SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
THE PULL LIST (VOL. 7)
”The Pull List” is a new feature column that will take a look at a mix of the most noteworthy topics in wrestling, comics, books, Movies & TV Blu-Ray releases, and video games along with reviews and commentary in each category.
Sign here! A look at The Young Bucks signing with ROH.
It’s been quite a week of news when it comes to wrestler signing contracts. WWE formally announced a ton of signings including independent standouts Rich Swann, Biff Busick, and Athena yesterday. Also, The Young Bucks teased that they had signed a contract and actually delivered with an announcement that they had signed an exclusive deal with ROH that will allow them to continue to work in NJPW and PWG as well as take dates overseas as long as they don’t interfere with ROH’s schedule. In the past the Young Bucks had trolled their fans with vague hints about signing with NXT and elsewhere, but this time the news was legitimate.
The big shocker of the week was The Young Bucks signing with ROH. It wasn’t expected that ROH would be able to come up with enough money to lure The Young Bucks to sign a contract an exclusive North American deal with the company given the financial restraints from Sinclair.
This is a great deal for The Young Bucks, as they no longer to have to fly out of Los Angeles to various independent shows all over America when they’re not wrestling in NJPW. On their recent documentary, “The Young Bucks Too Sweet Journey,” Matt and Nick Jackson both talked about the strain their travel schedule put on their families.
Both Matt and Nick are married with young children, so it must be a tremendous relief for them to be able to only have to rely on dates through ROH when they’re not in NJPW or PWG. Ryan Satin of ProWrestlingSheet.com has reported the deal lasts a little over a year, which leaves the door open for The Young Bucks to sign with NXT at some point in the future.
One concern going forward for The Young Bucks is going to be how ROH keeps them fresh with a full-time schedule. One of the things that benefitted The Young Bucks’s act was that they appeared in a variety of different promotions against different opponents and were able to keep their act fresh.
If they do their usual style of match in ROH over and over, it’s likely that their act will wear thin at a period of time. I believe that no matter what situation The Young Bucks are presented with, they will be able to keep their act fresh. They are very smart when it comes to psychology and it’s going to be exciting to see how they grow as an act when they spend a lot of time in ROH over the next year being pushed on TV and PPV.
2015 MOTY TOP 10 LIST
This is a running list of the top 10 best matches of 2015. I still have things I need to catch up on and watch, so I will be adding new additions to this list throughout the year. I will eventually make a separate post of my entire 2015 MOTY list and keep it updated regularly. I will also update the top 10 list in this column.
(1) Biff Busick vs. Eddie Edwards, Beyond Wrestling, “Greatest Rivals Round Robin,” Sep. 26, 2015. (*****)
(2) Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW, “G1 Climax 25: Night 16”, Aug. 12, 2015. (*****)
(3) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW, “G1 Climax 25 Finals,” Aug. 16, 2015. (*****)
(4) Kota Ibushi vs. IWGP IC Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW, “Wrestle Kingdom 9,” Jan. 4, 2015. (*****)
(5) IWGP Hvt. champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, NJPW, “Wrestle Kingdom 9,” Jan. 4, 2014. (*****)
(6) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. A.J. Styles, NJPW, “G1 Climax 25: Night 17,” Aug. 14, 2015. (*****)
(7) Zack Sabre Jr. vs Roderick Strong, EVOLVE, EVOLVE 45, July 10, 2015. (****3/4)
(8) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto, NJPW, “G1 Climax 25: Night 14, Aug. 9, 2015. (****3/4)
(9) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kota Ibushi, NJPW, G1 Climax 25: Night 7, July 29, 2015. (****3/4)
(10) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, NJPW, G1 Climax 25: Night 1, July 20, 2015. (****3/4)
(11) British Cruiserweight Champion Will Ospreay vs. Matt Sydal, RPW, “Summer Sizzler 2015,” June 14, 2015. (****3/4)
It has been a big year for the Mad Max franchise. Earlier this year, “Mad Max: Fury Road” dazzled viewers on the big screen with an action-packed thrill ride (literally) through the post-apocalyptic world. In addition to releasing a new movie in the franchise, the “Mad Max” videogame was recently released by WB Games and Avalanche Studios.
Although “Mad Max: Fury Road” and the “Mad Max” videogame aren’t tied into each other, fans of the movie will likely enjoy the videogame for the ability to customize and upgrade your own vehicle, hand-to-hand combat with war boys, opening up the wasteland, and upgrading Max as the game unfolds.
There’s not a lot of story to be found in this game, but the storytelling elements are satisfying at the beginning and end of the game. Max loses his car and almost loses his life at the hands of Scabrous Scrotus, the resident warlord of Gastown. Fortunately for Max, he runs into a mechanic named Chumbucket, a deranged outcast who is the prophet of his own mechanical-based religion that believes he has been chosen to create the ultimate vehicle called the Magnus Opus.
