Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The SmackDown Files: Dude(tte), Where's Baron Corbin's Money in the Bank Briefcase? (8-29-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Arkansas. After last week’s Beach Ball Fiasco, a change of scenery will do the blue brand a world of good. After all, Arkansas’ old nickname was the Land of Opportunity. Coincidence much? I think not. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        SD Live kicked off with Jinder Mahal wanting an apology after Shinsuke Nakamura laid him out with the Kinshasa last week. The Singh Brothers groveled like a couple of weasels as the apologized on behalf of the continent of Asia and their homeland of India. They took things one step further by offering to kiss the feet of the modern-day Maharaja, but Nakamura spared the audience from witnessing such a sight.

·        He pushed The Singh Brothers aside and went face-to-face with Mahal, but Singh One and Singh Two attacked Nakamura from behind.

·        Nakamura tried to fend them off, but the numbers game caught up to him until Randy Orton made the save.

·        Orton could only so much as Rusev ran down to the ring and nailed him with a Superkick. With Orton out of the way, the beat down of Nakamura continued with Mahal dropping the King of Strong Style with the Cobra Clutch Slam as the opening segment came to an end with the heels standing tall.

·        This was an okay way to start the show. Mahal’s promos continue to bore me to tears which are doing him no favors when it comes to developing a compelling personality. I am begging the creative team to give him better material to when it comes to drawing heat for all the right reasons. Here’s hoping they will catch the hint sooner or later because Mahal’s mic work leaves a lot to be desired at the moment.

·        In other news, Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura will wrestle each other week with the winner going on to face Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship. That should be an interesting matchup, to say the least.

·        Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin defeated The Ascension when Benjamin pinned Viktor with Paydirt for the win. The match was solid, but it should be noted that Benjamin refused to do a double suplex spot with Gable after he made the hot tag early on. Heel Turn Alert!

·        Foreshadowing aside, Benjamin looked sharp as the crowd welcomed him back with open arms. Benjamin and Gable could be a formidable team, but I have a feeling that this partnership is on borrowed time. Just a hunch…

·        Tye Dillinger leapfrogged over Baron Corbin and accepted AJ Styles’ US Open Challenge. The Perfect 10 put up a good fight, but Styles made Dillinger tap out to the Calf Crusher in a match that went no longer than 90 seconds.

·        After the match was over, Corbin dragged Dillinger out of the ring and slammed him against the barricade before going after Styles.

·        Styles nailed him with a forearm which sent The Lone Wolf into retreat as the segment came to an end.

·        Styles had an easy night at the office while Corbin continues to find his footing after losing the Money in the Bank briefcase a couple of weeks ago. Will the United States Championship serve as a nice consolation prize? We shall see.

·        Bobby Roode defeated Mike Kanellis with the Glorious DDT in a solid showcase match. The Glorious One continues to impress on Tuesday nights.

·        Aiden English defeated Sami Zayn after Kevin Owens inserted himself in the match as the special guest referee. He dropped Zayn with a Popup Powerbomb which allowed English to pick up the tainted win.

·        This was in response to Owens blaming Shane McMahon for costing him the United States Championship at SummerSlam and SD Live last week. McMahon informed Owens that he picked Baron Corbin as the special guest referee during his title match last week which set off a chain of events that were all on him.

·        Shane-O-Mac dismissed Owens and told English to get ready for his match against Zayn. Owens continued to vent on guest commentary until he decided to dip his toe into the world of officiating.

·        Shane was none too pleased and removed Zayn’s loss from the record book before promising to reprimand Owens for his insubordination.  

·        Dolph Ziggler’s Backstage Pity Party continues. For the record, Finn Bálor had more charisma rocking a sling before relinquishing the Universal Title last year than Ziggler has shown in his entire career. No shade, just facts.

·        The Usos defeated The New Day when Jimmy Uso pinned Kofi Kingston with a roll-up while yanking the tights for leverage. The win allows Jimmy and Jey to pick the stipulation for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship rematch. It should be a good one to cap off an excellent feud over the silver belts with blue embroidery.

·        Natalya has a busy couple of weeks ahead of her as she faces Carmella next Tuesday in a non-title match before wrestling Naomi in a SmackDown Women’s Championship rematch the following week. Meow!

