Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 30, 2012 WWE Raw Review

I was dreading last night's Raw.  The Royal Rumble was mediocre at best and for the last week they had threatened us with the return of Triple H, or HHH, or Trips, or Aytch, or Trippy Aytch, or I-Really-Hate-Talking-About-This-Guy-But-I-Can't-Stop-Myself (ASSHOLE for short).

Last night started with #bigjohnny himself, John Laurinaitis.  Mr Excitement is a bit of a litmus test for wrestling fans.  If you love him you are likely a person of sophistication and taste who can discuss at length your favorite novels by Faulkner or McCarthy.  If you hate him you are likely a dummy who thinks Triple H is a legitimate badass in real life.
Just say no to Triple H, kids.
True story time from THESTINGER: I used to play in a Live Action Role Playing game a decade ago.  One of the guys that ran it went by Triple H because he really fucking loved Triple H.  Now, this guy was a big loser who was kind of stupid and not at all funny but he was inspired enough by Triple H to get into really good shape.  He even grew a long ponytail like Triple H.  Man, I hated that guy.

Laurinaitis starts out last night and hams it up with the audience.  He then continues to talk about how great a job he has done and how he deserves to stay as Raw General Manager.  I agree, too.  If we look at his storyline role we can all see that Raw has been pretty good and he sets up interesting matches.  If we look at this as the farce it is we can all agree that he's hysterical and layered and just an amazing character.  He could have so easily been Vince McMahon version 2 but instead he's awkward, weirdly humble, and just otherwise the most interesting and layered character on wrestling these days.

Punk then comes out and just ruins things.  He sings that awful "Goodbye" song like we're watching the Toledo Mudhens lose to the Norfolk Tides.  I so very badly want to like CM Punk.  I don't want to keep talking about this but what he did last summer was amazing and just something special.  It's so easy to book him and write storylines for him so I am baffled by why he has this weird feud with Laurinaitis that goes nowhere and is about nothing.  I'm serious, can anyone tell me what the crux of this feud is?  Laurinaitis was a corporate stooge and maybe schemed but has since then been very fair and has even gone out of his way to apologize for where he has done wrong.  What's the meat of this feud?

CM Punk has reached full on Triple H levels of terrible.  The crowd is to blame as well and I get really uncomfortable when I see a heel acting like a total jackass, and doing so in the most boring way possible, while being cheered for bullying someone who is less popular.  I feel like I'm in middle school again.  It's easy to joke about the whole Be A STAR thing but the amount of cognitive dissonance that occurs must be lethal to the writing team.

At this point I start to realize that maybe I shouldn't be so afraid of Triple H since we have to spend a half hour every week with his lovechild with Freddy Mercury.  That's not a dig at homosexuals, I just think CM Punk looks like Freddie Mercury.
Or maybe I'm seeing something that isn't there? *
The rest of this segment had Daniel Bryan coming out and outshining CM Punk on the mic followed by Sheamus teasing his reveal of who he wants to face at Wrestlemania.  First, I want to reiterate a point: Daniel Bryan came out and outdid CM Punk on the mic.  The American Dragon is my favorite active wrestler, although I've been binging on El Generico videos lately so maybe he's a close number two, but at no point did I think he was great on the mic.  Better than people give him credit for?  Sure.  Great?  No, but last night he was.  I'm so fully on board with his heel turn and his militant veganism that I can barely contain my excitement.  Also, I like Sheamus so adding him to this whole thing makes me happy.  Goodjob, WWE.

At this point we get to move onto WRESTLING!  Ziggler is the man and I'm glad Randy Orton is back.  They had a good match and I think Ziggler looked good.  Some at the With Leather Open Discussion thought it was a squash but Ziggler looked strong, had some good offence, and the match went ten minutes.  Ziggler is solid but he will likely lose against 40 time World Champions.  It is what it is.

I found it interesting that according to Ziggler the Rough Ryder is more devastating than a Superplex.  Ziggler sold the Superplex fine, but with how horrifyingly violent he reacted to a Rough Ryder I half expected Ziggler to just splatter against the mat like a bag of blood when Orton gave him a Superplex.

Next up we got to see some Funkasaurus action.  It's been almost a month and I'm still 100% on board with Brodus Clay.  I get happy when he shows up.  It's unfortunate that he squashed Tyler Reks as 1) Tyler Reks could be big if they gave him a chance and 2) Funkasaurus versus T Reks should be a huge feud for the ages (get it? I'm referring to the Jurassic Age).

I am very excited by the prospect of a CM Punk and Daniel Bryan feud.  They gave these two guys a good amount of time to put on a great match.  I know I complain about CM Punk a lot but when he shuts up about reproductive organs and just wrestles I instantly love the man.  Daniel Bryan and him have such good chemistry that they need to let them have a full on feud with hour long matches in the future.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, the match didn't get a proper finish as Jericho came out to hit Punk.  This is what I was getting to yesterday: Jericho didn't need to win the Royal Rumble to feud with Punk since they will naturally just go after each other anyway.  The fortunate thing about Jericho ruining the match was that if the match went for another ten minutes and had a normal finish it would have likely been the best match we would see in the WWE this year and it depresses me to think the next 11 months wouldn't be as good.  Thanks WWE?

At this point we're over halfway into the show and there's no sign of Triple H.  The two full matches we've seen have made me feel less angry about the Royal Rumble.  I can learn to live paying for inconsistent PPVs if their free shows are going to be really awesome.

I would talk about Mike Tyson being inducted into the Hall of Fame but I don't care.  I really don't.  The Hall of Fame exists to give people who can't, or shouldn't, wrestle anymore a chance to say some heart warming stuff and we all feel good.  After that I never think of it.  I can't be upset at Macho Man not being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame since he has long had a spot in the Hall of Fame of THESTINGER's HEART.

