Starrcade Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1996 (2011 Scott sez:  This was a bitch to reformat due to 1999 Scott saving it in a text file instead of a Word document.  Although I find it funny that I was going back and doing “retro” stuff of shows from three years earlier.  If I was to go back today and do, say, Summerslam 2008, it’s not like the roster or booking is particularly different.) 

  • Live from Nashville, TN
  • Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty, with help from Mike and Lee.

  • Opening match: J-Crown v. WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) v. Dean Malenko.

    El Dragon is still playing El Evil Jap at this point, as evidenced by Sonny’s presense. Malenko gets a surprisingly good pop coming in. Good mat wrestling to start, which the crowd doesn’t appreciate at this point in WCW’s history. Crowd starts numerous xenophobic “USA” chants to rally Dean. They never really seem to click at the level they need to make it work. But then I’m not a big Asai fan to begin with. Too slow and too many legholds for my liking. Crowd is bored out their skulls until Malenko snaps off a powerslam and starts reeling off the setup moves for the Cloverleaf. Now the place is rocking, especially when he actually gets it on. Sonny jumps onto the apron and Dean goes out of character by chasing him off — The Shooter would *never* release a hold to chase off a manager. (2011 Scott sez: Unless he was on RAW today, in which case he’d release the hold, run out of the ring after the manager, stop to throw his opponent back in, and then act all shocked when he lost the match by countout.) A hot series of reversals builds to a Tiger (reverse double underhook) suplex on Dragon’s part for the pin and all 9 championships. Malenko really should have gone over. A good match otherwise, although I can’t give it higher than ***1/2 in good conscience.
  • Gene Okerlund hypes another major superstar joining the nWo. I believe this turned out to be Scott Norton. (2011 Scott sez:  As exciting an announcement today as it was back then.) 
  • WCW Women’s title tournament final: Akira Hokuto v. Madusa.

    Lee Marshall is brought in as an “expert” on women’s wrestling. Lee Marshall can’t even be called an “expert” on writing his own name. Kensuke Sasaki is at ringside for Akira, just to bring the talent level down *that* much further. Look, I appreciate a change of style as much as anyone, but both feds have been trying to “acclimate” us to women’s wrestling for years now, and it usually involves a maximum of *three* people in the women’s division. (2011 Scott says:  Hey now!  There’s FOUR people currently in the Women’s division, sometimes more depending on whether they need bodies for a battle royale.)  And it usually sucks. Like this match. So here’s a hint for WCW and the WWF: WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK. They like it in Japan because a) There’s more than 3 people and b) They already appreciate that style as it is. North America just doesn’t get it and never will. So stop trying to shove it down our throats. (2011 Scott sez:  This was before Lita and Trish Stratus, obviously.)  As for this match, Hokuto is slumming it here, which is saying something because I usually like her Japanese stuff. Lots of sloppy, poorly executed moves that kill the crowd heat. Hokuto with a sloppy brainbuster for the pin and the title. *1/2
  • Gene again, interviewing Roddy Piper. Piper gives the most drugged-out sounding interview I’ve ever heard, saying absolutely NOTHING that made sense. (2011 Scott sez:  I think he was rambling on about Vince starting his own football league and movie division and spending $20 million of his own money on his wife’s political campaign, and people were like “This guy’s speaking in tongues!  No one could be that stupid” and we just assumed he was doing some crazy promo.  HOW WRONG WE WERE.) 
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Jushin Liger.

    Again, a match ahead of it’s time. Liger goes MEDIEVAL~! on Rey’s ass, beating him like a dog here with SWANK~! kicks and just general miserable dickness. Guess what — the crowd doesn’t give a fuck. It took until late 1997 for WCW crowds to really buy into this style. Rey is never really into it aside from a few token highspots to satiate the crowd. Liger dismantles him, finally blocking a top rope rana and finishing it with the Ligerbomb. From a technical standpoint, it was ****, but from an overall excitement standpoint, it was only about **1/2. I’ll split the difference and give it ***1/4 (2011 Scott sez:  I do an actual non-shitty recap of this match in the Essential Starrcade series, which of course we’ll get to later.) 
  • Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett (No DQ).

