Categories
Sports Strength

Why the Cincinnati Bengals Nailed the Ja’Marr Chase Draft Pick

After the 2021 NFL Draft, the draftnik Twitterati sneered at the Cincinnati Bengals for choosing JaMarr Chase (a mere wide receiver) with the fifth overall pick over Penei Sewell (a righteous and strong offensive lineman). Nevermind that Chase was widely considered to be one of the best receiver prospects in recent history or that Chase and Joe Burrow (the Bengals franchise quarterback) were former college roommates—by passing on Sewell, the Bengals had condemned their franchise quarterback Joe Burrow to a career of punishment and pressure behind a deeply permissive offensive line. 

This year, Chase is proving that sometimes, it turns out, memes are wrong. Through the first seven games of his career, Chase is on pace to become the greatest rookie receiver ever—no receiver has ever been more prolific than Chase through the first seven games of their career. And beyond the scope of history, Chase has also been one of the most best pass-catchers in the NFL this season: he has the second-most receiving yards (754) and yards per catch (21.5 yards), the fourth-most touchdowns (six) and the fifth-most yards after the catch (267).

In addition to his individual productivity, Chase has provided kindling for a suddenly explosive offense. Whether it be causation or correlation, the Bengals’ offense has surged this year with Chase, averaging 27.0 points per game, up from 21.3 points per contest in the 10 games that Burrow started last season; with a 5-2 record, the Bengals have already won more games than they did in either 2020 or 2019.  

The most startling thing about Chase, though, isn’t just his immediate greatness; it’s how naturally his greatness has manifested itself. There’s nothing revelatory about his game—he’s a fast, but hardly a burner like Tyreek Hill; he runs crisp routes, but lacks the hummingbird twitchiness of Davante Adams; he has strong, sure hands (in the regular season, at least), but not DeAndre Hopkins’s magnetic grip. Instead, Chase succeeds by simply being better than the guy guarding him; it’s hard to identify a single reason for his unstoppableness besides the fact that nobody can stop him. 

As such, Chase represents the crest of the new wave of wide receivers that has crashed upon the league in recent years. Within the last decade, football coaches at all levels have ditched the old customs and empowered players like Chase as offensive spread and air raid principles have been mainstreamed and, in turn, passing attacks have grown increasingly high-wattage. Viewed from a macro lens, the emergence of Chase—or a Chase-level rookie receiver—is inevitable; in this sense, Chase’s most special and singular accomplishment isn’t simply setting any record, but rather creating an expanded realm of the possible so that the next person can one day break it. 

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 44 Best 90s Horror Movies and Where to Watch Them

Gen Z is beyond obsessed with Y2K, but for many ’90s nostalgia reigns supreme. The decade that brought us cheesy classics like Titanic and Forrest Gump wasn’t only about sentimentalism — we also had plenty of scares. 

Although 90’s horror is often remembered as mindless dreck, the 90’s actually birthed some of the most critically acclaimed horror films ever made. It’s true that plenty of movies followed the most obvious formulas, but others were deconstructing the genre itself: smartly playing with the cliches of horror to make something starkly new. Meanwhile, while J-Horror was only of interest to the United States in the early ’00s, Japan was laying the blueprint for what would come in the genre long before Western cinephiles would take note in the new millennium. 

In celebration of long-forgotten classics, critical triumphs, schlocky remakes, and under-appreciated gems, we’re counting down our favorite 1990’s horror films in this unranked list: ranging from Oscar-winning thrillers to low-budget legends.

44. Arachnophobia

As per the title, Arachnophobia is a spider-filled horror comedy starring early 90’s icons like John Goodman, Jeff Daniels, and Frances Bay. Although it’s mostly played for laughs, the movie racked up wins at the esteemed Saturn Awards. Even the notoriously anti-horror film critic Roger Ebert loved it!

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Arachnophobia-Jeff-Daniels/dp/B003SI7QEO
43. Frankenhooker

Despite its immature sense of humor, Frankenhooker is a crudely glamorous movie about a man who reanimates his wife using body parts he harvested from — you guessed it — a prostitute. Rife for drag parody, the movie’s quirky aesthetic has made it a camp classic.

Watch Now On Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Frankenhooker-James-Lorinz/dp/B00W4E7GYS
42. Gremlins 2

Bearing almost no resemblance to the original film, Gremlins 2 is a parody of 1980’s hypercapitalism told through cartoonish histrionics and postmodern humor. The special effects are both laughably absurd and oddly endearing. In over-the-topness, this sequel far outshines the original.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Gremlins-2-Batch-Howie-Mandel/dp/B00KQ9VCP2
41. It

The epitome of coulrophobia, this two-part, made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King’s most notorious novel has some truly cringeworthy moments — but Tim Curry will live forever as the most legendary evil clown in cinema history.

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/stephen-kings-it-a9d14a4c-99ea-4034-8f45-b704f85feaf6
40. Misery

In yet another Stephen King adaptation, Kathy Bates is stunningly terrifying playing a horror writer’s biggest fan. When she discovers her idol is injured following an unfortunate accident, she takes it upon herself to care for the fallen scribe — but she refuses to ever let him go! Bates snagged an Oscar for her part in this oddly violent, minimalist film — despite the academy’s hatred of horror.

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/misery-3958474e-70e3-494f-bea8-bd2a54f48643
39. Night of the Living Dead

Tom Savini, perhaps the greatest horror special effects designer in history, re-made the original zombie movie in 1990. With an assist from the original film’s director, George Romero, this reinvention of the classic mythos doesn’t quite hold up to the first movie — but has garnered cult esteem nonetheless.

Watch now on Vudu
https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Night-of-the-Living-Dead/14626
38. Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster are perfect foils playing cannibal psychologist Hannibal Lector and Special Agent Clarice Starling — locked in a respectful intellectual rivalry, Starling tries to penetrate Hannibal’s impervious mind in the hopes of catching a serial killer, before it’s too late! Silence remains one of the greatest horror movies ever made and is often cited as a cinematic achievement, despite certain aspects of the movie not aging so well. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Silence-Lambs-Jodie-Foster/dp/B002CMORTE
37. Alien 3

David Fincher’s Alien 3 is usually thought of as one of the weaker entries in this ongoing franchise, but it’s still pretty good. Lieutenant Ellen Ripley crash lands on a prison planet and hopes to warn the incarcerated population about the xenomorph she just encountered, but her efforts are too little, too late. She once again must watch those around her be torn down by a vicious bio-weapon with mysterious origins. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Alien-3-Sigourney-Weaver/dp/B000QDYQQ0
36. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Winona Ryder, Gary Oldman, and Keanu Reeves appear in this lushly gothic thriller but the real star is the late costume designer Eiko Ishioka, whose gorgeous vampiric couture elevates this from a droll adaptation into high art. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Bram-Stokers-Dracula-Gary-Oldman/dp/B000SP3DE2
35. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Kristy Swanson stars as the eponymous teenage heroine of this camp classic. Although the TV series on which this movie is based is often better remembered than the original film, the movie’s got just as many deadpan laughs and quick witted quips as the widely beloved show. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Buffy-Vampire-Slayer-Kristy-Swanson/dp/B077JCN6HY
34. Candyman

Candyman got a revival this past year with Jordan Peele and Nia DaCosta’s sequel, but the original is a slyly avant-garde masterpiece masquerading as a horror film. Phillip Glass’s moving and menacing score creates a deeply unsettling atmosphere for this introspective film about race and class.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Candyman-Virginia-Madsen/dp/B001AQEIB0
33. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

David Lynch’s surrealist soap opera Twin Peaks concluded with a cliffhanger — and his decision to revisit the haunted town several years after the show’s final episode didn’t help clarify anything at all. Without having seen the series, this movie won’t make any sense — and it still might not even if you’ve studied every aspect of the show. That being said, Fire Walk With Me is an aesthetically beautiful and absolutely frightening exploration of sexual trauma.

Watch now on HBO Max
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GXmlSkQ9BmCLCHAEAAB_R:type:feature
32. The Crow

Although it became a cultural touchstone for anyone who identifies as goth, The Crow feels oddly goofy in retrospect. That being said, those big black trench coats and that ridiculous makeup are somehow both absurdly outdated and oddly fashionable these days! The tragic death of star Brandon Lee tends to overshadow this film, but he is unforgettable as the spooky protagonist of this accidentally campy classic.

31. In The Mouth of Madness

Based on the enduringly unnerving literature of American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, John Carpenter’s In The Mouth of Madness explores the cosmic terror of a vast and uncaring universe as otherworldly forces begin awakening in small-town America. Reality begins to unwind when an insurance agent investigates a missing novelist — but what apocalypse is brewing underneath this seemingly banal mystery?

