A Star Wars #7 Review – How to Un-Train Your Jedi

Star Wars #7 cover, John CassadayTITLE: Star Wars #7
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: Simone Bianchi. Cover by John Cassaday.
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 29, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This issue covers some really interesting ground that Star Wars media rarely touches: Obi-Wan Kenobi’s exile on Tatooine, and the agony he faces when he’s forced to stop being a hero.

Set a few years after Revenge of the Sith, this issue sees Mos Eisley in the midst of the “Great Drought.” Thugs working for Jabba the Hutt are ravaging the city stealing precious water from moisture farmers. And Obi-Wan Kenobi, once a great Jedi Knight, is forced to stand by and do nothing, for fear of exposing his identity. In Kenobi’s own words: “As hard as it was to become a Jedi…it was even harder to stop being one.”

Star Wars #7, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Simone BianchiThe contrast between how Simone Bianchi and John Cassaday draw Obi-Wan at this stage in his life is worth noting. On the cover, Cassaday goes the Alec Guinness route. The character doesn’t look like Guiness did in his pre-Star Wars career, but the art is clearly an attempt by Cassaday to de-age Guinness’ portrayal of the Kenobi character. Odd as it may sound, it works. As a longtime Star Wars fan, it evokes memories of how i imagined Obi-Wan might look in the prequels.

Bianchi, on the other hand, has a more neutral take. It doesn’t necessarily evoke Guinness or Ewan McGregor. But what it does evoke is great emotion. Bianchi makes great use of both shadow and expression to show us the character’s agony and loneliness, particularly on pages like the one above. There’s also fantastic panel with Obi-Wan simply sitting in the darkness of his hut, all alone. There’s a single text box that reads: “Ben the relic.”

From a writing perspective, my biggest complaint deals with a piece of Obi-Wan’s inner monologue early in the issue. It goes: “By the time of the great drought it had been years since I touched a lightsaber.” I don’t like that line. The overemphasis on lightsabers, as established in the prequels, has always bothered me. The idea that Obi-Wan references the lightsaber so readily when refering to his days as a Jedi harkens back to that, in my opinion. Thankfully, Aaron actually cancels out this problem by having Obi-Wan not actually use a lightsaber until the end of the book. This may be his best issue yet.

STar Wars #7, Simone Bianchi, Ben KenobiWhile the notion of Obi-Wan having a diary does have a bit of a hole in it, it’s a cool concept for a one-off every now and again. The “Ben Kenobi” era lasted about 18 years, and it’s very fertile ground for storytelling. Hopefully Aaron has at least a few ideas for future journal stories. Though with the recent revelation of Sana Solo, I doubt we’ll see another one for at least six months.

Image 1 from fanboysinc.com.  Image 2 from comicvine.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: HGTV, Aurora in Pink, and The Mockingbird Saga

House Hunter's InternationalBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

1. HGTV and Stress Porn

Mrs. Primary Ignition loves HGTV. She’ll often put it on while we’re in bed at night, and one or both of us is trying to doze off.

I hate HGTV. There, I said it.

If you’re a newlywed who hopes to be in the market for a house in the near future, HGTV is like stress porn. Plus, that network only seems to have one show. It’s on every time she flips to it: House Hunters International. Each episode takes a couple that wants to buy a homes, documents them being shown three locations, and then they pick one at the end.

Judging from the prices on some of these houses, and how finnicky some of the people are, this seems more like Yuppie TV than HGTV. As I write this there’s an episode on about a couple relocating to Guatemala. Words like “serenity,” “stunning,” and “paradise” are being tossed around. The first house they’re looking at is along the lake, with a bathroom overlooking three volcanoes. But the wife is worried the place might be too spacey…

I’ve actually been to Guatemala. About nine years ago I did some charity work there (Shout out to Potter’s House International.). I helped build homes for Guatemalans. They were shacks made of sheet metal. For people who lived either on or near a landfill. They dug through garbage on a daily basis.

