Ring of Honor and Destination America, Plus, Ponderings From WWE Raw

Ring of Honor, Destination AmericaBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Destination America announces TV deal with Ring of Honor. Show will air prior to TNA’s Impact Wrestling. To say the very least, the news of Ring of Honor airing on Destination America was a shock.

I equate this to TNT announcing that an ECW show would air prior to WCW Monday Nitro. (Obviously that’s a stretch, but you get the idea.) It puts TNA in an extremely awkward position, and doesn’t do anything to dispell the rumors that Impact is being pulled in September. Apparently the TNA talent roster weren’t told anything prior to the announcement, which makes me wonder how much even Dixie Carter and the TNA management team knew.

For wrestling fans who get Destination America, this is great news. But for fans like me who don’t get the network, it’s not so great. I don’t necessarily see this as a huge step up for ROH, considering so many areas still can’t see them. When this announcement was made, I actually tweeted: “So Ring of Honor is going to be on too? Great. This should get them…nothing. Enjoy obscurity, guys!”

TNA Impact Wrestling, Destination AmericaIn retrospect, that’s obviously pretty harsh. Any TV exposure for a wrestling company is good news for wrestling fans. Congrats to Ring of Honor. Take this opportunity and make the most of it!

Thoughts From Raw:

After Elimination Chamber victory, Kevin Owens comes face-to-face with John Cena. So much for Owens’ tenure on Raw being strictly a WWE Network tie-in for Elimination Chamber. If WWE is smart (which depends on what week it is), they’ll keep this guy around. He and Cena have good chemistry, and I’d be happy to see these two take this all the way to Battleground in July.

I think the reason Owens is such a hot commodity right now is because there’s nobody else like him on either the main roster or NXT. He’s got a different look, a different promo style, and a fairly unique presentation. And of course, his wrestling is more than up to snuff. In that sense, he makes for very compelling television.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Kevin OwensAs for this segment, this whole “my son likes John Cena” thing is good enough to take them to Money in the Bank, which, God help us, is less than two weeks away. As Owens got the clean win this week, I expect Cena to get a clean win at Money in the Bank, followed by a rubber match at Battleground.

Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, and Neville announced for Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Kofi Kingston being in this match is actually pretty funny. From an in-story perspective, there’s no reason for him to be there. It’s almost an exposure of WWE’s booking team. They need guys in there who can do high-flying moves with ladders, and Kofi’s a proven commodity in that respect. But when you see that graphic of all six guys in the match, and Kofi’s standing there with a tag title belt, there’s an awkwardness there.

Supposedly more guys are going to be added to this match. I imagine we won’t get more than 8. It might be interesting to see Bray Wyatt involved in a match like this, especially as he’s supposedly in line for a babyface turn. But as for who will win…

WWE Money in the Bank 2015, early ladder match graphicRoman Reigns pulls a 3-peat on Raw, defending his Money in the Bank Ladder Match spot. As Reigns wasn’t in a match at Elimination Chamber, it was a good move to emphasize him on Raw. The San Antonio crowd seemed to be into him, which is nice to see. Hopefully the respect factor is starting to set in, and fans are realizing they changed the course of this guy’s career at Wrestlemania. That’s not to say he deserved the win. But he took the loss in stride.

Hopefully Reigns pulling a 3-peat against King Barrett, Mark Henry, and Bray Wyatt adds to that respect element. They weren’t all fantastic matches, but they guy still put in a long night, to say the least.

Dean Ambrose steals WWE Title from Seth Rollins after being screwed at Money in the Bank. Didn’t they just do this story with Ambrose and the Intercontinental Title during Wrestlemania season? It was an eye-roller for me. Still, it’s nice to see Ambrose walking around with the title. Makes you think a championship win isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Dean Ambrose, Naturally, they’re wrestling again at Money in the Bank, and naturally, it’s a ladder match. Since the ladder match at Wrestlemania, I’m officially of the mindset that WWE does too many ladder matches. They’ve lost their value. They have two pay per views (Money in the Bank and TLC) centered around the damn match. If they absolutely have to have those, then they need to remove all other ladder matches from the calendar year. What’s the point of even having a ladder match if it’s not special anymore?

Ryback wins Intercontinental Title in Elimination Chamber match. This was a big surprise. I’m not sure what this means as far as WWE wanting to make the Intercontinental Title the “worker’s title” again. Considering Ryback is apparently going to defend against The Big Show soon, things aren’t looking good in that respect. But Ryback’s passion is evident when he’s on television every week. So seeing him win the belt has some sentimental value at the very least.

The New Day retain at Elimination Chamber, will likely defend against The Prime Time Players at Money in the Bank. First and foremost, how hot did Titus O’Neil look when he got the hot tag on Raw? That’s a fire I’ve never seen out of him before. Awesome work.