Watch now on Shudder
https://www.shudder.com/movies/watch/in-the-mouth-of-madness/d1fa535febe85dfc
30. Interview with a Vampire

Anne Rice’s sexy vampire fiction is brought to life in this zany yet insidiously romantic horror movie starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise as a homoerotic duo of undead lovers. While the gay storyline is hardly subtext, the movie plays it safe with actual depictions of vampiric sodomy. Meanwhile, a young Kirstin Dunst camps it up as a demonic child with a sadistic streak.

Watch now on HBO Max
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GXwOi2ghajZpiwwEAAANv:type:feature
29. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

By 1994, the Nightmare on Elm Street series had already jumped the shark — but one last attempt at reviving Freddy was made in this smartly self-referential horror film in which Wes Craven and the film’s cast members play themselves — fighting an entity that the iconic horror series has accidentally brought to life through the collective unconscious.

Watch now on HBO Max
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GXmZs6AuHuZ4_wwEAACqW:type:feature
28. Species

Scientists clamor to stop an alien-human hybrid from propagating her species — but her impossibly seductive powers could bring ruin to all of humankind! In this erotic sci-fi story, Natasha Henstridge plays an outer-space siren that could spell disaster for planet Earth.

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/species-b4593897-fe86-4b88-b270-9a021f3f8007
27. The Craft

An entire generation of social outcasts grew up repeating catchphrases from this story about teenage witches using the dark arts to get revenge on their hateful classmates. Fairuza Balk is beyond iconic as the fashionable goth Nancy Downs, who is driven mad by her sudden mastery of black magic. (Do NOT bother watching the reboot from 2020.)

Watch now on Netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/404067
26. Scream

Scream broke all the rules of slasher cinema by saying them out loud: this postmodern deconstruction of horror movies’ biggest cliches essentially re-wrote all the tropes and defied expectations through subtle subversion of the most obvious formulas. Audiences were scandalized at the time by the shocking, early death of Drew Barrymore but remained transfixed by Neve Campbell’s harrowing battle against a relentless masked murderer.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Kings-Thinner-Robert-Burke/dp/B0036IHAK6
25. Thinner

The premise is simple: after an ill-fated encounter with a mysterious old man, Billy Halleck (played by Robert John Burke) simply can’t stop losing weight, no matter what he eats. His body functions begin to fail as he wastes away from an obese businessman into a hollow shell of a human. The ghastly special effects are satisfyingly gruesome, even if the concept is a bit, well, thin.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Kings-Thinner-Robert-Burke/dp/B0036IHAK6
24. Alien: Resurrection

Joss Whedon and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s unlikely team up is at times disastrous and at other times oddly brilliant. Although Jeunet is better known for his twee romance film Amelie, he’s always been a sci-fi director — and his skill at highlighting the endearingly grotesque is on full display in this under-appreciated continuation of the Alien franchise. Meanwhile, Winona Ryder and Sigourney Weaver are an iconic on-screen duo. 

Watch now on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3vvrqudSkc
23. Anaconda

Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Jon Voight, and Ice Cube make up the cast for this delightfully stupid horror-comedy. Although reviewers hated this movie deeply, it wound up scoring big at the box office and spawned an almost endless amount of sequels. We’ll spare you some jokes about Sir Mix-A-Lot wanting none.

Watch now on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkX5t5ZJLEk
22. Cube

A hyper-violent, Kafkaesque metaphor about the meaninglessness of life, Cube begins when several strangers wake up inexplicably trapped inside some kind of complicated torture device. As they attempt to escape the bizarre machine, they consider how they got trapped there — and why someone would subject them to such malice. 

Watch now on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Esjc0rPj3K4&t=19s
21. I Know What You Did Last Summer

Often unfairly compared to Scream due to its similarities as star-studded teen slashers, Last Summer is a much more straightforward murder mystery (no postmodern shenanigans here). Sarah Michelle Gellar continues her reign as the Supreme Scream Queen of the 1990s while simultaneously revitalizing slasher cinema in this beloved, 80’s-influenced whodunnit. 

Watch now on YouTube
https://youtu.be/yiAlcLlJpQE
20. Mimic

Guillermo Del Toro directs this sci-fi story about science experiments gone wrong: bioengineers, in an attempt to control an out-of-control cockroach population, accidentally create a monster with a thirst for human blood! Del Toro’s unmatched sense of whimsy and unique object styling is easy to spot, even this early work by the auteur.

Watch now on Shudder
https://www.shudder.com/movies/watch/mimic/532955b0278fc83b
19. Scream 2

Scream 2 is perfectly self-aware in its realization that the only thing more cliche than a slasher is a sequel. While it seemed impossible to match the iconoclastic wit of the first Scream film, the second came close with equally-as-clever subversions of horror truisms, while simultaneously developing an ongoing mythos around its cast of oddball characters.

Watch now on Shudder
https://www.shudder.com/movies/watch/scream-2/4a852b03473028aa
18. Spawn

The world wasn’t exactly crazy about superheroes in 1997, and Todd McFarlane’s visually stunning and deeply nasty story about an undead caped crusader didn’t help endear the American public to comic book adaptations. Nonetheless, the movie’s out-of-control visual aesthetic is far from forgettable, even if reviewers hated it at the time.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Spawn-John-Leguizamo/dp/B001RJJ82O
17. Blade

The visual styling of Blade predicted the rise of afro-goth fashion long before certain disparate subcultures had properly converged. Wesley Snipes is impossibly cool as a leather-clad vampire hunter — and his fetish-y looks made him a style icon. Blade is considerably darker and much more stylish than the endless superhero tripe we get these days; nonetheless, the film is often credited with helping establish the rise of superhero cinema.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Blade-Wesley-Snipes/dp/B001RJTFP4
16. Bride of Chucky

Chucky had been terrorizing America in several films before he met his match in Tiffany, a serial killer fangirl turned into a murderous doll. Child’s Play films before this were much less comedic, but Jennifer Tilly introduced a playful campiness and undeniable sartorial smarts into the franchise, cementing her status as a legendary scream queen.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Bride-Chucky-Ronny-Yu/dp/B002RPLXWK
15. The Faculty

Filled with 90’s teen heartthrobs like Josh Hartnett, Clea Duvall, Elijah Wood, and Piper Laurie, The Faculty took a sci-fi spin on high school horror. John Stewart makes a memorable cameo as a possessed teacher in this movie about extraterrestrials invading an unsuspecting suburb. 

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/the-faculty-9d551397-e7e8-4c23-8ab2-06e24a0bdb0e
14. Halloween H20

The chronology of several Halloween sequels was totally erased with this continuation of the Michael Myers story, which picks up with PTSD-suffering Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) attempting to eradicate her attempted-killer once again. H20 rebooted the Halloween story and is remembered as one of the franchise’s better films — even though this movie’s events were also retconned when the franchise was rebooted a second (and third!) time in the interceding years.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Halloween-H20-Jamie-Lee-Curtis/dp/B009AGRE5O
13. Psycho

Gus Van Sant’s remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s most notorious movie couldn’t hold a candle to the original but is a sometimes unintentionally hilarious attempt nonetheless. Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Vigo Mortensen, William H. Macy, and Vince Vaughn star in this almost shot-for-shot re-envisioning of the Norman Bates story that is — stunningly, somehow — much better than it’s often given credit for!

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Psycho-Vince-Vaughn/dp/B003603URQ
12. Ringu

Based on the novel by Koji Suzuki (often considered the Stephen King of Japan), Ringu was later remade into the beloved American horror film, The Ring. Although Gore Verbinski’s adaptation is much easier to swallow, Ringu was starkly original when it was released in 1998 — and the cursed videotape depicted within it remains a surrealistic and nightmarish triumph of meta-filmmaking. Sadako differs significantly from the American haunted girl Samara, and it’s interesting to see the character’s original context — even if the movie sometimes doesn’t make much sense.

Watch now on Tubi
https://tubitv.com/movies/571822/ringu
11. Audition

Often unfairly dismissed as “torture porn,” Takashi Miike’s Audition is a brutal critique of Japan’s harsh cultural standards around femininity. Beware: although smart and often poetically beautiful, the movie is relentlessly violent and features extremely long and unbearably realistic scenes of sadistic torment.

Watch now on Shudder
https://www.shudder.com/movies/watch/audition/61b3438c9f4099cc
10. The Blair Witch Project

Blair Witch is often considered one of the most profitable horror movies ever made — thanks in part to its gimmicky marketing campaign, which asserted the movie was real found footage and that its stars had actually gone missing. Accidentally avant-garde, the movie utilizes frightening minimalism to depict its protagonists’ journey into the woods of Maryland, where they encounter a series of dark occurrences. 

