2018 Match of the Year (Top 10 Matches of 2018) NJPW, NXT & WWE

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2018 was a great year for professional wrestling if you ignore the industry giant. Everything but the WWE was remarkable this year, this was my first year watching New Japan Pro Wrestling, I started on January 4th, 2018 with Wrestle Kingdom because I watched the Showbuckle video on Naito, and ever since I’ve never looked back, I believe I watched every single event this year and that influence is definitely reflected on this list. So now let’s countdown the 10 best Pro Wrestling Matches of 2018 and reveal what my Match of the Year selection is:

  1. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Yano Toru – G1 Climax Day 4

Your favourite match might not be on this list, but Toru Yano is, and deservedly so. Who would have assumed that Yano would have maybe the most interesting and different story throughout the G1? Toru Yano is a notorious comedy character whose G1 matches are usually one to watch because every year he upsets at least one of the major players in his block, usually preventing them from going all the way. He’s beaten Kenny Omega and Minoru Suzuki is past tournaments and this year he even beat eventual block winner and G1 finalist Kota Ibushi. But the story going into the 2018 G1 is that Yano had sworn off cheating and underhanded tactics and was going to win his matches with his previously forgotten wrestling expertise. Kevin Kelly would commonly remind us about a story of Yano beating up a tree or something. In his first tournament match against Ishii he presented this forgotten knowledge and we were all collectively impressed but in his second match here with the pro wrestling master Zack Sabre Jr.

This match is more than anything else, incredibly fun. The Korakuen Hall crowd make this match, their like New Japan’s Full Sail without the pretension and they eat up everything in this match. From Zack Sabre Jr’s innovative use of the count out rule, where he tied Yano up and put a submission on him and making a run for the ring when the count was 18, something I’m sure we all thought of as kids to Yano’s counters to Zack’s pure wrestling. The crowd comes alive every time Yano successfully counters a move and especially when he comes close to winning after throwing Zack into an exposed turnbuckle multiple times. The uniqueness of this match is what granted it a slot on this list when your favourite match didn’t. Come matches end the correct decision was made and Zack Sabre Jr overcame Yano’s advances, getting the two points. But damn me if everyone watching wasn’t impressed with Yano’s standout performance.

  1. Woman’s Money in the Bank – Money in the Bank 2018

The second ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match stands out to me as the greatest main roster outing this year. The Chicago crowd was electric for this match and it’s interesting to go back and watch babyface Becky Lynch getting a massive crowd reaction and losing, with what we know will come later. The commentators mentioned an interesting fact about Ember Moon and that her being in this match makes her the quickest superstar to ever be in a Money in the Bank ladder match in relation to being called up to the main roster. The unpredictability of the match at the time is reflected in the crowd reactions for the different possibilities. Becky Lynch was the clear crowd favourite here, every time she would climb the ladder and especially the spot where she climbed up the side of a ladder that was held up by two girls on the ground, the crowd exploded with excitement. Ember Moon had a spot where it looked like her winning was possible and the crowd reciprocated wanting a fresh face in the title picture. Alternatively, when Charlotte and Sasha Banks looked to be winning the crowd was vocal about their disappointment, freshness was needed in the title picture. However, when Alexa Bliss who was only two months removed from her last title reign won the match the crowd exploded, because everyone likes Alexa Bliss. This match was creative in its spot’s, Sasha nearly killed herself multiple times and especially when Ember Moon cross-bodied her onto a ladder. Great match and for me be the best main roster match of the year.

  1. Aleister Black vs Andrade “Cein” Almas – NXT Takeover New Orleans

The Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was the best main roster WWE match of the year, but the best NXT match of the year was Aleister Black defeating Andrade ‘Cein’ Almas for the NXT Championship. This match narrowly edges out Andrade’s first Takeover outing against Johnny Gargano, which I believe will be an unpopular decision, but this match was far more enjoyable from start to finish. The Gargano match was great the first time but when I rewatched it, but when I rewatched it for this video its length really effected the overall enjoyment factor of the match. Long matches usually aren’t my favourite, despite the hour and 10-minute match further down on the list, usually the beginning isn’t engaging, and I find myself wanting to do something else, especially on rewatches. But on said rewatch of this match I found myself entirely engaged. Almas is so unbelievably good with move combinations, like his former tag team partner Tetsuya Naito, that watching him move alone is exciting. Black has the best looking striking in professional wrestling and his long build only highlights this. Additionally, the Zelina Vega element on the outside keeps the match fresh when it’s at its slower point, she’s a third performer the audience can watch. Her inclusion in the finish just brings the whole match full circle and the finish caught the fans in New Orleans entirely off guard because they exploded possibly louder than any other Takeover crowd ever when Black hit the kick and got the three-count. This was an excellent showing for all three of the people involved and now with the context that Aleister Black were likely dating at the time of the match, since they recently got married, adds another layer to this match.

If the opening sentence of this entry in the list didn’t register, from here on out we are exclusively talking New Japan Pro Wrestling.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Sakura Genesis 2018

Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll possibly put on the scariest match of 2018 at Sakura Genesis. This match was masterfully brutal, I think we all collectively thought Ospreay was dead after the bump on the apron. Besides the Psycho Sid botch that might be the scariest wrestling footage to watch in slow motion. But this match like our number 1 entry on this list owes its placement somewhat to a botched spot. Ospreay’s head was cut open and the imagery of the scarlet read patch in his hair was breathtaking. If Ospreay hadn’t become a superhero in the final NJPW match of 2018 this would have been my favourite image in New Japan this year. But the rest of the match following the spot continued the brutality with Scurll relentlessly pulverising Ospreay with stomps to the back of the head and moves making him land on his head. The Ryogoku audience also made this match, their sympathy with Ospreay and their surprise at his resilience made the match what it was. These two truly did a great job at convincing us that Ospreay was dead, and for him to them come back and win the match was the feel-good moment we needed to conclude the match. Ultimately, everything planned and unplanned came together brilliantly in this match resulting in one of the best matches of the entire year.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Kenny Omega – G1 Climax Day 2

Now this match may not have superseded their five star plus effort in last year’s G1 final, but whenever these two touch something magical happens. Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are fantastic wrestler, I think we are all aware of that, but whenever they meet they are trying to show each other just how good they are. But Naito brings something to high intensity matches that his top 5 contemporaries lack and that’s personality in the spots, there is no one funner to watch fuck around in a match then Tetsuya Naito. This is made blatantly evident in the beginning of this match where they trade back and forth shots and they attempt to out-trick each other but will also be blatant on a match later down on the list. But the final 10 minutes of this match might be the best 10 minutes of NJPW this year, it was a tossup going in on who would win the match and they heavily played into the drama here, the crowd was clearly more Naito then Omega, but Omega wasn’t an out right heel and the crowd came alive during the final stretch. WWE crowds maybe livelier throughout big matches but the confused screaming from a New Japan crowd when they can tell the next big move might be the last is an unmatched atmosphere and this match capitalised on this factor entirely. Ultimately, Omega came out the victor but not ever I the biggest of big Naito fans could remain disappointed due to the performance I had just witnessed.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

