Categories
Sneakers Style

How to Clean Vans: Your Step-By-Step Guide

In the realm of Sneakerdom, no shoes have managed to come so far yet stay so true to their spirit as Vans. In the past 50 years, the thick-soled kicks have gone from the signature shoe of California skaters to the preference of every guitarist in a pop-punk band to the perfect high-low staple of street style stars rocking them front row at Fashion Week. But through all their iterations and hypebeast-approved designer collabs, the coveted sneakers have always maintained their cool kid status and sense of rebelliousness. We mean, when a shoe’s motto is literally “Off The Wall,” they’re practically begging to see some excitement, whether you’re wearing them to kick-flip or kickback. 

Unfortunately, with getting down comes getting dirty. When your favorite pair of Vans has gone from worn-in to straight-up scruffy, here’s how to get them looking good as new (so you can start to get them dirty all over again).

DOs & DONTs

DO take into consideration what material your Vans are made of before attempting to scrub them clean – canvas, leather, and suede all require slightly different methods and materials!

DON’T just throw them in the washing machine. Even in a mesh delicates bag or pillowcase, the shoes risk getting damaged and/or losing their shape during a spin cycle, so we recommend rolling up your sleeves and always deep-cleaning by hand.

Canvas
Vans

Let’s start with the classic canvas material, which spans Vans’ signature Old Skool, Authentic, Checkerboard Slip-On styles (and beyond!).

Step 1: Prepping the kicks

Remove insoles and shoelaces (if the sneaker style has them) and place those aside.

Step 2: Dust off

Brush off any loose dirt or dust from the canvas upper, rubber strip, and bottoms using a shoe brush.

Step 3: Spot treatment

Spot treat any stubborn stains with a stain remover (such as the one included in Vans’ very own care kit). Apply directly onto the stain and leave on for 15 minutes. 

Step 4: Hand wash

Hand wash with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. You can also use a toothbrush to gently clean within seams or the grooves of the waffle outsole.

Step 5: Drying off

Wrap damp shoes in a towel to remove any excess water. Leave to air dry away from heat and sunlight.

Step 6: Cleaning the laces

Wash laces in a bowl of warm water with mild detergent. Leave to dry on a towel.

Step 7: Cleaning the insoles

Using a toothbrush, scrub insoles with a mixture of baking soda and mild detergent. Leave for 15 minutes before rinsing and air drying.

Step 8: Post-cleaning care

After each cleaning, spray shoes with a water and stain-proofing spray, like the KIWI Sneaker and Shoe Waterproofer, which will protect your kicks and help them last longer.

White Canvas
Vans

When it comes to getting your white canvas Vans looking as pure as snow again, you do have to switch things up slightly.

See Steps 1 and 2 above.
Step 3: Creating your bleach

Combine one tablespoon of baking soda and ½ tablespoon each of hydrogen peroxide and warm water. Mix into a thin paste.

Step 4: Scrubbing

Dip a toothbrush into the paste and use it to scrub your shoes gently.

Step 5: Rinsing off

Wipe with a clean wet cloth to rinse off the solution—Air dry in a cool place.

See Steps 6 through 8 above.
Suede
Getty Images

If your go-to Sk8-His or other favorite Vans silhouettes feature suede uppers, all hope is not lost. Despite requiring a slightly higher degree of delicacy, along with a few specialty products, suede can be cleaned up like new.

Step 1: Prepping your kicks

Remove insoles and shoelaces and place those aside.

Step 2: Dust off

Use a soft suede brush to remove any loose dirt on the surface of shoes.

Step 3: Spot treatment

Spot treat stains using a small amount of specialty suede cleaner and working it in gently with a toothbrush.

Step 4: Scrubbing

Scrub the rubber strip and bottom of soles with warm soapy water using a toothbrush – careful not to wet or soak the suede.

Step 5: Let ’em dry

Leave to air dry.

Step 6: Cleaning your laces

Wash laces in a bowl of warm water with mild detergent. Leave to dry on a towel.

Step 7: Scrub and finish up

Using a toothbrush, scrub insoles with a mixture of baking soda and mild detergent. Leave for 15 minutes before rinsing and air drying.

Leather
Vans

Love the leather sport styles or slip-on shoes? Even after a little wear and tear, they can look sleek and shiny once again. 

See Step 1 above.
Step 2: Dust off

Brush off any loose dirt or grime from the leather upper, rubber strip, and bottoms using a shoe brush.

Step 3: Scrubbing

The experts at Vans recommend using Nikewax Footwear Cleaning Gel and a synthetic brush for leather to scrub.

Step 4: Waterproofing

After the leather is clean, use Nikewax waterproofing spray (available in a duo pack with the cleaning gel) and work into leather and stitching.

Step 5: Drying

Let air dry for 24 hours.

See Steps 6 and 7 above.
Bleaching The White Rubber Strip
Vans

Most Vans styles boast that famous white rubber strip surrounding the sole. If yours is looking particularly dingy, here’s how to return it to its former glory.

Step 1: Protecting the shoe

Cover the fabric of the rest of the shoe with masking tape to avoid damage from the cleaning product.

Step 2: Getting your cleaning solution

Rather than reaching for bleach (which will turn the rubber yellow), fill a small bowl with one of Vans’ recommended cleaners: white vinegar, lemon juice, rubbing alcohol, or acetone.

Step 3: Scrubbing

Use a toothbrush to dip into the solution and gently buff the rubber strip in small circular motions.

Step 4: Finishing up

Once clean, wipe with a damp cloth, and voila!

Categories
Gaming New Releases

The 20 Best Anime Video Games to Play Right Now

Being an anime fan these days is pretty awesome.

Toonami still provides your usual curated lineup of dubbed shows, while popular anime streaming services such as Funimation Now, Crunchy Roll, and even Netflix provide an even larger slate of animated greats to follow. Back in the day, anime heads were forced to cop tapes with a few episodes of their favorite anime productions. There were plenty of notable video game publishers who tried their hands at getting in on the anime craze, but many of them failed spectacularly. Playable embarrassments, such as Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, Beyblade: Metal Fusion, and Yu Yu Hakusho: Spirit Detective, point to that sad revelation.

There is still an alarming amount of lackluster anime games being released to this very day. But there’s also a strong lineup of games based on popular anime and inspired by Japan’s celebrated art style to enjoy. We combed through all the garbage to gather all the gems within the anime games spectrum. We found 20 of the top anime games that let you play with your favorite spiky-haired icons and pull off the hypest special moves in existence. 

You’re welcome.

1. ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’

For the longest time, fans of Goku and the rest of the Z Fighters requested a 2D fighting game on par with other top-tier anime fighters. Arc System Works decided to step up and answer that request and ended up making that dream game a reality in the process. 

Dragon Ball FighterZ looks the part, sounds the part, and most importantly, plays the part. The 3v3 battles allow for insane combos that call on the power of your teammates’ varied assist attacks and super moves. Finishing off a foe by kicking them right into a mountain evokes memories of the anime’s most epic clashes. And this fighter’s massive roster includes a great lineup of fan-favorite variations of classic characters. Dragon Ball FighterZ is the undisputed king of fighting games based on beloved anime characters.

buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0700-CUSA09072_00-DBPROJECTZGOKU18
2. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 – Road to Boruto’

The Ultimate Ninja Storm series finally came to a close with the sixth installment in the long-running franchise. And boy, did it go out with a bang. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 brought back the beloved Ultimate Jutsu and Awakenings battle mechanics, plus it increased the game’s already high fun factor with the ability to switch between characters mid-battle. The story mode wrapped up all the closing chapters of the anime and made sure to make its biggest ninja clashes as epic as possible in boss battle form. The welcome DLC addition of Boruto’s first adventure is the cherry on top of Naruto’s finest foray into arena fighters.

BUY NOW
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0700-CUSA06381_00-NARUTOUNS4RTB000
3. ‘One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4’

There are plenty of animes that have gotten the Omega Force Musou game treatment in recent years. Mobile Suit Gundam, Berserk, Fist of the North Star, and The Heroic Legend of Arslan have all been represented by Dynasty Warriors’ button-mashing mayhem. The best out of that bunch has to be the Pirate Warriors games that take place within the swashbuckling world of One Piece

The latest entry in the series is undoubtedly the best – it features the largest collection of playable characters, the combat is even more hectic (in a good way, though), the inclusion of original characters & brand new scenarios is pretty cool, and the wider range of special moves at your disposal allows for even more combo potential. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is pure light and heavy attack button-mashing heaven.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1089090/ONE_PIECE_PIRATE_WARRIORS_4/
4. ‘Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise’

If the combination of Fist of the North Star and SEGA’s Yakuza franchise entices you, then this open-world action RPG should be a part of your anime games library. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise lets you wield the Hokuto Shinken martial arts mastery of Kenshiro and gets you embroiled in the conflicts centering around the city of Eden. 