·        Tamina defeated a random female performer with a Superkick in a so-so match. It was quick, but Tamina makes the simplest moves seem rough and ragged for all the wrong reasons. The Lana-Tamina partnership continues to baffle me to no end. They are getting the spotlight ahead of Charlotte and Becky Lynch? I call bullshit on that.

·        Season two of the Fashion Files kicked off with Breezango making fun of WWE’s refusal to say the word belt when it comes to describing their championships. It was a cute inside joke, but the rest of the segment fell flat in terms of humor. Here’s hoping the Fashion Police don’t fall into the dreaded sophomore slump in terms of creative ingenuity.

·        Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Rusev and Jinder Mahal when Nakamura nailed Rusev with the Kinshasa for the win. The match was fine, but it was nothing to write home about.

·        Mahal’s in-ring work was sloppy as he missed his spot when it came to Orton nailing him with the Draping DDT from the middle rope. Orton had to improvise by hitting his move the old-fashioned way which didn’t look pretty in terms of execution.

·        After the match was over, Nakamura celebrated with Orton only for The Viper to drop him with an RKO from out of nowhere. It was a nice way to forward tension between both men heading into their first-ever one-on-one match next week. Will an extra motivated Nakamura show up and show out against Orton? We shall find out soon enough.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was middling at best. The in-ring action was so-so which dragged down the overall quality of the show.

·        The Little Rock crowd was hot in spots, but their enthusiasm tapered off during the second hour. SD Live not having a PPV next month gives them more time to flesh out the Hell in a Cell card for October, but each broadcast should feel important as we head into the fall season.

·        WWE is trying to remedy the situation by booking matches several weeks out which should give the show a much-needed spark. Here’s hoping SD Live can find its footing because the blue brand has dropped off in terms of quality since the Superstar Shakeup earlier this year. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Raw Exposé: WWE Presents - The Art Of Throwing Shade III Starring John Cena and Roman Reigns (8-28-2017)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The Raw Exposé. Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. Beach Ball Mania is behind us as Sasha Banks tries to successfully defend the Raw Women’s Championship for the first time against Alexa Bliss. Did The Boss end another streak or was she in store for more heartbreak? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        The Miz wanted Kurt Angle to put some respect on his name after being shunned over the past several weeks. Angle agreed and announced that Miz will defend the Intercontinental Championship at No Mercy.

·        The Disrespected One would also face the winner of a fifteen-man Battle in an IC Title match next week as the opening segment came to an end.

·        This was a fine way to start the show. The obligatory 20-minute talking segment was cut in half which is a positive in my book. Getting straight to the point is better than hearing long-winded promos that circle the drain unless the underlining message makes sense.

·        Jeff Hardy won the fifteen-man Battle Royal and will face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship next week. It was a good match that featured nice bursts of wrestling action throughout.

·        Finn Bálor, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows joined forces to eliminate The Big Show which signaled a callback from their days in the Bullet Club during their tenure in New Japan. Before they could do the Too Sweet salute, Elias attacked Bálor from behind which ruined the moment.

·        Bálor recovered and laid out Elias and Jeff Hardy until Bray Wyatt appeared out of nowhere and tossed Bálor over the top rope. It was a clever way to forward the Wyatt-Bálor feud, but their matches haven’t set the world on fire which mutes my enthusiasm heading into next month’s PPV.

·        The distraction allowed Jason Jordan to eliminate Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel which elicited the biggest reaction of the match so far. Jordan followed things up by eliminating Elias, but Jeff Hardy came through in the clutch and tossed Jordan over the top rope to win the whole shebang.

·        Jeff Hardy has a chance to win the Intercontinental Title and re-assert himself in the upper mid-card scene. We shall see if Miz can match Jeff’s unorthodox style come next week.

·        Enzo Amore defeated Noam Dar with a variation of Eat Defeat in his debut match in the Cruiserweight Division. Dar outclassed Enzo in the ring, but the Certified G outsmarted him when it counted most. The match was fine, but Enzo’s star power can only go so far when it comes to improving the presentation of the Cruiserweight Division on Raw and 205 Live.

·        Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came out to sing the praises of Braun Strowman and give credit where its due after Strowman monster handled Lesnar at SummerSlam and Raw last week. Despite his amazing feats of strength, Heyman warned the Monster Among Men that Lesnar is not the type of man to duck competition. The Beast will hunt down his prey and devour him for dinner.