Marty Scurll may have been the most slept on wrestler in all of 2018, not only did he have repeat match of the year contenders with long-time rival Will Ospreay, landing these two the only repeat match on this list but also with outstanding outings against Okada at All In and the match with Kushida at King of Pro Wrestling, its robbery that he isn’t being mentioned in the wrestler of the year conversation. On an earlier draft of this script the two entries of Ospreay and Scurll were swapped but evidently, I opted to switch the two of the them for one reason, this match doesn’t waste time. Immediately the match starts off hot with Ospreay attempting and successfully catching everyone off guard by his instantaneous attack. It brought the live crowd immediately back into the show after the unnecessary intermission and nearly had me believing he beat Marty in seconds. It was reminiscent of the Shibata and Ishii opening from their classic G1 match. The match never really slowed down they continued to go as hard as possible, doing all their grandeurs spots and eventually had a surprising winner, and a feel-good moment for us Marty Scurll fans. Maybe the only reason this match is ranked better than the Sakura Genesis match is because my guy one, but that doesn’t matter because bias is inherit in these lists. Additionally, I really liked the commentary performance here, Kevin Kelly and Jim Ross’ combination shun most brightly during this match. Kevin Kelly gave the necessarily background and history for uninformed fans and Ross gave the match an unmatchable big fight feel. And all this was crammed into a concise 15-minute package whereas the Sakura Genesis match went double that time.

  1. Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada – Dominion 6.9

Say what you want about the lack of build to this match storyline wise, this match was inevitable, and this was the right time. Dominion a year later and I think everyone understood that Omega was winning this match, but a New Japan without Okada on top is something we hadn’t seen in years, and some of us may have even forgotten is that was possible. But the matches 1 hour and 10-minute length was all building to the moment that everyone anticipated seeing and that was Omega holding up the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This match was grand in scale, the crowd was clearly on Kenny’s side they understood what they were about to see and only added to the festivities, and props to Osaka for the AJ Styles chant after Omega broke out the Styles Clash. Don Callis was another outside factor that only added to my enjoyment of the match, it was a Bobby Heenan watching Ric Flair in the Rumble esk performance from him. His freak-out at the conclusion when Omega one was a vicarious one for many us I’m sure. But the match itself stood out to me on the rewatch. I mentioned previously that long matches usually aren’t my favourite because they are slow and hard to rewatch, but this match told a progressing story for an hour and 10-minutes that had me engaged the entire time, everything built perfectly to the grand Omega victory. This was the climactic moment of over a year and a half of booking and it all paid off excellently for New Japan and the fans through this match.

 

  1. Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori – Best of the Super Juniors Final

This match was the most surprising to me, I was 100% sure that Ishimori was going all the way in the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. He’d just returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling with a new character and a new look, in a new faction and he had destroyed everyone in his block including the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay, he seemed destined to travel all the way to Dominion and collect his prize and this very well may have been New Japan’s initial plan, but Hiromu Takahashi stood in his way. Now that Hiromu is injured I think everyone has forgotten just how over Hiromu was for the first half of the year, he wasn’t only seconded to Naito in L.I.J but second to Naito is overall popularity. If you go back and watch the Bushi and Hiromu vs Suzuki Gun match the crowd chants Hiromu like he’s their God, and this popularity was only made clearer throughout the Best of the Super Junior’s tournament and that’s why it was imperative that he went over in this match, which thankfully and against all odds, he did. Not only was the match great because the right man won but because it was chaotic. From the infamous hurracarrana down the flight of stairs, to the area length running drop kick to the dualistic spike-rrana’s, this match has everything. Ultimately, Hiromu proved why he has the undying respect from the audience and proved why it was he that deserved to go on to Dominion to dethrone Ospreay, even more than the up-and-coming hot, new prospect Taiji Ishimori. But as we contemporarily look forward to Wrestle Kingdom 13, it seems Ishimori will be getting the last laugh and that IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax Day 4

There are no two men I enjoy watching wrestle then Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii, and in this match, they proved why they deserve this stop on the list. The action is great, and the clash of personalities is even better. Watching these two stubbornly smack each other for 20 minutes is so enjoyable. These two have an intertwined past and in Kayfabe hate each other, Ishii was the only person Naito ever successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against in his short title reign and Ishii has beaten Naito for other championships in the past. The rivalry is there for every match these two have to be an anticipated event. The counters to each other’s moves throughout the match are so inventive and subversive, just everything about this match is everything I want from a professional wrestling match. This match and its inclusion so far up on this list just reflects the inherit bias in these lists, I doubt this is many people’s second favourite match of the year, when the match first happened everyone loved it, but for many this was overshadowed by other matches in the G1, but for me this match remained the uncompromised benchmark for the tournament and I loved it. Plus, in this one Naito actually won.

  1. Juice Robinson vs Jay White – G1 Special

This match was somehow more chaotic than the Best of the Super Juniors final, had a better feel good moment than the Dominion main event and was more fun to watch then Ishii vs Naito. Who would have predicted Jay White and Juice Robinson to have the match of the year, at the beginning of 2018? They have improved experientially over this calendar year to becoming easily to me the best heel and best babyface in wrestling. Jay White has revolutionised Bullet Club and was recently officially made leader and Juice continues to prove through his incredibly speaking ability that he is the best talker in the wrestling business today. All this potential and all this excellence as well as an incredibly timed botch was fully on display in this roller-coaster ride of a wrestling match.

The crowd is another element this match had going for it, the Cow Palace was electric for this match, they were entirely behind Juice and despised Jay White. This build up would pay off in the eventual 3-count wherein the crowd exploded when Juice beat Jay. But the unforeseen and possibly most engaging element in the match was apparently not planned like I had assumed upon seeing how perfectly it seemed to fit in the story of the match. Jay and Juice where throwing each other into the guardrails so hard they were making Suzuki jealous, the guardrails were flying off everywhere literally creating sparks because of the impact, this created some incredible visuals. Eventually Jay White would suplex Juice into the announce desk and sent Jim Ross flying and prompted a run-in from Josh Barnett, that was apparently a shoot. This bump from JR and subsequent run-in from Barnett heightened the already rampant drama of this match and this all culminated in Juice’s victory and subsequent celebration. This match was an experience and easily was my favourite match in professional wrestling this year.

