as the general manager of Smackdown once Vickie Guerrero leaves the company (as she’s been rumored to do for some time now).

Alicia Fox throws another tantrum after losing to Emma. So Alicia Fox’s thing these days is that she’s ripping men’s clothes off and pouring soda all over herself? Yeesh, she might be a babyface before long.

Rusev def. Zack Ryder. They’re letting Rusev talk now? Why? His mic work doesn’t exactly bring anything new to his character. He’s as bland as he’s ever been.

Eva Marie def. Summer Rae. Good lord, is this Eva Marie push going to cross over on to Raw and Smackdown? Why do they insist on making this woman wrestle? As we saw this week, and countless times in the past, she leaves MUCH to be desired in terms of her in-ring ability. So why keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole? Just let her be someone’s valet for the time being. Let the suffering end!

Hornswoggle def. El Torito. To the Jim Rosses and the Jim Cornettes of the industry who are always talking about how “bad comedy for the sake of bad comedy” is never a wise decision, I give you Drew McIntyre vs. El Torito. And with it, I say: Congrats on being right.

Images from WWE.com. 

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X-Men: Apocalypse to Feature Original Cast Members

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

While 2016′s X-Men: Apocalypse will focus primarily on the characters we originally met in X-Men First Class (James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, etc), it seems there will also be room for characters from the original X-Men films.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Simon Kinberg specifically noted that Apocalypse “…will certainly have some of the original cast involved, too.”

There has been much speculation about Hugh Jackman appearing in the film as Wolverine. In April, Patrick Stewart also told MTV News that he would be open to returning as the older version of Charles Xavier.

In addition to McAvoy and Fassbender, Apocalypse will see Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters return as Mystique, Beast, and Quicksilver. In addition, it’s been widely speculated that Channing Tatum may appear as Gambit.

X-Men: Apocalypse comes out May 27, 2016.

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