NJPW Strong Style Evolved

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NJPW Strong Style Evolved (match rating scale is out of 5 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

SIX-MAN TAG TEAM MATCH
Roppongi 3K (Sho, Yoh, Rocky Romero) def. SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Scorpio Sky)

MY PREDICTION: Roppongi 3K

★★¼


TAG TEAM MATCH
Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, David Finlay) def. Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Gedo)

MY PREDICTION: Taguchi Japan

★★¾


TAG TEAM MATCH
Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr.) def. Chaos (Toru Yano, Chuckie T.)

MY PREDICTION: K.E.S.

★★


TAG TEAM MATCH
Bullet Club (Cody, Marty Scurll) def. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa)

MY PREDICTION: Bullet Club

★★★


EIGHT-MAN TAG TEAM MATCH
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada) def. Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Kushida, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Dragon Lee)

MY PREDICTION: L.I.J.

★★★½


SINGLES MATCH
Will Ospreay def. Jyushin Thunder Liger

MY PREDICTION: Ospreay

★★★¾


TAG TEAM MATCH
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr.) def. Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii)

MY PREDICTION: Suzuki-gun

★★★★


IWGP UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Jay White (c) def. Hangman Page

MY PREDICTION: White

★★★★


TAG TEAM MATCH
Golden☆Lovers (Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi) def. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson)

MY PREDICTION: Golden☆Lovers

★★★★¾


Strong Style Evolved was a very entertaining show overall. I still think New Japan has too many tag matches on all their cards which makes their shows feel too similar from one to the next. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett filled in for the usual English duo of Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. I prefer the latter.

Recommended matches: Golden☆Lovers v. Young Bucks and Suzuki-gun v. Chaos.
PPV RATING: B+

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Mike at the Movies, reel 08

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Mike at the Movies is a podcast where I give my thoughts/reviews on movies I have seen. This will be a podcast where I review one to three films with or without a co-host. The movies reviewed do not have to be current and can be any movie from any year and the discussion can include spoilers.

This reel I welcome Matt to talk about Dave (1993), Fortress (1992), and The Player (1992).

If you would like to be considered for a spot in the rotating roster of co-hosts, let me know in a comment below.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST FEED

WWE Royal Rumble 2018

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Royal Rumble 2018 (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

HANDICAP MATCH FOR THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP
AJ Styles (c) def. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

MY PREDICTION: Styles
★★


2-OUT-OF-3-FALLS MATCH FOR THE WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) (c) def. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin

MY PREDICTION: Gable & Benjamin
★★★


MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura

I was on the edge of my seat rooting for Shinsuke during the final four. Nakuamura v. AJ Styles at Wrestlemania is gonna be hot!

MY PREDICTION: Nakamura
★★★½


WWE RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) def. Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c)

MY PREDICTION: Rollins & Jordan
★★½


TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Brock Lesnar (c) def. Kane and Braun Strowman

MY PREDICTION: Lesnar
★★½


WOMEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH
Winner: Asuka

Part one of redeeming Asuka on the main roster is complete. Let’s go all the way!

MY PREDICTION: Asuka
★★★


Royal Rumble 2018 was a better show that I thought it would be. The Royal Rumble matches were the highlight which I didn’t expect and everything else lacked. Recommended matches: Both the men’s and women’s rumble matches delivered.
PPV RATING: B-

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia

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NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) (c) def. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar)

MY PREDICTION: Undisputed Era
★★★


SINGLES MATCH
Velveteen Dream def. Kassius Ohno

Despite being a mostly nothing match on paper that was thrown together at the last minute, Velveteen Dream, once again, elevated a PPV match by going out of his way to put more thought into his performance and attire than most.

MY PREDICTION: Dream
★★★


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

MY PREDICTION: Moon
★★½


EXTREME RULES MATCH
Aleister Black def. Adam Cole

MY PREDICTION: Black
★★★


NXT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) def. Johnny Gargano

A 30+ minute show stealer and early match-of-the-year candidate. Almas/Gargano III was even better than their previous bouts!