But hey, it was still a landfill in paradise, right?

This is just proof we have too many channels…

Aurora in Pink, Pop! Vinyl2. Aurora in Pink

Last week I was tasked with buying presents for a five-year-old. She wanted some of those Pop! Vinyl figures you see everywhere, with the big black eyes. One of them was Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. And she specifically had to be wearing a pink dress. The item was described to me as: “Aurora in Pink.”

Perhaps this was just a byproduct of me watching too much Craig Ferguson on YouTube, but that wording struck a chord with me. “Aurora in Pink” kind of sounds like something ladies have…doesn’t it? How the hell was supposed to go to a store and ask for that?

“Excuse me, I’m looking for Aurora in Pink.”
“You and me both, pal.”

Thankfully, Hot Topic had several in stock. Oddly enough, the other one my young friend wanted was Sadness from Inside Out. That’s another odd pairing. The discovery of Aurora in Pink isn’t normally accompanied by Sadness…is it?

Go Set A Watchman3. The Mockingbird Trilogy

Go Set A Watchman has been out for awhile now. Haven’t read it. Don’t intend to.

The backstory on that book is that it was allegedly Harper Lee’s first draft for To Kill A Mockingbird. Fittingly, many reviewers say it reads as such. The book has sparked controversy over its portrayal of an older Atticus Finch, as well as allegations of elder abuse, and the manipulation of the 89-year-old Lee to get the book published.

Earlier this year, Lee’s literary agent said the book was originally intended to be the final installment in a trilogy, with Mockingbird being the first book, and a second shorter book between them.

I’m very reluctant to accuse anybody of abusing or tricking someone who might be vulnerable. But that does sound like BS, doesn’t it? A Mockingbird trilogy? Really?

I know trilogies aren’t a new thing, and that three is a psychologically satisfying number. But considering how bereft we are of fresh ideas these days, trilogies more prevalent than ever. So much so that it’s obnoxious. Suzanne Collins just had to write three Hunger Games novels. Ditto for Veronica Roth and the Divergent series. Did we really need Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy? And in Hollywood it’s even worse. The Hobbit, The Hangover, The Matrix, Christopher Nolan’s Batman flicks, etc.

Harper LeeI refuse to believe that Harper Lee, the woman who refused to release another book for over 60 years, intended for her grand literary masterpiece to be the first in a goddamn trilogy.

Now, if the book were written and published today? Maybe. Today everybody’s looking for the next big blockbuster book series, a la Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, so they can make a bunch of movies and rake in a bunch of money. To Kill A Mockingbird would instead be The Mockingbird Saga, Part I. Think of the casting choices!

Woody Harrelson as Atticus Finch!

Robert Pattinson as Boo Radley!

Shailene Woodley as Scout Finch!

And poor Tom Robinson? Why, Kevin Hart, of course!

Image 1 from crissle.tumblr.com. Image 2 from popvinyls.com. Image 4 from forbes.com.

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A Batman #43 Review – The Pixar/Jim Gordon Connection

Batman #43 (2015)TITLE: Batman #43
AUTHOR: Scott Snyder
PENCILLER: Greg Capullo
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 12, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead for Batman #43, as well as the Batman: Endgame storyline.***

Amnesia, huh? Could’ve been worse, I suppose. After all, he was dead.

