Categories
Television

I Know What You Did Last Summer Modernizes 90’s Horror Vibes: Spoiler-Free Review

Reader, I will be up front with you and say that I have never seen the original I Know What You Did Last Summer. I come to this show with no nostalgia for the films whatsoever so I am nothing but a clean slate for a revenge tale. There is no reason to why I haven’t but it may be the only 90’s horror film I haven’t watched. Growing up in the 90’s meant sneaking as many horror films as I could, starting with my first horror film Scream. I always felt like I came in at the tail end of the slasher genre after the entire rulebook was being handed out on screen. Watching I Know What You did Last Summer brought back a lot of the feelings of watching a slasher for the first time as I sat and watched the first four episodes.

A lot of modern horror films are very cerebral in the mainstream and that’s totally great. But sometimes I want to watch a bunch of messy college students be dumb, horny, and just kind of awful to one another. The show follows the same model as the movie, both of which are based on the novel by Lois Duncan. A group of teenagers commit a vehicular manslaughter, all decide to keep the dark secret in the group, and the next summer… trouble comes calling. The show doesn’t rely on an urban legend killer like the film did with “the hook”. This is a vague summary because I do not want to give away a single piece of this incredible puzzle.

When I heard about this show, I was wrapping up my viewing of the Scream television shows third season so I immediately wanted to seek this out. While I liked Scream, I think IKWYDLS does a better job of adapting a story in a new and original way. The writer and producer Sara Goodman also worked on the series Gossip Girl which is why I feel comfortable saying that this show is the Gossip Girl of horror. It follows a group with a lot of secrets that will ultimately be their undoing. The friends have known one another since they were children so there are bound to be secrets amongst them.

The dynamics of the group are set up in one of the opening scenes at their high school graduation party. This party is flashbacked to throughout the first few episodes to show us new moments of vulnerability, betrayal, and connection between our main cast. The party is full of drinking, drugs, and larger than life scenes which is where I bought into the show. It harkens back to those horror films where this kind of party would happen to set everything up. Returning to the scene after we learn more about each character is a very well pulled off story telling element.

There is also an element in this show that a lot of horror lacks in the mainstream today, horniness. I debated whether or not to talk about this but I think it is integral to the genre that spawned this show, the slasher. Everyone describes movies like Friday the 13th as “a group of horny teenagers” and this follows closely in that vein. There is an abundance of overt horniness in the opening scenes and a lot of it leads to the problems for the group. The show doesn’t shy away from it’s sexuality across the board which leads to very interesting group dynamics and a show unafraid of the tropes of its genre.

While every actor gives a great performance, one that stood out to me was Madison Iseman’s role as Lennon & Allison, the twin leads of the show. She plays each in a way that they are uniquely different but with the dynamic that they are sisters with complicated feelings for one another. I cannot get into details because it would be spoiler country but if not for anything, watch the show to watch Madison’s performance because it’s mind blowing at times.

If you have never seen the film, the I Know What You Did Last Summer show is still worth your time. It captures the energy of a 90’s horror film in a more modern setting as each of the group faces their dirty little secrets head on as someone starts to kill them off one by one in this spectacular reimagining.

Categories
Television

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is a Home Run for the Underwater Hero

Growing up, Aquaman was my favorite superhero and is still to this day. Finding others who felt the same way wasn’t easy. Everyone else loved Batman, Superman, or the Flash. We all know the jokes about “he talks to fish” by now and how that became a really popular sentiment as I grew up. There is so much more below the surface of this but it doesn’t matter anymore because in 2018, I sat in a packed theatre full of people there to see Aquaman. My hero. Now, Aquaman is a character you can find almost everywhere. It’s only right that he get a cartoon fit for a king.

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is an absolute riot. When the first stills of the series were shared on line, a lot of people were quick to write it off for it’s outlandish animation style and goofy aesthetic. When I saw it, all I could think about was a whole new generation having an Aquaman cartoon while all I had was cameos. The show follows Aquaman, a freshly minted King of Atlantis after defeating his half-brother Ocean Master. It serves almost as a sequel to James Wan’s film, who serves as the show’s producer.

The first of three hour long chapters is called “Dead Sea” which follows Aquaman, voice by Cooper Andrews, and Mera, voiced by Gillian Anderson, as they go to look into the mysterious disappearance of one of Atlantis’s outposts at the edge of the kingdom. Through the adventure, we meet some delightfully vibrant characters that glow with the shows style and humor. The story showcases an Aquaman who is just learning what it means to be a leader and more importantly, a hero. The humor is sometimes aimed at Aquaman but it’s never in a way that makes him a joke as we have seen in media for years prior. The action sequences soar high to take full effect of the larger than life animation style of the show. Each swing and punch is larger than life in a way that brings pizazz to the show unlike any other superhero cartoon out right now.

One aspect I wanted to focus in on was Arthur and Mera dynamic with one another. Cooper Andrews and Gillan Anderson have a great chemistry in their voice acting as these characters. Mera is a Plan A punching-type character while Aquaman tries to figure things out with a bit more logic before punching. Their back and fourth in the first special is never bickering but more the playful banter of a young couple on a grand adventure. They’re both so much fun. There is a running gag of Mera not understanding baseball that is one of the funniest bits from the premiere. Another important thing of note is that Mera is never treated like a sidekick in the show, she is always Aquaman’s equal which is important because Mera could quickly become a hero for young kids as well. Both have their shortcomings which they overcome. I could watch the two sit and talk in a ship for hours.

As soon as I heard the angelic over the top theme song, I knew this was going to be a treat of a show. From start to finish, I was laughing with a big smile on my face. I hope there is a kid out there who is waiting for this to come out on Oct. 14th on HBO Max because they cannot wait to see their hero. It would have meant the world to me at a young age so I hope it finds it’s audience.

