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And Here it is: The 1980′s Personified

November 13th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

About a year ago, I went to my friend Bob’s place to watch a wrestling PPV and with an hour to kill before the show, he broke out a bootleg DVD he bought at a convention. The DVD featured two videos starring “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. One was Tag-Team — a failed pilot where Piper and Jesse Ventura were blacklisted wrestlers who became cops — and the other was listed as being just the Roddy Piper Show. Tag-Team was worth a watch, but it was nothing special. Besides, it was nothing new to us. Most everyone in the room had heard of it one time or another.

The other video was pure insanity and the fact that nobody had heard a single thing about it made it even more troubling. Originally known as the Herve Villechaize Show, the special was taken over by top WWF villain Roddy Piper. Few remember, but back in the 80′s-to-early-90′s, Friday nights in the fall would usually include a prime time look at the upcoming season of Saturday morning cartoons. I mainly recall this being on ABC’s TGIF, where you’d see Carl Winslow talking excitedly about the upcoming season of Winnie the Pooh. This special in question is one of those, but increasingly batshit insane.

The version I watched was completely cut to pieces, but I later found out that it was called the All-Star Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Saturday Spectacular. It aired on CBS in the fall of 1985, during the heyday of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection. The reason behind Piper’s inclusion here is that this is also the year that they would introduce the big WWF cartoon, which featured Brad Garrett voicing Hulk Hogan.

Not only does the show star Roddy Piper and feature the misadventures of ousted would-be host Herve Villechaize, but it also includes such guests asPatti LaBelle, Pee-Wee Herman, New Edition, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hulk Hogan, Captain Lou Albano and Cyndi Lauper. All while showing clips of Muppet Babies and shit. Oh, and Gary “Original Space Ghost” Owens as the announcer.

I’ve always been meaning to do some kind of review of this, but never liked how Bob’s copy would skip around constantly. Luckily, a guy by the name of Ray Boucher found a VHS tape of the show and uploaded the entire thing to YouTube a couple months ago. It’s up there in all of its “Captain Lou doing Shakespeare” glory.

It’s a surreal and entertaining way to spend 48 minutes. Or 96 minutes if you’re like me and have to watch it twice. If anything, you need to see Piper and Pee-Wee argue with sock puppets.

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Crossover Celebration Part 2: The A-Team and the WWE

October 11th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

The big urban legend says that a long-lasting fight between Muhammad Ali and virtual unknown Chuck Wepner inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the screenplay to Rocky. Some say that that isn’t true and that he was inspired by Rocky Graziano’s autobiography Somebody Up There Likes Me. Whichever is true is a pretty heavy incident as like a prime event in a butterfly effect, it had major ramifications on pop culture. I’m not even joking. The creation of Rocky led to the sequels. The third movie springboarded the career of a former bouncer trying to make his way into acting, as well as a lesser-known professional wrestler who would become a household name after a fairly small role in the opening minutes.

As much as I love Mr. T, I’ll concede that his budding career isn’t exactly the most important thing in the world. The rise of Hulk Hogan, on the other hand, is a pretty big deal that may not have happened had he not been given that role opposite Stallone. Mr. T’s fame would increase as part of the ever-so-popular A-Team and he’d have a major role in the World Wrestling Federation’s increasing prominence, including the first two Wrestlemanias. Such a major output was created, possibly because a man refused to go down so easily against the greatest boxer in the world. It’s crazy to think about.

In the mid-80′s there was a time when Hogan and Mr. T seemed inseparable. Mr. T joined Hogan in his war against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, but that was as his stage self. When Hogan would return the favor, he wouldn’t be teaming up with, “First name: Mr. Middle name: Period. Last name: T.” No, he and the world of the WWF would step into the reality of the A-Team.

