Dolph Ziggler at San Diego Comic Con 2013

dolph-ziggler-toxic-avenger

It’s not really a surprise to me that WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler was at San Diego Comic Con last month. I saw him at last year’s New York Comic Con. But what amazes me is seeing him interview the Toxic Avenger and his creator/Troma Entertainment founder Lloyd Kaufman! If that doesn’t make your head explode, I don’t know what will!

WWE Classic Superstars: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

"Rowdy" Rody Piper“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was one of my favorite wrestlers as a young child. I don’t know why I connected so much with him so much; maybe it was because he’s the only significant Scotsman in popular culture or maybe because I’ve always been a snarky, wise cracking person. Anyway, I always loved Piper, even more so than Hulk Hogan. His figure in the WWE Classic Superstars line was a must have.

"Rowdy" Rody Piper

The sculpting on the figure is really good, capturing his signature “Hot Rod!” ringer t-shirt. The only problem I have with the figure is that the face doesn’t really look that much like Piper. They got the hair perfectly though.

"Rowdy" Rody Piper

Get rowdy!

But face aside, Jakks did a really good job capturing his look. He’s wearing his kilt, with the appropriate tartan. You can remove the kilt, and he’s wearing his blue wrestling trunks underneath. I wouldn’t recommend it, as he looks kind of odd wearing just trunks and a t-shirt. The figure looks awesome on my shelf with the rest of his wrestling chums.

On the accessory side, he comes with the original style WWF Intercontinental Championship title belt that he had in early 1992. I still think the match he had with the Mountie on Saturday Night Main Event, with him wearing a zap proof shirt to prevent the Canadian villain’s zap stick from being a factor, was one of the silliest things ever in pro wrestling.He also comes with a microphone. It’s appropriate since he was/is among the best talkers ever in the history of wrestling.

Criticisms aside, it is a really fun action figure and I’m very happy to have it. He stands proudly over Hogan.

WWE Classic Superstars: Sabu

Sabu

During the mid 2000s, I was kind of obsessed with buying the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line. Having regularly watched Extreme Championship wrestling since it’s debut (lets face it; I was an impressionable youth) It only seemed right that I would get the Sabu figure.

SabuSabu is dressed in his typical ring gear. His baggy MC Hammer style pants are made out of a sparkly/shiny cloth which really makes him stand out. The detailing is right, even down to his sash belt

They also painted on his various wrist and arm tapes which are a nice touch. Sabu also came with a vinyl white version of his typical headdress to complete the look. The action figure also came with a folding chair as an accessory, so you can have him hit all of his signature wrestling moves, from the Arabian Facebuster to the Triple Jump Moonsault to the rest of your unsuspecting action figures.

Sabu

Jakks received a lot of criticism for how much they recycled parts of action figures and didn’t detail the figures enough. This figure proves to be the exception. Sabu has all his appropriate scarring on his chest and arms, showing the pains of wrestling in barbed wire rings.

Ultimately, this is one of my favorite action figures from this line. It looks really cool and serves as a nice nostalgia piece to the days when a glorified bingo hall in south Philadelphia was the epicenter of the wrestling universe.

WWE 13: Making Pro Wrestling Video Games Fun Again

cm-punk-wwe-13-king-of-the-

The last pro wrestling game that I purchased was Fire Pro Returns for PS2 and I’ve been playing that religiously for the past five years. For Christmas, I was given  WWE 13 for Xbox 360. Was I able to make the transition to the newest, shiniest slickest pro wrestling video game?

The answer is yes. While lacking the ridiculous customization of the Fire Pro games, WWE 13 is the most fun WWE video game since Smackdown vs. Raw: Here Comes The PainI’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop since getting it.

The game is pretty much what you would expect; not only does it have the current WWE talent roster, but all the match types you would expect to find on your typical episode of Raw or Smackdown as well as the usual basic story modes that string along your story-lines.

