Sunday, April 29, 2012

WWE Extreme Rules 2012 Results and Recap

Just a few weeks after Wrestlemania 28, the WWE asks you for another $55 donation to see their next PPV live from Chicago, Extreme Rules. To justify your wallet's extraction, Vince McMahon did the unthinkable, the improbable, and the impossible by bringing former WWE and UFC champ Brock Lesnar back home. Of course, never underestimate the power of a guaranteed one-year, 5 million dollar contract. Each match has an "extreme" stipulation that sets this PPV from the rest, so as they say in UFC "Let's Get It On!"

YouTube Pre-Show: Extreme U.S. Title Match
Santino Marella (c) vs. The Miz

Where has The Miz been since helping Team Johnny win at Wrestlemania? He has no story line and nothing to do on TV, so they throw him in a match here for the U.S. Title. Santino is such a great comedy act that the U.S. Title serves him no purpose any longer, but it could help Miz rebuild his quickly flushed credibility. The sad thing is that they are giving this match away for free, so the importance of it deems low at this point.

Santino retains the U.S. Title via The Cobra. 

Guess Miz is done in the WWE. He started things off well when he first came out and trashed Chicago in typical Miz fashion while complaining that he has fallen far from the main event scene. Good kickoff and a free match to boot so no complaints here.

Now on to the matches you needed to pay for...

Extreme Falls Count Anywhere Match
Randy Orton vs. Kane

They still had nothing for these guys to do, so they dragged this feud out for this event. Good thing it's on first to get it out of the way. Kane won the match at 'Mania and Orton followed up with a win the next night. This is the blow off match and all signs point to Randy putting Kane away and sparing us all of this angle continuing any further.

Orton wins the RKO.  

Even though this feud has been a steady flat-line, this match was surprisingly entertaining with weapons being involved in the match less than two minutes into it. They left the ring early and never looked back, so we definitely got our fill of no falls counting any and everywhere. Then Orton with machine gun chair shots on Kane was just brutal. And we got to see Zack Ryder on the PPV for a cameo in this match.

BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Johnny Lauriniatis and Eve drink champagne in celebration of People Power and humiliate Teddy Long once again. Triple H calls Johnny's cell to tell him something important off-camera. Guess we'll find out later.

 Surprise Match 
"The Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay vs. Dolph Ziggler

This one came out of nowhere. I think most people really liked The Funkasaurus gimmick until Hornswoggle wad added to the mix, so hopefully they will dump him from it soon. Anyway, to continue the feud of Clay vs. Guerrero's Stable, we have this added attraction. Good news is that Ziggler is on the PPV, but bad news is that he will probably be jobber fodder to Clay.

Clay wins via pin after the body splash.
Chicago crowd cheered for Ziggler the whole time. Gotta love Chicago for being smart fans! It wasn't a squash match thankfully, but the result was still as expected. 

BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: We see a flashback from the Pre-Show where Eve makes Teddy Long spin the wheel to determine the stipulation of the Rhodes-Show match, which spun to a Tables Match.

WWE Intercontinental Championship (Tables Match)
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show (c)

Ever since Big Show won the IC belt at WM, it seems to have lost all of the prestige and credibility that Rhodes was hoping to bring back to the title. It's not Big Show's fault. It's just that he has been involved in a ton of tag matches with Great Khali and not actually defending the title, making it more a prop than anything. He has been getting over on embarrassing Rhodes lately, so it seems that the title will be hotshot back to Rhodes now that Show had his Wrestlemania moment. If not, maybe Rhodes is next in line for a great world title run?

Rhodes recaptures the title after he kicks Show who slips off the apron causing his foot to fall through the table.

Whew that was a mouthful of a result! After being beat up throughout most of this short match, Rhodes used his cunning to make Show "botch" and take the title back. In what seemed to be an attempt at a "double turn", Show blindsided Rhodes with a spear and threw him through a few tables. Rhodes showed his tenacity by getting up from the last bump after officials seemed like they were calling for the stretcher and walked out with his belt on his own accord to many loud chants from the fans.

BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Daniel Bryan explains the many reasons why he will reclaim his belt and chants "YES!" He insults the Chicago fans in the the process, making them chant "NO!" for a great deal of heat.

 WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Extreme 2 of 3 Falls
Sheamus (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

At least with this match, we are guaranteed longer than the 18 seconds we fans were jibbed in their Wrestlemania opening match. Still, the attempt to bury Bryan backfired by turning him into a martyr and making the "Yes!" chant the new "What?" and skyrocketing his popularity. Meanwhile, that match also became an unintentional "double turn" as backlash formed against the formerly white hot Sheamus, who now hears his share of boos. Even though his title reign has been tepid at best, expect Sheamus to walk out with the belt and opening a door for Bryan to chase another title. Maybe CM Punk?

First Fall: Sheamus by DQ for ignoring the 5-count.

Second Fall: Bryan instantly puts on YES-Lock and Sheamus submitted.

Final Fall: Sheamus retained with the Brogue Kick

Bryan is white hot right now even in defeat. No matter how hard he tried to get the fans to hate him, the "Daniel Bryan" and "Yes!" chants were often and deafening. This match could have very well stolen the show. Totally made up for their :18 second joke at WM.

 BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Santino and Khali watch the monitor to see Ryback's handicap match.

 Handicap Match
Ryback vs. two jobbers

Another surprise match with Goldberg...oops Ryback in a surprise handicap match against two skinny white dudes who insult the crowd before Ryback SMASH!

Ryback, of course.

Chicago constantly chanted Goldberg, which was hilarious. This match was nothing you haven't seen on Raw or Smackdown over the last few weeks.

BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: CM Punk says that he is going to give Jericho a hangover and plays off the alcoholic father deal while making Chicago pop when he calls him 20,000 of his closest friends.

 Extreme Chicago Street Fight WWE Title Match
CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho

Not sure what's the difference is between a regular Extreme Rules match and a Chicago Street Fight, but I'm sure it was named as such to play on Punk as Chicago's Son coming back home. Their match a 'Mania was a classic and this one has the potential to top that one. Even if it doesn't, it's poised to be better than this disappointing straight edge angle between two of the best in the world in the ring and on the microphone. If reports of Jericho taking time off are true, Punk wins this one easy unless they will play up a final rematch at SummerSlam with Punk chasing the title all summer.

