Webcomic Wednesday: Cleopatra in Space

Cleopatra in SpaceTITLE: Cleopatra in Space
CREATOR/AUTHOR/ARTIST: Mike Maihack
INTERNET RUN: August 16, 2009 to October 8, 2012

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

Cleopatra in Space is technically no longer operational, but it isn’t because the author decided to call it quits. It’s because he’s gone beyond the internet and established himself in the comics business outside of a purely internet following. Ladies and gentlemen, Cleopatra in Space is the first webcomic we’ve looked at here which has actually hit the big time.

Cleopatra in Space started off as the hobby of Mike Maihack, a small-time comic artist who liked to draw cats and superheroes. He eventually turned it into more than just a hobby, getting a graphic novel deal with Scholastic. The webcomic serves as the prototype to the graphic novel series, depicting its general tone and containing more-or-less the same characters and plot. It is important as both the foundation of the graphic novels and as a pleasant diversion.

The webcomic’s title almost says it all. Our hero is the teenaged Cleopatra VII, who has been pulled from her native era of 52 BC to the very, very distant future. She is enrolled in a military school where she must learn to the fight off an evil alien race, fulfilling her destiny as the prophesied heroine. When she decides to play hooky, however, that’s where things get interesting. Her mentor, a talking cat named Khensu, is going to have his hands full keeping her out of trouble.

Cleopatra in Space, image 1Drawing inspiration from old B-movies of the space opera persuasion, Cleopatra in Space is a delightfully fun, thoroughly enjoyable read. It’s foremost virtue is the author’s willingness to combine the blatantly silly with the appropriately serious. The core concept of an ancient Egyptian princess fighting evil aliens in space is too charmingly ridiculous not to like!

Cleo is a loveable protagonist, slightly reminiscent of the dorky yet unsinkable Stephanie Brown. She has an unbeatable gumption, the temperament of a not-so-typical teenage girl, and an adorable sense of bravado that is neither exaggerated nor played completely seriously. Cleo belongs to that old-fashioned class of hero, the sort of hero who can throw a punch, tell a joke, and kiss a girl (or guy, in her case). If anything, it’s as if she combines all of the best elements of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo of Star Wars into one hero while still having her own personality.

Also notable is her supporting cast, namely Khensu. I’ve never been particularly fond of cats, but a talking cat who is also a history teacher? Now you’re speaking my language! Khensu has this aura of quiet dignity about him which makes you forget that this is a talking feline in question. He’s the perfect straight-man to Cleo, highlighting the inherent silliness of her character with the even greater silliness of his own.

But for all the fun and silliness that this strip runs on, is still has the capacity for high drama. Khensu’s interview before a council of cat bureaucrats (Bureaucats?), where Cleo is eavesdropping, is a particularly notable scene. It gives exposition in a justified, engaging way, develops Khensu, and demonstrates Cleo’s range of emotion. I’m not sure if this faucet carries over to the graphic novels, but I’d love to find out.

Cleopatra in Space, image 2The first few strips, drawn in black and white, start off slow. But once things get into color, that’s the signal that the strip is about to become quality. The art itself is well-suited to the tone Maihack is communicating, with the soft lines, bright colors, and cartoony atmosphere. The fact that Maihack is able to use his art to set a diverse array of emotions is a mark of his understated talent.

All told, the webcomic version of Cleopatra in Space may be confined to the internet, but it is nevertheless worth reading. If nothing else, it is a wonderful preview for the graphic novel series. The official preview for the first book in the Cleopatra in Space graphic novel series, Target Practice, is available on Maihack’s official site. If you want to help get your kids interested in comics, or reading in general, this is exactly the sort of thing you should draw their attention to.

Images courtesy of cowshell.com

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Hulk Hogan’s Racist Rant, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Hulk Hogan, modernBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s tough not to feel sorry for Hulk Hogan at this point.