WWE Raw, June 1, 2015, The New DayAs unlikely as it seemed when this act started, The New Day is are now one of the hottest things on Raw, for my money. They’re doing some cool mic work. As much as I’d like to see Titus O’Neil and Darren Young get the win and the titles, I don’t think The New Day is done with them yet. Give ’em until Summerslam at the earliest.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of destinationamerica.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 – Ponderings and Predictions

Elimination ChamberBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hey, didn’t I just do this two weeks ago?

Indeed, 2015 will see a first for WWE: Three pay per views over the course of six weeks. Anybody else remember the days when it was several months between pay per views? Yes, I understand this is strictly being aired on the WWE Network. But it’s still a pay per view quality show that’s being built toward. I still don’t understand why it was scheduled so abruptly. Unless it’s a matter of being at a building that can house the enormous Elimination Chamber. That was why the February pay per view was changed from Elimination Chamber to Fastlane.

Abruptness notwithstanding, they’ve actually put together a pretty good show here. The Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships are being spotlighted inside the chamber, and we’ve got a really intriguing match between the face of the company and one of NXT’s hottest stars. Let’s dive in…

Neville, Bo Dallas, WWE Elimination Chamber 2015Neville vs. Bo Dallas

I’m guessing this is meant to be an enhancement match for Neville. But it’s actually a great opportunity for Bo Dallas. If he can “maximize his minutes,” as they say, he might be able to up his stock on the roster. I’m not as down on the “Bo-lieve” character as a lot of fans are. Bo plays an annoying, high-pitched character who you want to see get his ass kicked by a babyface. There’s value there that goes beyond the comedic throw-away segment. But in any event, Neville picks up the win here.

PREDICTION: Neville

20150517_elimination_EP_LIGHT_HP_matches_divasWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi

It’s great to see Paige back, of course. That means there’s a chance we might see a little bit of decent wrestling here. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Naomi walked away from this match with the title. My distate for all things Bella notwithstanding, the women’s division needs to be freshened up. If they’re not going to pull Charlotte, or Sasha Banks, or any of the NXT girls on to the main roster, then let’s at least change the dynamics up. Naomi cost Paige a shot at the title a few months ago. Having Naomi win the belt, perhaps with Tamina Snuka’s help, creates an organic “you don’t deserve it” angle with Paige. And then Nikki Bella can go…. I’unno, do a reality show somewhere? Do promotional stuff? I really don’t care. Just get her out of the ring and off the mic.

PREDICTION: Naomi

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensJohn Cena vs. Kevin Owens

You can make an argument that this is the most highly anticipated match on the card. Mainstream WWE fans have officially been introduced to Kevin Owens, and he’s made a hell of an impression. Eyes are also being directed to NXT and the WWE Network, which is a good thing. This feels like a one-off to me, as Owens has a lot of other irons in the fire. I don’t see him going over here, but I don’t see him losing cleanly either. This feels like a chance to show WWE fans what Owens can do in the ring, and then introducing them to another NXT star who ultimately costs him the match. I imagine that’ll either be Finn Balor (the number one contender for Owens’ title) or Samoa Joe. WWE has booked one of those great scenarios where, while this match will have a winner, at the end of the day there really won’t be a loser.

PREDICTION: John Cena

Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose, Elimination Chamber 2015WWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose

As much as I love that Ambrose is getting to wrestle Rollins for the title at a big show, I actually wish they’d have saved this match for Money in the Bank. With two Elimination Chamber matches, plus Cena and Owens, plus the fact that this is strictly a WWE Network special, did we really need a WWE Title defense on this show? Why not save it, and give these guys more time to build to a championship match? They still could’ve done something with Rollins and Ambrose. But the title didn’t necessarily have to be on the line. Hell, if you’re just looking for something to do with them, how about Rollins and Kane against Ambrose and Roman Reigns?

Incidentally, are we just dropping the Rollins/Kane feud? They just dropped it after Payback? This network-exclusive show would have been a perfect chance to blow it off.

Rollins goes over here. No big debate over that one. He’s going to make it until Summerslam at least. We’ve got to get him in there with Brock Lesnar.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, Tag Title MatchELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension vs. Los Matadores

Question: Why aren’t Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in this match? We’ve got four babyface teams, and two heel teams. Why not even things up? I’ll tell you this much, I wasn’t exactly clamoring to see Los Matadores inside the chamber.

This match presents a really unique opportunity, but it also seems like there’s a big risk involved. There’ll be a total of 12 bodies in the structure when this match begins, and a total of 14 at play if you count El Torito, and whatever third member of The New Day is hanging around (probably Xavier Woods). So there’s the potential to do a lot of stuff, but it could also become a big mess if things get too crowded. Are people actually going to be tagging in and out during this match? Or is it just going to be a free-for-all?