Wayne Industries developed much of the tech in Jim Gordon’s Batsuit. So when Gordon decides he wants to get some extra suit time in without being monitored, he comes to Bruce Wayne (I mean, why else would he seek out Bruce?). But Bruce, who is mysteriously alive despite the events of Endgame) refuses. This leaves Gordon to take on a new villain, Mr. Bloom. But Gordon is woefully unprepared to face Bloom. And he’s not the only one…

The major development to come out of this issue is that we finally learn how and why Bruce is alive, and why he isn’t Batman any longer. We’re told that following his death in Batman #40, Dionesium (a magic chemical Snyder created during Endgame) seeped into his fractured skull, healing him, but leaving him without the memory of his parents’ death, his training, or his time as Batman. Thus, Bruce no longer has a “shadow” over his life. And he no longer wishes to. He instead chooses to work with his old flame Julie Madison, helping underprivileged youth in the city.

batman43_5Oddly enough, we learn this via Alfred explaining it to a visiting Clark Kent. Clark is a fine choice for this scene, but it does leave one wondering what Barbara Gordon, or perhaps Damian, might have been like in that scene.

It’s also worth nothing that no mention is made of The Joker during the exposition of how Bruce came back. So it’s likely that he was effected by the Dionesium as well, and as such will forget Bruce was Batman. They also present a way to reintroduce the old memories back into Bruce’s mind. So within the span of one issue, Snyder and Capullo have explained how Bruce survived, how The Joker likely survived, set up an interesting journey for Bruce to go on, and given us a way to bring the old Batman back. All this while introducing Mr. Bloom. Not too bad, gentlemen. Not bad at all.

Batman $43, Greg Capullo, sharksAs if that weren’t enough, we also get a pretty cool action sequence in this book, in which Gordon gets in a firefight with a group of gangsters, and in the process a shark tank is shattered. In true cop fashion, Gordon goes for cover, and winds up ducking behind one of the “beached” skarks, who happens to have sunk his teeth into one of the gangsters. It’s an extremely bizarre visual to see Batman firing a projectile weapon at criminals from behind a shark. But it works. And much credit goes to inker Danny Miki and colorist FCO Placencia for the tremendous contrast between shadow and bright color. As shown above, we’re able to really feel the impact of some of those batarangs. Particularly one that hits the guy in the damn eyeball…

The verdict is still out on our villain, Mr. Bloom. He’s got sort of a hybrid Poison Ivy/Scarecrow thing going on. I do like the idea of doling out seeds that grant the recipient powers. Considering we now have a big mecha Batman, he’ll likely prove to be a good physical match for Batman. I also love the cover, here. It’s almost a twisted callback to the poppy scene in The Wizard of Oz.

This issue also has some really solid dialogue, and a few good one-liners…

  • Gordon: “With great stickiness comes great responsibility.”
  • Clark: But you told him, Alfred. You told him about his life.
    Alfred: “I did. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do.”
  • Thug (as several guns are pointed at Batman): “Tell me, ‘Batman,’ have you ever seen Robocop?”

As a whole, this issue reminded me of a post I came by not too long ago. It was titled: “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.” Gordon’s entire quest to be Batman seems to fall under rule #1…pixars-22-rules-of-storytelling-as-image-macros-2The shark thing is just a coincidence, I swear.

This whole set up with Gordon being Batman and the police trying to have their own Dark Knight is obviously an idea that’s destined to fall apart in the long run. But the cool thing about these past few issues is that Snyder, Capullo, and the creative team don’t hide from that. They know it’s a bad idea. But that doesn’t stop readers from rooting for Gordon, because he’s trying his hardest to make it work, and to be the best Batman he can be.

Perhaps this rule about admiring a character for trying rather than for their successes describes why we all love Jim Gordon in the first place. He’s always been woefully unequipped to clean up Gotham. But he never stops trying. Despite having a big ass robot suit at his disposal, in the big picture, Gordon is an underdog. This juxtaposition is a sign of really compelling writing.

Images 1 and 2 from newsarama.com. Image 3 from fastcocreate.com.

