Monday, June 19, 2017

Kliq Bait: Derrick's Top 10 Wrestling Matches of All Time


There are so many things that go into making a wrestling match great. The workrate, the psychology, the story, etc. Every serious wrestling fan has opinions about what those things are and which matches are the greatest. Some are purists who think the wrestling stands on its own. Some care more about the stories being told than anything else. For me, it's a delicate balance between several factors:

Storytelling

One of the things that makes kayfabe professional wrestling unique is its ability to tell stories in a way that no other art form really can. It is one of the most heavily physical forms of storytelling, with so much having to be communicated with mere movements and facial expressions. It is also one of the most improvisation-based forms of storytelling, with so much of what the wrestlers say and do in the ring being unscripted. It has all the rich, compelling narratives of all the major competitive sports and--at its best--orchestrates these narratives in the most compelling and dramatic ways in order to engage its audience.

For me, the story leading up to the match and the story being told within the match are equally important and have to be logically consistent. Really, everything has to be logically consistent. I think it was Ted DiBiase whose advice to the younger talent was something along the lines of: every single thing you do in the ring (and outside it, for that matter), you have to be thinking about WHY you're doing it. Characters and their motivations have to be clearly defined and every single action of those characters has to be logically consistent with both their character and their motivations.

Wrestling

While I firmly believe that a wrestling match can't be truly great without a good story, the opposite is equally true. After all, at the end of the day, it is all about the wrestling. But what goes into "good wrestling" and what does it look and feel like? Certainly most wrestling fans are familiar with the usual indicators of "good" wrestling: workrate, move set, technical ability, athleticism, selling. But there is so much more that goes into making a wrestling match great and I feel like a lot of it is much more subtle stuff that the average wrestling fan doesn't necessarily notice, at least not consciously.

Perhaps the most important of these is realism--that is, how much does this look like a real athletic contest (or a flat out fight, depending on what you're going for) within the rules and logic of the match and how hard do the wrestlers appear to be trying to win (or just beat the shit out of each other)? Selling is a big part of this but there's more to it than that. It's also related to workrate in a way--how much do the wrestlers stay on each other, do they look like they're going 100% on every move or can you tell they're holding back, how diligently are they trying to win the match and how well are they using the logic and rules of the match to their advantage, how stiff are they working? Kayfabe wrestling, at its very best, should legitimately look as much like a real fight happening in real time as possible.

There are also other elements that are often underrated if not overlooked. Timing is a major one--the ability (and the chemistry between wrestlers) to put your body and your movements in exactly the right place at exactly the right time (and for the right reasons). Visual imagery is another one--how the moves and the spots look, the fluidity of motion, the creation of images and "moments" and telling of stories using only movements and facial expressions (and sometimes words that the audience can't hear--although with modern television production technology, those words are able to come across more and more). Psychology is a bit more well known, though more complex than perhaps many realize--particularly the importance of wrestling in character even when doing so doesn't look like "good wrestling."

Importance

This is a category that can be easy to overlook but that I think I place more emphasis on than most. So much of modern kayfabe wrestling is about "moments" and, like the major sports, legacy is incredibly important. One of the things that can really tip the scales to certain matches in favor of others is when those matches contain important moments in the canon in which they exist. A first championship of a legendary wrestler, a match that launches someone's career, even the culmination of a truly all-time great story are moments that live forever. And then sometimes (well, once, as far as I know) a match transcends professional wrestling and becomes something more.

Crowd

Some people might object to this criteria and that's totally valid. Great matches have certainly happened in front of terrible crowds before. Just look at Chris Benoit v. Dean Malenko at WCW Hog Wild 1996--which took place at a motorcycle convention, for some reason, and featured a crowd that had absolutely zero interest in watching wrestling happen unless Hulk Hogan was involved. Still, I have to admit that a big part of what makes a match great is the crowd's reaction to it. For one thing, connecting with a wrestling crowd in order to elicit a specific response is an art and one that is a whole hell of a lot more difficult than it might seem. When they do it right, there is an energy it creates that is like nothing I've ever seen before. When they don't, things can get real ugly, real fast. But there's nothing better than a great match where the crowd is completely jacked and popping huge for big moves and chanting "this is awesome" and biting down hard on nearfalls. There's nothing like it in the world.