But what really makes this an awesome game is the Attitude Era mode, which recreates all the major story lines on WWE programming from early 1997 through Wrestlemania XV. You wind up playing as Bret “The Hitman” Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the Rock…even Ken Shamrock as you relive all the classic Attitude Era moments. Best of all, if you successfully complete all the objectives in each match, it unlocks content that you can use in the regular game modes, ranging from wrestlers to new arenas.

The online modes add some more fun for the game, allowing you to play against WWE 13 users around the world and to download create-a-wrestlers that people have shared. The only problem with the online components is that the server lags and disconnects a lot, but that can be expected with THQ’s current financial woes. I mostly use the online feature to download new wrestlers and arenas. If you are willing to get up really early in the morning to avoid peak hours, it runs a lot smoother.

I have a feeling that I’ll be playing this for quite some time, as you can create an additional 50 characters on your own. I’ve already found a great Bob Sapp to add to the game. Not to mention, that they’ve issued several downloadable content packs that not only freshen up the current roster with people like Antonio Cesaro and Ryback, but also add classics from the Attitude Era like Brian Pillman, Terry Funk and Diamond Dallas Page. These are all additions I would have made on my own, so it frees up CAW slots!

I’ve been away from WWE gaming for a decent amount of time and it feels good to be back. This game is highly recommended for wrestling fans everywhere.

Toy Review: Sheamus

Sheamus

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to do any toy photography in a long time! So while hanging out and watching wrestling on the DVR, it seemed the only thing appropriate was to take some wrestling action figure pictures. I went to my trusty toy box and pulled out none other than Sheamus of WWE fame!

Sheamus was a gift a while back from the girlfriend, as she’s one of the wrestlers that we both think is awesome. But taking pictures of him by himself at ringside is no fun! Sheamus winds up fighting with Randy Orton!

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton

And because Sheamus is a strong brawler, he would like nothing more than to throw poor Randy around! Sheamus is picking him up for a brutal looking bodyslam outside the ring!

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton

Orton fans don’t have to worry because he countered the move into his RKO neckbreaker!

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton

A little motion and radial blurring in Photoshop only makes it look a little more brutal.

But getting back to Sheamus, one or the reasons we like his character so much is that he’s like an old timey strong man. He’s a huge guy whose likely to kick your ass if you cross him. That said, I played around with the color values to make it a black-and-white image.

Sheamus vs. Randy Orton (black and white)

The result? Pretty cool but not old timey enough. It’s getting there, but it feels like there is still something missing.

Old Timey Family Watching Sheamus vs. Randy Orton on TV

So with some searching on Flickr’s creative commons pictures, we made it a super old timey photo by merging it into an image of a family watching television. I bet these guys are betting on the big guy from Ireland.

So who do you think wound up winning the match?

Masters of the Universe vs. WWE?!??!??

wwe-vs-motu

 

Masters of the Universe and the WWE have a lot in common that go beyond both of them having toy lines produced by Mattel. Even Triple H likes He-Man. Over the years, he’s had several He-Man/barbarian themed ring gears for the bigger events. At this past Wrestlemania, he came to the ring by walking out of a large Castle Grayskull-looking stage. After a little poking around wwe.com, you could see that there is some synergy ablaze between the two companies.

They’ve posted a bunch of photos of the Masters and wrestlers teaming up, as well as some short write ups about what would happen if they encountered each other.

But what was really cool is the sections where they have the wrestlers sharing their childhood stories about being He-Fans, whether it be the Miz wishing he was He-Man or Brodus Clay sharing his fondness for the villains. I think my favorite was Sheamus talking about his obsession with getting a Stratos figure.

WrestleMania Flashback: WrestleMania V

I really wished that Macho Man had beat Hulk Hogan. Oh well...

WrestleMania V was the big thing right around when I became hooked on professional wrestling. We had moved in with my grandmother for a bit, and this was the first time we had cable. Watching the feud between the two grow was epic.