MY PREDICTION: Almas
★★★★


TakeOver: Philadelphia was an excellent show, but just a smidge lower in my mind compared to any of the 2017 TakeOvers. Recommended match: Almas v. Gargano for the barn burner it is.
PPV RATING: A-

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12

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NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 thoughts (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson) def. Roppongi 3K (Sho, Yoh) (c)

★★★½


GAUNTLET MATCH FOR THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT 6-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano) def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa) (c), Michael Elgin, War Machine (Hanson, Raymond Rowe), Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, Zack Sabre Jr.), and Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe)

★★


SINGLES MATCH
Kota Ibushi def. Cody

★★★


IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil, Sanada) def. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer) (c)

★★★


HAIR VS. HAIR MATCH FOR THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Hirooki Goto def. Minoru Suzuki (c)

★★★½


4-WAY MATCH FOR THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Will Ospreay def. Marty Scurll (c), Kushida, Hiromu Takahashi

★★★★


IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) def. Jay White

★★★


NO DISQUALIFICATION MATCH FOR THE IWGP UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Kenny Omega (c) def. Chris Jericho

★★★★


IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Tetsuya Naito

★★★


Wrestle Kingdom 12 was a really entertaining show all around and as a newbie to NJPW, I had a good time watching it despite not having any history watching most of the wrestlers on the show.

Recommended matches: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match and IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship match.
PPV RATING: A

usagi704’s GAME OF THE YEAR 2017 Awards

Wow, what a year in video games. The first half of the year was especially good for me, but the second half was damn good too. My format for the awards has changed and now features my top ten games of the year. The old category wins are now denoted as achievements and not separate categories. Now on with the show!

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


(DIS)HONORABLE MENTIONS

Nex Machina (PS4)
• Best Music

Groove on Fight: Gouketsuji Ichizoku 3 (SS)
• Most Improved Follow-Up

Red Faction II (PS2)
• Most Surprisingly Good Game

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)
• Most Disappointing Game

Unholy Night (SNES)
• Worst Game


DanFev
M2 are the masters of emulation and with their new series of shmup re-releases, M2 ShotTriggers, they are going above and beyond even for them. Dangun Feveron is a 1998 CAVE shoot-’em-up that has never had a home release until now. It’s a fantastic disco themed game with a wonderful soundtrack. Hopefully this will come stateside in 2018.

 

Nioh
It’s been very difficult to find an experience as good in the Souls-like genre outside of From Software’s own entries. Enter Nioh. What started out as a PlayStation 3 exclusive when it was originally announced extremely early in the seventh generation turned in to a Soul-like for PlayStation 4 and later, PC. Nioh is an incredible example of the genre and Team Ninja did a great job putting their own spin on the formula. Easily the best non-From Souls-like.

 

RFA
Most people seem to prefer the previous game to this one, Red Faction: Guerrilla. I am not one of those people. I really enjoyed it, in part, because of it’s linearity and not despite it. The awesome environmental destruction is better than ever and the new Magnet Gun makes it work for you. It’s always fun to use it to fling debris at enemies’ faces or make one enemy fly into another enemy!

 

SD
Somehow with all of the problems this game had in development, it turned out to be an excellent open world GTA clone. It was originally going to be another game in the True Crime series and I think we got something far better than what we would have gotten if it was one of those games.

 

SotC
I first attempted to play Shadow of the Colossus a few years ago, but at the time I really wasn’t having any of it with the controls and grip meter mechanic. After playing Fumito Ueda’s most recent game, The Last Guardian, in December of last year, I decided I would give SotC a real shot at the very beginning of this year. I was able to get a handle on the controls much faster than expected and the grip meter can be a challenge to manage. None of it is perfect, but it worked better than I thought it would. It a very rewarding to figure out how to take down all the colossi and the soundtrack is outstanding. I actually prefer the PlayStation 2 version despite the lower overall framerate because the colossi are a little less aggressive in trying to shake you off, at least they are in the North American version. I’m really looking forward to the PS4 remake at 60 fps.

 

TLoU
I enjoyed The Last of Us a lot more than I expected. I thought I would dislike the stealth with limited resources, but the resources weren’t as limited as I thought. The thing about this game I liked the most was the character interactions rather than the story being told. Ellie was a pretty relatable character. I liked the moments when she couldn’t relate to descriptions of things from how lives were lived before the current state of the world as she knew it.

