The Paige/Charlotte Fall Out, Sheamus as Champion, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Reid FlairBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Fair warning, folks: You’re going to get a lot of complaining from me this week.

WWE got a lot of negative buzz last week after they had Paige say a fairly tasteless line about Charlotte’s deceased brother Reid during their segment. The main event segment, no less. I wrote that what Paige said wasn’t necessarily reprehensible, but some things have come to light since then that shed some new light on the situation.

Firstly, neither Ric Flair nor Charlotte and Reid’s mother knew about the angle. You’d think common sense and decency would dictate that they at least let the parents know about something like that, let alone give them veto power.

Secondly, after WWE got all the heat, they released this statement: “Subject matter this personal is only approved as a result of the strong advocacy of the talent themselves. Notwithstanding that, WWE is ultimately responsible for what airs in its programming.”

Charlotte, Raw, November 23, 2015Essentially they implicated Charlotte, which is pretty sleazy.

I don’t doubt that Charlotte said she was okay with it all. But as we’ve heard from various former WWE stars, the company has a tendency to punish wrestlers who say no to storyline suggestions. It’s not the same thing at all, but Trish Stratus went on record that she once refused to kiss Torrie Wilson on television, and lost the Women’s Title very shortly thereafter.

Thankfully, WWE is trying to sweep this situation under the rug. Given how image conscious his company has become, you’d think Vince McMahon, who ultimately has the last word on creative, would have been mindful of the backlash this angle would cause. Particularly when Reid’s parents didn’t know, nor approve.

Sheamus, WWE Survivor Series 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Sheamus cashes in on WWE Champion Roman Reigns, walks out of Survivor Series with the title. A TLC Match for the Championship is made for December. The smart fans weren’t happy about this one, which I get. There was a lot of backlash when Sheamus won the Money in the Bank briefcase to begin with. If you want to look at the glass as half full, at least we’ve got a heel champion the fans legitimately dislike.

But you can’t convince me Sheamus is hot as a heel. He was in a dull-as-dirt feud with Randy Orton for months, and then aligned himself with Wade Barrett, who’s been a perennial loser. And the company’s top babyface usually gets booed as much, if not more than he does. That’s why I don’t think there’s any money in Sheamus and Reigns at TLC. We’ve got a cold heel against a babyface that WWE is trying to tell us we should like, instead of letting us choose our own heroes.

Still, the Sheamus era has begun. Hopefully it’s short…

WWE Raw, November 23, 2015, Roman Reigns, RusevRoman Reigns faces the returning Rusev in the main event. I’m glad Rusev is back, as WWE needs all the depth they can get. But Rusev is yet another cold heel. The last time we saw him he got pinned clean, and took a verbal beat-down from Summer Rae. Whatever happened to the Bulgarian Brute’s balls?

It seems like Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Rusev are a group now, which appeared to be the way things were going before Rusev went on the shelf. I wonder if three cold heels can somehow equate to one hot one…?

The Undertaker & Kane def. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper at Survivor Series. The Wyatts rebound with a win over The Dudley Boyz on Raw. Remember the build-up to Bray Wyatt’s match with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania? The buzz was that WWE wanted to keep Bray looking strong so he’d seem like a formidable opponent for ‘Taker. They need to start doing that again, not just with Bray himself, but this entire group. Wyatt spent much of this year losing to The Undertaker and Roman Reigns. We need to reverse that trend and make him look like a winner again. Bray Wyatt is a star. Now he just needs to be booked like one.

Bray Wyatt, Raw, October 23, 2015I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper in a tables match with The Dudley Boyz at TLC. The sad thing is, Bubba and Devon have lost most of their big matches since they came back. So after TLC, one of these teams is going to wind up even colder than they are now.

Cesaro reportedly out of action with a shoulder injury. This sucks. I mean, it really sucks. Just when you think Cesaro might finally move up the card a little bit, he gets hurt. It’s bad enough that so many main event level guys off TV right now. But now we’ve got arguably one of the hottest talents in the industry on the shelf too.

The Solomonster pointed out that given the projected four to six month time period Cesaro will be gone for, this might mean he’ll return around the same time as Tyson Kidd. That’s the only upside to this as far as I’m concerned.