Watch now on Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Blair-Witch-Project-Heather-Donahue/dp/B000KDZSA4
9. Deep Blue Sea

When a team of biologists genetically engineer a pack of hyper-intelligent sharks, things inevitably veer towards disaster. Samuel L. Jackson is particularly absurd in his role as a deep-sea scientist, and the movie is both purposefully and accidentally hilarious.

Watch now on Netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/22013422
8. The Haunting

Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luke Wilson, and Lily Taylor have a truly weird synergy in this baroque haunted house thriller in which participants of a sleep study come up against supernatural forces. The set design is oddly astounding considering how bad the script is, but there’s something undeniably loveable about the film’s absolute commitment to excess.

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/the-haunting-a8267609-e6ee-4286-949e-5f018a1083f0
7. Lake Placid

Jaws, but then make it a crocodile: that’s the concept. While the premise is simple, the movie is actually far more action-packed — and Bill Pullman is effortlessly cool, as always. Nothing too sophisticated here, just a goofy, good-time monster movie with a few moments of ultra-violence.

Watch now on Sling
https://watch.sling.com/1/program/410adc7c13eb4d86b5270ad8f163b156/watch?trackingid=google-feed
6. The Rage: Carrie 2

A perfectly delicious artifact of late 90’s shlock, The Rage copies the original Carrie’s concept in a beat-for-beat sequel filled with absurd style flourishes and an oddly emotional story underneath. Emily Bergl has awkwardly inspired the protective instincts of audiences for decades, and it’s hard not to feel something for the psychokinetic protagonist in this kitschy follow-up that no one really asked for.

Watch now on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7AO7MscMnc
5. Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow hits all the predictable Tim Burton cliches (swirls, stripes, Halloween-adjacent tricks and treats) but remains a stylish sendup of the eponymous American myth by Washington Irving. Johnny Depp plays a deranged Ichabod Crane (re-imagined by Burton as a sort of steampunk forensic scientist) opposite Christina Ricci — both decked out in lavish costumes by Colleen Atwood. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.hulu.com/series/sleepy-hollow-17f1fa22-2305-4df9-9ebc-bd8f40eb69c3
4. Wild Zero

Incomparable to horror movies from the West, Wild Zero is a queer punk musical about zombies, rock and roll, gay love, and motorcycle gangs. The music by Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf is lo-fi rock heaven, and the movie’s wacky undead antics are both putrid and oddly heartwarming.

Watch now on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdTSjB0-5ko
3. From Dusk Til Dawn

Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up for this bonkers story about vampires invading a biker bar. Salma Hayek’s role as a crazed vampire queen is unforgettable, as are the movie’s cartoonish depictions of violence. 

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Dusk-Till-Dawn-Quentin-Tarantino/dp/B009653J0S
2. Army of Darkness

Speaking of cartoonish violence, Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness stars the devilishly handsome Bruce Campbell in a continuation of the Evil Dead series. Protagonist Ash Williams is transported to the Middle Ages where he fights an endless array of miscreants from Hell in a veritable gauntlet match filled with truly silly amounts of bloodshed.

Watch now on Hulu
https://www.hulu.com/movie/army-of-darkness-0b8ae645-7c1d-4c8a-bb1e-0272e52c9894
1. Jacob’s Ladder

An oddly cerebral and experimental horror movie, Jacob’s Ladder is a contemplation on post-war trauma and schizophrenia. “Hope is hell’s final torment,” said director Bruce Joel Rubin, summarizing the theme of this nightmarish venture into the depths of psychosis.

Watch now on Amazon Prime
https://www.amazon.com/Jacobs-Ladder-Tim-Robbins/dp/B07FPQ8RJV
Categories
Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: October 18-October 24

WWE Raw

High Spots: Just a few days before Crown Jewel, WWE presented a pretty mediocre edition of Raw. The show’s top ladies got to shine here tonight as Charlotte Flair and Bianca Belair donned their best drip during a fiery opening promo segment. Biana deserves all the credit in the world for pulling off a handstand flip with high heels on and not even buckling just once. The match both women had at the end of this episode was a good time, although the inconclusive finish was a mood killer. It made sense for it to end on a disqualification since Charlotte and Bianca are set for bigger things with Becky Lynch. The finish still sucked, though. Major props to Xavier Woods for getting one step closer to his dream of becoming this year’s King of the Ring. Xavier did God’s work as he managed to have a good match with Jinder “Master of 1,001 Restholds” Mahal and came out at the end of their bout as the winner. I damn near jumped through my roof when Xavier landed that tightrope elbow drop of his FTW! 

Thank God the usual 24/7 Championship garbage didn’t happen during the second meeting between Austin Theory and Jeff Hardy. It happened backstage and was an eyesore as usual, though. Austin and Jeff packed in a lot of action into their spirited rematch. Austin got a more satisfying victory this time around, but Jeff got some revenge post-match via his own selfie. Austin gets two W’s over Jeff during his second stint on Raw, while Jeff got a slight bit of revenge to not look too bad while on his way to Friday Nights. Fine by me! The WWE Champion Big E and Drew McIntyre contended with The Dirty Dawgs in a decent matchup that was meant to add a bit more fire to one of Crown Jewel’s biggest bouts. It got its point across and was a decent watch, which was fine I guess. RK-Bro and The Street Profits definitely made the most of the extended match time afforded to them! While watching them work, I couldn’t help but think that a singles match between Riddle and Montez Ford would be incredible. AJ Styles and Omos interfered to bring the good times to an end, but I wasn’t too peeved by that end result ‘cause that three-team feud looks super enticing.

Botches: Mansoor vs. Cedric Alexander was (YOU GUESSED IT!) way too damn short. Is a 10-minute match between two underutilized workers on a three-hour wrestling show too much to ask for? Mansoor won as expected since he’s heading into Crown Jewel to take on his former tag team partner Mustafa Ali. Ali’s post-match promo was pretty weak, to be honest. I just wished they wouldn’t have broken up in the first place – wouldn’t it have been a far better booking decision to have them take on either one of the tag team champs and possibly win the straps in front of a very appreciative crowd? Finn Bálor vs. Mace lasted two minutes and elicited little to no excitement for me since the winner was never in question. I really couldn’t bring myself to care too much about that one. Finn vs. Xavier should have an excellent clash at Crown Jewel, though!

John Morrison continued to search for his inner “chi.” Sigh…the Johnny I fell in love with from Lucha Underground is the one I’d really prefer watching these days. Goldberg and Bobby Lashley spoke angrily at each other to hype up a match that I wish wasn’t happening. Let’s just leave it at that. I’m really a sucker for thinking Piper Niven vs. Shayna Baszler would get the proper time it needed to actually matter as a Queen’s Crown Semifinal match, right? All I got here for my naivety was a two-minute letdown that further painted this tournament as a totally botched endeavor. At least Piper’s gonna win the whole tourney at Crown Jewel, right? RIGHT? Wait, WWE’s totally gonna swerve us all by giving it to Zelina aren’t they? Oh God…

NXT 2.0

High Spots: I never knew I wanted a Carmello Hayes vs. Johnny Gargano match until this episode of NXT 2.0! At the start of the show, “Johnny Wrestling” interrupted Carmello’s “Melo-bration” and teased a future clash between the two over the NXT North American Championship. Dexter Lumis came out to back up his bestie and scare the hell out of Carmello and his boy Trick Williams, which obviously means we’re due for a tag team match in the near future. Now that should be fun! Santos Escobar is pretty peeved with Carmello as well, so it sounds like we might be due for a singles meeting between those two or even a triple threat if Johnny is still embroiled in his beef with the new champ. Malcolm Bivens is straight jokes, fam! I love him when he’s in serious manager mode, but I just love it, even more, when he drops a one-liner or two from time to time. My man really said that the two things he does best is mind his own damn business and not get his ass molly whopped in the parking lot! Once his promo ended, his Diamond Mine duo of the Creed Brothers squared off with Imperium in a decent bout.

The Creed Bros. took the L, which was a genuine surprise since I figured they wouldn’t lose so early in their run thus far. MSK ran out afterward to deliver some comeuppance to Imperium and set up a match for the following episode’s Halloween Havoc special. I don’t really care for Imperium much, so I can’t say that match truly excites me. Ikemen Jiro was definitely wildin’ for interrupting Kushida while he was tryna take a leak! But I couldn’t be too mad at him ‘cause he gifted Kushida with his trusty Back to the Future-inspired jacket. Having those two team up might be more interesting than I initially thought. Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza did right by the rest of Legado Del Fantasma by beating Josh Briggs and Brooks Jensen. Their match was pretty interesting since it was a clash of styles between speed and power. I wouldn’t mind seeing these two go at it again with an extra 10 minutes attached to it.