Punk retains title after hitting the GTS.

While the last match was chock full of high spots and scientific wrestling, the storytelling here was simply a flat out brawl. Even the Chicago faithful started the "E-C-W!" chants when Punk started using the Kendo Stick on Jericho. It was very different from their battle in Miami and seemed to convey the right type of feel considering where the feud stands at this point. The addition of Punk's family into the match was a nice touch.

 BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Eve informs Beth she is not medically cleared to wrestle but Nikki will fight a surprise oppponent. 

Extreme WWE Divas Championship Match
Nikki Bella (c) vs. a surprise opponent

The formula for this match is real simple: Nikki beating Beth + Nikki getting squashed for the title by a returning Kharma on tomorrow night's RAW or tonight at Extreme Rules + Kharma and Beth equaling a "money" match at Summerslam - Bella Twins reportedly leaving WWE in two days = Nikki retaining as to not give away Kharma vs. Beth for free. Unless they give the belt back to Beth here and have Kharma deliver a not-so fond farewell to the Bella Twins for calling her fat last year. It would make sense for the former option since the title change last week would make sense, but when was the last time WWE tried to make sense?

Layla wins the Divas Title when she neckbreakers Brie after failed Twin Magic.

Everyone in the arena (and even yours truly) was marking out because they thought they were getting Kharma's return one night early. Remember what I said about WWE making sense? Well, instead we get a returning Layla who wins to a very bored crowd let down after the fake Kharma tease. Maybe they will come full circle with the angle tomorrow night with the return of Kharma?

BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Johnny L. tells Matt Striker that he and Triple H will reveal their private discussion tomorrow on RAW (plug!!!!), but now everyone should get ready for People Power.

Extreme Rules Match
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena

How can you make fans forget about The Rock ditching the WWE after beating Cena at WM 28? Just have Brock Lesnar return and destroy Cena the next night and weeks afterward. You cannot help but feel the adrenaline and change of course the WWE is undergoing since he returned on April 2, whether you were ever a fan of the guy or not. With a 5 million dollar investment and creative control, there is no way Lesnar loses to Cena in his first match back with the company. If you are not liking it, get used to it, because Brock is back and the main heel going until Wrestlemania 29.

John Cena defeats Brick Lesnar with the Attitude Adjustment on the ring steps.

Wow this was shocking. This should have established Lesnar as the man and a true Worldbeater. Seconds into the match, Cena was legit busted open and was made out to be totally over-matched. It was not the technical classic of Bryan-Sheamus or the storytelling of Punk-Jericho, but it was a raw and brutal thing to witness. But Brock needs to work on the cardio because he was sweating way too often and early for a man who didn't move around that much. Then, John Cena gets on the mic and talks about going away or something to that effect so not sure what they have in store with the character.


A Chicago crowd can make the most tepid of live wrestling events seem a lot better than what they truly are. They have so much energy and are not afraid to let loose. Love Chi-Town for that. For Extreme Rules, the Punk-Jericho, Bryan-Sheamus and even the one-sided Lesnar-Cena matches were totally worth the price of admission and the PPV itself was a worthy follow-up to Wrestlemania 28. Can't wait to see what directions the aforementioned feuds go on this week's RAW and Smackdown. The main event was supposed to solidify Brock Lesnar as bringing us a new direction for the WWE, but now his existence is a giant question mark. Where last year we saw a Super Face (Rock) against a fellow Super Face (Cena) in a generational year-long feud, 2012 was going to give us an Uber Heel in Lesnar with Extreme Rules PPV setting the stage for the rest of the year. Not sure what this loss means for Lesnar's character, but the idea to have him lose in his first match back is a bad one. Booking aside, this was an awesome PPV to watch as a fan and it was a lot of fun to watch along with one of pro wrestling's best fan bases.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

American Reunion (2012)

Directed by John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg

The crew from East Great Falls is back together in full force for their high school reunion - as you can probably tell from the film's title. For the first time since American Pie 2, the entire cast is back for more hijinks that people their age should not be getting involved with. You can take the kids out of high school, but you can't take the high school out of the kids and so years after the American Wedding, we have another installment full of gags that are sure to please.

A few days prior to the East Great Falls high school reunion, Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) decide to meet up a few days in advance for their own private get together. Unfortunately for them, but not for the viewers, Stifler (Seann William Scott) catches the boys out at the local bar and they have no choice but to allow him to tag along.

Times have changed for the core group since they last saw each other. Jim is now a dad, but the sexual playground in his marriage to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) has become dormant since they have become parents and hope that their time at the reunion will help spice things up. Oz has become a famous TV sports talk host and mini-celebrity who has a beautiful model girlfriend Kia (the stunning Katrina Bowden) yet lacks the true companionship he has always desired since high school. The always sensitive Kevin is happily married to his sweet wife (Charlene Amoia), who willingly allows him to spend time with the "boys". Finch has become a man on the level of the dude from the Dos Equis commercials, with the world as his oyster. Then there is Stifler, who is a disgruntled assistant to a douchey boss at a major Chicago conglomerate, but he still is the same old "Stifler" and acts like the man in charge.

The group begins to relive memories of their old high school days as more familiar faces come into the fold, such as Vicky (Tara Reid) and Heather (Mena Suvari). While Heather is in a relationship with an egotistical cardiologist, the attraction between her and Oz are stronger than ever, creating conflict with their current significant others. Vicky and Kevin still seem to have a bond, even though Kevin is more than content in his marriage and they separated a long time ago. Stifler still treats women as common trash and has not matured in the least since the last time we saw the character on screen. Finch might not be the person he has been telling everyone he has become, even his new love interest (Dania Ramirez). Jim is being sought after by the (now) 18-year old cutie Kara (Ali Cobrin), who he used to babysit, and his dad (Eugene Levy) is attempting to get back in the dating scene after being lonely since his wife passed. Add their side stories together then mix them up, and you have the usual type of crazy situations the guys and gals experienced in the original.