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Cesaro Gets Snake Bitten, An Arrow in the Heart of WWE, and Other Ponderings From Raw

Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton, Cesaro, August 10, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Randy Orton def. Cesaro and Kevin Owens to earn a shot at the WWE Championship later in the evening. It seemed like this match was designed to let Cesaro shine. And shine he did…until the finish. This match was tricky from that perspective anyway, as somebody had to get pinned, and that can potentially effect their momentum. You’d think the guy to lose the fall would have been the heel, Kevin Owens. But instead they inexplicably had Orton pin Cesaro with an RKO. And it wasn’t one of those “From Out of Nowhere!!!” ones either. Cesaro, who had spent most of the match stealing the damn show, just kind of walked into it. Considering the WWE appears to finally be getting behind Cesaro a little bit, this was a head-scratcher. A really bizarre choice to end an otherwise really good triple threat match.

Sheamus attacks Randy Orton, nearly cashes in Money in the Bank during title match against Seth Rollins. And what did Cesaro take the pin for? An attempt to add some heat to the dead fish program between Orton and Sheamus. What a waste.

Wrestlemania XXX, Undertaker, Brock LesnarVideo package shows Steve Austin, Triple H, Paul Heyman, and others weighing in on Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Again, a smart move to keep ‘Taker and Lesnar off TV until next week’s Raw. That’ll of course be the first time they’ve been in the same building since their brawl the night after Battleground.

The video package was okay. I wish they’d spent more time on guys like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, and guys that were actually part of “The Streak.” Not to mention Stone Cold Steve Austin, the biggest damn star of the last two decades. Why was he just chiming in? No offense, but I really don’t care what a Kofi Kingston, or even a Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns, thinks about ‘Taker and Brock. Give me the heavy hitters, the main eventers, the legends.

The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered by Undertaker’s line about Heyman and Lesnar repeatedly bringing up his defeat at Wrestlemania XXX. That didn’t need to be said. In all honesty, this story pretty much writes itself. Brock Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. And now it’s revenge time.

Incidentally, Triple H had a nice line with: “You can’t outrun the reaper.”

WWE Raw, August 10, 2015, Ryback, Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan returns to Raw on Miz TV, Big Show and the returning Ryback crash the segment. It was awesome to see the fans show Bryan that much love. Whether his active wrestling career is over or not, he’s clearly earned a place in the collective heart of wrestling fans. And of course, WWE was likely counting on that, and hoping some of it would rub off on the returning Ryback.

For my money, WWE really needs to tap into those “Please retire!” chants fans are yelling at The Big Show. Hell, if they want Ryback to get over, put him in a title vs. retirement match with Show at a major pay per view. That’d draw some attention.

Brie Bella uses a Daniel Bryan spot during a six-woman tag team match. I wouldn’t have a problem with Brie using Bryan’s trademark kicks to the chest if she were playing a babyface role. But the Bellas and Alicia Fox are supposed to be heels, aren’t they? Discounting the notion that putting them in a match against another heel team is a strange booking decision. But having a heel using a spot that’s normally reserved for one of the company’s top babyfaces seemingly contradicts basic psychology. If you’re a heel, you want to be booed. So with that in mind, why use that spot at all?

Stephen Amell, Raw, August 10, 2015Arrow star Stephen Amell to team with Neville to face Stardust and King Barrett at Summerslam. This is obviously a textbook WWE publicity stunt. But Stephen Amell is obviously an action star, and he’s clearly in amazing shape. So I’m guessing he’ll show us a cool stunt or two.

A lot of fans have why Cody Rhodes has kept the Stardust gimmick as long as he has. I’m guessing this Stephen Amell angle is one of the reasons. Whether you like this or not, at least it gives Stardust, not to mention Neville and Barrett, something to do at Summerslam. These guys are all at the same place on the card, and they have about the same amount of momentum right now. So what harm can it do?

Prime Time Players to defend against The New Day, The Lucha Dragons, and Los Matadores at Summerslam. What happened to The Ascension? They were in the mix, weren’t they? Did they just get cast aside? Eh…maybe it’s better that way. This match is all about The New Day anyway.

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, WWE Raw, August 10, 2015Luke Harper def. Dean Ambrose. It really feels like they’re trying to recapture some of that Shield vs. Wyatt Family magic here. But it’s just not the same dynamic. All the players are at different places in their careers.

