Categories
Grind Money

NFTs Are Changing the Music Industry Right Before Our Eyes

Special thanks to Cooper Turley of Audius and Jeremy Stern of Catalog for feedback. 

An NFT by electronic musician Jacques Greene recently sold on Foundation for 13ETH — over $23,000 US. 

The audio-visual clip teases out a few seconds of an unreleased song of his called ‘Promise’.

https://foundation.app/jacquesgreene/promise-640
Foundation

But this purchase is for more than just the artwork itself. As Jacques writes, “this NFT represents not only a 1of1 AV but the publishing rights to the song upon its release, in perpetuity.”

Now this, to me, is an incredibly exciting thing to see. And not only because Jacques and I are both musicians and both from Montreal.

But because this is one more early example that nudges us ever closer to the following hypothesis: That we are at the beginning of a massive overhaul of this thing we’ve collectively decided to call the “music industry”. And that every facet of said industry will feel the aftershocks of this tectonic shift.

Welcome to the Stone Age

I recently wrote a beginner’s guide to NFTs and spoke of how they are about to change pretty much everything. This article both zooms out of NFTs and into the wider edges of what we can call the web3 revolution, and it zooms in on where these changes meet music. 

To create a succinct story around what this future of music will look like would be a fool’s errand. We are just beginning to touch these new tools for the first time. It’s like we’re in the Early Stone Age, and we just accidentally made the first hammers ever. We’ve just picked them up, and we’re feeling their weight; we’re hitting them against things and seeing if something goes boom. 

So instead of speculating on exactly where this all goes, this article walks through five examples of people, projects, and platforms that are giving these brand new hammers a good smacking. 

This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of experiments underway. 

My hope is that these examples begin to outline for you the possibilities of what’s to come. I encourage you to use the infinite landscape of your imagination to color in the rest. 

Alright, back to Jacques Greene

In his tweet thread announcing the ‘Promise’ NFT drop, Jacques Greene said that he recently “got out of a long, pretty bad publishing deal.” Now that he’s an independent songwriter, he’s elected to sell the publishing rights to this song to whoever wins the auction. 

That could theoretically be anyone. It could be a fan, a friend, another publisher who feels they could do better with his music. Maybe a music supervisor who already has some placement ideas for ‘Promise’ and wants more skin in the game. 

By creating an NFT around these rights, they become not only verifiably ownable but also tradeable. Once the song is released, the demand for these rights may go up as the song grows in popularity. Maybe the NFT changes owners. Maybe it changes owners a hundred times. 

The NFT could also theoretically be fractionalized, meaning it could be cut up into smaller pieces and sold to multiple owners. Maybe a fungible token is created that represents fractional ownership of the NFT, enabling hundreds, thousands, millions of people to participate in the publishing rights of this one song.

Of course, these different scenarios might be discussed and decided upon in a separate agreement between Jacques Greene and the primary buyer. While the proof of ownership of this NFT will be stored on the Ethereum blockchain, the actual flow of rights and royalties is not baked into the smart contract.

But you can begin to see a future where they are baked in. What happens when agreements that were once paper contracts turn to code? Suddenly the flow of rights and royalties becomes way more agile, flexible, malleable. Suddenly the options a creator has with the ownership and therefore incentives tied to the success of their work approach near infinity.

A custom built NFT Shop by 3LAU

We just saw how your superfan could, in theory, become your publisher. Clearly, the roles and relationships between artist, core team, and fan are beginning to blur. 

Another artist is committed to the continual blurring of these lines in 3LAU. 

The electronic artist has been immersed in the crypto scene for many years and has been essentially carving the path for musicians into the realm of NFTs. 

After a number of successful NFT drops, 3LAU — along with the team at Original Protocol — has now built his own custom NFT auction and marketplace. On Thursday, February 25th, the bidding will open for 33 rare Vinyl NFTs that represent his best-selling album Ultraviolet

The winner of these NFTs will also receive access to unreleased music, limited edition physical vinyl, and the top bidder will win the opportunity to create a custom song with 3LAU himself. Talk about an intimate connection with the artist.

https://nft.3lau.com/
3LUA

In a recent Clubhouse room announcing the project, 3LAU shared his vision of creating a long-term, close-knit relationship with his collectors. He plans for these NFTs to have ongoing utility, providing access to future exclusive content and closer access to him and his work. 

Because he’s built a custom marketplace, 3LAU truly gets to create whatever he wants. The art of the project extends past the actual music and into open questions like “how can I provide more value and access for fans, and how do I want to monetize that value?”

In a lot of ways, this release format gives the best of both worlds to creators and collectors. 

3LAU gets to own his platform and marketplace. But the actual NFTs live on the Ethereum blockchain, and therefore transcend the digital “walls” of his website. They can be moved about the wider Ethereum network — showed off in a VR gallery-like GeniusCorp’s Cryptovoxels vinyl shop, or bought and sold on Opensea or other marketplaces. 

It’s like owning a game skin, but the game’s environment is the entire (new) Internet. The use cases are truly endless.

Catalog: The Bandcamp for NFTs

Not everyone is going to build their own NFT shop. Catalog gets this. So they are building out the Bandcamp for audio NFTs. 

https://catalog.works/
Catalog

Set to launch within the next few weeks, Catalog allows artists to press 1-of-1 digital records as NFTs. These NFTs do not represent the rights or royalties associated with the song (like we saw with Jaques Greene’s) but act more like a canonical representation of an artist’s work on the blockchain. As the team puts it, 

“Catalog records represent the true original version of your work online. These are unique, one-of-one records that exist on the internet forever, beyond the limits of our platform, and can be traded in open markets.”

This means that fans can now own the original pressing.

McKenzie Wark

The future of collecting may be less in owning the thing that nobody else has, and more in owning the thing that everybody else has.

https://www.e-flux.com/journal/85/156418/my-collectible-ass/

As we spoke about in the guide to NFTs, this is a bit of a mental jump for us. We’ve learned to think of digital content in a certain way, but the perception of stuff on the Internet as tactile, distinct goods will increase as we venture deeper into the web3 renaissance. And with that, the verifiably original pressing of “Hotline Bling” for instance will hold tons of value. 

The same way we learned last week that the Nyan Cat meme is worth 300ETH to someone.

Another inherent aspect of Catalog NFTs (as with all the NFTs we’ve discussed) is the artist or creator fee. This is a percentage that the artist sets at the time of minting, which is paid to the artist every time that NFT sells on the secondary market, in perpetuity. 

This is another huge shift for artists, allowing them to capture the increasing value of their work overtime. An artist on Catalog will be able to capture the cultural value of their art as it grows, over and above the traditional royalties earned. 

Catalog intends to become a community-owned project, which means its artists and collectors will eventually control the majority of the network and its decisions. They are also building on top of the Zora Protocol, which has created a type of NFT structure (called a zNFT) that bakes the actual market into the NFT itself. This means that Catalog doesn’t take any transaction fee, and as a zNFT moves about the Ethereum ecosystem, so too does its market. 

This is truly “platformless media”.

Audius: The web3 Steaming Model

Alright, so we’ve covered a bunch of NFT projects and technologies that are just bursting with potential. 

But what’s about streaming music? Does that fit into all of this? Or are we stuck with the same old “Spotify model” forever?

Streaming platform Audius intends to give that last question a resounding “no!”

https://audius.co/
Audius

Audius is building a decentralized streaming platform. What this means is that the actual content uploaded to the site doesn’t exist on servers that are owned and operated by Audius itself. Instead, distributed “operators” are incentivized to run nodes that store the content and metadata on the platform. This allows for a whole lot of fun stuff, which we’ll get into shortly. 

The beauty of Audius is that, while all this is running under the hood, the average user has no idea. Using Audius feels like using any other streaming platform you’re accustomed to. You just…play music. Make playlists. Do the things. 

Because of its ability to abstract away all of the friction that usually comes along with a lot of early crypto tech, Audius has seen a huge wave of early adoption — with over 2.6 million monthly active users. Every user on Audius has a crypto wallet, and most don’t know it yet.

But the power of this decentralized library of content and code is immense. First, the content transcends the platforms. Much like the “platformless media” of NFTs, this means that the music and its streaming data are not beholden to the continued existence of Audius itself. If the website disappears tomorrow, the content is still there so long as the nodes stay online. This content is also completely open and permissionless, meaning anyone can build anything that “hooks in” to it.

You and I can build another frontend website that takes all the same content as Audius, but ours is better because we really like the color pink, and our whole website is pink. (If you wanna do this, please DM me.)

Or, in a more impactful example, we can build out ways of monetizing this content in up-until-now completely unexplored ways. 

And this is exactly what Audius itself is attempting to build. With the rollout of their native token $AUDIO, artists, curators and fans alike will be able to play in the experimental sandbox of earning and trading coins on the platform. Audius’ vision is to have its platform and the eventual uses of $AUDIO be community-led. 

But make no mistake, if we, the artists, don’t like how things are going down on Audius, we can build our own new frontend. That’s the beauty of it! No siloed control means more freedom for artists and audiences alike. 

Right now, Audius is completely free, and artists are encouraged to upload content, build playlists, and establish their following. The longer-term vision is to roll out monetizing products that allow artists to get really creative with their rollouts. And because the idea is to be a community-led initiative, it is the artists themselves who get to ideate and vote on what gets built. 

How about an album that charges listeners a set amount once they’ve listened through the album twice? Or a song that changes endings when you tip the artist? How about a song where the first 100 listeners get a percentage of future earnings? Or, a favorite example of mine from a podcast with the Audius founders, what about a gated album that can only be streamed at a certain altitude? Mile high club just got a whole new meaning. 

Up until now, we’ve been given very few options in how to distribute and monetize music. Highly centralized and opaque systems like Spotify and Apple Music get to essentially dictate what a song is worth. But this is a rather flat and boring way of doing things. The world of music is diverse. An artist’s catalog itself is filled with all sorts of different flavors and sounds. Why can’t the distribution and monetization of that music be just as eclectic?

Tokenized Communities and $RAC

We’ve looked at a lot of the ways that content online is changing, and we’ve begun to outline how the distribution of this content can create stronger ties between artist and fan. 

Now let’s dig a bit deeper into how online communities are about to take on a whole new level of meaning in our lives. 

The grammy-award winning artist and remixer RAC has been dipping into the world of crypto for quite a while, leading highly successful initiatives with his audiovisual NFTs and redeemable token drop $TAPE.

In October of last year, he announced the creation of his own artist token $RAC. He included an initial distribution plan of $RAC to his most loyal audience — Patreon supporters, Twitch supporters, etc. 

https://blog.ourzora.com/home/introducing-rac
Zora

A social token like $RAC allows the artist to create strong ties with his community that transcend any one platform. Up until now, we’ve been building our Instagram followers and our YouTube subscribers and the like. But these relationships are truly owned by the platform itself and not the creators. 

A community token allows you to attribute value to your online family and allow that value to flow through that family in any number of ways. These are the building blocks for creators and communities to build their own online worlds. 

One growingly common use-case for a social token is to act as admission to a gated Discord community. To access certain locked Discord channels, you’d need a certain amount of $RAC. Another popular community doing this is Friends With Benefits, which currently requires you to hold 55 $FWB in your crypto wallet to gain access. 