While the main cast is back, there are other key original characters who check in. John Cho has an extended role as the MILF, Guy while Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth return in brief cameos as Jessica and Nadia. Of course, no true reunion would be complete without the inclusion of Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Then, there are the hilarious celebrity cameos which include Neil Patrick Harris, Rebecca De Mornay and Chad Johnson/Ochocinco.

The film starts off with major belly-busting laughs, but it starts to taper off as the film continues. This is due to the extended length that kept the second installment from staying up with the original and the unneeded dramatics that occur later on as well. While it does not make the film horrible by any means, it is simply too long and could have been shorter and just as effective. 

This Reunion should only be attended by fans of the original, specifically those who were in their high school/college years in the 90's. The gross out jokes, gags and even the soundtrack are derived from that decade, so the impact will possibly be lost on childhood products of other generations. A better sequel than the second installment and slightly above par of Wedding, it is definitely worth checking out and a proper send-off for the franchise. At least this American Pie universe acts as if all of those awful straight-to-video bore fests never existed. 

3 out of 5 Creeper Santas




Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Directed by Drew Goddard

You were warned. The tagline for the film states "You think you know the story" and many moviegoers are going to see this film thinking they know exactly what they are in for. But even if they watched the trailer over and over again, they will still think they know exactly what to expect, and that will be their downfall. You were warned about this Drew Goddard-Joss Whedon lovechild, but you will probably ignore the warning...just like the teens in countless horror films ignore the old man's warnings to stay away from danger. The Cabin in the Woods is a flick that is probably the most difficult film to review, simply because you cannot fully review it without spoiling it. Since the surprises are part of the film's key strength, The Man-Cave will do its best to give you a firsthand account of the film without ruining anything that you have not already seen in the trailer. 

A group of stereotypical college students head to a cabin in the woods to party down after one of the group member's relative just bought the place that is literally off the grid and in total seclusion. You know the usual roster you find in these films: the alpha male athlete (Thor's Chris Hemsworth), the dumb blonde slut (Anna Hutchison), the stoner (Fran Kranz), the token racially diverse and good guy (Jesse Williams), and the sort-of virgin (Kristen Connolly). They all end up at a small, creepy looking cabin complete with a trapdoor in the floor leading to a creepy cellar filled with all kinds of oddities that will make you scream EVIL DEAD...but you won't even be half right.

While the teens are going through the normal motions seen in most of these manufactured slasher flicks, there is something happening below unbeknownst to them and completely out of their control. Come saw the trailer a zillion times from the trailer, so you definitely know about the damn elevator. But with that my friends, that's all The 'Cave can provide, or you'd all be dealt a major injustice. 

Cabin is a slasher flick which celebrates the manufactured horror film mold and is one that will only be appreciated by serious horror fans, because it is heavily garnered to them (us). It contains a powerful message for the Hollywood horror film packaging plant, made by those in the industry who want to see a new age of horror and that message will only be recognized and appreciated by those who are in on the joke. 

There are more references to the genre than you can fully digest in one viewing, especially in the exciting final act, but a Scream or a Scary Movie this film is not. While those films parodied the genre and listed the long list of cliches found in horror films, this film is a smack to the face of genre flicks. It is a social commentary of sorts and maybe even satirical, but it is a a call to action to both horror fans and those who are manufacturing the same ole'-same ole' brainless horror films in the mainstream to step up the creativity. This call of action may not be followed in the future, but don't blame Whedon and Goddard at least they tried to get the point across to all of us.

The weird thing about Cabin is that you might not enjoy it while you are actually watching it, but the message and metaphors will stay with you for days after and you won't be able to stop thinking about it. The message is not profound or philosophical like a Citizen Kane or Memento, so horror fanatics will understand what this film is trying to express while others are going to storm out of the theater complaining that they just got taken for $12. That is where the major rift of hardcore horror fans and mainstream/casual fans in the audience is going to form. However, shouts of praise for it being "pure genius" among horror fans might be taking it too far and marking out for the plethora of references is going to be too much, because the references as well as the film's mantra are intended be extremely obvious to them.

This movie is clever and will make your eyes light up once you have that "Ah-Ha!!" moment and will have no middle ground on what side you devote your loyalty. Cabin is thwarted by a slow first half, but things pick up when...well you'll see. Those expecting a serious horror film will also be disappointed because this one is heavy on laughs, with injections of both light and dark comedy, to the point of being a horror-comedy in every sense of the hybrid phrase. 

The acting is rather good. Franz is outstanding as our stoner, plus Bradley Whitfield is vintage Bradley Whitfield. Is there a more convincing snarky, condescending smart-ass actor on the planet and who has been doing it in the business longer than Mr. Whitfield? Absolutely not. Richard Jenkins is also a great casting choice for his role and will also keep you laughing.

So there you have it. The Man-Cave's best attempt at reviewing a film that really cannot be discussed without ruining it, however feel free to discuss and spoil in the comments section below. Again, it's a clever film in its messaging, a marketing nightmare to promote by the studios due to major spoilers and one that you should see in the theaters only if you are an extreme horror fan - because this film is for you and your possible ideologies. Mainstreamers might be best waiting for it on video or totally skipping altogether. You were warned.

3.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas




Thursday, April 12, 2012

CassaFire (2012) by Alex J. Cavanaugh

After the star comes the Fire! Blogger and author Alex J. Cavanaugh’s follow up to his debut sci-fi novel CassaStar has finally arrived for the masses to enjoy. Last year, Cavanaugh used the bloggersphere and social media to self-promote his first publishing venture to amazing results and fanfare. His sci-fi epic was covered by many of the web’s best blogs heavily coveted in the literary-related side of the blog world. Reviews were justifiably amazing and left readers begging for a sequel. The people wanted it and Cavanaugh delivered it. The result is CassaFire, a continuation of the sci-fi universe established in his first book.

Many years have passed since the Cassans were able to turn the tide in the Vindicarn War. The final battle’s hero Bryon, whose immense teleportation talents transcended those within his highly telepathic Cassan race, used his special abilities and extraordinary piloting capabilities to basically win the war on his own. While the Cassans overcame their foes, the rookie’s loss of his mentor and best friend, Bassa, during the interplanetary feud made victory only bittersweet.
Now considered a war hero and legend in his own time, the older Bryon kept his promise to Bassa by revoking his status as a fighter pilot and becoming a part of the Cassan exploration team to see the universe for more than just a battlefield. His current mission aboard the Rennather takes him to the planet of Tgren, where the ruins and technology of an unidentified alien race has been uncovered. 