We’re several days removed from a piece of the verbal transcript from Hulk Hogan’s sex tape, of all things, being released. I won’t put it up here, but it’s filled with the N-word, in the context of men his daughter Brooke might have been dating at the time. Subsequently, the media has been all over Hogan, and he has been released from his WWE contract.

Needless to say, that kind of racist language in 2015 is unacceptable in any context. I can’t say I feel sorry for Hogan in that respect.

Where my sympathy comes in is the way fame, and ultimately greed, have destroyed the real-life Terry Bollea and his family. In the past 10 years we’ve seen this man divorced and dragged through the mud by his wife of over two decades, stuck in the center of the infamous scandal involving his son Nick and the Graziano family, exposed via the release of a sex tape, and now this.

Hulk Hogan, Susan G. Komen For the CureOne of the truly sad things about all this is that on the surface, Hogan seemed to have finally arrived at a secure, content place in his life. He’d settled into an ambassador role with WWE, and had developed a public persona that was perhaps more dignified, as he worked with organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and made rare television appearances for WWE.

And now, he’s culturally blacklisted.

In the end, I can only hope that Terry Bollea doesn’t truly hold this kind of racial hatred in his heart. If he does, than he’s truly someone to be pitied. Some things are worth more than one’s professional life or public image…

Thoughts From Raw:

Undertaker and Brock Lesnar absent from Raw. Not a big surprise that neither man was on TV this week. Last week was so good that it’d be a shame to water it down with too many appearances by these guys. For my money, we were actually getting to a point where Brock was on TV too much. Nothing tarnishes a “special attraction” like too much TV time.

The Undertaker, WWE RawSome fans have been lamenting WWE bringing in Undertaker to sell Summerslam, while they cut the legs out from under talents like Cesaro and Kevin Owens. That’s a fair point, to be certain. But does anybody actually doubt that Lesnar vs. Undertaker will attract more fans than say, Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins? If I’m a WWE guy (or girl), I’m taking advantage of those additional eyes on Summerslam, and doing everything I can to stand out from the pack. I won’t deny that the talent pool might be getting a bad hand here, especially considering Lesnar is also a part-time guy. But what other choice do they have at this point than to simply do their best?

WWE announces Summerslam will be four hours long. I’m in favor of this, so long as they use the extra time well. Either give the midcard some extra time to show off, or give some pay per view matches to talents that might not normally get it (See Stardust and Neville below.). As we see with Raw every week, more time isn’t always a good thing. I it gives the show a little more room to breathe, it could work out for the better.

John Cena def. Seth Rollins, Cena suffers broken nose during match. Um, ouch. Hey, on the bright side, nothing adds drama to a match like a little blood. And to his credit, Cena took a moment or two to get his bearings, but then got right back into the swing of things. The guy’s a champion, like him or not.

John Cena, Seth Rollins, WWE Raw, July 27, 2015As for the booking of the match, I never understand why they do this kind of thing. The idea is obviously to have Rollins go against Cena at Summerslam. So why put them against each other on free TV? Granted, they’ve wrestled a bunch of times on Raw in the past. But it’s been quite awhile. Why remind the audience they’ll be paying for something they could easily get on Raw?

Sasha Banks def. Paige. Charlotte & Becky Lynch def. The Bella Twins. I’ll say this for the so-called “Divas Revolution,” it has me interested in the women’s segments for the first time in quite awhile. We saw some really nice wrestling from Paige and Sasha Banks in particular tonight. If they ever decided to put two girls in the main event of Raw again, this match could be a great candidate.

To their credit, all these ladies look like they’re trying to make the most of this added emphasis. Naturally, some of them are a bit better equipped for that than others (Read: Paige and the NXT girls.)…

Bray Wyatt officially welcomes Luke Harper back into The Wyatt Family. Like a lot of Bray Wyatt’s promos, this one went on a little too long. Particularly when he started talking about his “pet.” But once he gave the mic to Harper, the segment regained some of its life. Ironically, giving Harper a little bit of Bray’s spotlight is what they should have done before he was set free.

