WWE SummerSlam 2017

SummerSlam 2017 thoughts (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

SINGLES MATCH
John Cena def. Baron Corbin

MY PREDICTION: Cena
★★


WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Natalya def. Naomi (c)

I wasn’t into this one much because the Smackdown Women’s division really isn’t investing in any way and this match wasn’t very good either. I did get the outcome I wanted, but it was a very flat outcome. On the plus side, Natalya came out with a very Bret Hart inspired jacket on that I like.

MY PREDICTION: Natalya
★★


SINGLES MATCH
Big Cass def. Big Show

While I don’t follow Raw at all, the whole Enzo Amore locked in a shark cage and suspended above the middle of the ring was still the dumbest thing I’ve seen since I’ve started watching pro wrestling again. It had zero impact on the match and wasn’t even involved as any kind of stipulation either. The match amounted to a bad Big Show match (because all Big Show matches are bad) with added annoyance from Enzo running his mouth non-stop.

MY PREDICTION: Cass


SINGLES MATCH
Randy Orton def. Rusev

Terrible match. And by “match” I mean an RKO followed by a pin for 10 whole seconds of pointless.

MY PREDICTION: Rusev


WWE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss (c)

MY PREDICTION: Bliss
★★½


SINGLES MATCH
Finn Bálor def. Bray Wyatt

MY PREDICTION: Bálor
★★½


WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose def. Cesaro & Sheamus (c)

Match of the night!

MY PREDICTION: Rollins & Ambrose
★★★½


WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Special Guest Referee: Shane McMahon
A.J. Styles (c) def. Kevin Owens

The U.S. Championship match or as I like to call it, Shane McMahon’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was funny to watch all of the scenarios in which Shane just happens to get clocked.

MY PREDICTION: Styles
★★★


WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Jinder Mahal (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura

Mahal has been a solid champ so far, but I felt he hasn’t grown and improved enough with the belt to warrant a retention here. Case in point as this is at least the third time he won with this exact same formula, but now with a really sloppy Khallas. I do think it ultimately was the right call for Mahal to retain despite my feelings and prediction because I feel it’s still a little too early for Nakamura to win this title and he needs to have the crowd pop bigger than they already are for him. Very disappointing match overall.

MY PREDICTION: Nakamura
★★½


WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Fatal 4-Way
Brock Lesnar (c) def. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns

This was my other contender for match of the night. It was very close to getting that nod, but there’s only so many goddamn Superman Punches from Reigns I can take before I throw my hands up in disgust. I think I counted at least 7 or 8. Outside of that, the match was really all about Lesnar against Strowman and that confrontation absolutely did not disappoint. Strowman looked incredibly strong and absolutely destroyed Lesnar so many times that Brock was stretchered out, but made his return to retain his title.

MY PREDICTION: Strowman
★★★


SummerSlam 2017 was a pretty poor show. Multiple bad matches, a few sub-par matches, a few serviceable, but the disappointing matches heavily outweighed three good matches. Watch the Raw Tag Title, U.S. Title, and Universal Title matches and skip the rest.
PPV RATING: C-

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NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III

TakeOver: Brooklyn III thoughts (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

SINGLES MATCH
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Johnny Gargano

MY PREDICTION: Gargano
★★★


NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Sanity (Alexander Wolfe & Eric Young) def. Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (c)

MY PREDICTION: Authors of Pain
★★★


SINGLES MATCH
Aleister Black def. Hideo Itami

MY PREDICTION: Black
★★★


NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Asuka (c) def. Ember Moon

MY PREDICTION: Asuka
★★★★


NXT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Drew McIntyre def. Bobby Roode (c)

MY PREDICTION: Roode
★★★½


TakeOver: Brooklyn III was a stellar show all around. Every match is worth watching!
PPV RATING: A+

WWE Battleground 2017

Battleground thoughts (rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The New Day def. The Usos (c)

No real complaints here. The best match of the show.

MY PREDICTION: The New Day
★★★½


SINGLES MATCH
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Baron Corbin by disqualification

Probably the weakest Nakamura match I have seen so far. Usually a match with him means a solid if not great match, but Corbin was the weak link here. Their styles didn’t mesh and Corbin didn’t sell a good deal of Nakamura’s offense as well as he needed to.

MY PREDICTION: Nakamura
★★


FATAL 5-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE #1 CONTENDER FOR THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Natalya def. Tamina, Lana, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair

I kinda expected Tamina to win because of her recent ties with Lana and perhaps Lana would help her win. I’m glad Natalya won and I hope Naomi is dethroned at SummerSlam.

MY PREDICTION: Tamina
★★½


WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Kevin Owens def. A.J. Styles (c)

An unsurprisingly good match considering the who’s in it. My only complaint is the title switching back to Owens less than a week after Styles won it at the Madison Square Garden house show.

