Categories
Consoles Gaming

Now’s The Time for a New All-Capcom Versus Fighting Game

When the topic of “Best Versus Fighting Games” pops up in a random gaming chat room, everyone and their grandmother revert back to memories of Capcom’s genre-defining efforts. The gorgeous 2D sprites that accompanied games such as Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK were upheld by amazing gameplay, fan-friendly rosters, and a strong focus on team synergy. In the case of Marvel vs. Capcom, that mind-bending crossover has been at the forefront of team-based fighters. But sadly, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths and was easily upended by the superior 3v3 fighter in Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Hop into a Maximilian_DOOD, IFCYipeS, or jwonggg Twitch stream and you’ll most likely be treated to a batch of fierce Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 matches. Hours-long sessions that feature the sort of battles that go down to the very last piece of health on a character’s health meter still elicits a ton of hype. It’s clear from those streams and the comments circling around fighting game forums that people are clamoring for another Capcom made Versus fighting game. At the time of this writing, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is the sole Capcom fighter that holds a lot of weight in the current FGC landscape. Now that that game is nearing the end of its long and eventful life cycle, it’s time for Capcom to fulfill a much-requested dream scenario – make a quality 3v3 Versus fighter that features nothing but Capcom characters.

Now mind you – we’ve already gotten two fighting games that are solely dedicated to battling it out among Capcom’s vault of all-star characters. But to be quite honest with you all, the one that actually saw a release was super disappointing. Capcom Fighting Evolution simply felt like a half-hearted attempt at developing a proper all-Capcom fighting game – reused sprites were in heavy abundance, the roster was minuscule compared to the ones seen in other Versus games, and the overall gameplay lacked that certain oomph that its contemporaries thrived on. As for the other game that embraced the “everything Capcom” moniker, it never even saw an official release. Capcom Fighting All-Stars looked somewhat promising and featured some cool characters that garnered a bit of interest. But it ultimately never saw the light of day.

With those two failed attempts behind them and the unfortunate circumstances that kept MVCI from succeeding, it’s time for Capcom to go back to the drawing board and craft an amazing Versus fighter that’s all about them & them only. Just think of all the iconic and lesser-known fighting game franchises the heralded Japanese publisher/developer could bring into that fantasy battle royale:

Street Fighter

Darkstalkers

Rival Schools

Star Gladiator

Power Stone

Red Earth

Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness

Saturday Night Slam Masters

Hell, it’d even be great if Capcom lifted the four original characters from Capcom Fighting All-Stars (D.D., Rook, Ingrid, and Avel) and gave them a platform to truly do big things in this dream fighter. Ingrid certainly has her detractors, but she still deserves a chance to have a go in an all Capcom 3v3 team brawler. Now when we bring up Capcom’s other IPs, there’s a wealth of characters that could also be adopted from them for this game as well:

Resident Evil

Monster Hunter

Strider

Captain Commando

Final Fight

Dead Rising

Onimusha

Devil May Cry

Also, the prospect of Capcom bringing in the more obscure characters from their slept-on IPs into this fighter would be super cool. Gene (God Hand), Sieg Wahrheit (Chaos Legion), and Fou-Lu (Breath of Fire IV) could use a lift from their current state of obscurity. Plus watching the likes Ryu, Morrigan, and Hayato go to war in a hyperactive clash with a team comprised of Leon S. Kennedy, Captain Commando, and Nero sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

Adopting an all-anime art style instead of the comic book look of UMVC3 and sterile presentation of MVCI would be much preferred if this game ever came to fruition. Including the mechanic from MVCI where you could tag in a partner and create your own assists on the fly sounds like it would be tough to incorporate in a 3v3 game of this caliber. But we’d love to see Capcom find a way to make that feature work. Do people really want a full-fledged story mode for an all-Capcom fighting game? Judging by the negative reception to SFV and MVCI’s story mode presentations, we think it’s best if Capcom just adopted a traditional arcade mode ladder that wards players with some cool ending art sequences for their winning efforts. As far as this game’s actual gameplay goes, all it would need to do is retain the frenetic pace of MVC2 and MVC3 to really grab the attention of hardcore players and casual onlookers.

We say all that to say this – there exists a perfect world where Capcom has regained all of its fans’ trust thanks to the double whammy of quality releases in the form of Street Fighter 6 and an all-new Capcom Versus fighting game. And we just want to live in that world.

Categories
Consoles Gaming

The 23 Best Anime Games on Switch

After spending an obscene amount of time binge-watching a whole season of your favorite anime, chances are you’ll want to play out that show’s epic adventures yourself. And doing so usually becomes a reality when you do it in video game form. Many of the most popular anime properties known far and wide have their own quality video game adaptations. You can get embroiled in some fast-paced arena fighters, go adventuring & vanquish foes in a turn-based/action RPG, and even destroy hundreds of foes within a Musou beat ‘em up. Besides the anime shows you watch, there are games out there that adopt the Japanese medium’s signature art style to attract anime fans. If you own a Nintendo Switch and want to scratch that anime game itch, then the 23 following games are worth their weight in gold (Golden Frieza FTW!).

1. ‘One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4’

The One Piece: Pirate Warriors series has steadily been expanding since its grand debut. And with the latest entry, it ends up offering the best installment of anime-based Musour brawls to date. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 features an original storyline of its own, plus it lets fans play out the biggest moments from the anime/manga’s memorable story arcs. The number of playable characters you can take into battle is massive, which means you have the opportunity to clear out battlefields full of rival pirates with all their amazing signature abilities.

2. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy’

Anime arena fighters are a dime a dozen these days. But if you’re looking for the best-looking and mechanically sound games within the popular sub-genre, then look no further than the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. This compilation brings together the first three entries in the series. If you’re in the mood for some wonderfully animated ninja-themed struggles and jaw-dropping boss encounters, then make sure you give this Naruto fighting game collection a shot.

3. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road To Boruto’

Once you’ve made your way through the story modes for the first three Ultimate Ninja Storm games, it’s only right that you see it through to its full completion with the fourth and final game in the series. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto lets you play out the final events of the Naruto Shippuden story arc and even enjoy the early missions tied to Naruto’s son Boruto. And as always, the team-based ninja combat is as fun as ever and refined to near perfection.

4. ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’

This is THE greatest Dragon Ball fighting game (and Dragon Ball game period!) of all time. Arc System Works are master architects when it comes to putting together a beautifully animated and mechanically solid anime fighter. With the iconic roster of Dragon Ball FighterZ mashed up with those two factors, you just can’t go wrong with it. The 3v3 team battles that take place in this game are the definition of hype as beams are thrown, air combos are dished out, and cinematic finishers come into play.

5. ‘Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2’

Creating your own superpowered Dragon Ball warrior ended up being a smashing success in the first Dragon Ball Xenoverse. The sequel magnifies that addictive game concept by adding new character class transformations, a larger hub world to explore, an ever-expanding roster to use, more special moves to attach to your custom character, etc. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is jam-packed with things to do and people to see/battle/team up with. You’re going to love saving the universe as an all-powerful Time Patroller in this one.

6. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot + A New Power Awakens Set’

If you’ve played Dragon Ball Z: Sagas, then you know just how disappointing that game ended up being. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is a fully realized version of that action RPG that adapts the entirety of the anime’s sagas in playable form. You can dish out defeat to baddies such as Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, and even some movie villains such as Goku and the Z Fighters squad. This game’s incredible battles play out just like the ones from the show – Ki blasts, energy beams, and flashy martial arts techniques come into play. And simply flying through the game’s massive open world is a simple joy you have to experience for yourself.

7. ‘Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition’

Sure, you already have the Pokémon RPGs to enjoy on your Switch. But if you’re open to enjoying a game that features a different pair of creatures that fight by your side, then this Digimon game compilation is worth a look. Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition lets you explore the real world and digital world as you try to get to the bottom of a crazy caper. And in order to solve that cyber mystery, you’ll have to rely on the abilities of your chosen Digimon and engage in turn-based skirmishes against other users, wild monsters, and even internet viruses.

8. ‘Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack’

This two-pack is an essential pickup for anime fighting game aficionados. The Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition comes with the very first game in the franchise, plus it offers one of the best entries in the series in the form of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R. So not only do you get to see how the game played at the very start, you’ll get to enjoy one of the most polished and tournament ready entries in the long-running series.

9. ‘Fairy Tail’

You’d be forgiven for thinking this Fairy Tail game was nothing more than a cheap cash-in title that offers nothing but fan service. But you’d be wrong. This JRPG offers a clever twist on combat that emphasizes proper spacing and elemental weaknesses. The massive amount of guild warriors you can bring into battle and upgrade adds a lot to the game’s replay factor. Plus getting to experience the anime’s story arcs while building up the main guild at the heart of the game over time makes Fairy Tail far better than one would initially expect.

10. ‘My Hero One’s Justice 2’

PLUS ULTRA! That phrase should instantly concoct images of the superhero contingent that fights for good from the My Hero Academia anime. My Hero One’s Justice 2 improves upon the superpowered hero vs. villain clashes of the first game by allowing character assists to pull off their own super moves and giving everyone even more impactful Plus Ultra attacks. The roster gets expanded to include even more beloved characters from the show, plus you can participate in the insane clashes that transpired during the Shie Hassaikai Arc.

11. ‘Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch’

Noted Japanese animation film studio Studio Ghibli entered into a working agreement with game development studio Level-5 for this grand JRPG project. The fruits of their labor ended up being one of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking games Bandai Namco has ever published, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. You’ll take on the role of a young boy named Oliver, who taps into his magical prowess and the assistance of his friends in an effort to revive his beloved mother. Prepare yourself for a whimsical adventure that features fun combat scenarios, gorgeous graphics, and a deeply affecting storyline.