I imagine we’ll probably see a lot of aerial stuff happening here. There’ll almost certainly be some sort of Kofi Kingston Spider-Man spot, with him clinging to the chamber or something. I imagine they’ll use Kalisto and El Torito for similar things, and that Cesaro will having a strongman spot.

Looking at all the teams in this match, it seems like WWE has a lot more creative options with The New Day, especially given the new life their heel turn has breathed into them. They can work with Kidd & Cesaro and have a great match any night of the week. I’d be interested to see if they have a similar chemistry with The Lucha Dragons. And they might do some nice mic work with the Prime Time Players. So I say let’s give it to The New Day and see where it takes us.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, Intercontinental TItleELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH FOR VACANT WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. King Barrett vs. Ryback vs. ?

Apparently Rusev is out with some sort of ankle injury. This likely nixes their plans do some sort of angle with he, Ziggler, and Lana. Rusev was actually my pick to win here, so the injury screwed up my plans too…

The next in line for a victory is likely Sheamus. They just announced he’s been cast as Rocksteady in the sequel to that abysmal Ninja Turtles movie (I’m a TMNT fan, but that thing sucked.). So there’s some nice publicity value there. Sheamus is also perfectly capable of putting on great matches, which is hopefully what they’re trying to make synonymous with the Intercontinental Title again.

There’s also the chance they could pull a surprise out of their hats and make Rusev’s replacement the champion. But who? The Solomonster pitched NXT star Tyler Breeze, which is interesting. Online reports have pegged Bray Wyatt as a potential replacement, which would be a cool tie-in to Ryback being in the match. The Miz is doing a MizTV segment with Daniel Bryan on the pre-show, so theoretically they could have him suit up for it.

But without knowing who that sixth man is, I’m going with the safe pick. There are certainly worse guys to put the title on than Sheamus. So I’m content with him having it.

PREDICTION: Sheamus

Image 1 from onlineworldofwrestling.com. All other images courtesy of WWE.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

A Review of The Flash, Season 1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Smile

flash_ver2TITLE: The Flash, Season 1
STARRING: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Jesse L. Martin, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh
CREATORS: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns
RATING: TV-PG
NETWORK: The CW
SERIES PREMIERE DATE: October 7, 2014

By Levi Sweeney
Staff Writer, Grand X

I was never drawn to Arrow. It was mostly the ho-hum reviews that I read online, but also because I’m not a huge Green Arrrow fan. Any character done right is worth attention (see Marvel’s Daredevil), but I remained highly skeptical of Arrow, and still do. I watched a couple of episodes on Netflix, and decided it wasn’t worth my time to endure the agony of a crappy first season until it got “really, really good.”

That said, I actually adore The Flash. I looked forward to watching it each week, and I came away from the season finale wanting more. How is it that two shows, both on the CW, both created by similar creative teams, and even occupying a shared universe, managed to make me look at them in wildly different ways?

2060_oriThe Flash stars Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a nerdy young CSI for the Central City Police Department. He’s obsessed with proving the innocence of his jailed father, Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the 1990s The Flash TV series). Henry was convicted years ago of murdering Barry’s mother in a strangely fantastical incident that Barry witnessed as a child. There was a big, yellow streak involved. Then one day, at the activation of the new S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator, things go horribly wrong. There’s an explosion in conjunction with a lightning storm. Barry is struck by lightning while working in his strangely grungy-looking CSI lab.

Barry wakes up from a coma nine months later, being tended by S.T.A.R. Labs personnel Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), and Dr. Caitlyn Snow (Danielle Panabaker), to find that he has super speed, a healing factor, and a need to eat lots and lots of food. His surrogate father, police detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) warns him not to tell his daughter, and Barry’s longtime crush, Iris West (Candice Patton), about what’s going on. Barry soon dons a scarlet costume and works with the S.T.A.R. Labs team to take down delinquent “meta-humans” who also gained powers through the particle accelerator explosion. Meanwhile, Dr. Wells is hiding a deep, dark secret…

Also, Joe’s partner, Detective Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), shows up and begins dating Iris.

The Flash, Arrow, crossoverFrom what I saw of Arrow, the two shows do have a few things in common: They’re both drenched in bathos and melodrama and almost none of the characters look above 30. But aside from that, they couldn’t be any more different. Where Arrow is dominated by soulless and crushing despair, The Flash is the most upbeat TV drama I’ve seen since White Collar. It’s not just the abundance of humor. It’s stories are made to be as fun as possible, with no pretentions of being realistic or serious. After all, how serious can a show about a guy who runs really fast punching criminals be?