The Cassans arrive as guests to the Tgren race since their technology is far superior to the planet’s hosts. Tensions rise due to the Cassans ability of telepathy amongst their own people as well as maintain the means of intergalactic travel and being armed with heavy weaponry. The Tgrens are a more simple society, whose highest level of advancement lies in their fighter planes that only remain airborne within their planet’s atmosphere, like an F-15. While the Cassan scientific team works to decode the message of the mysterious alien machinery and establish the race’s origin, the Tgrens begrudgingly allow the Cassan to test members of their race for telepathic gifts as well.

Still the loner, Bryon detects a high level of telepathy within a female named Athee, whose test readings register at such an apex, that his top ranking officers take a special interested in her. This initiative makes tensions boil even higher since Athee is the Tgren Prefect’s niece and he is extremely cautious about the Cassans true intentions for her. Meanwhile, Bryon is ordered by his superiors to help harness her newly discovered gift completely against his will.

Bryon is still silently grieving over the loss of Bassa, even after all these years, so he remains as introverted as he was throughout CassaStar. But as beautiful as she is cunning, Athee is able to make a connection with him during their time together and a romance begins to blossom. This along with a new friendship formed with geeky yet dedicated scientist Mevine, who reveres Bryon for his legendary war hero status, a crack in the shell surrounding Bryon created by his inner conflict begins to form. 

As the story progresses, more is learned about the alien race as well as the extent of Athee’s powers. The combination of both factors could not cause the end of their new relationship, but the end of the peace between the two races when a potential war begins to manifest on the horizon.

CassaFire is a successful book because it expands on the universe in Cassastar and does not attempt to replicate it. While CassaStar is like an advanced Wing Commander video game novelization with human relationships and a tad of Jedi-ism thrown in for good measure, CassaFire ditches the shoot ‘em up approach to be more reminiscent of anti-space battle science fiction. This opens the door wide open for Cavanaugh’s future expansion of his story’s world to many exciting opportunities and various situations to come. Some reviewers have compared it to Buck Rogers, which probably relates back to the old TV show’s second season aboard the exploration ship The Voyager, but only if that season was done the right way and did not become a silly bore.

Cavanaugh’s best inclusion this time around was the addition of Athee, the first meaningful female character in the universe. Since CassaStar’s characters were all male, except an early and brief appearance by Bryon’s sister, this really helped the change of pace in this sequel. A majority of that book’s fans clamored for a female protagonist and Cavanaugh did what anyone looking to be successful in literature should do: listen to the fans. He even takes the time to explain why there are no women in the Cassan military and how their special abilities differ from the males. 

CassaFire is worth investing your time and money, but it is highly suggested that you read CassaStar first, if you haven’t already. While the book’s content is different than its predecessor, it is not a one-off book to indulge and doing so will leave you a bit lost. Plus, you’d being doing yourself a huge disservice by not reading Cavanaugh’s debut effort as well. This author really seems to be catching his stride and boasting more of his talent this time around. If you are looking for a fun and easy read that will entertain you with interesting characters, make sure to "Catch Fire" with CassaFire.

CassaFire is available now on Amazon as a paperback or an e-book. You can purchase it by clicking the link below and make sure to check out the author on his self-titled blog, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

4 out of 5 Supernovas



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

XFINITY Live! is Philly and South Jersey’s Newest Sports Attraction

Over the last decade, the Philadelphia Sports Complex section on Broad Street has undergone a massive reconstruction with Lincoln Financial Field and Citizen Bank Park replacing the classic Veteran’s Stadium and the Wells Fargo Center hosting the Flyers, 76ers and other entertainment attractions instead of the Spectrum. Late last year, the city bid adieu to its last piece of old school sports and entertainment history when the Spectrum was torn down in favor of a new addition has been sorely lacking in the area, an entertainment complex for good food, good drinks and even better times. If they could not score tickets to sold out events, the only place for sports fans to hang out on while their team’s were playing included CBP’s overly crowded McFadden’s, the Wells Fargo Center’s swanky Cadillac Grille (where it costs $20 just to get in for a couple hours, if you are not a premium season ticket holder) and the vanilla AT&T Pavilion which has lost its luster over time, as well as Chickie and Pete’s across the street and well away from the action. That has now changed with XFINITY LIVE!, which opened its doors to the public a few weeks ago.

With its theme heavily focused on the area’s past and present sports history, XFINITY LIVE! is host to several places for people to hang out, eat, drink, or root on their home team to victory. Each of these mini venues within the complex has a little something for everyone’s tastes and strokes and gives it a unique atmosphere to the region.

 The NBC Sports Arena is a seating area with a full service bar and a menu with some goodies to go along with your spirits. As an added bonus, you watch the game of the day on the giant screen that resides over the bar, with a full sound system so that you will not miss any action.

Did you ever want to save a horse and ride a cowboy…or vice versa? Philly gets some southern flair with the PBR Bar and Grill. This enclosed area features a good menu, full service bar and a functioning mechanical bull that you can test your skills on in its epicenter. Everyone will be able to see you do your best cowboy/cowgirl impression, so proceed with caution. For the guys, the added bonus is the choice of wardrobe by the lovely waitresses – cowgirl hats and boots, daisy dukes and flannels showing midriffs. And the ladies will pleased by what the guys are wearing too so they don't feel left out.

The Spectrum Grill is a more upscale venue, but nonetheless enjoyable if you are able to get seated in there. Drinks aside, this is a genuine steakhouse bar with some great cuts of meat and a lavish menu. Its walls adorning the late Spectrum’s greatest memories in both sports and concert events, this place is located in a more intimate setting than the others without projecting any snob-like qualities. When you walk in, the first thing you will notice is a very detailed replica of the Stanley Cup commemorating the Flyers back-to-back championships in the 70’s, courtesy of the Broad Street Bullies era.

