Tag Archive: the rock

All pain, no gain

We’ve all got an American Dream. Some folks just want to be famous. Others wants to be rich. While others still are just trying to do better than those that came before them. This idea of the American Dream is built on the premise that hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck can allow anyone to achieve anything. But some folks want to take short cuts and can’t be satisfied with the idea that they are the reason for their less than stellar lot in life.

A perfect example of this is the members of the Sun Gym Gang. These guys weren’t professional gangbangers or anything. Just a bunch roided up bodybuilders in Miami with rocks for brains. In the mid-90s, these meatheads wanted their wallets to be as thick as their necks. In order to achieve their goals, they decided to kidnap, extort, torture, and finally kill some of their more lucrative clientele in the hopes of taking those people’s fortunes all the way to their own bank accounts. Pain & Gain tells the story of how the Sun Gym Gang came to be, why they did what they did, and how they were finally brought to justice, mostly by their own greed and stupidity.

On paper, this looks like it could be an interesting premise for a movie. A story about bumbling, wannabe gangsters who are their own worst enemy. How justice prevails in even the most unlikely of scenarios. And that redemption can be found just about anywhere. Instead, we are reminded why Michael Bay is mostly a joke in many Hollywood circles.

Pain & Gain is the perfect example of a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be and where real life is not more entertaining than fiction. The commercials would have you think this movie might be an action-comedy. But the movie bounces around the genre gamut every 15 minutes to the point that when you walk out of the theater, you’re not sure what you saw. It goes from comedy to documentary to drama to dark comedy to action to docu-drama to crime thriller all in the course of its 2 hour and 9 minute run-time. I almost expected Mark Wahlberg to break into song and dance at some point it was so all over the place.

And the hodgepodge of genres isn’t the only painful part about this film. The character arcs for everyone on the screen is accelerated at such a pace to fit into the long course of real life events the movie wishes to emulate that you start to think that everyone portrayed in the movie has some personality disorder beyond their obvious stupidity. Mind you, these aren’t characters you want to root for anyway as these are real-life death row convicts now, but they are nowhere near interesting enough to have had a movie made about them.

As much as the star studded cast of Mark Wahlberg, Ed Harris, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tony Shalhoub, and more tried to do their best with the scripts given to them, at the end of the day it was not enough. Pain & Gain will have you holding your head in your hands as you try to figure out why you dropped $12 on such a convoluted and unentertaining waste of time. I spent literally the last hour of the movie staring more at my watch, watching my life waste away, than at the movie as I was bored to tears by this unrelenting piece of slop slapped on the big screen. This is just another reminder that unless he’s blowing something up, Michael Bay should go sit in a corner and think of the horrible things he’s done to the cinema-viewing community, Pain & Gain being the latest on that long list of crap.

SCORE: 2.5

A bionic redneck’s dream

I’ve been a wrestling fan for most of my life. It started with watching Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant with my grandfather. Then IRS came along and tried to make Tatanka pay his taxes. However, for a short time period I admittedly fell out of wrestling fandom. But with a crazed man from Long Island being flung from the top of a demonic structure and the rise of a certain bionic redneck, I was sucked back in and rarely strayed since.

These iconic moments in WWE history were just some highlights of what is now known as ‘The Attitude Era’. Stone Cold Steve Austin, D-Generation X, The Brothers of Destruction, and many other iconic men and women of that time period would cement their legacies as well as establish WWE as the dominate wrestling brand as they overcame WCW’s mid-90s advantage in the Monday Night Wars. And now, WWE 13 is having us relive some of those great moments like never before.

With cover boy CM Punk possibly marking the creation of a new era himself after last year’s infamous pipe bomb promo, it was only fitting that WWE 13 gave fans a brand new mode this year to replace past years’ story modes by using actual storylines from 1997-2000 and having players re-enact some of the most iconic matches of Stone Cold, The Rock, Kane, Undertaker, Mankind, HHH, HBK, and more. Not only does this give younger wrestling fans an overdue education, but it gives those of us who grew up in the era the most legitimate stories we’ve seen from the franchise since WWE No Mercy. It doesn’t hurt that it cranks the nostalgia factor up to 11 either, of course.

There are numerous other improvements to this year’s iteration of the WWE franchise though in terms of both presentation and game play. No, unfortunately not all of the hit detection and in-ring glitches we’ve almost become accustomed to were worked out. But besides these occasionally troublesome setbacks (its hard to suplex someone when they are cemented in the middle of the announcers table), there are new outside the ring features like ‘OMG!’ moments where you can sacrifice a stored finisher to spear a foe through the barricade or with super-heavyweights like Big Show and Mark Henry, actually smash the ring with a superplex.

Something the WWE franchise is known for, its creation features, has also seen marked improvements as additional layers and items have been added to wrestlers, like an individual layer for kick-pads on your shins. You can also now customize the stage and Titantron in Create-an-Arena, and even make your own Championship belt if you’re really old school and want to introduce something like the old AWA belt back into the mix. Altogether, this is amazingly the deepest creation suite we’ve seen yet.