Categories
Film

V/H/S 94 Tears Back Into What Made the Series Special

Have you ever had the feeling that you weren’t supposed to be watching something? Maybe you were young and you waited till your parents were asleep to pop a horror film into the VCR. Or maybe you were watching horrific videos deep on the internet that you should not have been. Either way, you know that feeling of shivers running up your spine as you quietly peak over your shoulder out of the fear that something would get you or that you would be caught. V/H/S 94 captures that feeling as you watch a series of stories too cursed for human consumption. This is exactly what I wanted from the film and it hit the mark perfectly.

I don’t want to tread too far from the review but V/H/S: Viral really missed the mark and by a large margin. I thought that would be the end but when I saw that 94 was coming, my excitement had to be tapered. I couldn’t set myself up to have my heart broken again, NOT AGAIN. But my heart is in one piece even if I got covered in blood watching this movie. The first two films are what convinced me there was still so much potential left in the found footage genre as a whole. Each of the anthologies stories has a different writer and director that gives each segment it’s own unique feel. The frame story “Holy Hell” written and directed by Jennifer Reeder, follows a SWAT team raiding what they think is a drug lab but what they find is so much worse. What they find is a cult like group who holds thousands of V/H/S tapes of videos that could be compared to snuff films but they all have some weird supernatural elements in them. From there we get four stories in between the frame story elements.

The first of the stories is “Storm Drain”, written and directed by Chloe Okuno, follows a news reporter and cameraman investigating a rat man that has been seen in the sewers. This is a fantastic start for the anthology as it captures that grungy vibe with plenty of tearing in the video itself. Those elements of making it look like a real V/H/S just adds to that low budget feeling that stays through the film. Without spoiling too much, this story has some very cool practical monster work that had me rewinding to get a better look. As the main character is a news reporter, we get some cheesy local news bits that are very different from the start to the finish.

The second tale “The Empty Wake” by Simon Barrett, is a story about a young woman who is working at a funeral home where she has to be there for a wake that has overnight hours. Things get weird when only one person shows up. This story has some cameras set up around the room that really feed into the fear as things start to get weird. It’s a fantastic performance when the entire scene really focuses on one person to build the tension.

Souce: @Timobros on twitter

The third and best of the stories “The Subject”, written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto, is a mad scientist story. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this one because the camera use in it is fantastic. What really stands out in this one is the POV camerawork that is used to make you invest your hope in a young girl who has been experimented on by a mad scientist. She goes from fearful to an absolute badass by the end of the story. At some points, it felt like I was watching someone play a FPS game so much that I wanted to pick up a controller to help her. She even has a health bar! There are so many elements at play in this one that made it stand above the rest.

The fourth story “Terror”, written and directed by Ryan Prows, was the weakest of the film. It follows a group of satirical white supremacists as they plan to use a monster to attack a government building. This was the dud for me as there really wasn’t much to capture me as a viewer. It felt like I was watching a very weird episode of The Trailer Park Boys at times. I cannot explain that feeling any further.

Even with the final story of the batch being less than stellar, V/H/S 94 brought the series back to it’s former glory for me. If you enjoy found footage horror, I highly recommend you check this one out. It’s out now, streaming on Shudder!

Categories
Comics

Chattin’ & Crashin’ with Steve from Third Eye

This is the first episode of a new video series where we have a less than structured conversation with guests. Our conversations can range from their work, their mindsets, and whatever we get into!

I was lucky to be joined by the man I describe as my comic father, Steve Anderson the co-founder of Third Eye Comics. Jake and I have known Steve since we were very young. He’s someone who’s mindsets have very much inspired all of GateCrashers and the way we do things. We discussed all sorts of things from his affinity to the desert to the hiring process in their stores in order to create the most welcoming environment. It was a joy to chat with someone who inspires me so much for a second time for the show. Check it out!

Categories
Film Music

Ranking the Austin Powers Songs Purely on Vibes

When it comes to the Austin Powers trilogy, there is perhaps nothing more iconic than the songs in the film or performed in each film. From soulful, instant classics, to groovy dance numbers, to whatever the early 00s were, every Austin Powers song is instantly recognizable. I’m here today to rank them because I took a music theory class and music history in college. Did I do well in either? Who knows!

A couple of points before I get started: these rankings are definitive and cannot be disputed by anyone. You really should read Ethan’s well conceived article about a more well known spy who lacks the mojo that Austin Powers posses. I care about my friend Ethan deeply but I assume that his commute to work every day looks similar to the first video on this list. Anyway, let’s get to it YEAH baby YEAH.

1. Soul Bossa Nova by Quincy Jones

While the song was originally released in 1962, nothing B.A.P. (Before Austin Powers) matters really. This song set the stage for the Austin Powers films. It is the perfect score. Austin Powers could definitely beat James Bond in a fight.

2. Just the Two of Us as performed by Dr. Evil and Mini Me

This is a very sensitive subject. Dr. Evil sings about his insecurities when it comes to legacy which is a running theme through the trilogy. Dr. Evil struggles with the idea that his son Scott doesn’t like him. But Dr. Evil is most well known as the arch nemesis of Austin Powers who definitely could beat up James Bond in a fight. Even if Bond probably has better gadgets and such, Austin has a bigger heart.

3. Daddy Wasn’t There by Ming Tea

In the third film, Goldmember, Austin struggles with the issues revolving his own father played by Sir Michael Caine most well known for his role in Jaws: The Revenge. In this song, Austin reveals that his father missed his circumcision. Even with the tumultuous relationship that Austin has with his father, he could still beat up James Bond. He would probably give him a judo chop while Bond was being creepy to someone.

4. Hard Knock Life as performed by Dr. Evil

In the third film, Austin defeats his long time foe in the start of the film. To rally the other prisoners, Dr. Evil performs his own version of Tony award winning broadway show Annie‘s “Hard Knock Life” similar in spirit and vibes to that of Jay-Z’s version of the song. If Austin Powers and James Bond were both locked away together, I am sure Austin Powers would beat up James Bond in the yard to prove he is the top dog.