The anime’s most important protagonists and antagonists make special appearances, which usually lead to some of the best boss fights in the game. Just like the Yakuza games, Lost Paradise lets you hop into some awesome minigames. Playing retro arcade games, running a hostess bar, hitting baseball home runs, bartending, etc. are all a blast. And of course, making enemies’ heads explode with Kenshiro’s fists of doom never gets old.

buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0177-CUSA12776_00-HOKUTOGOTOUS0000
5. ‘Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’

Don’t front – as a young Dragon Ball Z fan, you most definitely drew your own spikey-haired Saiyans and wished they could be a part of the show’s beam-struggling encounters. The first Xenoverse game gave those same fans the chance to create their own characters and it was decent enough. It’s the sequel that truly helped the Xenoverse concept tap into its full potential. 

The main hub world of Conton City is massive and home to all sorts of gameplay modes that will suck up all your time. Upgrading your custom Z Warrior and righting the wrongs of altered Dragon Ball Z timelines is a fun time. There’s so much to see and do in Xenoverse 2 – there’s tons of story mode content, character skills, costumes, parallel quests, and so much more to pour your energy into. Xenoverse 2 is practically the Dragon Ball Z MMORPG that fans have always dreamed of.

BUY NOW
https://store.steampowered.com/app/454650/DRAGON_BALL_XENOVERSE_2/
6. ‘Persona 5 Royal’

Development studio P-Studio released the best Persona entry to date back in 2017. The JRPG’s incredible soundtrack, charming cast of characters known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, and overwhelming offering of meaningful gameplay made it a hit amongst fans of the genre. In 2020, Persona 5 Royal arrived and added even more worthwhile content to a game jam-packed with it already. A new Phantom Thief member joins the stylish proceedings, plus a new Palace, new tunes, and all sorts of system adjustments/improvements shined up Persona 5 to near perfection.

buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0177-CUSA17416_00-PERSONA5R0000000
7. ‘Persona 4 Arena Ultimax’

Arc System Works got the chance to pit the heroes and villains of Persona 4 against each other in a quality 2D fighter with Persona 4 Arena. And like most fighters of its kind, that game got retooled and refreshed with an upgraded edition known as Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Eight new characters were thrown into the mix, charge-up attacks opened up the battle mechanics even more, and Shadow Types offered players varied character options to master. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax retains all of the elements the Persona franchise regularly abides by while presenting them within an excellent 2D fighter package.

buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0005-NPUB31563_00-P4AU000000000000
8. ‘.hack//G.U. Last Recode’

Once the 15th anniversary of developer CyberConnect2’s action RPG series rolled around, it was only right for it to bring back the original games in some form for modern devices. The first three titles from the .hack//G.U. story arc got remastered, plus a bonus adventure from the cult favorite franchise was thrown in for good measure. 

The crisp anime visuals got even crispier, the battle mechanics/game pacing were thankfully enhanced, and brand new modes presented longtime fans with even more content to enjoy. Exploring The World within this remastered collection is the definitive way to enjoy the .hack//G.U. trilogy.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/525480/hackGU_Last_Recode/
9. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot’

Alright, let’s keep it a stack – Dragon Ball Z: Sagas was a horrible attempt at creating an action/adventure game for the mega-popular anime. CyberConnect2 got the chance to try their hand at making a game that’s similar in fashion to that aforementioned disappointment and did a far better job. 

The game it ended up delivering is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, a fine action RPG that lets players play out each story arc’s most intense battles. Besides beating up Goku’s most heated rivals and playing as his friends, players got the chance to go fishing, soar through the skies, collect orbs (which is strangely addicting), mix it up with characters from every corner of the Dragon Ball universe, etc. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is the ultimate way to relive the Super Saiyan adventures of Goku and company.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/851850/DRAGON_BALL_Z_KAKAROT/
10. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3’

The initial Dragon Ball Z: Budokai games were decent at best, but it was clear that they were building up to something truly special. Those first two attempts paved the way for the third game, which took everything those titles perfected and added it onto a slate of other features worth mentioning. 

The cel-shaded art style brought even more life to the game’s source material, which went a long way towards making the game’s battles look as if you’re watching the actual show. Beam struggles, character transformations, the Fusion technique, and the Dragon Rush system were just some of the added mechanics that truly opened up the series’ combat within this third entry. As for the game’s Dragon Universe mode, it gave Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3 one of the best single-player modes ever seen in a fighting game. Budokai 3 is still worth checking out to this very day (avoid the Infinite World expansion, though).

buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Ball-Budokai-PlayStation-2/dp/B00026RFI2
11. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3’

Once the Budokai sub-series was put to rest, the Budokai Tenkaichi tournament took ahold of things. The third entry in the series strengthened the ground- and air-based combat mechanics for the better. And thank the heavens that the battle gameplay reached its apex while the roster reached over 150 playable characters. 

Famous faces and even super obscure characters from Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT were available to mix and match in the game’s super repayable team battle mode. On the gameplay front, Budokai Tenkaichi expanded each character’s arsenal by throwing in even more combos, a new evasion maneuver, an enhanced version of dashing, a combo finishing Ki wave, etc. Budokai Tenkaichi 3 is undoubtedly a God-tier DBZ game.

buy now
https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Ball-Budokai-Tenkaichi-PlayStation-2/dp/B000RW3V34
12. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Maxiboost ON’

Mobile Suit Gundam aficionados finally have their dream fighting game in the form of this arcade to PS4 port. A grand total of 183 fan-favorite Mobile Suit units are at your disposal in this hyperactive arena fighter. 

The battle mechanics at the heart of this mech brawler feel like a natural evolution of SEGA’s Virtual-On games, plus its wealth of single and multiplayer content makes it much more valuable than your average anime arena fighter. Once you’ve gotten acclimated to the game’s complicated control scheme, you’ll quickly become enamored with the intense Mobile Suit Gundam battles happening on your screen. Skip over Gundam Versus and give this pick on our list all your attention instead.

buy now
https://store.playstation.com/en-us/product/UP0700-CUSA18758_00-EXTREMEVSMBONPKG
13. ‘Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2’

Arc System Works’ metal rock-infused 2D fighter has always been gorgeous. But when it decided to use Unreal Engine 3 to replace the series’ hand-drawn sprites with cel-shaded visuals, Guilty Gear reached a new plateau of visual fidelity. Guilty Gear Xrd started out good and got even better over the course of two follow-up updates.

The definitive release of Xrd came in the form of REV 2, which added a much-requested lady samurai and the coolest ninja assistant in fighting game history. A host of balance adjustments, new stages, more moves, and expanded game modes added onto REV 2’s final package. The game’s head-banging soundtrack and badass fight mechanics will bring you in and keep you as a longtime Guilty Gear fanatic.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/631560/GUILTY_GEAR_Xrd_REV_2_Upgrade/
14. ‘BlazBlue: Central Fiction’

Arc System Works is all over this list, huh? But that’s for good reason – the Japanese publisher/developer’s mastery within the anime fighting game space is unmatched. Even when Arc System Works stepped away from the Guilty Gear franchise to create something new in the form of BlazBlue, it still held up its usual level of quality. 

The final version of the BlazBlue games arrived on American shores in 2016 and was the best installment yet. New battle modes were thrown in to expand the game’s already massive array of special moves, plus the expanded roster was the best form of a final thank you from its dedicated dev team. Ragna the Bloodedge’s journey concluded here in the best way possible. The Azure Saga was surely a fun and memorable one.

BUY NOW
https://store.steampowered.com/app/586140/BlazBlue_Centralfiction/
15. ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution’

Yu-Gi-Oh! serves as one of the most entertaining card games ever made. Once it took hold of a young generation of avid collectors and professional players back in 2000, it quickly became the latest anime craze to capture the imagination of America as a whole. Fast forward to 2019, which is the year when fans still old enough to remember Yu-Gi-Oh’s! Golden age got its greatest video game to date. 

Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution features a who’s who of the series’ duelists and lets you play out the climactic card clashes that erupted between them. And with a library of 10,000+ cards on deck (pun definitely intended), you’ll get hours of fun out of just mixing and matching different card sets for offline/online battles. If you’re looking for one of the best card games to enjoy on the go via a Nintendo Switch, look no further than this pick on our list.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1150640/YuGiOh_Legacy_of_the_Duelist__Link_Evolution/
16. ‘Astro Boy: Omega Factor’

Do you know what’s wild? The PS2 Astro Boy game pales in comparison to the one featured on a handheld platform. Treasure, the development studio behind that Game Boy Advance classic, ended up doing right by manga author/illustrator Osamu Tezuka’s beloved young robotic hero. 

Astro Boy: Omega Factor is remembered fondly for featuring the type of high-octane beat ‘em up/shoot ‘em up action Treasure games are known for. Smashing goons on the ground and blasting them out of the sky remains fun throughout the entirety of this handheld gem. Astro Boy: Omega Factor looks just like the iconic anime it represents and provides an amazing Treasure experience on par with Gunstar Heroes and Guardian Heroes.

buy now
https://www.ebay.com/p/30580484
17. ‘Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r]’

One of the more underrated fighting game development teams in the world today is none other than French Bread, the studio responsible for cult classics such as Melty Blood and Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax. The anime fighter the studio has gained plenty of high regards these days is Under Night In-Birth. It’s incredibly fast-paced combat and reliance on complex gameplay mechanics have given it long-lasting appeal. 