 

Honourable Mentions:

– Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Andrade “Cein” Almas vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Adam Cole vs Aleister Black – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Men’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Women’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Asuka vs Sasha Banks – Raw, Jan 29, 2018

– Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada – New Beginning in Osaka 2018

– 6 Man Ladder Match – NXT Takeover New Orleans

– Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon – WrestleMania 34

– Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr. – Sakura Genesis 2018

– Juice Robison vs Hiroki Goto – Road to Wrestling Dontaku

– Ronda Rousey vs Nia Jax – Money in the Bank 2018

– Young Bucks vs Sanada and Evil – G1 Special

– Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax Final

– Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4

– Marty Scurll vs Kazuchika Okada – All In

– Guerrillas of Destiny vs The Young Bucks – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

– Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi vs Cody – King of Pro Wrestling 2018

– Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Tommaso Ciampa vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Pete Dunne, Ricochet and War Raider vs The Undisputed Era – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte – WWE Evolution

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Asuka – TLC 2018

 

 

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Media Consumption Month #2 (September 2018)

Welcome to the second month of my media consumption diary, were I briefly vent about all the media I’ve consumed in the previous month including, films, video games, tv shows, anime and manga. Look for a heading you’re interested in and have fun…

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued with its break-neck speed and has already concluded adapting the Uprising Arc, in only 10 episodes. Overall, it was all fine and dandy, nothing made me mad and the Kenny backstory episode, which is the highlight of the arc, was handled appropriately. I’m entirely satisfied by this adaptation and even further impressed with its continued coordination with the manga (See my article of chapter 109 of Attack on Titan for further details on that aspect). Since I am a manga reader there isn’t much for me to speculate about, but I am interested to see how they stretch the following arc across 15 episodes when I think the material is only enough for 8-10 more episodes. We will have to play patient fellas with Attack on Titan Season 3 and you’ll have to wait until next month for an update.

 

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My Hero Academia Season 3:

My Hero Academia Season 3 has concluded, Season 4 is already confirmed, in case anyone somehow was still questioning that fact. Last time I made one of these I wasn’t too high on the boring exam we were in the middle of, but I can proudly state that by the end of the season the show had entirely won me back, largely because of Episode 24. This episode hit every quota for my personal enjoyment of My Hero Academia. It was nearly entirely focus on the villains and character interactions, my two standout wants from My Hero. The opening segment that focused on a mysterious, yet interestingly introspective man was truly entertaining and when later he was revealed to be Twice, gave that character some much needed depth. It engaged me with a forgettable comic relief character and reintroduced him as a tragic introspective villain. The plot further grew in that episode with the introduction of Overhaul, a new villain with a signature look. Now I’m unfamiliar with the manga for My Hero but I have seen these ‘Peak boys’ around the internet and I like their aesthetic, so I’m interested to see his role in things moving forward. However, I’m currently internally debating if I should wait for Season 4 or just go ahead and read the source material.

 

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Steins; Gate 0:

I saw someone literally decapitated in Steins; Gate 0, and asked myself, ‘what the fuck is going on?’ The narrative surrounding Steins; Gate 0 remains unchanged, I believe this is a show unsuitable for weekly consumption and binge watching it is the only way to properly understand the series. But I’ll continue to watch as it is Dubbed weekly and then once it is all realised I’ll re-watch it all from the beginning and revaluate my opinions. In the meantime, I would like to further empathise my hatred for Kaguri and uneasy feeling about a superhero decapitating someone in a Steins; Gate related show, it was quite disconnecting from the usually grounded nature of the series.

 

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Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga continues to impress and has maintained my interest through a drastic genre change. There are no more battles in Vinland Saga, if you came into this series excepting an action series, you haven’t been paying attention and its likely this series will lose you at this point. It seems like the message of Vinland Saga is absolute pacifism. Vinland Saga is seemingly about Thorfinn learning what it means to be a true warrior, meaning laying down you weapons.  This is thematically presented to him by his father and by Askeladd in his recent dream/nightmare adventures, that he’s be having every night but not remembering. It is exposited to him that it’s never ok to strike another human being, by his father and Askeladd presents the horrors of Valhalla to Thorfinn and how he’s managing to escape this hell through his recent lack of murder.

 

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To explain to those uninitiated for the first 50 chapters Vinland Saga is a clearly Berserk inspired manga about the horrific nature of medieval society and war. A scene that cannot stop thinking about, that incapsulates the tonal dark nature of these initial 50 chapters is where the band of Vikings Askeladd leads, and Thorfinn is a part of, is staying in a small village and are running roughshod over the area. And in this commotion, there is a moment of reflection from the typically empathy-less Thorfinn for a young girl who is tied up with her clothes ripped off, clearly about to be raped by his Viking comrades. Now it is important to point out that Thorfinn is only comrades with these people out of hatred and the Askeladd despises all of them, so they aren’t horrible people for surrounding themselves with the people in this situation, they both secretly hate them all. But the effectiveness of this scene is in the implication of what’s happening, and the desperation mixed with acceptance in the girl’s eyes. It’s a hauntingly effective scene that demonstrates the brutality of the world of Vinland Saga and now, the series has become about humble farmers, and SOMEHOW it works incredibly. We have collectively transformed the tone from that to a farming show about the horrors and struggle of slavery and directionless life. I stopped after finishing chapter 72 and can’t wait to see how the story further progresses with the new cool characters like Snake, Einar, Arneis and the old master of the farm. Vinland Saga is great!

 

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Devilman:

My continuation with Devilman has been significantly affected by Vinland Saga, whenever I decide to spend time reading a manga I’ve always opted to read Vinland Saga. I’m still extremely early in the Devilman manga, Akira is still yet to become Devilman. The set-up of the series is much more expositional in the manga, Rio is just dumping plot details on the audience and Akira. In Crybaby I remember just being thrust into a night club, sex party and then suddenly we had ourselves a spooky Devilman. I don’t know which alternative method is better but there’s got to be a happy medium that limits the lazy exposition but doesn’t assault the reader with imagery. I hope to further understand Devilman by the time I return to you next month.

 

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Cowboy Bebop:

I’m still slowly forcing my way through Cowboy Bebop, and it’s your fault… I don’t what to continue, I’m over this episodic boring nonsense, but I have to be able to say I’ve watched it to appease you people. I’m watched up to episode 15, and I still don’t care about these characters, Spike is still uninteresting, and I maintain that his backstory and everything in reference to Vicious should have been left in Episode 5, the only good episode of this series so far. Faye is still the hottest anime bitch I’ve ever seen, but I don’t care about her, Jet is the same and Edward is funny. Episodic shows just remind me that I’m wasting my time watching and I don’t like to have my wastefulness reaffirmed by the media I’m consuming. Tune in next month to see if I have turned around on Cowboy Bebop and maybe had a revelation about this series’ supposed brilliance.

 

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Serial Experiment Lain:

I have a very weird way of consuming new media that makes it impossible for me to form an intelligent opinion on anything during my first viewing. I subconsciously must have known it for a while but now I’m consciously aware of my deficiency. It takes something incredibly straightforward for me to evaluate everything on a first viewing and Serial Experiments Lain is definitively not a straightforward show. So, as I was slowly digesting this show, sort of disinterested, I knew that it would immediately become one of my favourite shows after I’d finished it and reflected on it slightly. I don’t know what it is about me that hates nearly everything on the first time; I’m constantly looking around, not paying attention and secretly hating myself because it feels like I’m stationary in a seat wasting my time. However, re-watching anything is much easier and way more enjoyable to me. I didn’t like the Godfather until I quickly re-watched it a few days later; I didn’t like Evangelion until I thought about it over the following few days. It must be me understanding what I’m getting into before watching the re-watch that puts me at ease and allows me to enjoy the experience, maybe it’s about understanding.