But Discord entry is just the beginning. This provides a community with the power of its own economy. As the community grows, so too does the value of its economy and, therefore its token. This value can then be used to incentivize those within the community and those who want in — in any manner of direction. The ways a social token can be used are thus limited only by the creativity of that artist and community. 

The $RAC token is built on Zora’s protocol. Platforms like Mintgate and Seed Club are a few others playing in this social token space. 

We just covered a whoooole lot.

And yet, we’ve barely begun. We didn’t even touch on how this stuff leaks into live events and ticketing, PROs, data flow, and tons more. 

One could go through all of this and say, jeez, we are really on our way to turning the arts into this hyper-financialized space that’s all about money. 

That’s one perspective. But this is how I see where we are currently at… 

The arts are now entering the blockchain ecosystem, a space that has in a lot of ways been shaped by those who got here first. The DeFi (decentralized finance) space exploded in 2020 and laid the cultural groundwork within this new world. 

But now artists are coming. And the culture is shifting — the words we use are changing, the ways we design and build things are changing.

In a recent YouTube Live, Jon-Kyle of Mirror said, “it’s not ‘let’s make the world feel like we live in a bank’… it’s ‘let’s make the rest of the world feel broken’”.

As you dive deeper into these new technologies, the current online world does start to feel entirely broken. And boy, oh boy, does the music industry feel broken… 

In December 2020, I — like all artists on Spotify — received my 2020 Artist Wrapped analytics. The number that struck me most was that 170 listeners streamed my catalog more than any other artist on Spotify. I was blown away. Like, there are a lot of artists on Spotify. And you listened that much to Lil’ ol’ me? 

https://open.spotify.com/artist/70JkpECHBzs79FOYemfHwk?si=gswjhntvRVKqemEB8lk0Bw
Spotify

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the discovery tools that Spotify has built for artists like me to find fans. But don’t you find it strange that I have no idea who those 170 people are? That I have no way of finding them, reaching them, telling them “thank you, I love you, let’s be best friends”? 

Doesn’t that feel broken?

We are still in the Early Stone Ages of the Internet. 

And we just made the first hammers ever. What will we build?

Bonus Round: EulerBeats

Getting into all this? Good. Here’s a little homework for ya if you want to go deeper…

Step 1 — Read this tweet:

Step 2 — Now read this tweet:

“DAO” stands for a Decentralized Autonomous Organization. We’ll get more into what those are in a future article. 

Step 3 — Visit eulerbeats.com, and good luck getting any other work done today.

https://eulerbeats.com/
EulerBeats

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 15 Best Spy Movies on Netflix (And A Few TV Shows As Well)

In a secret-filled world, spies can be hiding in every shadow. Whether secret agents are working for governments or acting as solo agents with their own positive or negative agendas, spies have become a backbone in both modern society and cinema. The Cold War in particular, with Americans constantly afraid of Communist agents hiding and operating in the United States, brought the world of espionage to the forefront of people’s minds and has become a go-to topic for filmmakers wanting to explore the world of undercover agents with hidden agendas. 

If your hobbies include spying on your passersby with binoculars or sticking your ear up against a wall to eavesdrop on your roommates, spy movies are right up your alley. I know from personal experience that being a secret agent for the government can be difficult (crap, did I just say that out loud?), and these movies and television shows elucidate different aspects of that tricky world. Read on to discover the 15 best Spy movies (and a few TV series) currently on Netflix!

1. ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Of course, the most iconic fictional spy of all time was going to kick off this list of spy films and television shows. In the 2006 remake of Casino Royale, Daniel Craig donned a tuxedo and drank shaken martinis for the first time as James Bond.

In this film, Bond is still closer to the beginning of his storied career, and he is assigned with learning more about the financial exploits of terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). With his newly assigned license to kill, Bond has to learn more about Chiffre’s organization and enter a high-stakes poker game to hopefully thwart their newest attempts to bring in massive amounts of money.

https://www.netflix.com/title/70044604
2. ‘The Coldest Game’ (2019)

Like I mentioned in the intro, The Cold War is where the world of espionage and secret agents first entered the mainstream imagination. The 2019 film The Coldest Game follows Joshua Mansky (Bill Pullman), an American mathematician who is forced to become a spy for the government during one of the Cold War’s most dangerous eras.

Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the movie follows the alcoholic Mansky as he prepares and competes in a chess tournament in Warsaw while simultaneously trying to discreetly take in as much information about the Soviets as possible.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/81221170#:~:text=2019%7CTV%2DMA%20%7C1h,a%20deadly%20game%20of%20espionage.
3. ‘The Spy’ (2019)

Sacha Baron Cohen is best known for outrageous comedic roles like Borat and Bruno, but in The Spy, a miniseries co-produced by Netflix, Cohen’s dramatic abilities are on full display.

In The Spy, Cohen plays Eli Cohen (no relation), a Mossad agent who was tasked with carrying out important tasks for the Israeli government in the buildup to the Six-Day War between Israel and Syria in 1967. Based on real-life events, the crux of the story follows Cohen as he disguises himself as a man named Kamel Amin Thaabet and integrates himself into Syrian society, eventually gaining the title of Deputy Defense Minister, in the hopes that the knowledge he gains and actions he takes will all benefit Israel in the long run. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80178151
4. ‘Inception’ (2010)

Director Christopher Nolan is known for larger-than-life film concepts, and films don’t get much bigger than Inception. The film follows a team of individuals, led by Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), as they embark on a mission inside a businessman’s mind to implant (incept) an idea in his head.

As the squad goes deeper in Robert Fischer’s (Cillian Murphy) subconscious, the settings continually evolve and get more dangerous, forcing the dream team to adapt and constantly tweak their plans to get to the next level unnoticed.

An action-packed film, Inception is emotionally charged and ambiguous as hell, meaning audiences will have to pay attention if they want to pick up on everything Nolan is trying to throw at them.  

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70131314
5. ‘The Departed’ (2005)

Martin Scorsese focuses on a different kind of gangster in The Departed: Corrupt police officers and federal agents. Starring a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed follows certain individuals who work as moles within the Massachusetts state police as well as the Irish mob in Boston. Without spoiling the numerous twists, I’ll say that this Best Picture Oscar-winning film is incredibly tense and makes the audience question every individual and their true intentions at all times.

Not only does it have a lot of iconic dramatic moments, but The Departed also has some incredible action to keep viewers hooked throughout the two-and-a-half-hour film.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70044689
6. ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)

There are literally dozens of James Bond films out there, but Netflix only has Daniel Craig’s first two outings available for U.S. customers. Picking up literally an hour after Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace sees Bond seek revenge for the loss of a loved one. While on the trail of the killer, 007 discovers a shadowy organization called Quantum. It falls to Bond to diffuse Quantum and Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), one of its shadow members, from plotting a coup in Bolivia in order to gain control over its water supply.  Keeping with the gritty spirit of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is an action-packed, bloody film that shows James Bond going MUCH further in fight scenes than he had in the past as he embarks on a personal rather than fully professional mission. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70099117
7. ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (2011)

After the success of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series and subsequent Swedish film adaptation, David Fincher released an American adaptation of the series first chapter in 2011. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is investigating the mysterious disappearance of a teenage girl 40 years earlier. To help him get to the bottom of things, Blomkvist turns to the complex yet matter-of-fact hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Together, the two of them embark on a dark journey to discover the truth that ends up nearly contradicting everything they first assumed about the situation when they started their mission. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a slick, incredibly well-acted film that will leave audiences both intrigued and entertained from start to finish.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70207663
8. ‘The Angel’ (2018)

The Angel, distributed by Netflix in 2018, tells the story of Ashraf Marwan (Marwan Kenzari), an Egyptian diplomat who was married to Egyptian President Nasser’s daughter and ended up working as a secret agent for the Israeli Mossad. Based on Israeli professor Url Bar-Joseph’s book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, The Angel, explores Marwan’s time working as a spy for Israel and the emotional struggles he went through in an effort to maintain peace between the two countries. Set in the aftermath of the Six-Day War between the two countries in 1967, the film is full of double-crossings, and loose ends that make it clear just how logistically and morally complicated being a spy can be.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80188120
9. ‘The Spy Next Door’ (2010)

Bob Ho (Jackie Chan) is affiliated with the CIA and used to taking down terrorists and saving the day, but now he has a dangerous mission he may not be qualified for: babysitting his neighbor’s kids. The Spy Next Door follows Ho as he deals with the trouble-making kids, but his old job quickly rears its ugly head as he has to reveal his identity to the kids and work with them to take down a group of bad guys threatening the world’s oil supply. Directed by Brian Levant, the director who brought family-friendly films like Beethoven and Jingle All The Way to the big-screen, The Spy Next Door is a silly, action-packed film perfect for everyone in the fam.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/70116682
10. ‘The Spy Who Fell to Earth’ (2019)

Directed by Thomas Meadmore, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is a documentary all about Ashraf Marwan (the subject of the previously mentioned The Angel), an Egyptian billionaire who worked as a secret agent for the Israeli government. Based on a book with the same name, the film tracks Marwan’s life, touching on everything from his life in the UK before becoming a full-fledged spy to his mysterious death. Including archival footage of everyone from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Nikita Khrushchev, a former Premier of the Soviet Union, The Spy Who Fell to Earth is an interesting, time-spanning story that shows the importance and historical context of Marwan’s time as a spy.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80224218#:~:text=Based%20on%20Dr.,Egyptian%20billionaire%20and%20Israeli%20spy.
11. ‘Spycraft’ (2021)

Based on the book Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, Spycraft is a Netflix original docu-series that takes viewers through different key components of espionage and how they have evolved over the years. Released in late January 2021 to limited fanfare (potentially because the powers at be don’t want individuals to know the truth about American spycraft), the eight-episode series has entries on everything from the power of “sexpionage” to how agencies go about recruiting the individuals to become spies.  

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/81014547
12. ‘A Very Secret Service’ (2015)

The final television series on this list, A Very Secret Service, looks at the world of espionage through a more satirical, comedic lens. A French production, A Very Secret Service, follows André Merlaux (Hugo Becker) after he is called in to be a trainee with the French Secret Services. Set in 1960 during the early days of the Cold War, the French are dealing with calls for independence in their then African colonies, especially Algeria, and a domestic populace growing more liberal every day that makes the government increasingly worried about Communist interference.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80097771
13. ‘Snowden’ (2016)

Few recent American figures are as divisive as Edward Snowden, and that’s exactly why the overtly political director Oliver Stone decided to make Snowden. The film explores Edward Snowden’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life preceding his time as a subcontractor with the National Security Agency and, most importantly, his decision to leak classified documents that revealed espionage and data tracking operations carried out by the American government on its own citizens to a team of journalists. Even though the movie is based on two Snowden-focused books, Stone met with the real Snowden multiple times in an attempt to better understand him as well as a pick-up on some personality traits he could incorporate into the movie. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80064514#:~:text=2016%7CR%20%7C2h%2014m%7C,exposing%20vast%20U.S.%20surveillance%20programs.
14. ‘All The Devil’s Men’ (2018)

Jack Collins (Milo Gibson) is a former Navy SEAL and bounty hunter who is sent off to London to assist the CIA on a critical mission. All the Devil’s Men, written and directed by Matthew Hope, follows Jack as he becomes a part of a small team of operatives tasked with hunting down a former CIA agent intent on buying a nuclear warhead from Russian gangsters. Full of action and double-crossings, All The Devil’s Men will keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they try to put all the pieces together and watch Jack try to save the day and spare the world from a nuclear conflict. 

