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.

powered by podcast garden

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.

powered by podcast garden

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

powered by podcast garden

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)

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

powered by podcast garden

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 

powered by podcast garden

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

powered by podcast garden