Early episodes of the show went with a straightforward police-procedural feel. But as the show got more confident, it eventually transformed into full-blown comic-booky science fiction craziness.

Arguably the two best things about this show are the Joe West and Harrison Wells characters. Joe is just a fun character to watch. He’s so blithely incredulous about the craziness going on around him that it’s impossible not to find him endearing. I love that he’s really the only one who has a problem with Barry and his friends locking up all the meta-humans they capture in a completely illegal private prison. There’s also an actual Tumblr devoted to his unique facial expressions. Joe West reminds me of a more laidback version of Crispus Allen from Gotham Central.

Tom Cavanagh, Harrison WellsThen there’s Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. Cavanagh spends most of the season in a wheelchair, but it’s incredible how subtly he gets his character across. I enjoyed how they played up Wells’ similarities to Joe, in that they’re both father figures to Barry. It all leads up to a great payoff in the end that gives us an excellent performance by Cavanagh as a maniacally evil mad scientist. He’s interesting to watch at all times.

As for other villains, The Flash suffers from a tired “freak of the week” format, but it’s redeemed by a particularly fun group of recurring villains. There are the Rogues, led by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), who deserves special mention. He sounds like he’s channeling Clint Eastwood half the time, but he’s obviously having a lot of fun in the role. Some of the best and craziest episodes of the series involve both he and his fellow Rogues, Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) and Golden Glider (Peyton List). Purcell is probably the hammiest actor on the show next to Mark Hamill’s much-ballyhooed guest star as the Trickster. And who can forget the Reverse Flash the Man in the Yellow Suit?

Granted, The Flash won’t win any writing awards. For instance, the love triangle between Barry, Iris, and Eddie seems contrived at best and creepy at worst. On one hand, there’s no real conflict between Eddie and Barry because they’re both really nice guys. Barry doesn’t want to hurt Iris or Eddie, and those two are completely oblivious to Barry’s feelings. On the other hand, Iris herself said in the first episode that she and Barry were like “brother and sister.” Ick. It didn’t help much when they decided to pair Iris with Eddie. It was a pathetically obvious effort to inject some cheap drama into the plot. Incidentally, Eddie and Iris actually make a pretty good couple.

The Flash, Harrison Wells, Eddie ThawneEddie’s mere presence here is a possible sign that this show was only half-baked when it first went on the air. First we have the Totally-Not-Evil Dr. Wells doing his thing. Then we have some guy whose name is Eddie Thawne, which fans of the comics will know sounds a lot like Eobard Thawne, the alter ego of the Reverse Flash. You’d think that the writers would use this as a gold mine for an intriguing subplot, especially since in the promotional materials Eddie was touted as having a “dark secret.”

But that intrigue of peters out, and Eddie fades into the background as the series goes on, particularly when Team Flash begins dealing with Firestorm. But the finale actually addresses this problem, after much else has been revealed. Believe it or not, it actually works! When the series ends, Eddie is seen in an entirely different light.

For all its faults, The Flash won me over because of one simple truth: It’s fun. The crazy plots, the spectacular, super-powered battles, the silly melodrama, the obligatory DCU references, the self-aware humor. Even the mediocre CGI and other special effects were endearing. Bottom line, if you like superheroes with no pretentions of seriousness (think Thor, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy, with a bit of Batman ’66 thrown in), then you’ll absolutely love The Flash.

Something tells me that DC is beginning to understand that their heroes can afford to smile now and then.

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from rottentomatoes.com. Image 2 from theinsightfulpanda.wordpress.com. Image 3 from theflash.wikia.com. Image 4 from etonline.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Samoa Joe’s Debut, TNA’s Troubles, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

A few things to get to before we talk about Raw

Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, NXT TakeoverSamoa Joe appears at NXT Takeover. Samoa Joe in a WWE ring. I honestly never thought I’d see the day. Not because Joe doesn’t have the talent, but because he clearly doesn’t fit the traditional WWE musclehead mold. The fact that he was signed speaks volumes about the way WWE recruits talent now as opposed to, say, five years ago. He even got to keep his name! He wasn’t renamed or repackaged, which probably has something to do with the nature of the deal he signed. Joe still has some indy dates booked, so perhaps he’ll be repackaged if/when he becomes exclusive to WWE.

If Joe does indeed have a run with NXT, I don’t doubt he’ll be successful. Judging by how quickly Kevin Owens became NXT Champion, it’s not at all unreasonable to imagine similar success for Joe. My question is, how successful would Joe be on the main roster, with Vince McMahon micromanaging his every move? His matches would be good, of course. But would Vince brush him off because of his body type? Actually, I imagine the same question could be posed about Kevin Owens.