12. ‘Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom — Prince’s Edition’

Once you’ve completed the first Ni no Kuni, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the series as a whole. With that newfound fandom in tow, you’ll need to jump into the equally amazing sequel. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom features two important political personalities from two different worlds. They eventually find the will to team up with their allies and unite warring nations during a crusade against a great evil. The action RPG combat, fort-building mechanics, and magical Higgledie present some welcome changes to Ni no Kuni’s strong gameplay formula.

13. ‘Valkyria Chronicles’

This former PS3 exclusive has made its way onto a wealth of other consoles in an improved form. Of course, you can enjoy its clever mix of third-person active combat and strategic unit placing on your Nintendo Switch as well. Valkyria Chronicles will pull you in just based on its striking art style. But it’ll keep you enthralled thanks to the constant progression that comes with upgrading your beloved troops. Taking down tanks, pulling off clean headshots, and managing to complete a stage with all your units intact are some of the many joys you’ll derive from this Sega classic.

14. ‘Valkyria Chronicles 4’

The second and third entries in the Valkyria Chronicles franchise are pretty hard to come by since they’re PlayStation Portable exclusives. Thankfully, you can get back into the series proper by checking out the fourth game. The same aspects you adored about the very first game are kept intact here. As far as new stuff goes, Valkyria Chronicles 4 features the explosive new Grenadier class and battle adjustments that give your soldiers a fighting chance when they’re on the verge of death. And the visuals are even more gorgeous than their predecessors.

15. ‘Astral Chain’

PlatinumGames have a knack for producing high-octane action games that never seem to slow down. Astral Chain is one of their original IPs and it’s a must-play for Switch owners everywhere. In it, you take on the role of a special police task force member who has the power to control otherworldly creatures called Legions. You’ll have to master controlling your onscreen officer and their chosen Legion simultaneously during frenetic skirmishes and major boss encounters. The music is top-notch, the art design is splendid, and the many ways in which you can work in unison with your Legions are truly gratifying.

16. ‘Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield’

You know the deal if you’ve been in for the long haul ever since Pokémon made its debut – you set out into a vast world full of varied biomes, capture different pocket monsters, train them in battle, and attempt to become the greatest Pokémon trainer of all time. A host of new trainable creatures come into play here as you freely explore the Wild Area, participate in the Gym Challenge, hop into tough raid encounters, and complete a bevy of Poké Jobs. Pokémon Sword/Pokémon Shield offers more of what fans loved before.

17. ‘Steins;Gate Elite’

There’s a bunch of visual novel-based games out on the market that is worth seeking out. One of the finer ones that’s available on the Switch is Steins;Gate Elite, which is a much-improved remake of the 2009 original. The striking anime visuals and sequences from the original game get a boost in this portable classic. As you make your way through this mind-bending story, you’ll be treated to a memorable cast of characters that get wrapped up in a world of science-fiction madness. Your choices matter here and put you on different branching paths, which means there’s a lot of replay value here.

18. ‘Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido’

If you’ve been to Japan and seen those conveyor belt restaurants in the real world, then the mechanics within the zany puzzler should instantly be familiar to you. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is pretty much you versus a bunch of offline/online opponents in a bid to match as many sushi plates on a conveyor belt as humanly possible. You’ll quickly find yourself entering a zen-like state as you make big combo matches to throw your rivals off balance.

19. ‘River City Girls’

If the River City beat ‘em ups still hit you right in the nostalgia whenever it’s mentioned, then this modern-day spin-off will instantly become your new fave. River City Girls switches things up by letting you and a buddy play as the boyfriends of the series’ longtime protagonists. After they’re kidnapped, Misako and Kyoko step up to the plate to dish out their own form of street justice and rescue them. That means you’ll be

20. ‘Catherine: Full Body’

Vincent, who’s the lucky/unlucky dude at the center of this trippy game, finds himself in quite the predicament. Instead of making the decision to get married to his girlfriend Katherine, Vincent steps out on his relationship with a sultry lady named Catherine. His acts of infidelity force him into a nightmare realm where he’s forced to navigate intense block-pushing/pulling puzzles and stay ahead of vicious night terrors. Catherine: Full Body features all of the DLC from the original game and retains all the major decision-making & wild puzzle playthroughs fans celebrated during its original launch.

21. ‘Persona 5 Strikers’

Persona 5 Strikers is pretty much a sequel to the highly celebrated JRPG. This time around, Joker and the rest of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts find themselves in a new alternate realm called “Jails.” Taking down the Shadows that harm humans within those Jails means you’ll get to hop into some wild Musou battles with the aid of multiple Persona demons and a wealth of slick special moves. If you want an action RPG that will keep you enthralled during a long flight, look no further than Persona 5 Strikers.

22. ‘BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition’

At one point in time, Arc System Works moved away from the Guilty Gear series for a bit to produce an equally great spiritual successor. That game was BlazBlue, which ended up getting a series of system and roster updates that further improved its formula. The final installment in the series is the best one of course. BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition is a flashy fighter with a roster full of characters that come with their own gimmicks tied to a single button. And once you find your main, you’ll come to adore just how chaotic fights unfold in this game.

23. ‘BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’

This anime fighter offers a battle royale full of beloved characters from Arc System Works’ many IPs and even a popular anime. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s roster brings together the very best from BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY, Arcana Heart, Senran Kagura, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf. The 2v2 clashes you’ll be treated to in this 2D fighting game gem explode off the screen and are just as hyperactive as you’d expect.

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Entrepreneurs Grind

OpTic Gaming CEO Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez Debuts Pine Park

Earlier this year (April 2021), Hector Rodriguez (better known to esports aficionados as OpTic Gaming CEO “H3CZ”) put out an intriguing tweet that pointed to his next business endeavor – “This year I will be launching a cannabis brand in California and a Hemp Brand Nationally. Needless to say, my time in California and in Oklahoma have been nothing short of F U N.” Cut to July 26, where Rodriguez’s 900+ Twitter followers found out what the name of his marijuana brand is. Say hello to Pine Park, a central hub for all things weed that’s been described as “a place you belong, feel at home, can visit, escape to, and are proud of.”

As someone that’s already built a sizable audience of loyal followers through his content creation efforts and esports endeavors, it’s awesome to see Rodriguez use his influence and notoriety to kickstart a new cannabis company. Pine Park stands as the epicenter of his latest venture and allows for the “goods” being grown there to prosper due to a beneficial climate setting and the essentials needed to make it the very best on the market today. As a whole, Pine Park is a massive establishment – it measures out at 5600 square feet and houses 1800 plants. It’s clear that several efforts have been made to enhance the potency of the cannabis being made there and create as much of it as humanly possible.

Rodriguez’s move into the ever-growing cannabis world certainly elicits plenty of excitement. Besides the signature weed brand that will come from his Pine Park initiative, we’re sure everyone can expect to get their hands on slick apparel and a wealth of other dope merchandise. The entrepreneurial spirit that Rodriguez exudes can not only be seen in his esports work – it can also be seen in his incredible Pine Park initiative. We can’t wait to see what else comes from this brand new cannabis company. Now, who’s ready to smoke on that Pine Pack?

Categories
Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: July 19-July 25

WWE Raw

High Spots: SmackDown got the first stab at doing things in front of a live crowd last week. Now it was Monday Night Raw’s turn. And to be quite honest, it paled in comparison to last week’s Friday night extravaganza. There were some fun highlights worth mentioning here, though. First off, John Cena delivered a pretty strong promo that was all about letting Roman Reigns know he’s gonna pull up on him on SmackDown. He and Riddle had a brief encounter, which was corny as all hell but I still smirked once it happened. The six-man tag team match that followed proved to be one of those barnburners that gave the crowd something substantial to chew on. Mansoor has finally seen the light, it seems! Now he’s going to team up with Ali next week in a match that’s sure to give Mansoor another lesson that will push him further down the dark side. Embrace the hate, Mansoor.

KEITH LEE IS BACK! Man, I was so elated to see the glorious behemoth make his way back to Monday nights. Reality soon set in when he took that disappointing L to Bobby Lashley, however. It was pretty much grand opening, grand closing for the big(ger) guy. Jeff Hardy filled my eyes with tears of nostalgic joy once he came out to his classic 2008 tune “No More Words.” Once those opening chords kicked in, I felt like I was back at that legendary SmackDown WWE Championship celebration he had with all the confetti and fireworks going off. Good times. Oh and he beat Karrion Kross. Which sucks for NXT cause he’s supposed to be their unstoppable killer that reigns supreme as the black and yellow brand’s top champion. Yet he lost in less than three minutes. I can’t stand the guy anyway, so this was a plus in my book.

Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley squared up with each other once again for the Raw Women’s Championship. But at the end of the evening, Nikki A.S.H. swopped in from her secret superhero hideout, cashed in, and ended up holding the big white and red belt once the credits hit the screen. That was a cool way to send off the show. I might hate Nikki’s new gimmick, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the fact that she finally won her first women’s championship in all of WWE.

Botches: And now, the bad. Jaxson Ryker and Elias had a match that had its moments, but it’s so hard to care for either man since they’ve faced each other countless times and haven’t developed anything worth caring about every time. Their hardcore brawl just felt like a halfhearted attempt at filling airtime. The women’s tag was another case of “it’s time to hit the beer and popcorn stands!” Nothing to see here, folks. Poor Reggie caught a mean headbutt from Nia Jax, which looks to be the end of their strange cuckold partnership. Whatever. Sheamus and Humberto Carrilo had yet another matchup, which ended up being average at best and instantly forgettable.