Speaking of the Bullies, you can also enjoy the atmosphere of Flyers hockey at the Broad Street Bullies Pub. They do have a small selection of choices to select from on the menu, but the main draw is its 48 beers on tap. In some ways, this replaces the old Bullies bar that was located at the bottom of the old Spectrum. If you want to relive the glory years of the Flyers’ successful franchise, this is your spot, as you can see tons of old photos from the team’s greatest moments and jerseys on the wall. 

The Victory Beer Hall is definitely the most unique of the venues and by far the best place to go whether a game is happening or not. The Hall has a German-style theme that makes you feel like you are celebrating Oktoberfest, even if it is June. The seating is all bench style and the menu contains a variety of sausages to enjoy, such as the bratwurst, knockwurst and even a good old American style hot dog, each served on a bun with tasty sauerkraut and accenting the German flair a step further. This is where you will find an excellent style of beer choices for serious aficionados, such as the ones containing 9.3% ABV. You can definitely leave this place a little more than tipsy. It also has a stage where live bands are always performing, several TV screens so you can keep your eye on games in progress and a great little outside area complete with a fire pit.

Upstairs is a VIP area where you can sit atop the complex and overlook all of Live!'s going-ons throughout. Besides the better quality of seats and personal bathrooms, you can tell that this place exudes VIP status since its walls contain jerseys of elite players like Reggie White, Roy Halladay and Danny Briere, while downstairs has mounted jerseys such as lesser players like Brandon Graham. Just saying. But there is nothing at all wrong with hanging out among the common folk below, so let’s explore that next. 

Want to just hang out in pure Philly style? The complex’s epicenter hosts The Philly Marketplace that contains a selection of random tables, some with fully functional beer taps, where you can enjoy drinks from another full service bar and some of the area’s tasty treats like Chickie and Pete’s and Nick’s Roast Beef. You can enjoy the game by checking out the NBC Sports Arena’s big screen, which is in perfect view. 

Need to get some air? Outside of the complex is just as engaging as its interior. There is a large, gated area with a stage for you to listen to live bands as you enjoy your variety of beer stations with such companies as Leinenkugel’s, Coors and Foster’s, to name a few. There is also the NBC Sports Field, a little artificial turf football field with games for the kids, and several statues commemorating Philly greats such as Julius Erving, Bobby Clarke and Kate Smith. Finally, there is a 24-ft. wide video board called the XFINITY On Demand Theater that shows sporting events as well as (safe for the whole family) films.

Like anywhere, especially in a city full of passionate sports fans, there are going to be drawbacks. For one, it is brand new, so tons of people will be down there to check it out for the first time. It is also decent-sized, but can easily become overcrowded when there are multiple sporting events happening at once, especially during home games. Another detractor would be the prices, as you can drop some serious dough if you buy food and drinks. But keep in mind that it is Philadelphia after all and the prices are no more expensive than Chickie and Pete’s or McFadden's. Whatever coin you drop at those places, expect to do the same here as well. Also, make sure to avoid the "Reserved Parking" areas, which entrances are located on the road between Lincoln Financial Field and XFINITY Live! itself in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot. If you are only parking to occupy the venue, the parking is advertised as being free, so please make sure to avoid the reserved sections unless you desperately want to pay to park. Lastly, with all of the alcohol outlets through the complex, you can imagine that there is going to be more than one person who has a bit too much and lead to some rowdy behavior shortly afterward. Luckily, there seems to be a ton of security who is always alert and concentrating on keeping the patrons in line. However, the positives do more than outweigh the positives, so view the aforementioned drawbacks as courtesy warnings and friendly "heads ups".

Overall, it is truly a fun place to occupy whether you are either a Philly sports fan or a sports fan in general. If sports are not your thing, this is still a great place to grab some grub and some great brew, especially in the Victory Beer Hall. Afternoons and non-gamedays are going to be the best times to bring the kiddies along if you want to attend with the family and avoid the crowds, but anytime is a good time to spend with friends after your working day is done.

If you have not yet had the pleasure of checking out XFINITY Live!, do not hesitate to go down there for some gratifying entertainment. This is a welcome addition to the facelift which has occurred within the Philadelphia Sport Complex area and makes you feel like you are a part of the action, even if you don’t have a ticket to enter the nearby turnstiles and attend in person. 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Shows You Should Be Watching: Peep Show (UK, 2003 - present)

Rare is that any TV series can stand the test of time without becoming stale. It is no exception in the UK’s TV business just as it is for those in the U.S.. Mind you that UK series (U.S. seasons) only have a fraction of the episode quantities ordered by their networks per year as opposed to the U.S., but they are given just as short leashes to thrive as in the States. So the fact that "britcom" Peep Show has been on the air since 2003 really proves the wonderfulness of this little show and is a show you should be watching...even if you have to wait for it on DVD.

At first glance, Peep Show follows the standard “odd couple” formula. Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) is the quintessential straight man - tidy, career-oriented and well versed. He shares a flat with his friend Jeremy (Robert Webb), or Jez, who his polar opposite in every way. He is jobless, into partying hard, lives pipe dreams of being in the music industry, and relies on Mark to handle serious matters in life such as borrowing money for food and rent.

Here is where the show becomes unique within the formula and shatters the mold set with shows before it. For no matter how Mark and Jez appear on the surface, they both view life extremely unrealistically. For example, Mark relentlessly tries to climb the corporate ladder and impress his boss Alan Johnson (Paterson Joseph) yet he does not have the intestinal fortitude to ask his colleague Sophie (Olivia Colman), who he is madly infatuated with, out on a date. He is a nerdy guy who is utterly romantically awkward and declares every woman who gives him the time of day as “The One”. Meanwhile, Jez thinks he is a hip and cool misunderstood artist, thanks to his degenerate friend Super Hans (Matt King), as well as a chick magnet yet he is really an unmotivated slacker with no musical talent and always ends up dominated in bad romantic relationships. He is a legend in his own mind and a know-it-all who cannot cope with the pressures of the real world and serves no benefit as a partner to his friends or any woman he develops sexual relationships with. No matter what, they always find themselves in the most awkward and dire of situations, much to the audience’s pleasure.