I am sure there were more songs in film histories biggest trilogy that is Austin Powers but I don’t remember them. I do remember that James Bond would get a swirly if he ever met Austin Powers who survived being frozen. Not even Walt Disney did that.

Categories
Anime Television

Star Wars: Visions Review – A Fresh Take on the Galaxy Far, Far Away

Jake: A lot of people love Star Wars, and a lot of people love anime. So, Disney had a thought: why don’t we just put them together like peanut butter and jelly or whatever the opposite of toothpaste and orange juice would be and made Visions! 

Dan: Star Wars is an IP that has so much potential with how it’s set up. There are so many types of stories that can be told in the galaxy. The strength of Visions is that it isn’t weighed down by “canon” and all that junk. Disney basically handed the IP to a bunch of big anime studios and told them to go wild. In my opinion, it was the best choice they could have made because Visions absolutely slaps. Making this an anthology series with different stories and teams on each makes it something truly special.

Exploring the Galaxy Far Far Away with a Renewed Hope

Dan: It’s taken you about 20 something years to get me to finally find an anime I enjoy. I just had a stubborn youth and I now know what works and doesn’t work for me in Anime. There is so much here that 3/4th of these episodes could be their own mini-series. I want to start by focusing on the abandoning of “canon” to tell extremely cool and fresh stories. Even though I think “The Duel” was my least favorite of the batch, it had one of the coolest uses of lightsaber tech. A lightsaber umbrella was just such a cool visual and use of the Star Wars stuff we know to do something radical. Every episode feels like a fresh take on the Star Wars universe and approaches it from different angles. There are episodes about Jedi, droids, and all the other odds and ends of the Star Wars universe.

Each episode has a score that stands out as feeling familiar in the vein of John Williams but never strays into feeling like carbon copies. Each has its own style that lends to the style of the episode. Nobuko Toda and Kazuma Jinnouchi’s score for “The Ninth Jedi” stands out for me personally as does the episode.

Jake: Anime is good and more people should have an open mind, and I think this series is a great sampling of what anime has to offer people. 

This series is so fresh with ideas of what Star Wars is and what it can be. Some of these are great interpretations and others are great additions to the mythos.

The Animation Domination

Dan: Jake, you know more about these studios than I do, how did these episodes hold up to other anime’s these studios have done?

Jake: Well, that’s a bit hard to say because some of these studios are legends in the industry. Also, it’s important to note which directors were involved in each studio’s piece. 

Production I.G that did “The Ninth Jedi” is responsible for animating the cyberpunk classic, the original Ghost in the Shell, and Psycho-Pass. I think for a short one-episode story they really brought their A-game! 

Then there’s Studio Trigger, founded by Gurren Lagann director Imaishi Hiroyuki, that did two episodes, “The Twins” and “The Elder,” both being very different pieces. Imaishi did the “The Twins” and it has big Gurren Lagann drill energy with the color choices of Trigger’s film Promare. I thought that was all big energy, big action, and lots of heart. “The Elder” was  very different in pacing and style. It’s director, Otsuka Masahiko, doesn’t seem to have much directing under his belt but he did a great job. 

Science Saru, known mainly for its Netflix releases of Devilman Crybaby and Japan Sinks 2020, bringing us “Akakiri” and “T0-B1.” ”T0-B1” reminded me of Astroboy and Megaman added into the galaxy far far away, and spiritually it lives up to their Devilman remake. “Akakiri” also lives up to it more thematically. 

The other studios all did great work as well, I don’t think any of them didn’t deliver their best work. Kamikaze Douga, did “The Dual” and it very much is in line with their work on Batman Ninja. Gave us the brilliant style of “Tatooine Rhapsody” which seems way different than their other works that I’m familiar with like A Whisker Away. Kinema Citrus did great work bringing with “The Village Bride” bringing their own style out compared to their catalog of adaptions. Geno Studio’s “Lop and Ocho” makes me excited for what appears to be a pretty young studio with only a handful of work under their banner. 

Force Highlights

Dan: So before I get into the best episode, I need to talk about “Tatooine Rhapsody” because it feels like someone working on this series was doing this for me. Essentially the plot is a rock band in the Star Wars universe and Jabba the Hutt is in it. I love Jabba the Hutt and somehow this series made Bib Fortuna very cute instead of looking like something that crawled out of George Lucas’s nightmares. When I saw this episode, all I could think was that we need 20 more seasons of Visions because this is the absolute best use of Star Wars.

Now I am going to say something that may turn some heads, I think “The Ninth Jedi” is my favorite Star Wars thing since Rogue One. The concept is brilliant, the storytelling and character are brilliant, and it could easily spin off into its own series with the wonderful concept that was set up in a short 20-minute window. It uses the tropes of Star Wars that we all know and rely on when watching, reading, or consuming Star Wars concepts and flips them in interesting ways.

Overall, I think Star Wars: Visions may have knocked Mandolorian out of my post-Rogue One favorite spot. It doesn’t rely on nostalgia like Mandolorian does in some ways. It takes things we know like the ideas, objects, and themes but never reuses them in a way that could be lazy to get some quick cheers. It stands alone as its own unique version of the Star Wars universe. If you were on the fence, jump off and ignite your lightsaber because you’re going to need it with all the wild ideas this throws at you.

Jake: I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about “The Ninth Jedi.” I really enjoyed the way it portrays lightsabers and their colors being loose and more of a reflection of their owner and their connection to the force. Also the colorless lightsaber was such a cool concept! Like it wasn’t just a which light it was just semi-visible energy. 

Visions is something I want more of and there are some of these episodes that I would love to see developed further into even just one or two more episodes. A few of them really left their ending open to further adventure and I want to see those adventures!