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80220311
15. ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ (2016)

Based on a true-story, Smoke & Mirrors follows the exploits of Francisco Pasea (Eduard Fernández), a Spanish agent who assisted the government fight a Basque separatist organization before ultimately being framed and exiled by the Spanish government. Years later, Pasea is allowed back in the country to assist Luis Roldán (Carlos Santos), the former Police commissioner, with a massive cash cover-up scheme. Still bitter about his past betrayal, Pasea plots how to take the money for himself in a manner that will hopefully leave him free from blame and flush with cash. Directed by Alberto Rodriguez, Smoke & Mirrors is incredibly entertaining as well as illuminating expose on how corrupt governmental institutions can be.

watch here
https://www.netflix.com/title/80121843
Categories
Gaming Interviews

Aaron “Don” Dukes Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With KCP Kate

On this edition of Inside The Screen, presented by host Aaron aka ‘Don’ Dukes, Don welcomes special guest KCP Kate, a young phenom playing for the Kansas City Pioneers, who has been dominating Rocket League. While the 21-year-old is still a relatively new face in the esports and gaming scene, she is making quite a splash with not only her skillset but for her competitive and fiery spirit. Kate is truly a beast behind the controller, and she and Don talked about this next step in her career, being a young woman navigating the esports and gaming scene, and more. 

Don kicks off the conversation getting the scoop on Kate’s signing with Kansas City. “It’s been good—I love KCP! Obviously, with Covid, we can’t visit or anything, but that is definitely something that we want to do!” KCP Kate has been earning her stripes this year, being ranked in the top 100 for most of the season, which is something that is incredibly tough to do in just under a year—especially when you consider the tough mechanics required for a game like Rocket League. “At least for me, this was my first game on PC basically. I had played indie games before that, but when Rocket League came out, that was the first major game that I had actually ever played.”

Don and Kate go in-depth on a ton of topics during this 20-minute episode, with Don asking the rising streamer about her early interest in gaming. “I started off watching other streamers on YouTube, and when I got my PC, I was super big into speedrunning. One of my favorite people in the world, FullGrownGaming, streamed speed runs of Majora’s Mask, and I was there all the time watching it. I started speedrunning myself with Super Mario Sunshine, and I did that for a long time. Eventually, the group of YouTubers that I watched started playing Rocket League, and I played soccer all of my life so it seemed perfect!”

After a quick conversation about Kate’s parents and her support system, Don then gets Kate’s thoughts on being a woman in esports and how things have changed for the better. “I think that every single woman will have a different experience with it, but at least for me—when I was in the speedrunning community—everybody was so nice to me, and I never really experienced a lot of the things that I saw, but then when I came to Rocket League and played Overwatch at the same time, that obviously got pretty toxic. I think the same way it’s been really harsh to get used to; it has also made me a better person.”

We definitely don’t want to spoil this amazing conversation between Don and KCP Kate, so be sure to check out the full interview in the video above. You can continue to follow both Don and Kate on Instagram and Twitter.

Categories
Grind Money

A Guide to Sorare: The Proper Football NFT Platform

If you haven’t heard about NFT’s over the past few weeks, then where have you been?

A lot of the focus has been on NBA Top Shot, but we are here to tell you about Sorare, the next NFT sports platform exploding right now.

If Proper Football, sports cards, fantasy sports, or FIFA Ultimate Team are your jam, this is the NFT for you.

So what is Sorare?

Sorare is a Football (Soccer) NFT platform blending licensed Digital Collectibles with the gamification and reward potential of Fantasy Sports, all built on Ethereum blockchain.

Where NBA Top Shot purely focuses on collectibility in typical sports card fashion, Sorare changes the game, allowing users to not only build their sports card collection but become ‘managers’ and use their cards to compete each week for rewards and prizes.

For example, this Kylian Mbappé unique sold for $65.6k (on November 29th, 2020), but should actually reward the buyer for 10 + years based on Mbappé becoming one of the world’s best players and therefore helping return healthy in-game rewards, as well as accumulating stored value based on scarcity as per the world of NFT’s.

Sorare

Each Sorare card holds the same attributes as other NFT assets; the token cannot be copied or taken away from your possession.

Sorare already has official licenses with 126 clubs including the likes of Liverpool FC, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, and are adding more all the time, meaning you can buy some of the world’s best and most recognizable players straight away on the platform!

The Hype

You thought NBA Top Shot was big? This is the leading NFT platform for the most popular sport globally—catering to the 3.5 billion fans of football worldwide.

Sales momentum is growing. In the past week, it hit over $1.8m in volume, but compared to NBA Top Shot which hit a sales volume of $17m in the last 24 hours alone (according to cryptoslam.io), the hype for Sorare is only just beginning, and the potential is huge.

There have been some pretty impressive sales on Sorare recently, including a Cristiano Ronaldo Unique card selling for $102k

There is a little more to get your head around than with NBA Top Shot, so here is everything you need to know.

How can I get started? Building your team

Head to Sorare, create your account and login.

When you start you are awarded with 10 common cards to build your team.

You can then purchase players in a number of ways:

‘New Market’ auctions – these are cards minted by Sorare and you will be bidding against other Sorare players

Transfer Market – here, you can directly purchase players other Sorare Managers have put up for sale, whether through the buy it now listed price or through direct offers to owners

*Pro Tip: This may not work for much longer, but I have found a few auction bargains in the early hours (GMT time) whilst others have been sleeping. Stateside you may be able to use this to your advantage!

There are 4 card levels: Common (these cannot be sold on the marketplace), Rare (100 cards exist), Super Rare (10 copies exist), and Unique (you guessed it, just the one!)

This means that there are only 111 player cards of value minted per season, and released gradually during the season!

If a player leaves their real world team, and joins another team in a league that Sorare analyzes from a data perspective, your card will continue to earn points.

Bruno Fernandes is a great example here. His cards were minted in the 19-20 season when he was playing for Sporting, a team under license by Sorare.

Only 11 Fernandes cards have been minted as he left Sporting to join Manchester United in January 2020, and as such no new Fernandes cards have been minted since as Manchester United are not yet under license by Sorare. 

Players who own his 19-20 Sporting card still earn points each game week, but no new cards are being introduced into the market, so these cards are absolute gold.

You can buy players using your credit card or with Eth by connecting a Metamask or Coinbase Wallet via WalletLink.

It goes without saying the rarer the card, the higher the price, and whilst the superstars we all love and know can be deemed as expensive, there are plenty of hidden gems for you to unearth just beneath the surface.

If you think a young player is going to break through and become a football superstar, put your money where your mouth is and pick him up early for cheap – Timothy Weah for me – I’m still hoping he can emulate his Dad!

If you are right, the rewards could be massive.

Entering Leagues

As a new manager, you will be able to enter the Rookie League which will reward you with Common and Rare player cards based on results.

At this stage, you will need to compose a 5-a-side team with your cards with your choice of formation – 1 Goalkeeper, 2 defenders, 2 midfielders, or attackers

Points are attributed to your card based on real-world performances, scored up to a maximum of 100 per card and your position in the league will be ranked against other managers.

Each week your cards earn XP points that can add multipliers to the cards in-game, and allow you to compete in higher divisions and win rewards.

You can also assign a Captain, who will earn bonus points so pick carefully.

Gameweeks run Tuesday to Friday, Friday to Tuesday and you can compete in the Rookie League for eight game weeks, after which you have to put on your big boy pants and enter the regional and global divisions.

Leveling Up

There are three global leagues for you to participate in:

  1. Rookie League: Only eligible for your first eight-game weeks
  2. All-Star League: Made up of four divisions
  3. Under 23 league: Made up of four divisions, and players have to be under 23 

Card level criteria differ for each league, meaning you have to think strategically about how to level up and if you want to compete in higher leagues—bear in mind, higher leagues will mean less but potentially more fierce and experienced competition!

You can also submit players to the Training League to level up XP!

Sorare

There are also regional leagues that open up based on enough licensed teams from that region playing in a given game week:

  • European Champions League: Player cards have to represent teams in the top five European football leagues
  • American Champions League: Players have to represent licensed teams covering MLS, Superliga Argentina, Liga MX, Colombian Primera A & Brasileiro Serie A
  • Asian Champions League: Players representing teams in the J-League, K-League & Chinese Super League
  • European Challenger League – Players from outside the top five European leagues

As you build your card collection, you can actually enter multiple leagues in the same game week.

 *Pro Tip: As football is the global game and Sorare’s are mopping up licenses around the world, it means seasonality is less of an issue. 

Consider building your team to take advantage of leagues such as the J-League & K-League, where other managers may miss opportunities. Who doesn’t want a vested interest in Kawasaki vs. Yokohama?!

The Tactics

You can take a few approaches to play Sorare:

  1. Play to earn based on scaling up your team via the fantasy rewards structure 
  2. Invest and speculate: You could buy players and flip for short term profits or hold youth prospects for long term value 
  3. Hybrid: The purest form of the game and what I enjoy – I’m building my team to earn my rewards now and create a long term store of value

*Pro Tip: Sorare has an awesome community, so follow the Discord or Telegram where people will be happy to help get you started as well as regular AMA’s!

Sorare’s Potential

With sports cards still booming and the world of NFT’s taking hold, Sorare takes the NFT structure and makes it engaging, exciting, and brings you back each day for more. This tied in with my belief that platforms based on official IP will be the dominant forces in this space; I think Sorare is just getting started 🚀.

Categories
Sports Strength

These Are The 20 Best AEW Matches, According to The Wrestling Classic

It’s The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm. This time, I’ll be listing the 20 Best Matches AEW ever, in my opinion. All Elite Wrestling has been around for a little over a year now but still feels like a fresh alternative in the wrestling world. It definitely is a show I look forward to every week considering all the wrestling we get these days.

AEW provides an entire buffet for wrestling styles, and their roster is only growing every week. They provide us with great matches regularly on their PPVs and on Dynamite, therefore making this list was pretty difficult. I also tried to consider the significance of the stories being told and the significance of the matches themselves instead of just the in-ring action so that this list could be more for everyone. Let me know what you think about my list and if I forgot any memorable matches.