WWE Raw, November 23, 2015, Alberto Del Rio, Zeb ColterJack Swagger confronts Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter. This was obviously where they were going before Seth Rollins got hurt, and they had to do the tournament. I understand that Del Rio and Swagger was a built-in match when they started this whole “Mex-America” thing. But Swagger is as much a dead duck as any character they have on that show. Having Del Rio beat him doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s hardly worth more than a one-off match on free TV.

Neville def. Mark Henry. Fresh off of being the only guy pinned on his team at Survivor Series, Neville beats the once dominant Mark Henry on Raw. Makes sense, right?

Henry likely doesn’t mind doing the honors for younger talents. But if they want to do a Mark Henry retirement match someday, they’re going to have a tough time making it mean anything if all he does is lose.

The New Day, WWE Raw, November 23, 2015The New Day celebrate their one-year anniversary on Raw. Damn. These guys died a slow death out there. Much like at Survivor Series, the crowd was absolutely dead for much of this show. You can’t really blame them, given the content of the show they’re watching. But these three have arguably been the most consistently entertaining part of Raw over the last few months, and they just couldn’t get a rise out of the fans. It was downright sad.

In Other News…

TNA lands new network in POP TV. It just goes to show you how many TV networks are out there these days that both TNA and Ring of Honor landed on networks no one has apparently ever heard of.

Still, give TNA credit where credit is due. People continue to write them off, but they keep surviving somehow. Like a lot of fans, I want TNA to do well. They just need to get their feet under them again.

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A WWE Survivor Series 2015 Preview – Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose?

Triple H, Roman Reigns, WWE ChampionshipBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Make no mistake about it, Survivor Series is important this year.

That’s a welcome change from most of the stuff we’ve seen in the last decade. Most WWE fans know that Survivor Series used to be one of WWE’s biggest shows of the year, arguably in league with the Royal Rumble and Summerslam. But over the last several years, the show has lost much of its luster. WWE has actually contemplated “rebranding” their November pay per view, and eliminating the Survivor Series concept altogether. That’s a really sad notion, considering that if booked a certain way, the various Survivor Series tag team matches can be made important again.

However, WWE does seem to be trying to make Survivor Series feel important again. Last year, Sting made his long-awaited WWE debut, and was responsible for The Authority being ousted from power. The impact of that stipulation was nullified just over a month later, but the moment itself was huge.

This year, happenstance has prompted the crowning of a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion at Survivor Series. And I do mean a new champion. There’s a 75 percent chance that the man walking out with the belt will be wearing it for the first time. Make no mistake about it, in an era where fans are dying for something fresh, a new champion may prove to be a step in the right direction.

More on that later. Let’s run down the show and see what we’ve got to look forward to.

WWE Survivor Series 2015, Dolph Ziggler, Tyler BreezeDolph Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze

In a way, this match is really sad. Last year, Dolph Ziggler was the sole survivor of his team, and the man who (with some help from Sting) sent The Authority packing. This year? He’s probably going to lose to Tyler Breeze. There’s nothing wrong with losing to Tyler Breeze, but man…how many times can they drop the ball on this guy?

Seeing as Breeze did lose his debut match to Dean Ambrose, I suppose he could theoretically survive a loss to Ziggler here. But that’s not the right move. WWE needs some new blood to step up, and Breeze is more than capable. I just wish they didn’t have to sacrifice Dolph for that to happen.

PREDICTION: Tyler Breeze

WWE Survivor Series 2015, Paige, CharlotteWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte (c) vs. Paige

I’m curious to see how the crowd reacts to his match, given how poorly many fans reacted to WWE making Reid Fleihr’s death a factor in the storyline. If WWE has its way, every bit of that heat will wind up on Paige, and Charlotte will be the sentimental favorite. But given how smart a large percentage of the audience is in the modern era, that may not be the case.

Charlotte should be the one they go with here. I imagine that would’ve been the case even without all the heat. Charlotte is a good ambassador for what WWE seems to want their women’s division to become. She’s not great on the mic yet. But she’s a great athlete, a good wrestlers, and she can be a positive role model for young girls. I don’t see her dropping the title in the near future.


WWE Survivor Series 2015, The Undertaker, Kane, The Wyatt FamilyThe Undertaker & Kane vs. The Wyatt Family

Oh, come on. Of course it’s going to be Undertaker and Kane. It’s the 25th anniversary of ‘Taker’s debut, and he just lost a Hell in a Cell match to Brock Lesnar. There’s no way they let him take another loss here.