Either way, Joe’s arrival in NXT was a huge moment. So many fans, myself included, thought it simply wasn’t in the cards. Congratulations, Joe. You deserve it.

TNA, Destination AmericaDave Meltzer reports that Destination America is planning to cancel all TNA programming affective this September. Lots of controversy over this one, and rightfully so. Supposedly, TNA hasn’t delivered ratings high enough to justify the production costs, and most of Destination America’s advertisers want nothing to do with TNA.

Neither TNA President Dixie Carter, nor Destination America have made any sort of statements regarding potential cancellations, most likely because things haven’t been finalized. Thus, theoretically, TNA could stay on the network if plans change.

This story is just sad. After all that drama last year about TNA finding a new network, this happens. One might even argue that being on Destination America was a detriment to TNA from the start. So many fans simply don’t have access to it. I’m one of those fans, and as such I haven’t seen a new episode of Impact since they left Spike. And just when they’d finally cut ties with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and the show was becoming watchable again.

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, TNAIncidentally, Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey, and Garrett Bischoff suing TNA for unpaid wages certainly isn’t going to help matters.

I want to have hope for TNA. I really do. But things just keep piling on…

Hulk Hogan says he may play a villain in The Expendables 4. I don’t buy it. Not as the main villain, anyway. His contributions to wrestling notwithstanding, Hogan is a notorious liar and BS’er. I’ll believe it when I hear it from someone other than him.

Thoughts From Raw:

Zack Ryder accepts John Cena’s open challenge in his hometown of Long Island. This almost felt like justice for Zack Ryder. This poor guy got buried by the system simply because he got himself over. But at least he got to have a career moment tonight with John Cena. Not that it will matter in the long run, of course. Much like Stardust did, he’ll go right back to jobbing next week. But kudos to Ryder, Cena, and WWE for giving Long Island something special.

As for the cast of  Entourage…meh, whatever. I find it funny that they made a tron video that specifically said “The Cast of Entourage.” I’m just happy we didn’t have to see Jeremy Piven on Raw again. I admired his enthusiasm when he was a guest host. But I still cringe when I think of that “Summerfest” flub.

Dean Ambrose, Raw, May 26, 2015The Authority, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns open and close the show. I fast-forwarded through the first 13 minutes of Raw, simply because I’ve seen this promo time after time, week after week. I pressed play when Dean Ambrose came out, but fast-forwarded again when he didn’t say anything interesting. Ditto for the lead-in to the tag match. I’m begging them to change up the format here.

Ambrose being arrested, taken to jail, and then returning in a police van (I’m not calling it a paddy wagon…) was pretty Stone Cold-esque. But oddly enough, having Ambrose actually wear the police hat and jacket put a pretty cool spin on it. It made it amusing in a way that’s very synonymous with the “Lunatic Fringe” character.

Roman Reigns was a decent supporting player here, but it’s curious that he isn’t involved in Elimination Chamber at all. Isn’t he supposed to be one of their big stars on the rise? I don’t get it.

Lana, Rusev, Raw, May 25, 2015Rusev calls Lana to the ring for an attempt at reconciliation. Jeez, this was a long segment. Rusev’s acting skills have improved immensely since we first saw him, and I suppose he did alright here. But it was ill advised to have him carry an entire talking segment based on things like love, emotional manipulation, etc. I’m wondering if they’ll wind up putting them back together at Elimination Chamber, pulling the ol’ swerve on Dolph Ziggler. Lana and Rusev’s involvement in Ziggler’s match with Sheamus did nothing to dissuade that.

Neville def. Stardust, will face Bo Dallas at Elimination Chamber. This match with Neville is a huge opportunity for Dallas to prove he can be a relevant commodity on the WWE roster. Because let’s be honest: Right now he’s not.

On the subject of relevance, I’m happy he got to interact with Stephen Amell at ringside, as that at least gave him something to do. But he’s worth so much more. The crowds still chant “Cody!” at him, so clearly he’s still over. This seems like another case of WWE not knowing what to do with a character, so a talent goes to waste.

The New Day, Raw, May 25, 2015The New Day compete in a 10-on-3 handicap match. So the idea of a match like this is to make the audience happy that The New Day are getting beat up. I understand that. I just don’t think it’s a good idea. As a fan, it makes me feel sympathy for the guys I’m supposed to dislike. Yes, they walked away with the win. But at least they walked away! They were essentially booked in a mugging! I expect they’ll walk out of Elimination Chamber with the belts as well.

Tamina Snuka def. Paige. It would have been nice to have heard the commentary for this match. But as always, the Bellas at the announce table means instant mute button.