Honorable Mentions

Fight For The Fallen – 07/13/19

The Young Bucks vs. Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes

 All Out – 08/31/19

Kenny Omega vs. PAC

Full Gear – 11/09/19

AEW World Championship

Chris Jericho w/ Jake Hager vs. Cody Rhodes w/ MJF

Dynamite – 02/19/20

Steel Cage Match

Cody Rhodes vs Wardlow

Revolution – 02/29/20

Darby Allin vs Sammy Guevara

Double or Nothing – 05/23/20

MJF vs Jungle Boy

Dark – 09/22/20

Benjamin Carter vs. Lee Johnson

Full Gear – 11/07/20

World Title Eliminator Finals

Kenny Omega vs. “Hangman” Adam Page

Full Gear – 11/07/20

AEW World Championship

Jon Moxley vs. Eddie Kingston

Dynamite – 01/27/21

Dax Harwood vs. Jungle Boy

20. Chris Jericho vs. “Hangman” Adam Page (All Out – 08/31/19)
AEW

This match mainly holds historical significance because it was to crown the first-ever AEW Champion. The veteran Chris Jericho faced off against the young rising star “Hangman” Adam Page. It was a seasoned pro facing off against the future of wrestling inside of an All Elite Wrestling ring to find out who would represent the company in its inaugural year. The match was competitive, with Chris Jericho coming out on top in the end. I thought this was a great call to have a wrestling legend like Chris Jericho be the first champion since AEW was a new company premiering on network television. However, it also put a great spotlight on Adam Page, who remains a fan favorite moving forward. I think we’re all waiting for the day Adam Page does eventually become champion.

19. Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee (Double or Nothing – 05/23/20)
AEW

It was inevitable that the recently revealed Exalted One of the Dark Order would set his eyes on the AEW Championship to make the Dark Order the most dominant faction in AEW. Brodie Lee made sure we weren’t going to have to wait long as he made his presence felt attacking Moxley, stating his intentions. Jon Moxley was the champion and was not backing down from any challenges, and Brodie was a familiar foe from their days in the WWE, so both guys knew each other very well. The match felt like a fight from bell to bell. Br0die Lee really got to show us what he could do in a big match situation and that he belonged in the main event. Moxley had to get violent and vicious to defeat Lee. Brodie never lost but rather passed out in a submission. The only issue with this match was that the referee seemed to be too lenient with the rules since this regular match felt more like a street fight. Overall, it was a great match.

18. Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

Jon Moxley had a long road before facing Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship. Jericho tried to avoid having to have the match by inviting Moxley to join his Inner Circle faction, but Moxley wasn’t interested. Following that, Jericho stabbed Moxley in the eye with one of the spikes from his jacket. This still didn’t stop Moxley from showing up for a fight; instead, it ignited his ambitions even more. They told a great story wherein the end, the good guy Moxley outsmarted the bad guy Jericho when Moxley revealed that his eye had healed, catching Jericho off guard before hitting his finisher for the victory. This was great because Moxley even wore an eye patch the entire time he was on Jericho cruise weeks before the show and sell the angle. Moxley becoming the new and second-ever AEW Champion is another reason this match will always stand out.

17. PAC vs. Orange Cassidy (Revolution – 05/23/20)
AEW

It was Orange Cassidy’s singles in-ring debut, and it was against none other than “The Bastard” PAC. The contrast in styles really created the anticipation for this match as Orange Cassidy is the “King of Sloth Style.” It’s a style in which he does the bare minimum and even throws kicks with his hands in his pockets. PAC is a serious competitor who doesn’t have time for any shenanigans. The match was entertaining as hell, and the crowd was really behind Orange Cassidy. Cassidy even got some believable near falls after showcasing some of his bursts of athleticism throughout the match, but in the end, the right man went over in PAC. The Bastard made the Freshly Squeezed on tap out to the brutalizer. The Lucha Brothers and The Best Friends got involved too during the match. Overall this is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys the entertainment side of professional wrestling.

16. Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega (Dynamite – 12/02/20)
AEW

Kenny Omega defeated “Hangman” Adam Page in another awesome match at Full Gear, which was the World Title Eliminator Tournament’s finals to become the new number one contender for the AEW Championship. Omega spent most of the year as one-half of the tag team champions with Page, so it was exciting to see that he would finally be in the main championship picture. In the final months of their tag title reign and especially after they lost the tag team titles, Omega started to show some heel-like tendencies. He became more selfish, arrogant, frustrated, and unpredictable. Therefore, we were getting a more motivated Omega facing off against the reigning and defending confident champion Jon Moxley. It was a PPV-worthy competitive main event that ended with Impact Wrestling’s Don Callis helping Kenny Omega win the AEW Championship. Although the ending came with interference, Jon Moxley still looked strong. Kenny Omega confirmed his heel turn, and the finish really set the tone for 2021.

15. Cody Rhodes w/ Arn Anderson vs. Darby Allin (Full Gear – 11/07/20)
AEW

The TNT Championship was introduced to All Elite Wrestling as the secondary championship for the workhorses to great fanfare. As the first champion, Cody Rhodes built up the title’s prestige by defending it every week in open challenges allowing any comers to fight for the championship. He briefly lost it to Brodie Lee in dominating fashion but eventually won it back. After defeating Orange Cassidy a couple of times, it was Darby Allin’s turn to step up for the TNT Championship. Cody cut a promo on Darby the week before the match stating how he vouched for Darby when the company was looking for talent, and he wanted Darby to prove to him that he wasn’t wrong. This was a close match between the two which results in both wrestlers looking strong. Cody was even kicked out of a coffin drop when everyone thought the match was finished. The thing that really made this match significant was the aftermath, where Cody knelt down on one knee to present Allin with the TNT Championship passing the torch from one workhorse to another.

14. Rey Fenix vs. Penta El Zero M (Dynamite 10/21/20)
AEW

 The Lucha Brothers are one of the most talented and popular tag teams in All Elite Wrestling. However, every time we have seen them face off against each other, it’s been something special. They don’t only know each other better than anyone else because they’re a team-team but also because they are real-life brothers. This was the first round of the world title eliminator tournament, and it took place on Dynamite. Eddie Kingston was on commentary f0r the match as he was friends with both competitors. These two put on an absolute banger for Dynamite, and I don’t think the fans expected anything less. Rey Fenix picked up the victory after a competitive match against his brother after catching Penta with a destroyer. It was nice to see a destroyer actually finish the match as it’s become a transitional move these days. This match further showcased that Fenix has a bright future ahead of him as a singles star one day and that Penta is still one of the best today with “cero miedo.”

13. Cody Rhodes w/ Brandi Rhodes and Arn Anderson vs. MJF w/ Wardlow (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

The friendship between Cody Rhodes and MJF was questionable to everyone but Cody, who always saw MJF as the salt of the earth and his protege. No matter what MJF’s reputation was or if anyone tried to warn Cody about Max’s true intentions, Cody refused to believe that MJF didn’t have his back. MJF’s attitude around Cody was so different to the point where you really questioned if Max did have a different level of respect for Cody. There were times that we thought MJF was going to turn on Cody, but he never did. When Rhodes faced off against Jericho for the AEW Title at Full Gear 2019, where the stipulation was that if Rhodes lost, he wouldn’t be able to challenge for the championship ever again, it was MJF who threw in the towel to forfeit the match for Rhodes. Following the match, MJF finally showed his true colors and attacked Cody. For months Rhodes tried to get MJF to fight him, and when he eventually did, they had a banger of a match. In the end, a bloody MJF picked up the victory to stay undefeated when he used his Dynamite Diamond Ring to his advantage. This match stands out because of the anticipation the fans had to see these two finally go toe to toe, and they were able to tell a great story in the ring off the long build-up.

12. Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page vs. FTR w/ Tully Blanchard (All Out – 09/05/20)
AEW

Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page were an unlikely tag team that showed cracks along the way during their championship run but continued to find ways to work together successfully to hold on to the tag team titles. However, when Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler made their presence known in All Elite Wrestling, you knew Omega and Page’s days as tag team champions were numbered. FTR is considered to be one of the best tag teams of the modern area, and them securing Tully Blanchard as their manager just made them even more dangerous. FTR became the number one contender after winning a tag team gauntlet in which Page assisted in getting the Young Bucks eliminated. This led to Page leaving “The Elite” and had everyone question his loyalty to Kenny Omega. This was a great match with multiple layers of storytelling happening. Omega was concerned about where Page’s head was at, but he ended up hitting Page with a V-trigger by accident which was the beginning of the end for their team. FTR picked up the victory, became tag team champions, and remained undefeated while Omega was the one who walked out.

11. The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers (Double or Nothing – 05/20/19)
AEW

Those who were fans of both teams before All Elite Wrestling took off all knew this match would be a spectacle. It was nothing less than that. It was an awesome match from two of the best teams in the world. It was brothers versus brothers for the Triple AAA Tag Team Championships. It was a match sparked from the Las Vegas Rally when the Lucha Brothers attacked The Young Bucks. They went back and forth for a few months until their first match at a Triple-A event where The Young Bucks defeated The Lucha Brothers for the Triple AAA tag titles. A rematch was booked for AEW’s inaugural Double or Nothing event with the tag titles on the line again. It was an extremely fast pace, balls to wall and competitive match between two great teams. In the end, The Young Bucks picked up the victory to retain the tag titles, but this wouldn’t be the final match of this feud. This match definitely was a prime preview of what tag team wrestling in AEW would be like.

10. Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley – Lights Out Match (Full Gear – 11/09/19)
AEW

When Jon Moxley made his surprising All Elite Wrestling debut at Double or Nothing, one of the first people he targeted was Kenny Omega. They had a match scheduled for All Out, but it was postponed due to Moxley having an elbow injury. Therefore, the match was moved to Full Gear when Moxley was cleared to compete. The road to Full Gear showed Kenny Omega trying to play Moxley’s game in getting extreme, even confronting Moxley with a barbwire broom. Their match at Full Gear was then booked to be a “Lights Out Match” which basically meant it was unsanctioned by AEW. This basically meant it could get as hardcore and violent as they wanted without AEW suffering any consequences from what happens by not officially recognizing the match. The match was violent and as hardcore, as it gets, a throwback to Moxley’s days in CZWand the independents prior to WWE. The match included several weapons, including glass, anchor chains, trash cans, a screwdriver, a barbed wire bat, a barbed-wire broom, and even a platform covered in barbed wire. These two beat the crap out of each other with many near falls, but in the end, Moxley reigned supreme with a Paradigm Shift.

9. Brodie Lee vs. Cody Rhodes – Dog Collar Match (Dynamite – 10/07/20)
AEW

If the last match on this list was an example of a modern-day violent match then the Dog Collar Match is an example of an old-school violent wrestling match. Cody Rhodes returned looking to get his TNT Championship back that he lost to Brodie Lee weeks before in a devastating fashion. Brodie Lee was on a reign of terror after beating Cody while Rhodes left for a brief period for television obligations outside of AEW. Cody returned with dark hair and looking more serious about attacking Brodie and the Dark Order. Cody Rhodes was not just returning to regain the championship but also redeem his pride. This was an old-school fight that was both professional and personal. It was reminiscent of the classic dog collar match between “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine from the 1983 Starrcade. Greg Valentine was also in the crowd for the match. The match finished with a Cross Rhodes onto Brodie for Cody to once again become the TNT Champion. This match will also always be memorable because it was Brodie Lee’s final match before he, unfortunately, passed away.