·        As Heyman was about to make a declarative statement on behalf of his client, Lesnar grabbed the mic and said the following: “Suplex City, Bitch!” And with that, Lesnar dropped the mic and headed backstage as the segment came to an end.

·        This was an effective way to add tension between Lesnar and Strowman leading up to their Universal Championship match at No Mercy next month. WWE played it smart by letting Lesnar have the last word for a change. Strowman’s response should be interesting, to say the least.

·        Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins with a roll-up in a good match. Cesaro dominated the action early on with a couple of gut wrench suplexes and a series of European Uppercuts. Rollins regained control down the stretch as he laid Cesaro out with a Slingblade followed by the Blockbuster from the top rope and Buckle Bomb in the corner.

·        Sensing that his partner was in trouble, Sheamus tried to provide the distraction only for Dean Ambrose to attack him at ringside. The diversion worked as Cesaro nailed Rollins with an Uppercut for the win.

·        After the match was over, Sheamus announced that he was scheduled to face Ambrose in a match which spilled over into the commercial break.

·        Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus with Dirty Deeds thanks to an assist from Seth Rollins. Cesaro tried to cause a distraction at ringside, but Rollins cut him off at the past. The action spilled over into the ring as Rollins nailed Sheamus with a flying knee while the referee was busy preventing Cesaro from interfering in the match.

·        Rollins laid out Cesaro with a suicide dive which led to the aforementioned finish.

·        This is a classic case of 50/50 booking, but it makes sense because Cesaro and Sheamus are in line for a rematch for the Raw Tag Team Championship. Plus, both matches told a nice story of how each team was willing to win by any means necessary. A little cheating does a body good from time to time. Within reason, of course…

·        Who fucked up Emma’s theme music? It sounds terrible…

·        Emma defeated Mickie James with a roll-up in a quick match. Afterward, she got on the mic and proclaimed that she started the Women’s Revolution. Oh, joy…

·        The real John Cena showed up and went off on Roman Reigns in an epic promo exchange to kick off the third hour of Raw. Cena claimed that Reigns was scared to fight him which caused Reigns to make his way down to the ring and stated that he was too unbothered to face Cena after retiring The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

·        Cena clapped back by saying that Reigns was nothing more than a cheap ass corporate John Cena bootleg who could never replace the real thing. Even though the fans boo and cheer him, at least the real recognized real.

·        Reigns stated that the fans boo Cena not because they want him to turn heel, but because he sucks. Reigns lost his train of thought for a moment which gave Cena ample ammo to fire an off the cuff remark about Reigns’ inability to cut a decent promo.

·        Reigns refocused and tore into Cena for being a fake ass bitch who turned into a part time fake ass bitch. He would not allow someone to take food off his table by flying in on his private jet from his hosting gig on the Today show to wrestling on Raw when it’s convenient for him. He refused to be buried by Cena and wasn’t going to lower himself by facing someone who couldn’t “see” him.

·        Cena commended Reigns for cutting a decent promo for the first time in five years. Cena found it comical that Reigns blamed him for everything. Cena noted that he is not out to bury anyone. In fact, he hasn’t main evented WrestleMania in five years and was the opening match at SummerSlam last Sunday.

·        Cena took things one step further by stating that he elevated the United States Championship two years ago which ushered in the debuts of Kevin Owens and AJ Styles. When Reigns won the US Title, it was a demotion due to a Wellness Policy violation. The reason Cena is a free agent is that Reigns sucks at his job. Therefore, he has to play the cleanup man because no one has been able to take his place in fifteen years.

·        Most importantly, Cena can do more as a part-timer than Reigns will ever do as a full-timer. Incensed, Reigns signed his name on the dotted line to make the match official before flipping over the table.

·        Both men were ready to go at it when Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows volunteered to put the nerds in their place. Kurt Angle booked Cena and Reigns in a tag team match against Anderson and Gallows which took place after the commercial break.

·        This was an outstanding segment from top to bottom. Roman Reigns cut the best promo of his career, but John Cena still carved him up like a Thanksgiving Day Turkey as he read him for filth.

·        Cena was present, passionate, and relentless as he threw shade for 40 days and 40 nights. As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t a fan of Cena feeding into the Beach Ball Frenzy in Brooklyn. However, he more than redeemed himself tonight as he cut another money promo that was spot on. He had the crowd eating out of his hand as he put Reigns in his place.