But I’ll admit I was disappointed. When I was young I always preferred Macho Man and Roddy Piper to Hulk Hogan, so this was kind of a bummer to me.

THE GOOD: As a whole, it was decent but nothing too spectacular.

THE BAD: Did they really need to include the Red Rooster/Bobby Heenan match? It just felt like a time filler, and at most a break before the main event.

MATCH TO WATCH: Mr. Perfect and the Blue Blazer (a masked Owen Hat) have a really good match that is so different from anything else that was in the WWF at that time.

WrestleMania Flashback: WrestleMania IV

WrestleMania IV is awesome because the whole show is built around a one-night tournament for the vacant WWF title. Being that this is from 1988, you would assume that Hulk Hogan or Andre the Giant would be the winner. But in an amazing swerve, the two of them were eliminated in the first round!

THE GOOD: When I re-watched this for the first time in years, I had no idea how the tournament played out, save for the Andre/Hogan match. The unpredictable nature of a tournament really helped make this a fun show to watch.

THE BAD: Don Muraco versus Dino Bravo wasn’t so hot. I would have liked to see more Rick Rude, but those are the breaks. On the bright side, it gave us that awesome Rude/Jake Rogers feud.

MATCH TO WATCH: The final match of Randy Savage versus Ted DiBiase for the championship is great, and the crowd goes insane when Andre and Hogan get involved in the finish.

WrestleMania Flashback: WrestleMania III

Ricky Steamboat takes on Randy Savage.

Like anyone who was a kid in 1987, WrestleMania III is remembered as the time Hulk Hogan beat Andre the Giant. That, and it was the WrestleMania that had Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart on it.

It was held at the Silverdome in Detroit and it really has the big event feel. There was literally 90,000 people packed into the stands at this football stadium. The dressing room was so far away that the wrestlers came to and from the ring in these funky looking little carts that were made to look like tiny wrestling rings.

From the wide cast of characters to the big went feel, this is really a textbook example of what professional wrestling should be–a huge spectacle.

THE GOOD: Rightfully so, everyone always talks about how awesome the Ricky Steamboat/Randy Savage match was. It might be the best WrestleMania match ever.

THE BAD: There’s nothing really terrible on this event. Andre/Hogan isn’t as good as the Steamboat/Savage match, but the storytelling aspect carries it.

MATCH TO WATCH: Most people would recommend either of the two previously mentioned matches, but they have been discussed to death over the years. I’m going to go with Roddy Piper versus Adrian Adonis in a hair match. The feud between the two was great to watch unfold and is an appropriate conclusion.

WrestleFest

Who remembers the old WrestleFest arcade game? WWE and THQ have resurrected this classic for the iOS, and I must say that its a lot of fun. It’s a very simple, straight-forward wrestling game, making it a great time waster.

You get to choose among a roster of classic and current WWE stars. So If you wanted to recreate the epic “Stone Cold” Steve Austin/the Rock feud, or fantasy book a series of Randy Orton/”Macho Man” Randy Savage matches. Aside from straight up matches, they have tag teams and the Royal Rumble.

The game play is a little awkward on the iPhone or iPod touch, as the touch screen is a little hard to use at times. It’s a lot of fun, and there are going to be more wrestlers and arenas available as downloadable content each month.They’re also porting this to XBox Live, which I can’t wait for.

So Did The Muppets Survive Monday Night Raw?

Stretching is an old timey style of pro wrestling where your goal is to literally pull your opponent apart. Here poor Gonzo gets stretched by Jack Swagger, Vickie Guerrero and Dolph Ziggler on the October 21, 2011 episode of Monday Night Raw.

So last night as my long-awaited episode of WWE’s Monday Night Raw, where the wrestling show was invaded by the Muppets. This was one of the most fun episodes of any professional wrestling show that I can remember. I wish we could see more team-ups with the Muppets in the WWE in the future.