So, then, what do I think are the ten greatest wrestling matches I've ever seen?

Morphin Monday: Billy Morphs into the Gold Zeo Ranger


It should've been forever. -Stephen host of the Vundacast

Friday, June 16, 2017

Filmmaker Fandom Friday: Desperado - Ten Minute Film School



Robert Rodriguez is a film god around these parts and this Ten Minute Film school has captured my imagination for so long. -Stephen

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Get Stuff Done: Any Given Sunday Al Pacino Pre-Game Speech



Now for a moments inspiration. Al was recently cast as a football coach, but this is the type of coach I will always remember him as the best Miami Sharks head coach in history. - Stephen host of the Vundacast

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Irreverend D-Rock's Sunday Service -- Unraveling and Reweaving Christian Theology in Kevin Smith's "Dogma"



There are so many interesting theological concepts and questions being explored in this movie that it’s almost hard to know where to start. So perhaps it’s best to start where the movie starts: Bartleby and Loki. Bartleby and Loki are two fallen angels who have been banished from Heaven (to Wisconsin) for insubordination after Bartleby convinced a drunken Loki to throw down his sword and resign his post as Angel of Death. The thing I find most interesting about this is that, when Loki tells Bartleby he thinks he should resume his post, Bartleby reveals a very salient piece of information: there hasn’t been an Angel of Death since Loki resigned. So, while Loki was banished from Heaven for resigning the post, and Bartleby is banished for merely convincing Loki to resign--God ultimately decides that they were right; there should be no Angel of Death. It brings up a lot of questions about the idea of a God that would banish someone for refusing a command, subsequently conclude that they were wrong to issue said command--and, therefore, Loki (and, by extension, Bartleby) was right to disobey said command, and yet continue to punish this disobedience.

Bartleby and Loki certainly aren’t the only interesting characters in this movie.

Saga Sunday: 40 Years of Star Wars Panel Full - Star Wars Celebration 2017 Orlando



Still enjoying Star Wars celebration from afar. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

VUNDACAST ch 93 No Fatties No Furious

On this edition of the Vundacast Danielle and Stephen rev their engines about the ludicrous evolvation of a franchise that has become the F8 of the Furious(This what the title should have been-Stephen).  We also talk about The Last Jedi Trailer and celebrate Xena's 2nd Birthday. Duke sleeps through out the episode. Follow us on twitter @vundacast and @vundablog and on instagram @vundablog and also @dukexenalife for dog content. Also make sure to subscribe to us on iTunes leave us a review every bit helps.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

VUNDACAST ch 92 Go Go Colonel Klutz!

On this edition of the Vundacast Stephen and Danielle live happily ever after discussing some current films like Kong: Skull Island and Power Rangers. We also reminisce on sleeping in movie theaters, how wedding planning kills podcasts, and the comedic exploits of Vundacast war hero Colonel Klutz.


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VUNDACAST ch 91 Interview w/ Michel Mulipola & Mr. J's Morphin Time


On this edition of the Vundacast Stephen begins by interviewing artist/Pro-Wrestler Michel Mulipola. They discuss his current Kickstarter for the comic Headlocked. Michel also talks about tag teaming with wrestling legend Haku, drawing, and living in New Zealand. The second half of the episode has the morphenomical Mr. J breaking down Power Rangers with Stephen.