An unfortunate side effect of this match is that The Wyatt Family are starting to look like chumps. Bray Wyatt lost to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. He went back and forth with Roman Reigns before finally losing to him at Hell in a Cell. Now he and his entire group are about to lose to ‘Taker and Kane. If booked properly, The Wyatt Family can become one of the most dominant groups WWE has seen in years, and have a real mystique about them. But they’re definitely not headed that way now.

PREDICTION: The Undertaker & Kane

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Alberto Del Rio, Kevin Owens

WWE did the right thing in terms of booking this tournament. They didn’t call John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, or any other big names to throw in there. They stuck with members of the full-time, active roster. Things were a little rocky in the first round, as The Big Show was simply there to be fed to Roman Reigns, and they had to use tag team wrestlers like Titus O’Neil and Kalisto. But for the most part it’s gone very well, and we’ve got some really good matches out of this tournament.

The direction they’re going seems pretty obvious. They’ve even teased it this week. It’s Roman Reigns over Alberto Del Rio, and Dean Ambrose over Kevin Owens. I’m very pleased they let the US and Intercontinental Champions make it this far. But in the end, it has to be the two former Shield members in the finals.

WWE Smackdown, November 19, 2015, Roman Reigns, Dean AmbroseWith Seth Rollins gone, WWE needs a new lead villain. The purpose of this Survivor Series main event should ultimately be filling that role. For my money, it needs to be Roman Reigns. They already planted the seed with that Triple H segment, and in certain arenas he’s already got half the crowd booing him. If they simply let the fans get the booing out of their system, they’ll eventually turn around and start cheering him. That’s how it worked for The Rock, and it can work the same way for Reigns. They just have to go with the flow and stop fighting with their audience. Can Dean Ambrose pull off a heel turn? Absolutely. But he shouldn’t have to. Fans want to boo Reigns, so WWE should give them the pleasure of booing him.

In terms of predictions, I’m going to give WWE the benefit of the doubt and say they’ll do the right thing with Reigns. But considering WWE’s track record of doing the right thing with talents like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler, this is a 50/50 toss up at best.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

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A Batman: Europa #1 Review – European Vacation

Batman: Europa #1 cover, Jim LeeTITLE: Batman: Europa #1
AUTHORS: Matteo Casali, Brian Azzarello
PENCILLERS: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jim Lee
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: November 18, 2015

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead for Batman: Europa #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Considering how long Batman: Europa has been in development (it was originally announced in 2004), you’d think they’d have taken the time to iron all the kinks out of it.

They didn’t.

Europa brings Batman and The Joker together again. But this time, our arch rivals have a common enemy. Both are infected with a deadly virus that will kill them within a week. But can Batman do the unthinkable and team with The Joker? He may have no choice if he’s to survive.

Batman: Europa #1, page 5, Jim LeeQuick history lesson: Europa is Jim Lee’s brainchild. Having spent a year in Italy with his family, Lee wanted a way to work on DC characters with European creators. Thus, Europa. Since 2004, this four-issue miniseries has had a few false starts. But now all four issues are solicited to hit the stands by January. All four issues have layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli, and each feature a different penciller. Lee drew this issue, and by God, he got me right in the feels.

Batman: Hush is a sentimental favorite of mine. It’s the story that got me to start picking up comic books every week, as opposed to only reading trades. So seeing Lee return to these versions of Batman, Joker, and Alfred is very special. Mind you, this is a scratchier style than we usually see accompany Lee’s pencils. His stuff usually looks very crisp, with an abundance of line work to show. That’s not the case here, and it takes some getting used to. But good art is good art, and Lee is truly one of the masters of the dynamic superhero comic. It’s just a shame this is it for him on this story.

But while the art is marvelous to look at, the writing is where we run into problems.

Casali and Azzarello try and start the issue on an intense note, with Batman and Joker both bleeding and on the verge of death. The implication is they’ve just been in a fight. But while I hate to come off childish about this, the narration from Batman comes off as downright homoerotic (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’ll give you some of the dialogue here. Tell me it doesn’t sound like there’s a certain subtext…

Batman: Europa #1, page 2, Jim Lee“I never thought it would end like this. Him. Me. Our blood on each others lips. … Believing he could go this far is easy. Me, though? I’m another story. But this time I’m ready to go all the way. And do it.”