Categories
Video Games

Kena: Bridge of Spirits Review: Finding Magic in Video Games

As I grow older, I find myself not finding the magic in video games that I once found. It may be that I don’t have the time to sit down and pick up the controller because I have all of these responsibilities. But I know the feeling of magic. It’s not something you ever forget. Rushing home from school, tossing your book bag on the floor, and flipping open your Gameboy Advanced SP to jump back into Hyrule. Homework waited because Ganon needed defeating. Or Bowser needing tossing. Or the Covenant needed to be beaten. That feeling that you had to explore every nook and cranny of the heroes world to complete this epic heroes journey is a feeling I haven’t felt in some time. That is, until I picked up my controller to play Kena: Bridge of Spirits. I don’t have a book bag full of homework anymore but you can be sure I’m gonna put off other responsibilities to keep playing this game. 

From the first few moments where I was instructed to use my “Pulse” ability, I knew this adventure was going to be special. The room lit up around me with a wonderful sparkle as the music began to play. Kena: Bridge of Spirits follows Kena, a novice Spirit Guide, as she gets side tracked on her way to a sacred place of power. She stumbled upon an abandoned village afflicted with corruption. She has to work through her past as she tries to free the land of the corruption.

The Game

Credit: Ember Lab

Kena plays similar to a lot of action platformers with tight combat sections with puzzles and platforming as you explore the map. The combat itself is not extremely complex but that actually leads to it being a lot more enjoyable. Combat scenarios can be tough at times (I played on the medium setting) and never felt punished like some other modern games tend to do. If I died, I came back with a plan and always came through. It’s nothing that is ground breaking for the genre but there is a lot of diversity in how you fight with weapons like your staff or an eventual bow. Your pals, the Rot, do allow for some power ups or distractions for foes in battle after getting enough charge to make them courageous enough to join you in battle.

There is a leveling system which is straight forward and extremely accessible for most players. I think not over complicating the gameplay is what leads it to actually being a lot of fun. You’re encouraged to go exploring to find items like lost mail, mediation spots, and hats for your Rot pals. Typically when I play games these days, I never go out of my way to collect but Kena made me go off the beaten path. I wanted to see the wonderful world the team designed and search for all of the little nooks and crannies.

Credit: Me, Dan McMahon, taking 1000000 pictures in the in-game Photo Mode.

I played on the PS5 and saw no performance issues in my 5+ hours of gameplay so far. The game runs extremely smooth with movement and combat never seeing a hiccup in my case. The textures and effects in the game are vibrant and beautiful. Even if it’s a cartoon type style to the characters, each is crafted to be very different. The enemy units are an amalgam of evil spirit and elements of the forest itself. Their designs are incredible to look at as you hack away at them. Kena’s costume is similar in simplicity to so many major video game icons with a lot of complexity when you get closer. 

Jason Gallaty and the ensemble group Gamelan Çudamani have composed a wonderful score for the game. It truly carries the mood as you run through the forrest or fight the monsters all around the world. It’s a whimsical score that fits well with the world and story. The deluxe edition comes with a separate app on the PlayStation to listen which is a nice bonus.  The sound design of the game itself is fantastic as well from climbing to fighting, everything is really well done. 

The Rot

Credit: Dan McMahon taking pictures of his new family to show everyone who will look.

Listen, I am a big softy. I love adorable little chunky monsters a lot and the Rot are absolutely what I need more of in life. They’re a crucial part of the game as they are essentially Kena’s gang. With each new puzzle, the developers find fun and creative uses for them as they lift giant columns, crystals, and even clear the corruption itself. They are used during combat with power ups and they’re used outside of combat a ton as well. With a lot of games, cute side kick type characters take a back seat to just tossing out quips but it’s so clear just how important the Rot were in development and to the team (and me personally).

As you collect more of them, they all follow you as you traverse the world. But they are never an afterthought in this traversing because as you move around the world, they show up all over the place. They pop up sitting on rocks or standing in the doorways of chicken coops. They are a part of the world itself at all points of the game which I was not expecting. Every time I would do something, they would show up in places I wasn’t expecting. Like the first time I did a climbing section, they were sitting on the ledge with big smiles on their faces as if they were helping me.

The game includes an incredible Photo mode. I know every game has one now but this one allows you to click a button for “Cheese!” where everyone will pose including the Rot. My entire PS5 hard drive may or may not filled with pictures of my new best friends, the Rot.

Is Is Worth Picking Up?

With this being Ember Lab’s first game, I was not ready to be as fully sucked into the world as I was and currently still am. It’s not a game that is making huge sweeping changes to the genre or gameplay but it’s using familiar elements with some new ones to bring the magic back to gaming. At the $40 USD price point, it’s worth every penny.

I truly hope Kena finds its way into the hands of young gamers because it’s a game that overflowing with charm and fun. My hope is that Kena and the Rot will be the characters that bring a new generation of gamers that magic that I felt growing up as I spent hours with Link, Mario, and Master Chief in my youth. Just remember that you can play a little bit after school, homework can wait when there is a world to be saved.

Categories
Comics

Batman Day: Upon a Star

A comic about the lack of stars in Gotham.

By Riley’s Desk, illustrator of all things, even sometimes Batman. Check out the ole instagram or twitters @rileys_desk, and have a good Batman Day. 

Categories
Television Wrestling

AEW Dark Dork Review: Introduction

It was Thanksgiving 2020, and I was sitting in my sister’s living room. After a disastrous evening with our father where we had bailed on the family gathering early, we were hanging on her couch eating mini-churros. 

“Hey, you wanna watch some wrestling?”

My sister had started watching AEW as a pandemic hobby, brought into it by her partners. While we were on her couch, she started pulling up matches on YouTube on AEW Dark. She started explaining wrestlers to me, their gimmicks, and which ones were her favorites. That branched off into other AEW-adjacent YouTube shows, like BTE and the other vlogs. The night was great fun, just searching through videos for fun matches and unique characters.