Instead of getting the match everyone called for in Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar, we’re getting a far worse consolation prize in Lashley vs. ‘Oldberg instead. Ay, you know what? I would have been much happier if Lee got the big push here instead and had their match planned for SummerSlam instead of giving it away on this episode. With a proper build, that clash of the titan’s matchup would have proven to be monumental in Las Vegas. But alas, Vince wants his aging veterans to fill the card at one of the biggest shows of the year as always. Drew McIntyre vs. Jinder Mahal bores me to tears, so I don’t feel the need to pay any attention to what they’re doing during their feud. Eva Marie and Piper Niven (I refuse to call her by her new nickname!) paid a visit to Alexa’s Playground. And as you probably guessed, I checked all the way out during that complete waste of a segment.

NXT

High Spots: So this installment of NXT was nothing to really write home about. I feel like Kross’ embarrassing loss to Jeff Hardy on Raw set a bad tone coming into this one. As always, mediocre wrestling shows have their few bright spots. Samoa Joe got some mic time, which is always a plus. He clearly wants to put Kross to sleep and it looks like he might get the chance to do so at the next TakeOver (which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 22). If they can hold off long enough for that match to build to a fever pitch, then it should make for a hotly contested encounter. William Regal getting laid out by Kross at the end of the show added an extra bit of fuel to the raging fire that is Kross vs. Joe. So The Diamond Mine have already taken a loss! Pretty shocking considering they recently debuted for the black and yellow brand. But hey, at least they were defeated in a good match. Bobby Fish will forever bore me to tears, but I’ll give him credit for putting in the work alongside Kushida to make their opening match pop.

Kyle O’Reilly and Austin Theory put on their working boots as usual. They made sure to fill up the 14 minutes they were given with some intense back and forth action. Seems like Kyle slips into a crazed state of mind now whenever he comes across a set of steel steps. Hopefully, he repays Adam Cole for what he did to him on those same steel steps when the time finally arrives for their rubber match. We got an interesting wrinkle in the ongoing LA Knight/Cameron Grimes storyline. A fluke victory from Drake Maverick led to him catching a severe beating from the Million Dollar Champion – Grimes was forced to get in a quick lick of his own, which obviously pained him to do so. Man the crowd is gonna pop huge once Grimes finally defies Knight and goes the full babyface route! That needs to be a feud ending TakeOver match, don’t you think? Bronson Reed is gonna get his big meaty hands on Adam Cole on the next episode of NXT. He made his violent intentions quite clear during his sit-down interview with Wade Barrett, which I definitely appreciated.

Botches: We were treated to two squash matches on this episode. And quite frankly, I mentally checked out when they happened. Franky Monet and Odyssey Jones (the random WWE name generator strikes again!) made quick work of their victims. It worked to solidify them even more, but I wasn’t all that into their pure domination segments. Hit Row sucks the life outta me every time they’re on screen, so I definitely felt depleted of all my energy during their run-in with Legado del Fantasma. I’ve lost all interest in the tag team contingent of Imperium, so I’d be lying if I said I was excited about their teased meeting with MSK. Here’s hoping Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan step up to MSK at some point in the near future. Sucks what happened to Xia Li – Raquel Gonzalez came down hard on that top rope senton and looked to have put Li out of commission for real. The match was going just fine until that injury forced a rushed finish into place. Get well soon, Li!

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: BIG LANCE FTW! For the longest time now, “The Murderhawk Monster” hasn’t really been given something meaningful to get wrapped up in. Seeing someone of his caliber be so aimless these past few months has been upsetting. I was happy that he got booked on this episode for such an important match for the IWGP United States Championship. But I figured Lance Archer was going to just be another warm bod for Jon Moxley to overcome. But lo and behold, the big man shocked me and everyone watching by defeating Moxley and getting his hands back on one of NJPW’s most prestigious titles. Their Texas Death Match was befitting of the main event slot – it had crazy brawling in the crowd, Archer throwin’ a MF’er at another MF’er, plenty of bloodletting, and jaw-dropping moments. At the end of it all, Archer chokeslammed Moxley through a pair of barbed wire tables and became a champion in his hometown. His next challenger in Hikuleo doesn’t excite me one bit, however. All I know is this – Archer better destroy him in a quick fashion to really get his title reign started on a strong note.

So yeah, this episode of Dynamite was another good showing for the company. While it wasn’t as great as the previous week’s airing, I still enjoyed most of what this episode had to offer. Britt Baker and Nyla Rose put on a solid match for the AEW Women’s World Championship that gave D.M.D. her first successful title defense. Orange Cassidy finally overcame The Butcher and proceeded to put him to sleep with a Brass Knuckles-assisted Orange Punch. Earlier in the show, he had a hilarious interaction with Sting during Wheeler Yuta and Darby Allin’s matchup (which was also pretty good, by the way). Even the opening match with Chris Jericho and Shawn Spears ended up being better than expected. The post-match announcement of Jericho’s next trial was bonkers, though. At Fight for the Fallen, Jericho will enter into a hardcore war with NICK F’N GAGE! If you don’t know who that is, just go look up his episode of Dark Side of the Ring and check out some of his CZW & GCW work. The dude is a menace to society that will definitely give Jericho a run for his money.

Kenny Omega and Adam Page are headed for a collision course for the AEW World Championship, which I hope and pray gets saved for All Out. I don’t know if they can hold off until September 5, but I think AEW can find it in themselves to book their first encounter in the company all the way up until that PPV main event. Can’t wait to see Omega’s Elite backup and Page’s Dark Order besties square up real soon. CHAVITO IS IN AEW! And now he’s the newest manager for Andrade El Idolo. Andrade and Vickie Guerrero weren’t a good fit in my opinion, so this union makes far more sense. All signs are pointing to The Death Triangle each getting the chance to impress with Andrade, which are three matches I can’t wait to see (especially him vs. Rey Fenix!). I wouldn’t be mad if Fenix and Penta El Zero M turned on Pac and linked up with their Latino brethren in the end.

Botches: Kaz and Luke Gallows had a nothing match, honestly. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Gallows, so I had a feeling this match wasn’t going to be worth a damn. And sadly, my prediction proved to be true. QT Marshall and his cronies showed up once again and got some more promo time. I didn’t hear a word they said ‘cause I didn’t really care to, honestly.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: Now that crowds are back in the Impact Zone, the mood has definitely changed for the better and everything feels a bit more eventful post-Slammiversary. Every one of the matches that were shown on this episode clearly had that extra bit of energy to it thanks to the loud response from those in attendance. Chris Bey vs. Rohit Raju, the six-man tag, the Parking Lot Brawl between Eddie Edwards & W. Morrissey, the tag team match that took place later in the show, and even the Knockouts Tag Team Championship bout ended up being lively contests. News already came out about Kiera Hogan taking her leave from Impact, so it made sense for her to compete alongside her Fire n’ Flava partner Tasha Steelz and wrestle her final match in the main event slot. Hope to see the fiery young queen make the move over to NXT in the near future.

Mickie James and Deonna Purrazzo kept the inter-promotional hype going with their strong promo segment. Purrazzo is headed to NWA Empowerr and I hope she ends up getting booked against James herself or possibly Melina! I’m super excited to see who gets booked on that all-women’s show from Impact, ROH, and the rest of the indies as we get closer to the event. The Bullet Club vs. The Elite war continued here as Jay White exuded all the confidence in the world as he spoke down on his former stablemates. White certainly knows his way around the mic, which was clearly evident during his segment. Chris Bey may have just earned himself a spot on White’s BC clique due to his aid, which points to the X-Division star getting booked in New Japan in the coming months. This episode of Impact had a lot of life to it and I can’t wait to see the company maintain its momentum in the coming weeks.

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: This episode of SmackDown was a show of two halves. Let’s talk about the better half first. The opening promo exchange between John Cena and Paul Heyman was great. I’m gonna need Heyman to do his own renditions of everyone else’s theme songs from now on cause his version of Cena’s tune was super tough! That tongue roll was masterful sir! Whoa…that sounded kinda crazy. Excuse me for that. The closing promo that saw Roman Reigns deliver a scathing line about Cena’s act being comparable to that boring old missionary position was also damn good! So we’re getting Finn Bálor vs. the “Tribal Chief” for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam? Probably not – I feel like that match will go down on a random episode of SmackDown in the coming weeks. Reigns vs. Cena is pretty much a lock for the August spectacular, in my opinion.

Edge vs. Seth Rollins is pretty much a done deal for SummerSlam now. The intensity levels for their segment were off the charts and the longstanding hate-filled history between the two made for an interesting faceoff that sets their grudge match up perfectly. If I’m WWE, I’d go ahead and book their SummerSlam war with a Street Fight stipulation put in place. Side note – Rollins doesn’t run out of suits, does he? I need to holla at that man’s wardrobe maestro ‘cause I gotta get like him! SmackDown’s midcard is in a great state since it’s filled with a wealth of quality talent. I’m excited to see who ends up getting a shot at Apollo and his Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam. Cesaro should be that guy is all I’m saying!

Botches: And now let’s get into the worse half of this episode. So WWE decided to film two of its matches for the evening in front of the crowd at Rolling Loud Miami. From listening to both matches, you could tell the people there didn’t give a single you-know-what about what was transpiring. Which is an indictment on WWE’s lack of star-making ability since barely anyone reacted to the who was wrestling in front of them. If I were in charge of booking matches for this festival, I’d have pitted Rey Mysterio vs. Jeff Hardy and Edge vs. Randy Orton. Most of the crowd at Rolling Loud Miami recognize those names since they signify hot periods in wrestling where the casuals tuned in, so at least those performances would have gotten a pop. So yeah, the Rolling Loud Miami experiment was a total bust.