There has also been a lot of fine-tuning in terms of the game play. Due to many matches from last year’s game seemingly ending much too quickly, many wrestlers health bars have been extended to help add some length to every time you step into the ring. This can sometimes lead to the precarious position of needing to hit a pair of finishers before your foe is in a weak enough state to the get the pin, but it definitely adds the desired length to matches. The counter system has also been tweaked, giving a larger window of opportunity for you to the hit the counter button in order to reverse your buddy’s maneuver. This allows many of the matches to take on a more natural feel as now even the most green of wrestling gamers can turn the tides should they be taking on a counter-happy veteran.

The online modes have also seen some major shifts as bots are now allowed into online matches meaning players no longer have to wait for six players to actually show up to do Elimination Chamber matches or the like. You won’t get any online experience in terms of moving up levels for beating a bot, but if you just want to have a match with some friends online and there aren’t enough for the match, this is a nice quick fix.

All things told it’s hard not to say this is the best WWE game of this console generation. Sure, there are still a few glitches, and the camera transitions aren’t as smooth as they could be, but when you consider everything that has been crammed onto one disc with the ‘Attitude Era’ mode, new matches like ‘I Quit’ and the King of the Ring tournament, the still stellar WWE Universe mode, the bevy of new customization features and improvements, and the high quality most of these improvements have been made with, if you are a wrestling fan this game is simply a must have.

SUMMARY: The bevy of unlockables, still stellar WWE Universe mode, even deeper customization features, and the nostalgia driven Attitude Era mode makes this the best wrestling game of this generation.

  • THE GOOD: Attitude Era mode hits every right note for long-time WWE fans
  • THE BAD: Still some seemingly ever-present glitches and hit detection problems
  • THE UGLY: That it isn’t an option to have Good Ol’ JR call ALL the matches

SCORE: 9.0

WWE 13 is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.   

It was RAW’s 1000th episode, and unfortunately the WWE still can’t find a way to work some solid wrestling into the show even at three hours long now. Although I understand that it was a bit of a celebration, and hopefully things will pick up a bit next week, I can’t forgive the blatant extra advertising and time wasted pandering to the WWE Universe. As a whole, those of us who grew up in the ‘Attitude Era’ had a few extra laughs and it was nice to see legends like Bret Hart again. All in all though, this was a monumental waste of time and I fear for the future of Monday Night RAW’s ability to entertain us.

Main Plot Overview: The big shake-up in the main plot of the show was The Rock re-inserting himself into the WWE Championship picture, proclaiming he has been promised a title match at The Royal Rumble in January. Of course, with that still being six months away, the title can change hands several times potentially, with the first time being that night with John Cena cashing in his MITB contract.

Not surprisingly though, the match was interfered with by The Big Show and Cena became the first man to ever win his MITB contract title match, but not the title as a title cannot change hands via outside interference. The most infuriating thing about this match though was the sad attempt by WWE to possibly turn CM Punk heel, as he did what everyone else in the world would do and tried to capitalize on the opportunity afforded him by The Big Show. It’s not good for a face to win like a heel though, so this move likely means Punk is turning his back again on the people, especially after he clotheslined The Rock during his People’s Elbow on The Big Show.

Match of the Night: In three hours of programming, the WWE put on two good matches. The first was a 6-man tag match between Sheamus/Sin Cara/Rey Mysterio and Jericho/Dolph Ziggler/Alberto Del Rio. The match of the night though was the other good match in Christian vs The Miz for the IC belt.

Marking the 66th time the title was defended on MNR (average one defense every 15 weeks on the show), Christian came out with a flurry against the Miz, quickly taking to the air and hitting moves like missile dropkicks and crossbodies. But Miz would counter often and Christian would be unable to hit The Kill Switch. Instead, the Miz would finally get his chance and would take advantage, hitting the Skull-Crushing Finale and capturing the IC belt.

This was significant not only due to a major belt changing hands, but because this completes the career Triple Crown for the Miz who was a former WWE and US Champion. It also shows WWE’s commitment to insert the Miz right back into some decent storylines after some time away by giving him this storied mid-tier belt.

Promo of the Night: After the failed wedding of Daniel Bryan and AJ (more on that shortly), Daniel Bryan threw a tantrum of epic proportions. And CM Punk came down to the ring to gloat. Daniel Bryan didn’t take too kindly to this and proceeded to proclaim himself the greatest of all-time.

The Rock then had issue with this and came down to the ring to not only tell the people about The Royal Rumble, but to put Daniel Bryan in his place. After putting together a rhyme about how Daniel Bryan looks like something out of Lord of the Rings and is nothing but a glorified Oompa Loompa, the Rock gave Daniel Bryan a present. A Rock Bottom. Seeing the Rock rattle off an old-school promo like that was very enjoyable and so it is no surprise to see The Rock take home something he would have often back in his heyday, and that is The Promo of the Night. 