·        Reigns had a nice showing and delivered the best mic work of his career despite Cena crapping over his inability to cut a decent promo. He manned up and landed some jabs on Mr. Hustle, Loyalty, & Respect. Reigns should be unleashed more often because a fire was lit under his ass tonight. Here’s hoping there is more to come leading up to their epic match at No Mercy next month.

·        John Cena and Roman Reigns defeated Anderson and Gallows when Reigns nailed Anderson with a Spear for the win. The match was fine, but it served as a backdrop to forward tension between Cena and Reigns. It’s reminiscent of Cena and Shawn Michaels becoming reluctant tag partners leading up to their WWE Title match at WrestleMania 23 ten years ago. Here’s hoping history repeats itself with Reigns playing the role of Michaels in name only.

·        Elias serenaded the Memphis crowd with a beautiful ballad until he was interrupted by Jerry Lawler. Lawler introduced Pelvis Wesley (Heath Slater) from Southpaw Regional Wrestling to counter Elias’ terrible singing. To say his plan backfired would be an understatement.

·        Alexa Bliss defeated Sasha Banks with a DDT to become the new Raw Women’s Champion in a good main event match. Banks controlled the pace early on until Bliss slammed her back-first against the barricade before ramming her against the ring apron during the commercial break.

·        Banks willed herself back in the match as she locked in the Bank Statement only for Bliss to break the hold. Bliss laid out Banks with a Superplex from the top rope, but she was unable to make the cover. Banks went for the Bank Statement again, but Bliss countered with her finisher for the win.

·        Banks is now 0-4 when it comes to successfully defending the Raw Women’s Title. That is not a good streak to hang one’s hat on. It makes The Boss look weak and gives Bayley a run for her money when it comes to being the worst booked woman in WWE. It’s sad but true.

·        After the match was over, Nia Jax made her way to the ring to congratulate Bliss on her victory. Jax laid out Banks with a running avalanche to add insult to injury before hoisting Bliss on her shoulder.

·        As expected, the other shoe dropped when Jax dropped Bliss with an Electric Chair which popped the crowd something fierce. Jax grabbed the title belt and raised it high in the air as she inserted herself in the championship picture as Raw went off the air.

·        Rumors of Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss feuding over the Raw Women’s Title have been running rampant in recent months. It appears WWE is ready to pull the trigger and decided to use Sasha Banks as a stopgap in order push things in that direction.

·        Jax and Bliss are not the best wrestlers in the world, but I am sure they can pull off a solid match if it’s laid out properly. It should be interesting to see Jax as a babyface. The fans view her as a badass when she is destroying her opponents under the right circumstances. We shall see if they embrace her as a woman who should be feared and revered on the big stage.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of Raw was solid. The in-ring action ranged from decent to very good, but the show will be best remembered for the excellent John Cena-Roman Reigns verbal confrontation that kicked off their feud heading into the No Mercy PPV next month. Cena showed why he is the best promo in the business while Reigns held his own and earned some brownie points amongst his fiercest critics.

·        After a disappointing start last week, WWE has landed the one-two punch when it comes to booking the best double main event in recent memory with Cena vs. Reigns anchoring Brock Lesnar vs. Braun Strowman for the Universal Championship. The company is locked and loaded heading into football season which is a nice change of pace.

·        The mid-card scene lacks the same sizzle and spice, but they should hold their own with rematches ranging from Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw Tag Team Titles to another round of Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt. Something tells me the former is more appetizing than the latter.

·        No Mercy is turning into a must-see show. It’s a B-PPV that is quickly approaching Grade A territory. The creative team reset the chess board and damn near hit check mate with four weeks to spare. However, there is more work to be done in order to push things over the top. With Labor Day taking place next Monday, now is not the time to ease the foot off the pedal. Let’s hope the Powers That Be continues to up the ante because things are on the come up in the best possible way. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The Raw Exposé. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back tomorrow night with another installment of The SmackDown Files. See you later, boys and girls! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rick and Morty Recap: "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender" & "The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy"

Welcome back to another recap of Rick and Morty where this season’s adventures have been the craziest and darkest yet. The season is filled with humor and these fantastic stories. So, let’s discuss these episodes and dive into what our characters have been going through this season. From this moment on a SPOILER ALERT is in effect for the remainder of this recap.

"Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender"

This episode opens with Rick and Morty in the garage trying to gather up worm like species before they can infect the Earth.  But this wouldn’t be an issue if Rick didn’t bring them in the first place, but this issue is overlooked because Morty hears a call to action or adventure by the Vindicators.  Of course, Rick doesn’t want to go but Morty uses this card which allows him to choose adventures and thus the adventure begins.

Now the Vindicators are group super powered and enhanced individuals who save the galaxy from apocalyptic threats. Morty admires these group of people which you can tell is getting to Rick. He wants that admiration from Morty because he is more deserving of it as you’ll see once the episode unfolds more about these heroes. This episode was the very definition of never meet your heroes because they never live up to your expectations.  So, in classic Rick fashion, he doesn’t take the mission briefing seriously which in turn ticks off Morty, and the icing on the cake was finding out that they did the mission of the same importance without inviting them. All because of Rick’s insufferable attitude the team wanted nothing to do with him.  Once the meeting is concluded, Rick and Morty get into a fight which ends with Rick leaving to get wasted. Those repercussions come to light later in the episode.


The next time we see Ricky, he is fast asleep in the mission briefing room with his pants around his ankles and diarrhea all over the ground. Morty is disappointed in Rick, but they proceed as planned and head down to the planet carry an unconscious Rick. Everything goes smoothly at first, and they awake Rick and find that someone or something has already defeated the villain known as Worldender. Of course, that someone was Rick or should I say drunk Rick. Apparently after getting wasted he defeated Worldender and set up a twisted version of Saw for the heroes to go through.
And each level kills a member of the team until they turn on each other and start taking each other out.  The whole point of this twisted game was to prove to Morty that these so-called heroes are nothing to admire. In fact, they killed entire planet filled with people because their target was a shape-shifter. It could have been avoided if they had called Rick.  He could have made a detection device, but they rather wipe out an entire planet than work with him. Probably smart because now they're all dead except one who would want nothing more than to kill Rick and Morty.   At the last level, they were supposed to put something on a platform that Rick cares about, and the answer isn’t what you would expect. You might assume Morty, but it wasn’t even drunk Rick can’t be honest about his feelings for his grandson and family.  He was talking about the janitor on the ship which he was funny. The episode ends with a big party atop the fortress where members of the Vindicators have been killed, classy right. To make up for that incident which leads us to the next episode, Rick does a favor for Morty.

"The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy"

The episode opens with Jerry, and it is depressing watching him alone in a motel room naked in bed staring a photo of his family. Ok, sad and a little weird but the mood changes very quickly when Rick enters the room dragging Jerry out of bed and yes, he is still naked. Rick goes on and on about really nothing and then tells Jerry that Morty asked him to take his dad on a pity adventure. Not those exact words but for the most part that is what is happening. Jerry was a little surprised because he thought he was going to be executed. And now back to depressing again so hopefully, Rick can lift his spirits. He takes Jerry to a planet that protects those in a field against consequences. You can’t die of a heart attack from overeating or die if you brother repeatedly shoots you in the head. Yes, this is happening between two kids like I said the darkest season yet. I wonder how many time I’ve said dark in this recap…
There is also drama going on at home with Summer who has been dumped by her boyfriend for not having bigger; you know what I mean. So, she goes to her mom for encouragement and asks her if she is beautiful. Beth doesn't answer yes but says you have other qualities, ouch mom. That response leads Summer to Rick's garage to find a machine to change her cup size, but instead, she just changes her size. She became so big that her body engulfs the entire garage.  Morty and his mother try to fix the situation themselves, and the results are sweet. The mom turns herself into a huge monster like her daughter and tells her she’s beautiful, and Morty turns the boyfriend into deformed slob creature.
Back to Rick adventure with Jerry which is going well both are having fun and enjoying each other’s company. And then Jerry gets himself sucked into a hand dryer in the bathroom and meets with people who want Rick dead. They devise a plan to go on a ride called the Whirly Dirly which has a section of the ride that exits the field of protection. Which is where they plan to kill Rick and Jerry goes along with it because he blames Rick for breaking up the family. But as soon as they get on the ride Jerry wants to take it back immediately but is too late. Rick prevents the assignation attempt. But he is now pissed at Jerry again. Just a side note the field of protection was destroyed and the little brighter kills his sister. I gasped which sounds dramatic but come on that was dark. But back to Rick and Jerry. They tried to return home but run into some issues, and one of them causes Rick to be docile and the other being that the man who wanted Rick dead is aboard the vessel.