The announcers missed the boat on the fact that this was one of the biggest wins of Luke Harper’s career. Had he gotten a few of these kinds of victories, he might not have floundered as a singles star.

In a perfect world, this whole Roman Reigns/Bray Wyatt feud would culminate in a Hell in a Cell match in October. What’s more, it would be the only cell match on that show. This is the only rivalry they have right now that would be worthy of the cage by October. So I say let’s go for it.

Image 2 from foxxfeed.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A Detective Comics #43 Review – A Contrast in Batmen

Detective Comics #43TITLE: Detective Comics #43
AUTHOR: Brian Buccellato
PENCILLER: Fernando Blanco. Cover by Francis Manapul.
DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 5, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Between Jim Gordon becoming the new Batman, the upped emphasis on Harvey Bullock and the GCPD, and the reemergence of fan-favorite character Renee Montoya, Detective Comics is starting to bear a mild resemblance to Gotham Central. You won’t hear any complaints about that from me. At. All.

We open the issue to discover the unthinkable has happened: The power core from the new robotic Batsuit has been stolen. As the GCPD rush to find it, the vicious La Morte gang continues to threaten Gotham. Plus, Renee Montoya, fresh from internal affairs, has her sights set on Harvey Bullock’s partner Nancy Yip. Given the two have become “partners” in more ways than one, this makes things personal for Bullock.

Detective Comics #43While this issue isn’t necessarily about him specifically, the most memorable element in Detective Comics #43 is the way Jim Gordon, in costume, is drawn in the opening scene. When Bullock and the others find him, he’s been ambushed by La Morte and is almost completely spent. We see him hunched over, almost as if he’s ready to vomit from sheer fatigue. Then he slides into a sitting position, and Fernando Blanco gives him an expression with traces of both relief and desperation. What makes this so interesting is that it’s such a stark contrast to how we’re used to seeing Batman. His posture is different, his expressions are different, he talks to people differently. This is a nice illustration of he contrast between Bruce Wayne’s Batman and Gordon’s Batman, without making it so obvious.

On the subject of differences, Gordon is still sporting his silly mohawk. The style choice obviously isn’t Buccallato or Blanco’s fault. I suspect that was a Greg Capullo design choice. What does fall on this team’s shoulders is in this issue, Gordon’s head appears to have a 5 o’clock shadow, in addition to the mohawk. Perhaps that’s a nitpick, but it drew my attention away from the story. If they’re trying to convey that some time has passed since Gordon first became Batman, that’s something we as readers already know. Yes, the mohawk look is dumb. But it’s the look we got, so let’s just stick with the damn thing.

Detective Comics #43, Bullock, GordonUnder pressure from Montoya (Damn, it’s good to have her back.), Bullock presents Gordon with a fairly drastic solution to the Yip problem. Like, drastic even by Bullock’s standards. It’s in character, though. For all his eccentricities Bullock has always put his police work first, even when it means crossing certain lines (Longtime fans might want to take a look back at the Officer Down story arc to see what I mean.)

In Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo seem to be telling a story about how being Batman changes Jim Gordon and those closest to him. There’s also the question of whether Bruce Wayne can live without being Batman. In contrast, Detective Comics seems to be about how a police-sanctioned Batman changes the GCPD. For Bullock and Yip, change isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Images 1 and 2 from usgamer.net.

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A Batgirl Annual #3 Review – Ladies Night

Batgirl Annual #3TITLE: Batgirl Annual #3
AUTHORS: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
PENCILLERS: Bengal, David Lafuente, Ming Doyle, Mingjue Helen Chen
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: July 29, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In my experience annuals are, by and large, nothing to get too excited about. More often they’re not, an annual is simply a bonus standalone issue of a series that’s a little longer, and a little more expensive. No more, no less.

Batgirl Annual #3 is a rare exception to that rule.