Chumbucket decides that Max is the one that will drive the Magnus Opus, which is the card that you can upgrade and customize to your liking for combat as the game progresses. He also serves as your partner and mechanic as you drive through the wasteland attempting to weaken Scrotus’s hold over the territory.
The star of the game is the wasteland. All of the characters and environments you interact with perfectly fit in with the lore of Mad Max. As you progress through the game and open up new areas of the map, it’s clear that Avalanche Studios did a great job of building the world that Max exists in. Everything from the vehicles to the enemies to the various landmarks that pop up through the desert in each area feel true to the franchise. There are some texture popping and framerate issues at times that diminish the beauty of the wasteland, but overall it looks fantastic and makes you want to explore every possible area.
The other highlight of the game is the progression system to upgrade Max and The Magnus Opus. As you complete a long list of challenges, you can upgrade Max by visiting with a mystic named Griffa. You can also upgrade the Magnus Opus by collecting scraps in the wasteland.
If you’ve played the recent Batman videogames, you’ll quickly become familiar with the combat in “Mad Max,” as the game uses chain attacks and counters while Max takes on War Boys and other enemies throughout the game. This system of combat threatens to become stale, but it doesn’t as you can ramp up Max’s attacks as you upgrade him with Griffa. Fury Mode is a great feature as well, which allows you to use Max as a virtual wrecking ball.
As you topple different enemy territories and stronghold’s as well as examine different areas that you encounter on the road, scraps can be found and it’s nice that the game lets you know when you’ve collected all of the scraps available in a given area. As you collect scraps, you can design the Magnum Opus as you see fit. There’s a great deal of customization available as you design the car.
You can make it a heavy vehicle that is great for blasting through enemy cars or design it for speed on the open road in the wasteland. Heck, you can even customize it to feature flame cannons on the side, which is pretty sweet.
As you improve the Magnum Opus, car combat becomes a blast, although battling enemy patrols takes a bit of getting used to. Car Combat becomes a lot of fun as you traverse the roads with Chumbucket. Ramming your enemies off the road is fun, but the variety of ways you can attack them with a harpoon is blast and keeps car combat fresh.
While progressing through the game and weakening Scrotum’s grip on Gastown by taking down gruesome totems meant to intimidate, toppling warlords, and opening up new locations on the map, the activities are fun at first. After some time with the game though, these activities begin to feel a bit repetitive during the 30-40 hours it should take most people to get through the game.
When you complete the game there is a ton of stuff to do because of how big the world is in Mad Max. You can compete in Death Races online against other cars, collect other wasteland vehicles, and continue your hunt for all the historical artifacts scattered throughout the wasteland.
Overall score: (8.0) “Mad Max” was a pleasant surprise. Videogames that tie-in with movie franchises don’t have the best track record, but this game was built to satisfy fans of the Mad Max franchise. Exploring and opening up new locations on the map is a lot of fun and the upgrade systems for Max and the Magnum Opus are designed well to keep things fresh.
The mission design leads to some repetitive gameplay elements, but this game overall was really well made with vibrant characters. Gas Town was nicely design and is a great sandbox for Max to play in for hours and hours. Thumbs up, especially if you’re a fan of the Mad Max movies, but even if you aren’t this is a fun action game.
“Mad Max” is available for purchase at stores and online retailers where videogames are sold.
NEW TV BLU-RAY RELEASE
AMC THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON (Blu-Ray & Digital HD combo pack)
In an era where appointment TV seems to be on the verge of extinction, “The Walking Dead” TV series has become a cultural phenomenon for AMC. Each fall, fans of the season a treated to two 8 episode runs that begin in October and the show usually returns in February.
The series does a fantastic job of crafting characters that you care about as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group are constantly under attack from people and walkers. They are always looking for a safe place to stay in the post-zombie apocalypse.
The “AMC The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth season” Blu-ray has just been released and it contains all of the episodes from season 5 as well as one of the most comprehensive set of extras for a Blu-ray release of a TV show to date.
The character building on the show leading into season 5 has been tremendous. The writers, producers, and directors genuinely make you care about Rick and his group. As characters in Rick’s group have died off, new characters have been inserted into Rick’s group. Even the members of Rick’s group with the least amount of screen time are presented in a way in which you ultimately bond with them as viewer.
Without getting into heavy spoilers for those that haven’t watched season 5 yet, this season begins with Rick and his group dealing with a grim situation at Terminus where season 4 left off. Carol, (Melissa McBride) after being exiled from the group, ends up saving Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), and the rest of the crew doing her best impression of Rambo. After the group reunited with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Rick’s baby daughter Judith, they end up rescuing a man named Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) from a group of zombies (walkers).
It turns out Gabriel is a priest with a less than honorable past. Gilliam does a fantastic job of portraying the unlikable Gabriel throughout the season. Gabriel is a priest and Ric and his group take refuge in his church. The storyline threads from season 4 then begin to unwind. Beth (Emily Kinney) has disappeared and Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol go off to look for her.