LA Knight and Grayson Waller really tried to take each other’s heads off just for the right to host Halloween Havoc! While the gimmick for their match was silly, the match itself was decent for the time it was given. The fact that both men competed at a fast pace helped it retain my interest in the short time span it took place within. It sure is nice to see my man LA get back to his winning ways! Future Halloween Havoc opponents Tommaso Ciampa and Bron Breakker pulled up on the Grizzled Young Veterans for the disrespect shown to the NXT Champion the week before. Both teams easily took home Match of the Night honors thanks to a highly competitive main event that let them go to war with 10+ minutes allocated to them. When Bron pulled off a classic Steiner Recliner, a tear came to my eye! I’m really watching the offspring of Rick Steiner embrace the very best parts of one of the greatest tag teams of all time. So we’re all betting on Bron becoming the NXT Champion at Halloween Havoc, right?

Botches: NXT 2.0 has become the new home for squash matches for anyone who’s a fan of that sort of thing. I consider myself among those fans, but a few of the ones we got on this episode just didn’t grab me like I figured they would. Odyssey Jones is cool and all, but I wanna see him featured in some lengthier and more competitive matches now. Watching him demolish the incredibly unremarkable Andre Chase was kind of a bore, honestly. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner had a bonding moment out in the good old outdoors. I didn’t really care for any of it, to be honest. Whatever shirt Kyle was wearing was pretty fire, though! Joe Gacy and his social media wokeness appeared on my screen once again to dole out his collection of tired buzzwords. Pure snore vibes as always. The second squash of the night came with another case of an odd victory taking place when Cora Jade pulled off an underdog win over Elektra Lopez. It lasted a minute & some change and really wasn’t any good, either.

Man, I hope Jacy Jayne is okay. She took a really nasty landing on her suicide dive and ended up leaving the triple threat match she was a part of with Io Shirai and Perisa Pirotta. Io and Perisa obviously had to improvise in the wake of her absence and did the best they could. You could definitely tell that Io was a bit off as the match wore on. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, all things considered. Our third squash of the night featured Tony D’Angelo getting rid of Re Feng in less than two minutes. I know Wrestling Twitter loves the guy and his throwback gimmick, but I’m still not a believer. He’s passable in the ring and I just can’t find it in me to gravitate towards him quite yet. Duke Hudson is a wrestling gambler, huh? Don’t care. Where’s “The Con-Man” Rob Conway when you need him? Bring him and his corny-ass theme song back to embrace this gambler gimmick, I say!

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Bound for Glory is almost here, baybee! So of course, we got the go-home show for Impact Wrestling’s marquee event of the year here. And for the most part, it was decent enough. We got a fun tag team match at the start of this episode between the Bullet Club’s Hikuleo & Chris Bey and FinJuice. The match was going well enough until a pretty puzzling ending that saw two refs count a double pin that gave us a victory for both teams. Which was a weird way to set up the triple threat match at BFG for the Impact World Tag Team Championship, but at least we finally got there. I feel like a Bullet Club victory is in the works, folks! Josh Alexander’s road to BFG was explained in full during an emotional promo segment that broke down his history in Impact and his world championship aspirations. The guy can wrestle with the best of ‘em and now we finally got a chance to hear him talk shockingly well. YOU GOT THIS ONE, JOSH!

I gotta give more props to Josh ‘cause he brought even more verbal heat during a face-to-face encounter with Christian Cage. The jaw-jacking here was off the charts – Josh hit the champ right in his soul by stating “as long as you’re cashing a check from a billionaire that owns a different company, you will never be the face of IMPACT Wrestling.” OH MY DAMN! That’s going to be one of the best matches of the year, no doubt. Mickie James came back strong during her Impact comeback match against Savannah Evans. After watching her look that good mere days before her meeting with Deonna Purrazzo, I’m way more excited to see that women’s war go down. That no-contact rule looked as if it had gotten broken, but Deonna’s guy Matthew Rehwoldt was the one who put hands on Mickie so no harm done, right? And just like I figured they would, Trey Miguel and Alex Zayne showed out during their X-Division exhibition. I was none too happy seeing Steve Maclin arrive post-match to beat them both down, but I was overjoyed when El Phantasmo came out to leave Steve laying. EL P FTW!

Botches: I can’t say I was a huge fan of the three-way mixed tag. It just felt like a jumbled mess, plus I’m never all that enthusiastic about watching Tenille Dashwood, Crazy Steve, or Fallah Bahh in the ring. It was kinda weird not seeing Rhino finally give Heath a definitive answer for their tag team grudge match against Violent by Design. Heath pleaded to the big guy in a heartfelt promo, yet it still wasn’t enough to convince him to come back to the good side. It would have been great to finally witness Rhino ditch his VBD clan members and fend off the vicious stable as a cool setup for BFG. Having Rhino walk out on Heath and leaving him alone to be assaulted by VBD was a strange path to go down before the PPV, I must say. And finally, the latest episode of “Brian Myers Presents: How to be a Professional” was kind of a bust to me – I’m just ready to see Zicky Dice move on from all the corny backstage humor and show & prove in the ring now.

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Sami Zayn got new theme music! And it’s not half bad, either. It’s just too bad that Sami’s brand new entrance tune debut came on the same night that he got bodied by Drew McIntyre. Drew established himself as one of the newest pillars of SmackDown thanks to his impressive domination of his post-WWE Draft opponent. Nice work establishing Drew on his new home here. ALL HAIL, KING WOODS! Xavier Woods made good on his promise of winning this year’s King of the Ring and made sure to bask in his regal awesomeness during his official coronation as wrestling royalty. It was so dope watching Kofi Kingston bestow Woods with his kingly gear and do it all in front of a very appreciative crowd. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that no one came out to interrupt all the good tidings for King Woods, too! I hope to see The New Day member go on to even bigger and better things in the coming months.

Mansoor and Mustafa Ali had an immediate rematch on this episode of SmackDown just 24 hours after their Crown Jewel war. This match was a fun sprint that showcased Mansoor’s immense potential once again. The short runtime for this rematch was a bit of a letdown, but both men filled all that time with enough exciting action to keep me entertained from start to finish. The strong chemistry between Shinsuke Nakamura and Happy Corban has to be one of the biggest in-ring surprises of the year. I usually tune out during any Corbin match, but that’s never the case whenever he’s in the ring with Shinsuke. The match they had here was pretty good, plus Rick Boogs’ guitar upliftment for Shinsuke was an entertaining gimmick.

Botches: The first time Brock Lesnar got “suspended indefinitely,” it was pretty exciting since it came as a genuine shock when he assaulted non-wrestlers. When he did it on this episode of SmackDown, I saw it coming from a mile away. Which in turn made me not as hype for all the damage “The Beast” did this time around. Watching Roman Reigns goad him into coming out was cool and all, but the destruction Brock caused when he finally came out didn’t really land with me. Watching Michael Cole catch an F5 from the rampaging monster was much better than watching him do the same to Adam Pearce is all I’m saying. (S)Hit Row’s era of mediocrity sadly began here with a super corny pre-match promo that made my skin crawl. I can watch Isaiah “Swerve” Scott wrestle all day. Top Dollah, though? Not feeling him whatsoever.

I thought it was lame when the tag team titles for both Raw and SmackDown were simply swapped during last year’s draft, so you can probably guess how I felt about the idiotic women’s title exchange that took place between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch here. Simply relinquishing one’s belt just so you can grab the other one as you take over the new brand’s division is just so underwhelming to me. The constant childish games between the two ladies were annoying as hell, too. I’m really burnt out on different combinations of the Four Horsewomen feuding, so I’m not at all excited about yet another Banks vs. Charlotte feud.

AEW Rampage

High Spots: If Tony Khan asked me to empty out my savings account just so I could get constant rematches between Andrade El Idolo and Pac, I’d pay up immediately! This episode saw the second meeting between the two and it was even better than that awesome encounter they had on a previous episode of Rampage. It started out hot with Pac getting the better of Andrade, then it evolved into Andrade brutalizing his opponent with stiff kicks and a death-defying apron DDT. Pac responded in kind with some vicious kicks of his own and a devastating Sheerdrop Brainbuster off of the top rope! The ending for this 2021 MOTYC came as a shock as Pac rolled up Andrade out of nowhere for the win. 