MY PREDICTION: Styles
★★★


FLAG MATCH
John Cena def. Rusev

I can’t stand this kind of jingoistic bullshit and a match based on it makes me all the more uninterested. Being proud of something you had no control over, such as where you were born, is the stupidest thing. Why stop there? Proclaim pride for the color of your skin while you’re at it! Doesn’t help that I find Cena lame as fuck in all aspects.

MY PREDICTION: Cena
★½


SINGLES MATCH (unscheduled)
Sami Zayn def. Mike Kanellis

This was just a repeat of their match on the last Smackdown and predictably Zayn gets his win back. Feels like this feud is already treading water in spite of it just starting recently. Neither guy is doing anything for me.

MY (IMPROMPTU) PREDICTION: Zayn
★★


PUNJABI PRISON MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP
Jinder Mahal (c) def. Randy Orton

A fairly good match considering how bad the previous two Punjabi Prison matches in the past were. The whole timed door thing was pretty stupid, but it didn’t get in the way. While they were inside the inner part the match was way too slow paced. Luckily it picked up in interest once the Singh Brothers arrived to help Mahal escape from the inner section. Of course, as is now customary at each PPV Mahal has been in a championship match, at least one of the Singh Brothers has to take a big spill onto one of the announcer tables. The ending came with the surprise return of The Great Khali by choking Orton and holding him in place so Mahal could escape the outer section and retain the title.

MY PREDICTION: Mahal
★★½


Battleground 2017 was an alright show. If you’re only going to watch one match, make it the New Day/Usos Tag Team Championship match.
PPV RATING: ★★½

WWE Money In The Bank 2017

MONEY IN THE BANK thoughts (rating scale is out of 4 stars)

WOMEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
Carmella def. Lynch, Flair, Natalya, Tamina

This was somewhat tepid, fairly short (13m20s) for such a match with a bullshit booked finish.
MY PREDICTION: Flair or Natalya
★★


TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The New Day def. The Usos by countout

This was a good, solid match all told until another dumb fuck finish that saw The Usos just give the match up, pick up their title belts and walkout of the match to retain via countout. Fuck these finishes so far! Are the bookers high on that good ish?
MY PREDICTION: The Usos
★½


WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Naomi def. Lana

Another tepid women’s match. Carmella and Ellsworth came out and teased cashing in her ill-gotten gains twice during the match, but ultimately didn’t do it. This match could have happened on Smackdown.
MY PREDICTION: Naomi
★★


WWE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Mahal def. Orton

Finally we get to an actual good match! The entrances for both guys were really milked and they were fun. Mahal recieved really good heel heat during his entrance which always makes me smile. Most of the match was Orton selling a hurt left knee after taking a fall to the outside early on which resulted in a very good methodical destruction of said knee by Mahal. It was a very old school, grounded match. Singh Brothers interferred (of course) after Orton hit an RKO on Mahal by putting Jinder’s foot on the ropes. Referee ejects them from ringside for this. The Singhs then try to intimidate Bob Orton at ringside which leads to Randy destroying them similar to Payback which ultimately leads to Mahal hitting Orton with The Khallas and The Modern Day Maharaja retains his championship. I think this is Mahal’s best match I’ve seen so far and the performance he really needed.
MY PREDICTION: Mahal
★★★


TAG TEAM MATCH (unscheduled)
Breezango def. The Ascension

A Fashion Files segment came on even though Breezango wasn’t on the card, but after a bit of humor (they had an ’80s style cell phone that was labeled as “Property of Paul E.”) a match was set up by the supposed people who trashed their police station and beat up Breeze last week which ended up being the return of The Ascension. I have no experience watching them, but the match was OK, but was short and could have been done on Smackdown.
MY (IMPROMPTU) PREDICTION: Breezango
★★


MEN’S MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH
Corbin def. Styles, Nakamura, Ziggler, Zayn, Owens

I don’t think I can convey much of any details about this match because of how many people were in it and how long it went on for, but it was the best match of the night! One thing I will mention is that Corbin attacked Nakamura during his entrance which meant Shinsuke gone for most of the match. Later when Nakamura made his triumphant return, there was Kinshasas a plenty to go around! Styles took multiple sick bumps onto ladders in the middle and later he and Nakamura had a great little showdown. Ziggler at one point hit Zayn off the ladder with a Zig Zag. I think I remember somebody getting destroyed by Corbin with a Deep Six. Definitely watch this and the WWE Championship match, but skip the rest.
MY PREDICTION: Corbin
★★★½


As you can tell, Money In The Bank 2017 as a whole was a pretty big shitshow with 2 good matches and a bunch other shit stinking up the place. Watch Mahal/Orton and Men’s MITB.
PPV RATING: ★★

Most Anticipated Games of the 2nd Half of 2017

Matterfall
After not hearing anything about this game since last E3, Matterfall finally showed back up this year with a release date of August 15th. This will make 2017 a two-game year for Housemarque as Nex Machina comes out in a week from this posting.