The A-Team shouldn’t need an introduction, as the opening credits explains things so perfectly. It was probably the manliest of all shows, giving dudes four characters we wish we could be. The calculating genius, the suave ladies man, the lovable lunatic and the take-no-guff badass. All of them helping people while sticking it to a corrupt government. What’s not to love? Well, other than some of the first season and most of the fifth season? Luckily, when Hulk Hogan shows up, it’s during the fourth season when things are still going strong.

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WWE Can Be Heroes for Just One Day

September 3rd, 2010 Posted by Gavok

WWE Heroes is not a good comic book. It really isn’t. It’s stupid, silly, incompetent and can’t be described with a straight face.

Yet I find myself buying it every month and it’s always the very first comic that I read. Probably because of those exact reasons. It’s enjoyably ridiculous and unlike most bad comics, I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth without being at the expense of another comic or the characters within. It’s ultimately a harmless series. It isn’t going to ruin characters for anyone or mess with continuity. It isn’t like that comic where the paragon of virtue is walking across the country and acting like a total douchebag to everyone he passes. It isn’t killing a bunch of beloved characters and negatively screwing with so many status quos for the sake of one writer’s hackneyed vision. It’s a wrestling comic and wrestling comics are inherently dumb. I say this as both a fan of comics and wrestling. When you mix the two together, you’re asking for trouble.

Not that it’s impossible to write a good comic with a wrestling license. The issue of World Championship Wrestling where Sting gave a kid the spirit to fight cancer was overall pretty decent, as was Dwayne McDuffie’s Ultimate Warrior story in WWF Battlemania. It’s just that if you’re saddled with a project like this, you have to know your chances of success and go to town. Writer Keith Champagne is no dummy. The guy has written some fine stuff over the years, such as Ghostbusters: The Other Side and his short run on Green Lantern Corps. His miniseries Countdown: Arena was undoubtedly terrible, but you’d be hard pressed to blame it on him when DC editorial set him up to fail. When given the WWE license, the guy obviously decided to have fun with it and be as outlandish as possible. Who can really blame him?

So far there are six issues out, getting us through the first arc. The art is by Andy Smith, a longtime veteran of the comics game. This creative team has worked together several times before, including an issue of DC’s World War III miniseries. There must be some kind of WCW joke I can make in there… eh, fuck it. Oh, they also collaborated on Dean Koontz’s Nevermore. There must be some kind of Raven joke I can make in there… eh, fuck that too. Hey, they also teamed up to do the miniseries Armor X! There must be some kind of… uh… shit, I got nothing. Moving on.

Before I get to the first issue, I should mention issue #0. #0 was released as a free iPhone app and my memory of it is fuzzy due to reading it off my buddy’s iPhone a long while ago. Here’s a promotional video that shows the first few panels.

WILL BIG SHOW STRETCH? WHY IS JERICHO WEARING BROKEN CHAINS ON HIS TIGHTS? IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO DO A HEEL VS. HEEL MATCH AT A “TRIBUTE FOR THE TROOPS” SHOW? Download the app and find out!

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This Week in Panels: Week 42

July 11th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Another week of panels is upon us. David only tosses in one panel this time around. I remembered to remind him that one of the guidelines for This Week in Panels is not to put anything from the last page. After all, we don’t want to spoil the entire book for you, nor do I want it to be like one of those comic covers that depicts the very last page. Let’s see what he chose.

Amazing Spider-Man #636
Joe Kelly, Zeb Wells and Michael Lark

GODDAMN IT, MAN! WHAT THE HELL?!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1
Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

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The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day Three

March 19th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Before getting to today’s installment of the countdown, I should mention that a couple months ago, reader Bearnt! emailed me, hoping that I was planning on doing this whole write-up. I wasn’t sure if I was up for it at the time, but considering I ended up doing it, he was nice enough to reward me for it. How? By uploading the Mountie/Repo Man/Nasty Boys promo from Wrestlemania 8 onto YouTube! What a guy.

I think my favorite part is Repo Man showing up out of nowhere and Mountie happily telling him, “You scared me.”

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