The match quality as a whole on this episode was severely lacking as a matter of fact. None of them stood out or really offered anything all too entertaining. Bálor vs. Sami Zayn was meh, Toni Storm vs. Zelina Vega was a boring squash, and there was an obvious botch during the Jimmy Uso vs. Dominik Mysterio match. Oh and the down bad Baron Corbin segment we got on this episode didn’t really land with me as much as his GoFundMe bit from the previous episode of SmackDown.

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: So check this out – on January 1, 2022, WWE is going to Atlanta to put on a Peacock PPV event at the State Farm Arena. Like, how wild is that? On the first day of the New Year, we’re getting a major wrestling card? It usually takes forever to get to the Royal Rumble that month, so setting up this new event for the first month of 2022 should keep everyone satisfied ‘till the big 30 man/woman battle royal. Oh and shout out to the new king of hardcore, Matt Cardona! He walked into GCW Homecoming like Cena did during ECW Extreme Rules 2006, weathered the storm from the hardcore fed’s rabid fanbase, and managed to defeat Nick Gage to capture the company’s top championship. WHAT IS WRESTLING IN 2021, BRUH? I spoke on all the CM Punk and Daniel Bryan going to AEW rumors in an extensive article, by the way. Go ahead and check that one out when ya can!

Botches: None to speak of, honestly…

Categories
Consoles Gaming

The 25 Best Fighting Games on Switch

The Nintendo Switch software library is jam-packed with a wide variety of incredible games across numerous genres. In the fighting game department, Switch owners can choose from nostalgic greats and all-new entries into one of the most competitive genres out there. We decided to create a playlist for you all that features the very best fighters on Nintendo’s hybrid home/handheld console. You wanna hop on a plane and get in a few sets or train in the lab with some quality 2D and 3D fighters? Then allow us to provide you with the best choices for that particular situation.

1. ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’

Owning a Switch and the definitive edition of Smash is gaming’s version of a peanut butter sandwich – the combination just makes too much sense to ignore. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features the series’ craziest franchise crossover roster to date, an amazing playlist of familiar & remixed songs to jam out to, and plenty of content for those that crave both solo modes & multiplayer brawl sessions. This fighter is the only game that lets you hop into a match as Kazuya Mishima and battle it out with Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Solid Snake within Dracula’s Castle from Castlevania.

2. ‘ARMS’

ARMS launched right alongside the Switch and ended up as one of the shining beacons of Nintendo’s new console. It offers a very festive atmosphere that makes way for one of the most charismatic fighting game rosters ever. The motion controls at the heart of the game give it that novelty factor that allows for casual gamers to enjoy themselves as much as hardcore ones. The mixing and matching of various arm attachments and intense matches that you’ll get engaged in will quickly make you an ARMS believer.

3. ‘Pokkén Tournament DX’

This formerly Wii U exclusive Pokémon fighter now has a home on the Switch and is worth hopping into if you haven’t already. The coolest factor that makes this game one of a kind is the way it seamlessly switches between 3D and 2D planes during battle. Pokkén Tournament DX is deceptively simple at first. But once you grasp all the mechanics at hand, you’ll enjoy your time spent becoming a sick pro with a wealth of familiar Pocket Monsters.

4. ‘Dragon Ball FighterZ’

This is THE greatest Dragon Ball fighting game (and Dragon Ball game period!) of all time. Arc System Works are master architects when it comes to putting together a beautifully animated and mechanically solid anime fighter. With the iconic roster of Dragon Ball FighterZ mashed up with those two factors, you just can’t go wrong with it. The 3v3 team battles that take place in this game are the definition of hype as beams are thrown, air combos are dished out, and cinematic finishers come into play.

5. ‘BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition’

At one point in time, Arc System Works moved away from the Guilty Gear series for a bit to produce an equally great spiritual successor. That game was BlazBlue, which ended up getting a series of system and roster updates that further improved its formula. The final installment in the series is the best one of course. BlazBlue Central Fiction Special Edition is a flashy fighter with a roster full of characters that come with their own gimmicks tied to a single button. And once you find your main, you’ll come to adore just how chaotic fights unfold in this game.

6. ‘BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’

This anime fighter offers a battle royale full of beloved characters from Arc System Works’ many IPs and even a popular anime. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s roster brings together the very best from BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY, Arcana Heart, Senran Kagura, and Akatsuki Blitzkampf. The 2v2 clashes you’ll be treated to in this 2D fighting game gem explode off the screen and are just as hyperactive as you’d expect.

7. ‘Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition’

This two-pack is an essential pickup for anime fighting game aficionados. The Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition comes with the very first game in the franchise, plus it offers one of the best entries in the series in the form of Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R. So not only do you get to see how the game played at the very start, you’ll get to enjoy one of the most polished and tournament ready entries in the long-running series.

8. ‘Skullgirls 2nd Encore’

The indie fighting game that commanded everyone’s attention back in 2012 has received a number of substantial updates since then. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the most improved version of the team-based fighter – its package is outfitted with a bunch of new characters, system adjustments, new stages, etc. This lady-brawler (which also happens to feature a few male brawlers, by the way) has a spectacular art style and great fighting game mechanics to back it up.

9. ‘Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid’

We finally have a superior Power Rangers fighting game! And once you get your hands on it, you’ll feel like you’re playing an amazing Marvel vs. Capcom mod. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a combo heavy fighter that’s chaotic in all the best ways possible. The roster consists of numerous Power Rangers and their most infamous rivals from across the franchise’s long-standing legacy. If you’re in the market for some Mighty Morphin’ skirmishes, then it’s definitely worth hopping into this one.

10. ‘Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers’

Remember Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix? Well, it got ported over to the Switch and got a few notable additions in the process. That updated version of the remade fighter is called Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers. The classic roster comes with two extra shoto warriors – Evil Ryu against Violent Ken. You can go to war with your buds off and online via some classic Street Fighter II action. You can enjoy this 2D fighter with its classic 16-bit pixel art or its HD graphical sheen (both art styles come with their own audio renditions as well).

11. ‘Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection’

Capcom’s most recognizable IP is most certainly Street Fighter. And for those of you who’d love to play through its storied history, you can do just that by hopping into the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. This compilation comes with each and every version of Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, and Street Fighter III. With 13 of the finest 2D fighters at your disposal within this collection, you definitely have a lot to enjoy here.

12. ‘Samurai Shodown’

SNK gave the Samurai Shodown series a new lease on life with a 2019 return to fine form. This reboot brings together the most beloved weapons wielders from the series’ many entries and throws in a few new faces & guest combatants to boot. The clashes in this new Samurai Shodown play out just like they did back in the day – slower-paced and more methodical than today’s fighting game offerings. Prepare yourself for plenty of blood spray and slick fight finishes in this one.

13. ‘Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection’

Once you’ve gotten a taste of the most recent Samurai Shodown game, then you’ll probably get an itch to check out all the titles that came before it. The Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection comes with seven series installments. The most surprising game inclusion of them all is Samurai Shodown V Perfect, an updated version of Samurai Shodown V Special that almost never saw a full release.

14. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Trilogy’

Anime arena fighters are a dime a dozen these days. But if you’re looking for the best-looking and mechanically sound games within the popular sub-genre, then look no further than the Ultimate Ninja Storm series. This compilation brings together the first three entries in the series. If you’re in the mood for some wonderfully animated ninja-themed struggles and jaw-dropping boss encounters, then make sure you give this Naruto fighting game collection a shot.

15. ‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto’

Once you’ve made your way through the story modes for the first three Ultimate Ninja Storm games, it’s only right that you see it through to its full completion with the fourth and final game in the series. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 Road to Boruto lets you play out the final events of the Naruto Shippuden story arc and even enjoy the early missions tied to Naruto’s son Boruto. And as always, the team-based ninja combat is as fun as ever and refined to near perfection.

16. ‘Brawlhalla’

The Super Smash Bros. formula is a winning one, that’s for sure. Other developers know this as a fact, which is why many of them have created Smash clones of their own. One of the better platform fighters out there is Brawlhalla, a 2D take on the 3D 4-player fighter that features an insane roster of its own. Launching enemies into the air and smacking them off the stage can be done with original roster members and recognizable faces from the world of The Walking Dead, WWE, Adventure Time, and several other mainstream IPs.

17. ‘Rivals of Aether’

The next Smash-like fighter on this list is Rivals of Aether, which compiles a lineup of fighters that each stick to their own elemental powers. You’ll be able to bash the competition with the powers granted to you by Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. And the fact that you can deliver some KO’s with Shovel Knight is the extra cherry on top for this quality platform party fighter. Up to four players can get into some fierce battles with a roster full of anthropomorphic fighters. 

18. ‘Garou: Mark of the Wolves’

The ACA (Arcade Archives) Neo Geo line makes several of SNK’s (and even non-SNK studios’) best and underrated games available on current-gen consoles. Many of the titles that come from the SNK archives are on offer here, such as this classic Fatal Fury game. Garou: Mark of the Wolves advances Fatal Fury’s signature battle mechanics via the “Tactical Offense Position” and “Just Defend” systems, which do a lot to make this 2D fighter such an engrossing experience.

19. ‘The King of Fighters 2001’

The King of Fighters 2001 marks the end of the series’ “NESTS Chronicles” story arc. And with that comes a satisfying conclusion and the same amazing team elimination battle mechanics that SNK’s premiere fighter has always relied on. This game allows players to construct a team of characters that can be used as playable characters and strictly as assists (“Strikers”). Deciding between how many Strikers you want on your squad and how much Power Gauge meter you want for all your super move needs is a part of KOF 2001’s shockingly high level of strategy.