Penned by series writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher, the issue pairs Babs with a several different heroes as she works to uncover the secret of a superweapon with a power to destroy the world. The mystery willl reunite our hero with Dick Grayson (sort of) and Batwoman, as well as introduce her to The Spoiler, and later Olive and Maps of Gotham Academy.

Batgirl Annual #3As good comics are prone to doing, Batgirl Annual #3 switches artists to coincide with Batgirl switching partners. Bengal gets the lion’s share of the issue with our inciting incident, and Barbara’s run-in with Dick and the Spyral crew. Bengal’s European/Asian style is a nice fit for this version of Batgirl. It’s light and funny when it needs to be, and has a certain intensity when it’s called for. As for the story itself, Babs and Helena Bertinelli agree to work together in a manner so quick it’s unintentionally funny. It takes less than a page. You’d think someone as smart as Barbara Gordon would be a little more cynical about a new partner in the field. As for Dick and Barbara, their being so close, with the latter completely oblivious, is seemingly played for comedy at times. At one point their fingers are nearly touching, yet Batgirl can’t tell there’s another human being mere inches from her. Purely from a fan perspective, I was feeling Dick Grayson’s agony at deceiving her. So the comedy not only landed with a thud, but was out of place.

Bengal passes the baton to David Lafuente for Babs’ brief meeting with The Spoiler. As a huge fan of the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series, seeing Barbara and Steph at the same age is surreal. Still, I suppose they mesh well. Lafuente is certainly no stranger to drawing teenage superheroes (see Ultimate Comics Spider-Man), so I’ve got no issues with his work. Stewart and Fletcher also do Stephanie justice.

From a writing standpoint, the Batgirl/Batwoman team up is fine. But Ming Doyle’s art is, at times, very awkward. This is particularly true of her work on Barbara’s face, so much so it takes you out of the story. Her figure rendering, particularly during a battle scene, leaves something to be desired as well. Doyle has done some great work, but it won’t be found here.

Batgirl Annual #3, Mingjue ChenWe cap things off with what looks like something out of an old Disney 2D animated film. In this case, that’s a good thing. Minjue Helen Chen very much captures the spirit of Gotham Academy. Olive, Maps, and Batgirl hunt for answers in the school library in a sequence that’s very reminiscent of Harry Potter, Hogwarts, etc. Chen captures some of the manga vibe that Karl Kerschl brings to the monthly book, while adding her own sense of wonder and excitement. She’s tailor made for this “Youth Gotham” line DC is marketing.

 It’s very much fitting that Batgirl Annual #3 is the exception to the annuals rule. For the past year, the series itself has been the exception to what were seemingly a lot of rules about the Bat-books. Gotham City can, and should, be a dark and scary place. But it should also be a fun place to read about, and lose yourself in. That’s the true appeal of Batgirl, and the Young Gotham line in general: DC remembering that comics can be fun.

Image 1 from the outhousers.com. Image 2 from newsarama.com.Image 3 from @mingjuechen.

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Rowdy Roddy Piper, Rowdy Ronda Rousey, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

Rowdy Roddy PiperBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Rowdy Roddy Piper passes away via heart failure at the age of 61. Like just about everyone, I was shocked and saddened to hear about Roddy Piper’s passing last week. Death via heart failure. Sadly, that’s something we’re all too used to hearing about in terms of our wrestling heroes…

What’s interesting in my case is that when I heard about Piper’s death, I didn’t think about any of his matches or promos. I thought about his appearances on The Steve Austin Show. Austin is such a great interviewer, and Piper was such a brutally honest personality, that it felt like I got to know the real-life Roderick Toombs just a little bit. Despite his abrasive, annoying personality on television, he seemed like such a gentle soul. If you haven’t heard those interviews, I highly recommend them.

Dusty Rhodes and Roddy Piper. Gone within the span of two months. It’s been a rough summer for wrestling fans.