The most recent iteration of this game is the one you’ll want to seek out if you haven’t already. This version introduces a new system in the form of the Cross-Cast Veil Off, which gives players even cooler combo possibilities to play around with. And with the addition of the frosty mage known as Londrekia, this anime fighter’s roster reaches another plateau of excellence.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/801630/UNDER_NIGHT_INBIRTH_ExeLateclr/
18. ‘Granblue Fantasy: Versus’

Arc System Works can seemingly make a fighting game out of anything. In 2020, it adopted the lush and vibrant world of Granblue Fantasy and transported its warriors into a beginner-friendly fighting game. Fans of the original mobile RPG were welcomed with open arms once Granblue Fantasy: Versus arrived thanks to its easy application of combos and special moves for each character.

That’s not to say that this game is a complete skip for pro-FGC players, however – Granblue Fantasy: Versus’ dynamic roster gives way to all sorts of unique combo paths and differing playstyles. Then there’s the added RPG mode, which is an awesome bonus that gives beat ‘em up fans something else to keep busy with besides local/online battles. Granblue Fantasy: Versus is easy on the eyes and easy to play, but its complexities will surprise you and keep you playing it for longer than expected.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1090630/Granblue_Fantasy_Versus/
19. ‘Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition’

Nintendo/Game Freak’s undisputed king of creature collecting RPGs has held that title for years. Its main competition comes in the form of the Digimon franchise, which hasn’t had the greatest of luck when it comes to delivering above-average video game adaptations. 

Once those digital monsters fans adore so much got the full-fledged RPG treatment, greatness ensued. Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and its sequel Hacker’s Memory transport players to a world full of digital mysteries surrounding cyberspace. Getting to the bottom of both games’ worldwide web capers entails collecting, raising, and Digivolving an army of Digimon that fight alongside you. The story, characters, and super addictive creature collecting RPG mechanics within this collection are endearing enough to grab your attention for hours on end.

buy now
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1042550/Digimon_Story_Cyber_Sleuth_Complete_Edition/
20. ‘Fairy Tail’

Koei Tecmo decided to do something different when it came time to produce a video game for Fiore’s most heralded guild. Instead of throwing Natsu and gang into a Musou-inspired beat ‘em up, they handed the reins over to RPG developer Gust Co. Ltd. Thanks to its fine work on the Atelier franchise, Gust was able to produce a surprisingly good turn-based RPG based on the three most epic arcs within the Fairy Tail saga. 

This final pick on our list is jam-packed with worthwhile content – there’s a satisfying amount of characters to bring into your stable, a unique battle system, catchy music, and side missions galore. Even during the closing hours of this game’s vast journey, there’s still so much to do and battle with the Fairy Tail guild. Once 2020 comes to a close, Fairy Tail will be known as one of the better RPGs of the year.

buy now
https://fairytailgame.com/
Categories
Sports Strength

UPNXT: Best Week 4 NFL Waiver Wire Pickups and Trading Card Moves

After everything that happened in Week 2, Week 3 felt like a big breath of fresh air! Or maybe that’s the cooler weather I’m feeling as we roll into October? Anyways, not only was the air fresh, but we also got to see a lot of fresh faces making an impact across the league.

In this week’s article, we get back to the figurative treasure hunt, and hopefully unearth some gems for your fantasy football teams, and your sports card portfolios. In just the third game of the season, this group of guys showed their stuff and embodied what it means to be “UPNXT” in the NFL. So, who are these guys?

Sticking with the theme this week, we have a Viking, a 49er, and even a Dolphin! Without further delay, let’s open our treasure maps, set sail towards the big red X, grab our shovels, and dig deep to find who’s UPNXT for Week 4!

BONUS: Hang around until the end for a quick recap of last week’s picks!

Justin Jefferson: WR, Minnesota Vikings
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

If you know anything about Vikings, you know they were notorious for showing up and raiding whatever, and wherever, they wanted in the medieval world. On Sunday, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings unleashed a raid of their own on the Titans, except this was an air raid, featuring rookie wideout Justin Jefferson. Although the Vikes didn’t get the win, there was an obvious connection between Cousins and Jefferson.

Jefferson easily led all Vikings’ receivers in Week 3 with nine targets, converting them into seven receptions, for 175 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the day for the rookie receiver came on a 71-yard bomb in the third quarter, which resulted in Jefferson’s first professional touchdown. “JJ” also had receptions of 33 and 31 yards, showing he has big-play potential written all over him.

Fantasy Ownership: Jefferson may not be as low owned as some of the other guys on this list, but at just 32%, he is likely available in most of your fantasy leagues. If he can continue to make the most of his targets like he did last week, the number two wide receiver role is his for the rest of the season. He is our top pickup of the week.

DFS: (DraftKings: $5,200, FanDuel: $5,400) @ Texans Week 4 presents a decent matchup for Justin Jefferson to continue where he left off versus the Titans. Facing the Texans, with a healthy implied game total of 53.5, this spot has the potential for fantasy goodness. The game should be close throughout, and while Houston has shown they have a competent pass defense, if the Vikings fall behind early, they will have no choice but to air it out often against the Texans.

Card Market Rating: 

eBay

Buy. With so few examples of graded Justin Jefferson cards on the market, it is hard to get an idea of his current value. Prices have jumped all over the place in the last couple of weeks for his Mosaic Silver Prizm, with ungraded examples selling as low as $15 right before this week’s game, and jumping as high as $50 after the game. If he continues to have big games like he did in week 3, his value will continue to rise. I like Justin Jefferson in both the short and long term.

Brandon Aiyuk: WR, San Francisco 49ers
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

It’s no secret that the 49ers are banged up right now. They’ve had trouble keeping their skilled position players healthy in recent years, and this year is no different. On Sunday, Brandon Aiyuk did his best Deebo Samuel impression, amassing five catches on eight targets, for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Not only that, he picked up another 31 yards on three carries as well, showing his versatility and athleticism in the process. That stat line led to Aiyuk finishing first in receiving, and second in rushing, an impressive feat to be certain.

Aiyuk dealt with an injury of his own in training camp but seems to be completely healthy and deeply involved in this offense. With the plethora of receivers on this roster, it was encouraging to see Aiyuk step up as the number one guy. Opportunity is the biggest reason why we chose to write about Aiyuk this week instead of the likes of Tee Higgins, Cedrick Wilson, or Andy Isabella. His upside is tremendous, and there’s little in way of competition until Samuel eventually returns to the lineup.

Fantasy Ownership: Aiyuk comes in at a slightly lower ownership percentage than Justin Jefferson. With Aiyuk rostered in just 27% of leagues, he makes for a nice backup plan if you can’t get your hands on Jefferson. He’s our close second favorite wide receiver addition this week.

DFS: (DraftKings: $TBD, FanDuel: $TBD) vs. Eagles A Sunday night matchup versus the struggling Philadelphia Eagles waits for Brandon Aiyuk and the banged-up 49ers. While we don’t have DFS pricing available for this game yet, we do have an implied total of 45, with the Niners opening as -6.5 favorites. With a modest total and the potential of being covered by Darius Slay, Aiyuk is likely a contrarian tournament play this week.

Card Market Rating:

eBay

Buy. I was a big fan of Aiyuk at Arizona State and thought his game would translate well in the pros. In week 3, he took advantage of the opportunity presented and put his name on the map. Just like Justin Jefferson, the Aiyuk card market is cluttered with mostly ungraded Mosaic base cards and Silver Prizms selling for between $10 – $30. He is in a great offensive system on an injured team that continues to win, giving him a chance to shine. With a Sunday Night matchup on the national stage coming in week 4, and considering the low cost of entry, the time feels right to take a flyer on Aiyuk. 

Myles Gaskin: RB, Miami Dolphins
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Did you tune in to the Beard versus the Stache showdown on Thursday night? If you did, you might have been surprised at how much the Dolphins used rookie running back Myles Gaskin, and how little they used Jordan Howard and Matt Breida against the Jaguars. In fact, they used Gaskin on nearly 79% of the running back snaps, compared to just 7% and 14% for Howard and Breida respectively.

Gaskin gobbled up 22 carries for 66 yards and added five receptions for an additional 29 yards on the night. Jacksonville has been surprisingly stingy against the run, but you must love the confidence this coaching staff has in Gaskin. There’s nothing to suggest that either of the veteran backs on the roster will wrestle away the lead back role from Gaskin, although Howard does seem to be the Dolphins’ preferred short yardage option.

Fantasy Ownership: Although Gaskin was a popular waiver wire writeup last week, he’s still under owned at just 47%. I expect fantasy managers to finally catch on this week, and Gaskin’s ownership to shoot up significantly. The line for the Gaskin train figures to be “Myles” long, so make sure you prioritize him if you need help at running back.

DFS: (DraftKings: $5,000, FanDuel: $5,400) vs. Seahawks Miami has the unfortunate task of playing the red-hot Seattle Seahawks this week, in a game which projects the Dolphins to be playing from behind all afternoon. The implied total is 54, making this a contest you’ll want to target from a fantasy perspective. Gaskin has proven to be the back that the Dolphins trust most in the passing game, so I expect the bulk of his production to come through the air. Considering this, he makes for a better play on DK, where we get full-PPR scoring. Gaskin is a fine GPP play this week.