Shocker of the Night: Shortly before Daniel Bryan’s tantrum, he was the happiest guy in the world, as he was about to marry AJ (a lucky guy indeed). But like most weddings staged in a WWE ring, all was not well. And so the shocker came when we found out when AJ was saying ‘yes’ to someone else. Specifically, Mr. McMahon. But as Mr. McMahon explained to Daniel Bryan, it was a business proposition she was agreeing to. AJ was to be the new GM of MNR, to which I broke out with a ‘yes’ chant of my own! Our lovely geek goddess then proceeded to skip around the ring in her usual care-free demeanor as Daniel Bryan, with special guest reverend Slick, were left standing in shock in the middle of the ring. This is one of the few reasons I can’t wait for RAW episode 1001 now. 

Cheap Pop of the Night: The night started off with a bang as promised, as DX came out to the ring to kick things off. I was a bit disappointed though because it was only HHH and HBK and I remember when DX was actually a much larger stable than these two WWE mainstays. But I should learn not to doubt DX as they always have something up their degenerate sleeves and after some humorous banter between HBK and HHH, almost all the rest of the crew came out. X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn, in a military jeep, came rolling out to ringside and the gang was back together and for the first time in a while, I legitimately cheered at the TV while watching MNR. And it only got better as they hit all their catch phrases and even embarrassed Damien Sandow, who is definitely turning heads as a heel and passed his initiation as one after he was promptly disposed of by DX.

If you smell what the WWE is cookin’

After a decade-long brand divide, the WWE’s recently made strides to show unity with their RAW and SmackDown shows and pay-per-views. In response, their yearly videogame’s dropped the annual SmackDown vs. RAW title to hammer home this brand solidarity—but that’s not all that’s changed in THQ’s annual wrestling sim. WWE ’12 finds a way to take the great customization and storyline strides that last year’s game made and refines them to provide the most authentic wrestling simulation to date.

Of course, what’s the first thing any player does with a typical WWE game? Check out the Create-a-Superstar feature! Even non-wrestling fans get caught up in the fun of creating a grappler from the ground up, and this mode sees much of the detail of previous versions return, along with new logos, designs, and physical-feature models to hit an even wider range of possibilities. But WWE ’12 also adds the new Create-an-Arena mode. Not only can you whip up your own wrestler from scratch, but you can also dedicate a squared circle to your grappler—or any of your real life-favorites. Hulkamania can run wild again with a ring drenched in red and gold, or you can show off your Macho Madness with a rainbow electronic ticker in honor of the dearly departed Randy Savage—and this is just scratching the surface of a mode I poured several hours into alone. And you can once again create logos, finishers, movesets, and even your own intro videos for the Titantron—and it’s all shareable via the WWE Creations online feature.

Another key to making this the most authentic WWE experience yet? The WWE Universe and Road to WrestleMania options. Now featuring stories that more closely mimic those you might actually see each week on RAW or SmackDown, these modes make every match and decision truly count. Maybe you’ll try to bring Sheamus back into the limelight of the WWE Title chase or push your created character to the top of the ranks and make him a legend in his own right. The Road to WrestleMania’s been trimmed, though—instead of choosing from one of five superstar storylines, you simply press play and begin the near-endless simulations of what you might see from varied wrestlers’ points of view.

But the action in the ring’s where you might see the biggest step up. The controls now feature a more casual-friendly A-button grapple prompt instead of the second analog stick, which actually gives the game a bit more of an arcadey feel, as you’ll find yourself button-mashing a bit more than you’re used to—the experience almost hearkens back to the No Mercy and WWF Attitude days in some ways. This might bother some people, but it isn’t striking enough that you won’t be able to adjust. The in-ring action’s further augmented by improvements like “wake-up taunts” to help set up finishers, better movement on the ring ropes, and an onscreen presentation that more closely mimics the actual WWE TV shows.

One element that’s definitely been criticized in past iterations, though—and it crops up again here, unfortunately—is the collision system. You’ll still see the occasional “quicksand” glitch where a wrestler’s suddenly waist deep in the mat, while an Irish whip against the steel steps can have you or your foe quivering and quaking for several seconds. Still, these moments happen more rarely than I’ve seen in any previous version of the game.

WWE ’12 is strong coat of polish on last year’s game, and when you combine that with even more customization and creation features and a beefed-up roster of several dozen wrestlers (including old standbys and never-before-digitized legends, like one of my personal favorites, the man they call Vader), and you’ve got by far the best WWE wrestling simulation we’ve seen to date—one that’ll layeth the smacketh down upon any and all wrestling haters.

SUMMARY: Some control improvements and fleshed out game play modes highlight the deepest WWE videogame experience yet.

  • THE GOOD: The most realistic WWE experience yet
  • THE BAD: Some collision and control issues remain
  • THE UGLY: Some of the created characters already uploaded to the servers

SCORE: 9.0

WWE ‘ 12 is available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.

Originally Published: April 5, 2011, on Youtube.com/Rcars4885

I come to you once again with your weekly geek fix, but now from my new apartment in…my grandmother’s attic! This week’s episode sees me review Deadpool Team-Up #883 from Marvel and WWE All-Stars from THQ. My hot chick pick of the week is Italian “journalist” Marika Fruscio and this week’s theme is Hulk Hogan’s theme “Real American”.