21. ‘The King of Fighters 2002’

Most KOF fans point to this entry and its remake as the greatest entries in the series. The original version of The King of Fighters 2002 is ready to play on the Switch and it’s just as awesome as everyone says it is. The Striker system is gone here as the game reverts back to 3v3 teams, plus the Power Gauge system gets a few adjustments in order to switch things up a bit. This “Dream Match” rendition of The King of Fighters has all your roster favorites and so much more.

21. ‘The King of Fighters 2003’

Series favorite Ash Crimson makes his debut here in The King of Fighters 2003. And this time around, players acquire the ability to switch in other members of their three-person teams right in the middle of a fight. Making one of your selected fighters the team leader grants them the opportunity to pull off an exclusive special move, which is a mechanic that plays right into KOF’s team-building synergy.

22. ‘Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle’

Never heard of this one, huh? That doesn’t come as a surprise, honestly. But we’re here to put you one and make sure a few more people give this underrated 2D fighter the respect it deserves. Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle is the sequel to Savage Reign – it sets itself apart from its predecessor by introducing 2v2 clashes that let players perform mid-match character switches. If the thought of a weapons-based version of Real Bout Fatal Fury and Marvel vs. Capcom excites you, then you’ll love this one.

23. ‘The Last Blade 2’

Unlike Samurai Shodown, The Last Blade series offers a faster-paced take on weapons-based gameplay. The Last Blade 2 is the best of ‘em all as it refines its “Speed” and “Power” character types and introduces three fan favorites. Hibiki Takane, Setsuna, and Kojiroh Sanada join a roster that features some of the coolest melee weapons users in fighting game history.

24. ‘SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium’

The Neo Geo Pocket Color was a very slept-on handheld that deserves your attention if you’ve never even heard of it. It featured a handheld version of SNK’s most successful franchises – one of the games that got a portable port is SNK vs. Capcom. SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium is a surprisingly solid pixel fighter that lets you catch some W’s as both SNK and Capcom icons.

25. ‘SNK Gals’ Fighters’

Similar to SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, SNK Gals’ Fighters focuses on the highly favored lady contingent of SNK’s femme fatales. The combative ladies from Fatal Fury, The King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, and The Last Blade all gather within this pocket fighter to find out who’s the very best.

Categories
Sports Strength

Are CM Punk and Daniel Bryan Really Going to AEW?

The professional wrestling landscape is wild in 2021. Appreciative fans are back in the arenas & stadiums, companies are allowing cross-promotional matches to transpire, indies are making a welcome comeback, and big names are seemingly jumping ship for greener pastures. In the past year and a few months, the rosters of Impact Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling have expanded to include a number of ex-WWE superstars and contracted NJPW talent. Turning on an episode of Impact Wrestling and AEW Dynamite to watch the likes of Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Andrade El Idolo, and Malakai Black is the sort of thing wrestling fans never thought they’d ever see. And thanks to some recent rumors circulating throughout the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community for those now in the know), those same fans might be treated to even more shocking developments within AEW in the coming months.

The two tweets above have probably made their way onto your timeline if they haven’t already. And based on recent developments within the ever-changing world of pro wrestling, those two monumental signings seem less like a dream scenario and more of a reality now. CM Punk’s return to the squared circle has become a running meme at this point. Every time a major PPV takes place, you can hit up a random comments section on a wrestling forum of some kind and see people’s hilarious “PUNK IS COMING BACK!” conspiracy theories littered all over it. Reading about Punk’s rumored talks with AEW feels like another desperate attempt at drumming up interest for his return for some. And for others, this latest rumor sounds like it actually has a sense of credibility to it. Punk’s failed UFC run and lackluster run as an analyst on WWE Backstage may have dulled the man’s shine a bit. But his presence is still strong enough to elicit a huge reaction from wrestling fans and increase AEW’s relevance amongst fans far & wide.

The prospect of Punk doing business with AEW is highly intriguing. His mic skills are still sharp and, if he’s willing to get back into wrestling shape, can provide another amazing worker for the upstart wrestling promotion. Getting Punk involved in dream matches and feuds with the likes of Kenny Omega, Adam Page, MJF, and Darby Allin could be electrifying. And as someone that’s been at the very top of the pro wrestling scene throughout different points in his career, Punk has the experience and knowledge needed to tighten up the younger generation that AEW houses. Punk’s legal woes with his former best friend Colt Cabana would certainly have to be remedied before this deal really comes to fruition, however. If that major hurdle can be overcome, then Punk would make a great addition to AEW’s friendly backstage atmosphere. Debuting Punk in All Out in Chicago and having him target the AEW World Champion would surely be a wrestling moment for the ages. Here’s hoping AEW secures the rights to either Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” or even his ROH theme song “Miseria Cantare – The Beginning” by AFI.

Now let’s have a chat about the “American Dragon.” Daniel Bryan has done anything and everything there is to do within WWE – he’s won world titles, delivered great matches with a wide swath of equally impressive wrestlers, and produced a wealth of unforgettable moments that have guaranteed him a WWE Hall of Fame spot in the future. After losing his last televised match to Roman Reigns, everyone has been itching to find out if he’d resign with WWE or take his talents elsewhere. If the rumors are indeed true, then we could all bear witness to one of the craziest pops in AEW’s short history. If Tony Khan is willing to throw a bag of cash at acquiring the rights to Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” then Bryan’s first-time appearance in AEW would blow everyone’s minds and evoke memories of the early 2000s golden era of indy wrestling. Bringing him out at AEW’s New York City debut in Arthur Ashe Stadium would get quite the pop, wouldn’t it?

Today’s version of Daniel Bryan is an asset to whichever wrestling company chooses to bring him into the fold. His most recent performances point to a man that still has a lot of gas left in the tank. And with such a huge gathering of quality wrestlers on hand in AEW, Bryan has so many opportunities to deliver modern-day classics this late in his career. The world would rejoice if Bryan stepped into the ring to lock horns with Omega, Malakai Black, Pac, and Rey Fenix. Even a comedy/shockingly competitive match with Orange Cassidy could produce an unexpected gem! Bryan signing with AEW elicits even more excitement when you consider the possibility of him getting the chance to also ply his trade in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Bryan’s a pro wrestling purist who would surely jump at the chance to go head to head with Shingo Takagi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada. And those are the sorts of international dream matches the world needs to see.

AEW signing both Punk and Bryan could be the next step towards it becoming even more of a legitimate force in the ever-expanding world of professional wrestling. With a new Friday night show on the schedule, a roster full of noteworthy pros, and an increasingly large amount of live event sellouts, those two mega acquisitions would most certainly prosper.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 25 Best Marvel Animated Movies, Ranked

So everyone knows how astonishing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has and probably always will be.

The big-screen debut of 2008’s Iron Man via Robert Downey’s Jr. kickstarted a flood of films that laid the foundation for game-changing moments. The initial union between The Avengers, Ultron’s ascension, the dreaded “Thanos Snap,” and the time-traveling mission that reversed the “Mad Titan’s” evil machinations were delivered through the MCU’s strong world-building. And thanks to a lineup of Disney+ shows and even more movies, the MCU will continue to produce global events for moviegoers everywhere.

We’ve showered plenty of praise upon the MCU already. But now we’re gonna switch gears and acknowledge the deluge of animated films that feature Marvel’s mightiest heroes. You may be surprised to learn that there are 25 Marvel animated films in total. We’re here to do you all a solid and make you aware of them all while ranking them at the very same time.

25. ‘Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron’

This film centers around the young engineering prodigy named Riri Williams, who finds herself feeling a bit closed off from the rest of her college peers. And that’s due to her young age in comparison to the school’s older population. Riri is forced to realize her self-confidence when it comes time to rescue her best friend from Hala the Accuser. What follows is a fun superhero romp for younger viewers that sees Riri and a lineup of other Marvel lady heroes joining a crusade against an interplanetary menace.

24. ‘Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United’

Marvel’s animation department has a penchant for pairing up two iconic heroes to save the day. As evidenced by this movie’s title, Iron Man and Hulk join forces to take on some of Marvel’s most beastly villains. The 3D animation on display here is decent at best, but at least the action-packed skirmishes that both heroes engage in produce some memorable moments. We get a rare Zzzax sighting in this film, which is actually worth the price of admission.

23. ‘Marvel Rising: Battle of the Bands’

Gwen Stacy aka “Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider” quickly became a fan favorite shortly after her 2014 debut. In this next Marvel Rising film, she gets the spotlight treatment as she and a group of equally beloved lady heroes investigate who and what’s been attacking them as of late. All the while, Ghost-Spider and the Secret Warriors have to get ready for a band competition. If you’re a diehard Spider-Gwen fan and want to see her rock out and kick butt in her natural element, be sure to give this one a watch.

22. ‘Marvel Rising: Operation Shuri’

The next Marvel Rising film on our list offers an entertaining showcase of the character most popularized by the Black Panther film, Shuri. A simple hangout session quickly morphs into a day full of heroics as Shuri and the rest of the Secret Warriors squad come together to save the day. This coming-of-age animated movie offers a deeper look at Shuri and highlights a feeling of independence among Marvel’s younger heroines.

21. ‘Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts’

Ghost-Spider makes her welcome comeback in this Marvel Rising adventure. She joins forces with the Secret Warriors once again in a bid to beat back the combined threat of Sheath and Exile. The final action-packed conflict that pops off between all those super-powered heroes and villains definitely excites, which makes this film worth checking out. You can never go wrong with some more Ghost-Spider, right?