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, July 27, 2015At this point, it looks like we’re headed toward a straight up tag team match at Summerslam. pitting Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against The Wyatt Family. If they are going to make it a six-man involving Sting, we’ll need to see a new Wyatt Family member added sooner rather than later. Bo Dallas, the real-life brother of Wyatt, seems like the obvious choice. It’s not like he’s doing a lot these days…

Dean Ambrose takes a beating from The Big Show. I liked the underdog chemistry Ambrose had with Show here. If the plan is to add him to the Intercontinental Title picture, I certainly won’t complain. Adding Ambrose to just about anything guarantees a little bit of added fuel to the fire. Good thing, too. The flame on this Ryback/Big Show/Miz was fizzling out quickly.

Neville def. Fandango, Stardust cuts a promo on him. The hero/villain angle between Neville and Stardust could be mildly compelling, I suppose. But was anybody else frustrated with Stardust’s promo? I couldn’t hear half of it because he kept speaking in that hushed tone. C’mon, Cody! You might be working toward a Summerslam match, here! Speak up!

WWE 2K16, TerminatorArnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character revealed as pre-order bonus for WWE 2K16 video game. Let’s just hope they don’t add the Wrestlemania XXXI version of Triple H as Terminator. You remember, right? That was the robot that, for whatever reason, was booked to go over Sting. Hell, even Robocop didn’t do that. And that was in WCW!

Stone Cold Steve Austin to interview Paige on the next “Stone Cold Podcast.” Paige is an odd choice for this spot. There are a lot of much better candidates. Just a few off the top of my head: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, or even Nikki Bella. How is Austin interviewing Paige going to attract new network subscribers? Where’s the intrigue? It  seems like a waste of a perfectly good network special to me.

Image 1 from bleacherreport.com. Other images from WWE.com.

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A Superman/Wonder Woman #19 Review – Bullets That Don’t Bounce

Superman/Wonder Woman #19TITLE: Superman/Wonder Woman #19
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 15, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

More than any visual we’ve seen since the Truth storyline began in the Superman books, this issue shows us a powerful, haunting image that may stay with readers for awhile.

The Suicide Squad (Harley Quinn, Deadshot, among others) are the latest to take a shot at the bullseye on Superman’s back now that he’s powered down and his identity his public. Thankfully, he’s got some powerful back up in Wonder Woman. This brawl, which takes place in a cemetery of all places, will have dramatic repercussions. And it will force Clark to take dramatic action.

Sadly, fight itself isn’t much to get excited about. It feels largely disjointed, and it’s filled with hokey dialogue. Peter Tomasi is one of my favorites, but the early part of this issue is a miss. Things get interesting, however, when Deadshot sees an opening and takes it. He riddles Superman with what are apparently specially crafted bullets. Clark’s skin is still super-strong, but it’s not what it was. Thus, for the first time, we see the Man of Steel severely wounded by Earth-made artillery…

Superman/Wonder Woman #19, bullet woundsThe image of a shirtless Superman with all these wounds and markings and scars on his skin is haunting. The image of bullets harmlessly bouncing off the Man of Steel’s chest is so iconic, that to see him sustain this kind of damage from them hits home. And that’s before we see Diana literally pulling them from his flesh. This also gives us an interesting indication of just how de-powered Superman is. We are, after all, still missing certain answers regarding his exact state of being.

This is the first opportunity I’ve had to talk about Wonder Woman’s new costume, so I’m going to take it, despite Tomasi and Mahnke not being the ones who created it. This suit is a David Finch creation. And like most things David Finch draws, this costume is way too dark. Why so much black? I understand the temptation to cover Diana up a bit more, but putting her in so much black is overkill. It reeks of a creative team trying too hard to reinvent the wheel.