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Happy 24th Birthday to Tool's "Undertow" Album





It's really kind of amazing to think that this album was released in 1993--and many of the songs on the album were written several years before that. This album is so incredibly ahead of its time, it's unreal. So much so that, until recently, even I--one of the biggest Tool fans on the planet--could never really get that into it. I especially recommend tracks 5-8--Crawl Away, Swamp Song, Undertow, and 4°--but the whole album is just brilliant.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

VUNDACAST ch. 90 The Wedding and The Wrestling

On this edition of the Vundacast we open with audio from the marriage ceremony of Stephen and Danielle our Vundacast-hosts presided over by honorable Vunda-blogger D-rock. Dani and Stephen talk about the wedding for 30 minutes or so before the intro song and then you get a long and delicious wrestling podcast where D-rock and Stephen unite their powers to commentate and watch an all time classic WWE match between Cactus Jack and Triple H.



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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Soundtrack to the Resistance (YouTube Playlist)



I've been thinking a lot lately about what I can do to resist for the next four years (can't even think about the possibility of eight; don't make me) and the thing I keep coming back to is the arts and what an important role they have to play in justice movements. I know I want to make music and write words that challenge and subvert the current state of our world but I think it's also important to just share awesome art and music and film and media with each other, if only to give one another something to cling to (and, certainly, to critique, where appropriate) when times are hard and to inspire us to keep fighting. So I put together a YouTube playlist of 50 of my favorite protest songs--including songs with political/social commentary, songs that represent perspectives of oppressed or marginalized groups, etc. This is, by no means, a complete list and I definitely welcome suggestions of many more "Songs to Fuel the Flames of Discontent" (-Refused) but I hope these resonate with you in some way, shape. or form.

Friday, February 10, 2017

#FBF -- Fake Fighting Frenzy -- Monday Night Raw Episode #1 (January 11th, 1993)


"WELCOME EVERYONE TO MOOONDAAAY NIIIGHT RRRRRAAAAAWWWWWWW!!!"

This is the first in what will hopefully be a continuing series wherein I go through and literally watch every single episode of Raw from the beginning and share some (hopefully) amusing and (possibly) interesting thoughts on each episode. These early episodes are really kind of hilarious and ridiculous and wonderful in their overwhelming 90s-wrestling-ness and if you have the WWE Network, I highly recommend going back and watching them as they are maybe one of the most entertaining things on the Network. And so, without further ado...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: Raw LIVE in Portland (feat. BROCK LESNAR)

view from my seat
For the first time in three and a half years, Vundablog was LIVE in attendance at Monday Night Raw! OK, admittedly, it's kinda hard to be THAT excited about going to a Monday Night Raw considering the shitshow it's been for the last several weeks/months but hey, it's live wrestling! This show had a lot of potential based on the card and while it didn't quite live up to all that potential, it was still a pretty damn good show. Let's get to it...

Monday, February 6, 2017

#ClassicSimpsons: "Dignity" Wikipedia Page (ft. Artwork by Kirk Van Houten)

DON'T YOU EVEN KNOW DIGNITY WHEN YOU SEE IT?!
It's already been removed of course but this is an actual screenshot of the Wikipedia page for "Dignity" from just a few days ago with some brilliant artwork by a pretty big wheel down at the cracker factory.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

On Milo Yiannopoulos and Free Speech and Power


I've seen a few people taking devil's advocate positions with regards to the UC Berkeley protests of Milo Yiannopoulos and the idea that shutting down a speaking engagement is infringing on or stifling free speech. I heard this same argument when activists were shutting down Donald Trump campaign events last year as well. So I wanted to respond to those concerns with a quick and dirty analysis of the power dynamics inherent in the concept of free speech.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: NXT TakeOver San Antonio


I have to admit, I had relatively low expectations for this installment of NXT TakeOver. The main event seemed like it would be decent but nothing to write home about. The undercard seemed like it had some potential but not a lot. Maybe that's why I think this might have been the best TakeOver yet--or at least the best since TakeOver Dallas. It's amazing what lowered expectations can do for your enjoyment of a thing. Maybe THAT'S why Raw is so consistently terrible and seemingly doing it entirely on purpose. At least that would be a better explanation than "no, actually they just think this is good writing." Anyway...on with the show...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

VUNDACAST ch. 89 The British Expedition Part 2

On this edition of the Vundacast Stephen and Danielle continue their conversation from last week and talk about all the sites and destinations they visited in their days in London. We talk about the Tower of London, The Play that Always Goes Wrong, The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, and all the delicious sights, sounds, and flavors we sampled during our time in the big city.