    Times, they change. Let’s go back to 1996, as Kevin Sullivan comes up with one of the most horribly convoluted feuds in wrestling history: The Four Horsemen v. The Dungeon of Doom. Between the time Jarrett came into WCW and his eventual punking from the Horsemen, I and many others had *NO* idea what the FUCK was going on with this angle. (2011 Scott sez:  I have totally and completely blanked on the entire feud outside of the Bookerman angle and Benoit stealing Nancy in Germany.  Luckily Tommy Hall is getting into this point in his Nitro recaps so I can try to catch up again.)  At this point in our little soap opera, Chris Benoit has returned from Germany and is involved with Woman, while feuding with Kevin Sullivan and being “on the bubble” with the Horsemen. Jeff Jarrett has come into WCW and been endorsed by Ric Flair and who the hell knows what Arn Anderson thinks. Seriously, nothing about the whole mess made any real sense. For some reason, Benoit is a heel here and Jarrett is a face, which is stupid because Benoit is getting massive face heat and Jarrett is getting massive heel heat. Pretty bad match, too. Benoit wrestles like a mofo, stomping the hell out of Jarrett but not doing much else. Stuff happens for a while until Arn Anderson wanders out, followed by Kevin Sullivan, Konnan, and Hugh Morrus. The Dungeon members mess with Woman, while Anderson DDTs Jarrett and Sullivan breaks the only balsa wood chair in the building over Benoit’s head. (2011 Scott sez:  Boy, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell Benoit to only take balsa wood chairshots for the rest of his career, no matter silly it looked.  Or better yet, no chairshots, and no diving headbutts.)  End result: Jarrett is laying on top of Benoit and gets the win. Ugh. This feud was *so* bad… **
  • Mean Gene interviews Mongo and Debra, back in the heel days.
  • WCW World tag team title: The Outsiders v. The Faces of Fear.

    This is during the “Nick Patrick Is A Bad Person” era. Decent tag match for the first few minutes, surprisingly enough, then the Patrick angle starts to overwhelm the wrestling, as he refuses to count FOF pinfalls. And the inherent laziness of 3 of the 4 wrestlers involved doesn’t help, either. (2011 Scott sez:  Not sure if I was counting Meng in that one, because Meng is actually pretty great a lot of the time in his own way.)  Nash powerbombs Barbarian for the win, which the announcers made to sound screwy but the ending was never in doubt. Good pop for Nash, too. **
  • The following bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • The nWo yaks.
  • The preceding bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • US Title tournament finals: Diamond Dallas Page v. EDDY~! Guerrero.

    Times, they change, part 2. Believe it or not, DDP was a cigar-smoking heel pig and Eddy was a virtuous babyface. (2011 Scott sez:  WHAT?  You mean people change from one personality to ANOTHER one in wrestling?  And this happens ALL THE TIME?)  I can’t watch this match without shaking my head at least once at how perfect both guys are at their currently reversed roles. (2011 Scott sez:  The irony of course being that Eddie then went on to become an even BIGGER star as an underdog cheating babyface after this was written) DDP was only a couple of weeks away from his monster face turn, but Eddy had a few months yet before he became a god. Good match, but it never really clicks in EDDY~!’s usual territory, much like the other two members of the Trinity on this night. Back and forth match, crowd doesn’t give a shit. They want big talentless shmoes and they want ’em now. Finally things get going as Eddy blocks the Diamond Cutter on several occasions, before the nWo runs in and DESTROYS Page as Eddy is out on the floor. Somehow the referee misses 5 guys in the ring on one. Eddy doesn’t see any of this (he’s the babyface, remember) and hits the froggy splash for the pin and the US title. The nWo then wipes the mat with Eddy, too, and steals the US title. Oh, sure, it’s not enough to just ruin matches that they’re involved in, they have to fuck up other people’s matches as well. *** for the wrestling, minus several million for the booking.
  • The first Souled Out promo. How little did they know…
  • The Giant v. Lex Luger.

    Oh, sure, NOW the crowd is into it. Giant, of course, is nWo 4 life at this point. Two minute lockup to start, and it goes downhill from there. Kick, punch, kick, punch. Ref gets bumped on a freakin’ kickout. Nick Patrick runs in as Lex puts his future Big Buddy in the rack, and kicks him in the leg. Syxx runs in and beats on Lex too. Then Sting comes in (could this BE anymore overbooked?) (2011 Scott sez:  Yes.  This is downright subdued compared to some TNA main events)  and whispers the Colonel’s secret chicken recipe to Luger, then goes to the Giant and tells him the secret password for WCW’s online hotline option (2011 Scott sez:  That password was probably “1234” knowing the brains behind the company). He drops his bat on the way out. Luger gets it first, makes use of it in dramatic fashion and knocks the Giant out cold. The pin is academic and draws the biggest pop of the evening. 1/2*
  • Battle of the ICONs: Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper.