 

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Serial Experiments Lain as insane as it is awesome and I’m in love with it. The aesthetic is an instant giveaway that this show is outwardly interesting, Lain’s character design is near perfection, she’s incredibly cute and endearing and when her appearance is slightly manipulated, her character design is also near perfect as a malicious psychopath. The opening is already downloaded on my phone, what a fitting song, I love that it mocks the audience (intentionally or unintentionally). The first line just rubs in that the abstractness of this show is flying immediately over your head, “And you don’t seem to understand”. The shows ability to understand what would become popular internet culture is astounding. The wired takes over people’s lives and integrates itself into the real world, just as the internet has become another layer of our contemporary world. The VR headset prediction was also impressive and it’s incredible that the show introduces the idea of ‘memes,’ creates a ‘meme’ within the world of the show in, “Let’s all love Lain,” and then for that to become a widespread ‘meme’ in our reality is some legit metatextual shit. This show is fantastic, already one of my favourites and I’m currently going back through it in the Sub because this is going to take a while to fully understand and comprehend.

 

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RahXephon:

RahXephon is one hell of a fun ride, but I don’t know how much RahXephon itself contributes to my interest level. My interest in this show is somewhat predicated on the fact that it is basically a retelling of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and I love to identify the similarities and differences between the two shows and see how RahXephon decides to alter the story idiosyncratically. So, in that statement am I praising RahXephon or Neon Genesis Evangelion? I don’t know, but I am enjoying my time with this show nonetheless; the imagery is fun the symbols are being set-up and I’m fascinated by the characters. The winey elements that are prevalent in Shinji but weren’t as evident in our main character in RahXephon, have started to become apparent in recent episodes. I left off on Episode 5, they introduced all the soldiers outside of Tokyo Jupiter, a neat homage to Tokyo 3. The Pink haired girl seems interesting, Misato’s counterpart seems interesting and may or may not be hooking up with that girl fighter pilot that was introduced, and the mysterious Rei girl is interesting. I like how our main character and our Rei interact differently in this show, they actually talk and relate to each other for a scene or two, nearly immediately, whereas Rei and Shinji took episodes to come to an understanding and then Rei just got reset and we had to start all over again. RahXephon is at the top of my list for things I’m interested in continuing in the coming month.

 

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Vision of Escaflowne:

Sadly, because of my overbearing focus on Serial Experiments Lain for most of the month, and my last-minute fling with RahXephon, I haven’t followed up with anymore Escaflowne. Interestingly enough, last month I was most interested in continuing Escaflowne, but because of the appealing short length of Lain and its overall density, Escaflowne was sadly left on the back burner. I still have every intention of continuing my journey with this show and will hopefully have more for you next month.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

Unfortunately, Revolutionary Girl Utena has fallen into similar trappings as Vision of Escaflowne, and I have come to you a month later with no progression. The difference is I’m entirely unmotivated to continue Utena, I will because I always force myself to do things, but that first debacle of a Dubbed Episode 1 fucked me up. I have at least some faith that the show will increase in quality going forward and that the Sub will pick up the slack of that nightmarish Dubbing job I was exposed to.

B Geta H Kei:

The show is among the greatest pieces of art ever created. It’s so endearing and so sweet but it’s all wrapped in a hilarious sexual outer layer. Yamada is the best female character in amine, she’s clearly written by a writers-room of men projecting their fantasy perfect female personality onto the attractive anime girl, but that’s entirely what their target audience wants so it works perfectly. The conceit of the series is fantastic, a girl with the goal of sleeping with 100 high school boys over her high school career, but by the end wasn’t even gone all the way with a single dude but, has instead fallen for one dude. The only negative here is that Cosuda is a boring audience surrogate who could have been much more interesting or dynamic. But the endearing ending is entirely satisfying to the audience even though she has entirely failed on her initial goal, because in the end it wasn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

 

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But last time I talked about the sensation of ‘forgotten nostalgia’ and how it related to my experience with this show immensely. This was true for the entire re-watch, up until the end I had an overwhelming nostalgic experience that has definitely clouded my judgement when it comes to this series. I would like to delve deeper into this nostalgic overwhelming experience and this show at a later date and leave you with these thoughts for now… It’s fantastic.

Final Fantasy 2: (PS1)

My struggle with Final Fantasy 2 is finally over with. It was a lengthy journey of constant starts and stops but finally I’ve conquered the JRPG behemoth. It took me 29 recorded hours to beat the main story of Final Fantasy 2, (I wouldn’t dare attempt a 100% run) and likely 40+ actual hours, because in this game dying means your kicked back to menu and all your unsaved progress is gone and not recorded in the timer. I took a massive break throughout this playthrough, I’m talking months between sessions and by the end I was dying for it to be over. I did a very similar thing when I played through Final Fantasy 1 and wonder if this will be a reoccurring theme as I delve into longer JRPG experiences as we progress through this series. I found the infamous levelling system of this game very hit and miss, I think that’s the common consensus. In reality it ended up working similarly enough to a normal levelling system, that it didn’t bother me enough to widely detract from the experience. The villain was much cooler in Final Fantasy 2, taking over hell is pretty cool, then coming back to Earth more powerful to fuck over the people that sent you there, is cooler and that’s what the Emperor does in this game. That being said, I think I will more fondly look back upon my experience with the first Final Fantasy. I don’t regret my time spent with this game but it’s certainly not an experience I would lookback upon with thirst. But the workload never ends and now it’s time to move forward to Final Fantasy 3, exclusively for the Nintendo DS! (YAY)

 

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Final Fantasy 3:

I’ve played literally 5 minutes of Final Fantasy 3. All I can tell you is the art style is already annoying me and I will have more for you next month.

Octopath Traveller:

Last time we spoke I had barely started Octopath Traveller, but now that I have put a few more hours into the game I’m enjoying myself and have become quite engaged in the experience. I mentioned last time that I choose Therion as my first path, but in my opinion, it took far too long, nearly a full hour of gameplay, to enter any combat. The story writing in this game so far is entirely uninteresting, so this long stretch without any gameplay was boring me to death. The same issue interfered with the pacing and my enjoyment later when I had to sit through H’aanit’s storyline. However, I loved the non-linearity of the game; I could have gone north or south after completing chapter 1 of Therion’s story and visited any of the other characters. Both the dry mountain and lush forest area’s I’ve journeyed through so far, have been dynamic and interesting, but I’m thirsting for a proper dungeon. Additionally, Therion levelled up 10 levels from one battle when I effortlessly killed a supposedly high-level enemy, all while I was barely paying attention; that was cool. I will report back in a month with hopefully quite a bit more progression and with a lot more to talk about.