Next up we get to see Kofi Kingston and The Miz 'rassle.  I like Kofi even if I don't understand the question marks but maybe that's the question they're supposed to elicit?  Very meta, Kofi.  I also really like The Miz.  There's something about The Miz that I just really like and seeing these two guys have a match makes me happy since they both have a lot to offer.  It was a quick match but solid and I can't complain.

Next we get the most perfect Divas match ever.  In less than a minute Beth Phoenix remembers that she's an actual wrestler and Glam Slams Eve because it's Eve.  I agree with others that while I'm totally against the harrassment, rape, torture, and stalking of women that Eve's scared response to Kane was funny.  Good job!

John Cena comes out and makes the save.  Now, I fully admit that this feud does nothing for me save contain a lot of bad elements of the WWE into its own storyline so it can't containment everything I love.  With that being said I kind of appreciated how they got into one of those grappling-rolling-around-brawling-little-kid-fights that constitute what a real fight actually looks like for most of the world.  That was a nice touch to make it feel real, or something.

At the end we get Triple H.  This entire time I got suckered into enjoying an episode I had previously been dreading.  I was starting to fool myself into thinking that maybe Triple H was Jonah Hill and largely a figment of my imagination.  Then he showed up and was real and the crowd is cheering him and I'm hating myself and hating the crowd and thinking of voting Ron Paul and embracing the hate or something.  Fuck.

Look, I love Motorhead.  My father got me into Motorhead when I was a kid.  It's something my old man and I share.  Triple H's very existence makes me love Motorhead and my father less and less every day.  He's an asshole.

At this point Triple H becomes unbearable even in a world where we're grading on a curve.  I know I was harsh on Punk earlier but I take it back: CM Punk has a long way to go before I hate him as much as Triple H.  CM Punk feels like he's trying to be Triple H but Triple H just manages to convey that sense of entitlement so perfectly and effortlessly.

This whole time Laurinaitis is groveling and asking for mercy.  Laurinaitis is not a proud man but I think he really believes in things and has feelings and Triple H is just trying to make him feel bad.  The way the crowd reacts and how Triple H feeds off of that ugliness just makes me think of how inately fascist we all really are.

If I didn't have some very lucky breaks in my childhood I would be up there with these people cheering at the humiliation of an awkward guy who is otherwise harmless.  I can't imagine how my life would be if I didn't have Mrs Davis making me love reading in 2nd grade or Mr Roper teaching me chess and critical thinking in 5th grade.  Who would I be if my mother didn't meet my step dad who loved me like his own son and taught me about respect and discipline and Motorhead?  I grew up poor and all of my cousins and my sister have grown up to be fairly base individuals with a low level of self actualization.  Through sheer luck I managed to break free from that cycle of poverty, despair, and ugliness.  Otherwise I would be in that crowd cheering at Coolest-Guy-In-The-World Triple H emasculating a harmless and goofy man.

Look, we're not supposed to hate Triple H.  We're supposed to think he's the coolest and best wrestler ever and that everyone else sucks compared to him.  We're supposed to think he's who we should all model our lives after.  We're supposed to hate #bigjohnny because he's a nerd or something?  This is where the WWE gets ugly and awful and I hate it.  Stop doing it.

Then, we get Undertaker.  I fucking love Taker.  I can't say much else besides that.  He's the Undertaker.  What am I going to write about?  I'm glad it appears that Triple H is backing down from another match with Taker at Wrestlemania.  No one wants to see that.  Even Triple H fans don't want to see that and if they do they're wrong.

I'm actually in favor of Sheamus using his Royal Rumble win to challenge Taker.  I think Sheamus is credible enough to do it and he'll be around long enough that a match with the Dead Man will have dividends in the future.  As much as I want to see a Sheamus-D Bry feud I think I would prefer this if it let us avoid another Triple H match.

At the end of the day I enjoyed this episode and I was really expecting to hate it.  Good job, WWE.  Big thanks to the wonderful and brilliant posters at the With Leather Open Discussion.  They would make TNA worth watching.  They're incredibly funny and nice.  I'm serious, many people there like RumHam, LastTexansFan, FunkyWarmMedina, Tobogganing Bear, and lots of others are really supportive and just radical.

Thanks, guys!

*To be fair to Punk, Laurinaitis looks like the bad guy from Commando to me.

Also, I'm shamelessly stealing gifs from Jerusalem on the Something Awful Forums.  It's been years since I posted there (maybe since 2001 when I was a hateful college freshman posting on the internet) but yeah, I'm stealing it.  I'll try to remember my account to clear it with him in the future.  <3

Monday, January 30, 2012

Royal Rumble 2012 Review

Last night's Royal Rumble was a mixed bag. There was a lot of really obvious junk and the parts that were good did not amaze and had to be thought about to appreciate. The best way to sum it up is just to go through the matches and the Royal Rumble entrants and to sum up my thoughts on them.

Daniel Bryan versus Mark Henry versus Big Show in a Steel Cage Match 
Daniel Bryan is my favorite active wrestler. Any Pay Per View that he has a scheduled match in means it's a PPV that I will buy. I have to say that in case Vince McMahon reads this. Since he might be reading this I'll also ask him to stop his wife from running for office again. She's terrible, just stop. Thanks, Vince.
D Bry (with the help of GRAVITY) wins!
It's hard to expect a lot out of this match. Mark Henry is injured and Big Show is Big Show but Daniel Bryan managed to make lemonade out of it. I hope D Bry's victory means we can move past his feud with Mark Henry and the Big Show as it isn't doing anything for any of those wrestlers. Mark Henry had a great run as a monster heel and Big Show got to do the most blubbery crying since the Big Bossman stole his father's casket. Neither are really good workers and at best they work as characters that affect the plot. It's time for them both to move on.