    Hogan brings Dibiase, Vincent and Liz with him. So….much….stalling. Hogan sells 10x more for Piper than he does for Sting a year later. Sigh. They end up on the floor and “brawl” for a bit. The, uh, excitement keeps building with more devastating kicks and punches. Hogan misses the Legdrop of Death and the FUCKING NWO COMES INTO THE BOOKING AGAIN as Giant runs in and tries a chokeslam on Piper, but Piper fights out of it and puts Hogan in a sleeper for the win. This was even more painful to watch the second time around. The status of the title and the fact that it was a NON-TITLE match is only glossed over in the closing moments of the show. DUD
  • Giant and Hogan yell at each other after the match as the announcers pronounce the nWo “in disarray” for the first time, to be followed by the same pronouncement every week for the next year and a half. (2011 Scott sez:  Maybe they should have staged a walkout…#OccupyTBS)
  • The Bottom Line: This show had a big black and white line drawn right through the middle, as the mid-card and cruiserweights got the first few matches, then everything after that was dominated by nWo booking. And I mean *dominated*. This was Screwy Finishes R Us as everyone who could run in did so. They still hadn’t decided what to do with Sting and the entire midcard in general, and it shows. I think time period was the major problem with this show: Eric was still working the kinks out of the nWo storyline and trying to get North America used to Japanese style wrestling, so not much really clicked with the fans here. I think were this show presented today (with a different main event, I’d hope) it would be better received than it was in 1996. It’s an interesting glimpse into the formative months of the nWo, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a “good show”. (2011 Scott sez:  It was actually the start of a pattern in the nWo years, with a fantastic undercard followed by crap main events.  It’s a strong thumbs up for the wrestling alone, though.) 

Starrcade Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1996 (2011 Scott sez:  This was a bitch to reformat due to 1999 Scott saving it in a text file instead of a Word document.  Although I find it funny that I was going back and doing “retro” stuff of shows from three years earlier.  If I was to go back today and do, say, Summerslam 2008, it’s not like the roster or booking is particularly different.) 

  • Live from Nashville, TN
  • Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty, with help from Mike and Lee.

  • Opening match: J-Crown v. WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) v. Dean Malenko.

    El Dragon is still playing El Evil Jap at this point, as evidenced by Sonny’s presense. Malenko gets a surprisingly good pop coming in. Good mat wrestling to start, which the crowd doesn’t appreciate at this point in WCW’s history. Crowd starts numerous xenophobic “USA” chants to rally Dean. They never really seem to click at the level they need to make it work. But then I’m not a big Asai fan to begin with. Too slow and too many legholds for my liking. Crowd is bored out their skulls until Malenko snaps off a powerslam and starts reeling off the setup moves for the Cloverleaf. Now the place is rocking, especially when he actually gets it on. Sonny jumps onto the apron and Dean goes out of character by chasing him off — The Shooter would *never* release a hold to chase off a manager. (2011 Scott sez: Unless he was on RAW today, in which case he’d release the hold, run out of the ring after the manager, stop to throw his opponent back in, and then act all shocked when he lost the match by countout.) A hot series of reversals builds to a Tiger (reverse double underhook) suplex on Dragon’s part for the pin and all 9 championships. Malenko really should have gone over. A good match otherwise, although I can’t give it higher than ***1/2 in good conscience.
  • Gene Okerlund hypes another major superstar joining the nWo. I believe this turned out to be Scott Norton. (2011 Scott sez:  As exciting an announcement today as it was back then.) 
  • WCW Women’s title tournament final: Akira Hokuto v. Madusa.

    Lee Marshall is brought in as an “expert” on women’s wrestling. Lee Marshall can’t even be called an “expert” on writing his own name. Kensuke Sasaki is at ringside for Akira, just to bring the talent level down *that* much further. Look, I appreciate a change of style as much as anyone, but both feds have been trying to “acclimate” us to women’s wrestling for years now, and it usually involves a maximum of *three* people in the women’s division. (2011 Scott says:  Hey now!  There’s FOUR people currently in the Women’s division, sometimes more depending on whether they need bodies for a battle royale.)  And it usually sucks. Like this match. So here’s a hint for WCW and the WWF: WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK. They like it in Japan because a) There’s more than 3 people and b) They already appreciate that style as it is. North America just doesn’t get it and never will. So stop trying to shove it down our throats. (2011 Scott sez:  This was before Lita and Trish Stratus, obviously.)  As for this match, Hokuto is slumming it here, which is saying something because I usually like her Japanese stuff. Lots of sloppy, poorly executed moves that kill the crowd heat. Hokuto with a sloppy brainbuster for the pin and the title. *1/2
  • Gene again, interviewing Roddy Piper. Piper gives the most drugged-out sounding interview I’ve ever heard, saying absolutely NOTHING that made sense. (2011 Scott sez:  I think he was rambling on about Vince starting his own football league and movie division and spending $20 million of his own money on his wife’s political campaign, and people were like “This guy’s speaking in tongues!  No one could be that stupid” and we just assumed he was doing some crazy promo.  HOW WRONG WE WERE.) 
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Jushin Liger.