 

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NJPW Destruction Tour:

There wasn’t anything that catered to my specific interests on this tour, the Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega match was quite predictable, even if I hoped beyond hope that he would win, I and everyone else knew the outcome of this match. Naito vs Suzuki has been done to death at this point, and the final night didn’t get interesting until after the main event was over. I had no stakes in the Okada vs Tanahashi match, my interest level in them is equal, so I watched this match half paying attention and without a horse in the race. But the most important talking point retrospectively from this tour is the big Jay White and Gedo turn on Okada after the Okada vs Tanahashi match. It was a brilliant swerve that I was kicking myself for not seeing coming. New Japan isn’t fucking around when it comes to Jay White, he’s young, has the character and charisma to carry a main event program and so I’m eagerly anticipating the direction they go with him and Gedo moving into Wrestle Kingdom 13 and beyond.

 

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Hell in a Cell 2018:

Boring! I liked absolutely nothing on this show besides the result in the SmackDown Woman’s Championship match. Becky Lynch won the championship just like I told you she would last month, because after all only heels are successful in WWE contemporaneously. Besides that, I have no understanding of why the praise for this show has been so universal. Ronda Rousey sold for Alexa Bliss for 10 minutes for some reason. Fuck the tag title match, I will never care about Dolph Ziggler again, you’ve burnt that bridge WWE, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are currently uninteresting and directionless. The only wrestler I care about in this match is Drew McIntyre. Why was the main event of this show McIntyre against Reigns? Both Hell in a Cell matches was forgettable and drawn-out bore fests. AJ and Joe had another disappointing match, AJ’s 20th disappointing match of the year, and their feud was unnecessarily propagated by a finish that made both look like morons. And I didn’t even pay attention to the mix tag match, give me a fucking break.

 

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Mae Young Classic 2:

I’m liking the second annual Mae Young Classic a whole lot. I don’t like Rhea Ripley’s new gimmick, she’s a national relative of mine coming from Australia, but her persona feels like she’s playing the bad guy. She can’t quite sell the authenticity of her character and that’s largely the issue with everybody in this tournament, with only one standout exception. Even the other home-country girl Toni Storm is overly goofy and a bit cringy in her interviews, it still seems like she’s playing an unconvincing character she doesn’t quite believe in. But Io Shari is the obvious aforementioned notable exception. She looked like the superstar she absolutely is in her first-round match with Xia Brookside, who also has the makings of a superstar. She demonstrated in this solitary match that she and Sasha deserve to Main Event WrestleMania before Ronda and Charlotte even begin to sniff it. Io Shari is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and her intensity and charisma were on display in this match. I can’t wait to see her other matches in this tournament. Other names that stood out and impressed me, were Xia Brookside, who I already went over, and Killer Kelly who I’m interested to see develop on the NXT UK brand. I thought she excelled in her first-round match. I’ve spoiled myself on both the Mae Young Classic finals and the inaugural United Kingdom Woman’s championship tournament, and I’m exceedingly happy for my Australian girls and feel deeply sorry the main roster girls that are going to have to compete with the finals of this tournament on the Evolution card, because that final is going to be outstanding.

 

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Pokémon Emerald:

I peered over to my DS Lite and saw the cartridge of a threequarters-completed Pokémon Emerald game and then suddenly I was playing it again. I have long pronounced this game (and gen 3) as my favourite in the Pokémon series, with secretly never having actually completed a playthrough of Pokémon Emerald, only having completed playthroughs of Ruby and Sapphire. So, it was in my ideological best interest to finally finish this game of this save file I started sometime earlier this year. And let me say I’m the greatest Pokémon team creator of all time because this team is fun as fuck. Sceptile, Claydol, Camerupt, Crawdaunt, Exploud and Armaldo is fucking menacing team and every time I open up my party in the menu screen I’m rewarded with a glimpse of a satisfying group of captivating monsters ready to fuck shit up. While I was traversing the back half of this game I was reminded that I’m absolutely correct and these are the standout games in the franchise. The unique ways that water routes are crafted in this game is insane, it justifiably has the best water environments in any Pokémon game. The pulling currents puzzle, the diving puzzles, the waterfall inclusions and the variation in scenery with the rocks in certain areas, these are all elements integrated satisfyingly into this game. This game is the best what else can I say.

 

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Pokémon Colosseum:

I got an itch and found myself for the 5th or 6th time, playing through Pokémon Colosseum, and after I finish it I’m planning on revisiting its sequel: Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, for the 5th or 6th time. I’m continuously drawn back to these games, I get an itch every few months to go back to them; at this point they’re easily the Pokémon games I’ve played through the most time. To be fair they are also the shortest traditional Pokémon adventures and therefore 5 or 6 playthroughs of them isn’t as impressive as it may sound. Very superficial elements can draw me to any piece of media and the two superficial elements I can identify about these particular games, that keep drawing me back are, the battle interface’s aesthetic and having a team of large scale monsters rendered and realised in 3D console glory. I love both these aspects about both these games and it’s the reason I come back to them constantly, I’ll just think of having Aggron and Tyranitar back to back on my side of the battle, while traversing a sleek and smooth battle UI.

 

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Featured

Gedo Turned on Okada for Jay White, it was Perfect, How Didn’t I See It?

Following a hellacious, as Steve Austin would put it, main event between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada on the final night of the NJPW Destruction tour, Gedo turned on his long-time ally and longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight, in favour of young and hungry Jay White. This was a brilliant angle and I’m currently kicking myself trying to understand how I didn’t see it coming. It seems so obvious in retrospect. After the G1 Gedo and Okada announced that they were separating after a six-year partnership because Okada believed he had out grown the NJPW veteran. As any professional wrestling fan should know whenever a separation happens it’s a tell-tale sign that an angle is brewing. Yet I heard no rumours online about this alignment and subsequent turn and that’s why the angle was so effective this evening.

 

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This hot angle was sorely needed in New Japan, things have been quite stagnant since the conclusion of the G1 and we needed so collective rejuvenation. This angle will be hot on the two massive upcoming shows New Japan has in the pipeline: Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Los Angeles and King of Pro Wrestling. Jay White and Okada is now looking to be the Tokyo Dome match for both men, which is interesting because I was assuming Okada would be defeating Jericho at the show for the Intercontinental Championship. This has major implications because now the more likely top matches are: Omega vs Tanahashi, Naito vs Jericho 2 and Okada vs White. Plus, whatever Evil, Sanada, Suzuki and Sabre Jr are doing on the show as well as the juniors. It looks like we are headed for one hell of a 13th anniversary of Wrestle Kingdom. I haven’t been as engaged as I was in the New Japan product as of late, but with this angle they’ve regained my absolute attention, Fighting Spirit Unleashed looks to be an incredibly enjoyable show and I’m looking forward to it very much…

 

 

Featured

You Either Get Wrestling or You Don’t…

I hate absolutism, but to completely contradict myself that statement, it seems to me that there are two predominant perspectives about the contemporary opinion on modern wrestling; you either get it or you don’t. You either despise it for its stupidity and can’t get over the main conceit (that it’s fake) and those who see the theatrics and eccentric nature of it all and are drawn in. And if you at any point in your life find yourself drawn in you will always come back to it. You’ll get the curious itch whenever you least expect it and you’ll be back, maybe not forever but for a little while. And the cycle will forever continue, and you will be unable to escape.