Card Market Rating:

eBay

Hold. It’s hard to give advice either way here, but I am not buying into Myles Gaskin. The Dolphins backfield across the board is nothing special, and they won’t be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars on short rest every week. If you are a believer that the 2019 7th round pick can become THE guy in Miami, it won’t cost you much to buy some of his Prizm rookies, but don’t go crazy.  

BONUS: Week 3 Recap
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

THE LINE: Passing: 31/44 312 YDS, 2 TD. Rushing: 1 CAR, -1 YDS.

THE SCOOP: This game saw Burrow attempt a generous 44 passes, which seems to be a sign of things to come. Through three games, Burrow has thrown a whopping 47 passes per game. While this number is inflated thanks to Week 2, the Bengals will likely find themselves playing from behind a lot this year. Burrow should continue to be a solid play if he can stay healthy, (and that’s a big if), as he has already been sacked a league-high 14 times.

UPNXT: vs. Jaguars. The Tiger King gets a favorable matchup versus Jacksonville in Week 4. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue tallying big numbers, while taking care of the football and avoid taking sacks.

Dion Lewis, RB, New York Giants

THE LINE: Rushing: 1 CAR, 0 YDS. Receiving: 1 REC, 10 YDS

THE SCOOP: This was a stinker of a game all around for the Giants. Lewis found himself last in carries, but third in targets, despite leading New York’s backfield in snap share.

UPNXT: @ Rams. With the backfield picture unclear, and the Giants struggling to generate offense, Lewis is better off on your bench until his role his more defined.

Mike Davis, RB, Carolina Panthers

THE LINE: Rushing: 13 CAR, 46 YDS. Receiving: 9 TGTS, 8 REC, 45 YDS, 1 TD.

THE SCOOP: Davis dominated the carries for Carolina on Sunday. Not only that, but he led the team in targets with nine, which was probably the biggest surprise of all. The Panthers aren’t shying away from involving their running back in the passing game, which is something Davis’ fantasy owners like to see.

UPNXT: vs. Cardinals. I fully expect Davis to lead this backfield in touches once again. If he can continue to be a factor through the air, he should make for a safe RB3/FLEX play until CMC returns.

Categories
Careers Grind

Karena Evans Is Changing the Game

At just 24-years-old, Karena Evans is in high demand and taking the world by storm. One of the most booked and busy directors, Evans has had her hands full with both her acting and directing projects. While Evans’ big break came two years ago, the multi-talented Canadian first began gaining traction in 2018. However, like most successful individuals, Evans had a humble start.

Evans first began dabbling in directing a few years ago as an intern for Director X (the Canadian director known for collaborating with artists such as Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West). Evans was so impressive in her internship, that Director X hired her to work for his company Popprok. From there, Evans began slowly building her resume, and it wasn’t long before her work was noticed across the industry. Evans also began to be recognized for her versatility, when she directed a “Black Lives Matter” commercial for Nike.

As Evans continued to rise through the ranks, she captured the attention of fellow Toronto native, Drake. In 2018, Drake enlisted the then 22-year-old to direct the music video for his hit single God’s Plan.” The video was a huge success going viral on YouTube and Instagram. Sometimes the video for a song plays a part in propelling the single to more success and that is exactly what happened with “God’s Plan.” The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and the video itself has received 1.1 billion views, making it one of the most-liked videos on YouTube.

The God’s Plan” music video won ‘Video of the Year’ at the BET Awards, and was also nominated for ‘Video of the Year’ at both the MTV Video Music Awards and the American Music Awards. It’s safe to say that Karena Evans played a role in the success of the video and “God’s Plan” propelled Evans into stardom, gaining Evans praise from the music industry. 

That same year (2018), Evans starred in the indie film titled Firecrackers. The film saw Evans starring alongside actress Michaela Kurimsky, as two teenage girls trying to escape from their hometown. Firecrackers premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews. It currently has an overall rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

With a growing career as both an actress and a director, Evans continued building on her success directing SZA’s video for her song “Garden (Say it Like That).” The music video also starred Donald Glover and has received 17 million views to date.

The success of “Garden” and “God’s Plan” lead to Evans signing with William Morris Entertainment. Later that year, Evans teamed up with Drake again to direct the music videos for “I’m Upset” and “In My Feelings.” The latter featured appearances by Lala Anthony, Phylicia Rashad, and The City Girls. The video sparked the “In My Feelings Challenge,” and has received 214 million views to date. 

For her work, Evans won ‘Best Director’ at the 2018 iHeartRadio MMVA’s. The young director was also awarded the Prism Prizes Lipset Award for music video direction, making her the first woman in history to ever win that award. 

2019 saw Evans continuing the success that she achieved in 2018. The rising star won the ‘Video Director of the Year’ award at the BET Awards and directed season one of Tinder’s Swipe Night. The show is centered around Tinder users experiencing crazy and borderline apocalyptic adventures. The participants are matched with fellow Tinder users based on the choices made during those adventures. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Evans described why she chose to direct the Swipe Night series.

“I think Tinder has tapped into something really special. They created a scripted show that, above all else, allows its audience to start deeper conversations with who they have matched with. And that’s brilliant.”

The show drew in millions of viewers and was effective in increasing matches by nearly 30  percent. After the success of season one, Evans was signed on to direct season two of Swipe Night. In an interview with TechCrunch, Evans called the experience rewarding.

Karena Evans

Working on Swipe Night was such a fulfilling experience for me. I got to do something that had never been done before and innovate with storytelling to bring a generation of people together. I’m in search of projects that impact, shift, or curate a culture and couldn’t be more excited to return for more.

While 2020 has seen some delay in productions due to the unexpected Coronavirus pandemic, Evans has still been able to enjoy some pretty big success this year. Earlier this year, Evans directed the pilot episode of the extremely popular STARZ series P-Valley. The episode was her directorial television debut. In an interview with Backstage, Evans called her television introduction a “blessing.”

“It was a blessing to be able to have that sort of control as a pilot director, to envision what the world looks like and create that sandbox for the directors who follow to play within. I think it would have been a different sort of challenge for me, in my first time in television, to come in as an episodic director and understand that dynamic. Coming from music videos, where you really do have control from beginning to end, I had to adapt to the world of TV and understand the bigger players that I serve.”

As mentioned earlier in this article, Karena Evans is only 24 years-old. It’s rare to have a resume that extensive at such a young age. In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t all that long ago that Evans was interning for Director X. In terms of music videos, Evans is on the same trajectory both age and accomplishment wise as Melina Matsoukas and Hype Williams, both of whom are inspirations to the young director. On the television and movie side, directing P-Valley was a huge deal considering the pilot episode has set the tone for the whole series, and of course, Evans as an actress as well.

While future projects are still being kept under wraps, it’s clear that Karena Evans will be a force to reckon with for years to come.

Categories
Culture Music

Monday to Monday Spotlight: Rob Markman

If you love learning about the meaning of an artist’s lyrics, then you are most likely familiar with the name Rob Markman, the man responsible for telling the stories of some of your favorite artists at Genius. The Vice President of content and strategy, Markman has interviewed countless musicians in his nearly fifteen-year career. His passion for music and amazing storytelling has rightfully earned him his place as one of the top music journalists in the world, however, Markman himself is also an extremely talented musician. An artist before his journalism career, Markman is now reintroducing himself. The musician spoke with ONE37pm’s Mike Boyd about where he’s been and where he’s going.

Rob Markman

Like many artists, Markman’s journey began in New York City. Brooklyn to be exact.

“Musically, I grew up in a house in New York where my mom played a lot of R&B. She played everything from Michael Jackson to Diana Ross to Whitney Houston. My uncle was the Latin Jazz musician Willie Bobo, and of course, I grew up in the Hip-Hop era with Jay, Nas, Biggie, etc.”

If you are from New York, then you know how prominent battle rapping is. It’s a Hip-Hop rite of passage in the city, and Markman was no exception to the rule.

“I used to battle rap, but it was more so like the 8 Mile battle raps with the beats. I used to do that in clubs around the city.”

Becoming a musician requires years of grinding to get your name out there and people talking. However, for some, it may even require a temporary detour. The funny thing about life though, is that sometimes that very detour can end up leading you right back to where you were supposed to be.

“I made a demo with Plain Pat. This was before Pat worked with Drake, Kanye, Kid Cudi, and all those people. I was trying to get signed—it didn’t happen. I ended up working at a call center, and that call center was right across the street from Hot 97. I used to stand outside handing out my album. I was giving people like Angie Martinez, Kanye, and everybody my album long before I ever interviewed them.”

In the years following, Markman has gone on to become one of the most prominent journalists in music, but the passion for creating his own music has never left. Now here we are several years later, and Markman is picking up on the dream he’s had to push aside for far too long. His project Write to Dream, describes his journey perfectly.

Write to Dream was for my dream and other people’s dreams. Doing music was my dream, and when I was at XXL, I was kind of forced into an ultimatum where if I didn’t give up music, I basically would be fired. At the time I had two young sons, and I needed the money. I couldn’t sacrifice their well being for my dream. So that’s why I created Write to Dream because it was for my right to dream.”