Images 1, 4, 5, and 6 from WWE.com. Image 2 from impactwrestling.com. Image 3 from prowrestling24.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Winnie the Pooh and Me: The T-Shirt Conundrum

Winnie the Pooh, PigletBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve found myself in an awkward situation last week. I was walking into work, and through the back window of a parked car, I spotted a little plush doll of the Olaf character from Frozen. For whatever reason, this planted an idea in the back of my mind. Over the next eight hours, my subconscious mulled and debated over it. Is it necessary? Is it appropriate? Does it even make sense?

In the end, the answer turned out to be yes. At about 10:30 that night, I drove to my local supermarket and found something I knew would be there.

Moments later, I was the proud owner of a $5 Winnie the Pooh plush doll. (The one shown left isn’t it, but you get the idea.) I proceeded to stick it in my back window, in the exact same spot the Olaf doll was housed in the other car. It’s been there ever since. I haven’t told anyone this story, and no one has asked me about it. Not even my wife.

Winnie the Pooh plush dollSo here I am, a 30-something guy with a Winnie the Pooh doll in his car. In truth, I also googled Pooh t-shirts earlier this week. I’m actually considering buying one…

But it seems like that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to be careful with. A grown man wearing a Winnie the Pooh shirt certainly has the potential to be creepy and weird. That perception is fair enough, I suppose. But I’m wondering if it’s worth the risk.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Pooh, of course. He and I go back to when I was a baby. In old pictures, there’s a plush Winnie the Pooh next to a much, much smaller version of yours truly. In later years, Welcome to Pooh Corner (Remember that show? It’s the one with people in costumes. YouTube it.) would be on before grammar school. As recently as a few years ago, I’d be flipping channels and catch myself stuck on My Friends Tigger & Pooh, which was about a little girl who went around the Hundred Acre Wood with the gang and…solved mysteries, for some reason. Maybe it should have been CSI: Pooh Corner.

Pooh even popped up at my wedding reception. Each table was named after a literary character, and featured an accompanying quote. Pooh had a table, which had a quote most people have seen. It’s something to the effect of: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

Winnie the Pooh, Christopher RobinI think the reason I’ve gravitated back to Pooh as an adult is because of what I see as his simplicity and his knack for kindness. He’s not the smartest guy out there, he’s got his share of flaws and weaknesses (such as a knack for “hunny”), and even gets himself in trouble at times. But at his core Pooh has a warm heart, deeply cares for his friends, and doesn’t intentionally put any negativity out into the world. He’s soft spoken, and he’s never mean or cruel. There’s a charming naivety and innocence about him that is synonymous with everything that’s good about being a child. When we reach adulthood, so many of us lose touch with our inner child. And what better embodiment of that inner child will you ever find than Winnie the Pooh?

Also, now that I’m a little older, am married, and likely have kids in my future, I’ve grown rather tired of the idea of being “cool.” I don’t have much use for it anymore. At the risk of sounding sappy or preachy, once you gain a little perspective, you learn that being cool really isn’t important. Being a kind and caring person is. I suppose being in the vicinity of a Winnie the Pooh image is my way of conveying that.

Winnie the Pooh, cutesyBut the world is such a cynical, quick-to-judge place. It always has been, but it seems like that’s the case now more than ever. The last thing I’d want to do is take something so pure, and turn it into something awkward, creepy, or somehow distasteful to people. Normally I don’t necessarily care about this sort of thing, but it seems appropriate here.

Somehow it seems like the key to being a man with a Winnie the Pooh shirt is the proper ratio of cuteness. For instance, the image above is immediately ruled out. If you go around  wearing something that looks like wallpaper in a baby’s room, you’re a creeper no matter how pure your intentions may be.

On the other hand, you really can’t try and take the cool approach with Pooh, because it corrupts his image. I mentioned this to a friend, and they told me about “Gangsta Pooh.” Apparently that’s a thing. It’s rather nauseating, but it’s a thing.

Winnie the Pooh t-shirtSimple and understated is my usual t-shirt M.O., so it seems like Pooh should be no different. At the moment, the shirt shown at right is my leading candidate. It doesn’t beat you over the head with anything. It doesn’t say anything stupid like “100 Acre Wood Gym” or “Pooh’s Wrestling Team,” or whatever. It’s merely the iconic image of the Disney Winnie the Pooh. You see it, you recognize it, and hopefully you get it.

I don’t doubt some people will see my little Pooh project as childish, juvenile, etc. But in a way, that’s the point. There are obviously a lot of things you can’t take with you from childhood to adulthood. But what so many people don’t think about are all the things you can take with you. Things like playfulness, a sense of wonder, and unconditional love. That’s really what this whole Pooh debate is all about. It’s merely a question of the proper conveyance. Sadly, when you’re an adult, that conveyance becomes more complicated than is perhaps necessary.