 

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I never seen or heard of a person coming around on professional wrestling, if they aren’t interested abstractly, then they never will be interested. You’ll never find that one perfect match to show non-wrestling fans to get them interested in the business, so stop asking that stupid question. I don’t really have anything further to say; you either get professional wrestling or you don’t, and you never will.

Featured

Man, but What If Ishii Won?

Tomohiro Ishii just lost again in his second ever challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega. Against all odds I was hoping beyond hope that somehow New Japan would throughout all consistency and sense and just go with this beautiful man. But it wasn’t his night tonight and I’m starting to wonder if it’ll ever be his time to win the most prestigious championship in Professional Wrestling. Minoru Suzuki has still never won the championship, Shibata never won the championship and all these men as well as Ishii have earned a run with the belt. New Japan is effectively stingy with their main championship, even Naito, consistently the most popular wrestler in New Japan, hasn’t had a lengthy run with the belt, with his only victory over Ishii.

 

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I know I shouldn’t have even begin to believe it was possible for Ishii to win the belt at this time, New Japan is clearly gearing up for Hiroshi Tanahashi’s last stand at Wrestle Kingdom 13 and Omega is the man to go in as champion to oppose him, but, man, what if Ishii won? Literally no one on the planet would be angry; on the 30th Walter Pyramid would reign with ‘You Deserve It’ chants and Omega could just win the belt back at Power Struggle or King of Pro Wrestling. Maybe I just wanted to believe. Besides the outcome the match was pretty great, but that’s to be expected from these two. You now they weren’t happy about not being the headlining feud of this tour, being overshadowed by Okada and Tanahashi on the 23rd. They went out there and burnt the house down, but tonight wasn’t Ishii’s night and now we are all left sitting on our hands, biting our nails hoping beyond hope that Ishii will get what he has earned one day…

Featured

Media Consumption Month #1 (August 2018)

Welcome to the first monthly edition of Media Consumption, the post where I reflect on all the noteworthy media I consumed the previous month. Originally this series was going to be weekly, but I didn’t consume enough media to write articles every week to make these posts interesting. I welcome you to argue with me about anything or leave constructive criticism in the comments below: (You Don’t have to have an account!)

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued to develop, and now pages inscribed into my mind in only black ink are being fully-realised in animation, and it’s a fantastic experience. Attack on Titan is responsible for my current level of anime fandom, it brought me into the fold in 2014 and once I caught up on the manga later that year. At that time the manga was in the middle of this arc and so this adaptation is a great sense of nostalgia personally. Episode 2 stood out for expanding on the Levi chase scene and creating an action spectacle out of it with insanely, impressive animation. The People vs People arc is something I’ve been defending for years and the backlash from anime only watches has been surprisingly largely non-existent, which is reassuring. A heavily criticised element of Season 3 has been the OP, which is admittedly tonally more cognisant of the initial half of Season 3, but still incredibly lame and uninteresting. The ending theme however sounds like the birthchild of Season 2’s Opening and Ending, it is fucking outstanding. The aesthetic is unique and awesome, and the music brilliantly reflects Historia as a focal character. All in all, I’m eagerly anticipating the continuation of Season 3.

Steins; Gate 0:

Steins; Gate 0 is making me internally conflicted. Binge watching the first 12 episodes of the series, to catch-up, was so fun but the week to week wait with these episodes is poison to the shows pacing. It’s hard to re-immerse yourself in this complex story every week. Sometimes I’ve completely forgotten how we ended last week, so I think ultimately to get a proper view on the series I’ll have to re-watch the entire thing once the Dub is finished. But honestly the most annoying aspect of the show in these previous few episodes is the Steins; Gate 0 original character Kagari. She sucks, she terrible, I don’t care about her at all and she seems to be the motivation for the plot progression and recently and her voice actor is terrible. If I hear her scream mommy again I’m going to have a brain aneurysm. This show is currently on a wait and see basis, hopefully the show pulls through with a widely satisfying conclusion.

My Hero Academia Season 3: 

Filler is one thing, but a filler episode that’s just an advertisement for an inconsequential film that I’m going to force myself to watch, is an entirely different scenario. My Hero Academia double-decker fucked us with the latest episode and this filler garbage is pissing me off. I’m already significantly less interested in this arc in comparison to the first arc of this season and this shit isn’t helping. The most interesting arcs in My Hero are either tournaments or villain battles, whenever they focus on becoming a ‘hero,’ it bores me to tears, I don’t give a fuck about Superhero ideals just play with the characters we like. But if my speculation is correct things may get much more interesting when ‘she’ reveals herself in the coming episodes.

Devilman:

I read the first chapter of Devilman on a whim because I wanted to see the character designs and   how they differ from Devilman Crybaby (the only Devilman content I’ve seen). Little did I know the first chapter was about the weird and rushed dinosaur element from the end of Devilman Crybaby; and now I’m completely intrigued so I’ll be reading the original manga for the foreseeable future. It makes complete structural sense for this to be the opening chapter and I can’t comprehend why it was shoehorned into the final episode of the Netflix adaptation. The second chapter introduces the main characters and they are all largely like their 2018 counterparts, but the manga clearly is establishing a much slower pace, that I’m totally in favour of. Devilman Crybaby was an incredibly enjoyable clusterfuck, but at times it was hard to reconcile the character motivations and plot developments from episode to episode with the insane speed the show was running in. This manga however, seems to be explaining things much more clearly and I’m hooked.

Cowboy Bebop:  

I am forcing myself through this show… it’s just so boring! I’ve reached Episode 11, (the weird alien spoof) and I think the disconnect I have with this show comes down to my hatred of episodic media and my disinterest in anything to do with Space. I feel like I’m wasting my time largely while watching this show, there’s nothing we are building to, nothing to look forward to in anticipation, just more inconsequential characters dicking around. It’s a shame because Episode 5 is evidently a masterpiece, I would rather re-watch that 26 times than continue, but we’ve come this far so we can’t give up here, and maybe I’ll understand by the end. It’s certainly not all bad; the cinematography a times is impeccable, Ed is an excellent character and Faye is easily the hottest anime bitch ever, but I’m constantly watching Spike and Jet dicking around being entirely uninteresting. You can check in next month to see if my overall opinion on this show is any different.

Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga is about to be the Anime of the Year in 2019, I’ve finished the prologue and next year’s anime adaptation is definitely ending here and when it does, I dare someone to try and challenge it. This was a text-book example of how to fantastically build and payoff a climax within a section (arc) of a story. Real progression with the plot and characters, genuine intrigue for how the story develops going forward, and self-contain, effective and memorable characters. I was completely blow away by the way Vinland Saga just surprised me and cemented itself onto my favourites list. That final chapter was so great; Askeland’s ultimate noble sacrifice and redemption that directly feeds into the development of Canute and Thorfinn was gripping. The last page and Thorfinn’s big, “WHAT NOW?” moment was exhilarating, and I get extremely excited when imagining that moment in animation. Everything came together so cohesively, and it felt like none of my time was wasted and all of my time was well spent investing in Vinland Saga… Thank You Mr. Makoto Yukimura.