Then suddenly, the lights went dark and came back on to reveal Malakai Black brooding in the ring. Seemingly as a favor to Andrade, Malakai blasted Pac with his trademark black mist and began kicking him while he was down. Andrade and his new associate almost did far worse to Pac, but then Arn Anderson emerged to distract them with his terrifying “Armed Anderson” finger pistol. This resulted in Cody Rhodes (who actually got cheered this time!) coming out to assault both men and build up some excitement for his third match with Malakai. This episode’s main event and post-match angle were some damn good wrestling TV!

It looks like the Lucha Bros. vs FTR for the AEW World Tag Team Championship is definitely a go for Full Gear! The brief segment that happened between the two teams made that abundantly clear as Tully Blanchard clobbered Penta El Zero M’s manager and even left the masked one laying. Based on their previous contests, I can’t wait to see those two tandems run it back on PPV. And lemme give some props to Anna Jay – I might not be a huge fan of hers, but she proved she could go with the best of ‘em during her clash with Britt Baker. Their match saw unique counter grappling, stiff elbow shots, and some surprisingly good back & forth offense. That was clearly Anna’s best AEW match to date and it pointed to someone that could be even better as the years go on.

Botches: As soon as I read the full bracket for the World Title Eliminator tournament, I just knew Orange Cassidy would find a way to get past the much larger Powerhouse Hobbs. I wished Hobbs would have gotten pitted against someone else so he had a higher chance of winning and moving on in the tourney, but that sadly wasn’t the case. Orange got the unsurprising win thanks to a huge screw-up on Hobbs’ part, which made sense considering the hot-headedness of Taz’s big boy. But the match itself was practically a squash before the disappointing “slip on a banana peel” finish. That entire opening segment just didn’t sit right with me, honestly…

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: Man, these Saturday Night Dynamite episodes be hitttin’! We started off this edition of the weekend series with a highly competitive matchup between Daniel Bryan and Dustin Rhodes, which is the sort of encounter I never knew I even wanted until it finally took place. Dustin hasn’t lost a step at his old age – it was awesome watching him keep up with Daniel and take it to him with a sick superplex. I loved what I saw from both men and hope to see Dustin continue showing these AEW young bucks (no pun intended) how it’s done. Kenny Omega delivered a fire line during his backstage promo that needs to be a T-Shirt ASAP – “Coward Shit.” And shout out to FTR and Penta El Zero M for delivering another heated promo against each other – I hope and pray that The Lucha Bros and FTR get 20 minutes to produce absolute in-ring perfection at Full Gear. Tony Nese got the “incoming talent in the front row at NXT” crowd treatment, which leads me to believe that he’s already #AllElite.

MJF continued to be incredibly out of pocket as he verbally accosted Florida and brought up Sting’s best buddy, Lex Luger. Sting put hands all over MJF once he entered the ring, but Shawn Spears and Wardlow ran out to put that beatdown to a quick end. Sting got put down via some vicious chair shots, which led to MJF continuing his campaign to mentally break down Darby Allin even more. Man when Darby pops back up, the live audience is going to lose its shit! And so will I. MJF vs. Darby is clearly going down at Full Gear with some sort of specialty attached to it – I can’t wait! Side note – Wardlow having an “Accountability Buddy” in Spears is actually pretty hilarious. The ladies division shined tonight thanks to a strong promo from Britt Baker that hyped up her Full Gear meeting with Tay Conti (that should be an exciting matchup!) and a surprisingly solid TBS Championship tournament bout between Penelope Ford & Ruby Soho. There were some obvious slip-ups here and there, but both women looked equally strong throughout the majority of their clash. The rest of the TBS Championship tourney looks like it’s gonna be a fun one.

Bobby Fish is out here prospering as a brutal heel that loves kicking out people’s legs out from under their legs (shout out to Owen Hart for that wonderful promo botch!). He squashed Anthony Greene with ease and even landed some extra stiff shots on the poor guy post-match. This brought out CM Punk, who clearly has Bobby in his sights and doesn’t appreciate his unsportsmanlike conduct. I’m definitely getting ROH circa early to mid-2000s vibes from a match between those two indy greats. Lio “The King of PPP Loan Scams” Rush got him and Dante Martin booked for a pretty dope exhibition on the next episode of Rampage against The Sydal Brothers. I’m watching that one just to see Lio in his new Power Rangers-inspired getup. Man, I feel so bad for Lance Archer. He and Eddie Kingston were having a damn good match until Lance landed on his head during a moonsault attempt. I appreciate both men for going straight to a quick finish just so Lance could get to the back and get checked out. I love the big lug, so here’s hoping he’s okay and comes back to wreak more havoc on random ringside “fans” real soon.

I was pretty damned happy to see Ethan Page get a lot of promo time here – he’s always been one of the more underrated mic men in wrestling. Sammy Guevara came out to deliver some verbal bars of his own against him and the manager with the most heat in modern-day wrestling, Dan Lambert. We got a TNT Championship match booked between Sammy and Ethan for the Wednesday night return of Dynamite out of that promo exchange, so fine work from everyone involved there. Jon Moxley provided the promo of the night when he spoke on the one thing he cares about over everything else – his daughter. He’s doing everything he can to win the World Title Eliminator tourney in a bid to support his family. A Moxley that’s out to do damage in order to keep the food on the table for his family and his first child is a very scary man indeed. Seeing Adam Page reunite with The Dark Order was so wholesome – I’m dying to know what Halloween costumes they’ll wear during their six-man tag against The Elite!

Jungle Boy made short work of Brandon Cutler and proceeded to cut a pretty decent promo against The Elite. Adam Cole came out to lambast him and caught a stiff elbow shot for his troubles, which resulted in The Young Bucks running out to superkick the hell out of Jungle Boy. At the end of that segment, Jungle Boy got viciously thrown off the stage and right through two nearby tables. It’s looking like Christian Cage will soon make his return to gain revenge for that despicable (yet wholly entertaining!) act. If you would have told me that Miro would be one of the best promos of 2021, I would have told you to seek professional mental health assistance. Miro’s post-TNT Championship run has seen him produce some passionate diatribes about his God forsaking him and forcing him to be even more destructive than ever before. HIS BLOOD IS ON YOUR HAND, MIRO’S GOD!

And in the main event, Malakai Black and Cody Rhodes had an insane third meeting that came off like a TNA Jeff Jarrett PPV main event. But this example of that sort of match was one of the good ones. The crowd’s excitement levels were through the roof for this one as they booed Cody relentlessly, cheered Malakai every time he got on offense, and chanted “GET THE GLOCK!” when Arn Anderson hopped into the ring. This match also featured a classic “Double A” spinebuster, Pac & Andrade El Idolo brawling on the ramp, and a ringside table Cross Roads bump. This match was pure madness, yet I enjoyed every minute of it. Cody finally got one over on the leader of the “House of Black,” which I’m sure infuriated a ton of people. I’m not even gon lie – I really thought Cody was gonna end Malakai with a Pedigree! He ended up finishing Malakai off with a nasty Underhook Piledriver instead. Another wild ending to another great episode of Dynamite!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: If you’ve been watching WWE’s Saudi Arabia specials since the very beginning, then you know they’re usually forgettable events that are filled with underwhelming matches. But to my surprise, this year’s Crown Jewel easily surpassed all those past events and ended up being a great show overall. Every match (AND I MEAN, EVERY MATCH!) ranged in quality from shockingly good to expectedly great. I figured Goldberg vs. Bobby Lashley and Zalina Vega vs. Piper Niven wouldn’t amount to much of anything, but they ended up being far better than they had any right to be. 

Edge vs. Seth Rollins in Hell in a Cell was amazing, Mansoor vs. Mustafa Ali was a great showing for the hometown star, Xavier Woods finally realized his dream of becoming King of the Ring, Big E successfully defended his WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre in a damn good match, and the triple threat for the SmackDown Women’s Championship was pure poetry in motion. And in the main event, we actually got a much better rendition of that corny-ass title belt tug of war from 2015 between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. Paul Heyman’s loyalty was definitely in question. But in the end, Roman’s advocate stood by him and helped him leave Crown Jewel with his Universal Championship intact. Crown Jewel 2021 has to be considered as one of the best shows of the year.

MOOSE! MOOSE! MOOSE! Mere moments after Josh Alexander claimed the Impact World Championship from Christian Cage, Moose cashed in his “Call Your Shot” opportunity for a title shot and captured the belt after landing a devastating Spear FTW! And Moose did all of this right in front of Josh’s family! That was a hell of an ending to a pretty good Bound For Glory PPV. Jordynne Grace became the first-ever Digital Media Champion, The IInspiration made their debut & captured the Knockouts Tag Team Championship, Trey Miguel won his first-ever X-Division Championship, and Mickie James claimed the Knockouts Championship. The main event between Josh and Christian was a strong showcase of two Canadian greats, plus we got a hell of a post-match shocking ending to bring the show to a shocking close. And hey, we also got to see WCW’s “The Demon” show up just for the hell of it!