Considering Wonder Woman’s role as an ambassador for the Amazons, the end of this issue could have interesting implications for her going forward, as well as her relationship with Clark. Things have certainly changed for our heroes as of late. And while not every creative team has handled that change well, to their credit, Tomasi and Mahnke have.

Image 1 from gamenewshq.com.

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An Ant-Man Review – Cartoony, But Still Quality

Ant-Man (2015)TITLE: Ant-Man

STARRING: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, and Michael Douglas
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
STUDIO: Marvel

RATING: PG-13

RUN TIME: 117 Minutes
RELEASED: July 17, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

The character of Ant-Man is blessed with slightly more fame and prestige than the Guardians of the Galaxy, but retains an inherent aura of silliness about him. Simply put, how does a superhero whose primary power is shrinking himself down to ant-size actually get anything done? Fortunately, Ant-Man embraces that aura with every ounce of energy it has, and combines it with the trappings of a heist movie. The result is probably the most original superhero film ever made.

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a recently released cat-burglar who’s trying to go straight. He tries to find honest work. Meanwhile, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is rattled to discover that his former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is developing his own version of the Ant-Man technology for military applications. Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) wind up recruiting Scott to don the Ant-Man suit and to “break into a place and steal some s—” one last time.

Ant-Man, image 1From the very beginning of the film, a tone is established that hasn’t been set since Iron Man. Instead of dramatic orchestral music, there’s fast-paced Mexican salsa music. It’s there from the very start. Scott and Luis are bantering back and forth, setting up jokes and keeping the air light. Hank Pym is an older scientist and retired superhero with a chip on his shoulder, sort of like Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond. The sheer life that Rudd and Douglas bring to their respective roles practically reverberates off the screen.

Iron Man was notable for combining action with comedy. If Iron Man did it a little, Ant-Man does it a lot. There are so many moments that are genuinely hilarious, often involving sight gags and dramatic irony. Likewise, the comedic atmosphere brought on by Rudd, Douglas, Pena, and the other bit-players infuses the entire movie with this fun, silly, unabashedly humorous vibe. Douglas in particular is a great straight man to Rudd, as is a special guest Avenger who briefly shows up in the middle of the movie as part of a silly interlude.

Ant-Man, image 2There are two specific actors who are particularly notable for different reasons. First, Evangeline Lilly, who plays Hope Van Dyne, brings a great deal of emotion to her role, nicely rounding out the cast with Rudd and Douglas. She has plenty to do and contributes to the story, in much the same way that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Pots did in the Iron Man movies. Her romantic subplot with Scott is partly played for laughs, which is a pretty good way to handle it.

And then there’s Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yellowjacket. Cross is probably the most cartoonishly evil villain ever to walk on screen in an MCU film. He tortures cute-looking sheep. He openly complains about his company not being able to partake in blatantly illegal activities. He casually vaporizes people who may slightly hinder his plans. Oh, and he does business with Hydra cronies.

Ant-Man, image 3, Darren CrossI could write a whole review about how this movie is decidedly anti-corporation and anti-weapon, but I think I’ll let the audience find out for themselves. Cross here is just a Lex Luthor knock-off, with Corey Stoll apparently aping Kevin Spacey’s take on that character in Superman Returns. There’s an attempt to make Cross look like a victim of Pym’s neglect. It’s implied that his work with the Yellowjacket formula is messing with his brain, but there’s no foreshadowing at all. Cross is an evil jackhat at the beginning and an evil jackhat at the end.

But all told, Ant-Man manages to impress me in a way that few other superhero movies have. I got some good laughs, I was entertained and had fun, and it made me eager to see what a sequel would be like. Paul Rudd is great as Ant-Man, as is Evangeline Lilly as Hope. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Michael Pena as Luis know how to pull their weight too. As a quick heads-up, there are two after credits sequences. One is at the end of the fancy credits sequence, and the other is at the end of the regular credit sequence. Moviegoers, be aware!

RATING: 8/10

Images 1 and 2 from rottentomatoes.com. Image 3 from geeksofdoom.com.