Mark and Jez maintain a distorted vision of who they truly are, saying one thing to someone but thinking the complete opposite way internally and totally looking out for their own gains with each other and those they interact with. The show is never presented in the basic third person view, but only through first-person shots of either Mark or Jez, where we hear their true inner thoughts via voiceovers. We are essentially receiving a peep show into their true thoughts while looking through their eyes, which then immediately jumps to the other person’s POV where we hear what they actually say to the other character. And it always contrary to what we just heard them say to themselves in their voiceovers. This is where the show gets its dynamic and what provides Peep Show with both its title and hilarious material.

Having completed its seventh series in 2010, with series 8 and 9 on the way, the show’s constantly evolving in both the characters and story lines, which simply has not gotten repetitive, not “jumped the shark” and, most importantly, not become boring over the many years. It is a show that you will keep watching consecutively episode after episode, unable to stop until you see what the next installment has in store. The two main characters also continue to grow as individuals as well as form a stronger bond between each other. Even though they sometimes cannot tolerate each others’ dispositions, they realize that they are the best of friends they could truly ever hope for and rely on each other to help them through their many struggles. Of course, most of the time their well meaning actions usually cause the other quite a bit of unintentional misery but give the audience a great laugh, even though we shouldn’t be reveling in their despair.

Webb and Mitchell are a phenomenal comedy team who have been together for a long time with perfect chemistry. If these guys really aren’t friends in real life, then they truly are the greatest actors who ever lived. They play off each other so well that you’d be remiss to find another pairing who could pull this wonderful show off at such a peak level, especially when Webb and Mitchell seem to be improvising during their inner thought voiceovers.

Colman, King, Joseph, and Neil Fitzmaurice, who plays perennial Mark-bully Jeff, are the shows mainstays, while other impact characters come and go throughout seasons. This character transition is mostly evident in Jez’s girl obsession of the year, with notable beautiful actresses such as Rachel Blanchard (Road Trip), Vera Filatova and Sophie Winkleman, who U.S. audiences might recognize from Two and a Half Men and the short-lived 100 Questions.

While you laugh hysterically, Peep Show is unlike most sitcoms, with episodes never ending on a happy note. For some odd reason, it is all part of the show's charm. You can watch all of the seasons by purchasing them on Amazon and buying them is a great idea since every episode is worth multiple viewings. At only six episodes per series and running only close to 30 minutes each, the show is a great comedy from overseas worth watching even if you are not a fan of British humor.

4 out of 5 Drunken Dogs



Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Death Warmed Up (1986)

Directed by Michael Blyth

 A few years before Peter Jackson introduced his work to the world in Bad Taste, fellow New Zealand filmmaker Michael Blyth added a gory film to the horror genre with Death Warmed Up. Yes, as in you look like “death warmed up”. A film that heavily borrows from Night of the Living Dead and The Island of Dr. Moreau, Blyth’s film just screams 80’s foreign horror with a nonexistent plot and seemingly made for the purpose to hop on the thriving horror bandwagon during that decade.

Michael Hurst, of Hercules: The Legend Continues’ fame, plays youngster Michael, whose father is the main roadblock in Dr. Archer Howell’s (Gary Day) crusade of inhumane experiments on patients at a local mental ward. Howell uses Michael as his recent scientific development to eradicate that roadblock by hypnotizing him in to blow his family away with a shotgun. Unaware of what he has done, Michael is locked away in the mental ward while Howell is free to continue his ghastly work unmolested of any wrong doings.

Years later, Michael is released and sets off on a vacation with his friends to settle the score with Howell, unbeknownst to his three pals. During the time of his incarceration, the mad doctor has set up shop in an underground location, which looks so 80’s that you’d expect Rubix Cubes and window shade sunglasses to be hanging from the ceiling, where he has upped his game in the experiments on the human brain department. One of his recent failed experiments, named Spider (David Letch), is considered collateral damage after another model like Spider has his head explode for no reason at all, but escapes being eliminated by Howell’s co-workers. Now spurned by his master, Spider releases a group of failed experimental patients who are now genetic freak zombies to wreak havoc on not only our four protagonists but those who serve Howell as well. Man, does Dr. Howell have a record of stabbing his friends in the back!

Once they find his lair, Michael and his friends must penetrate the fortress and survive the crazy zombies (even motorcycle zombies!) en route to locating the doctor and disposing of him. But soon they learn that the damage has already been done and killing the mad scientist might only be the beginning of their problems.

Wow…what a messed up movie! First of all, the plot is all over the place and nothing about the intentions of Howell’s work is ever really explained. Actually, nothing is really explained. Even the film's conclusion is a mess. To call the ending ambiguous would be an understatement. It feels more like Blyth just yelled “Cut!” and called it a day without a proper wrap-up. 

Everything that you see makes absolutely no sense at all. Why is the doctor so hellbent on turning people into psychotic murderers? Why did Michael take his friends on holiday when he fully knew that he was embarking on a vengeful killing spree? Why did the friends even hang out with Michael in the first place? You know, because people usually jump on the chance to party at unknown locations with someone who killed his own parents. When did Michael even have time to make these friends? Why would the female lead even want to be his girlfriend in the first place? Killing his family aside, the guy looks like Rutger Hauer’s character from Blade Runner. Why does Howell keep dangerous zombies in the easiest vault to open in the history of mankind, with only a security guard sitting in front of the door in a chair? Why does Spider have a chance to kill Michael and his girl, but only declares “I’ll get you…I’ll get you all” and then just runs away? And what's with that "Woot-woot-woot-woot-woot!"sound effect on the soundtrack? NOTHING MAKES ANY SENSE!

It is bad enough that the film uses plots from Living Dead and Dr. Moreau, but then a scene is added for comic relief in a film whose tone is totally serious and dark throughout. It involves a convenience store clerk who plays up the typical Indian stereotype. Yes, they even had these racial bits back then in New Zealand all of all places. It is beyond over the top and so ridiculous considering the actor appears to be of Caucasian descent with makeup to look of like that of Indian descent. It’s very awful and all one big “Huh?”