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds at UFC 190. I’m not much of a UFC or MMA guy. But from a sheer cultural standpoint, I couldn’t help but be interested in the Ronda Rousey fight this past weekend. And dear God…34 seconds. How a person, man or woman, could consistently vanquish their shoot fight opponents in less than a minute simply boggles my mind. Those fights almost aren’t worth the pay per view money they’re so short. Almost.

Also, kudos to Rousey for dedicating the fight in part to Roddy Piper. A very classy move.

Seth Rollins, WWE Raw, August 3, 2015Thoughts From Raw:

Seth Rollins challenges John Cena to a title for title match at Summerslam, later defeats Neville in an open challenge for WWE Championship. I’ll never say that a legit injury suffered in the ring is “lucky,” especially when the injured party is the face of a promotion. But WWE basically had a hot angle fall in their laps when Rollins broke Cena’s nose. They now have a built-in babyface revenge angle for this title-for-title match at one of the biggest shows of the year. The Brooklyn crowd would have been hot for this match already, as it’s John Cena wrestling for the title. But this gives them something nice and personal to fight over.

As for the match with Neville, as thrilling as it was to watch from a physicality standpoint, this match didn’t do as much for me as one of the Cena open challenge segments. The best thing about those matches is there’s a legit chance of one of the midcarders beating Cena, because they’re wrestling for a midcard championship. There’s actually a chance the belt can change hands. To put it bluntly, did anyone actually believe Neville was going to win the WWE Heavyweight Title? Hell no.

Neville’s been around for awhile now. But the sad thing about him is I really don’t see any reason to emotionally invest in him, outside of the fact that he’s a thrilling high flyer. Yes, he’s fun to watch. But who is this guy?

WWE Raw, August 3, 2015, Brock Lesnar, Paul HeymanBrock Lesnar and Paul Heyman return to Raw. “The match too big for Wrestlemania.” That was the line that hit home for me on this one. They should put that one on the poster. Also, Heyman might have been the only person in history to refer to The Undertaker as a “submissive little bitch.”

I’m curious how much money Brock got to toss those steps in the ring and stand on them. I’m guessing it’s more than most of us will make in several years.

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton def. Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Sheamus. The big buzzworthy thing about this match was that it was 2/3 of a Shield vs. Wyatt Family match. But Randy Orton and Sheamus were thrown in those third spots. I’ve honestly forgotten why Randy Orton and Sheamus are feuding. They keep saying they don’t like each other. But this program still has no fire to it. It sure as hell isn’t worthy of being put in a main event.

So it seems we are indeed getting Reigns & Ambrose against Wyatt and Harper at Summerslam. That’s fine, I guess. Why they aren’t adding Sting to the mix is anybody’s guess. They obviously want to give this year’s show a Wrestlemania-like feel. And Sting is apparently just sitting there waiting for them to give him something to do. What exactly are they waiting on?

Paige, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, WWE Raw, August 3, 2015Charlotte & Becky Lynch def. The Bella Twins. Oddly enough, what I liked about this match was that Byron Saxton attempted to do what Mike Tenay used to do early in his WCW career. He would join the announcers during a match that featured luchadores, and provide some background info on the competitors. For however long Saxton is on Raw, he should be doing this with the NXT call ups. Not just with the girls, but with Neville, Kevin Owens, the Lucha Dragons, Bo Dallas, etc. This is a chance for Saxton to prove his naysayers wrong and actually serve a purpose at the announce position.

Cesaro and Kevin Owens join Miz TV. This segment came off very scripted. But I think having Miz out there was a good thing for Owens and Cesaro. As hot as he is right now, Cesaro’s verbal skills still aren’t what WWE wants them to be. It was good to have Miz out there as a safety net of sorts. I’m definitely excited to see these two wrestle at Summerslam. Let ’em fight!

Image 1 from 91x.com. Remaining images from WWE.com.

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