Here is where things got even weirder they did some mind meld thing which leads Jerry and the other guy to clarity and Rick back to normal. And then he straight out killed the other guy, and they returned home.  Crazy two episodes right well if you want more of these adventures stay tuned tonight for another all-new episode. Airing on Adult Swim at 11:30 pm Rick and Morty "Rest and Ricklaxation." Watch the preview below to see what to expect for tonight’s episode.
Photo Credit: Nerdist.com, Heavy.com, COED.com, Youtube.com, what’s-on-netflix.com, static independent.co, indiewire.com
Created by: Jasmine Yard

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Comic Book Review: Dark Nights-Metal #1

By: Jerry Montgomery 
August 20, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #1

Written by: Scott “Doom Commander” Snyder

Pencils by: Greg “Pain Bringer" Capullo

Wayne Industries is operating a secret black drilling site deep within the ocean near Atlantis. Superman's Fortress of Solitude houses a secret locked room for Batman that the Man of Steel has sworn not to look in. The Batcave has a cave that houses an unthinkable secret and what or who is locked away in Batman's lunar base? What does this all mean? What path is the Batman undertaking and why is he doing so covertly? Thus began DC's blockbuster summer event detailed in the first prelude issue to Nights, Dark Days: The Forge. The mystery of the Nth Metal,  the very stuff responsible for Hawkman's power of flight and ability to reincarnate time and time again throughout the ages, came to light, thanks to the journal of Hawkman himself, Carter Hall. He has seen terrifying dreams…no, not dreams…visions of things to come that echo through the metal. A nightmare world in which a colossal statue of the Batman rises before a subjugated people, crushed beneath the symbol of the Bat. Through his research and further study of the Nth metal, Carter Hall discovers that it conducts a powerful energy from somewhere…beyond. Following every clue, he is offered a glimpse of  a story that began with the first tribes of man. Three, or rather four and a secret that included him as part of something bigger and beyond his control. Three tribes of man at the beginning of civilization, bird, bear and wolf, with a fourth destructive and invasive…the bat. Two tribes, the bird and bat, forever at war with one another.

As for those secrets that Batman has locked away, it seems he's detected an anomaly deep within the core of the Earth, hiding in it's magma. Within the secret locked room of the Fortress of Solitude,  Miracle Man is called upon by Batman to reveal a part of the Anti-Monitor's machines. Housed within Batman's lunar base in the unstable Plastic Man in an egg shaped holding container and the secret Batcave within the Batcave? What secrets does it hold? Deep within the labyrinthine construct stands the Joker (or at least one of them). They all hold some part to play in Batman's quest to peer into the darkness.  All of this certainly hasn't gone unnoticed however, as Hal Jordan, the Immortal Men, the Blackhawks and Mr. Terrific all have their parts to play in this puzzle.

Dark Days: The Casting #1

In the next installment, Dark Days: The Casting, the mystery deepened as Batman sought the aid of the Olympian Gods themselves, but finds they have abandoned Earth due to a belief that a war is coming. A war that has the potential to reshape the Earth and the cosmos, bringing with it a crisis that will threaten to extinguish the light of creation. Batman feels it too. The shadows call out to him, yet he cannot make out what they are saying. In the meantime,  Duke Thomas and Hal Jordan have their own problems as they try to sort out just why Batman would imprison one of the most dangerous villains on the planet without telling anyone? The Joker claims that he has to stop Batman from using his machines to dig any deeper or it will be the end of the world. How does he know this? He claims to have done it all before…that Batman has been tracking the metal within anyone containing it in their blood stream. The Joker then makes the startlingly revelation that Duke Thomas, aka Batwing was chosen by Batman because he is special.  Special as in not to be a Robin but special to act as a signal for the darkness to hone in on. Therefore, for the Joker to save the world, Duke must die to snuff out the beacon and with it, stop the dark forces drawn to it. Almost funny, isn't it? The Joker as the good guy? Green Lantern and Duke are able to finally overcome a driven Joker only to let him escape as Duke begins to feel what the Joker was talking…a pull on the base of his spine from something unseen...out there. 