Beth Phoenix & Natalya & Bella Twins versus Eve & Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox & Tamina 
This was a surprise. No Divas match had been announced so the WWE went with their favorite tactic of throwing some random combination of women into a match together so they all get some face time. I feel really bad for Beth Phoenix and Natalya since they really love wrestling but are forced to work these matches.

John Cena versus Kane
I'm going to reiterate a point I've made elsewhere: adults who talk about wrestling on the innernette are not supposed to care about John Cena and Kane. We all think Kane is boring and that John Cena is John Cena. It's not for us. That's okay as long as we accept it.

If I was still my seven year old self who watched Robocop and Total Recall obsessively I would love this stuff. My twenty eight year old self who watches Robocop and Total Recall obsessively does not like it so much but understands why his younger self would like it. Look, kids see John Cena as a superman they want to grow up to be and Kane is really scary. Having a woman cry and Zack Ryder be involved just makes it even more appealing for children.

At the end of the day this feud does two things. First, it's not as bad as it could or should be. Second, it gets people who I don't really want to see all together in the same feud so they don't end up making everything else worse. Don't get me wrong, I'm kind of coming around to Cena but I'd rather he had a place holder feud with Kane before his match with The Rock instead of him burying all the guys I like. If he spends time in Kane Purgatory so Cody Rhodes and others can avoid getting Cena buried than I'm happy.

Brodus Clay versus Drew McIntyre 
I love Brodus Clay. The Funkasaurus is amazing. It's been almost a month and his schtick is still solid gold. I like Drew McIntyre but not enough to really care about his getting buried. Drew McIntyre deserves better but I can't be bothered to really care. Brodus Clay's entrance was longer than the match and I seriously have no problem with that.
There's nothing about this I don't love.
CM Punk versus Dolph Ziggler 
John Laurinaitis is the real reason this match was worth watching. He's amazing. The WWE Universe doesn't deserve him and only really cool people like me and the guys who post on the With Leather Open Discussions will miss Laurinaitis when he gets fired by HboringHH tonight. The rest of the match was good enough. Punk as a face is just annoying and last night's match just exemplified that. Ziggler was good, though, and despite this match not being as good as the Raw match they had a few weeks ago I was still happy with it.

The Royal Rumble 
The best way I can think to talk about the Royal Rumble match itself is to go through and talk about all the participants and wrap it up at the end with some closing thoughts.

1) The Miz - I love The Miz. He lasted a really long time and looked good. B+

2) Alex Riley - House show guy who has history with The Miz. Not bad! C

3) R-Truth - Man, way to strain credibility with this being random. Still, I like R-Truth. B


5) Justin Gabriel - Hey, it's that guy with a funny accent and bad hair. It's okay, there's 30 spots so people like Justin Gabriel should be in it! C

6) Primo - I went to highschool with a guy who looks exactly like Primo. I also went to highschool in Puerto Rico so that's probably why. Still, I like Primo and Epico and he did fine. C+

7) Mick Foley - I want to love Mick Foley even when he's not being set on fire and thrown into thumb tacks. The Royal Rumble should have some older guys in it and Mick Foley is a good one for that role. Whatever. C

8) Ricardo Rodriguez - I'm going to complain about a lot of things here soon so I need to make sure everyone knows that Ricardo is not a problem. When Alberto del Rio's music hit I was excited because I like ADR. We then heard car horns and I was happy because his schtick makes me happy. Then we see the most beat up car ever and it turns out that it's Ricardo coming out to wrestle in tighty whities. It was amazing. I'm okay wasting 1 of 30 spots on a gimmick if it's going to be this funny. This was probably the best moment of last night. A++++++

9) Santino - Hey, Santino almost won it last year or something! I guess. One of the things the Royal Rumble can do is get jokes or plot points out of the way without making a big deal out of it. Having Mr Socko and the Cobra fight last night was a joke we all knew was coming and it was funny when it happened last night. Cody Rhodes kicked his ass out later on, too, so, hey, Santino, good job. B

10) Epico - See Primo. C+

11) Kofi Kingston - WHY IS KOFI KINGSTON THE RIDDLER? Riddle me this riddle me that which Jamaican stereotype needs a new teammate who can stop smoking pot? Kofi had a great spot last night, though, so I can forgive his weird gear. B+


13) Ezekial Jackson - Eh, it's Big Zeke. He fought some with Cody Rhodes so that was a good continuation.

14) Jinder Mahal - Jobbers who are on every week should get some time to do something at the Royal Rumble. C

15) The Great Khali - No one wants the Khali. No one likes him. Just stop it. He can't even walk. As far as surprise entrants go this was probably the worst. Still not as upsetting as others, but just pointless. D

16) Hunico - Man, I love Hunico. I think this guy is the total package. He can do awesome stuff from the top rope. He can brawl. He can grapple. He's good on the mic. I'm a big Hunico fan. I'm sad he didn't get to do much last night, though, but his inclusion is a good start. B

17) Booker T - I'm okay with Booker T entering. Cody Rhodes eliminating him works since they had a recent feud. Booker T manages to still be relevant and not hurt his legacy. I like Booker T is what I'm trying to say. B

18) Dolph Ziggler - DOLPH ZIGGLER IS THE MAN. I'll talk more about that later. A

19) Jim Duggan - Jim Duggan coming out wasn't a bad thing. He got a good pop and it's whatever. Not a total waste. There's one really big problem with his entrance that I'll talk about later. C+