8. Proud and Powerful vs. The Best Friends – Parking Lot Brawl (Dynamite – 09/16/20)
AEW

These two teams were feuding with each other for quite some time, but things really picked up when Ortiz and Santana destroyed Trent’s mom’s van. That was truly the final straw, and it led to a parking lot brawl match to be booked between the two teams. Regardless, how silly the build-up was, the match was really fun and memorable.

It initially reminded me of the parking lot brawl that Eddie Guerrero had with John Cena in 2004. They were outside in the parking lot as they fought on the concrete with cars and trucks surrounding them. There were also wrestlers standing around to cheer them on. It was enjoyable to watch and very hard-hitting the whole way. I give them a lot of credit for taking some big bumps throughout the match and making this fight feel personal. There were a ton of cars damaged during this match.

In the end, with the help of Orange Cassidy, the Best Friends picked up the win. Dynamite’s final moments ended with Trent’s mom Sue picking up the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy. As Sue drove the guys away in her white van, she stopped to give the middle finger to the opponents, who were quite amusing.

7. Jon Moxley vs. MJF w/ Wardlow (All Out – 09/05/20)
AEW

This is personally my favorite Jon Moxley match in AEW for so many different reasons. MJF was on a roll and finally receiving an AEW Championship title opportunity. However, it was against someone who had a completely different personality and wrestling style than him in Jon Moxley. Both Moxley and MJF came into this match with undefeated streaks, so there was something else on the line other than just the championship. Leading up the match, MJF began a mock political campaign focused on taking down “Dictator John” and tried to gain the advantage by getting Moxley’s Paradigm Shift to finish banned for this match. MJF brought the fight to Moxley, but the champion would not stay down. This was more of a wrestling match compared to other Moxley matches, which is why I think I preferred it. The ending did come with shenanigans as MJF did try using a thumb to the eye and even a low-blow for near falls. In the end, while Wardlow had the referee distracted in an attempt to help Max, Moxley hit the banned Paradigm Shift to retain his championship. It was a great way for Moxley to show blatant disrespect to MJF, but it also allowed Max to stay arrogant about Moxley having to break the rules to defeat him. There needed to be justice for MJF.

6. The Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks – Ladder Match (All Out 08/31/19)
AEW

When two of the most popular and creative high-flying tag teams have to out-do their last match at Double or Nothing to blow off their feud, there aren’t many better options than a ladder match or an “Escalera De La Muerte ”as they called it here. This was a feud that started back at the AEW Las Vegas Rally when the Lucha Brothers attacked The Young Bucks. Following that, the Young Bucks defeated The Lucha Bros for the Triple AAA tag team titles in Mexico and retained the titles again at Double or Nothing. The Lucha Brothers challenged The Young Bucks one more time, but this time under ladder match rules. The match was everything you expected and more but also didn’t overstay its welcome. It was fast-paced with creative spots, and both teams felt extremely competitive to out-do the other team. The destroyer from the ladder through the table will always be a memorable spot from All Elite Wrestling’s early years. This insane match came to a finish when the Lucha Brothers regained the Triple AAA tag team titles by climbing the ladder and retrieving the belts. This would be the last time we would see the Triple AAA tag team titles on AEW, as they would create their own tag team titles shortly after this event. This match was fantastic, though.

5. Kenny Omega vs. PAC (Dynamite – 02/26/20)
AEW

The fact that this match was given to us on live network television and not saved for a PPV was shocking. However, it let wrestling fans know not to miss out on the weekly Dynamite as there would be big-ticket matches on the show they could miss if they didn’t tune in. The feud between PAC and Omega began when The Bastard replaced Moxley at All Out 2019 only to defeat Omega in dominating fashion, making him pass out in the Brutalizer. Kenny Omega would pick up the win in their rematch in late November, which did not sit well with PAC. The Bastard continuously called out Kenny Omega for a rubber match until he actually got one. This match would be a 30 minute Iron Man Match. In case you don’t know, the rules for an Ironman Match are that the winner will be the man to get the most falls over the 30 minutes time limit. This was a personal and competitive match. PAC used a chair early on to give Omega the 1-0 lead. The second fall came after PAC hit a Black Arrow, thus tying up the match 1-1. There were referee bumps and more, but the time ran out. Justin Roberts announced that the match would go into Sudden Death overtime. One minute into overtime, Omega hit the One-Winged Angel for the victory at 2-1. There were several believable near-falls for both guys; the crowd was hot for all of it, both guys looked strong, and this match was outstanding from start to finish.

4. The Elite and Matt Hardy vs. The Inner Circle (Double or Nothing – 05/23/20)
AEW

If this list is based on matches that are memorable, more so than them being five-star classics, then the Stadium Stampede match definitely left an impression on everyone, whether it was good or bad. As we were deep into the no live audience pandemic era of wrestling, both WWE and AEW took advantage of there being no fans by producing cinematic matches. The match between The Inner Circle and The Elite was originally supposed to take place in a “Blood and Guts” match, which many of us assumed would be something similar to the classic War Games matches.

Instead, the match continued to get postponed due to the pandemic until the Stadium Stampede was booked for Double or Nothing. It was Kenny Omega, “Hangman” Page, Matt Hardy, and The Young Bucks facing off against Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz. This match was extremely entertaining and special. It felt more like a fight scene from a movie than a wrestling show, but that was the entire point. There were so many memorable, hilarious and entertaining moments in this match that me listing them out wouldn’t do it justice. Please trust me when I say take your time to watch this if you’re one of those who doesn’t take everything so seriously and enjoys being entertained. The Elite went over in the end, but at the end of this match, both teams were over with me.

3. FTR w/ Tully Blanchard vs. The Young Bucks (Full Gear – 11/07/20)
AEW

It’s always special when a match that is considered a dream match becomes a reality. The Young Bucks were considered to be one of the greatest tag teams outside of the WWE for years, whereas many would consider The Revival to be one of the greatest tag teams in WWE even though they felt underappreciated at times. Regardless if wrestling fans felt like the Revival were misused in the WWE, they won every major tag team title in the company when it came to their American programs. The Young Bucks had won tag team gold from all around the world from various promotions. There was also a long period where it was a running joke on the “Being the Elite” series that the Elite would say “F the Revival,” getting fans more excited for the potential match. Both teams even tweeted out that one day they would wrestle each other and that everyone would rejoice.

Therefore, when the news broke that The Revival were finally leaving WWE, the wrestling world was ecstatic. The first night Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler appeared on Dynamite, they had a face-to-face with the Young Bucks to get things started. FTR aligned themselves with Tully Blanchard and won the tag team titles in the months leading to the match. The match between FTR and the Young Bucks lived up to expectations and was definitely one to remember. The only thing missing was the presence of a large audience, but that was out of their control. The Young Bucks defeated FTR to win the tag team titles when Cash Wheeler tried a 450 splash that didn’t connect, which is against their “no flips, just fists” style. It gave them a good reason why they lost instead of just losing clean to the Young Bucks. I am definitely looking forward to when they meet again, and hopefully, it’s soon.

2. Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page vs. The Young Bucks (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

The Young Bucks won a battle royal on Dynamite to secure a title shot against Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page. It was going to be a battle between The Elite for the tag team titles. There was already some tension between Page and the rest of The Elite, so The Young Bucks were the odds on favorites here. People were really curious to see if Omega and Page could stay on the same page as Hangman started questioning his place in the friend group. This match was incredible from start to finish. They kept a great pace by picking it up as the match went along, which made the final minutes fantastic. They had the confused Hangman story to play off of, but in the end, he played his role as a compromising tag team partner to Kenny Omega. Kenny Omega was also playing the weak link in this match since it followed his Iron Man Match against PAC. The live crowd also brought a lot of energy to this match since they were super invested. The fans were indecisive with where they stood with The Young Back as Hangman was really over at this point with the fans. The work was top-notch, there were great, believable near falls, and the Bucks had to fall into a heel role in desperation. They really had us on the edge of our seat, but in the end, it was a Buckshot Lariat from Hangman that allowed Omega and Page to retain their tag team titles. This was definitely a phenomenal showcase of modern-day tag team wrestling.

1. Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes (Double or Nothing – 05/25/19)
AEW

This one was for Dusty Rhodes. This one was for their dad. The story was simple yet significant. It was a generational clash between two brothers with a substantial age difference fighting to prove different things to each other. Cody wanted to beat Dustin to kill off the “Attitude Era” to allow wrestling to move forward from a beloved era his older brother was a big part of.  He was done with past legends taking spots from current talent, the fans being obsessed with a specific era, and professional wrestling as a whole relying on its history to carry the business in the present. Dustin was wrestling to prove that he could still go, hang with his much younger brother and that he still had a lot to offer to professional wrestling. Dustin did, however, say he just wanted to prove himself and that this would be his final match. It was really believable that it could be his last match considering the match was against his brother. This match is the perfect example of why I call professional wrestling the greatest form of art and athleticism. 

They were able to tell us a great emotional story through wrestling, and it was followed up with a memorable moment between brothers. The fans were into the match from the start, and it was an old-school fight where the blood pouring from Dustin’s head added so much to the story of the match. Dustin put on one of his greatest performances at the age of 50 and proved he could hang with his younger brother. Although Dustin got some near falls, Cody Rhodes picked up the victory after a Cross Rhodes. This match was beautiful and a reminder of how great professional wrestling can be. Following the match, Cody tells Dustin that he can’t retire because he needed a tag team partner for the upcoming “Fight for the Fallen” event. Cody told his bloody brother that he doesn’t need a partner or a friend, he needs his brother, and they shared a hug to a huge ovation. It was truly something special and added to the entire presentation. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Categories
Grind Money

NFTs Give Digital Artists and Musicians Superpowers

What a week! The NFT scene is seemingly garnering more mainstream attention with each passing day. As an OG in the NFT and overall crypto space, it’s been quite amazing to watch the adoption of the technology happen in real-time. I’ve never seen this much NFT conversation happening on Twitter, let alone national television.

Currently, much of the conversation has been around NFT trading cards like NBA Top Shot, original collectibles like CryptoPunks, generative art projects like Art Blocks, and digital art drops from established artists like Beeple. While big NFT sale numbers from these projects capture the headlines, the underground NFT Art and Music scene continues to innovate. Many of us have been on the NFT grind for years with the knowledge that this technology has the power to liberate creators both big and small, and it’s happening!

NFTs Matter to Creatives

In this brave new world of tokenization, NFTs should matter to every creative. Why? Because tokenizing (the process of making an NFT) your work effectively gives you superpowers!

It’s true. Blockchains like Ethereum and Flow enable us to have true digital ownership over our creations in the form of scarce, cryptographic tokens—NFTs. But not only does tokenizing provide a permanent record of provenance and ownership, but the NFT itself is also an asset that is easily tradable around the world 24/7/365.

Basically, the tokenization of media is forever changing the way we distribute content, monetize content, and connect with a global audience.

Connie Digital

As a creator of both art and music, I personally think the music/audiovisual category of NFTs is really exciting and has tremendous promise. Not only does the technology give artists another potential revenue stream by selling NFTs, but it can also give us a perpetual revenue stream in the form of royalties each time one of our NFTs trades hands. Like I said, superpowers!