Timing is everything, and there can sometimes be beauty in the wait. Now Markman is in the position to where he can do things his own way.

“Going through the years, I thought about having different rap names. I eventually decided to just use my name, and tell my story. When you’re interviewing other people, it’s not about you, it’s about their story, so my music is a way for me to talk about my life. Like my song “Last Night” is about almost getting shot. That’s the first track, and it’s a reminder to live life to the fullest —tomorrow is never promised.

I want people to know that what I do isn’t gimmicky, I want to tell a story. I know they say not to put too much stock into what people say, but it’s only natural, so I wanted to become more consistent with releasing music. Yes, I’m on Genius, but I realized that my outlet needed to match my output.”

That consistency led to the decision to release music on the 1st and 15th of every month.

“I drop on the 1st and 15th of every month, and that decision was a promise to myself. You know, the 1st and the 15th were when the government checks would flow through. So releasing my music is my way of paying myself.”

That means that we can expect frequent releases from the artist in the future. While Markman’s path hasn’t been traditional, it’s an inspirational story of never giving up on your dreams.

“The thing is, you have to decide if you want to look at music as an art, or the business side of things because they are very different. You have to make that decision. So create it and do it. Establish yourself as an artist, and everything else will follow. I remember seeing my billboard in Times Square and thinking about how Times Square didn’t use to even be like that back in the day. I’m from New York, and we are the most resilient city. Us natives have had to overcome nightmares to get to our dreams.”

Now Markman is living his dreams, proving if you never give up, you can accomplish anything.

Categories
Sports Strength

Against The Spread: Sheasby’s Week 3 NFL Best Bets

Back for more, baby. Sunday’s simply cannot come soon enough. I conditioned myself to expect no sports—you know, 2020—and here I am with first-day-of-school excitement day after day. 

Is it Sunday yet?

IS IT SUNDAY YET?

No, but here are my best bets for the week:

Jets vs. Colts
Colts -11.5
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Next week doesn’t get any easier as the Jets move to IND, who just throttled MINN 28-11, a defense that allowed Dalvin Cook, one of the best RB in the league, to only have 63 yards and forced 3 INT against Kirk Cousins.

What did the Jets offense do last week?

  • Frank Gore ran for 63 yards, averaging 3.0 YPC
  • They were 5/14 on 3rd down

The Jets offense is simply unable to play football. The entire offense is injured (Crowder out with a Hamstring, Perriman sprained ankle, Bell out for 2-4 weeks, Hogan left with a rib injury (but should play)), and they simply cannot move the ball.

  • 30th of 32 yards per play
  • 2020: 29th Offensive Efficiency; 11th in  Defensive Efficiency

Pair that with a Colts defense currently ranked 5th D-eff, 6th against the pass, 11th against the run, and is 1st in opponent Yards Per Play, ahead of both San Francisco and Buffalo, where the Jets failed to score double digits until garbage time in the 4th? Major yikes.

Line is fleeting away from the Jets, that’s for sure: opened at -7, now up to -10.5 w/ 83% of the bets on IND.

While the Jets are 0-2 ATS and historic trends point in their direction here, injuries + lack of talent should be too much for them to stay in it.

Taking the Colts -10.5.

Titans vs. Vikings
Titans -2.5
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Joe Public, how you doing? 78% bets can’t scare me away from this Titans game, as much as my inner contrarian wants it to. Before we dive into why I love the Titans, this week, let’s look at the Vikings:

  • Coming into the season, the Vikings had a LOT of turnover on defense, losing six key veterans. What does that mean exactly? They lost a combined 281 starts, 9 pro bowls, 62.5 sacks, 19 interceptions, and 16 forced fumbles.
  • The Vikings of course made replacements, but even in pre-season, there were murmurs of a defensive letdown, to which Coach Zimmer said there would be growing pains, but they have 16 weeks to figure out.
  • Weeks 1 and 2? Safe to say they haven’t quite figured it out.
  • The Vikings are currently ranking 20th in defensive efficiency (down from 4th in 2019), giving up 43 points to the Packers in Week 1 and 28 points to the Colts in Week 2.
  • On top of that, they’re ranking 23rd in Rush D-Eff, and have to face the ferocious Derrick Henry in Week 3.

Tennessee on the other hand has been a mixed bag so far in 2020: 2-0 yet 0-2 ATS. Of course, this includes Gostkowski leaving 10 points on the board for an easy win/cover in week 1 against Denver, and they allowed 13 4Q points last week to JAX to make the game far more interesting than it probably should have been. Dare I say they were looking past JAX to MINN? Perhaps, perhaps not – but I think that bodes well for the Titans this week.

The Titans offense has seemingly picked up where they left off, ranking 9th in O-EFF, but looking under the hood, that reveals that they’re currently 2nd in Pass Efficiency and 24th in Rush Efficiency. Surprisingly, the pass efficiency is nothing new: Henry’s presence on the ground opens up the air for Tannehill, and he’s taken care of the ball (they ranked 5th last season and 6th in rushing). This week poses an excellent “get-right” spot for Henry, as MINN defense ranks 23rd against the run, mentioned above. 

Tannehill has found a strong connection with tight end Jonnu Smith while Corey Davis and Adam Humphries have looked like reliable targets, and as such, the Titans offense should keep rolling this week (especially vs. MINN 19th ranked Pass D-EFF). 

Kirk Cousins has looked lost without Stephon Diggs to blow the top off of coverage (coming off an abysmal 133 yard, 3INT effort vs. the Colts), and while he should bounce back, it won’t be enough to get past a solid Tenn Defense.

Taking the Titans -2.5

Buccaneers vs. Broncos
Bucs -6
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Back on the Bucs? Of course. Why? The quick hitters:

  • Tom Brady has a career cover rate around 59%, and is playing with the best offense he’s had since 2007.
  • This offense has improved week-over-week, and should only continue to gel more. Godwin is back this week, and Fournette ran for 100+ yards last week. A strong running game will only help the passing game.
  • This passing game needs to improve, as they currently rank 21st in Pass O-EFF, and I believe they will, as they face a DEN defense that ranks 20th in PASS D-EFF.

The real X-factor for me here is the Bucs defense and the matchup at hand:

  • Currently ranking 4th in D-EFF, yet still somehow have the narrative that they’re ‘not good’
  • Denver is starting Jeff Driskel, who’s 1-7 in his career. Driskel did look solid last week when you look at yardage (256), but was wildly inefficiency, completing only 52% of his passes.
  • The Bucs defense forced 4 turnovers last week, and against an inexperienced (and rather average) QB this week, I look for that trend of dominance to continue.
  • Bucs defense is 9th in the league in opponent yards per play, while Denver is 27th in the league in offensive Yards per Play.

As such, I’ll be riding with the public once more on this one, playing the Bucs at under a touchdown. 

Taking the Bucs -6

Bonus Plays: Patriots -6, Steelers -3.5, Lions +6.5, Cowboys +5, Eagles -4.5

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

Elon Musk’s Leadership Style: 10 Strategies That He Uses Daily

As controversial as he is successful, Elon Musk undoubtedly stands out as one of the most innovative—and infamous—visionaries of our time. The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, who also has The Boring Company, Neuralink, and X.com (basically the first iteration of PayPal) under his belt, may have gained widespread fame due to his public persona, trigger-happy Twitter finger, and a notorious podcast appearance or two, but the serial entrepreneur and engineer owes his success, first and foremost, to his unique approach to leadership. After all, one can’t make billions of dollars without a dedicated team – and Musk has proven that he knows how to build one. 

Elon Musk joins the ranks of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos for many when considering the 21st century’s most influential CEOs, and like the respective founders of Apple and Amazon, is often cited as having a “transformational leadership” style. The concept is a part of the Full Range Leadership Model, a theory of three distinct leadership styles that vary in accordance with one’s engagement with the people they lead. Unlike those who embrace “laissez-faire” or “transactional” styles, a transformational leader is marked by their ability to inspire, motivate, and work closely with their teams to produce extraordinary results. Some managers hire people to complete boring tasks. Transformational leaders surround themselves with people who want to change the world.

Of course, working with a genius who has grand plans and high expectations isn’t always easy. One former employee at Tesla was quoted in Fast Company as saying both, “It was incredible,” and “I’d never work there again.” Another person who worked under Musk, this time at SpaceX, said of the founder, “We were in the presence of brilliance” and, “It scared me.”

Clearly, “complicated” comes with the territory of a confident and charismatic innovator. But no matter the conflicting opinions of Musk held by both his employees and the public, no one can deny that he is helping to shape the future, one project at a time. From tackling problems head-on and embracing failure to forgoing meetings whenever possible, here are the strategies Musk is known to apply on the daily at all of his companies.

1. He Inspires His Team
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One of the key tenets of transformational leadership is having a vision – and getting others to not only believe in it but inspired enough to help make it happen. “You have to have a very compelling goal for the company,” Musk has explained. “If you put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s talented at a world level, they have to believe that there’s potential for a great outcome and believe in the leader of the company, that you’re the right guy to work with.” 