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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Aztec Warfare: How a Wrestling Match Rejected Trumpism and Shattered the Glass Ceiling



(Repurposed from our Top 10 Wrestling Matches of 2016 in "honor" of Inauguration Day)

This is, hands down, the most socially important wrestling match I’ve ever seen.

Eight days before the airing of Aztec Warfare III, a misogynistic, anti-immigrant, willfully ignorant, fascist demagogue was elected the 45th President of the United States. Twelve days later, at WWE's Survivor Series, a 49-year-old who hadn’t wrestled in over 12 years was booked to beat one of the most unbeatable, legitimate characters in wrestling history in 86 seconds. Two and a half years of booking went out the window in less than a minute and a half and the mother of all rubs was handed to the least deserving person possible instead of, oh, I don’t know, one of the guys who works their ass off 300 days a year and is going to have to carry the company for the next 10-15 years. This happened twelve days after the least qualified presidential candidate in history defeated quite possibly the most qualified presidential candidate in history--and did it, in large part, because she’s a woman (and pro-immigrant, for that matter). Goldberg v. Brock Lesnar was, in a sense, a metaphor for this election.

Aztec Warfare III was a brash, defiant repudiation of it.

The story of Sexy Star has been one of the best parts of Lucha Underground from the beginning--a survivor of domestic violence who set out to prove to every woman that they are strong, that every woman is sexy and every woman is a star (hence, Sexy Star)--but took a major turn in the season 1 finale when she was abducted by Marty “The Moth” Martinez and his sister Mariposa, held captive, and tortured for months. When she returned to the Temple, she wasn’t the same. She was visibly shaken, suffering from PTSD, and had to lean on friends--namely The Mack--to get back on her feet. She fought back and tasted redemption when she defeated Mariposa in an incredibly intense, emotional “No Mas” match. She fought through Mariposa and Marty--with an assist from The Mack--to complete her redemption by winning the Gift of the Gods match and a shot at the Lucha Underground championship. But then, tragically, that opportunity was stolen away by three more undeserving assholes: Johnny Mundo and Worldwide Underground.

So back to Aztec Warfare III. Johnny Mundo and Worldwide Underground are doing their thing, stealing pins and hiding under the ring and generally just being tremendous douchebags. Mundo pins Pentagon when he gets got by the Black Lotus Clan. He pins Mysterio after Matanza tears him a new one. Jack Evans and PJ Black, the other two members of Worldwide Underground, are eliminated, but they just come back and help Mundo because why not, it’s a no disqualification match. They’re ganging up on Sexy Star and they’re about to put her away. Suddenly, as if descending from the heavens, Angelico--the fearless motocross daredevil who was injured by Worldwide Underground when they slammed his leg in a car door at the end of season 2--returns the only way he knows how: by jumping off of Dario’s office and into the ring, taking out all three members of Worldwide Underground. Sexy Star crawls on top of Johnny Mundo for the pin, Mil Muertes disposes of The Mack with a BRUUUTAL Flatliner, and just like that, it’s down to Mil Muertes--the unstoppable, monstrous living embodiment of death itself--and Sexy Star.

At this point, I am literally screaming at my television.