It’s where my love for wrestling started. Over the last few months, I’ve found a group I do watch parties with, but even with three hours of TV between Dynamite and Rampage, I find myself coming back to Dark and its newer sister program Elevation. A part of that is that Dark and Elevation are in their own weird niche. Kenny Omega doesn’t show up on Dark, and the Inner Circle and the Pinnacle don’t make more than the odd appearance(Unless it’s WARDLOW WEEK, baby). Instead, it’s where the truly weird personalities hang out.

Especially in the first half of 2021, in the Daly’s Place era, Dark became something of a mainstay for me. I would watch past episodes to just absorb more wrestling. Dark episodes on youtube tended to be longer than Dynamite shows, and while there may not have been as many stories that were outright being told as those that were on TV weekly, it had its share of heroes and it was great to have on in the background.

The patron saint of AEW Dark is none other than Fuego del Sol: Alabama’s third-favorite luchador, the master of the Tornado DDT. Fuego showing up in a Dark match and losing to a heel padding their win totals is a tradition like any other. The perennial underdog, Fuego Del Sol is your favorite C-List comics character who you pop for when they show up in a splash page. Watching as many Dark matches as I could, of thirty-four consecutive losses, was like watching the platonic ideal of wrestling, of the perennial underdog who keeps coming back to fight. You know how a Fuego Del Sol match will end, but you still love them.

Most of the time on the Youtube shows you can make a pretty good guess as to who’s going to win before the match starts. There are squash matches that exist to support AEW’s internal canon of wins and losses, to get their rankings. Thunder Rosa’s fought in thirty singles and tag matches this year, and the majority of them are on Youtube. But how does a group like the Wingmen, a mix of hot guys hanging out and forcing himboification on their opponents, form with a guy like JD Drake sliding in? In between the random match where Baron Black or the local indie talent take the pin, you get these stories that occupy the lower half of the card.

Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. It’s hours of new content each week. But I would be lying if I said that watching Jungle Boy on Dark every week grinding out matches didn’t make me even more of a fan of his once he’s started getting big matches on TV. 

It’s also where, unfortunately, a lot of the women’s competition is. AEW has a problem – they show two women’s matches on TV a week, one per show. If we’re lucky, we might get an additional angle or promo sprinkled in there. The talent there is real, though outside of a few feuds, it’s not something you see on television too often. Most often it tends to be limited to, in recent times, whatever feud Britt Baker is in. Don’t take this the wrong way, I love my favorite dentist, but there is a lot of other talent there, which most often ends up on Dark. Recently, Big Swole and Diamante had a great feud that ended in a “Three Strikes” match as Dark’s main event. It was great! Go watch it now. I’ll wait.

Great. Wasn’t that fun? That’s what I want to share with readers. Don’t have the time to watch a show? I’ll share the relevant story bits, share a fun match or two that shows off some talent on the roster, and I’ll occasionally plug a fun guest wrestler who appears on the show.

Lastly, there’s one part of the Dark experience that cannot be understated: the announcing. Elevation’s pair of Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight had a bumpy start, though they have settled into a more familiar rhythm, though Eddie Kingston making regular appearances at the desk is always a welcome treat and brings the show to another level. But where the show really shines is on Dark with Excalibur and Taz. The pair have an effortless rapport, mixing Excalibur’s encyclopedic knowledge of all things wrestling and put-upon straightman bit with Taz’s heelish opinions and chihuahua attitude. The two can slide anyone into the booth with them, even to the point where Negative One, a nine year old, occupied the third chair in some matches to bully Excalibur earlier this year. 

It’s an experience that feels wholly like the rest of AEW’s product, though dialed down from the often frenetic jam-packed marquee events to the equivalent of an easy podcast to have on in the background. It’s my goal to share it with you readers, and hopefully, get at least some of you in on the unhinged fun of Taz threatening wrestlers because they stole his color scheme.

Categories
Wrestling

AEW Dynamite Recap: 9/8/2021

By: Marc Quill

Welcome one and all to a new weekly column from the GateCrashers talking all about the hottest wrestling promotion today, All Elite Wrestling. This column will focus on the story side of things, getting you up to speed on the storylines of AEW and how they’re playing out. The matches themselves will be quickly recapped, with notable spots getting special focus. With that said, let’s get right down to business.

Previously on All Elite Wrestling…

All Out 2021 happened, and with it, the return of CM Punk to the ring. We also saw Chris Jericho save his career by beating MJF, The Lucha Brothers capturing the AEW Tag Titles, Ruby Soho finding her destination in AEW as she won the Casino Battle Royale, and the shock debuts of Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson. The show was widely considered to be the best wrestling PPV in recent memory, as AEW delivered a fantastic event from start to finish to continue the company’s track record of giving fans what they want in terms of booking.

Here’s the full rundown of what happened at All Out:

  • The Buy-In: The Best Friends (Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor, Wheeler Yuta) & Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) def. The Hardy Family Office (Matt Hardy, Marq Quen, Isaiah Cassady, Jack Evans, Angelico) via pinfall; The HFO attacked Orange Cassidy after the match, but were run off by a group of faces.
  • TNT Championship: Miro def. Eddie Kingston via pinfall after a dick kick and then a kick to the face to retain.
  • Jon Moxley def. Satoshi Kojima via pinfall after the Paradigm Shift; Minoru Suzuki appeared after the match and fought with Moxley, laying him out with a Gotch piledriver.
  • AEW Women’s World Championship: Dr. Britt Baker DMD def. Kris Statlander via the Lockjaw submission.
  • Steel Cage match for the AEW Tag Team Championship: The Lucha Brothers (Rey Fenix & Penta El Zero M) def. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) to win the AEW Tag Titles in a very excellent match that you should watch.
  • Ruby Soho won the Women’s Casino Battle Royale to earn a shot at the AEW Women’s World Championship, eliminating Thunder Rosa for the win.
  • The Final Fight: Chris Jericho def. MJF via the Walls of Jericho submission. It appeared that MJF had won after a cheap shot with a bat and the Judas Effect, but the call was reversed when it was found that Jericho’s foot was on the rope; per the stipulation, Jericho’s wrestling career is still intact.
  • “Tall” Paul Wight def. QT Marshall via pinfall in a short match.
  • AEW World Championship: Kenny Omega def. Christian Cage via pinfall after an avalanche One-Winged Angel to retain his coveted title. The match also saw interference from Omega’s Elite buddies before the finishing sequence.
  • After the main event, The Elite beat down Christian and Jurassic Express until Adam Cole made his debut in AEW. Cole teased that he’d fight The Elite, but revealed he was aligned with them by kicking Jungle Boy in the face. The group’s moment of glory would be short lived when Bryan Danielson appeared and helped the faces fend off The Elite.

Light The Fuse, Bring the Boom, Etc.

After the opening package, we go right to the action. With Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, and Taz (filling in for Excalibur, who’s preparing for a wedding), it’s Wednesday night and you know what that means.

Match 1: Malakai Black versus Dustin Rhodes

The Story So Far

Malakai Black has been cutting a swath through Cody Rhodes and the Nightmare Family since arriving in AEW in July. First starting with kicking Cody into retirement on the 8/4 Dynamite Homecoming, Black has continued his assault, going after Arn Anderson and his son Brock, as well as Lee Johnson on last week’s Rampage. This prompted “The Natural” to step up to challenge Black.

The Match

In a 10-minute opener, Black bested Dustin after hitting the spinning heel kick formerly known as Black Mass. This was after Dustin was thrown into an exposed turnbuckle by Black for an advantage. The kick looked a bit rough, as Black hit Dustin in the shoulder rather than the head. Just before the finish, Malakai grabbed one of Cody’s boots from a few weeks back and attempted to use it to psych out Dustin. This fired up Rhodes for a counter offensive that led to a Canadian Destroyer.

Winner: Malakai Black via pinfall (10:00)

Post-Match

Black left victoriously while the referee checked up on Dustin, who was bleeding from the mouth.

The Lucha Bros. on their All Out Victory

Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix (accompanied by their manager Alex Abrahantes) spoke on their win on Sunday. “These championships cost us blood, sweat, and tears. Anyone out there who is willing to suffer is welcome to take it from us,” says Penta (as interpreted by Alex).

The Kingston/Miro War Continues?

At All Out, TNT Champion Miro retained his title against Eddie Kingston after obliging the Mad King’s challenge and “redeeming deez nuts”, so to speak. Eddie isn’t happy with how the match ended and looks like he’s got some unfinished business with Miro. “I am going to offer your broken bones to my bride and your soul to my God,” says The Redeemer. Perhaps a big blowoff match in two weeks in Kingston’s home turf is in the future?

CM Punk Speaks

The Best in the World addressed the Cincinnati crowd about his return to wrestling against Darby Allin, and though Punk won, it was a hell of a fight. As Punk states, it was like “riding a very violent bicycle”. Punk continued to hype the night’s card and asked the fans on who he should fight next. This prompted Taz to interrupt from the commentary area. Taz is tired of Punk’s “bullshit lovefest” that he’s doing, then warning him not to challenge anyone from Team Taz. Now angered, Punk told Taz to send Hobbs, Starks, or Hook to fight him. Stealing a page from Taz’s book, Punk closed off by saying “beat me if you can, survive if I let you.” We got a staredown with Punk and Hobbs, who’ll be in action next.

Santana and Ortiz Want Gold

After defeating FTR, the Proud and Powerful duo are now shifting their focus on the rest of the tag division. Could we see an instant classic between them and the Lucha Brothers down the line? 

Ruby Soho Confronts The DMD

As the newest addition to AEW’s women’s division is being interviewed about her match against Jamie Hayter, Dr. Britt Baker DMD appeared to taunt Soho. “Why don’t you go run away to catering, where you spent the last four years of your life?” Britt taunts Ruby with a solid burn.

Match 2: Powerhouse Hobbs versus Dante Martin

The Story So Far

The powerhouse of Team Taz and one half of Top Flight aren’t really in any significant storylines with each other, and this match serves as a showcase of some of AEW’s top young talents. Dante impressed many with a star-making performance in a tag match against the Elite a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Hobbs is a part of the current feud with Team Taz and former member Brian Cage.

The Match

A fantastic bout that saw Hobbs defeat Dante with a spinebuster that the commentators erroneously called a “powerbomb”. Unfortunately, Hobbs appeared out of it post-match, apparently having his bell rung during the match. 

Winner: Powerhouse Hobbs via pinfall (8:00)

Dan Lambert Talks Trash

With his usual shtick of being an apparent parody of AEW’s detractors, Lambert spoke alongside Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page, challenging the locker room to fight them. Lambert’s gimmick is one of those “you either love or you hate” things for most. The clear issue with this story is that there doesn’t really seem to be any clear progression other than The Men of the Year siding with Lambert. A feud with a face team tired of Lambert’s lambasting would certainly help progress this angle along.

Bring Me A Lock of Orange’s Hair

A recap of what happened after the big multi-man tag match on The Buy-In prior to All Out aired, as we saw The Hardy Family Office beat down Orange Cassidy with the help of returning member The Butcher. Orange: “Matt Hardy said he wants to cut my hair? Whatever.” This focus on OC’s hair could lead to a Hair versus Hair match at some point.