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An Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 Review – The Right Ending

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
AUTHOR: Dan Slott
PENCILLER: Adam Kubert
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 1, 2015

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

While my knowledge of Spider-Man stories is, at best, limited even I have enough knowledge of the Spidey mythos to know that The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 brings Spider-Man in an incredible new direction which is both innovative and compelling.

This issue focuses on how Peter Parker is happily living with his wife Mary Jane and daughter Annie. He’s balancing his family time with his crimefighting life, and things are looking up for our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But all is not well for long. Daredevil and Iron Fist are MIA! The Avengers are spooked about some Lex Luthor knock-off! There’s a prison break at Ryker’s Island! Worst of all, Spider-Man’s deadliest enemy has targeted the wall-crawler’s loved ones. Will our hero save the day?

I was pleased to find out that little knowledge of the ever-controversial One More Day story is required to enjoy this comic. I know enough to understand that this is the Spider-Man story  fans have been waiting for since that odious storyline was published. Nor is Secret Wars itself required reading, as proudly proclaimed on the first page.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1, interiorBeyond that, this issue gets nearly everything right. Peter Parker stays in character, given the new situation. Mary Jane and the rest of Spider-Man’s supporting cast are used well, though the latter are not featured prominently. The real villain of this issue, revealed about halfway through, is a perfect choice for the antagonist. I won’t say who it is for the sake of spoilers, but I will say that it would be a very different tone and even plot if it were anyone else.

Mary Jane in particular is more than Peter’s love interest, to the point of almost being a second lead. She uses her head to do something useful, to help protect her child and to help Peter to save both their skins.

Most of this issue consists of laying groundwork for what’s to come. In the mix of all that, however, is one wild card that hasn’t been seriously pondered since the end of The Clone Saga in the 90s: Annie Parker. The idea of Peter Parker going on to start his own family isn’t entirely new, as evidenced by Spider-Girl several years ago. However, this issue lays the groundwork for a story that’s never been told before. The aforementioned Spider-Girl was focused on the titular character, while here, the story is centered on Peter himself.

The thing about Spider-Man is that he grows as the story grows. As he gets older, and naturally progresses into new phases of life, new thematic factors present themselves to be utilized in the comics. It was only when an attempt was made to turn the clock back via editorial mandate that problems occurred, resulting in a bad reaction from the fans.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1, image 2In this case, Peter is adapting to new changes in his personal life, which influence his character development in this issue. The no-kill rule, with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility, etc., are all challenged by the events of the issue, to great effect. As Pete says via internal monologue in the last pages of this issue, “That was the day I learned what trumps great power… …An even greater responsibility.”

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows promises to be an imaginatively groundbreaking series which I will continue to follow. It not only brings back the Peter/MJ dynamic that we all know and love, but it throws in some refreshingly new takes on cornerstones of the Spider-Man mythos. Most importantly, Dan Slott, does all of these things quite well, not missing a single beat. A definite must-read.

Image 1 from thepunkeffect.com. Image 2 fromcomicbookrevolution.com.

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Webcomic Wednesday: Black and Blue

Black and Blue pg 15-1TITLE: Black and Blue
CREATOR/WRITER/ARTIST: Jason Clarke
ONLINE DEBUT: August 19, 2014

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

In the forward to Gotham Central, Vol. 2: Jokers and Madmen, Duane Swierczynski stated that noir essentially means “screwed.” That is to say, you can tell a story is noir if everyone is headed for a decidedly unpleasant ending, or at least not a happy one. By this definition, “screwed” described Gotham Central pretty well, and it describes Black and Blue even better.

Black and Blue is a fairly recent webcomic, and like many of the comics featured in this column, rather obscure. It depicts a sci-fi/noir world, where foul-mouthed gangsters walk alongside robot thugs. The inciting incident sees a woman try to escape from some kind of imprisoned labor by cutting off her own head and sending it somewhere. This spins into a sequence of events that slowly bring together a spiderweb of characters, from a pair of dirty cops, to a hapless bike messenger named Owen, to a local criminal gang.