“COME ON, SEXYYYYY! COME ONNNNN!!!” I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about a wrestling match. I’ve never wanted a wrestler to win this badly in my entire life. I was literally standing inches away from my TV, screaming encouragement. It was one of the most unforgettable moments I’ve ever experienced as a wrestling fan--and I’ve been to the last two WrestleManias and TakeOver: Dallas. Mil tries to take her up to the top rope to extravagantly and gratuitously finish her off by Flatlining her through a table, but Sexy uses her intelligence and veteran experience to outsmart Mil and with a last ditch effort, pushes him through the table and nails him with a double stomp. In defeating Mil Muertes, she overcomes death itself--physical death, spiritual death, the death of everything she stands for--to become the history-making champion she has always been destined to be. When Sexy got the pin I let out the most primal roar of triumph I could muster and sobbed uncontrollably. I’m literally crying right now just thinking about it. It was a perfect wrestling moment at the perfect time. The first ever female world heavyweight champion of a major American wrestling promotion. A Mexican-American woman broke the glass ceiling eight days after Hillary Clinton bounced off of it, bloodied and broken. Eight days after women and Mexican-Americans across the country were told “no you can’t,” Sexy Star and Lucha Underground and El Rey Network screamed back in one clear, coherent voice: “SI SE PUEDE.”


Friday, January 20, 2017

VUNDACAST ch. 88 An American Podcast in London

On this epic edition of the Vundacast Stephen and Danielle podcast from the United Kingdom. We talk about the first half of our travels across the United Kingdom. Here's a little counter programming to keep you mind off of President Chump.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: Lucha Underground 1/11/17

Sadly I wasn't quite able to write up Raw and SmackDown this week because I went on an epic journey across the country that ended up taking over 24 hours and sucked my will to do pretty much anything. Also I didn't watch Raw because the College Football Playoff Championship Game was on and it was like a hundred times better than whatever happened on Raw. I made sure not to miss this week's Lucha Underground, however, because it was the mid-season finale and we're not going to be getting any more Lucha Underground until SUMMER which is incredibly, unbearably sad. But hey, maybe now I can go back and do write-ups for every episode up until this point so all the lovely Vundablog faithful can get caught up on the wonder that is Lucha Underground. Silver linings, right? Anyway, let's get to this week's episode...




VUNDACAST ch.87 A Whole Lot of...Villainy



On this second edition of A Whole lot of. Stephen, Andres, and Diego converse about effective and memorable cinematic Villains, among many other things. Recorded in 2016. Sorry for the delay...blame Trump

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Hope Is..." (Reading I Wrote for a Worship Service at Binghamton UU Young Adult Con)

“Hope is not a strategy.” So sayeth legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi. I see where he’s coming from. He’s a football coach. He needs a gameplan. He needs effort. He needs everyone to do their job. There’s a lot to be said for that in the work we do, too, frankly. But hope is the foundation upon which we lay our strategy and our effort and our work. Hope is the reason WHY we have a strategy...the reason WHY we do this work. Hope is the light of the promise of tomorrow reflected in the eyes of today.

Emily Dickinson says that hope is a little bird perched in our souls that sings a little tune and keeps us warm. Nah, man. Hope is a PHOENIX RISING from the ashes. Hope is a FIRE in the belly of a beast chained to a dungeon who ROARS “ENOUGH,” shattering its bonds and BURSTING forth into open air crying “FREEDOM!”

Hope emerges out of useful anger flowing from our hearts and our mouths and dissolving the fear that holds us back. Hope emerges out of desperation for salvation and recognition of connection. It holds us close and nurses our wounds when we are cold and broken. It lifts us up and carries us when we can’t imagine how we can possibly go on. It is a radical vision of wholeness and justice and liberation. An unshakable belief in a better world that has yet to come to pass and sometimes seems like it never will but still we choose hope.

We choose hope and we choose hope again and again and again and again. We choose hope over and over and over again even when it seems like a ridiculous choice because we KNOW we can do better. Because if we choose to give in to fear and despair, none of us will ever be free and none of us will ever be whole. And this we will not abide. We will not abide imperialism and exploitation and genocide. We will not abide oppression and persecution and systemic violence. We will not abide our brothers and sisters and cousins being starved or parched or abused or neglected.