Botches: I had no clue how much of a madman Rob Black was during his run as the owner of Xtreme Pro Wrestling back in the day. I certainly found out about his wild nature during the latest episode of Dark Side of the Ring. It focused on the rise and fall of XPW – I got a deeper insight into the company’s rivalry with Paul Heyman & ECW, Rob’s porno empire, the shocking affair between Lizzie Borden & Messiah, and the brutal attack brought upon Messiah by two nameless thugs. XPW was one of those companies I didn’t follow too much during my younger days, so this episode of DSOTR made me fully aware of just how tumultuous its run turned out to be. It really sucks how Messiah lost his thumb and the sacrifices a lot of XPW’s talent took during their over-the-top hardcore bouts.

Categories
Sports Strength

Oregon Tops UCLA in PAC 12 Showdown

On Saturday October 23, the Oregon Ducks traveled to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins in a PAC12 showdown. Coming into the game Oregon stood at 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play, while UCLA came in at 5-2 and 3-1 in conference play. Conference championship implications.

The first quarter was pretty much all UCLA as the Bruins took a 14-0 lead. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the charge, driving straight down the field on the first possession of the game and running back Brittain Brown finished it off with a one-yard touchdown run. Although Thompson-Robinson threw an interception on the Bruins’ second possession, he bounced back to toss a four-yard touchdown strike with 4:08 left in the first quarter to put UCLA up two possessions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it was pretty much all Oregon from that point on.

In the second quarter, UCLA was plagued by sloppiness and self-sabotage, costing themselves points by missing a 35-yard field goal on one possession and losing a fumble in the red zone to end another. Conversely, Oregon shook off their first quarter malaise and evened the score with a 12 play, 80 yard touchdown drive with 5:17 left in the first half.

To start the third quarter, Oregon running back Travis Dye added his third and fourth touchdowns of the game as the Ducks raced to a 27-17 lead. In the fourth quarter, though, UCLA mustered some late momentum, but the damage done in the third quarter was just too much for the Bruins to overcome as Oregon went on to win 34-31.

Over the course of the game, each team turned the ball over three times, however two of the Bruins turnovers came at the absolute worst times. After halftime they gave up a touchdown to Oregon, then fumbled on their next possession. As they were mounting their comeback, Thompson-Robinson threw an interception that essentially ended the game.

Dye was in beast mode as he ended the game a ridiculous four touchdowns. Similarly, All-American pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux proved why he’s the best defensive player in the country, finishing the game with 8 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Thanks to Thibodeaux, Oregon’s defensive line controlled the trenches, holding the Bruins to a paltry 2.4 yards per carry.

Oregon hasn’t been perfect at all this season, but they continue to win the games they need to win, after an uncharacteristic loss to Stanford earlier in the season. Oregon remains in the thick of things as they still have a great chance to run the table and make the playoffs. Next up for Oregon: a home date against the 2-5 Colorado Buffalo next Saturday at 3:30.

UCLA is now 5-3 and their chances of playing for the Pac-12 championship have all but evaporated after this loss. However their chances of playing in a solid bowl game remains high, if they can continue to put some good wins together. UCLA travels to Utah to face the Utes in another conference game.

Categories
Sports Strength

NASCAR Xfinity Series Team Kaulig Racing Is On The Rise

If you have ever attended or watched a NASCAR race, then you know just how intriguing and infectious the event is. It’s hard not to get heavily invested as you root for your favorite drivers competing for the ultimate prize, and it’s been that way ever since its 1948 founding in Daytona Beach. The game has continued to grow over the decades, and among that growth is The NASCAR Xfinity Series which was developed in 1982.

We had the opportunity to speak with next generation NASCAR owner, Matt Kaulig–owner of NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) team, Kaulig Racing for a conversation on Kaulig’s exciting year winning the regular season championship, along with two Xfinity Series wins and one Cup Series. With this success, Matt Kaulig has also announced that Kaulig Racing will move up to the NASCAR Cup series in 2022. 

Matt Kaulig
Matt Kaulig

In the midst of a successful start to the playoffs, Kaulig Racing has experienced a great amount of success in a relatively short amount of time since their 2016 inception. Kaulig, alongside other new team owners such as Justin Marks and Denny Hamilin are leading the charge in keeping the competition alive for the foreseeable future through building up the hottest drivers, and creating a brand new industry fan base.

We checked in with Kaulig last week to talk about all things Kaulig Racing, the current playoffs, and expectations for the future.

Matt Kaulig
Matt Kaulig

ONE37pm: Kaulig Racing has had a great year so far. What has this season been like for you guys as a whole?

Kaulig: It’s been a great season so far! It’s our sixth year in NASCAR Xfinity and we’ve had an awesome year. We have A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Haley, and Jeb Burton as our drivers, and all three are capable of winning. A.J. is leading in points, and was the 2021 Xfinity Regular Season Champion. He has really done a great job leading the team!

ONE37pm: You recently announced that Kaulig Racing will move up to the NASCAR Cup series in 2022. Could you expand a bit more on that?

Kaulig: Yes! We purchased two charters a few months ago. For those that don’t know, in NASCAR a charter is a franchise, and you have to own a franchise to play. We will have two full-time racers participating in the Cup Series. The first is Justin Haley, and the second will be announced soon. We are one of the fastest teams to ever win a Cup Race which is something we are very proud of. Right now we have two Cup drivers, and we’re going to add three full-time Xfinity cars to get to five total. So we’re expanding!

ONE37pm: How do you manage all of your other entrepreneurial endeavors alongside having your own NASCAR team?

Kaulig: We’ve got great people and have developed a culture of gems that really get things done. In addition to Kaulig Racing I also have other businesses such as LeafFilter and Leaf Home, and again that goes back to having dedicated people. What I’m most proud of though is our philanthropy. We get things done and focus on helping others. Our motto is “Continue to grow, or begin to die.” We are very much always learning how to grow.

ONE37pm: We may have some first-time readers who are interested in learning more. Can you break down the NASCAR Xfinity Playoffs just a little deeper?

Kaulig: Sure thing! There’s 33 races in the Xfinity series. The first 26 are regular season matches where you are accumulating points for the playoffs. The top 12 cars in points qualify for the first round of the playoffs. Every car is a part of the race which has seven races total, but only those top 12 are counted. We just advanced to the second round which is a round of eight cars. Those eight will eventually be cut down to four, and those four will head to the championship in Phoenix where one will take the whole thing. Right now we have two cars in there–Justin Haley and the regular season champ A.J. Allmendinger.

ONE37pm: Lastly, what can we expect in the future?

Kaulig: Continued growth to get into full-time Cup Racing which is the highest level of motor sports. It’s super exciting and a big challenge! We feel we dominate on the Xfinity level and we are excited for the future there as well. It’s been fun building a team from scratch and we are looking forward to doing more!

Exciting indeed. You can keep up with all of Kaulig Racing’s latest updates on Instagram and via their official website.  

Categories
Consoles Gaming

ONE37pm’s Official ‘Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy’ Review

Back in 2014, moviegoers everywhere were genuinely shocked by the overwhelming quality of Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy. The once-obscure band of galactic misfits became household names thanks to the combined acting chops of Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, and Zoe Saldana (special shout out to Bradley Cooper for his superior voice acting talents as well). Once the Guardians became multimedia darlings, the video game world obviously took notice. But to everyone’s surprise, Telltale Games adopted the IP to create a point-and-click adventure game (which was shockingly good, by the way). Fast forward to 2021 and now we have a big-budget, full-fledged action/adventure epic that’s all about experiencing the madcap adventures of the whole gang. And to this reviewers’ surprise, it’s way better than it has any right to be.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing but a reskinned version of Marvel’s Avengers – it sports a similar art design and comes from the same publishing house that put out the much-maligned games-as-a-service title. But the comparisons stop there – this space-faring journey does things a bit differently in regards to combat, dialogue, audio, and so much more. Guardians’ visuals shine thanks to the wide variety of planets you’ll frequently explore – one minute, you’ll be navigating a lost colony filled with debris from a past war. And the next minute, you’ll be traversing a showy expanse ruled by some vicious wildlife. The graphics also shine whenever you get to navigate the Milano and take in every part of the ship’s architecture. It takes a minute to adjust to the new versions of the human/alien Guardians on screen that don’t look anything like their big-screen counterparts, but you’ll quickly get over that nagging issue once you become more familiar with them and even switch up their attires. Guardians’ looks good and sounds damn good too thanks to the soundtrack that offers sweeping orchestral tunes and 80s jams in equal measure.