The main draw of Black and Blue is its devotion noir style storytelling. Noir itself isn’t so much a genre as it is a visual style, but the elements of classic noir films are pervasive throughout the entire comic. The titular colors dominate this comic’s cover palette (with occasional bursts of red blood), giving it a very noir-like look. As a result, Black and Blue is one of the most creatively stylish webcomics I’ve ever read.

Black and Blue pg 41-1Black and Blue isn’t just beautiful to look at, but also has a quite compelling story. Mixing in a decidedly bizarre sci-fi concept is a clever way to make the story memorable, but the story doesn’t stand on that leg alone. Each of the large cast of characters has something that makes them stand out. For instance, Unger, a loanshark/butcher who Owen’s father owes money to, has a jovially sadistic feel to him. Virgil, one of the aforementioned robot thugs, is a total jackhat whose trigger-happy mentality and loud mouth nearly get him killed. Not your typical portrayal of a robot, eh?

Owen himself is a very morose, sympathetic character, stuck working for, in his words, “terrible people.” He really is a proper anti-hero. He’s not particularly brave or tough or clever or good-looking, but he has a gumption and sense of morality about him that keeps him going. He’s probably the only genuine good guy in the  story, which I believe is the point. He has my vote for the one guy in the noir story who gets the happy ending.

Another thing about this comic is that it is how incredibly intense it is. Just when you think things are slowing down, and you think you know what’s going on, something happens which turns everything on its head. You think you know how the story is going to unfold, and then you’re left in the dust. This is usually accomplished by introducing a new character, but that’s where my one criticism of Black and Blue comes in.

Black and Blue pg 90Black and Blue‘s large cast keeps getting larger. We’re introduced to a higher-up called Seagull, a back-alley doctor of some kind with a connection to the woman from the inciting incident, and a hired gun with a TV for a head. I have this feeling that eventually Jason Clarke might write himself into a corner, and when we finally get the big payoff, it will fall flat as Clarke rushes to pull everything together. However, I remain optimistic about his ability to tell this story well. The strands of the story are slowly coming together, and I believe that given time, it will weave itself into a beautiful tapestry.

Clarke himself is an obscure talent who deserves some spotlight. He’s actually putting up issues of Black and Blue for sale in a digital format. I don’t know how that will correspond to the webcomic itself, but I’m glad that he’s getting his work out in other ways. I sincerely believe that if his webcomic had a more solid marketing approach (i.e. Twitter, etc.) he could easily generate a more prominent following.

Black and Blue demonstrates the potential of one of what I am sure are many strong talents out there. It combines stylish art with engaging storytelling and memorable, believable characters that keep you interested. Any comic that reminds me of Gotham Central is worth a look-see. However, I will warn that it contains frequent strong language in addition to some graphic violence, including blood and gore. It may draw inspiration from classic noir, but in these respects, it is quite dissimilar.

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Talking Dead, and Other Ponderings From WWE Battleground and Raw

The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, WWE Raw, 07/20/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Battleground and Raw:

The Undertaker costs Brock Lesnar the WWE Championship at Battleground. Wrestlemania XXX rematch to take place at Summerslam.

How ironic. The way to breathe some new life into Raw was to bring in the Dead Man.

I’m not sure how much fan desire there’s been to see The Undertaker face Brock Lesnar again. A potential Undertaker/Sting match is what’s been on a lot of people’s minds. But for my money, an Undertaker/Lesnar rematch was inevitable, so long as ‘Taker is healthy enough to hang with the ultra-physical Lesnar. From a storyline perspective, Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. Something that defined ‘Taker’s legacy more than anything else he’s done. So at some point, we needed a revenge angle, or at least something with ‘Taker and Brock before one of them left.