The Vision of Escaflowne:

Escaflowne is the only of the four new shows that I watched the second episode of, because the first episode made such an impression. The art style is quite unique in this show, the texture on the dragon’s skin and the weirdly, good-looking over-sized noses all differentiate this show from anything I’ve ever seen. I like that both episodes had seemingly our two main characters both taking the role of the fish out of water in each other’s world and allowed us establishing moments of each respectively. It’ll be interesting if we keep switching between Earth and the ancient sci-fi world that’s name escapes me currently. The Dub in this show isn’t distracting and the main girls voice gives me odd nostalgic feelings, but I can’t place what other projects the voice actress has appeared in, that I’m familiar with. I’m interested to see how this plot, above the others, will progress going forward. All the other shows have a direction and a set tone already but this one seems to be the most dynamic and the one I’m most interested to see develop, even if Serial Experiments Lain was my personal favourite of the 4 new shows.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

For this show choosing the Dub made for an incredibly unpleasant experience. The voice acting wasn’t remarkably terrible, though it wasn’t any good either, but the voice lines were out of sync with the mouths. This is some basic, fundamental shit that I believe would be difficult to fuck up this badly. The plot didn’t exactly interest me; I watched the first episode only and that was 2 weeks ago now and all I recall is she wants to be a prince to those in need because of her backstory and that she beat some prick in top of a floating castle above the school. It wasn’t all bad, I see the potential in the aesthetic and I love weird, unique shit and this definitively qualifies. Ultimately, this was my least favourite out of the 4 new shows I checked out this month, but I’m not dropping it and will likely be watching the sub going forward.

Serial Experiments Lain:

Serial Experiments Lain was fucking awesome. Unfortunately, I have only seen the first episode, but the entire show worked cohesively so effectively, that I was salivating by the end. The imagery and aesthetic are so visually compelling and striking that the scenes of the initial suicide and the distracted father with the multiple computers, are burned into my subconscious. What a fascinating show; from the aesthetic to the chilling music, to the arthouse elements, to just the way the characters deliver dialogue, everything directly speaks to me. I watched this show, as I did all others in the English Dub and this was easily the standout one of the bunch. Even the 13 Episode length excites me, and this is a show I’m deeply interested in continuing next month and watching develop further.

RahXephon:

RahXephon is intriguing. The obvious Evangelion inspirations and obvious, and I love it. It’s also been about two weeks since I watched episode 1 of this show, so I don’t remember everything (and likely will have to re-watch it) but I was intrigued. Seeing all the Evangelion elements slightly altered in a different team’s vision is a unique and fun experience. I identified the NERVE like military organisation, the Rei parallel character is self-evident and that woman that saved him in the abandoned train station is our Misato. This is one I’ll have to re-watch to remember all the little details that will become important later, but I’ll certainly be continuing this next month.

B Gata H Kei:

Whenever I would look back at my limited anime catalogue, one show stands as a flashing outlier. One of these things are not the same, and Yamada’s First Time or B Geta H Kei, was that outlier. It was a show I watched in Grade 8 for obvious reasons, but I remember liking it way too much. I began watching it in the Summer holidays (December where I live) and my family was on a vacation living in this rental house on limited internet and all I can remember thinking about the entire week of vacation was that I wanted to get home and continue watching this show. It’s a lot of what I thought about that entire week, and I couldn’t watch it while I was there because if KissAnime used up a huge amount of the data people would start asking questions and I didn’t want to have to explain what the show was to them. So, it was a constant internal struggle to pull myself away from the Safari tab on my iPad.

So now, a few years removed, I was fascinated to re-watch this show and try to understand my plight with this show, and this show is deceptively fun. The premise of the show is awesome, and I’m shocked at the overwhelming charm of all the characters. This show brings out something I like to call, ‘forgotten nostalgia,’ which is infinitely more powerful than your ordinary, run of the mill, nostalgia. As I gradually recalled elements of this show it transported me to a different time and the feelings of forgotten nostalgia were so strong. I got a similar feeling when I watched some old Looney Tone Cartoons on YouTube recently and remember the little jingles Daffy would sing to himself and how intrench into my very being they were. Re-hearing the Opening Theme and more importantly the Ending Theme after all this time shocked the nostalgia meter. Something I hadn’t thought about in years yet it all felt so near and familiar. Re-watching this show is a remarkable experience and I can’t wait to continue my journey past episode 3 next month.

G1 Climax:

The G1 Climax wrapped up in early August, and what a trip it’s been. 4 weeks of constant 3-hour professional wrestling shows definitely had me at my limit, but it was all undeniably fantastic, even if I was extremely salty about the conclusion. Before we get into specifics I would like to shout-out a retrospective lookback that New Japan has realised on their Japanese YouTube page that summarises the tournament, with some additional unseen footage of interviews with reoccurring and one-time audience members and shots of the behind the scene actions of the wrestlers. Even if you haven’t been following the tournament as closely as I have, it’s a must watch.

The G1 ended weirdly this year. I predicted going into the tournament that the finals would be a Wrestle Kingdom Main Event rematch with Naito finally beating Okada in a big match scenario. Evidently the finals didn’t feature either of them, instead Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibsuhi in the finals. Okada was eliminated due to his time limit draw with Tanahashi on the first night in Budokan, which was incredibly exciting and a nice feel good moment for the long time New Japan audience that adore Tanahashi, and this decision was fine with me because Naito beating Tanahashi again, this time in the finals would have fitted into the Naito storyline quite well. But that wasn’t to be because Naito lost to Zack Sabre Jr and Omega lost to Ibushi, and therefore the B Block ended in a 4-Way tie with each man having 12 points, but because of previous match-ups Ibushi, who had beaten all the other contenders, proceeded to the finals. Now Zack ending on 12 points is amazing to me, Zack is my second favourite wrestler in New Japan, but my most favourite is Naito and I was furious when Zack pinned him. Naito fans have been waiting for his big moment for years and we were denied it at Wrestle Kingdom and so this G1 was his to win. But ZSJ fucked it all up…

So, I went into the final night quite pissed and disinterested, but Shibata showed up and Tanahashi and Ibushi had one hell of a match. The final Tanahashi run was inevitable and I’m fine with it, he obviously deserves it and Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi is a mega-match. That along with the likely Chris Jericho vs Kazuchika Okada for the Intercontinental Championship have me very excited for January 4th. I have no idea what Naito will be doing until January, and Juice Robinson vs Cody is going to yield some phenomenal promos. Ultimately, I’m incredibly thankful that New Japan gives us a month break until the Destruction tour, because I desperately need it.

NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4:

NXT Takeover this go around was underwhelming to me; my favourite match was the NXT Woman’s Championship between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler and that match withstanding, I didn’t care for anything else on this show. Nothing on this show was bad in terms of match quality or storytelling but nothing stood out to me. The Main Event felt like we were walking old ground, only to have a terrible finish. Adam Cole and Ricochet just didn’t inspire anything in me. The opener was meaningless, there were no stakes because everyone understood exactly how the match was going to play out. Velveteen Dream and EC3 was sloppy and all over the place and the whole show just felt unremarkable. The Kairi Sane match had something these matches lacked; I cared that Kairi won that belt. I’m a Kairi Sane fan and her beating Baszler told a simplistic story that kept me caring. All these other matches felt like the outcomes didn’t matter and they were just on the card to be good wrestling matches; and if there’s something I particularly don’t give a fuck about its good wrestling. With Kairi winning the championship I believe the Main Event for Survivor Series’ accompanying Takeover is evident; Kairi and Io Shari should tear the house down and show everyone what Japanese Woman’s wrestling is.

SummerSlam 2018:

Overall, as blasphemous as a statement like this usually is, I think SummerSlam handily impressed more than NXT Takeover. Nothing was as exciting as Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, nothing got the reaction that Becky Lynch’s turn got, and nothing was as clever as that Main Event. The opener however, was not a highlight of the night, the only person involved in this boring feud that I’m remotely interested in is Drew McIntyre. I have little interest in a babyface Dean Ambrose, I have even less interest in Seth Rollins currently and no amount of rehab will ever have me invested in anything Dolph Ziggler does. To boot this match was boring as fuck. New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers was enjoyable; retrospectively the New Day absolutely should have won the belts here, but hindsight is 20-20 and Eric Rowan couldn’t have picked a worse time to tear his bicep, and Harper should just continue killing dudes in his stead. Braun Stroman squashing Kevin Owens was fucking awesome, and incredibly ballsy for the WWE to do in front of this audience. There seemingly is a payoff coming from this squash with Kevin quitting recently on Raw, so he’ll be fine, and this got Braun to the exact point necessary for later in night. I love short matches that don’t fuck around, and this was a perfect example of one.

The two biggest matches for SmackDown were next and they both were remarkable. Becky Lynch may have been the most over wrestler on the entire show and it was fun to watch. The story in this match was executed with pin-point accuracy; it was necessary for them to get the belt off Carmella, she’s a bigger star coming off this run, they played into the audiences’ fatigue with Charlotte being rammed down their throats and paid off the audiences’ frustrations with Becky being repeatedly being walked over. If you’re a Becky Lynch fan this heel turn should be the best possible outcome for you, because now Becky’s going to be booked strong instead of being positioned as the moronic babyface and will only get over even more. You must be a heel, or AJ Styles, contemporarily to get over in WWE. Speaking of which this was the greatest fuck finish I think I’ve ever seen; AJ Styles and Samoa Joe probably could have had a basic storyline and had a barn-burner of a match but instead this entire feud is being dominated by an unbelievably well written (mostly well performed) storyline. Samoa Joe is the best promo in this company, he and Kevin Owens have a way to give their terribly written dialogue without sounding like absolute geeks; they are great in spite of the material they are given instead of being great because of the material they are given. Joe notably kicked out of the Styles Clash, and this may be an indication of his much-needed victory at Hell in a Cell. If WWE are ever going to go with Joe as a world champion this is the time. The follow up on SmackDown was also great, AJ told him to not do something and then Joe said FUCK YOU, beat him up and did it anyway like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin. There is no reason not to vicariously love Samoa Joe right now.

Daniel Bryan and Miz was fucking awful. It was way too long and after the previous two thrilling segments the crowd didn’t care at all. WWE has butchered Daniel Bryan’s comeback so terribly that Brooklyn couldn’t remember why they ever cared about him. The crowd was left in a bored hazed following that snore fest and hearing Baron Corbin’s music definitely didn’t wake them up. But WWE in another great decision had a surprise appearance from the Demon, and another fantastically refreshing squash match. Finn Balor desperately needed to remind any of us why we cared about him and he did exactly that with this performance, he’s a hot commodity again and I’m excited for what’s next. Shinsuke Nakamura and Jeff Hardy calmed the crowd down again, these boys really couldn’t do anything in this position. Jeff definitely tried by killing himself with that Swanton spot on the apron, but the crowd was largely disinterested and now we can move on to Randy Orton and Jeff which I’m at least vaguely interested in.

To end the night, we got back-to-back viewings of Raw’s Main Events; and again, both matches delivered. Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey did what it set out to do, introduce the Bella’s for our inevitably depressing Evolution Main Event and put Ronda over as a monster. But most interestingly Roman Resigns and Brock Lesnar was a captivating finale to an entertaining night. You’ve got to respect the clever way WWE constructed this Main Event, from the Stroman inclusion to Brock’s continued rampage, to Roman finally pinning Brock Lesnar after 3 years of build. No one booed with disinterest like at WrestleMania, instead 15 thousand people were on the edge of their seats for the entirety and they were all worked into caring about Roman’s 15th big moment. Well done WWE, SummerSlam was pretty cool.

Denzel Curry – Taboo:

This album is unbelievably great. Denzel Curry’s new album Taboo is his best work yet and has permeated my ears ubiquitously over this past month. While I don’t believe any single song from the album compares to Imperial’s best song, This Life, but Taboo is exceedingly more consistent than Imperial or Nostalgic 64. Taboo (the song) is a melancholic, smooth opening that establishes the tone of the project and immediately prepares the listener, then Black Balloons follows and is a different sound than Curry usually puts forth. That obscurity is continued with Cash Maniac which are both smooth, memorable and almost relaxing songs, but this is entirely juxtaposed by the following track, Sumo, which is loud, intensive Denzel at his best. Reference to Chowder, references to Rikishi (which obviously popped me) and references to obscure PS2 platformers all combine into an energetic bridge to the second part of the album.

Super Saiyan Superman continues this energy with a quick track, that’s name itself is enough for successful song, even if it is weird Superman isn’t mentioned at all in the song. (I believe.) Switch it Up and Mad I Got It are the least memorable to me, I still enjoy them when they play but I haven’t yet sought them out specifically, but Siren’s was my favourite song from the album for a time. This is easily the smartest track on the album, there’s some fantastic wordplay from JID (especially the National Anthem section) in what I believe is his best performance to date, and the haunting final soliloquy makes for a smooth track, that’s definitely the most substantive on the album. Clout Cobain is next, and it’s been overplayed by me personally so now it’s not my favourite, but it very well may make a return to my favourites list from the album. The music video almost overshadows the simplistic song in some regards and I find they make a must more palatable combination, whereas the song separately is slightly repetitive.

The Blackest Balloon is another slightly repetitive track that benefits from its short runtime, but the chorus maintains a place in my head at least once a day. Percs is the song I’ve listened to the least on this song, only because I forgot to download it, so I’m too unfamiliar with the track to give an informed opinion on it. Finally, the album closes on Vengeance and Black Metal Terrorist, which both are heavy favourites of mine. They both maintain the high energy Denzel is known for and evolves them in two distinctly different directions. Vengeance is entirely stolen by JPEGmafia’s hilariously brutal feature, with the standout line of the album, “If he dies, he dies, Pussy meet the Sky!” Black Metal Terrorist is the ending of the album and it drills home the entire project with madness and high energy, fast verses. Overall this album is a definitive Album of the Year contender.