Batman arrives to explain his digging machine and his quest to solve the mystery of the Nth metal. Whomever it comes in contact with is effected differently, bestowing upon them great powers. Duke, using Hal's ring, is able to create in light, a machine that Batman had envisioned that would allow him to peer into the darkness and finally get his answer. Manning this machine of light, he gets his look and collapses after trying. He disappointedly exclaims that all he was able to see was nothing, only a black void. Unbeknownst to Batman, he put 50000 years of waiting into motion. The seal has been broken, the Dark Knights arise and with them, the true father of Batman.

In Dark Nights: Metal #1, the story begins as the members of the Justice League find them fighting gladiator style on the intergalactic villain, Mongul’s new warworld. Just how this happened isn't exactly outlined especially since the last time we saw Mongul he was jettisoned into space, courtesy of General Zod’s fist in Action Comics #957. Any fan of the old Voltron cartoon series, Power Rangers  or if you're old school, Battle of the Planets, will especially enjoy the outcome as the Justice League dispatches Mongul with the help of the Toymaker. Call this our story's Mulligan as the real interest begins upon the League's arrival back on Earth to find Gotham City in a state of panic. It seems a huge chunk of mountain appeared out of nowhere smack dab in the middle of it. All is not what it seems though. Something lies inside the mountain and meant for more nefarious purposes than  what can be seen at face value. A bunker in which a lab is placed with outdated technology but advanced in design, coursing with a disturbing power. A power that courses throughout the place and not the good kind. It takes the arrival of Lady Blackhawk and her Blackhawk Squadron, a sort of black-ops, anti-apocalyptic watchdog group to explain just what is going on in an apocalyptic kind of way. Oh, did I mention that Lady Blackhawk was once Hawkwoman? So, you can imagine her interest in what goes down here goes back…way back.

 Many characters within the DCU attuned to the Nth metal can feel something coming and it's already on it's way. Batman's discovery of the many revelations through Carter Hall's journal prove to him that all that is about to transpire is all too true and further reinforced by the emergence of one of the most popular Vertigo line characters into the DCU, who assures Batman that this is no dream. Bird vs. Bat has come full circle.

The Verdict: I have always enjoyed the summer crossover events in comics and this one has been highly anticipated since it was announced several months ago. DC has imagined a whole new multiverse, albeit a dark one, steeped in Lovecraftian fashion of old forces waiting for the day to reemerge and walk the Earth again. The possibility of new stories is exciting to say the least and when you've assembled the kind of talent that's been working on this, it will be a hard series to put down in both story telling and artwork. I have especially enjoyed the use of some of DC's lesser known characters, some who haven't been seen in a long time to be given a part to play in this soon to be cross-title series, such as the android, Red Tornado and the Blackhawks. If you enjoyed the Forever Evil event of a couple summers ago or even Batman 666, you'll love this one. I recommend this issue for it's entertainment value alone but also for it's impending crossover into not only other titles,  but for cross imprints as well. This one is well worth the fiver!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The SmackDown Files: Twas' A Glorious Night In Brooklyn Until Beach Ball Mania III Broke Out (AKA SummerSlam Madness Part IV of IV)

By: Keila Cash

Hello everyone and welcome to another installment of The SmackDown Files. Tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live emanated from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. WWE wraps up their four-night stand in the BK which signifies the end of SummerSlam week. Did the blue brand end things on a high note or did another round of Beach Ball Gate rear its ugly head for old times’ sake? The answer to that question can be found throughout this blog. Without further ado, let’s dissect tonight’s show in no particular order.

·        Kevin Owens complained his way into a final United States Championship match against AJ Styles which is set for later tonight. To prevent further officiating snafus, Shane McMahon allowed Owens to pick the referee to keep things above board for a change.

·        The opener was fine, but the constant bickering between Styles, Owens, and McMahon has become a bit tedious over the past couple of weeks. KO will probably stay in Shane-O-Mac’s orbit for the foreseeable future in order to push a future match while Styles moves on to bigger and better things.

·        Daniel Bryan informed The Singh Brothers that they will face Shinsuke Nakamura in a 2-on-1 handicap match later tonight. I think it’s safe to pencil in a win for Nakamura.

·        Glorious Bobby Roode debuts on SD Live! Awesome moment!!

·        Bobby Roode defeated Aiden English with the Glorious DDT in a solid debut match. English had a near fall that made the crowd audibly gasp, but the outcome was never in doubt. Roode should fit in nicely on Tuesday Nights as he takes SD Live to glorious new heights.