The trouble is that you can’t help but keep watching because you’ll realize that this is the one of the most bizarre films you will ever see. If you are hoping for a payoff…you won’t get one in the slightest. In fact, the ending leaves even more questions than answers. Not just though provoking questions, but more like WTF?! questions. The Blair Witch Project contains a more satisfying ending.

Most of you reading this review have probably never heard of this film before and there is a really good reason why (see my paragraph of questions above). This one probably got a DVD release due to Hurst’s fame as Iaolus in Hercules, but this one should have gone straight to MST3000K instead. It is hard to find, so please don’t kill yourself looking for a copy. Better advice: skip it unless you want to torture yourself for fun.

Special Note: Fans of Braindead/Dead Alive will be happy to see Uncle Les (Ian Watkin) in a cameo and those who enjoyed the cult classic The Quiet Earth will be pleased to see Bruno Lawrence in a bit part.

1 out of 5 Creeper Santas


Sunday, April 1, 2012

WWE Wrestlemania 28 Results and Recap


Finally…Wrestlemania 28, the grand daddy of them all is upon us. The Super Bowl, The World Series and Stanley Cup Finals of sports entertainment hails from the hottest party city in the U.S. - Miami, Florida at SunLife Stadium. 360+ days ago, Vince McMahon decided to actually try once again (after taking a few years off with his PG nonsense) to bring popularity back into pro wrestling by booking John Cena versus the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It seemed like that day would never come, but after the Summer of Punk 2.0, the failed return of Kevin Nash, Zack Ryder becoming a surprise superstar, Daniel Bryan becoming an over heel, and other notable fillers, we have finally arrived! The big match aside, the creative team has constructed one of the most interesting and exciting Wrestlemania cards in some time. Will they pull it off or is this another balloon that will deflate the WWE as well as our wallets? Let’s get to ringside…

(disclaimer: last-minute added matches will not have any pictures or descriptions and only the results. Formatting on the fly while I am trying to watch the PPV is a pain)

 WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos vs. Epico & Primo (champs)
Even though this match was free to watch on YouTube during the 'Mania pre-show, it is still included in this report since it is technically a Wrestlemania match. And it's a championship match, so why not document it? There is no build for this one, considering that Kidd and Gabriel are a team all of sudden (did Kidd turn face or did Gabriel turn heel?), but the Usos and the tag champs always have interesting bouts...and best of all for us, it's free!

Epico pinned an Uso after the Backstabber to retain the belts. Some good high flyin' action here and a nice little freebie to kick things off as the champs continue to be the most underrated workers on the roster. Plus they have Rosa Mendes!

Now What You Had To Pay For...

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (champ)
Bryan took his potential fluke championship victory gimmick, turned into a successful heel and has made himself into a champ people love to hate. Bryan's fans should be happy that his reign has lasted this long and that he should have shown his worth to WWE management during this time frame. However, Sheamus is HHH's real life buddy and has been pushed to the moon meaning that the road to Wrestlemania is almost a guarantee to mark the end of the road of D-Bry as champ. A title retain would be the biggest shock of the year.  

Sheamus sins the title in less than 10 seconds (announcers state 18 seconds) with the Brogue Kick. Well not only did the WWE rob us fans of a real championship match with this ridiculous squash, but they also embarrassed Bryan and buried his reputation. While HHH's buddy snagging the title is no real shock, hopefully this squash match had a purpose for positively affecting Bryan's character development post-title run.

Team Johnny is prepping for their match in the locker room. The Miz tries to give a pep talk which the rest of the team blows off. Then, John Lauriniatis comes in to give a real pep talk. 


"Because They Need to Have a Match" Match:
Kane vs. Randy Orton

With Sheamus and Bryan vying for the title and Cena using his hate to strike down the Emperor Kane, Orton and Kane are too big of stars to be left off the card. In a reach of a storyline, Kane has beef with Orton since he was beaten by Randy so badly last summer that Kane was humanized when he shook Orton's hand post-match. It has been eating at Kane for so long that he now needs to destroy Orton...but will more than likely eat a RKO or two or three. 

Kane wins with a Chokeslam from the top rope. About as good and formulaic as you'd expect out of Kane and Orton working together. There was really no build and some chants of "Boring!" broke out at one point, but it was exactly the level of brutality you were probably counting on. Unlike the finish, as Orton seemed all but a lock for victory.

Mick Foley and Santino Marella ate crabs as they shamelessly promoted the new season of Deadliest Catch,including Marella giving the Cobra to his meal and Foley giving Mr. Socko to his crustacean. This segment was saved when Ron Simmons went onto camera and delivered his patented "DAMN!"...summing up all of our feelings. 

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match:
Cody Rhodes (champ) vs. Big Show 
Rhodes has come a long way into becoming a great performer to watch in the ring and on the stick since he ditched the "disfigured" gimmick late last year on way to bringing back integrity to the IC strap. Meanwhile, he has been taunting Big Show relentlessly for his many WM failures, so the odds against retaining the belt are slim to none. Is this another chapter in the Big Show 'Mania failure book or will Show finally win one on the big stage?

Big Show pinned Rhodes to win the IC title after hitting the WMD. Pretty much expected this one after the ways Rhodes has abused Show for the last couple of months. Not a bad match out of both of these two especially considering their size difference. Anyways, we are two for three with title changes so far.

Shawn Michaels tells Matt Striker that he holds all the cards and that the fate of the man who ended his career is in the palm of his hands. Usual promo stuff we've been hearing.


Special Divas Tag Team Match:
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix (champ) & Eve 

Original plans for Phoenix versus Kharma or Natalya were scratched in favor of this attraction. Wrestlemania needs its mainstream stars after all, right? This came out of nowhere - Eve and Beth interrupted Menounos' interview with Kelly on her Extra program and challenged them to a WM fight after Maria mocked Beth for pinning her at the recent Salute to the Troops. This is for the pure eye candy factor as Maria looks oh so cute in wrestling gear. This one has to end with Maria getting the required celebrity pin.

Maria pinned Maria's legit injured ribs really slowed this match down and it was obvious that Beth and Eve were going easy on her. In usual format, Phoenix really made Kelly look good out there. 