MJF Hates Cincinnati 

Fresh off of failing to end Chris Jericho’s career, Max let loose with the cheap heat in a fit of rage. First ragging on the overturned result that led to Jericho beating him, MJF went on a tirade against Cincinnati (or “Shit-cinnati” as MJF calls it), badmouthing local favorite Skyline Chili, the Reds, and the town for being a “dumpster fire”. He dared fans to jump the rail to fight him, saying that they wouldn’t do it, because they’re “cowards”. Now turning his attention to the Pillman family in attendance, MJF first mocked Aunt Linda, threatening to knock her teeth down her throat. He then approached Brian Pillman’s daughter and talked trash to her. Cue Brian Pillman Jr. to avenge the honor of his family’s name.

Junior talked up that Cincinnati is a city that breeds badasses like his dad and Jon Moxley, defending his hometown from Max’s cheap heel heat. And speaking of cheap heel heat, MJF called Brian’s mom Melanie “Methanie” to piss him off. For good measure, he was upset about Wardlow and his failure to help him win, ordering him to stand aside. MJF gets one final taunt as he threatens BPJ that he’s gonna do what his mother should’ve done and “abort him”. Cue furious fists from Pillman Jr. on Max. Wardlow pulled Pillman away from MJF a few times until Griff Garrison made the save. Unfortunately, he got clotheslined by Wardlow for his troubles, and then a shot from MJF’s ring. Pillman Jr. defended his Varsity Blonds partner from further attack to end the segment.

Match 3: Ruby Soho versus Jamie Hayter

The Story So Far

Formerly Heidi Lovelace in the indies and Ruby Riott in WWE, one of the most exciting women’s free agents in wrestling has now found herself in AEW. Bequeathed her new ring name and entrance music by the band Rancid, Ruby Soho made waves when she was revealed to be The Joker in the Casino Battle Royale and won the entire thing. This made her the Number One Contender to AEW Women’s Champion Dr. Britt Baker, DMD.

The Match

Obviously Soho won her first match in about eight minutes, but things did seem a bit off. Could easily just be shaking off some ring rust.

Winner: Ruby Soho via pinfall (8:00)

Post-Match

After the match, Dr. Britt and Rebel (not Reba) attacked Ruby as she was celebrating her win. This led to Riho and Kris Statlander to help even the odds, with Kris chasing away Britt’s crew using a chair.

Ricky Starks & Brian Cage Wanna Fight

Starks, with the help of his Team Taz allies, won the FTW Championship off of Cage at Fyter Fest Night One back in July. They both agree that this feud needs to end with one more match.

Match 4: FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) and Shawn Spears versus Dark Order (Stu Grayson, Evil Uno, and John Silver)

The Story So Far

The Dark Order is not fine. Things for the lovable group of underdogs have been on the rocks ever since they failed to win a big tag team match against The Elite at Fight for The Fallen that would’ve granted them a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Championships. Things only got worse the week after when the group was divided by a decision on whether to save “Hangman” Adam Page from an Elite beatdown or not. With no Hangman in sight (largely due to the real-life circumstance of Page wanting to spend time with his pregnant wife), it’s been nothing but a rift between everyone in Dark Order.

The Match

A match roughly around the five minute mark that ended with the Pinnacle scoring the victory to further the Dark Order’s turmoil. Shawn Spears secures the win with his Death Valley Driver on John Silver.

Winner: The Pinnacle via pinfall (Shawn Spears pinned John Silver; 5:00)

Post-Match

Evil Uno got upset at Silver for taking the losing pin, which prompted Johnny Hungee to push back against Uno. Grayson got into Silver’s face and as Number 5 entered the ring to confront Grayson and Uno. Colt Cabana, Anna Jay, and Tay Conti showed up in an attempt to play peacekeeper.

Women’s Casino Battle Royale Recap

Remarks from Tay Conti, Anna Jay, Penelope Ford, The Bunny, Nyla Rose, Thunder Rosa, and Jade Cargill as they talked about their respective performances in the Casino Battle Royale.

Tully Blanchard Has Words For Sting

Backstage, Tully talked about his leadership on display, also being quite upset about Sting “coasting off of others’ legacy”. He demanded that Tony Khan book Darby Allin versus Shawn Spears next week, also teasing that there might come a time that he and Sting will do battle once more.

Sammy Guevara Shows Some Signs

During the split screen commercials, Sammy did his signboard thing, with signs talking about how Chris Jericho defeated MJF at All Out, how his friend Fuego del Sol got an AEW contract, and how he proposed to his girlfriend Pam in Houston.

Match Made For Rampage

Brian Pillman Jr. is backstage with Griff Garrison, stating that he’s approached Tony Khan to book a match for him against MJF in two weeks at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Acclaimed (Max Caster & Anthony Bowens) entered the room with flowers in hand. Caster said that he too went to TK for a match… this Friday on Rampage against Pillman Jr. As the Acclaimed left, Pillman Jr. tossed the flowers to the ground.

The Elite is Back, Bay-Bay!

Tony Schiavone introduced The Elite, who entered the ring, sans a very important addition. After Don Callis hyped Kenny Omega being named No. 1 in the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500, the Young Bucks introduced Adam Cole, who made his first appearance this past Sunday at All Out.

Cole threatened Schiavone about his friendship with Britt Baker before telling him to scram. After Tony is forced out of the ring, Cole bragged about how The Elite are responsible for making AEW the force that it is, boasting about the excellence of Kenny and The Bucks. He also goes on to say that he’s making his in-ring debut next week, saying that we’ll all see just how “Elite” he really is.

Kenny took the mic and stated that he hated interruptions, before getting interrupted by the arrival of the American Dragon himself, Bryan Danielson. With his rockin’ trap remix of Ride of the Valkyries, Danielson walked up to the ramp. Omega asked for his Elite buddies to clear the ring, then inviting Danielson to enter the ring. As Kenny talked, Bryan ripped away the mic from him and asked the fans if we wanted to see Bryan Danielson versus Kenny Omega. Bryan is told that that’s not how things work in AEW, then saying that Kenny’s afraid to take the match. Danielson: “You know that I’m better than you, that I will kick your head in, and that you are not on my level.” 