21) Kharma - SWEET! She should have done more but I'm just glad to have her back because maybe we can have all the other divas turn into valets as Beth Phoenix and Kharma have a year long feud. B+


23) Road Dogg - No, just no. At least it wasn't X Pac? D-

24) Jey Uso - Around this time everyone started to think the same thing: Wait, aren't there like 10 other big names that have yet to show up? It's not Jey Uso's fault or anything. He deserved a shot at the Royal Rumble, but man this field is really bad so far. C

25) Jack Swagger - He didn't do any push ups on his way in and lost because of it. Way to ruin your chance at Wrestlemania glory, Swag. B-

26) Wade Barrett - THE BARRETT BARRAGE LASTED ALL OF THREE MINUTES. I like Barrett and think he was a believable, if unlikely, person to win. B-

27) David Otunga - Otunga not only came out at the best slot but after playing a ton of WWE '12 Royal Rumble matches where Otunga won (he's seriously the winningest Royal Rumble person I have in that game) I was really excited. O DOG!!! He didn't win. B

28) Randy Orton - My pick to win tonight. His coming out so late and not winning is probably due to his not being 100% after his injury. He helped put over a bunch of people last year so I've become a fan. B

29) Jericho - I have a hard time calling him "Chris Jericho". He's just Jericho. He doesn't put people into "The Walls of Chris Jericho". I thought he had a real good chance of winning. He didn't. Whatever. Him winning and cutting an awesome promo, something he can be counted on for, would have made this PPV twice as good. I'm glad he didn't win for reasons I'll get to later.  B

30) Big Show - Ugh, Big Show, why? C-

General Thoughts 
The first thought I, and everyone else, seems to have is that this field was terrible. Even if the field wasn't bad, and it really wasn't that bad, it was staggered really poorly. There are several people on this list that simply should not be there. It also didn't help that all the probably winners (Sheamus, Barrett, Orton, Jericho) all came out at the end. It was all just kind of weird and felt extremely anti climatic. At a certain point I didn't care who was next and by time we started getting people worth being excited about it was too late.

 Thinking about this some more I think we need to understand that what is more important than winning the Royal Rumble is being the person, or in this case the group, that was constant throughout. The entire match was carried by The Miz and Cody Rhodes (plus Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston to a lesser extent). They all lasted an incredibly long time and made the actual match interesting enough to watch. I think it says volumes that the WWE chose those guys to carry the biggest single match of the year.

 There were a lot of people I was expecting, and hoping in all of these cases, to make surprise entrances who never did. I really expected Christian and Alberto del Rio to make surprise appearances but I guess they were too injured to do so. I expected Golddust to appear and advance his feud with Cody Rhodes. There are others but those were the big three. One of the big failures last night was that it spent a lot of spots on total wastes instead of letting newer people get a chance and to develop a fued or something. Tyler Reks is really unique looking and his appearance could have given him something to do and maybe give him a few new fans. Yoshi Tatsu would go over huge with kids and could do something interesting. Instead we get Jerry Lawler (BOOOOOO!) and others.

 Even the people we did get didn't get to do much. Hunico should have had a chance to single someone out and get a feud or something going. There's so much wasted potential here that it makes me sad.

 I am glad Sheamus won. I really like Jericho and his current gimmick is amazing but the Royal Rumble should be won by someone that is there week in and week out doing good work. Jericho doesn't need the Royal Rumble win to feud with CM Punk. Those two can naturally develop a feud and have a match at Wrestlemania and it'll work. Sheamus has been stuck fighting Jinder Mahal for months and the Royal Rumble win gives him something to do. A Sheamus versus Daniel Bryan feud and Wrestlemania match will be really great. Those are two people I like and respect and putting them together will be really interesting. The other possibility, even if it's a longshot, is that I could see Sheamus calling out Undertaker. Sheamus is young enough that his ending the streak, or just putting on a great match with Taker, will help push him and cement him as a top draw for years. He's also one of the few people that I 1) want to see face Undertaker, 2) is young enough to really benefit, 3) could plausibly win, and 4) isn't HHH.

The biggest problem of the night was that the Royal Rumble match had no storylines or drama in it.  Stuff just happened and there was no clear story being told.  There was no narrative.  It just meandered around and it didn't give anyone anything to do.  I couldn't remember who threw out who or anything, really.  Matches need to tell a story and when you have the biggest match of the year that has 30 people in it and it can't manage to tell a single story, much less a coherent one, we have a problem.

EDIT: I forgot to talk about one thing that really bugged me last night.  In the middle of the Rumble we start getting all of their "ethnic stereotype" wrestlers come out.  I even like some of these guys but their gimmicks and booking is just racist and terrible.  We get a bunch of these guys, and again I want to reiterate that I really like some of them, and after they all get in we get Hacksaw Jim Duggan who's whole gimmick is just loving America.  It was weird and offputting.  Stop doing that stuff, WWE.

On the whole this was a pretty lackluster PPV. Raw and Smackdown have been solid since the TLC PPV and I was really excited for the Royal Rumble. It's my favorite match of the year and last night was definitely one of the least memorable or interesting in a long while. Between the self indulgent surprise entrants to the weird lumping of wrestlers, it just didn't work. All the same, I still had a good time watching it and it was a really fun time commenting on it last night with the brilliant folks at With Leather. The sense of cameraderie really helps make disappointing PPVs worthwhile.


Friday, January 27, 2012

David Harvey and the Crisis of Capitalism

I have long been a fan of Professor David Harvey.  Professor Harvey's The Engima of Capital (Oxford Press, 2010) and Chris Harman's Zombie Capitalism (Haymarket Books, 2010) are two of the most essential books on the tendency for crisis in capitalism.  They are both incredibly timely and engaging.