Throw in the fact that on the cover The Joker’s hand appears to be over Batman’s crotch, and you’re giving a lot of ammunition for the less mature fanboys to use. What I’m wondering is how this didn’t occur to anyone involved in the creative process. I’m looking at you, editors!

Taking Batman to actual locations outside the United States is hardly a new concept. But Europa promises to take him to a variety of European destinations. Issue #1 takes us to Berlin, and future issues will bring us to Prague, Paris, and Rome. Considering our writers spend just a tad too much time romanticizing Berlin, I’m concerned not only about how much time they’ll spend doing that in other locations, but about how contrived all the traveling may seem. I understand the point of this story is to put our main characters in different environments. But keep in mind that Batman and The Joker are supposed to be working together here. This partnership should have a hard time lasting four minutes. The notion that it could last long enough for them to travel across Europe together makes me afraid this is going to come off like a very dark version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Still, even if it does turn out to be a stinker, Europa is an excuse for Jim Lee to get some more time with Batman. It’s tough to complain about that.

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John Cena: The Future of “Mr. WWE”

John Cena, Wrestlemania press conferenceBy Richard Brown
Guest Contributor

John Cena has long been the poster boy of the WWE. But as we know, nothing lasts forever. With the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose garnering substantial column inches, how is Mr. WWE coping with such changes?

The 38-year-old Cena made his television debut in the WWE back in 2002 against wrestling legend, Kurt Angle. Since then he’s gone on a meteoric rise to stardom, and is currently the fourth longest serving wrestler to ever feature in the organization. Only Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan have appeared in WWE for longer periods.

His most successful time in the promotion was arguably between 2006-2010. Cena has won multiple titles and his popularity has extended past his wrestling roots. The promotion has sent the Florida native to the silver screen, bankrolling two films starring Cena: The Marine and 12 Rounds.

John Cena, Vince McMahonWWE Chairman Vince McMahon has a proven record of building stars and turning them into household names. You only have to reference the likes of the aforementioned Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock to see how the pro wrestling business mogul has a track record of developing talent.

Fast-forward to the modern day, however, and Cena is in the latter portion of his career. There’s been an obvious shift in emphasis by the WWE to develop the next Cena in the form of Roman Reigns. After all, Cena won’t be around forever, nor will part-timers like The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. The need to develop the next slew of WWE stars is important for the promotion’s longevity.

But, how is Cena reacting to effectively taking a backseat? What is WWE’s plan for Cena in the coming years?

Like all aging wrestlers, he will undoubtedly be used sparingly. He will likely feature in all the big events, and in significant bouts that appeal to his fan base. It’s also probable Cena will become a mentor for many of the up-and-coming wrestlers WWE acquires, and within its current roster. That’s not to say Cena hasn’t been acting as a mentor for the past decade, as it is widely reported that he’s been mentoring for years and is a very influential figure in the locker room.

John Cena, Sami Zayn, Raw, April 4, 2015Although, Cena is still the biggest star at the company, especially when you consider that out of the top 60 best selling WWE merchandise items, 12 are Cena-related, far more than any other wrestlers on the roster, according to Forbes. The problem is, regardless of the progression of Reigns and other stars, the WWE isn’t ready for life without Cena even if they are lessening his standing gradually.

You only have to look at who was rumored to be facing Cena before Hell in the Cell to see how much his status as a main eventer is diminishing. Bwin suggested that the top 5 likely contenders to face him for the US Championship were Dean Ambrose, Tyler Breeze, Heath Slater, Daniel Bryan or Cesaro. Apart from Bryan, the list wasn’t exactly filled with the pedigree Cena is used to facing.

Luckily for WWE fans, McMahon had an ace up his sleeve. The WWE welcomed back the enigmatic Alberto Del Rio to face Cena. The previously sacked superstar would go on to defeat Cena and win the belt. And while WWE built this up to be a marquee event with the reemergence of Del Rio, it shows that Cena isn’t at the top of the pile anymore.

Numerous wrestling news outlets announced Cena was taking some time away from the ring for personal reasons. While it’s unclear when he will return, this extended absence will hit WWE hard especially with Raw ratings falling.