    Again, a match ahead of it’s time. Liger goes MEDIEVAL~! on Rey’s ass, beating him like a dog here with SWANK~! kicks and just general miserable dickness. Guess what — the crowd doesn’t give a fuck. It took until late 1997 for WCW crowds to really buy into this style. Rey is never really into it aside from a few token highspots to satiate the crowd. Liger dismantles him, finally blocking a top rope rana and finishing it with the Ligerbomb. From a technical standpoint, it was ****, but from an overall excitement standpoint, it was only about **1/2. I’ll split the difference and give it ***1/4 (2011 Scott sez:  I do an actual non-shitty recap of this match in the Essential Starrcade series, which of course we’ll get to later.) 
  • Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett (No DQ).

    Times, they change. Let’s go back to 1996, as Kevin Sullivan comes up with one of the most horribly convoluted feuds in wrestling history: The Four Horsemen v. The Dungeon of Doom. Between the time Jarrett came into WCW and his eventual punking from the Horsemen, I and many others had *NO* idea what the FUCK was going on with this angle. (2011 Scott sez:  I have totally and completely blanked on the entire feud outside of the Bookerman angle and Benoit stealing Nancy in Germany.  Luckily Tommy Hall is getting into this point in his Nitro recaps so I can try to catch up again.)  At this point in our little soap opera, Chris Benoit has returned from Germany and is involved with Woman, while feuding with Kevin Sullivan and being “on the bubble” with the Horsemen. Jeff Jarrett has come into WCW and been endorsed by Ric Flair and who the hell knows what Arn Anderson thinks. Seriously, nothing about the whole mess made any real sense. For some reason, Benoit is a heel here and Jarrett is a face, which is stupid because Benoit is getting massive face heat and Jarrett is getting massive heel heat. Pretty bad match, too. Benoit wrestles like a mofo, stomping the hell out of Jarrett but not doing much else. Stuff happens for a while until Arn Anderson wanders out, followed by Kevin Sullivan, Konnan, and Hugh Morrus. The Dungeon members mess with Woman, while Anderson DDTs Jarrett and Sullivan breaks the only balsa wood chair in the building over Benoit’s head. (2011 Scott sez:  Boy, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell Benoit to only take balsa wood chairshots for the rest of his career, no matter silly it looked.  Or better yet, no chairshots, and no diving headbutts.)  End result: Jarrett is laying on top of Benoit and gets the win. Ugh. This feud was *so* bad… **
  • Mean Gene interviews Mongo and Debra, back in the heel days.
  • WCW World tag team title: The Outsiders v. The Faces of Fear.

    This is during the “Nick Patrick Is A Bad Person” era. Decent tag match for the first few minutes, surprisingly enough, then the Patrick angle starts to overwhelm the wrestling, as he refuses to count FOF pinfalls. And the inherent laziness of 3 of the 4 wrestlers involved doesn’t help, either. (2011 Scott sez:  Not sure if I was counting Meng in that one, because Meng is actually pretty great a lot of the time in his own way.)  Nash powerbombs Barbarian for the win, which the announcers made to sound screwy but the ending was never in doubt. Good pop for Nash, too. **
  • The following bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • The nWo yaks.
  • The preceding bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • US Title tournament finals: Diamond Dallas Page v. EDDY~! Guerrero.