Professor Harvey has also made a series of lectures on Marx's Capital available online.  His series of lectures on the first volume of Capital was not just fascinating but also managed to explain difficult material in an easy to understand fashion.  He has started a series on the second volume of Capital and after watching the first installment it looks to be as essential as his first series.

The second volume of Capital is, as Professor Harvey admits, not as accessible as the first volume.  It has some fascinating ideas but it is not nearly as lyrical or as engaging as the first volume.  I'm very excited to reread Capital volume two as I watch Professor Harvey's lectures.

His lectures can be found at his website.  I highly recommend taking a look!  He has a lot of great material there even if you are not able to spend 20+ hours watching him discuss Das Capital.

Here's a great video by the fine people at RSA Animate that gives you an idea of what Professor Harvey is about:

This is a really fantastic video that serves as a great introduction to not just David Harvey but Marxist analysis as well.

One of the things that most annoys me amongst well meaning liberal types (a critique of squishy liberals would make for a good post sometime in the future) is that their is a tendency to blame the most recent catastrophe on bad apples that manipulated the system.  Their response is that we need more regulations to stop the criminal activity that was at the core of this most recent crisis.

To many liberals there is no problem with capitalism or finance.  At best they take up the mantle of Keynes and at worse they buy into the Ron Paul / Hayek / Cato prattle about self regulating markets.  It's a real shame that this crisis has cost so much pain and suffering and has guaranteed another crisis to come in the future.  Instead of looking at the economic, environmental, and human rights devastation capitalism has brought people instead buy into platitudes that everything is going great if we can stop excessive speculation and market manipulation.

All the same, I'd rather hear those platitudes about regulation than to hear another lecture by some libertarian goof.  For some of that you can watch the criticism video someone posted of Professor Harvey's video above.  It's ridiculous and mostly just repeats "Marxian" over and over again while asserting that Marxist analysis has been debunked while never actually explaining the hows and whys this analysis is flawed.  At least he manages to cram all the stupidity of Hayek or Rand into a 13 minute video instead of spending hundreds of pages to write about it.

One of these days I'll have to do reviews of Hayek and Rand.  They're spectacularly stupid and I think I could have some fun with them.  I'm just not sure if I want to reread that idiocy.

For Monday I will likely do quick writeups of a few things.  This weekend is excellent as it is just not the Royal Rumble but Tim and Eric's Billion $ Movie is out.  Between those and The Grey and I this will turn out to be a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hammerlock Dialectic for January 25, 2012

Welcome to the first of a new series of wrestling analysis on the The Hammer Dialectic.

WithLeather's Best and Worst of Raw is a fantastic column and has inspired me to write my own thoughts on the wonderful world of wrestling.  While I'll never be as funny or as insightful as Brandon this will give me a chance to write more than I should in the comments section on B&W threads.  THESTINGER can not be contained to mere discussion threads.

This week's column focuses on CM Punk.  I have long been a fan of CM Punk and have enjoyed everything from his strident straight edge attitude to making Mysterio's daughter cry and going after Jeff Hardy for being a drug addict.  He was a great heel and was so easy to hate even when he was being factually correct about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.  We can all agree that the very zenith of CM Punk was this past summer when he was threatening to leave the WWE and had a fantastic match against John Cena at Money in the Bank.

For many weeks now I have felt somewhat annoyed by Punk.  He was still the same Punk but something was wrong.  He could cut a good promo and whenever he was actually wrestling, especially with Dolph Ziggler, I would isntantly become a huge fan of his again.  There was something off about it, though.  I think I have finally figured out what doesn't work.

Punk as a babyface has become something really awful and monstrous.  CM Punk, as Brandon and others have said, has become Triple H.  Triple H is really just the worst person in wrestling.  Triple H is simply too cool for everyone else.  Triple H thinks he's not just the best wrestler in the world but the manliest man that's ever manned in the whole man world.  Triple H is loud, boring, and awful.  While CM Punk will never be as bad as Triple H he is starting to do many of the things Triple H does that just makes him the worst.  Punk is on a kick lately where he attacks heels by accusing them of having lady parts, by being boring, by having spray tans, and otherwise pointing out that they're little girls and that there is something wrong with that.  It's not just sexist but it's juvenile and boring.  Gone are the days where Punk stood for something more than the destruction of his opponents.  Now all he does is try to bury Alberto del Rio or Dolph Ziggler and occasionally bring up ice cream bars.  It's awful.

Please stop doing that, Punk.

CM Punk was a great revolutionary.  Here at the Hammer Dialectic we love revolutionaries.  CM Punk was fighting against the establishment.  He was fighting against a corporate wrestling promotion that had a very strict idea of who a wrestler was and looked like.  He was fighting against the corporate champion who epitomized everything wrong with the WWE.  As an insurgent he manifested the frustrations of most wrestling fans.  We love wrestling and adore its rich history but felt the WWE had veered so far from that history that it became something grotesque, something clean, something pandering, and something crassly commodified.  CM Punk was the embodiment of a fan's feelings of love and estrangement.  He managed to make wrestling exciting and immediately important to every fan while giving engaging promos and fantastic matches.

I want more of this.

The problem with CM Punk is that he won the revolution.  He's champion now.  The American Dragon is even champion on Smackdown.  John Cena is in purgatory with a feud that only exists to give him something to do before Wrestlemania.  Randy Orton is injured and not much missed.  CM Punk's victory is total at this point.  He's the man now.  He's no longer fighting against the establishment, but instead he has become absorbed into the establishment.  He's on top but nothing else has changed.  Instead of John Cena calling Vickie Guerrero ugly before hitting Dolph Ziggler with an Attitude Adjustment we're getting CM Punk saying that Vickie Guerrero has bigger testicles than Dolph Ziggler before he does a Go To Sleep on him.  It's the same formula.