Omega removed his jacket and tried to swing at Danielson, but found himself trapped in the LeBell/Yes Lock. The Elite rushed the ring and stomped away on Bryan (or in Brandon Cutler’s case, spraying) before backup arrived in the form of Jurassic Express, Christian Cage, and Frankie Kazarian. The faces cleared the ring of The Elite, leaving only Brandon Cutler alone. “You fucked up!” the fans chanted at Cutler as he was surrounded by the enemies of The Elite. He turned to eat a Running Knee from Danielson.

Match 5: Jon Moxley versus Minoru Suzuki

The Story So Far

Jon Moxley is an angry man and a “wild thing” (as his theme song suggests). In his quest for a good fight, he took on Satoshi Kojima at All Out and defeated him. After that match, he was confronted by Minoru Suzuki, who he faced previously at NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2020. Suzuki took down Mox after a wild brawl and that’s what’s led to this match happening as our main event.

The Match

While obviously never going to match the level of their big showdown last year, this was still an appropriately hard-hitting match that saw Mox prevail in his hometown after an elevated butterfly suplex. Before this, Suzuki was busted open around his left eye following a Paradigm Shift DDT and a lariat.

Winner: Jon Moxley via pinfall (9:00)

Post Match

Nothing really significant, as the announcers simply hyped upcoming matches while Moxley celebrated with his hometown fans to end the show.

After The Fact

You might’ve noticed that during the main event, Minoru Suzuki’s entrance theme, Kaze Ni Nare, was cut off before it got to the part everyone loves to sing (the “Kaze Ni Nare” shout that gives the song its title). This was addressed in a tweet from AEW a day after Dynamite to help set up an angle for next week where Suzuki and his fellow Suzuki-gun stablemate Lance Archer have a challenge for Moxley.

This Friday on AEW Rampage (9/10/21) – Cincinnati, OH

  • PAC vs. Andrade El Idolo
  • Brian Pillman Jr. vs. Max Caster (w/ Anthony Bowens)
  • Ruby Soho, Riho, & Kris Statlander vs. Dr. Britt Baker DMD, Rebel (not Reba), & Jamie Hayter
  • Darby Allin & Sting respond to Tully Blanchard

Next Week on Dynamite (9/15/21) – Newark, NJ

  • Adam Cole vs. “The Elite Hunter” Frankie Kazarian
  • Darby Allin vs. Shawn Spears
  • Jade Cargill vs. Leyla Hirsch 
  • Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki Challenge Jon Moxley

Scheduled for AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam (9/22/21) – Queens, NY

  • Cody Rhodes vs. Malakai Black II
  • Brian Pillman Jr. vs. MJF (not official, but mentioned)

The Last Word

A pretty solid show coming off of All Out, even if it wasn’t exactly a home run. There seemed to be a sense of shuffling the deck with the feuds that culminated in Chicago now in the rearview mirror, with a setup for storylines in the fall clearly being in the air in Cincinnati.

Seemingly slotting in Bryan Danielson for a feud with Kenny Omega is an interesting move, with Hangman Page’s path to being the one to inevitably end Kenny’s reign likely still in very strong consideration. Danielson’s promo didn’t specify that he wanted to go after Omega’s AEW World Title. Whether that’s by design or not is anyone’s guess, but perhaps we see Danielson fight Omega in a non-title bout so that Page’s path to the title when he returns still remains intact? 

And speaking of Hangman, when he does return, will we see him attempt to fix the mess he inadvertently created with the Dark Order’s “civil war”? Page helping bring the group back together would be a tremendous babyface move and help him remain over with the fans as a good guy, even with additions like Danielson and CM Punk to the face side of the AEW tunnel.

The arrival of Adam Cole in The Elite also could create potentially interesting scenarios, as there’s really no way two strong egos like Cole and Omega can truly coexist within a single faction. Do we see Cole making a power play and take control of The Elite from Kenny when the moment arrives? The apparent rumors of WWE star Kevin Owens’ contract expiring in 2022 has led to speculation that he’s bound for Elite pastures early next year. Cole and the Young Bucks were once in a faction with KO, and if Owens does sign with AEW, might we see a Mount Rushmore reunion as Omega’s kicked to the curb?

CM Punk versus Team Taz should produce some great matches, and once we get to Punk vs. Ricky Starks, the promos between the two should be sublime. In all honesty, though, the real money match will be CM Punk vs. Hook.

While it seemed like Ruby Soho was working through some ring rust in her match against Jamie Hayter, the feud with Dr. Britt should be an entertaining one, if their brief interaction from early on in the night is any indication.

The Dan Lambert promo, as noted above, is something that’s not gonna be for everyone. Some might enjoy that he’s seemingly parodying talking points of AEW detractors with his promos, while others might not exactly be endearing themselves to it. With that being said, it’s probably time to move him and his new tag team into an actual feud instead of promos where he just says the same thing again and again.

The biggest strength of this edition of Dynamite was just how much shine AEW’s “homegrown” stars got through being featured in matches (Hobbs vs. Dante) and promo segments (the MJF & Brian Pillman Jr. showdown). It helped show new viewers tuning in for the first time because of the arrivals of Punk, Danielson, Soho, and Cole that there’s a lot more in store for them to enjoy.

If there was a true downside for this Dynamite, it’s the timing issues that seemed to plague things, as evidenced by the main event feeling slightly rushed (and Minoru Suzuki’s theme being cut off so suddenly). Whether a promo segment ran a bit too long or not, it’s something that should be fixed moving forward.

All in all, the new era in All Elite Wrestling has gotten off to a frenetic start, with the big new signings helping inject even more excitement to an already red-hot product. Fans will certainly continue to stick around for the ride as long as the hits from AEW keep on coming.