That is not.who.we.are. WE are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We can do better. We MUST do better. WE WILL do better. We hope.

President Obama Ending "Wet Foot Dry Foot" Policy for Cuban Immigrants (Reuters)

Carlos Barria/Reuters
Obama ending special immigration policy for Cubans: sources (Reuters)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: Lucha Underground 1/4/17

Honestly, I was a little on the fence about whether or not I should go back and give the entire backstory of Lucha Underground before I started writing up weekly reports on it. But then I figured if I did that, I would never get around to doing weekly updates. So maybe it would be better to just catch people up on storylines as I go. It's more important to me to be able to write about MY FAVORITE WRESTLING SHOW EVER on a weekly basis so let's get right to it!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: SmackDown Summary 1/3/17

This is the (WWE) show I really wanted to start writing about. SmackDown has been markedly better than Raw ever since the brand split and now it's even starting to translate in the ratings with SmackDown beating Raw in the ratings last week for the first time ever. It's also a lot more fun to watch and write about because they're not afraid to take risks and follow through on their stories and develop their characters. So...without further ado...the first SmackDown Live of 2017...





Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fake Fighting Frenzy: Raw Rundown 1/2/17

So I've made it one of my resolutions in the new year to write a lot more for Vundablog. One of the things I'd like to start doing is recapping all the major weekly wrestling shows, including Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, and Lucha Underground. Easier said than done for someone in grad school but I'll do my best for all my adoring fans. 

This week, Raw emanates from Tampa, FL. Braun Strowman and Sami Zayn are preparing for a Last Man Standing Match. Oldberg is here to get people chanting his name. Bayley has just had her shot at the women's title stolen away by Charlotte's lawyers. And everyone else is pretty much just treading water until they can set things in motion for the Royal Rumble. So let's get to it!


Today In Fake Fighting History: The Rock Finally Comes Back Home (January 3rd, 2000)

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxg099_triple-h-the-rock-segment-01-03-2000_sport

Seventeen years ago today, The Rock delivered what I firmly believe to be one of the great promos of the modern era. This is The Rock at the peak of his powers. Holding a molten hot hometown Miami crowd in the palm of his hands, he spews forth some of his most epic, scathing rhetoric. He absolutely oozes swagger and charisma and every turn and every motion is perfect. Who else could pull off a line like this so perfectly:

"The Rock sees it fit to say that on this day, one thousand years from now, in the year 3000, when the historians look back and wonder what the sound was that encompassed this millennium, The Rock says it was the sound of the people chanting his name..."

Sunday, January 1, 2017

VUNDACAST ch. 86 CoHortress Chicken Nugget and the D-rock Who Lived


On this November edition of the Vundacast Podcast we have podcast superstar D-Rock back for a limited engagement from the west coast, with the newly dubbed CoHortress Danielle (aka Chicken Nugget), and Stephen rounding out the team with some sweet Harry Potter trivia. Tweets us @Vundablog or @Vundacast





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VUNDACAST ch. 85 Ultracon 2016 Panel Day 2


On this special edition of the Vundacast Stephen(Team Captain) gathers Danielle(aka Chicken Nugget/ CoHortress), Mr. J(DC enthusiast), Blockbuster guy Frank(expert of dead systems), and Andres(Michael Bay aficionado) wrap up Ultracon 2016 with the coolest kids left in the convention center talking the hottest of topics in all things nerdy 

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VUNDACAST ch. 84 Ultracon 2016 Panel Day 1

On this special edition of the Vundacast. Danielle, D-Rock, and Stephen briefly preface a long open forum discussion panel that took place at Ultracon 2016. Stephen, Danielle, Mr. J, Blockbuster guy Frank, and Meza Bro Andres converse with the common folk. We learn what unsettles them, what they've been enjoying, and their hopes and dreams. Sorry for the delay in releasing and a big thank you to all who participated. Tweets us @Vundablog and @Vundacast



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