Art and Music NFTs

It’s a digital renaissance. The programmability and collectibility of NFT Art and Music provide us the ability to make a living on our own terms, without middlemen. Blockchain technology empowers us to experiment and try things with art and music that were never possible before.

In my personal exploration of NFT Art and Music, I’ve tokenized 3D and animated artworks, MP4 song visualizers, a lyric video, and more. Because I decided to turn my work into NFTs, I was able to digitally monetize beyond advertisements and streaming services. Additionally, my tokenized work has the benefit of compatibility within the Metaverse.

What the hell does compatibility within the Metaverse mean?

Good question. All it means is that my NFTs can be used inside blockchain-based virtual worlds like Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, or Somnium Space. The term “Metaverse” simply refers to this collection of open, persistent, and shared virtual space and economy.

Connie Digital

Today, a fun way to appreciate an NFT collection is to interact with it inside a virtual gallery, night club or storefront within the Metaverse. This virtual world component serves as a unique, more engaging type of listening and viewing experience. People around the world can visit such a virtual destination on their web browser in one-click. Once in-world, visitors can stream music, browse an NFT Art exhibition, and potentially purchase a new NFT for their collection.

Like I said, superpowers!

Bullish on NFTs

It’s truly amazing how early we are. The NFT economy has seen a boom from Q4 2020 into Q1 2021. The eyes and ears coming into the scene now will undoubtedly bring lots more innovation. That said, expect more excitement. Expect tons more experimentation; expect more legacy institutions to take notice; expect artists to lead the way.

Categories
Sneakers Style

Where Elite Sneakerheads Can Now Go to Stock Up on the Latest Gear

Try as you might, it’s difficult to maintain a grasp on international style if you only rely on American retailers. Luckily for us, UK-based retail giant JD Sports is finally opening stores in the US. The 40-year old British brand has got some of the best sneaker options on the market, from big names like Nike all the way to burgeoning brands like Danner, in addition to other gear you might need for the cold winter months—like Timberlands and Champion sweats. You could truly browse through the catalogue for hours and hours, so we did it for you. Feel free to browse anyway. Here are ONE37pm’s favorite items available now from JD Sports.

Sneakers
1. Nike Air Max 97
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-max-97-casual-shoes/prod2770629?styleId=DH4092&colorId=001
JD Sports

The Air Max 97 is in the midst of a renaissance. It’s really one of the most versatile shoes ever released by Nike. Couple that with their immense comfort and the hype around chunky shoes, and you’ve got yourself a no-brainer. There are numerous colorways to choose from at JD Sports, so browse around and find the best pick for you. These are also a Global Access exclusive, so you can only get them at JD Sports.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $170
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-max-97-casual-shoes/prod2770629?styleId=DH4092&colorId=001
2. Nike Air Force 1 Low
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-force-1-low-casual-shoes/prod795980?styleId=315122&colorId=111
JD Sports

No collection is complete without a pair of icy Air Force Ones. You can’t always wear colorful sneaks, so sometimes minimalism is the best option. Consider these for outfits featuring vivid pants or shirts. Let the outfit do the talking and use the kicks as the cherry on top.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $90
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-force-1-low-casual-shoes/prod795980?styleId=315122&colorId=111
3. Puma Future Rider Eat Ur Veggies
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-puma-future-rider-eat-ur-veggies-casual-shoes/prod2821608?styleId=37542301&colorId=060
JD Sports

The resurgence of retro styles over the past few years has opened up a world of possibilities for comfort and flash. This entry from Puma checks all the boxes. The thick suede and veggie colors scream nostalgia, and the overall shape of the shoe signifies a commitment to comfort. These are great for lounging around the house or putting together a vibrant outfit, depending on your mood. The Pumas are another Global Access exclusive; you won’t find them anywhere else.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $80
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-puma-future-rider-eat-ur-veggies-casual-shoes/prod2821608?styleId=37542301&colorId=060
4. Air Max 2015 Running Shoes
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-max-2015-running-shoes/prod2787953?styleId=DC2022&colorId=600
JD Sports

The Air Max line has put out hits even in more recent years. This model is intended for running, but the red iteration makes a great statement for some of your more muted outfits.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $180
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-max-2015-running-shoes/prod2787953?styleId=DC2022&colorId=600
5. Adidas NMD R1
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-adidas-originals-nmd-r1-casual-shoes/prod2763986?styleId=FV9153&colorId=001
JD Sports

The NMD was a massively popular silhouette upon its initial release. With that popularity came numerous releases of various colorways. JD Sports carries a wide array of NMDs, so if you’re a fan of the silhouette, take a look at all of their color options and find the right option. The blush green and cream white are especially fresh.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $140
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-adidas-originals-nmd-r1-casual-shoes/prod2763986?styleId=FV9153&colorId=001
6. Nike Air VaporMax Plus Running Shoes
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-vapormax-plus-running-shoes/prod2770771?styleId=924453&colorId=004
JD Sports

It’s been a huge year for VaporMax, with good reason. They’re unbelievably comfortable and the tech will keep you bouncy and ready to roll. It’s one of the more hyped sneakers in the game right now, so $200 is a great price for a sneaker that will probably go up in value. Cop the black if you’re trying to stay low-key or the red if you want to stand out.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $200
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-nike-air-vapormax-plus-running-shoes/prod2770771?styleId=924453&colorId=004
Boots
7. Timberland 6 Inch Premium Waterproof Boots
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-timberland-6-inch-premium-waterproof-boots/prod1260119?styleId=10061&colorId=WHE
JD Sports

We know this list is for sneakerheads, but it’s wintertime. There’s really no boot more associated with sneaker culture than the Timberland. For when it’s too snowy out there to flash your freshest kicks, cop a pair of Tims so you can flex from the warmth of a comfy boot.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $198
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-timberland-6-inch-premium-waterproof-boots/prod1260119?styleId=10061&colorId=WHE
Sweats
8. Nike Sportswear Club Fleece Embroidered Hoodie
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/nike-sportswear-club-fleece-embroidered-hoodie/prod2767732?styleId=BV2654&colorId=063
JD Sports

It’s hoodie season. This entry from Nike is stylish, understated and—perhaps most importantly—warm. The embroidered logo gives it a more refined style than your traditional printed hoodie and the slim cut gives it a more chic fit than your everyday baggy sweatshirt. We’re partial to the heather gray.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $50
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/nike-sportswear-club-fleece-embroidered-hoodie/prod2767732?styleId=BV2654&colorId=063
9. Champion Reverse Weave Embroidered Hoodie
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-champion-reverse-weave-embroidered-logo-hoodie/prod2788983?styleId=GF685900&colorId=600
JD Sports

Not a Nike fanatic? Then maybe Champion’s got the right hoodie for you. The reverse weave construction is warm and comfortable, and JD Sports carries a color that pairs with almost any pair of sneakers. This is a great piece for layering or wearing on its own; the possibilities for outfits containing a Champion hoodie are truly endless.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $65
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-champion-reverse-weave-embroidered-logo-hoodie/prod2788983?styleId=GF685900&colorId=600
10. Sonneti London Jogger Pants
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-sonneti-london-jogger-pants/prod2824112?styleId=SNM12523&colorId=050
JD Sports

We had to include a pair of sweatpants on the list, as they pair nicely with a wide range of sneakers and keep you warm in the cold winter months. These slim joggers can be understated or eye-catching, depending on what sneakers you pair them with. They’re a great option for lounging around the house, or can be taken to the streets with the right outfit construction.

Buy Now at JD Sports, $30
https://www.jdsports.com/store/product/mens-sonneti-london-jogger-pants/prod2824112?styleId=SNM12523&colorId=050
Categories
Culture Trading Cards

The 25 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards of All Time

When I was growing up, the kids around me traded Pokémon cards like they were candy. They cared about winning the game and not the potential financial value of the cards years later.

In the past year, the amount of media coverage around eye-popping Pokemon card sales has been off the charts, but many people still don’t understand what makes certain cards more valuable than others. Here, we will talk about factors such as eBay sales data, popularity of characters, card condition and the PSA grades and populations.

Below is a list of the 25 highest Pokémon single card sales of all time… but keep in mind, with new record breaking sales happening almost daily, you never know when a new card will show up or move up and down the chart.

25. 2007 Pokémon Pop Series 5 Gold Star Espeon #16 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (2/14/2021)
eBay

Let’s get this countdown started with Espeon. Note that at over $22k, there are 24 higher sales to learn about. Espeon boasts a population of 54 PSA 10’s and still commands over $22k at auction. Buckle up because here we go! 

24. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Alakazam #65 PSA 10
$22,100.00 (11/20/2020)
eBay

The No Rarity cards are considered 1st Editions when it comes to Japanese cards. Due to this correlation and Alakazam having a PSA 10 population of 4, you can see why this card sold for $22,100.00. With demand continuing to soar, anticipate the next Alakazam PSA 10 to shatter this sale.

23. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Venusaur #15 PSA 10
$22,615.00 (12/28/2020)
eBay

The first member of the Big 3 to hit the list, Venusaur is undervalued currently. Due to timing and a market slowdown, Venusaur is the first of 7 Base 1st Edition cards on this list, yet he should be no lower than 5th. Even with 136 PSA 10 examples, this is one of the top English cards to obtain.

22. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo #10 PSA 10
$22,655.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

Possibly the coolest Pokémon ever, and certainly the most powerful, Mewtwo joins the club after this staggering $22,655.00 sale back in November. With a PSA 10 population of 81, finding the English grail Mewtwo will be a tough task. 

21. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Hitmonchan #7 PSA 10
$23.100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The 1st Edition Base Holograms will continue to set records moving forward. That said, Hitmonchan has a PSA 10 population of 54, which is the 2nd lowest of all the 1st Edition base holograms. Demand will continue to rise for the 1st Edition holograms, especially Hitmonchan. 

20. 2010 Pokémon Japanese Promo Daisuki Club Holo Masters Scroll #055 PSA 10
$24,418.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

The newest card on the list comes with by far the most interesting storyline. This Promo card was only obtainable for members of the Daisuki Club, who had to complete a variety of tasks to gain the points necessary to redeem the card. Of the cards redeemed, only 26 are graded PSA 10.

19. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Basic No Rarity Symbol Holo Poliwrath #62 PSA 10
$25,015.00 (12/28/2020)
eBay

The 1996 No Rarity PSA 10’s have become extremely difficult to obtain, with low populations like Poliwrath here having a Pop 3 in PSA 10, for example. Prices will continue to rise due to such a limited supply of pristine original cards. 

18. 2009 Pokémon Japanese Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card BGS 9.5
$25,100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

One of the newer cards on the list, the Promo Wonder Platinum Trophy Card is also one of the hardest to acquire. They were awarded to finalists at the Pokémon National Championships in Tokyo, with an estimation of around 20 being handed to those participants. This 9.5 BGS Trophy Card is a rare grail worthy of its spot on the list. 

17. 2004 Pokémon Gold Star EX Team Rocket Returns Holo Torchic #108 PSA 10
$25,400.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

This might come as a surprise to some, but the Gold Star Torchic is in high demand, in part due to there only being 16 PSA 10 examples currently. How hard is Torchic to obtain? This is the only public PSA 10 sale in almost 2 years. 

16. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Bandai Carddass Vending Prism Red Charizard #6 PSA 10
$30,100.00 (1/27/2021)
eBay

This is the first Charizard to hit the list. There are 61 Carddass PSA 10 ‘Zards currently, and 303 total graded with PSA. Due to scarcity, this ‘Zard could be higher on the list in a couple months.   

15. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Raichu #14 PSA 10
$34,820.00 (1/19/2021)
eBay

The evolution of Pikachu, Raichu cracks #15 on the list of all time Pokémon Card Sales. The Raichu PSA 10 1st Edition has a population of 87 currently, and with the prices of sealed Pokémon 1st Edition packs and boxes continuing to soar, the sale price of $34,820.00 will likely be a bargain in the near future.  

14. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Chansey #3 PSA 10
$36,877.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

Certain Pokémon cards just didn’t come out pristine when they were produced and Chansey is a perfect example. With 47 PSA 10 examples, Chansey has the lowest PSA 10 pop of the hologram’s in the 1st Edition English Base Set. Coincidentally the Shadowless version of Chansey only has 15 PSA 10’s in the registry.

13. 1999 Pokémon French 1st Edition Dracaufeu #4 PSA 10
$37,300 (1/31/2021)
eBay

Due to surging demand for all Charizards, it makes sense that even the French Charizard would soar in value as well. With a population of 28 PSA 10’s, the $37,300.00 price tag isn’t as steep as you’d expect. Moving forward, low population Charizard’s are as safe a bet as you can make when buying cardboard, regardless of the language.

12. 1995 Pokémon Topsun No Number Blue Back Wartortle PSA 10
$44,999.00 (2/4/2021)
eBay

When it comes to Population 1, prices can soar. At nearly $45,000.00, this is going to be considered a bargain for the buyer, given no more PSA 10’s enter the registry. Cards like this will cause many collectors to go nuts trying to acquire such a rare piece of Pokémon history.

11. 2005 Pokémon EX Deoxys Gold Star Holo Rayquaza #107 PSA 10
$45,100 (12/12/2020)
eBay

The 2005 Gold Star Holo Rayquaza has become quite the grail, with 46 PSA 10’s in the registry, and 156 PSA 9’s, this is going to be a tough card to acquire in mint or better for collectors.

10. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Blastoise #2 PSA 10
$45,100.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The drop off from Charizard to Blastoise is staggering, but make no mistake, Blastoise is entrenched as the 2nd most valuable 1st Edition card. Scarcity also plays a part with 100 total PSA 10’s in the registry, which is 21 less than Charizard.  

9. 2016 Pokemon Card Game 20th Anniversary 24K Gold Pikachu
$50,000.00 (1/7/2021)
eBay

Pikachu encrusted in 24K Gold. Sometimes going over the top is necessary for anniversaries, especially when it involves Pokémon. To originally obtain this reissued Pikachu, you had to pre-order it for $2,100.00. Quite the return in 5 years.

8. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base No Rarity Holo Charizard #6 PSA 9
$57,877.00 (11/25/2020)
eBay

The 1996 Japanese No rarity ‘Zard has taken off, and rightfully so with a total of 28 PSA 9 grades in their registry. A PSA 10, which there are 6 of, would fetch a mega haul at auction. The price tag should be north of a PSA 10 1st Edition English ‘Zard due to scarcity and the fact that it’s the first Base Charizard Produced.

7. 1998 Kamex Mega Battle Computer Error Trophy Promo PSA 10
$58,023.00 (2/15/2021)
eBay

One of the Rarest Trophy cards, the Computer Error Trophy has a PSA 10 Pop of 6 with 39 total in their registry. The trophy cards were used as prizes at the 1998 Kamex Mega Battle.

6. 2005 Pokémon Japanese Summer Battle Road Mew Victory Orb Trophy PSA 10
$60,000.01 (12/28/2020)
eBay

In 2005, 162 finalists won this Mew Trophy Card. Of those, 19 have been graded with PSA and 17 are PSA 10’s. Trophy Cards have become one of the most sought after promos, and for good reason. Only a true Pokémon Master could originally obtain it. 

5. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Kangaskhan #115 PSA 9
$150,000 (10/28/2020)
eBay

With a Population of 11 PSA 10’s, the Kangaskhan Family Trophy Card has Grail written all over it. A PSA 9 Recently fetched $100,100.00 on 12/15/2021. There are a total of 45 graded and the next PSA 10 that goes for auction could shatter the Half Million mark. 

4. 2000 Pokémon Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia #9 PSA 10
$129,000 (11/25/2020)
eBay

With a Population of 42 PSA 10’s, Lugia has become a highly sought after Grail. The drop off from PSA 10 to 9 is astounding, PSA 9’s sell around $8,000.00 

3. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10
$350,000.00 (12/12/2020)
eBay

Even with a Population over 120, the PSA 10 Charizard commands heavy $. Consider this, Michael Jordan’s PSA 10 fleer Rookie is valued over $650,000.00 meanwhile Charizard has almost a third the population while fetching half the price of MJ. You could say ‘Zard is the Jordan of Pokémon.  

2. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 SGC 10
$369,000 (12/12/2020)
eBay

At number 2 comes this beautiful SGC 10 1st Edition Charizard. The 1st Edition Base ‘Zard is the top English card to own. 

1. 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun No Number Blue Back Charizard PSA 10
$480,000 (1/31/2021)
@jeremypadawer

With a PSA 10 Population of one, it’s easy to see why the original Charizard fetched so much money at auction. While this is the top sale currently, it could be shattered before February ends. 

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 18 Best Horror Anime Movies and TV Shows

So much horror cinema made in the United States is firmly rooted in a Western tradition, meaning that Judeo-Christian imagery and morality still dominate the genre — and with every generation, these movies become more and more self-referential. But other cultures have entirely different ideas about the afterlife and what demons lurk in the great beyond. That’s probably why so many horror die-hards are so obsessed with Japanese media.

Ever since The Ring, J-horror has deeply influenced Hollywood, but few American fans do a real deep dive on more obscure offerings. To help guide you through the cursed world of haunted cartoons, we’ve curated this (unranked!) list of the 18 best horror anime TV shows and films. Good luck sleeping after you’ve made it through.

18. ‘Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!’

Haunting images of giant sharks crawling on land with insect legs protruding violently from their stomachs became a grotesque meme on a handful of imageboards. The strange iconography of Gyo, one of horror legend Junji Ito’s most bizarre masterpieces, seems silly at first, but the film (based on the manga of the same name) is actually deeply unsettling. The mythos behind how the sea creatures became terrestrial is complicated and obscure, but Gyo’s story evolves into something much more gruesome and nauseating before it concludes.

watch on crunchyroll
https://aniplexusa.com/gyo/
17. ‘Perfect Blue’

The late Satoshi Kon, an anime director known for his dreamlike mise-en-scene and intellectual, postmodern twists, was widely celebrated as a visionary before his death. Perfect Blue is often considered his greatest work — and it’s gone on to influence a handful of award-winning Western films like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. 

Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a fictional pop singer stalked by an increasingly threatening doppelganger. Are Mima’s nightmares coming true, or has she totally lost her grip on reality? Kon’s lovingly detailed and deeply empathetic animations juxtapose horrendously against scenes of sexual violence that slip between waking life and dreams until the audience can no longer tell what a psychotic delusion is and what’s actually happening — reflecting both the young idol’s nervous breakdown and our schizophrenic media culture.

watch on Prime Video
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Blue-Junko-Iwao/dp/B07NNP4R4H
16. ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’

Jujutsu Kaisen has garnered an impressive cult following since episodes began airing on Crunchyroll in late 2020. The series has already achieved a perfect balance between horror aesthetics and traditional shonen plotting. Ostensibly about a school for young sorcerers, the ultra-violent art direction and stomach-churning monster design keeps this new show from being yet another by-the-books adventure story about a plucky young fighter battling both literal and figurative demons. It’s got exciting action scenes and real heart, but it’s not for the squeamish.

WATCH ON HBO MAX
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GX8fnVgocBIZDKQEAAABF:type:series
15. ‘Paranoia Agent’

A staple of [adult swim] in the early ’00s, Paranoia Agent is another Satoshi Kon classic which deals with many of the same themes and motifs as the aforementioned Perfect Blue. This 13-episode TV series is a complicated story about the pressures of the animation industry, told from a cartoonist’s perspective driven increasingly mad by her own creation. It’s a self-referential warning about the psychological perils of late capitalism and the flattening of our emotional lives by information technology — expressed through a story about a serial murderer who escaped from a nightmare.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/paranoia-agent/
14. ‘Hellsing’

A steampunk update of the Dracula mythos, Hellsing uses perverted Christian imagery to tell a story equal parts bloody and campy. It’s not the highest quality animation, but the transgressive pleasures of this frequently juvenile show remain endearing, as does its early 00’s goth aesthetic. Spotting Hellsing’s influence on a plethora of contemporary anime (see: Castlevania) isn’t hard to do once you’ve seen the original show.

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/hellsing-ae60fec0-4936-49a7-b00f-89de717bce07
13. ‘Devilman: Crybaby’

Artist Go Nagai created the Devilman character in the early 1970s, and he’s been endlessly reinvented ever since. Crybaby is the latest iteration of this iconic anti-hero, and Netflix’s high-budget adaptation is a great entry point for new fans, even if it is a bit abstract. Ultra-fashionable character design compliments the show’s slick techno soundtrack for an extremely stylish and gorgeously animated adventure that vacillates from sublime beauty to Oedipal terror. 

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80174974
12. ‘Promised Neverland’

A serene schoolhouse in the countryside filled with adorable kids belies some truly terrible dark secrets: When the children discover they’re being harvested as meat for demons, they begin to hatch an elaborate escape plan, but their every move is being watched! Emotional drama and psychological fear take center stage in this deceptively cute series with extremely morbid themes. 

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/the-promised-neverland-3ef087c6-d967-4495-9730-b5ff54ded8e0
11. ‘Dorohedoro’

A battle between sorcerers and the slums rages in this highly stylized horror/action hybrid series. A citizen of a whimsical skid row one day wakes up with the head of a lizard and no memory of his past, leading him to embark on a grisly quest for both answers and revenge. Each episode gets stranger as more details of the surreal, magical world they inhabit are revealed. Although the show is rendered in CGI, the 3D models are very stylized and extremely expressive in ways reminiscent of more old-school anime.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80991903
10. ‘Berserk’

Berserk is a traditionally gothic fairytale about an orphaned knight betrayed by his impossibly beautiful commander. The Western medieval setting is fairly traditional, and the story is almost Shakespearean in structure — until the last few episodes when the plot suddenly takes an unexpectedly hellish twist. Maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but there’s something really special about late 90’s anime, and Berserk is a classic of that era — rife with overt queer overtones and filled with wistfully melancholy. 

The show’s first run lasted 25 episodes and told only a fraction of the original manga’s story. (The series was rebooted in 2016, but the poorly done CGI animation style in this latest iteration is nearly unwatchable. Stick with the original and seek out the books if you get hooked.)