Also in play are the cannibals from Terminus that didn’t perish when Carol went Rambo on them to kick the season off. Tara (Alanna Masterson, Glenn (Steven Yeun), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Laura Cohan), Rosita (Christiana Serratos), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) all go on a bus to D.C. in order for Eugene to put his plan to end the zombie apocalypse into place.
Viewers find out what happened to Beth, as she is left to recover from injuries at a hospital/community run by a cop named Dawn (Christine Williams). From there the story of the fifth season begins to unfold with Rick and part of the group at the church, Abraham leading another part of the group towards D.C., and Darryl and Carol looking for Beth.
Another thread that unfolds during the season is the journey of Morgan Lennie James), who viewers might remember from the first season of “The Walking Dead.” Morgan is now a much different person than he was when he first met Rick and it is a blast to watch the new side of his character revealed as the season unfolds and he tries to reunite with Rick.
The fifth season of “The Walking Dead” was the most action-paced seasons to date. There are some lulls in action to set up storytelling elements during the season. The performances of the actors are incredible. Although “The Walking Dead” can be brutally disgusting at times, the cast gives the show life that transcends the brutality and violence featured on the show.
There are some truly great performances during the fifth season, but perhaps the biggest feat is how Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt perfectly bring Abraham and Eugene from “The Walking Dead” comic series to life. McDermitt is especially amazing portraying Eugene, the strange and loveable “scientist” that is being escorted to D.C. by Abraham. McDermitt is perfect as Eugene right down to the epic mullet.
The writing has improved as the show has gone on and multiple stories are told and it can take 2-3 seasons or more for certain storylines to unfold and play out. Another look at the second half of the fifth season reveals a ton of hints towards what is going to unfold during the sixth season, which is currently playing out on AMC on Sunday nights.
Character deaths are never easy and “The Walking Dead” can be quite sad at times. The line between Ric and his group and the villains on the show can become thin at times as Rick and his group try to retain their humanity in a world where no humans they come across can be trusted. The fifth season builds to an intense climax to set up the current season. The show takes a big emotional investment, but it pays off due to the quality of the writing and the performances of the cast, especially Andrew Lincoln, who has is tremendous as Rick, the centerpiece of the show.
The main question for many people with any Blu-ray release of a TV series is whether or not the extras make it worth a purchase for people that have already watched the show play out week-to-week on AMC. The answer for “The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season” is a resounding yes.
There are commentary tracks for several episodes of season 5. The mix of actors, writers, and producers on the commentary tracks is excellent and they provide a ton of insight into the key episodes of the season. It’s always great to hear writer & executive producer Scott M. Gimple and executive producer, director, and SFX artist Greg Nicotero talk about certain set pieces, storylines, or scenes as they unfold on the screen and how they were shot on scene. The actors often tell stories about what went on during the filming of certain scenes and how the weather conditions effected what they were trying to achieve, which is always interesting. Of course, having the cast and crew talk about the most memorable scenes of the fifth season and their thoughts on shooting them is tremendous. I would have loved if Andrew Lincoln (Rick) had made an appearance on the commentary, but he does appear in many of the featurettes.
This set comes with five discs and the entire fifth disc is dedicated to extensive bonus features. “Inside the Walking” dead is a series of short featurettes with the cast and crew essentially recapping the high points of each episode of season 5.
“The Making of the Walking Dead,” behind the audio commentaries, is the second best bonus feature. Each episode is given a segment of its own that shows how the main scenes of an episode were put together by the crew responsible for the special effects. For example, it’s really interesting to see the process of how Carol blowing up a bunch of zombies is made to look realistic during the first episode of the season with green screen and computer effects.
There are several other bonus features, including several deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are fun to watch and some of them are discussed on the audio commentary, so it’s a nice touch how the audio commentary ties in with the bonus features.
Overall thoughts: (9.0) – “AMC The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season” is a tremendous Blu-ray set that is worth a purchase. As a big fan of the comic book and the TV series, it’s safe to say this was one of the better seasons of “The Walking Dead” overall with some great storytelling and action elements that leaves you wanting more when each season ends.
It’s hard for any TV show to be consistently good to great after five seasons, but “The Walking Dead” TV series really hit a great stride during seasons four and five. The show follows the general outline of the comic series in terms of big locations Rick and his group encounter and as the show slowly creeps up on the current narrative of the comic, it’s going to be interesting to see what elements are incorporated into the show and which are left out.
Although shows like The Sopranos and Dexter disappointed me with how they ended, it’s hard to imagine “The Walking Dead” falling apart when it reaches its conclusion in the same way. If you’ve been watching the show, this Blu-ray set is well-worth your purchase, as there’s a ton of value in the audio commentaries and bonus features.
AMC The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season” is now out on Blu-ray and is available at most online retailers and stores.
Please click and click “like” to join the Radican’s Wrestling Community Facebook fan page.
Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanRadican
Email Sean at PWTorchSean@Gmail.com