Having Undertaker cost Lesnar the match with Rollins at Battleground was probably the best non-finish they could have done. Rollins was leaving with the title either way. And Undertaker’s promo on Raw was excellent. Oddly enough, the best part was that little growl he let out at the very start. Bone chilling.

The Undertaker, Raw, 09/20/2015The brawl between Lesnar and ‘Taker was classic WWE. It’s something we’ve seen a million times. But I won’t complain. Hearing Lesnar shout “I’ll kill you!” at ‘Taker a few times was hilarious. And you know what? I believe him…

Going into Summerslam, my question is: What’s the finish? Who wins? It doesn’t make much sense to have Brock, the biggest babyface in the company, lose to ‘Taker. So I’d have to assume that someone’s going to cost ‘Taker the match to set up a Wrestlemania bout. So we may know more about ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania XXXII match sooner than we thought.

In any event, the presence of a healthy Undertaker brings a much needed epic feel to both Raw and Summerslam. But now the question is, how do they keep some of that momentum going as we head into fall?

Charlotte def. Brie Bella, Paige & Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks & Naomi. I haven’t had a chance to talk about the “Divas Transformation” yet. So let’s get into it…

Charlotte, Brie Bella, Raw, 09/20/2015Tonight was the first time I had any interest in not one, but two women’s wrestling matches on Raw in quite some time. That’s not because women’s wrestling isn’t interesting or fun. It’s simply that I, like many others, have simply been waiting for good women’s wrestling in WWE. Not to mention some new faces. For months it’s been The Bella Twins, over and over again.

The additions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch to the main roster have the potential to be a huge breath of fresh air. It’s obviously something NXT fans have been clamoring for over the last several months. It adds a great deal of intrigue to a division that has been void of it for the longest time.

Between her victory in the triple threat match at Battleground, and her solid match with Brie Bella this week, the world has definitely gotten to see what Charlotte is made of. That’s a great thing, as she’s potentially the diamond in the rough here. I’m not sure what WWE is aiming for with these teams of three. But either way, we’re introducing new faces, and attempting to make new stars. It’s hard to find much fault in that, at least at this juncture.

WWE Raw, 09/20/2015, Seth Rollins, John CenaJohn Cena confronts Seth Rollins on Raw. So this is what they’re doing with Rollins at Summerslam, huh? A title unification match with Cena. Eh, that’s fair enough, I guess. Having two midcard titles isn’t the end of the world, but I’ll admit it is a little redundant. It’s a bit of a shame, though. After so many years, the United States Title finally means something. A World Title vs. US Title match actually has a big match feel to it. And now the latter is going away…

I suppose the upside here is that now WWE will have a chance to finally add up the importance of the Intercontinental Title. Though to do that, I suspect they’ll have to get it away from Ryback and The Big Show.

Cesaro positioned as babyface in Raw main event, teams with John Cena and Randy Orton. Gee, we’re only a year and a half late on this one. Cesaro doesn’t fit the traditional WWE superstar mold, in that he isn’t an amazing talker. But what he lacks in vocal skills, he makes up for in wrestling skills. To use a very broad analogy, he’s in the same category as guys like Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Daniel Bryan.

WWE Raw, 07/20/2015If they’re looking for a pair of guys to reinvigorate the Intercontinental Title this fall, they need look no further than Cesaro and Kevin Owens. They can do what Daniel Bryan was supposed to do after Wrestlemania, and make that belt the “worker’s title” again.

Bray Wyatt reunites with Luke Harper to defeat Roman Reigns at Battleground. Not a huge surprise, here. After all, Harper and Erick Rowan had already reunited before the latter got injured. Why they even broke The Wyatt Family up to begin with is still a mystery to me. What did these men do as individuals that they couldn’t have done as a group?

The buzz is that at Summerslam it’ll be Wyatt, Harper, and someone else against Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Sting. That’s a hell of a six-man tag, and a chance at some redemption for Sting. Yet another unsolved mystery is why he lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania. What good did that do for either man?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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