John Cena, Seth Rollins, WWE Raw, July 27, 2015It has also been rumored that due to Cena’s hiatus, they may look to push Ambrose into more headline slots to help develop him alongside the likes of Reigns. While McMahon hasn’t been adverse to “bending a knee” to his major superstars and offering them less demanding schedules, Cena has always been very active.

It’ll be hard for Cena to take a less prominent role in the future. But, he’s always been a company man, and while taking a backseat may not be his most preferred options, the likelihood is he’ll do what’s best for the company in the long run. He’s still a financial asset, and while he’s unlikely to feature or win against some of the WWE’s fledgling wrestlers, expect him to be facing iconic stars in the promotion’s major events in the future.

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A Drax #1 Review – “I Guess I’ll Go Kill Thanos.”

Drax #1 (2015), coverTITLE: Drax #1
AUTHORS: CM Punk/Phil Brooks, Cullen Bunn
PENCILLER: Scott Hepburn
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 4, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m really curious to see how Drax #1 does from a sales perspective. That’s not usually something I concern myself with. But I admit, I wouldn’t have picked this issue up if not for CM Punk’s involvement. I missed Thor Annual #1, which the real-life Phil Brooks co-authored. This issue is my first exposure to his writing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but here’s the bottom line: He’s not too bad at all.

Granted, he’s got a seasoned vet like Cullen Bunn backing him up. But reportedly, Punk is very much bringing his own creative energy to Drax, and it’s not simply a matter of Bunn walking him through things. With this in mind, Drax becomes that much more interesting.

This book sees Drax strike out on his own to finally kill Thanos, the ultra-powerful being responsible for the death of Drax’s family (Long story). With an assist from Rocket Raccoon, Drax sets out on a search to finally get the revenge he’s longed for.

Drax #1, 2015, Scott HepburnReaders who came into Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie may be a bit confused, as there is no Peter Quill or Gamora. In addition to Drax, Rocket, and Groot, the team now has Kitty Pryde, Venom, and The Thing. It’s never explained why they’re there, but as this is a book about Drax, it’s not a major issue. As Punk used to scream “It’s clobberin’ time!” before many of his wrestling matches, Punk and Bunn take advantage of The Thing’s involvement for a little fan service in the very first panel.

Punk and Bunn (What a cute name for a tag team!) also have a great handle on the Guardians brand of humor. For instance, Drax’s motivation for this story is seemingly decided on a whim. With nothing else to occupy his time, he simply shrugs and says: “I guess I’ll go kill Thanos.” The simplicity of this moment makes it arguably the most memorable part of the issue.

One can argue this issue doesn’t have a lot of meat to it, particularly after we’re done with the rest of the Guardians. There’s a sequence with Drax and the spaceship, and then he takes a long stroll to get to our cliffhanger moment at the end. While there is some funny dialogue during all this, it doesn’t necessarily have a lot of substance to it. In the end, that’s fine. This is, after all, only the first issue. Plus, they keep the tone consistent throughout. So they get a pass from me.

Drax #1, Scott HepburnScott Hepburn is very much in his element here. Even on a book where humor and exaggerated expressions are so prominent, he makes you believe in Drax as a musclebound, murderous monster who somehow still has a heart. This guy’s got a lot of rage, and we see that here. But Hepburn is also able to lend a lot of charm to the almost child-like emotional extremes Drax goes to in this issue. And of course, his action sequences are every bit as dynamic as the book needs them to be.

Drax is in good hands for the time being. Seeing this team’s take on a Drax/Thanos confrontation intrigues me, as does watching CM Punk’s progression as a writer. At the very least, Drax is worth a look.

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Paige, the Limits of Good Taste, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

We got a really good show this week that was heavy on in-ring action. That’s not a coincidence, folks. Better wrestling equals a better product. In a season where ratings have been on a downhill slide, WWE might want to make note of that.

What’s more, we got the girls in the main event segment for the first time in what must have been over a decade. That’s fantastic. But it might have come with a certain price…

Paige, Charlotte, Raw, November 16, 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Charlotte and Paige main event the show with a contract signing. The death of Reid Fleihr is incorporated into the storyline. In terms of everything leading up to the Reid thing, the segment came off very scripted, especially on Charlotte’s part. I don’t doubt that the tears she shed out there were real. But the dialogue didn’t seem genuine. There were also a few uncomfortable silences, during which I wasn’t sure if Charlotte couldn’t remember her lines, or if she was pausing for effect.