Shawn Michaels tells Matt Striker that he holds all the cards and that the fate of the man who ended his career is in the palm of his hands. Usual promo stuff we've been hearing.

We are told that the crowd at SunLife has sent a new attendance record of 78,363!!! Then good ol' J.R. Ross  (who has lost a bit of weight) comes to ringside to join the announce team for...

"The End of an Era" Hell in a Cell Match:       
The Undertaker vs. HHH with Shawn Michaels as special referee 
It's good to be king, as HHH is able to book himself into another high profile match at 'Mania. Having Michaels involved will somehow determine how this is going to end...and how it will end is your guess as good as mine. Ending the 'Taker's streak should be used to elevate a young talent for the future, so hopefully Triple H goes 0-for-3 against the Dead Man. We can only hope that whatever happens, it is an old school and brutal Hell in a Cell match that is unlike the tame one from the awful Hell in a Cell PPV last year. 

Taker goes to 20-0 after hitting HHH with the last of many Tombstone Piledrivers! Lots of drama, great storytelling and false finishes much like in their last 'Mania match, only with multiple ref bumping and bloodletting from both men. Hats to both men for the physicality and no regard for their bodies as well as The Heartbreak Kid for not making the match too much about him. Thank goodness the DX/Klique-esque swerve pin attempt towards the end came up short. Props to having JR call this one, giving it an old era feel, as well as the HBK-Taker emotional embrace with each other at the match's end. Bonus points for the unintentional hilarity of Michaels retreating to the corner almost coming to tears after every near fall and devastating weapon shot thrown.

Heath Slater shows up in front of Flo-Rida's dressing room, calling him "Florida". Finally, the rapper comes out and shoves him hard into the wall, knocking him to the ground. Then, Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins come out and semi-heckle Slater's fail. Very awkward unneeded and unfunny time filler.

Howard Finkel announces the 2012 Hall of Fame Class (Mil Mascaras, the late Yokozuna's family, Ron Simmons, Ric Flair/Barry Windham/Tully Blanchard/Arn Anderson/J.J. Dillon as the 4 Horsemen, Mike Tyson, and Edge).

"Battle to Be the GM" Tag Match:
Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny
The feud between Smackdown GM Teddy Long and Raw GM John Lauraniatis will come to an end as the team who wins will decide who is going to be the GM for both shows in this 12-man tag battle. Long has his captain Santino Marella along with Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Great Khali, and Booker T, while Johnny has his captain David Otunga along with Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre (replacing the injured Christian), and The Miz. Great talent in a potentially great match, but I am sure some swerve is going to happen, with Team Johnny coming out on top. Come on, the heels have to win some matches at 'Mania after all.

Team Teddy secured the win after Miz hit Zack Ryder with the Skull Crushing Finale. Eva distracted Zack and the ref when he went for the Broski Boot causing the Miz to apply his finisher. After the match, Eve lowblow-ed Ryder to show that she was on Team Johnny and against Zack all along. I know, big shocker (sic). "Operation Bury Ryder" is alive and well in the WWE.

Johnny and his team celebrate as they walk by a disgruntled CM Punk. New All GM Johnny L. tells Punk that if he gets DQ'ed for "brawling" instead of wrestling, then Y2J wins the title, so he has to be careful.

"Best in the World" WWE Championship Match:
CM Punk (champ) vs. Chris Jericho  
Everyone is finally getting their dream match of Punk vs. Jericho. What started out as a tepid feud turned more interesting once Jericho started the insults of Punk's family real life substance abuse issues. Besides all of the soap opera stuff, these are two great performers who are looking to have a phenomenal bout and could possibly steal the thunder from Rock-Cena. Jericho is about to take another absence to perform with his band Fozzy, so it looks like Punk is keeping the strap...but it will be fun to see them go at it from a pure wrestling aspect. Now the added stipulation of Punk losing the strap due to DQ reeks of a B.S. finish that would kill what could be a great match between these two.

Punk retained the title after making Jericho tap to the Anaconda Vice. Easily the match of the night and the pure 5-Star Classic we were all promised. Thankfully the DQ lameness did not factor into the outcome and hopefully this feud is far from over. These guys could easily put on another clinic worth the price of admission alone.

Funkasaurus comes out to the stage and tells everyone to get their phones out and call their mommas...including himself. His momma tells him that she is backstage with her bridge club, so she comes out and gets funky with the rest of her bridge club. Mind you, his momma and the club were some young chicks dressed up in a gray wigs, house dresses and a fake ba-dunk-a-dunks. A bit strange, but it was good to see Clay somehow included on the card.

MGK raps and then Cena enters the ring. Then, Flo-Rida raps and The Rock hits the ring. This wastes about 15 minutes of viewers' paid time they could have seen another match to build young talent, but oh well...


The Main Event:
John Cena vs. The Rock
What seemed truly eye-rolling last year is now a must-see matchup. These two have legit heat towards each other and have been attacking one another on WWE TV, in interviews and on social media. The last month of promo-cutting out of these two has truly been awesome, and by all accounts, the match should be just as good or better. 

 The Rock defeated Cena with the Rock Bottom as Cena went for his own version of the People's Elbow. As predicted, Cena was heavily booed and Rock cheered in the latter's hometown. The rap intro/entrances were ridiculous and there were too many "breaks" with Cena using bearhugs to the Rock's "injured ribs". These moments really took the fans out of the match early and often, only coming to life when Rock did anything. The false finishes gave it a little life at the end, but I cannot believe the WWE had Rock win this he goes back to L.A.


Not the best Wrestlemania ever but far from the worst, being leaps and bounds better than last year's in Atlanta. Most fun I have had watching a PPV since December. After the disappointing Bryan squash that was a disservice to both him and Sheamus, things went uphill. The Taker-HHH re-rematch was better than expected, the Diva celebrity match was short and painless, the 12-man tag match got exciting (minus the choice of jobber) after a slow start, the Punk-Jericho match was the second coming of Savage-Steamboat from WM III, and the main event held a great atmosphere, even though I expected much better. The finish was unexpected but the match itself was heavily upstaged by the WWE World Title Match. Worth the buy...but still cannot wait to see Brock Lesnar back. Maybe tomorrow night at Raw?