Punk has serious issues with women.

At this point I am unsure of who CM Punk should feud with to make him exciting and sympathetic again.  So far he's feuding with Dolph Ziggler and doing so in a way that would make Triple H proud.  Dolph Ziggler isn't a big guy, he's not jacked up, he's just a really great heel who manages to make the most mediocre wrestlers look good.  No matter how much Punk accuses him of being the prototypical WWE wrestler it won't be true.  Instead of acknowleding any of that CM Punk just comes out and calls Ziggler a "woman" or otherwise tries to bury him.  There's no real feud here so much as Punk is champion and Ziggler wants to be champion so Punk is trying to bury Ziggler.  They put on great matches together but the feud isn't doing much for either wrestler.

All Punk talks about is testicles and how other wrestlers are women.

His feud with John Laurinaitis is one that no one wants.  An interesting thing has happened along the way, however: Big Johnny became hilarious and likable.  He postures as a corporate crony with a stick up his ass but he's shown himself to be hilarious and reasonable.  CM Punk's feud with "Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim GM of Monday Night Raw" has mostly descended into Punk calling #bigjohnny a woman and accusing him of not having testicles.  At this point I've started to hope Laurinatis wins against Punk.  I'm an avowed Marxist and I'm literally at the point where I'm hoping a bourgeois corporate stooge beats an insurgent worker with tattoos.

#bigjohnny has made me into a #futureendevhead

Punk has always had an undercurrent of mean spiritedness in his feuds.  That mean spiritedness has been oftentimes hilarious and understandable as he was the bad guy in most of his feuds.  He's supposed to go after Jeff Hardy because no matter how often he points out that Jeff Hardy is a drug addict the crowd will still love Hardy.  He has that same vitriol but instead he's using it to go after people the audience already hates and is doing so in a way that makes everyone know that Ziggler is no where near as cool as Punk and he never will be.  It is really hard to bury a face but it's easy to bury a heel and Punk is starting to do that.

I'm still a Punk fan.  I like it when he wrestles.  I still think he can do great things on the mic when he manages to refrain from calling someone a woman, a girl, or otherwise attacking their sexual organs.  I think that as the face of the company and the man on top that he is not living up to his high standards in the past and may in fact be doing more damage to other wrestlers who have a lot of potential.  I don't think this is Punk's fault as he's doing what he's always done.  Punk has a very specific role to fill and when he is tasked with something else to do it just doesn't work.

Thanks for reading!

.gifs from http://cmpunkgifs.tumblr.com/

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ogre Firebelly and Finecast Thoughts

I finished up my Firebelly for my Ogre army a few weeks ago.  I really love this model.  It's dynamic and new.

In game terms it has become one of my favorite models to use.  In the Storm of Magic tournament he did really well for himself.  I've grown to love the Lore of Fire now that I'm using the Firebelly more and more often.

My two favorite ways of playing with him are to have him escort a unit of Leadbelchers and giving the unit some punch and also throwing out some fire.  The other way I'm finding luck is running him like a Hydra.  He doesn't cost very much, is Toughness 5, has 4 Wounds, and works well as a threat on the enemy's flank.  The breath weapon works in the Shooting Phase and also means he can charge and win against more units than you would ever imagine.

I also wanted to speak about Finecast.  I know it has gotten a lot of negative press but I have purchased a few models made in Finecast and so far it has been a real treat.  I fully admit to being lucky and acknowledge that there are a lot of bad models but so far it's been great.  I can't imagine the Firebelly being metal.

In addition to the Firebelly we have purchased an Abaddon and a Cockatrice.  The Abaddon is gorgeous and the details are so much more crisp and apparent than the metal version.  I was seriously impressed with it.

The other model I have is a Cockatrice.

I also can't imagine the Cockatrice being made in metal.  The pose is too dynamic and the joints are too thin.  I can only imagine how it would tip over because of the metal wings.  Similar to the Firebelly it was a joy to put together and took no time to clean up and prepare.

The only issue it had, and it is an issue I experienced with the Firebelly, is that I used some Liquid Green Stuff to clean up some of the gaps.  Besides that it is a great model, cleaned up faster than most metal models, and put together in a flash.

So far I've been lucky with Finecast.  I hope should I encounter any problems that it will be remedied but all my experience with GW Customer Service has been outstanding so I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Plans

I thought since I had a good run of posts so far this year that I would reveal my hobby and blog plans for the rest of 2012.

Hobby Plans
This year I am hoping to paint two more Warhammer armies.  The first army is going to be Tomb Kings and the second army will likely be Orcs and Goblins, but that may change to Warriors of Chaos or something else that catches my attention..

I have been down on Warhammer 40k for a year now.  I think it's a great game but that it has gotten a little stale and that the army books have pushed a play style that doesn't fit me well.  There are two big things coming up that will rekindle my interests.

First are the rumors that Tyranids are going to get their long fabled 2nd wave of figures and this makes me really excited as it'll give me a reason to expand my Tyranids. 

I'm also really excited for the release of 6th Edition and if the game looks anything like the pdf that has gotten around than I will be very excited.  In addition to adding to my Tyranids I will be working on a new army once 6th Edition comes out.

Richard and I have long been lamenting that we both want to play a skirmish game but so far have not really found any that can hold our interest.  One of the things I want to do this year is to try a few new skirmish games and paint up a few armies for others I have already played.  I hope I can find a skirmish game that I not only enjoy but that I can also get other people excited for.