This was one of the best segments involving the Muppets, with poor Beaker being bullied by Christian. Our favorite meep-ing lab assistant was rescued by Sheamus in a moment of sheer hilariousness. I love how they made the two be related. Genius.

Most of the Muppet involvement last night revolved around a storyline with them feuding with manager Vickie Guerrero and her charges, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler. The three did not take to kindly to the Muppets being on their show, and with the help of Santino Marella, the Muppets were able to get their comeuppance.

Cody Rhodes didn't take too kindly to Kermit the Frog.

The episode had the Muppets making appearances throughout the rest of the episode. Miss Piggy kept flirting with the wrestlers and would get upset that the WWE divas would flirt with Kermit.

Even Statler and Waldorf were around, hanging out in their own luxury skybox; having been to the Phillips Arena in Atlanta where last night’s episode was taped, I can vouch for there not being a balcony for them. The two old bitter Muppets would pop up from time to time with their own sarcastic commentary.

I enjoyed this whole episode very much. It was just as silly and fun as I thought it could be, and this gets two thumbs up. You can find more clips of the Muppets on Raw on the WWE’s YouTube or on their website.

Muppets invade WWE

Finally, something I’ve been clamoring for. And I’m completely serious.

For years I’ve always thought that the format of Monday Night Raw was like the The Muppet Show. Both shows feature a cast of crazies and eccentrics running around causing mayhem, with some sort of hapless leader figure trying to salvage the show, whether it be Kermit the Frog or who ever the general manager of Raw is at the moment.

This was furthered a couple years back when Raw started having special celebrity guests. If you ever saw the clips of The Price Is Right‘s Bob Barker on Raw, it totally seemed like an episode of The Muppet Show.

I’m looking forward to this episode of Raw more than any in quite a long time, but there’s a large contingent of haters. So to them, I politely ask that you consider the following:

  1. Survivor Series is about three weeks away, and they’ve already pretty much set up what the main matches are going to be. It’s not like Fozzie and Gonzo will be messing up Nash/HHH or Cena and Rock/Killings and Miz.
  2. Too many fans are stuck in the OMG! ECW/ATTITUDE era. If you want to see bloody, hardcore wrestling or over-the-top gimmicks and promos, that’s fine. But you do have to acknowledge that the WWE has made a lot of money in better advertising and sponsorship by abandoning that direction. And if wrestlers interacting with the Muppets isn’t your cup of tea, check out some Ring of Honor.
  3. IT’S THE FREAKING MUPPETS!!!?!?!?!!!!! What’s not to like?

So set your DVR. I know I will. WWE’s Monday Night Raw airs next Monday at 9 pm.

WWE and Comics: Perfect Together

Let’s face it; professional wrestling and comic books are very thematically similar. Pro wrestling is a lot like comics coming to life, filled with heroes and villains (clad in over the top costumes) battling for supremacy. Even their fanbases overlap; they’re both constantly criticized for liking something many disregard as something you should have given up by the time you turn seven.

Over the years, comics and wrestlers have crossed over many times. Some of today’s best grapplers, guys like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Shane Helms, are all devoted comic readers. Wrestlers like Rey Mysterio and Nova have worn many comic inspired outfits to the ring. ECW’s Raven and the Sandman spent the majority of the 1990s wearing t-shirts featuring art from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Even Hulk Hogan’s name is a reference to a certain gamma powered monster…

Anyway, it’s no surprise that the professional wrestling world would be represented at Comic Con last week. Both WWE and Impact Wrestling were out in full force. But WWE took it one step further, expanding one of their angles (wrestling speak for “storyline”) during one of their panel presentations.

During the presentation, wrestler HHH (who now runs the WWE in story) gets interrupted by WWE champion CM Punk, who himself is an avid comic book fan.

In the WWE storyline, Punk won their championship on his last night wrestling for the company and is keeping the title high-jacked. The question is when—or will—he return to the WWE, and by having him harass it’s on-screen chairman only keeps this moving. It was a nice little way to make those in attendance feel like they’re part of the story.