Dolly Singh, former HR head at SpaceX, has said, “The thing that makes Elon Elon is his ability to make people believe in his vision.” It certainly doesn’t hurt that his sights are set on building a better future and improving industries for the greater good, from automotives to energy to space travel.

“The guy is pure ambition. He’s three or four steps ahead … Most of us can’t conceive these things working; he can’t conceive it failing. Period,” Jim Cantrell, SpaceX’s first engineer, has said of Musk. That kind of confidence and purpose keeps his team inspired.

2. He Sets Stretch Goals

Whether it’s creating brain chips to revolutionize neuroscience or finding a way to colonize Mars, those wildly ambitious, and thus ever-motivating objectives are all a part of Musk’s “stretch goal” strategy. According to the Harvard Business Review, “stretch goals involve radical expectations that go beyond current capabilities and performance,” and are also marked by extreme novelty. And while the Business Review claims that, in the past, “Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year,” it also notes that  “stretch goals are often viewed as truly important sources of individual and organizational motivation and achievement.”

Gwynne Shotwell, the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, said at the 2018 TED Conference, “When Elon says something, you have to pause and not blurt out ‘Well, that’s impossible.’ You zip it, you think about it, and you find ways to get it done. I’ve always felt like my job was to take these ideas and turn them into company goals, to make them achievable.”

3. He Challenges The Status Quo

In order to set the bar in every industry he has his hand in, Musk is a firm believer in paving his own way. Obviously, to achieve things that have never been achieved before, you have to do things that have never been done before. “Other advice I would give is to not blindly follow trends,” the entrepreneur and engineer has said. “Question and challenge the status quo.”


One example of his own advice in action? SpaceX’s development of a rocket from “a clean sheet of paper.” According to Shotwell, the scientists and engineers under Musk’s leadership did not have to include any pre-designed technology, but rather looked at the development of the rocket industry to pick the “best ideas and leverage them… without having to design around legacy components that maybe weren’t the most reliable, or were particularly expensive.” This approach allowed SpaceX to create a truly innovative vehicle on its own terms.

4. He Micromanages (Sometimes To A Fault)

Musk is a well-known workaholic, which serves as both a blessing and a curse for his employees. On the one hand, he leads by example—taking an interest in every single aspect of his projects: “If you’re co-founder or CEO you have to do all kinds of tasks you might not want to do … If you don’t do your chores, the company won’t succeed …No task is too menial.”

However, his notorious micromanaging has caused some friction throughout the ranks of his companies. In addition to working over 100 hours a week himself, he’s incredibly hands-on and “obsessive about the details.”

“He demands personal accountability from the people that are closest to the machines,” JB Straubel, the Chief Technical Officer of Tesla Motors, told the New York Times in 2018. “This freaks people out. They are worried that he will come to their area and start asking questions.”

According to former Tesla and SpaceX employee, Spencer Gore, “When [Musk] involves himself in low-level details it’s to enhance execution speed. For some engineers, this can be frustrating, at times heartbreaking—but Elon’s unconventional style is what built the Tesla we all chose to join.”

5. He Hires Smartly
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While some former employees maintain “There [is] only one decision-maker at Tesla, and it’s Elon Musk,” there’s no question that the CEO sees the value in building an excellent team. “Talent is extremely important. It’s like a sports team, the team that has the best individual player will often win but then there’s a multiplier from how those players work together and the strategy they employ.”

And to create that team, Musk is meticulous about hiring. “Hire great people…this is 90 percent of the solution, as hiring wrong can cost you so much,” Musk has said. “We challenge our people leaders to hire people that are better than themselves, therefore making the company better with each hire.”

6. He Embraces Failure

The surprising marker of all effective leaders? They’re not afraid of failure. And let’s just say that Musk has experienced it plenty of times (who can forget the time his “unbreakable” Tesla Cybertruck’s windows cracked—twice?).

However, failure does not derail his visions. Instead, he embraces it as a way to prove that his team is really doing something disruptive: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing you are not innovating,” he’s said.

Of course, for a perfectionist like Musk, failure is also necessary to identify problems, and then improve. “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”

7. He Uses Feedback To Find Solutions

When one uses failure as a lesson, it allows them to tackle problems head-on in order to find solutions and finally reach their goal. Musk’s self-proclaimed “single piece of advice” on this matter for both himself and his team is continuous feedback.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice – constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

Even criticism is valuable in Musk’s ventures. “A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold. You should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends. Usually, your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you,” he has explained. Even if you don’t agree with someone’s critique, “You at least want to listen very carefully to what they say.”

8. He Values Communication

At the core of that aforementioned “feedback loop” is, obviously, communication – something Musk urges his employees to do as efficiently as possible. 

In an internal letter sent to Tesla employees in 2018, the founder and CEO of the car company urged his team to communicate as quickly and directly as possible, and to always ignore any sort of “chain of command.”

“Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the ‘chain of command.’ Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere,” he wrote in the email.

“A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is to allow the free flow of information between all levels. If in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen. It must be ok for people to talk directly and just make the right thing happen.”

9. He Hates Meetings
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That same efficiency model is applied to everything, including every workplace’s least-favorite activity: Meetings. In his internal Tesla email, Musk also waived the need for unnecessary meetings that waste time and don’t result in any meaningful takeaways.

“Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get off all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short,” he wrote. 

“Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved. Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.”

10. He’s Adaptable

Perhaps one of his biggest strengths – and faults – is Musk’s ability to adapt and change course at the drop of a hat. The billionaire has been known to change his mind based on whatever needs attention at that moment or to change course on projects quickly. 

At SpaceX, Shotwell has described getting the company to catch up with his expectations only to have him throw something new at them – keeping the team constantly on their toes.

The president and COO said, “Once I realized that was his job…and my job was to get us feeling comfortable, I liked my job a lot more,” she said.

But Musk’s erratic decision-making, especially in reaction to things he reads on social media, can sometimes give his employees whiplash. 

“What ultimately triggers him to act and make a decision is what he reads on social media,” one former employee told Business Insider. “When you’re in a business meeting with him, he will pivot the direction of the organization literally overnight. So manufacturing could be a problem today, and as soon as it stops being reported on social media, as soon as it stops being reported in the news, then he’ll move on to whatever the news is claiming the new problem is.”

Nevertheless, his unique approach to management and his fostering of a challenging work environment has clearly led to multibillion-dollar success.

Categories
Entrepreneurs Grind

How Jamia Fields is Taking the Fashion World by Storm

When you say the name Jamia Fields, naturally your mind goes to the standout soccer player for the Houston Dash. While the former Florida State Seminole has enjoyed quite a bit of success in her professional career already, Fields has always had a lifelong passion for fashion, and now she is taking things to the next level. With some pretty big projects in store for the future, Fields is set to make big waves in the fashion industry. However just like with sports, there will be no labels, limitations, or definitions.

In order to understand how Jamia Fields got to where she is today, we’ve got to go back to her childhood. In her youth, Fields excelled as an athlete in not only soccer, but in other sports such as tennis and it was around this time that the young athlete from California discovered her love of style. 

“My love for fashion goes back to when I was a child. Just like I was in love with Soccer, I was also in love with clothes. I would spend all day trying on clothes as a kid.”

Jamia Fields

As Fields herself evolved, her style evolved along with her, and it wasn’t long before people started taking notice. The soccer star began regularly receiving messages and comments about what she was wearing, and it was then that Fields realized that she could take it a step further not only for herself, but for others.

“I would always have people coming up to me or messaging me about what I was wearing. Once that started happening, I realized that fashion was something that I could do.”

While fashion is a relatively simple concept, it can also be a little tricky. That process becomes even more complex when you’re styling and creating for others, as opposed to just yourself. It takes a certain level of talent to be able to style another person, and it can be even more difficult dressing the opposite gender. While styling others may be challenging, it’s also extremely rewarding.

“I think it’s powerful as a woman to be able to style someone, especially someone I don’t know. I always say it comes down to trust. When I’m styling somebody that I don’t know personally, I look at their Instagram, pictures, etc., to get a feel for their style and personality. I don’t like to really put ‘gender labels’ or limitations on fashion. For me it’s not really about ‘styling for a man’ or ‘styling for a woman,’ the process is pretty much the same. I know for me, with my style, I don’t do that. I shop in the men’s section, in fact, I was just in a store the other day, and I realized I walked out without even going into the women’s section!”

That authenticity is what’s allowed Jamia to achieve early success in her fashion career, and now there are big plans in place for the future, such as a collaboration with Saturday’s Football. With rising careers in both soccer and fashion, Fields has a lot on her plate in the coming months. However fashion is never too far away with her being the “fashion confidante” for her team. In fact, she’s been described by media outlets as a “pertinent part of the team dressing room.”

In the meantime, the Houston Dash are in full swing with their “Fall Series,” and the team faces the Orlando Pride on Saturday night. This season is a special one full of “Mamba Mentality.”

“My first year playing I wore the number 24. To be wearing it again this year just means so much more. Kobe was a big inspiration for me.”

As we approach the Fall and Winter, Fields has some advice for being safe and stylish as we continue to battle this pandemic.

Wear a lot of neutral colors! There’s a bunch of masks out there that can compliment your outfit. Masks don’t ruin outfits! It’s just how you coordinate it with what you’re wearing.