Miscellaneous Goals
I have been running a Savage Worlds game for a few months now.  It took a bit of a break because of the wedding and holidays but we're starting back up on Sunday and I am hopeful to run it more regularly going into the future.  I also hope to blog about it from time to time as I have anything interesting to share.

I have a few armies of Mighty Armies that I'm eager to paint and play.  It's a great game and they have survived many purges in the past.

In the very near future I will be painting my copy of Dreadfleet.  I'm very excited as the figures look great and the game looks like a lot of fun.

Finally, this year I hope to paint up a set of Castle Ravenloft or some other dungeon board game.  I remember being a kid and falling in love with Hero Quest.  I hope I can relive some of that with Castle Ravenloft or another game.

Blog Goals
It has been a lot of fun blogging.  I'm making a concentrated effort to blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  As of now the blog has been focused on miniature gaming but moving into the future I expect to have one post a week dealing with my love of professional wrestling or any rambling thoughts on politics and economics.  

I see keeping this blog active as not just a way to encourage my own hobby but to also practice writing.

I'm very excited for the year and I am hopeful I can keep to the goals I have set up!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More Arcane Fulcrums

I finished the last two Arcane Fulcrums last Friday before Richard's Storm of Magic tournament.  I'm a big fan of these kits and am excited to see what more terrain kits GW comes out with.

I've been playing around with how to take pictures.  I think I'm getting close to taking some decent pictures.  Past pictures were too dark and needed to be brightened up in Picasa.  Now I'm increasing the exposure more and being more careful with lighting.  I have a long way to go but so far I'm happy with how they are coming out.  I'm also surprised at how cheap it is to get quality photos.

I think for Friday's entry I'm going to show off my hobby room.  Ashley and I have cleaned it up and I'm excited to share pictures of our work space.  

Alright, enough talking!  Here are some pictures!

Eternity Stair

Dreadfire Portal

The Eternity Stair is probably my favorite of the Arcane Fulcrums and I expect it will see a lot of use in the Savage Worlds RPG I'm running.  The Dreadfire Portal looks better in person and I have warmed up to it some since painting it.  The kit is still my least favorite of the Arcane Fulcrums but I see its appeal now after painting it.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Storm of Magic Tournament Report

Saturday was Richard's Storm of Magic tournament for Warhammer Fantasy.  We had a few people no-show but still had 6 of us playing.  It was a smaller than usual turnout but many of the local Warhammer players aren't a fan of Storm of Magic.

I had three good games and came in last or next to last.

My first game was against James and his Warriors of Chaos.  I had almost tabled him except for two of his Chaos Sorcerers still in Arcane Fulcrums at the end.  It's really hard to dislodge Toughness 4 Wizards with a 2+ Armour Save and 2+ Ward Save in a Fulcrum.  Good game, good player, and nice looking army.

My second game was against Richard who was the ringer.  Richard and I have had lots of great games together, but this was probably the only game him and I have played that wasn't very good.  We only made it three turns and we had a disagreement that just made us both feeling crummy.  Still, Richard is one of my favorite people to play with and we have had lots of excellent games in the past.

We did get to have Fimir versus Fimir action, though, and I think it is very cool that him and I had different ideas as to how a Fimir would look.

My last game was against Joey's Daemons and it was a very fun game.  We played a practice Storm of Magic game the previous week and he kicked my butt with a first turn Purple Sun from a Tzeentch Herald on Disc.  I couldn't let that happen so my Firebelly spent the the entire game Fireball-ing or Fireball Barrage-ing his Heralds.

He ended up winning in a decisive manner but this was one of those games that made me a better player.  I realized how badly I deployed and how badly I spent the rest of my Movement phases and I hope to learn from those mistakes.  I'm very thankful for this game, and actually all of my games against Joey in the last month, for giving me something to think about and helping me become a better player.

This tournament was a lot of fun and I'm glad to have played so much Storm of Magic.  I think it's a fun alternate way to play and will be awesome in campaigns.

The only complaint I have is that the entire game came down to capturing Arcane Fulcrums.  It feels a little bit like the worst part of 40k where you try to capture objectives on the last turn.  The major difference is that instead of stopping an enemy's Tank Shocks you're trying to stop their Magical Duels.  I feel that holding a Fulcrum gives you a lot of advantages to winning and that they should contribute additional Victory Points at the end of the game, or something similar.  Even still, Richard did a great job of having bonus points matter a lot more than simply winning the battles and this made each game a lot more interesting than it otherwise would have been.

I'm very thankful for this tournament since it got me out playing some games against some awesome people, inspired me to paint my Arcane Fulcrums and make a Fimir, and play around with other Lores I don't normally get to use.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Storm of Magic Ogres and Arcane Fulcrums!

 I am very excited for tomorrow's Storm of Magic tournament that Richard is running.

I've started work on Tomb Kings but for the next month or so I'll still be playing with the fat boys.  I had a really good game on Tuesday with my Ogres and I'm getting more optimistic about them.  I'm also finishing up my Ironblasters and I think they will fit the army really well.

Here is the army I'm taking for the tournament tomorrow.  I'm pretty happy with how it looks and I think Ogres have two items that give them a huge advantage in this environment.  Rune Maw is amazing at protecting my big horde of Bulls and the Hellheart is going to be strong in an environment that necessitates 3+ Wizards.