Most onlookers lamented this game’s decision to only allow players to directly control Star-Lord. This reviewer certainly felt the same way at first since it seemed like a lost opportunity to not have the ability to hack & slash as Drax or Gamora and pull off some combined brutality as Rocket & Groot. But once you dig your heels into the game’s combat system, you’ll quickly get over that feeling and realize the sort of game you’re playing here. Guardians’ combat system feels like a Marvel Comics take on Mass Effect – you’ll whip out Peter Quill’s dual laser shooters to do big damage as your fellow Guardians fight on their own, plus you’ll get to give them commands to truly take control of the battlefield. Battles start out simple enough – you’ll deal some rapid-fire damage as you use your jet boots to dash out of harm’s way and float in the air for a few seconds while your allies aid you close by.

But as you get deeper into the game, the battle system introduces interesting mechanics that make them even more enjoyable. Peter’s elemental guns let you switch up your approach to blasting, you’ll unlock new special attacks for your teammates that work great in tandem with each other, and even get to power up the whole squad for a limited amount of time thanks to a clever huddle mechanic. The combat system truly shines in wide-open areas as the action becomes more manageable when it comes to crowd control, but it falters a bit in tighter quarters since it gets a bit overwhelming when it comes to keeping track of everything going on around you. Mapping Peter’s special abilities to holding down the left thumbstick also feels a bit cumbersome while trying to activate them in the heat of battle. Yet it feels all too good to light up the battlefield with explosive fireworks and rack up your combo multiplier with well-coordinated team attacks. Guardians’ combat mechanics are strengthened by its mix of active combat and incorporation of turn-based mechanics.

Square Enix

From a storyline perspective, Guardians does an excellent job of properly retaining each character’s likable personality traits and featuring them within a lengthy campaign filled with emotional, hilarious, & extra hype moments. The team’s adventure starts out on a simple note as they look to capture and sell a rare creature that will solve all their money woes. But soon enough, they become embroiled in a galaxy-wide crusade that involves an army of religious zealots looking to fulfill some sort of “promise.” Making your way through the game means you’ll get embroiled in tons of segments that allow you to chat with your many allies during some intriguing conversations.

Randomly speaking with everyone and everything is definitely worth doing thanks to the strong voice acting and different dialogue options you can select in order to sway the conversation anywhere you want. You’ll find yourself going out of your way to pick up random items just so you bring them up during a quick chat with one of the other Guardians in an effort to get to know them better. After beating this game, you’ll quickly find yourself ready to experience it all over again just so you can explore all the dialogue options you passed on beforehand and see how they change up certain moments within the story.

Guardians’ has so much going for it, but it’s held back by a lack of polish. While the game works and plays well, for the most part, the myriad bugs and glitches you’ll encounter from time to time are disappointing. Sometimes, the interactable button icon will stay up on the side of the screen even when there’s nothing to interact with. Peter gets randomly stuck on pieces of the environment, too (thankfully, the game resets you to the ground in that instance). At one point in the game, Drax mysteriously followed me around and stood right in front of the camera as I tried to indulge in some serious convos with everyone else on the ship. Future patches will certainly arrive in due time to remedy these annoying issues and make the game feel more complete. But it’s still pretty lame to see those sorts of mechanical issues pop up at the most inopportune moments.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy certainly had me and everyone else worried about its overall quality. But after making my way through its well-paced and action-packed adventure, I came away impressed with what’s on offer here. Focusing on a well-made single-player escapade that’s held up by well-written dialogue, energetic combat sequences, surprise cameos, and so much more was clearly the right way to go for development studio Eidos-Montréal. The litany of annoying bugs and glitches still apparent in the final version definitely sucks and needs to be fixed ASAP. But overall, this Marvel Comics game is far better than one might initially think.

Categories
Culture Music

Fase Yoda Speaks On His Latest Single “Messed Up” and Viral TikTok Fame

Louisiana-based artist Fase Yoda joins Mike Boyd Jr on this episode of Monday To Monday to talk about the common themes in his music, advice from Young Thug, and what we can expect from him next. Additionally, he goes into more detail about the visuals behind his latest single, “Messed Up.” Yoda even talks about his journey on TikTok and gaining over a million followers on the platform. Be sure to tune in below! 

Boyd commences the podcast by asking Yoda where he’s at right now. Yoda notes that he’s in his home state of Louisiana right now. Boyd then asks what it means to him to be a rising artist coming from Louisiana. Yoda says he’s glad to be a buzzing artist from the bayou state. 

Boyd then asks about his vision for his brand and career, asking how it feels to be where he is at right now. Yoda said that this is all he’s been working for since he was a kid, noting that he’s been manifesting this. Yoda tells us that he began producing beats at sixteen but began to rap at eighteen. He further adds that he is inspired by Young Thug, Post Malone, and even newer artists such as Billie Eilish. If you’re a new listener or fan and you didn’t know this, we interviewed Yoda back in August, be sure to check it out below! 

Read
https://www.one37pm.com/culture/music/fase-yoda-butterflies

Following this discussion, Mike Boyd asks Yoda about his music video for his latest single, “Messed Up,” containing several strong visual elements. Yoda voiced that his favorite scene when he is alone on the road as it symbolizes being alone. In addition, Yoda says that each scene represents a particular point of his life and how he felt. Yoda also gets Boyd excited by adding that he just shot two more videos in Atlanta for his upcoming releases. If you haven’t seen the music video for “Messed Up” yet, tune in below. The video inches closer to one million views every day! 

Following this conversation, Boyd solidifies his confidence in Fase Yoda by preaching that he will be a star, then follows up by asking what the meaning behind the lyrics of “Messed Up.” Yoda explains that “Messed Up” is his favorite song to date because it is about an ex-girlfriend who changed his whole life in the best way possible. To Boyd’s surprise, Yoda says that he was anti-tattoo while he was dating her. It wasn’t until after the breakup that Yoda began to change his life for the better, getting meaningful ink tattooed on him and working out. Yoda describes that he began writing the song over two years ago but never finished it, only writing the first verse. He later came back to it and knew it would fit perfectly with what he’s currently working on in his career. 

Mike Boyd then shifts the conversation to ask about being around Young Thug. Next, Boyd asks if there is anything that stood out to Yoda that Thugger told him. Yoda quickly says that he’s dropped a lot of big gems that have motivated him and wanted to ask him what the most prominent accomplishment he’s made that’s made him happy. Yoda continues by saying that thug responded, “I make millionaires,” which is referencing the artists and teams he’s championed along the way. 

Boyd further asks about Yoda’s inspiration for fashion. Yoda replies that he has always been a fan of anime such as Naruto and Demon Slayer, which has always played a big role in influencing his fashion style. Yoda says that anime is a significant influence on culture and jokes that people who watch anime get the ladies. Check out his fashion below! 

Be sure to listen to this episode of Monday To Monday to learn more about this star in the making! It’s full of memorable and personal moments that will make you want to put Yoda’s latest song, “Messed Up,” on full blast. Tune in!

Categories
Sports Strength

The History of El Clasico

El Clasico has been one of the biggest spectacles not only in the European football landscape, but in all of sports.

It is a match between Real Madrid and Barcelona, two teams in the top Spanish football league known as La Liga, and two of the most successful clubs in all of Europe.

Leading up to match day between Real Madrid and Barcelona, fans are given the opportunity to reminisce the greatest matchups between the two historic Spanish clubs, like in 2014, when Gareth Bale turned into the human flash and dusted Barcelona at their Camp Nou, or in 2017, when Lionel Messi sent his flaming spear into the heart of Real Madrid at their Santiago Bernabeu.

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VALENCIA, SPAIN – APRIL 16: Gareth Bale (L) of Real Madrid celebrates beside Xabi Alonso after scoring Real’s 2nd goal during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Throughout the past decade, the intense rivalry of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi doubled the attraction that is already garnered for arguably the biggest soccer match on the planet. Even without two of the games greatest stars, the historic rivalry between the two teams and hatred amongst the fans should be enough to make this weekend’s El Clasico one to remember.

How did El Clasico Begin?
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Barcelona striker Gary Lineker (r) gets in a shot as Hugo Sanchez of Real Madrid looks on during the ‘El Clasico’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on January 31, 1987 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Images)

Football analysts and minds alike point to the 1940s as the timeframe for which El Clasico became what it is today. One of the more memorable matches from that decade happened in 1943. Barcelona were up 5-3 in the 73rd minute against Real Madrid during a La Liga match at Les Cortes, Barcelona’s home stadium. In a hostile environment, Madrid would proceed to score two unanswered goals to tie the score, salvaging a draw in a 5-5 result for the record books.