20. ‘Marvel Rising: Playing With Fire’

This Marvel Rising film introduces younger Marvel fanatics to one of the youngest Inhumans within the wide comic book universe. That hero is known as Inferno, who must align himself with the Secret Warriors in a bid to recover his stolen superhuman abilities. Inferno presents himself as a conflicted superhero, which makes his adventure alongside the Secret Warriors a bit more intriguing to follow.

19. ‘Marvel Super Heroes: Frost Fight’

If you’re in the mood for a whimsical adventure that the kiddies will love, then this movie will certainly do the job. Loki steps up to the plate here as the main baddie as he and the frost giant Ymir set out to steal Santa’s magical abilities. And of course, The Avengers make every attempt to put a stop to their evil plans and keep the spirit of Christmas intact. It’s definitely worth breaking this movie out when you’re in the mood for some holiday-themed hero activities.

18. ‘Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors’

The signature team at the heart of all the Marvel Rising films first come together in this exciting team-up special. Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors sees the powerful collective of Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake, Patriot, America Chavez, and Inferno make their debut as an unlikely alliance. The main pull of this film comes from the fact that Marvel’s youngest and upcoming group of heroes get showcased in a prominent position that paints a bright future for them all.

17. ‘Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell’

We got another holiday-inspired Marvel movie here and it centers on the one that’s all about night frights. Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell fully embraces its Halloween theme by teaming up The Hulk and Dr. Strange for a clash with some horrific monsters. Things quickly go awry, which forces both heroes to step into the Dream Dimension to find out the true source behind all that uncontained evil. Watching the unexpected duo of Hulk and Strange confront supernatural threats ends up being a good time.

16. ‘Iron Man: Rise of Technovore’

There’s an Iron Man anime movie? Yes, yes there is. And it not only features Tony Stark’s metallic alter-ego. It also showcases War Machine, The Punisher, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and Hawkeye. They all come together to confront the technological parasite known as Technovore. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore is a decent attempt at presenting the action-packed world of Marvel within a striking anime sheen.

15. ‘Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United’

Iron Man and Captain America certainly had their problems in the MCU. This superhero team-up movie unites them for the greater good, but also makes sure to acknowledge their past issues. Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United is an action-fueled adventure that sees both heroes fighting the good fight against the equally powerful Red Skull and Taskmaster. The 3D animation in this one isn’t exactly the greatest. But the film’s big superhero and supervillain clashes will keep you entertained for the long haul.

14. ‘LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Black Panther – Trouble in Wakanda’

The stakes are certainly high in this Black Panther-themed adventure. The proud defender and prince of Wakanda must call on his fellow Avengers when the dangerous trio of Ulysses Klaue, Eric Killmonger, and Thanos unite to steal some Vibranium. Even with such a mega-sized threat present in this film, you’ll still be treated to the sort of slapstick humor the young ones adore from all those LEGO Marvel Super Heroes games.

13. ’Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher’

Now, this is one of the more unexpected Marvel team-ups fans have ever laid eyes on. But it works much better than one would expect. S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Black Widow and everyone’s favorite antihero The Punisher end up going on a high-priority mission that entails taking down a terrorist organization that’s willing to sell sensitive weaponry to some less than savory people. What ensues is a high-octane action thriller that’s held up by a gorgeous anime presentation and some additional Avengers appearances.

12. ‘LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat’

The Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being a surprise breakout smash on the big screen, which catapulted them to mainstream status. Thanks to their mass amount of fame, they’ve appeared in a whole slew of other media. In this film, they get LEGO-ized and embark on a space-faring crusade against Marvel’s “Mad Titan.” As expected, there are plenty of laughs and interplanetary action to be enjoyed here for all the young Guardians fans out there.

11. ‘The Invincible Iron Man’

Tony Starks gets the origin story treatment here as he comes to embrace his superhero role within the Marvel Universe. The Invincible Iron Man places the Starks in a terrible predicament as he tries to unearth an ancient Chinese temple. The opposing Jade Dragons disrupt his efforts, which leads Starks towards becoming the hero we all know him to be. This film offers a satisfactory tale and batch of cinematic action sequences to bask in.

10. ‘Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Avengers Reassembled’

Imagine having to endure a “party” with the hyper-intelligent robot known as Ultron. That’s the terrible situation The Avengers find themselves in as they fight to recover Iron Man’s prized battle armor. Your usual gamut of kid-friendly jokes and LEGO-flavored action sequences are included here for this brief Avengers team-up film. And for the most part, it gets the job done for Marvel’s younger fanbase.

9. ‘Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow’

The next Avengers movie special on this list doesn’t star the usual lineup of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” The plot takes a super dark left turn in this one – most of The Avengers meet their unfortunate end at the hands of Ulton and his robot army. It’s up to the Avengers’ assortment of superpowered children to step up and save the day. You’ll get a kick out of watching an alternate future within the Marvel Universe where the offspring of legends band together to show just how worthy they are of holding the superhero mantle. The kids sure are alright.

8. ‘Thor: Tales of Asgard’

Before Thor and Loki became mortal foes, they fought side by side as brothers in arms. This fun prequel film stars young versions of Thor and Loki as they set out to recover a legendary blade while fighting alongside the Warriors Three. It’s pretty cool watching a pre-Mjolnir wielding Thor set out on a grand adventure and give viewers a hint of his magnificent future. Thor: Tales of Asgard provides a magical treasure hunt that has its shining moments here and there.

7. ‘Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Maximum Overload’

Loki is at it again! His mischievous ways are front and center in this LEGO Marvel Super Heroes movie. The Norse God’s evil ways bring other super-villains into the fold, which forces Spider-Man and a gang of other familiar heroes to take them all down. Maximum Overload is easily the best LEGO Marvel movie thanks to its strong cast of characters (Spidey, Loki, Venom, and Carnage’s inclusions here do a great job in that regard).

6. ‘Ultimate Avengers II: Rise of the Panther’

The Ultimate Marvel Universe breathed new life into the comic book medium by refreshing the most popular superheroes of all time. That alternate realm within Marvel Comics got their own animated movies. The second one brings the main members of the Ultimate Avengers together for the fight of their lives against an alien threat. Black Panther’s role here is of great importance and adds a bit of levity to the film since his kingdom is under attack by extraterrestrial beings. Ultimate Avengers II: Rise of the Panther provides a satisfying amalgamation of epic action sequences and engrossing plot progression, so be sure to check it out.

5. ‘Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme’

If you enjoyed each and every minute of the mind-bending live-action Doctor Strange movie, then you’ll most definitely feel the same way about this 2007 animated film. Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme details the mystical journey that Dr. Stephen Strange embarked on during his ascent to the title of “Sorcerer Supreme.” That ascension to one of the most powerful magic wielders in Marvel history makes for a quality viewing experience in animation form. Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme is a visual tour de force that will certainly enrapture one and all.

4. ‘Ultimate Avengers: The Movie’

The very first Ultimate Avengers film started a strong trend for Marvel’s dedicated move to produce animated films that appealed to its older fanbase. The early origins of Marvel’s most iconic superhero team play out here and come together in a riveting manner. Aliens invade Earth, which gives General Fury every reason in the world to call on the aid of Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Giant-Man, and The Wasp. This strong introduction to the Ultimate Avengers team hits on all the right notes you’d expect from a quality animated film.

3. ‘Planet Hulk’

If you read the Planet Hulk comic book arc (and even if you haven’t!), you have to give this quality animated movie adaptation a thorough watch. Especially since it features a wild clash between the big green guy and Beta-Ray Bill! So here’s how the story goes – Bruce Banner’s green alter-ego has caused far too much destruction on Earth, which forces some of his contemporaries to send him off the planet. Hulk soon ends up crash landing on a planet that’s ruled by a tyrant, who forces the green anti-hero to entertain him and his followers during coliseum battles. In a bid to fight back against that tyrant and free his fellow warriors from captivity, Hulk joins the resistance and struggles to regain his and theirs freedom.

2. ‘Hulk Vs.’

How can anyone not enjoy watching Marvel’s big green brute swing his enormous fists and feet at someone? It’s especially entertaining when he does it in this film against two equally formidable superheroes. You can turn your brain off if you’d like and just enjoy witnessing The Incredible Hulk square up with Wolverine and Thor. The plot buildup to those epic battles is pretty interesting too, so you can also watch this with your brain turned off if you’d like.

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’

Not only is this film the best animated film effort ever put out, but it’s also arguably the greatest Spider-Man movie of all time. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse shows love to the young web-slinging prodigy Miles Morales and a fun assortment of other Spidey heroes from neighboring universes. The movie’s heartwarming moments, shocking twists, hilarious hijinks, and unique animation style all combine to make it a bonafide classic. It doesn’t matter what age you are – Into the Spiderverse is a favorite among all ages.

Categories
Sports Strength

Wrestling’s Post-Pandemic Forbidden Door is Exciting

February 3, 2021. All Elite Wrestling presented its Beach Break edition of Dynamite from the Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. Once the six-man tag team main event came to its decisive conclusion, a mysterious figure in a hoodie hit the ring and caught Jon Moxley from behind. Once that mysterious individual unmasked, everyone’s jaws hit the floor…CAUSE IT WAS NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING’S KENTA! All that talk about the “Forbidden Door” finally getting cracked open when it comes to exchanging talent between AEW and NJPW finally came to pass.