Image 1 from pooh.wikia.com. Image 2 from disneystore.com. Image 3 from disney.com. Image 4 from wallpapers111.com. Image 5 from zazzle.com.

A Star Wars #5 Review – The Jedi Bounty

Star Wars #5 (2015)TITLE: Star Wars #5
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: John Cassaday
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: May 20, 2015

Need to catch up? Check out Star Wars #4.

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

“I’m never coming back to this planet again.”

Luke said that about Tatooine in the original Star Wars movie, of course. But it turns out you can go home again, and not just to rescue your buddy from Jabba the Hutt. Sometimes you’re looking for answers.

Star Wars #5 brings Luke Skywalker back to Tatooine, hoping to find clues on which path to take next. But our hero is gravely unaware that Darth Vader has sent one of the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunters after the young pilot that destroyed the Death Star. Boba Fett is on Tatooine, and he’s coming for Luke.

Star Wars #5, Boba FettI’ve been pretty critical of Jason Aaron’s work on this series. But in this issue he writes an absolutely bad ass Boba Fett. We find him in the iconic Mos Eisley Cantina looking for leads. When he finds a teen with answers, we see something that rings very true to the Boba Fett character: A capture and interrogation sequence. This man is a ruthless, stone cold killer, and Aaron and Cassaday are able to illustrate that to great satisfaction. They give the sequence more of an edge than we usually see in a Star Wars story. Yet it still feels like the universe we know and love, especially when Fett finishes with him…

This issue is actually a reminder of how sucky it was when they redid Fett’s voice for the Empire Strikes Back DVD. Jason Wingreen had a gravelly, malice-filled, Clint Eastwood-type voice that was perfect for the character. Temuera Morrison had an accent. That’s about it.

I’ve also come to respect the way Aaron writes Luke Skywalker. In this issue, as well as the previous one, Aaron has captured the spirit of that young man who met Yoda in Empire. He’s impatient, impulsive, reckless, and as we saw last issue, immensely frustrated at times. But we still see traces of a great hero and a brave leader. As such, Luke is pretty easy to root for here.

Star Wars #5, 2015, Han Solo, John CassadayThat’s not to say we’ve seen a 180 in Aaron’s writing. This issue also sees Han Solo and Princess Leia scout locations for a new Rebel base using a stolen Imperial shuttle, much like the way they used one in Return of the Jedi. We even get some familiar talk about clearance codes and what not. But that’s not the problem. Aaron gives us some of the angry flirting between Han and Leia that, again, serves as a precursor to Empire. A Han and Leia get into some deep doo doo, as they’re prone to doing, we get the following dialogue…

Leia: “I can’t believe I’m going to die here with you. You are without a doubt the worst smuggler I’ve ever met.”

Han: “Frankly lady, you aren’t much of a Princess.”

Leia: “I hate you.”

Han then kicks over Leia’s sandcastle, prompting her to plop down and cry.

Star Wars #4, Jesus ChristI’m a fan of Han and Leia being next to each other in this series, but the dynamic in their whole love/hate relationship shouldn’t be this stripped down. That’s part of the fun of the whole thing! They dance around it, and then when they finally get close to it, something happens to spoil the moment. C’mon, Jason. Let’s not turn science fantasy’s greatest romance into an episode of Rugrats.

This is the penultimate issue of John Cassaday’s run on Star Wars, which is a shame. This hasn’t been his best work, but he’s given us some memorable stuff. Not the least of which was the awesome pin up from last issue (shown left). Naturally, as the issues have gone on he seems to have found his groove in the Star Wars universe. He’s able to tap into the classic Star Wars characterizations strictly with his art. Case in point, the way he plays with Han Solo’s acting here (shown above). Boba Fett’s body language is also perfectly on point. There are also some little things, like the texture he gives to the robes Luke and the sand people are wearing, and the cracks on the outside of Obi-Wan’s hut. It all lends itself well to the “used universe” concept George Lucas was going for in that first movie.

I’ll be sticking with Star Wars through issue #7 at least, just to see what new penciller Stuart Immonen brings to the table. This series started off on a sour note, but it’s gradually been picking up in quality. I maintain what I’ve said previously, however. If you’re looking for great Star Wars comics, Darth Vader is the place to be.

Images 1 and 2 from author’s collection. Image 3 from comicvine.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

That Game of Thrones Scene, Rape as a Plot Device, and Presentation

Game of Thrones, Sansa, RamsayBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Yeah, so a girl got raped on Game of Thrones this week.

Oh, you’ve heard?