Slaughtermaster, Level 4, Extra Hand Weapon, Hellheart, Crown of Command, Lore of the Great Maw

Bruiser, Heavy Armor, Ironfist, BSB, Runemaw
Firebelly, Great Weapon, Dispel Scroll

16 Ogres with Ironfists, Full Command
10 Gnoblar Trappers
10 Gnoblar Trappers

6 Mournfang with Ironfists, Heavy Armour, Full Command, Dragonhide Banner
8 Leadbelchers with Bellower
Sabretusk x3

Storm of Magic
Fimir Balefiend, Level 3, Lore of Shadow

 As part of the tournament we all have to bring 2 Arcane Fulcrums.  I really like the GW kits for these and have painted up 3 of the 4 so far.

Here are the first two:

 Balewind Vortex

Magewrath Throne

I will have pictures of the Eternity Stair and the Dreadfire Portal up sometime next week.

You can also expect a tournament writeup on Monday.  I expect it to be a lot of fun since it is a group of great people and Storm of Magic has been really fun so far.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More Victorian Horror Pictures

Here are some more Victorian Horror pictures from the Vampire Wars range of figures.


 Werewolf Hunters (Wolfen Jager)

Vampire Slayers

 Vampire Slayer Heroes

I hope the pictures came out well.  I'm still learning to take better pictures of these small guys.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Victorian Horror Pictures

Almost a decade ago I purchased a bunch of Victorian Horror figures from West Wind and Old Glory. I originally used them for the Rippers Savage Worlds game, which was a lot of fun, but have recently started to repaint them. I even tried out the Vampire Wars game but that didn't last more than one game. These days I might use them for a Legends of the Old West mod or Super System.

I really like these figures. They're uncluttered, which is a nice break from GW, and elegant. They paint up fast and they look good. It really is one of my favorite ranges of figures.

Here are some some figures I painted in October.

Headless Horseman



Vampire Count with Concubine


Jack the Ripper

I have a bunch of good guys I'll post up later this week.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Creating a Fimir - Final

Continued from part 1


I managed to finish painting my Fimir Balefiend last night. We have a house guest so I don't have easy access to my light box but Ashley took some good pictures with her phone.

I'm happy with how he came out. I like the crazy insect thing on his staff and the sores on his body. I'm happy with the conversions I did, the face and cowl look good and the tail works I think, and overall I think he captures what a Fimir Balefiend should look like.

I have some Arcane Fulcrums I need to finish for next Saturday. I also have a unit of Maneaters and two Ironblasters to finish painting up. Those are on hold as I wait to get a bottle of paint (Reaper's Pro Series Bright Copper, I love that color and just ran out.) but I have some other things to share next week should I not get to them.

Here are some pictures of my Fimir!

Let me know if you have any questions!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Creating a Fimir


I'm ramping up for Richard's Storm of Magic tournament on the 14th and part of that entails sculpting a Fimir Balefiend. I'll be bringing Ogres and the Fimir will fit in perfectly with the Lore of Shadow.

Instead of being amazing like Richard and do actual work I figured I would find a miniature that looked close to a Fimir and convert it from there.

I thought Reaper's Uaskuluz Greyhidend from their Warlord line got close. It's a Monstrous Infantry sized aquatic wizard that's pretty close to what a Fimir is. The only thing I really had to from there is sculpt a different face so it had a longer snout and one eye and to give it a tail. I gave it a tail from the Chaos Spawn kit and decided to also give it a cowl and hood to make it more civilized.

The one thing I like that I did by a combination of lack of skill and accident is that when I tried to sculpt teeth it looked terrible but I was able to smooth it out and redo it so he had gums and no teeth. I like the idea that he's a really old Fimir who has seen better days and has had to slum it with my Ogres. Plus, the Orc Shaman with a toothless smile is one of my favorite figures so I'm happy with how it came out.

Here's what he looked like with some green stuff:

Here's what he looks like with some green painted:

I will have a picture when it is finished in the next few days.


Continued in part 2.

Monday, January 2, 2012

WWE Raw House Show Review

This year I am committed to blogging more. The first thing I'm going to do to blog more often is to just write about whatever it is that I'm interested in. In that spirit you can expect movie and book reviews, political ramblings, Warhammer and other hobby related posts, and lots of talk about professional wrestling.

I am hopeful that many of my friends that share one of my interests may catch my enthusiasm for the others.

I've been very productive on the hobby front and have a lot of pictures and thoughts to share in the near future. This being an election year also means I have a lot to talk about on that front. The first subject I would like to write about is professional wrestling.

The gal got us tickets to a WWE Raw house show in DC on December 29. It was a ton of fun.

Here is a good run down of the event.

I had a lot of fun. It was three hours of almost nonstop wrestling. Unlike a televised event most of the matches went on for 10+ minutes and there was little in the way of promos. It was very different than an episode of Smackdown or Raw that only have about an hour and twenty minutes after commercials and of that time maybe forty minutes might have actual wrestling. Instead of forty minutes we got close to three hours and it was awesome.

I even managed to have a good time with the Divas match. Usually they are tiresome and I am endlessly debating on if it is more sexist of me to watch the Divas matches than it is to get a drink or otherwise avoid them. The match at the house show, however, was solid and it really played off of Beth Phoenix and Eve's ability to work the crowd. I was sure Beth was going to beat up some foul mouthed child and there was a lot of good crowd interaction. They even had a decent actual match. I don't expect them to put on a Bryan Danielson versus Samoa Joe match or anything, but it was much better than anything I've seen televised for years.

Overall it was a very good time. CM Punk put on a great match with the Miz. Dolph Ziggler was entertaining and a great heel. Mason Ryan even wrestled decently and got a really big pop from the audience. Kane and Cena was boring but that's probably because I have no dog in that fight.

Overall, it was a lot of fun and it was very cool to see Mick Foley, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, and many others in person.

Expect a lot of hobby related posts in the future! I have been on a big Warhammer Fantasy phase lately and I have a lot to share about that.

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