Yakuza: Kiwami
It’ll be fun to finally experience the first game’s story with fleshed out details and the Japanese voice acting that was missing from the original release. I think if there’s anything I might have a problem with, it will be the Majima Everywhere system. Apparently only by fighting Majima can you upgrade Kiryu’s original fighting style which means most of this game will be like playing Yakuza 0 with Yakuza 1’s story.

Senko no Ronde 2
One of the few Xbox 360 games I played when I had the system was the original Senko no Ronde when it was released stateside in 2007. It was an enjoyable shmup/fighter hybrid that was really hard to find competition online. I mostly ran into Japanese players that were still playing it.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
Despite Capcom’s woes of late which I feel are largely way overblown, I am looking forward to a reworked MvC that goes back to 2v2 of the earlier games in the series.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
While I haven’t touched my copy of MachineGames’ first Wolfenstein yet, I’ve always enjoyed the series overall and have played all the previous games. I expect I will be down for this one once I play The New Order.

Windjammers
I participated in the Windjammers beta this past week and now I am more excited than ever to throw down in the final release later this year!

Most Anticipated Games of 2017

Gravity Rush 2
After playing Gravity Rush Remastered, I feel the original game benefited greatly from being ported to PS4 and it makes all the more sense that the sequel is PS4 only. Sorry Vita, you’re a great system, but you only hampered my enjoyment of GR.

Yakuza 0
The Yakuza series is one of my absolute all-time favorites so with the west receiving 0, Kiwami, and 6 now known, let the year of Yakuza begin!

Nioh
Based on the alpha and beta I have played of this game, Team Ninja will be the first to truly understand what made From Soft’s Souls series so special. They put their own spin on the formula and it’s looking to stand proudly beside From’s now legendary series.

Horizon: Zero Dawn
After a decade of pretty good, but mostly forgettable Killzone games, Guerrilla Games may just have a real gem in Horizon. It looks like a great game in the making and here’s to hoping they pull it off.

Nier: Automata
The demo points to a very strong second Nier game with PlatinumGames doing what they do best at the helm. I will be playing the first Nier before I ever touch this one and I look forward to it.

Yakuza: Kiwami
I am interested in experiencing the first Yakuza all over again with a new coat of paint and the Japanese voice acting missing from the western PS2 original release.

Nex Machina
Housemarque has been a very solid arcade style games maker and I have greatly enjoyed their output since 2007. Nex Machina looks to be another visually great dual-stick shooter from them.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
I like that Capcom will be going back to the classic 2-on-2 style of X-Men / Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. My biggest hope is for Gene from God Hand to make it in.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
It has been over 3 years since Ninja Theory’s last game. Very little has been shown of this title, but hopefully it’ll turn out well as I enjoyed their previous efforts.

Ys Origin
I’ve heard great things about this particular entry and now that it is coming to PS4 I can try it.

usagi704’s GAME OF THE YEAR 2016 Awards

In my Game of the Year awards for last year, I made the prediction that 2016 would be an extraordinary year in gaming, but as with many other things in 2016 it turned out to be a whole lot less impressive by the second half of the year when so many of the games that made me make that prediction were delayed into 2017. Now 2017 is looking legendary, but the second half the coming year will have to have a strong showing like the first half is now destined to have. Having said that, 2016 certainly had a lot of great releases and many others that I played for the first time from prior years.

THIS YEAR’S RULES FOR GAMES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR NOMINATION
(List of games eligible for this year’s awards)
– THE GAME MUST HAVE BEEN PLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR
– THE GAME DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY RELEASED THIS YEAR

BEST VISUALS

• Puppeteer (PS3)
• The Last Guardian (PS4)
• Street Fighter V (PS4)
• Doom (PS4)
• Gradius Galaxies (GBA)

RUNNER-UP: Puppeteer (PS3)

usagi16-visuals
Doom’s incredible visuals are a pretty stark improvement over Doom 3, not only in technical excellence, but also in art direction. It’s quite the marvel that id was able to even achieve this on console and at 60 frames-per-second!

BEST MUSIC

• The Last Guardian (PS4)
• The King of Fighters XIV (PS4)
• Street Fighter V (PS4)
• Gravity Rush –Remastered– (PS4)
• Chain Blaster (3DS)

RUNNER-UP: The Last Guardian (PS4)

usagi16-music
While the visuals are certainly lacking, the music is anything but. I listened to the premium edition’s soundtrack non-stop for weeks after the game came out. A few stand-out tracks: Tiger & Dragon, Departure From South Town, Survivors Under The Sky, Saxophone Under The Moon, and Soy Sauce For Kodayofu.