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/berserk
9. ‘Serial Experiments Lain’

Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk anime from 1998 which uncannily predicted the rise of cyberspace as the defining feature of the new Millenium. Lain is a young student whose interest in hacking slowly takes over her life until she’s no longer able to tell what’s happening online or in reality. Lain’s psychotic break has philosophical ramifications, as she encounters a series of unhinged conspiracy theories on message boards, leading her to an entity that claims to be God — or is she just going insane? The show was way ahead of its time in its predictions about the Internet and its depiction of a mass shooting only a year before Columbine. This is slow burn horror at its best, but the social implications are what is really disturbing.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/serial-experiments-lain/
8. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

Fans of Final Fantasy might recognize the baroque and ornate art design of Yoshitaka Amano in Vampire Hunter D, yet another Japanese twist on the mythology of Dracula. In this breathtaking movie from 2000, the eponymous warrior D battles Carmilla, a sapphic demon based on the real-life murderess Elizabeth Bathory. It’s admittedly thin on a storyline, but the hand-animated action sequences and melodramatic imagery are stunning nonetheless.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Hunter-Blu-ray-Artist-Provided/dp/B00WHZZAP6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=%27Vampire+Hunter+D%3A+Bloodlust%27&qid=1614091265&sr=8-1
7. ‘X/1999 AKA X: The Movie’

Manga studio CLAMP is best known for dainty romance stories and cutesy magical girl adventures, but their apocalyptic sci-fi book series X is a frightening depiction of a cosmic battle for humanity. They produced a standalone movie of X in 1996, and while it’s nearly impossible to condense an 18 volume manga into a 1.5-hour film, they did a pretty good job of distilling the graphic novel down to its essence. Secret factions of psychic warriors fight to save or destroy civilization unbeknownst to regular people in this shockingly violent and stunningly delicate doomsday tale.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/X-Movie-T%C3%B4ru-Furusawa/dp/B00000JL4L
6. ‘The Short Films of Kago Shintaro’

You may have happened upon artist Kago Shintaro’s images while scrolling through the darker sectors of social media: his fetishistic portraits of schoolgirls with their intestines hanging out and sexy paintings of nude women with their brains exposed garnered a kind of viral popularity amongst goths and otaku. Described as “fashionable paranoia,” Shintaro’s satirical humor clashes extreme gore with erotica in fascinating ways. His short films, many of which are available on YouTube, are much more humorous in nature but are often deeply unnerving in a Lynchian way. Shintaro’s fascinations with human viscera remain the most notable motif, but he plays more with the mundane in his animations.

watch on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGVfVsG8lsQ
5. ‘Dororo’

Osamu Tezuka, often considered the Godfather of Manga, is best known for creating lovable cartoons like Astro Boy and emotionally compelling stories like Budha. One of his lesser-known works is Dororo, a brutal Japanese fairytale about a cursed prince born without limbs or skin. Although the original manga was drawn in Tezuka’s signature Disney-influenced aesthetic, the 2019 reboot adapted the novels into a more adult animation style that showcased the monstrous aspects of the source material — it’s a pretty faithful update otherwise. Hyakkimaru must battle the undead to wrest back his body parts from the underworld, but he’s unaware his unholy quest imperils all of Japan. There’s a lot of emotional depth in these 24 episodes, considering how vicious the actual plot is.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Dororo/dp/B07MBT8FBF
4. ‘Witch Hunter Robin’

In the near future, witches are a secret criminal scourge hunted by a covert government agency known as the STNJ. Robin Sena is the branch’s newest recruit, hired for pyrokinetic magical abilities. Robin confronts her enemies and herself in this moody and dreamy gothic thriller. It’s not exactly fast-paced, but the story’s unfolding is filled with dark surprises and a fair amount of violence. This series was also part of [adult swim]’s lineup back in the day, meaning older anime fans probably remember encountering it late at night.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/witch-hunter-robin/
3. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

From the first few episodes of Madoka, it would be ludicrous to describe this short series as horror, but a major twist in the plot about halfway through casts a different light on the show’s opening moments.

What appears at first as a Sailor Moon ripoff — frilly rainbow transformation sequences and all! — quickly turns into something much darker when it’s revealed that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) an alien entity disguised as a cute animal companion has actually been parasitically feeding off the magical energies expended by the girls. The extraterrestrial creature is planning on harvesting all of planet Earth as food, forcing the children into a time loop where their ill-fated destiny repeats eternally. This postmodern horror story is filled with experimental animation techniques and a truly devastating existential message: humanity is at the whim of vast and indifferent cosmic forces with a ferocity beyond our comprehension.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/70302572
2. ‘Seoul Station’

Seoul Station is an animated film coming out of South Korea intended as a prequel to the cult hit Train to Busan. The film made its way around the European indie cinema circuit in 2016 before landing on a few streaming services. Like its source material, Seoul Station traces the frightening rise of a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. Train to Busan was praised for its not-so-subtle social commentary that depicted the ramifications of the devastating wealth gap in Korea — Seoul Station is a little less obviously political but is thrilling nonetheless.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Seoul-Station-English-Subtitled-Joon/dp/B071F9VJ2L
1. ‘Junji Ito Collection’

Although it would be impossible to capture the precise and hideous drawings or intellectually sophisticated plots from horror master Junji Ito’s manga in animated form, this collection of shorts does a pretty amazing job of reducing the major themes and motifs into short, digestible segments. Ito’s stories have little in common with Western horror, so each episode is hauntingly fresh and original compared to the formulaic scares we get on this side of the world. The Tomie OVAs are particularly dismal.

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/junji-ito-collection
Categories
Sports Strength

I’m Matt Sponhour, Here Are 4 NBA Trades I’d Like to See

This has been an already turbulent NBA season for trades, so I wanted to take a stab at a few potential options that we might see some time this year. I followed a few criteria for making this list. First, I wanted to make sure these were trades that were beneficial to both teams and actually made sense. Bradley Beal to the Nuggets for Bol Bol is a fun idea but certainly wouldn’t happen. Second, I used ESPN’s trade machine to calculate the financial aspect of the trades, confirming that they’re actually possible from a logistical perspective. 

I’m not saying that these trades will happen, but these are some well-calculated possibilities that could make the league even more competitive. The season is just starting to really heat up, and a boon to, say, the 76ers or Nuggets roster could absolutely change the playoffs landscape. So, without further ado, here are four potential trades for this NBA season.

1. Kyle Lowry to the 76ers
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

For Tyrese Maxey, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, and one 1st round pick

The Raptor’s 2019 Finals victory cemented Lowry as a player who could play a key role for a championship team. There are rumors floating around that there’s a decent possibility that the Raps might be looking to move on from him. Personally, I want Lowry to stay on the Raptors and end his career there. On top of that, the Raptors have already started to turn their season around, which might mean that they chose not to blow their roster up. That being said, if they do move him, this is what I’d want to see. 

Going to the 76ers would make sense for a few reasons. One, this would give Philly another shot creator on the perimeter, something they definitely could use. This would give them the option to put out an unreal starting five with Simmons, Embiid, Harris, Curry, and Lowry all on the floor. However, it might be in their best interest to have Lowry run the bench unit instead, which I think could also work well. The flaw of this trade would be that it would leave the 76ers very shallow on the bench, but I think they can swing deals to help their 2nd unit out and make this work. Simply put, this is a win-now move for a team that should be serious contenders

As far as the Raptors go, if they make this move, they’re going to be in a period of rebuilding. The reason why I think this trade works is because I seriously believe in Maxey as a player. Frankly, I’m higher on him than I should be, but he has the potential to turn himself into a serious offensive threat. That means that if the Raptors are trying to reset, I’d love for them to pick Tyrese up. Danny Green is a veteran who can space the floor. He’s pretty much just in this trade to make the money match, but I could see a scenario where the Raps involve a 3rd team to flip him for another pick (probably a 2nd). Even if they can’t, he’s on an expiring deal, so it’s not going to affect them long term. This trade would give the Raptors a very solid young core and an extra pick which is about the best they could do in a Lowry trade.

Overall, I think this trade would benefit the Sixers hugely for this season and the Raps down the line. It works for both teams if the Raptors decide to go this route. 

2. Bradley Beal to the Nuggets
Patrick Smith / Getty Images

For Michael porter Jr, Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and two 1st round picks

Truth be told, Beal probably won’t get traded.  The Wizards have been bad this year, but they’re on a nice winning streak right now, so they might be turning the corner. Nonetheless, this would be a good possibility for him if that ever seems to no longer be the case. The Wizards totally botched this offseason. Westbrook isn’t necessarily better than Wall, and they’re the ones who gave up the pick to make the swap. They’ve had major defensive problems up to this point, and their salary cap isn’t due to clear up any time soon. It’s hard to imagine this team could put the pieces around Beal to make the Wizards contenders.

I think if they do decide to blow it up and start over, this trade will give the Wizards a good start, netting them a young star in the making with MPJ. on top of that, you’ve got some solid prospects and FRPs to make a reasonable package. I thought about giving Washington an AD/Harden level return for Beal, but I don’t know if he’s quite at that level, even with the season he’s having.

The Nuggets’ side is simple; they add a 3rd star. I understand if they want to wait for MPJ to develop; in fact, I might if I were them. He’s got the potential to be a top 10 player in this league if everything goes right. That being said, there’s a real chance they get impatient and pull the trigger.

3. Khem Birch to the Nets
Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

For Landry Shamet and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

If you’ve watched a Nets game since the Harden news, you know two things are clear. One, these cats aren’t playing defense, and two, they really need another center. Deandre Jordan, at this point in his career, can only do so much. Losing Allen clearly altered their roster more than they anticipated. Birch has been great rotationally for the Magic; he’s good with pick-and-rolls and doesn’t need to take a ton of shots to make an impact. The last thing the Nets need is another shot-taker. While I don’t think he would be a game-changer for them, he’s a center who can play a role and give some solid minutes, which is exactly what they need. I’m sure Drummond is their first choice but that’s gonna be hard to pull off without a buyout.

Losing a rotational big wouldn’t hurt the Magic too much, as they have Mo Bamba on their roster who has been getting very few minutes. Moving Birch not only lands them a few young players with potential but also opens up playing time for Bamba, a player who I still believe in. Shamet is the main asset they’d get back in this move. He’s been slumping recently, but a change of scenery might get him back to shooting like we know he can. The Nets could also throw in a 2nd to sweeten the deal if need be.

4. PJ Tucker to the 76ers
Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

For two 2nd round draft picks

The NBA’s resident sneakerhead would be a great fit for the already booming 76ers for a few reasons. First, undoubtedly PJ has looked rough to start this year, but I still think that he could provide value as a 3 and D player. I’m a big believer in getting energy bench guys, and he’d be exactly that. The 76ers’ biggest need might be scoring off the bench, but because this trade is so cheap, I think they could still look into it. Tucker just seems like the type of guy who will play his best with limited minutes on a contender. 

For the Rockets, I don’t know if PJ Tucker really fits the direction of the team anymore. Two second-round draft picks might not seem like much, but Tucker isn’t clicking with the team, so offloading him for some potential benefits in the future is actually a pretty strong move. There have been rumors he could get bought out, so getting 2 picks instead would be a win for them.