In Sunday’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” Sansa Stark is forced to marry the cruel and sadistic Ramsay Bolton. Subsequently, in an extremely uncomfortable and to many offensive scene, he rapes the virginal Sansa as his servant “Reek” looks on weeping. (It’s worth noting that Reek was castrated by Ramsay last season, in yet another intense, cringeworthy scene.)

This rape scene has resulted in an outcry from viewers disgusted with its graphic nature. Perhaps the outrage was best put into words by Missourri Senator and GoT fan Claire McCaskill, who tweeted that she was done with the series, calling the scene gratuitous, disgusting, and unacceptable. Naturally, there’s been a lot of talk about rape culture in America, and the show’s depiction of over-the-top sex and violence against women.

Sophie Turner, Sansa Stark, Game of ThronesThere’s also the other extreme to consider. Whenever something like this happens to a female character in a popular TV show or movie, a lot of fans get extremely defensive. If you’ve never perused the comments section on a website or a blog, I wouldn’t suggest starting now…

The scene has been defended by episode writer and show producer Bryan Cogman, as well as Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa. Cogman noted Sansa made a brave choice in marrying Ramsay in an effort to return to her homeland, and the character will ultimately have to deal with this terrible incident in future episodes. Turner, oddly enough, told Entertainment Weekly that when she first read the scene, “I kinda loved it.”

For the record, while I do watch Game of Thrones regularly and am caught up on everything, I don’t consider myself an avid fan. I respect the show for the depth that certain characters have, and the pure magnificence of the world it’s brought to life on screen. But at times the violence, especially that of a sexual nature, is a turn off. You can argue that’s the tone George R.R. Martin set in his books, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with staying true to your source material (Though the show has deviated from Martin’s books somewhat.). But when you’re doing a television show, it all becomes much more real. So there’s a delicate balance to be struck in terms of just how much sex and violence you actually show, at the risk of grossing out your audience.

Ramsay Bolton, Game of ThronesAt the risk of angering many an avid GoT fan, I agree that from a presentation standpoint, this rape scene was too far. I’ve never been a victim of sexual abuse. But it definitely comes off as insensitive to viewers who may have been victims, let alone viewers who simply don’t find that kind of thing entertaining. And don’t call me the P.C. Police, because I’m not that guy. But sometimes there is a line you don’t cross, and they crossed it here.

Perhaps things wouldn’t look so bad if GoT doesn’t have such a spotty track record with its treatment of female characters. Female nudity is often a component of the show, as are sex scenes. And of course, we’ve seen female characters killed. But sexual violence against women is the driving issue here.

Over the course of the series, we’ve seen three major instances of rape or sexual assault against major female characters…

– The aforementioned scene with Ramsay and Sansa.
– The season 1 scene with Daenerys and Khal Drogo, where he strips her, and he forces himself on her as she’s in tears.
– The season 4 scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, where he forces himself on her next to the corpse of their son born through incest. (Ick.)

Jaime Lannister, Cersei, rapeThere’s also the infamous “Red Wedding” sequence from season 3, in which a pregnant woman is stabbed in the belly. That’s an image I’ve never been able to remove from my mind…

You can argue that there’s no shortage of violence against men on this show, and that we have indeed seen a man castrated. But it’s not the same, is it? I’d argue this stuff falls under the Women in Refrigerators category, i.e. women being raped or sexually attacked, as a frequent plot device.

Should rape be off limits in the world of entertainment? No. I’d argue nothing should. After all, this is just pretend. But if you’re going to show something tragic that has happened to real people, then when it comes to the presentation you need to have a certain respect for the people that might be in your audience. You certainly don’t want to go back to that same well time and time again, as Game of Thrones has.

I’ve seen certain arguments that the sexual component to this show is very much reflective of what things were like in the middle ages, and that it’s important for the show to represent that.

Game of Thrones, dragonI can only assume they also felt it was important to represent the dragons, white walkers, and magic. Because, you know, they were all the rage during the middle ages…

No matter how much people want to play up the more realistic aspects of Game of Thrones, the bottom line is that it’s a fantasy show. What we saw on television Sunday night came from the minds of various writers, producers, a director, etc. They created this fantasy, and they have the power to change it. So with that in mind, I ask these two simple questions…

1. How necessary was it in the context of the story for Sansa Stark to be raped?

2. If the rape was necessary, did it have to be portrayed in the gratuitous manner that it was? The ripping of the clothes, her crying, Reek watching and crying, etc.

Regardless, it seems the people have spoken. If Game of Thrones wants to stay in the public’s good graces, the showrunners will likely have to keep things less…rapey.

Images 1 and 2 from zap2it.com. Image 3 from vcpost.com. Image 4 from thewrap.com. Image 5 from movieviral.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/