Who has the most goals in El Clasico?
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Alfredo Di Stefano entertaining in Real Madrid during September of 1963 / Getty Images

Argentinean striker Alredo Di Stefano was at the forefront of Real Madrid’s dominance against Barcelona during the 1960s. Di Stefano is the all-time leading goal scorer in El Clasico with 26 goals, and was known for playing some of his best football against arch rival Barcelona.

Most Memorable El Clasico Moment
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Barcelona’s Brazilian Ronaldinho (L) celebrates his goal against Real Madrid with teammate Cameroonese Samuel Eto’o during their Spanish Liga football match in Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, 19 November 2005. AFP PHOTO/ Pierre-Philippe MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Imagine Alex Rodriguez earning a standing ovation at Fenway Park, or J.J Redick receiving love from UNC fans at the Dean Dome. Both of those inconceivable scenarios equate to what Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabau did for Barcelona’s Ronaldinho in 2005.

Ronaldinho was the reigning world footballer of the year. The golden boot winner (awarded to the player with the most goals in a league) was a stalwart on a Barcelona team full of such. Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi were forces to be reckon with as well during that year. Against Real Madrid in 2005 though, Ronaldinho put on a solo exhibit of greatness, and did it all with a big smile on his face. Among displaying his outstanding dribbling and playmaking to the Madrid fans during the match, he scored two spectacular goals to seal a comfortable Barcelona victory.

After his second goal, around half of the supporters in the stadium were standing up and cheering on the Barcelona superstar, just as he tormented their team.

What’s Next?
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Barcelona’s Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (R) kicks the ball during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on February 2, 2020

This will be the first time in over a decade that we’ll see these two teams play without Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on the team.

While there won’t be any players on the pitch that have half of the quality of those mentioned above, there are reasons to be as excited as ever for this weekend’s El Clasico.

There are young stars in both squads, including 18 year-old Ansu Fati for Barcelona and 21 year-old Vincius Junior for Real Madrid, that will vie to become the next El Clasico hero. After all, there was a point in time when a 20 year-old Lionel Messi wasn’t even considered the best player on his team, but nonetheless, burst onto the scene with a hat-trick in El Clasico in 2007.

Considering the amazing moments we’ve seen between these clubs, expect to see the birth of a new hero, and maybe even a world superstar, when the two teams play this Sunday. After all, it always delivers.

Categories
NFT Tech

October 22nd’s, 2021 NF3 Recap: VeeFriends, MAYC Merch and The Grid

This week in the NFT community, things have been getting very exciting with some of our favorite NFT projects on the market. Join us in today’s NF3 recap as we take a look at what’s been going on with GaryVee’s VeeFriends and more. Bored Ape Yacht Club finally dropped their new MAYC merch store, and The Grid NFT platform officially launched on Thursday.

All of that plus more on today’s NF3 Recap. If this is your first time joining us, make sure to check our most recent NF3.

This article does not constitute formal financial advice. Always do your own research before investing.

1. VeeFriends project update

VeeFriends is an NFT project around meaningful intellectual property and an extraordinary community. Created by the one and only GaryVee, VeeFriends was released in May of this year and has continued to see organic growth.

When VeeFriends originally launched on May 11, the lowest floor price started at 2.5 ETH, with some of the core VeeFriends dropping as low as 0.5 ETH via dutch auction. Since the drop, VeeFriends has experienced exponential community growth. The Discord alone has more than 150,000 members, and that’s after accidentally kicking half of the community out.

As of recently, Gary decided to take 5 of his original VeeFriends illustrations to auction at Christie’s Auction house. All together, Gary’s original sketches sold at auction for over $1.2M, giving the VeeFriends brand an even stronger stake in the NFT community. 

Although the VeeFriends’ floor has been fluctuating tremendously, it has been holding steady between 10 to 20 ETH, with an overall average floor price of 10.4 ETH according to Cryptoslam.io.

As VeeFriends continues to develop as a brand, there are still some very exciting things yet to come. Gary just recently sent out emails to VeeFriend collectors who own a VeeFriend that gives them access to a 5 minute face-to-face meeting with Gary.

Along with the numerous utilities beginning to roll-out, we can’t forget that the date for VeeCon has officially been announced. The multi-day mega conference, which is exclusive to VeeFriends holders, will be held at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota through May 18-22, 2022. Surely we will share more about the VeeFriends project as we inch closer towards Veecon.

2. BAYC launches their MAYC merch store

MAYC was trending across NFT Twitter today, when Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) announced that the Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) store had officially been launched. The merch drop is only for those who own at least one Mutant Ape. 

In order to enter the BAYC merch store, BAYC has assigned a one-time-use password to all the MAYC holders. To get your password, BAYC requires you to verify that you own one Mutant Ape by connecting your wallet to their site, and verifying your Ape. The merch itself is not sold as an NFT.

The merch store offers several different products for sale, such as:

  • Beanies
  • Hoodies
  • Tees
  • Dad hats
  • Posters
  • Skate decks (limited to 1,000)

Items are all limited to two per person with the exception of the skate decks which are first come, first serve. The sale on all MAYC merch ends at 11:59pm PT on Sunday. I am curious to see what BAYC pulls out of their hat next!

3. The Grid launches their new NFT platform

Sher Chaudhary, Co-Founder of Nostalgia Labs, who was behind the LaMelo Ball NFT collections, launched The Grid—a groundbreaking new NFT platform that allows fans to collect NFTs of the world’s rarest physical artifacts.

The Grid focuses specifically on breaking down the barrier to high-end memorabilia from groundbreaking performances by creating a digital collection of NFTs. The Gird aims to connect fans to some of the most illustrious items in history by distributing the world’s rarest game-worn and music artifacts on the blockchain.

“The Grid has secured artifacts that are extremely historic considering the moments that they took place in. These moments are what I call GOAT moments,” said Karvin Cheung, who oversees the creation of NFTs for The Grid.

The Grid is a gamified platform that certifies the provenance, ultimately creating a digital “Grid” of memorabilia by digitizing the physical artifact in the form on an NFT. It will be interesting to see what kind of artifacts The Grid will deliver to collectors.

Other cool stuff

Marvel announced that their Alligator Loki project is dropping on Veve Saturday, October 23 at 8am PT. These digital statues will be fourth in the Modern Marvel series and feature Marvel’s heroes and villains in their most distinguishable outfits, making them a must-have collectible for any Marvel fan.

Also, toy company Hasbro, Inc announced today that they have teamed up with The Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX) to come together to create their first NFT collection, featuring the Power Rangers.

The collection is available for a limited time only through Hasbro Pulse. Members of the company will have early access to the NFTs through 4pm before sales are opened up to the public.

Categories
Leaders Style

Salehe Bembury Named Creative Director for LeBron James’ Brand Uninterrupted

Right on the heels of a slew of mega successes with New Balance, Salehe Bembury has recently been announced as the creative director of apparel for Lebron James’ brand, Uninterrupted. According to an interview with Bleacher Report, Bembury plans on leveraging the ten years of brand history behind Uninterrupted as well as his fifteen years of experience as a designer to create a product that leaves the audience with a “feeling”. He likened the experience to being given a kitchen full of the best ingredients and being asked to make a dish. 

The designer has come a long way since designing for Payless shoes at the beginning of his career, having built an individual brand spearheaded by his design ethos. With every collaborative or personal release, Bembury cultivates an audience that likes the things he likes and does the things he does. In the grand scheme of things, his success is indicative of a massive upheaval of traditional design practice, typically led by large corporations. 

With brands such as Nike, New Balance, Adidas, and many more, the designer of a shoe or product largely takes a back seat while the monolithic brand identities lead the charge in the object’s popularity. However, with Salehe’s collaborations this is not the case. As can be seen with his upcoming Crocs collaboration, consumers couldn’t care less what brand the designer works with, it’s all about his magical touch that he injects into the identity of the brand and the design of the product itself. 

This method clearly shows a change in the modern zeitgeist and attitude of consumers, who have become increasingly disillusioned with companies constantly pushing products in their faces and are feeling pandered to. For several years now, it seems as though companies are simply mashing brand identities together for easy cash grabs, rather than utilizing the best that both entities have to offer to create something greater than the sum of its parts. A large part of Bembury’s appeal is that, as one man, he is capable of using his problem solving abilities to warp the entire image of a company into something that the brand would never have been able to do on its own. As he continues his design endeavors, we are thrilled to see what he does next with Uninterrupted. No longer is there an allegiance to brand, people are aligning themselves with people.