Then Paige said the line about Reid “not having much fight in him.”

Quick history lesson: Reid Fleihr, son of the real life Richard Fleihr (Ric Flair) and brother of Ashley Fleihr (Charlotte), was a prospective wrestler who died of a drug overdose in March of 2013. Poor Ric actually found his son’s body.

Paige, Charlotte, fight, Raw, November 16, 2015Needless to say, this is a sensitive subject. Fans are already crying foul over this. It certainly skirted the limits of good taste. Personally, I don’t think what Paige said was reprehensible. From a story perspective, it gives us very personal connection to Charlotte. We’re now much more invested in this story.

But did they need to play the Reid card? No, of course not. You never need to exploit a real person’s death for a pro wrestling storyline. But they did it. They can’t undo it. So now let’s just hope they don’t stir it up any more.

The Undertaker & Kane to face two members of The Wyatt Family at Survivor Series. More mind games are played on Raw. I can understand why they’d want ‘Taker and Kane by themselves at Survivor Series, but that doesn’t make this decision any less disappointing. The idea of The Undertaker captaining his own four-man Survivor Series team at the 25th anniversary of his WWE debut made for an intriguing selling point. But a straight-up tag match? That’s a downgrade any way you slice it.

Undertaker druids, Raw, November 16, 2015As for Raw, the moment with the moment with the druids and the sheep masks was cool. Most of the mic work was nothing special. I did, however, like Bray Wyatt’s line about a new army of darkness rising at Survivor Series. I don’t know how big a “money match” this is, but that was a money line right there.

Roman Reigns def. Cesaro to advance in the WWE Title Tournament. The crowd seemed really split during this match. It was almost like something you’d expect from a John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan kind of encounter. The older, “smart” fans were rooting for Cesaro, but the kids were cheering for Reigns.

The winner of this match was obvious from the get-go. It was always going to be Reigns going to the finals, and potentially winning the whole damn thing. So that took a bit of the edge off what could easily have been the main event for this week’s show. But it was still a good performance, as Cesaro once again shows us just how damn special he is. I take nothing away from Reigns, as it obviously takes two to tango. But c’mon now…

The idea behind the Reigns promo, and the amount of punishment he took in that match, was to build sympathy for him as an underdog of sorts who hung in there against a machine like Cesaro. However, here’s my question: Does that story work when half the crowd is rooting for the Cesaro to crush the so-called underdog?

Neville, Kevin Owens, Raw, November 16, 2015Kevin Owens def. Neville to advance in the WWE Title Tournament. I’d argue this was one of the best, if not the best outing for both Kevin Owens and Neville on television. Neville’s athleticism was highlighted wonderfully. That reverse headscissors spot was obviously great, as was the turnbuckle bump into the snap German suplex. But I also enjoyed Neville doing something as simple as slowly sliding down the ropes and off the apron when he took that super kick from Owens.

On that subject, WWE really needs to tell their guys to lighten up on the super kicks. Now that Shawn Michaels has been retired for awhile, it’s apparently open season on that move. And it’s not even being used as a finisher.

Kalisto pins Ryback on Smackdown to advance in WWE Title Tournament, loses to Alberto Del Rio on Raw. This is funny, because to me this Kalisto thing is what WWE should have done to begin with if they wanted a new Hispanic star. They didn’t need to shill out a bunch of money to get Del Rio back. Especially given that Del Rio wasn’t exactly hot when he left. I can’t say I’m any more interested in Raw because Del Rio is back. And this whole Mex-America thing seems like it was hastily thrown together.

Still, I don’t think Kalisto loses much by giving up a win to Del Rio. If WWE is smart they’ll start capitalizing on this dynamic talent. At the very least, can we give the Lucha Dragons a tag title shot?

In Other News:

Jay Lethal, Ring of HonorRing of Honor leaving Destination America, will air on COMET in December. ROH must have a better deal with COMET than they had with Destination America. COMET can’t be that much easier to find than DA. Still, kudos to ROH for making more waves (even if they’re small ones) in the television market. Frankly, I’m glad they’re off Destination America. I got a shady vibe from that whole crew after what happened with TNA. Speaking of which, how does this effect TNA, if at all?