Fast forward to July 17, 2021. Impact Wrestling Slammiversary emanated from Skyway Studios in Nashville, Tennessee (WITH RETURNING FANS IN ATTENDANCE!). Not only did a slew of non-contracted talent from other wrestling companies make an appearance, the end of the show saw NJPW NEVER Openweight Champion Jay White shock the world by waltzing out to seemingly confront Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers. That single moment pretty much busted the Forbidden Door down and pointed to an exciting future full of company partnerships that will be sure to satisfy fans everywhere. The past few months in wrestling have seen companies like AEW, NJPW, Impact, NWA, and AAA work together to provide fresh matchups for the “Belt Collector” in Omega and allow their talent to hop over to participating promotions. Now that the “Pandemic Era” of wrestling has finally come to an end, the crossover potential between those top feds is stronger than ever before.

Take Jay White’s shocking run-in at Slammiversary for instance. His presence points to a wealth of exciting possibilities. His intense staredown with Kenny Omega could potentially lead to a battle of Bullet Club leaders at this year’s Bound for Glory PPV over the Impact World Championship. Just imagine – an NJPW contracted talent vs. an AEW contracted talent for Impact Wrestling’s greatest prize. Speaking of Bound for Glory, Impact teased that wrestlers from AEW, NJPW, and AAA will be on hand to make this a supershow to remember. El Phantasmo, Satoshi Kojima, David Finlay, and Juice Robinson have already stepped through Impact’s doors. Could we see even more talents, such as Rocky Romero and The Guerrillas of Destiny, also make a play for Impact dominance?

Another worthwhile development that’s come out of all this Forbidden door madness is the future crossover between Impact and NWA. Mickie James came out at Slammiversary and invited Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo to attend NWA’s all-women’s wrestling event, Empowerrr. While she rejected James’ plea at the moment, it’s pretty clear that Purrazzo will be added to the card after all. And who’s to say that a bunch of AEW ladies and female indie favorites won’t also be on hand for that event? The likes of Britt Baker, Tay Conti, Red Velvet, and Leyla Hirsch should definitely be a part of such an important moment in women’s wrestling. The same sentiment applies to indie standouts such as Skye Blue, Rok-C, and Holidead.

Now when we start talking about the continued relationship between AEW and NJPW, it certainly entails Jon Moxley’s future IWGP United States Championship defenses and talent exchanges for upcoming shows. Moxley has a pool full of worthy challengers that he can lock up with over his NJPW prize – seeing him go head to head with worthy challengers, such as Jeff Cobb and Tom Lawler, sounds like a worthy watch. And as the months wind down and AEW keeps on presenting its shows to raucous crowds, it’d be awesome to get a few unannounced appearances from NJPW’s native and Gaijin wrestlers. Imagine the crowd’s reaction if KENTA popped back up to hand out a Go to Sleep or two to some unsuspecting victims.

NJPW Resurgence could be even more of a major show if more outside talent gets to join in on the fun. AEW’s Jon Moxley and Impact Wrestling’s Good Brothers are already confirmed to appear. With the working agreements put in place with AEW, Impact, and ROH, it’d make all the sense in the world for wrestlers from all three companies to compete on the card. Lio Rush will be on hand to compete, so why not pit him against Impact’s Chris Bey? ROH’s Brody King has done a ton of work in NJPW Strong thus far – let’s give the big man a challenge by setting him up in a match with Impact’s Moose? Does The Good Brothers vs. The Guerillas of Destiny for the Impact World Tag Team Championship excite you? And we’d be all the way down to see Moxley defend the IWGP United States Championship against an ROH contracted talent. Moxley vs. Jay Briscoe, perhaps? All those dream scenarios and more could actually become a reality now that the post-pandemic Forbidden Door is wide open.

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eSports Gaming

‘Fortnite’ World Champion Bugha Gets His Own Icon Series Skin

Fortnite’s wide assortment of character skins is spread out across all forms of media.

Players can catch W’s and eliminate the competition while adorned in the sorts of costumes that make them look like their favorite characters from Marvel, DC, blockbuster films, sports, etc. The Fortnite Icon Series is responsible for putting forth all of those recognizable skins and has even introduced ones based on popular streamers such as Ninja. Now another noteworthy streamer/content creator has joined that collective and he’s most known for winning the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. Of course, we’re talking about the young legend that is Bugha. And his inclusion makes all the sense in the world since he was recognized as the Best Esports Athlete at The Game Awards in 2019 and has several strong placements across numerous Fortnite tournaments. Bugha’s credentials certainly speak for themselves.

Today (July 19), it was revealed that Bugha will become the latest member of the Fortnite Icon Series. Starting on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 8 PM ET, Bugha’s Icon Series Set will become available in the Fortnite Item Shop. This set comes with the following goodies – the Bugha Outfit, the Zoey Trophy Back Bling that comes with the Fortnite World Cup trophy & Bugha’s pug placed inside of it, dual Bugha Blades Pickaxe, and the Bring It Around Emote. The Bugha outfit doesn’t just offer its default style – it also comes with the electrified Bugha Elite Style and the World Champion Bugha Style, which is reminiscent of his post-World Cup Solo Finals victory fit.

Before that skin set arrives, everyone can compete in a special LTM (Limited Time Mode) one-day, cash prize tourney called Bugha’s Late Game. An Epic Games blog piece released some details about this incoming Arena mode event – “Running from July 20 until July 28, Bugha’s Late Game Arena puts players right in the middle of competitive Fortnite. With your Trio, you’ll drop on the Island while the Storm’s already closing in. We’ve collaborated with Bugha to curate nine starting inventories grouped into three team loadouts. Each Trio will be assigned one of these team loadouts at random. As you play Bugha’s Late Game Arena, you’ll be able to earn Hype that’s unique to this mode. The players who earn at least 1500 Hype before Bugha’s Late Game Tournament on July 28 will be eligible to participate in the tournament. In this version of Bugha’s Late Game, qualified players will compete against others in their region for a share of $100,000!”

Now Bugha’s in-game likeness will join the likes of Travis Scott, Loserfruit, and Ninja. It’s pretty awesome to see the young Fortnite pro stand proudly among such top-tier company.

Categories
Sports Strength

Elton’s Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: July 12-July 18

WWE Raw

High Spots: I can’t find it in me to care about Nikki Cross anymore now that she’s doing a worse rendition of Mighty Molly’s superheroine shtick. Crazed NXT Nikki will forever be my fave by a country mile. Anyways, the Fatal 4-Way match she was involved in with Alexa Bliss, Asuka, and Naomi was actually better than I expected. I despise the whole Nikki A.S.H. gimmick, but she can damn sure still wrestle her ass off so at least there’s that.

For the third week in a row, Ricochet and John Morrison blew the roof off of the ThunderDome with their quality Falls Count Anywhere match. It was easily the match of the night and was a fine way to bring an end to the ThunderDom Era for Raw. Now you see how good things turn out when you just let Ricochet do his thing in the ring, WWE? Yes, his promo ability leaves a lot to be desired. But he’s just too damn good and worth more than just keeping around as a good hand. I say pair him with Robert Stone (yes, I actually enjoyed the guy’s whole shtick on NXT!) and let him do all the talking while Brother ‘Chet shines between the ropes.

Botches: I enjoyed everything about the Bobby Lashley/Kofi Kingston feud…up until the point where “The Almighty” took an unfortunate L to Xavier Woods via a lame-ass roll-up. And this happened mere days before Lashley’s WWE Championship defense against Kofi Kingston! Like, what was the point of having that banana peel finish happen to the top champion on Raw before his PPV title defense? Lashley’s unexpected loss played into the intense show-closing promo with MVP, but I feel like they could have arrived at that result in a much more satisfying manner.

Alexa’s Playground was horrendous, but what else is new? Drew McIntyre is continuing to be down tremendously as he kept his beef with Jinder Mahal alive by destroying his prized motorcycle. That was also ass. AJ Styles vs. Ivar and Omos vs. Erik were just…meh. The same goes for Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya. And Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo barely lasted 20 seconds. And to think, I actually wanted to see that match go 10+ minutes. For shame…

NXT

High Spots: So Xia Li wants all the smoke with NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez, I see! Ay, count me in for that future matchup! They’re both known for being hard-hitting powerhouses that make their stuff look as real as possible, so pitting them against each other sounds like a real treat. I just knew Cameron Grimes (TO THE MOON!) would bring all the laughs as LA Knight’s new butler. This feud between NXT’s biggest moneymakers has lowkey been one of the best feuds for WWE’s third brand if we’re keepin’ it a stack! Can’t wait for Grimes to break away from Knight in front of the fans and get the biggest pop we’ve ever heard in recent memory. The first round of the Breakout Tournament did a great job of showing just what Duke Hudon and Ikemen Jiro are capable of, which has me excited to see how the rest of the field measures up. Pete Dunne vs. Timothy Thatcher is going to look and feel like one of those throwback catch-as-catch-can matches that’s all about rugged grappling and super stiff strikes – SIGN ME UP! 

Adam Cole is still beefing with his former Undisputed Era brethren, but I’m far more interested in seeing what he can do with Bronson Reed after their tense promo segment. As for the main event, it delivered in spades. Even though I’m a bit tired of Johnny Gargano and am bored to tears of Karrion Kross, I can’t front – their match was a damn fine way to bring this episode to a close. The big news coming out of this match was Kross’ choke out of special guest referee Samoa Joe. I get the feeling that both men will eventually settle their differences at a future TakeOver event. I’m guessing Kross will drop the title at some point beforehand, then lock up with Joe in a Loser Leaves NXT match with Joe. Joe will get the big W, which will lead to Kross getting the main roster call-up that Vinnie Mac has probably been dying to do ever since he laid eyes on the man.