BEST CHARACTER

• Greirat (Dark Souls III)
• Trico (The Last Guardian)
• Doom Slayer (Doom)
• Max Payne (Max Payne 3)
• Scree / Abdizur (Primal)

RUNNER-UP: Doom Slayer (Doom)

usagi16-character
It’s hard for me to put into words just how affecting Trico is as a companion throughout the adventure, but suffice it to say he’ll likely be a character you’ll have a hard time saying goodbye to.

MOST IMPROVED FOLLOW-UP

• Final Fight Tough (SNES)
• Street Fighter V (PS4)
• The Legend of Kage 2 (DS)
• Dark Souls III (PS4)
• Max Payne 3 (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Max Payne 3 (PS3)

usagi16-followup
Final Fight started off with a bang in arcades in 1989 and quickly became one of the defacto beat-’em-up classics. Later Capcom decided to continue the series exclusively on the Super Nintendo with a very dull, lackluster sequel. Luckily Capcom continued onto a third game with Final Fight Tough (Final Fight 3). The addition of special moves and even super combos, brought in from the fighting game genre, added a good deal of variety to the solid gameplay foundation. Character variety was also bolstered by two new ones to supplement the returning Guy and Haggar. This game is everything Final Fight 2 should have been.

MOST SURPRISINGLY GOOD GAME

• Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PS4)
• Chain Blaster (3DS)
• Doom (PS4)
• Project: Snowblind (PS2)
• The Legend of Kage 2 (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Chain Blaster (3DS)

usagi16-surprise
I went into this game expecting a good game, but not as great as it ended up being. The graphics are very impressive for their time and the core shooting gameplay was much better than anticipated. What really put Project: Snowblind over the top for me was the huge variety of weapons and that pretty much all of them were useful and fun to use throughout the entire game.

FAVORITE GUILTY PLEASURE

• Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PS3)
• Painkiller: Hell & Damnation (PS3)
• Hiryuu no Ken: Ougi no Sho (FC)
• G.G. Series: Score Attacker (DSi)
• The Legend of Kage 2 (DS)

RUNNER-UP: Painkiller: Hell & Damnation (PS3)

usagi16-guilty-pleasure
The Legend of Kage 2 is merely a decent game overall. Running through the stages is just as boring and lame as the game’s decades older predecessor. What this game has that makes it enjoyable at all are the boss battles. Figuring out how to dominate the bosses was a lot of fun for me so after I finished the game, I just kept playing the unlocked boss rush mode. Easily the best thing about this game.

MOST DISAPPOINTING GAME

• 3D Thunder Blade (3DS)
• Shinobi (3DS)
• Resistance 3 (PS3)
• Advance Guardian Heroes (GBA)
• Raiden IV: Overkill (PS3)

RUNNER-UP: Shinobi (3DS)

usagi16-disappointing
I was hoping with the good things I heard about the single player campaign for Resistance 3 that I would be in for a much better experience than the first two games. It was better, but still mostly very standard and bland. Resistance 2’s online co-op was the only truly standout moment in the series, but the servers were shut down years ago.

WORST GAME

• Devil’s Third (WU)
• Shinobi (3DS)
• City Connection (FC)
• Advance Guardian Heroes (GBA)
• Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus (PSV)

RUNNER-UP: City Connection (FC)

usagi16-worst
The exact reasons for a game like this existing is why I think it’s the worst. I have no problem with fan service of this kind as long as there’s some substance and fun to be had among all the cheesecake. There’s nothing else here except a shallow, boring action game with zero level design.

GAME OF THE YEAR

• Puppeteer (PS3)
• Doom (PS4)
• Alienation (PS4)
• Max Payne 3 (PS3)
• The King of Fighters XIV (PS4)
• Gravity Rush –Remastered– (PS4)
• Dark Souls III (PS4)
• The Last Guardian (PS4)
• Project: Snowblind (PS2)
• Street Fighter V (PS4)

RUNNER-UP: The Last Guardian (PS4)

usagi16-goty
My runner-up and winner for Game of the Year couldn’t be more different in every way possible. I love both dearly, but ultimately Doom edged it out for having a robust, complete experience that is excellent technically and in gameplay too. The weapons all have multiple unlockable alternate fire modes that are satisfying to wield. The levels are large and complex like a ’90s shooter and have good reasons to explore them for finding hidden items, upgrades and even throwback Doom easter eggs. The firefights are a great antithesis of most modern shooters. There’s no taking cover, in fact, standing still will get you killed. Movement is paramount as well as quickly switch between weapons depending on the enemies and situation you find yourself in at any given moment. Doom is an example of taking a legendary series and rebooting it in a way that does it’s lineage proud without feeling like a tired rehash or something that feels too out-of-place. Rip and tear.