In the fashion world, it’s common to get asked “who are you wearing?” Soon a lot more people will be saying “Jamia Fields.”

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 17 Best Crime Shows On Netflix

If you’re someone who’d rather watch a gory ending than a happy one, your next foray into the world of television might be best served with the best crime shows available. These shows have everything, grit, gore, the human condition, serial killers, and are a great way to spend a Friday night in or a week at home alone. Best of all, all of these shows are available on Netflix, which means any cliff hangers can be fixed as easily as pressing the next episode button.

1. ‘Criminal Minds’

Based on a real-life unit of the FBI, Criminal Minds details the life and work of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. This crack team of criminal profilers uses in-depth psychology and behavior analysis to identify serial killers across America. In a show that could be dreary and raw, Criminal Minds manages to portray hard-hitting cases with terror and intrigue while still instilling audiences with plenty of thrills and the heartwarming experience of watching a found family live their lives. It’s especially great to start from the beginning, which features some exceptional 2000s fashion staples.

2. ‘Mindhunter’

If you say you like crime shows but you haven’t watched Mindhunter, are you even a crime fanatic? Created with the care and detail of a David Fincher film, Mindhunter details another FBI Behavioral unit, except this time, the best way to catch a serial killer is to learn from one. Set in the 1980s, Mindhunter’s main characters pioneer using psychology to catch America’s earliest and most notorious serial killers, in a show that is as dark as it is a fantastic watch.

3. ‘Lucifer’

A show about the devil might not immediately sound like your next crime classic watch, but Lucifer manages to fit God, monsters, and murder in its jampacked episodes. A reimagining of the classic “good cop bad cop tale”, the bad cop in this instance just so happens to be the eternal king of hell, up for a quick holiday in the city of Angels. When owning a nightclub and fulfilling desires isn’t enough to keep him occupied, Lucifer accidentally becomes a partner to LAPD detective Chloe Decker. While the show has plenty of supernatural elements, as Lucifer’s biggest problems follow him from hell to L.A, every episode begins and ends with Lucifer and the detective solving a gruesome murder— making the show pretty good fun all around.

4. ‘Dexter’

If you have a habit of rooting for the people committing the crime, look no further than Dexter. This classic showtime series follows Dexter Morgan, a forensic specialist for the Miami Police Department that uses bloodstain pattern analysis to solve crimes. So what’s the twist? Well, Dexter isn’t’ just a lowly police tech. He’s also a serial killer, who hunts down other famous murderers who have escaped justice. It’s like if Batman had a day job, and a fun penchant for aggressive murder. Because of his job, Dexter is extremely knowledgeable about dispatching and disposing of bodies, which makes his methodical kills and voiceovers a deranged but fun viewing experience.

5. ‘Hannibal’

The best crime shows are always the ones that refuse to shy away from the horror of the crime. And Hannibal might be the one show that takes that mentality to the next level. In a way that can only be described as nauseatingly beautiful, Hannibal tells the tale of young FBI profiler Will Graham (I’m sensing a pattern), who investigates serial killers by imagining himself in their bodies, visually committing their gruesome murders. Because any normal employer would be concerned by that, he is sent to Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist who also happens to ritually murder and eat people (but you know, in a classy way). Will wants to be normal, Hannibal wants him to start killing people, it’s a match made in crime television heaven.

6. ‘Tiger King’

If you’ve never heard of Carole Baskin or Joe Exotic, count yourself lucky. After you’re done doing that, watch Tiger King. This true-crime docu-series captures the actual, honest to god, very much true story of Joe Exotic: a gay, eccentric owner of a private exotic animal zoo. While a story about raising and owning tigers in captivity would be crazy enough on its own, Joe’s feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin starts as internet trolling and ends with Joe in prison for attempted murder. Want to find out how? Just click play.

7. ‘Unbelievable’

While most crime shows are treated as fun forays into a killer’s psyche, Unbelievable turns the genre back on its head. Based on a real-life story, this mini-series follows two detectives as they untangle serial rape cases in Washington and Canada. Most of their victims are called liars, traumatized, and unable to move on with their lives. It takes the work of the two detectives to unravel the case while highlighting the severe and incredibly unfair process of the U.S justice system’s procedure with rape cases. While Unbelievable isn’t the most fun watch, it’s an incredible story that details how belief can change a victim’s life forever.

8. ‘The People vs. OJ’

What better crime show to watch than the murder trial of a crime that dominated pop culture for a decade? The People v. O. J. Simpson is the first American Crime Story and a crime anthology for the ages. Based on the Jeffery Toobin book, The People v. O. J. goes back to the beginning, depicting the O.J in the biggest fight for his life. Going beyond the murder of his ex-wife, the series takes care to break down the trial by both defense and prosecution, setting up the ex-NFL player’s fight for his life like an expert game. With a deep look at the media circus and cultural impact of the trial, the series excels at adding to a story most thought they knew everything about.

9. ‘The Keepers’

Archbishop Keough High School was a normal all-girls school in Baltimore. Then nun Catherine Cesnik was murdered. The Keepers, a Netflix docuseries, explores the background before the disappearance and death of Sister Cathy. Mostly combining interviews and background information, the show artfully weaves facts and thoughts together as one, continuing to ask questions in a way that points viewers to suspicions without giving them the answer.

10. ‘Unsolved Mysteries’

Sometimes, the most interesting crime shows are the ones that don’t have answers. At least, that’s the case with Netflix’s recent foray into crime documentaries. Unsolved Mysteries, which takes its cues from its name, uses every episode to explore another unsolved murder (and one Alien sighting?). While each of the mysteries goes through the usual suspects, the in-depth interviews with families and the investigating officers make it clear that while there are no charges, everyone has their favorite suspect. Best of all, Netflix just dropped season 2 of the remake, which means getting through new and old episodes will be an absolute breeze.

11. ‘Broadchurch’

Think crime but make it British, and you’re close to capturing the magic that makes Broadchurch so good. Featuring Oscar award-winning actress Olivia Coleman and that brunette who used to be on Doctor Who or something, Broadchurch follows the death of an 11-year-old that rocks an English town. The two detectives must work together to parse through the emotions and get to the root of the child’s death, for better or for worse. With cinematography that could rival a blockbuster and a plot filled with thrills, intrigue, and genuine grief, Broadchurch is one of the greatest crime shows Britain has to offer.

12. ‘Making A Murderer’

What’s better than crime shows? True crime shows. A cultural phenomenon, Making a Murderer is best known for its goal to free Steven Avery, a Wisconsin inmate accused of the sexual assault and murder of Penny Beernsten. Filmed over ten years, the show details how Avery believes he was wrongfully convicted, and the race to have his conviction overturned.

13. ‘The Innocent Man’

Another true-crime docuseries, this show is based on John Grisham’s famous 2006 book, which follows murders in Ada, Oklahoma. While the show doesn’t give answers, it does call into question the confessions of the men convicted and opens up into how the justice system continues to fail the accused.

14. ‘The Assassination of Gianni Versace’

This American Crime story plots the death of Gianni Versace, a world-famous designer and auteur, who was murdered in front of his California home in cold blood. The killer, portrayed by Darren Criss, isn’t just a murderer. He’s obsessed with Versace. In an elegant and absolutely breathtaking series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace doesn’t just make his death intriguing. It makes it fashion.

15. ‘Sherlock’

What better way to watch a crime show than to sit down and take in a re-imagining of one of the most famous detectives of all time. In an expert and very odd portrayal, Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in their pre-Hobbit expedition. Watson is a British vet with a psychosomatic limp, who moves in with detective Sherlock Holmes. The two then embark on mystery after mystery, using Sherlock’s brains and Watson’s apologetic nature to solve crimes all around London town.

16. ‘Ozark’

More than just another sepia-toned show, Ozark follows a family of money launderers, as they move to the Ozark mountains to make amends for ruining an earlier laundering scheme. But while moving away keeps the family out of the hands of a Mexican cartel, it lands them in the arms of local criminals determined to keep their turf. A mafia tale surrounded by firs instead of fists, Ozark is a dark and beautiful show, that keeps you rooting for whoever holds the crown.

17. ‘Dark’

Really loved Stranger Things? Pretty good at reading subtitles? Then Dark is the next thing you need to add to your watch list. When a child disappears in a German town, the families most affected must work together to deal with the grief, and uncover a conspiracy far more sinister than anything this world has ever seen.

Categories
Sports Strength

Wednesday Night Wars: Dynamite vs NXT

Competition brings out the best in us. The desire to achieve a level of greatness beyond one’s competitors often leads to new levels being discovered. This can truly be said of the Wednesday Night War in wrestling, a head-to-head battle between two rival promotions, WWE and AEW. The war has become the ultimate battle in modern wrestling to capture fan attention. This competition has illustrated key philosophical differences in each promotion’s strategy. Yet, there’s a similar expectation each week from both promotions to put out top-quality matches featuring main event level talent. 