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A Superman: American Alien #1 Review – Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Superman: American Alien #1 (2015)TITLE: Superman: American Alien #1
AUTHOR: Max Landis
PENCILLERS: Nick Dragotta, Matthew Clark. Cover by Ryan Sook.
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman: American Alien is a unique opportunity for Max Landis. He’s a renowned Superman critic who gets to put his money where his mouth is.

Granted, Landis isn’t just a Superman critic. He’s also an accomplished writer in the movie industry. He co-wrote and did the screenplay for Chronicle, and also wrote the upcoming films Victor Frankenstein and Mr. Right. He also directed the music video for Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time.”

But to comic book fans, Landis is perhaps best known as the man behind the short film The Death and Return of Superman, as well as a number of extended YouTube editorials (Regarding Clark, Death and Return of Superman Pitch By Max Landis, etc). While I haven’t agreed with everything he’s said, it’s tough to deny how knowledgeable he is about the art of storytelling. To their credit, DC saw that, and they started talking with him about doing a Superman story of his own. And to his credit, Landis eventually took them up on the offer, essentially agreeing to put his money where his mouth is.

Superman: American Alien #1, Max Landis, Nick DragottaAmerican Alien consists of seven short stories from the life of Clark Kent. This issue shows us an eight-year-old Clark and his parents coming to grips with his power of flight. In a brief Q&A that can be seen in the back of this issue, Landis said he was going for “heartwarming” with this first installment.

Again, to his credit, he accomplished his goal. At the end of the issue, you’re smiling. At one point things get a little too silly for my taste, and at others Clark seems a little too wise for an eight-year-old. But by and large, the issue feels like something Pixar or Dreamworks might put out. That’s high praise, considering DC continues to struggle with making readers sympathetic to a character so powerful. They’re beating him down pretty hard right now, having exposed his identity and powered him down quite bit. But the right now the Superman books are largely lacking the emotional core you’d hope to find when Clark faces such dire circumstances.

In contrast, there’s a lot of emotion in American Alien #1. Granted, it’s not all as complex in terms of Clark himself, as he’s just a child. But in just one issue we see the terror, frustration, shame, and ultimately excitement that this new ability brings him. Things are a bit more subdued in terms of the Kents. But we can definitely see them questioning their decisions as they struggle to raise this very unique child.

Superman: American Alien #1, alien mirror, Nick DragottaHowever, there is one moment that nearly takes you out of the story. Clark has just had what we’ll call an “angry outburst,” and he’s driving home with his father. As they’re talking, Clark flat out says: “Dad…I’m so unhappy.” I question the notion of an eight-year-old being that conscious of his own overall happiness, much less being able to vocalize it so concisely. Even if the child in question is Superman. That’s not to say it’s impossible. I just found it odd coming from a child.

On the plus-size, Nick Dragotta and colorist Alex Guimaraes very much deliver an aura akin to Clark’s idealized Kansas childhood. That opening shot of Ma Kent hanging off her young son’s leg (shown above) makes for an awesome hook. There’s also an excellent shot of young Clark looking in a mirror, and then suddenly seeing himself as a Yoda-like space alien (also above). Dragotta’s art very much makes this feel like an eight-year-old’s story, much as I’m sure Tommy Lee Edwards will give next issue’s fight story a certain hormone-enduced rough-and-tumble feel.

At the end of the issue, we get a two-page spread that’s separate from the rest of the story. Drawn by Matthew Clark and titled “Castaways,” it’s simply a workbench covered in artifacts that belonged to the Kents. We see old photos, notes, newspaper clippings, etc. It sets the period well. If I’m not mistaken, we also see a clipped newspaper article about the car accident that killed them both. Certainly an ominous bit of foreshadowing.

Superman: American Alien #1, page 3, Nick DragottaMax Landis and his cohorts may very well be bringing us a much-needed fresh perspective on Superman with American Alien. But I would argue it’s easier to do that with Clark Kent before he puts the cape on. Perhaps if Landis ever gets the chance to write Clark Kent as the Man of Steel, we’ll see just how good he really is. And as far as Superman stories are concerned, I think he has the potential (Key word: Potential.) to be very, very good.

For more Superman, check out Lois and Clark #1, Superman #45, and Superman: The Men of Tomorrow.

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