 

Bulletstorm
A game of pure dumb fun whether it’s from the combo based gunplay or the over-the-top stupid dialog. It’s a game I’d love to see a sequel to.

 

Nier
Yes, the original Nier gets the nod over the follow-up, Nier: Automata. When it comes to Yoko Taro’s games, it’s first and foremost about the crazy characters and story. Gameplay clearly comes second and after playing both Nier games back-to-back, I can say without any uncertainty that the original Nier has the better story and characters. I can still remember the major beats of Nier’s story, but I have mostly forgotten Automata’s and that says it all.

 

Y0
I didn’t expect Yakuza 0 to become arguably the best game in the series, but here we are. The story is definitely the best in the series. The shit that happens to Tanimura is crazy and it makes you really hate Sohei Dojima for real. Made me happy when he was killed when I revisited Yakuza 1 via Yakuza Kiwami. The Completion Points system made it more rewarding than ever to do as many of the side missions as possible which was great for me as I never did very many in previous games and now I felt incentivized to do so. Oh, Kiryu-chan, I can never stop loving you.

 

HZD
For well over a deacade Guerrilla Games has been slaving away on the mostly middling Killzone series. They’ve always had the technical chops to hang with the best out there and the gameplay was usually fairly good. They always lacked in designing and writing appealing characters and story. Killzone’s Rico was always a scumbag despite supposedly being one of the good guys and the motivation to be against the Helghast was at times questionable and made you feel like you’re the real bad guys. Horizon: Zero Dawn finally married Guerrilla’s technical prowess to great characters, story, and gameplay. It’s such a surprising turn from a studio mainly known for high budget standard fare that I can’t help but name Horizon: Zero Dawn my Game of the Year!

NXT TakeOver: War Games

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NXT TakeOver: War Games thoughts (match rating scale is out of 4 stars)
“(c)” = incumbent champions

SINGLES MATCH
Lars Sullivan def. Kassius Ohno

This match went as expected and as it should, a hard fought match that still made Sullivan look dominating while still having Ohno look strong. A solid opener.

MY PREDICTION: Sullivan
★★


SINGLES MATCH
Aleister Black def. Velveteen Dream

The simple feud of Dream wanting recognition from Black by making him “say my name” is dumb on the surface, but these two have been selling it so well that I couldn’t help but be into it. The payoff match here was very impressive with both performers looking great. Black gets the win and in the end does indeed say his name.

“Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.”

MY PREDICTION: Black
★★★½


FATAL 4-WAY MATCH FOR THE VACANT NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Ember Moon def. Kairi Sane, Nikki Cross, and Peyton Royce

Going in I think any of these women could have an argument made for them winning the title, except Royce, but the obvious and most deserving person won after all of those great confrontations with Asuka during this year that saw her fall short each time. The match was just under ten minutes which is quite short, but there was plenty of great spots and it felt like they made the best of the time they had.

MY PREDICTION: Moon
★★★


NXT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Drew McIntyre (c)

This was certainly not the outcome I expected here as I feel it is too soon for Almas to have the title and too soon for McIntyre to lose it. Makes me think McIntyre is going up to the main WWE roster because that’s how it usually works in NXT which is why there’s only two guys (Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura) that have ever been 2-time NXT Champions. It could be that this feud continues and McIntyre regains the title, but I guess we’ll see very soon.

MY PREDICTION: McIntyre
★★★


WAR GAMES MATCH
The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly) def. Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain) and The Authors of Pain (Akam, Rezar) & Roderick Strong

Bringing back an old WCW match staple after not having seen it in 19 years was a good idea as it turns out. Lots of great spots like a superplex off the top of the War Games cage onto all of the other wrestlers in the match was crazy and was preceded by a “Please don’t die” crowd chant. Undisputed Era definitely needed this win to cement their name and this certainly did it.

MY PREDICTION: Undisputed Era
★★★½


TakeOver: War Games was a really entertaining show all around as NXT PPVs always tend to be. Recommended matches: Black v. Dream and the War Games match.
PPV RATING: A