·        Welcome home, Shelton Benjamin! At least Jason Jordan leaving SD Live for Raw came with a nice consolation prize. Benjamin will team with Chad Gable next week as a make-good for ending American Alpha on such a blah note.  

·        Kevin Owens’ attempt to get Sami Zayn to officiate his US Title match backfired. Their friendship is tarred and feathered beyond repair at this point.

·        The Usos defeated The Hype Bros when Jimmy Uso nailed Zack Ryder with a Superkick for the win. The match was decent, but another beach ball incident marred the action down the stretch. This is becoming more and more annoying. It’s disrespectful to the wrestlers and fans who actually care about what’s happening in the ring. It’s time for WWE to crack down on the wiseasses at this point.

·        Shinsuke Nakamura defeated The Singh Brothers when he made Samir Singh tap out to The Triangle in a decent match. Nakamura didn’t get a chance to celebrate as Jinder Mahal attacked him from behind.

·        Nakamura gathered his bearings and nailed Mahal with a wicked Kinshasa which pleased the live crowd to no end.

·        Mahal did a great sell job as he was laid out in the ring like an unconscious snow angel. It was a great visual which pushed the segment over the top. With no SD Live PPV in September, the creative team has some time to stretch out the WWE Championship rematch between Mahal and Nakamura. Here’s hoping Mahal’s promos become less repetitive in nature during this downtime between PPVs.

·        Becky Lynch and Naomi defeated Natalya and Carmella when Naomi pinned Carmella with the Split-Legged Moonsault. The crowd decided to entertain themselves by doing The Wave. Le Sigh...

·        The story of the match was Carmella refusing to wrestle until Natalya made her get in the ring. It’s safe to say that Nattie will be walking around with a target on her back with the Money in the Bank Briefcase still in play along with Naomi invoking her rematch clause in the very near future.

·        Where was this angry Dolph Ziggler eight months ago? Being shady and bitter suits him perfectly. Being a Shawn/Bret Michaels hybrid wannabe? Not so much.

·        AJ Styles retained the United States Championship when he nailed Kevin Owens with the Phenomenal Forearm for the win. The match was good, but the string of controversial officiating continued as Baron Corbin tried to cheat for Owens down the stretch.

·        Things started off innocently enough when Styles locked Owens in the Calf Crusher. Styles had it cinched in and KO tried his best not to tap out. He managed to graze the bottom rope when Styles rolled through in order to keep Owens away from the ropes. Corbin broke the hold and told Styles that Owens grabbed the ropes which led to a war of words between the two.

·        KO took advantage of the situation when he shoved Styles into Corbin which caused The Lone Wolf to do a series of fast counts on Owens’ behalf. Styles managed to kick out each time until Shane McMahon made his way to the ring.

·        McMahon confronted Corbin which allowed Owens to deliver a low blow behind the referee’s back. Shane caught Owens red handed and pulled Corbin out of the ring when he tried to count the pin.

·        Corbin took off his referee shirt and tossed it at Shane-O-Mac as he headed backstage in a huff.

·        Shane appointed himself the special guest referee as Owens became apoplectic at ringside. KO’s meltdown enabled Styles to hit his finisher for the win moments later.

·        SD Live went off the air with Styles standing tall while Owens looked heartbroken and shattered on the main stage.

·        The Owens-Styles feud had its moments, but bullshit booking prevented their matches from reaching past a certain level. Styles can move on to greener pastures while Owens is stuck in a never ending feud with Shane McMahon. However, history suggests that Shane can hold his own in the ring under the right circumstances. That’s the only thing saving this version of the Authority Figure vs. Disenfranchised Wrestler from dying a thousand deaths.

·        Overall, I thought tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live was decent at best. The SD Live debuts of Bobby Roode and Shelton Benjamin gave the blue brand a much-needed boost heading into the fall season. It helped make the first hour of the show zip by. The second hour dragged as fans decided to bring back Beach Ball Mania and The Wave to close out WWE’s four-night stand in Brooklyn. The main event was solid, but the crowd was tepid in terms of heat until Shane McMahon saved the day.

·        A change of scenery should liven things up next week as the show emanates from Little Rock, Arkansas. With a couple of fresh stars added to the mix, SD Live should be on the come up for the first time since the Superstar Shakeup. Fingers crossed!

On that note, this wraps up another edition of The SmackDown Files. I hope you enjoyed it and I will be back next week with a brand new installment of The Raw Exposé. See you later, boys and girls!