We enter this week of the war in a unique position. AEW had built a 6-Man Tag Team main event match for over a week until it was changed at the last minute due to main event star Lance Archer being diagnosed with COVID-19. Less than an hour before the episode, it was announced that the replacement match Dynamite would be a World Title match featuring champion Jon Moxley defending against challenger Eddie Kingston. This was in addition to the already announced TNT title match between Brodie Lee and Orange Cassidy. NXT, on the other hand, had built its main event for over a week, a 5-man gauntlet match to determine the #1 contender to Finn Balor’s NXT championship at the next NXT TakeOver. The competitors for this match were announced 1-by-1 over the course of the week on social media. We enter one program looking forward to two title matches, while we enter the other looking to find a contender for one.

This column shall compare and contrast the night’s competition based on the five categories that I believe comprise the perfect wrestling television program. The categories will include Matches, Promos, Storytelling, Excitement, Build

AEW Dynamite
Matches

Dynamite is rarely short on quality matches, yet despite featuring two title matches, this episode was driven more by the stories than it was by matches. I did appreciate how the matches on this episode built off of one another. For the most part, they improved as the episode progressed. The World Title match featuring Eddie Kingston challenging champion Jon Moxley was the best match on the episode. It was an absolute clinic and showed both of their admiration for Japanese Strong Style wrestling. These guys truly beat the hell out of one another. Other solid matches on this episode include Brodie Lee vs. Orange Cassidy for the TNT championship and Hangman Page vs. Evil Uno. The episode loses some points in this category for the tag match between the debuting Miro & Kip Sabian taking on Sonny Kiss & Joey Janela, which went a bit too long and was sloppy at parts.

SCORE: 7.9

Promos

This was a strong episode for promos. There is a seemingly endless supply of talkers in AEW. Eddie Kingston continues to give us a masterclass on how to cut compelling promos every time that he gets on the mic. I don’t know how any wrestling fan can change the channel after watching an Eddie Kingston promo. Chris Jericho continues to shine here with two brilliant talking segments, first against Matt Hardy and Private Party, and second with MJF. Jericho is the kind of promo that can make you want to buy his merch one moment before convincing you to want to punch him in the face in the next moment. Brodie Lee cut a promo that may have been the most “old school” thing I’ve seen in wrestling all year. There were many other solid promos this episode from FTR to Isaiah Cassidy. Even the worst promos on an episode of Dynamite usually hold up to the best promos’ on other shows.

SCORE: 8.7

Storytelling

I mentioned above that this was an episode mostly driven by stories. AEW displayed examples of long term storytelling that added purpose to the matches. The story between Hangman Page and Kenny Omega has been ongoing since the end of 2019. It’s played into a more in-depth story being told around the rise & fall of Hangman Page that’s been told since the launch of the promotion. Dynamite should be commended for its ability to feature the coming together of multiple stories in real-time. The little things are usually necessary with AEW, such as continuing Colt Cabana’s obscure membership with the Dark Order as background noise to the broader issues concerning Page and Omega. This episode also greatly added to Eddie Kingston’s story. Despite having a 2-1 match record, Kingston claimed he was never eliminated from a #1 contenders battle royal for weeks, only to lose his match questionably once again. This particular episode continued to build on its long term stories while also creating and continuing many short term stories. I’ll take some points for this plot hole: If Kenny Omega is trying to distance himself from Hangman Page…why has he done commentary for his matches two weeks in a row?

SCORE: 8.2

Excitement

This was an episode that seemed like it was designed to keep us excited in the beginning, only to recapture us for the main event. From the show’s kickoff, we are greeted with the long-awaited AEW debut of Miro (who looked like $1,000,000). Post-match, we’re given a heated segment between Eddie Kingston and Jon Moxley, hyping up the main event. I can’t imagine how anyone changed the channel after that segment as it set the tone for the remainder of the program. Most segments throughout the show featured characters and actions that were largely entertaining in their own way but didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. 

SCORE: 7.7

Build

We can’t talk about this episode in terms of its build for future events without talking about the return of the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes. After being out for several weeks, Rhodes made a fiery comeback, clearing house on the Dark Order. Brodie Lee’s post-match promo made it obvious that AEW is building to a dog-collar match between these two. The segment featuring FTR introduced their new “20-minute Brush With Greatness” concept which will feature them defending the tag titles in 20-minute matches, starting next week with the first-ever AEW tag champ, SCU. Finally, I can’t help but mention that AEW causally threw in a mention of the “30 years of Jericho” episode that will take place on the 10/7 episode. One criticism of note is that I felt that the run-in finish ending the show fell flat. It kept a bunch of characters in the mix but failed to get any of their actions over substantially. Overall, this episode did a solid job of building up future matches and programs without obviously detracting from the night’s presentation.

SCORE: 8.2

NXT
Matches

NXT is almost always a match heavy program. The brand prides itself on putting the emphasis on its in-ring product as opposed to talking segments. That being said, the majority of matches on the show felt only above average. The battle royal was entertaining but featured many unknown performers. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jake Atlas made Atlas look like a star until he was promptly crushed. The tag match was well executed for the jumble that it was. Austin Theory vs. Damien Priest had some cool spots. It was all decent, but nothing that rocked my world….until we got to the main event. I was utterly blown away by the gauntlet match in the main event. This match was about making new stars, and it made them. It featured five talents who were unestablished as main event singles stars and gave each a chance to showcase their skill sets in ways that maximized their credibility. It was awesome, and you should watch it.

SCORE: 8.1

Promos

This is where the show starts to really lack for me. When I said this was a match heavy program, I wasn’t kidding. It’s not just that there was nothing great promo wise on this episode, but that there was some stuff that was bad. Most of the matches took place without any talking or buildup. There was a segment in the backstage area that involved William Regal and Fandango trying to put together a tag team match that was both confusing and off-putting. Despite those criticisms, the episode isn’t completely devoid of decent promo work. The Garganos clearly show the most personality of any character on the brand. Johnny Gargano was able to add depth to the episode in what little promo time he had. I found the promo work in the video package for Ridge Holland to be entertaining, and it raised my curiosity about his character. Damien Priest showed more character than I’ve ever seen from him in his promo. It’s not all bad for this episode here, just some bad and nothing extraordinary.

SCORE: 6.3

Storytelling

It feels like NXT is in a definitive rebuilding period when it comes to storytelling. Many of the brand’s leading stars, such as Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, were moved to Raw and Smackdown in recent months, leaving NXT deprived of long-term stories. The core talent in NXT that storytelling revolves around are champion Finn Balor, Johnny Gargano, The Undisputed Era, & Tommaso Ciampa, all of whom have been on the roster the longest. Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly was introduced due to the main event, which seems like it could lead to a greater storyline within the Undisputed Era with O’Reilly and leader Adam Cole. But again, this is a story that was introduced in the final minutes of the episode.

Then you have the Garganos each trying to win championships of their own at the next Takeover, a story that’s been playing out over the past few weeks. We also have Ciampa, who has been completely brutalizing his opponents. So we have heel personas for the Garganos and Ciampa, but we haven’t gotten to the “meat” of any storyline involving those personas. My main criticism is that other than those stories mentioned, the episode felt completely devoid of long term storytelling. 

SCORE: 5.9

Excitement

This is an area where I’m going to show NXT some respect. They have a unique approach to production and a formula meant to keep viewers excited throughout. The show opens with an in-ring shot of all of the women in the battle royal. You don’t know exactly what’s going on, but you know something is about to. They have a sports-centric approach to structuring a show that keeps the focus on the in-ring product. If you’re primarily interested in watching long matches, this show kept you excited. They also do a great job of filling the space between matches with high-energy video packages that highlight the brand. I thought that the video package hyping up the main event was both brilliant and unique. It got me excited for a match that eventually delivered, and that’s part of what pro wrestling is all about. Overall, I would have to add the same critique for this show that I did for AEW; it was all about the main event.

SCORE: 7.8

Build

I previously stated that it feels like NXT is in a definitive rebuilding period, which bodes well for their ability to succeed in this category. This show was all about the build. Building matches for Takeover. Building new main event stars and new storylines. If this show did anything, it made me want to watch other NXT shows that I know will be better. The episode had me excited thinking about Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae teaming next week. I was even more excited for Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly at Takeover. I’m excited to know who the mystery return will be at the next Takeover. There is a lot to be excited about in NXT, and this show did a great job of building to it and making me aware of it. Unfortunately, most of the things to be excited about were not in this episode.

SCORE: 8.6

Final Scores

AEW: 8.2

NXT: 7.4

Both AEW & NXT primarily built to main events which delivered on every level. The critical difference between these two episodes is that AEW is overachieving in categories that NXT lacks in: Promos and Storytelling. Dynamite features a variety of the best talkers in the business as well as stories with a cannon that goes back to before the birth of the promotion. NXT, on the other hand, is building new stories around its legacy talent that haven’t fully formed yet. Additionally, NXT doesn’t give the talent that has the ability to cut long promos the time to do so. It’s not that NXT doesn’t have the talent to compete with AEW because they definitely do, but that they haven’t booked the talent they do have to excel in key categories that make wrestling the unique art form that it is. NXT focuses on building & promoting in a way that AEW doesn’t have to until the last half hour of the show. They provide some of the best in-ring product in the world, but AEW provides that and more, which is why their episode won my comparison this week.