Botches: I gotta get this off my chest, my dear readers – I’ve never been all that enamored with Ember Moon. Her dark edgelord moniker never appealed to me, so her past stint in NXT and main roster run on SmackDown never did anything for me. And at the moment, I don’t really care for anything she does now that she’s back on the black and yellow brand (her theme song is a definite banger, though). So with all that being said, Ember’s match with Dakota Kai was pretty much a non-factor to me. I feel the exact same way about Bobby Fish, so his presence on this episode against Tyler Rust was also meaningless to me.

Gigi Dolan vs. Sarray was inconsequential as well, but that random appearance of Mandy Rose piqued my interest a bit. Could she be back in a managerial role or will she step back through the ropes? Who knows at this point. I’m a big Dexter Lumis guy (shocking, I know!), but his match with Santos Escobar fell a bit flat with me. Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole are my guys, but I’m cool on watching them get embroiled in yet another match at this point. And finally, Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter did some stuff that just existed for the sake of existing.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: This may have been the best episode of Dynamite thus far. And that’s due in part to the perfect trifecta of a hot crowd, strong matches, and good storyline development. Jon Moxley set the pace early as he stormed out through the crowd and earned himself a roaring ovation. His match with Karl Anderson for the IWGP United States Championship ended up being a fun opener. Moxley has to heal back up in time since he’s destined to face Lance Archer in a second Texas Death Match on Fyter Fest Night 2. Now I’d love to see Archer rip the title out of Moxley’s hands, but NJPW obviously gets the final say on their championship winners and losers. Since NJPW loves Moxley, I just can’t see Archer winning the title from him just yet. Which pains me to say cause Archer really needs something good to sink his teeth into.

Ricky Starks and Brian Cage kept the good vibes rolling with their FTW Championship match. Their match started out a little sloppy, but it quickly recovered and grabbed the crowd’s attention. It was so strange hearing the crowd boo Cage since he was clearly the babyface, but I totally understood their reactions since Ricky Starks is just a bit hotter as a personality. Looks like Cage is out of Team Taz while Starks has been crowned as the new diamond for the whole stable. Andrade El Idolo called out The Death Triangle, which leads me to believe that he’s either trying to steal Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix from PAC or take them all on in singles matches. Santana and Ortiz pulled up on Tully Blanchard, which did a good job of further building up the eventual dream match between them and FTR. That’s a tag team classic in the making if you ask me!

The build to Kenny Omega and Adam Page’s AEW World Championship continues. We got a more confident Page verbally jousting with Omega that led to them setting up a 10-man tag team elimination match that will determine if their match will happen or not. Page’s team is obviously gonna get the W, which will hopefully set up their epic encounter at All Out. I didn’t care to see Matt Hardy vs. Christian Cage when it was first announced, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out to be. I should have known their match was going to be better than expected since Cage hasn’t lost a step and Matt still has it in him to hold up his end of the bargain this late in his career. We got a Wheeler Yuta sighting on this episode as he proved to be the perfect opponent for the Texas hometown boy in Sami Guevara. A good showing there from the two young stallions.

Chris Jericho has his work cut out for him now that MJF has set up his Pinnacle comrades to put him down. Jericho caught a beatdown in the back from Shawn Spears that set up their match on the next episode. Penelope Ford vs. Yuka Sakazaki was a solid showcase for the women’s division. And speaking of the women’s division, I’m pretty hype to see how Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose unfolds. Shout out to God’s favorite champion Miro. His promo work stayed strong as ever on this episode as he debuted the new white and green TNT Championship strap. And finally, kudos to Ethan Page and Darby Allin for being the madmen they are during their show-closing Coffin Match. They went above and beyond to keep the crowd alive thanks to their brutal spots and incorporation of their signature partners. That top rope powerbomb to the steel steps and Allin’s Coffin Drop after the match popped the hell outta me. The sight of a damaged Allin looking up triumphantly at the camera was a great closing shot from a great episode of Dynamite.

Botches: The only blemish on this excellent installment of Dynamite was that needless backstage segment that saw QT Marshall heel it all the way up on Tony Schiavone. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re cool on seeing QT pop back up in the ring for a while. Let’s get more screen time for Aaron Sollow, Nick Comoroto, and Anthony Ogogo now and let QT play the manager role for the time being.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: The last show before Slammiversary was serviceable at best, which is kinda deflating for a show that’s heading into such a major PPV. There were some halfway intriguing moments here and there – the continued tease of who Deonna Purrazzo’s PPV opponent will be excited me when it came to the more realistic possibilities. I figured it would be Chelsea Green at first, but she’s currently injured and plying her trade in ROH these days (turns out I was wrong here. More on that later!). So a returning Mickie James (I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THIS, THOUGH!) seems like the safest bet and the best usage of her is to produce a good to great match with the current Impact Knockouts Champion. 

The eight-man X-Division tag team scramble was chaotic fun – I can’t wait to see how six of those match’s participants come to blows during their Ultimate X match. Moose is still on a rampage, I see. He and Chris Sabin are definitely gonna put in a strong effort at Slammiversary, that’s for sure. I just hope some new blood comes in for Moose to tangle with cause he’s feeling a bit stale at this point without a championship belt around his massive waist.

Botches: Steve Maclin is still getting a push. And I still don’t like it. Not one bit. The opening women’s tag really had nothing going for it and was ultimately average at best. And sadly, I felt the exact same way about the other women’s tag. Tenille Dashwood’s inclusion in the ongoing feud between Matt Cardona and Brian Meyers fell flat to me. Plus the main event was only held up by Joe Doering and Doc Gallows’ interactions, which there should have been a lot more of. There sure was a lot of boring filler on this episode, wasn’t it? Like, we couldn’t get a heated promo segment between Kenny Omega and Sami Callihan before their big title match at Slammiversary? For shame, Impact. For shame…

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Man, when I tell you a live and energetic crowd makes all the difference in the world for a wrestling show? It’s straight facts! The return of fans to WWE’s weekly shows officially kicked off here and it felt oh so good to hear them cheer in unison again. Starting off this “Return to Normalcy” edition of SmackDown with fire entrances from Roman Reigns and Edge was hype-inducing, plus the six-man tag was the right call as far as exciting opening matches go. The promo that took place backstage after the match clearly set up Edge and Seth Rollins’ future dream match meeting at SummerSlam, which I’m 100% for! Finn Balor is back, baby! Hopefully, he keeps his badass NXT persona and gets pushed hard to the point where he squares up with the “Tribal Chief.”

Bianca Belair got one of the biggest pops of the night and it was well deserved. Her match with Carmella wasn’t anything special, but it was just nice to see the fans get a kick out of watching the SmackDown Women’s Champion work. I despise those angles where wrestlers fake like their pockets are hurting and need financial support. It’s so hard for me to suspend my disbelief when those types of situations arise. But I’d be fronting if I said I didn’t get a kick out of watching Baron Corbin asking the crowd to meet his crowdfunding goal of $100,000. Owens handed him a crowd popping Stunner, which led to a pretty good Fatal-4 Way main event. While it was a bit too short for my tastes, I enjoyed the anarchy of it all (Owens’ ladder-assisted elbow drop to Shinsuke Nakamura through the announce table was lit!). This was a really fun edition of SmackDown thanks to the lively crowd and strong build to MITB.

Botches: The women’s tag team match was whatever. It was mostly used as a way to add a bit more heat to the Women’s MITB match. I did get a kick out of Liv Morgan roasting Zelina Vega, though. That “longest vacation” line definitely got a good chuckle outta me. But yeah, the match was an afterthought. At least the new blood in Shotzi and Nox got another W! I would have loved to have seen Otis and Cesaro go for a good 15+ minutes or so, but their seconds-long affair was nothing more than angle advancement, which was quite disappointing. Can’t wait to see them get the proper time to throw hands, though!

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: Impact Wrestling is heating up once again! Their Slammiversary PPV delivered in spades when it came to a hot crowd, good matches, and genuine surprises. I was thoroughly entertained by the Ultimate X match, Moose vs. Chris Sabin, Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa, and Kenny Omega vs. Sami Callihan. The biggest story coming out of this show was definitely the unexpected faces that showed up to compete or simply make headlines by menacingly standing in the ring.

So let’s break down who popped up outta nowhere at this year’s Slammiversary – Chelsea Green (THE HOT MESS HAS RETURNED!), David Finlay & Juice Robinson, No Way Jose, Thunder Rosa, Mickie James, and, most importantly, JAY FRIGGIN’ WHITE! That’s the sort of run-in that needed Don West’s overenthusiastic commentary behind it. Could we see Omega go to war with the latest leader of the Bullet Club over the Impact World Championship at some point? Man, the “Forbidden Door” has been trampled by all the inter-promotional talents that have stepped into the Impact Zone. And I’m all the way here for it.

The other PPV event that happened this past weekend was WWE Money in the Bank, which ended up being a solid event. The Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match delivered in spades (that’s what I heard since I was forced to go on Twitter to watch clips of it since Peacock was acting up) and gave us the right winner in Big E. Bobby Lashley entered God Mode and completely demolished Kofi Kingston, which was quite delightful. Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair managed to make a crowd that started out uninterested in this match eventually grow to love it. And most importantly, John Cena made his grand return to set up his big SummerSlam match with Roman Reigns. I’m super hype to see that one go down in Vegas!

Botches: Peacock. Is. ASS! The constant stuttering that took place before, during, and after the Men’s Money in the Bank match was so infuriating. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with Peacock’s streaming issues during a live WWE PPV. I’d much rather have the far more reliable WWE Network pop up once again here in the States. I know it’ll never happen since Vince McMahon and Co. already got their millions to make the deal with NBC happen, though. Man, reality friggin’ bites…