    Times, they change, part 2. Believe it or not, DDP was a cigar-smoking heel pig and Eddy was a virtuous babyface. (2011 Scott sez:  WHAT?  You mean people change from one personality to ANOTHER one in wrestling?  And this happens ALL THE TIME?)  I can’t watch this match without shaking my head at least once at how perfect both guys are at their currently reversed roles. (2011 Scott sez:  The irony of course being that Eddie then went on to become an even BIGGER star as an underdog cheating babyface after this was written) DDP was only a couple of weeks away from his monster face turn, but Eddy had a few months yet before he became a god. Good match, but it never really clicks in EDDY~!’s usual territory, much like the other two members of the Trinity on this night. Back and forth match, crowd doesn’t give a shit. They want big talentless shmoes and they want ’em now. Finally things get going as Eddy blocks the Diamond Cutter on several occasions, before the nWo runs in and DESTROYS Page as Eddy is out on the floor. Somehow the referee misses 5 guys in the ring on one. Eddy doesn’t see any of this (he’s the babyface, remember) and hits the froggy splash for the pin and the US title. The nWo then wipes the mat with Eddy, too, and steals the US title. Oh, sure, it’s not enough to just ruin matches that they’re involved in, they have to fuck up other people’s matches as well. *** for the wrestling, minus several million for the booking.
  • The first Souled Out promo. How little did they know…
  • The Giant v. Lex Luger.

    Oh, sure, NOW the crowd is into it. Giant, of course, is nWo 4 life at this point. Two minute lockup to start, and it goes downhill from there. Kick, punch, kick, punch. Ref gets bumped on a freakin’ kickout. Nick Patrick runs in as Lex puts his future Big Buddy in the rack, and kicks him in the leg. Syxx runs in and beats on Lex too. Then Sting comes in (could this BE anymore overbooked?) (2011 Scott sez:  Yes.  This is downright subdued compared to some TNA main events)  and whispers the Colonel’s secret chicken recipe to Luger, then goes to the Giant and tells him the secret password for WCW’s online hotline option (2011 Scott sez:  That password was probably “1234” knowing the brains behind the company). He drops his bat on the way out. Luger gets it first, makes use of it in dramatic fashion and knocks the Giant out cold. The pin is academic and draws the biggest pop of the evening. 1/2*
  • Battle of the ICONs: Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper.

    Hogan brings Dibiase, Vincent and Liz with him. So….much….stalling. Hogan sells 10x more for Piper than he does for Sting a year later. Sigh. They end up on the floor and “brawl” for a bit. The, uh, excitement keeps building with more devastating kicks and punches. Hogan misses the Legdrop of Death and the FUCKING NWO COMES INTO THE BOOKING AGAIN as Giant runs in and tries a chokeslam on Piper, but Piper fights out of it and puts Hogan in a sleeper for the win. This was even more painful to watch the second time around. The status of the title and the fact that it was a NON-TITLE match is only glossed over in the closing moments of the show. DUD
  • Giant and Hogan yell at each other after the match as the announcers pronounce the nWo “in disarray” for the first time, to be followed by the same pronouncement every week for the next year and a half. (2011 Scott sez:  Maybe they should have staged a walkout…#OccupyTBS)
  • The Bottom Line: This show had a big black and white line drawn right through the middle, as the mid-card and cruiserweights got the first few matches, then everything after that was dominated by nWo booking. And I mean *dominated*. This was Screwy Finishes R Us as everyone who could run in did so. They still hadn’t decided what to do with Sting and the entire midcard in general, and it shows. I think time period was the major problem with this show: Eric was still working the kinks out of the nWo storyline and trying to get North America used to Japanese style wrestling, so not much really clicked with the fans here. I think were this show presented today (with a different main event, I’d hope) it would be better received than it was in 1996. It’s an interesting glimpse into the formative months of the nWo, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a “good show”. (2011 Scott sez:  It was actually the start of a pattern in the nWo years, with a fantastic undercard followed by crap main events.  It’s a strong thumbs up for the wrestling alone, though.) 

Starrcade Countdown: 1996

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1996 (2011 Scott sez:  This was a bitch to reformat due to 1999 Scott saving it in a text file instead of a Word document.  Although I find it funny that I was going back and doing “retro” stuff of shows from three years earlier.  If I was to go back today and do, say, Summerslam 2008, it’s not like the roster or booking is particularly different.) 

  • Live from Nashville, TN
  • Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty, with help from Mike and Lee.

  • Opening match: J-Crown v. WCW Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) v. Dean Malenko.

    El Dragon is still playing El Evil Jap at this point, as evidenced by Sonny’s presense. Malenko gets a surprisingly good pop coming in. Good mat wrestling to start, which the crowd doesn’t appreciate at this point in WCW’s history. Crowd starts numerous xenophobic “USA” chants to rally Dean. They never really seem to click at the level they need to make it work. But then I’m not a big Asai fan to begin with. Too slow and too many legholds for my liking. Crowd is bored out their skulls until Malenko snaps off a powerslam and starts reeling off the setup moves for the Cloverleaf. Now the place is rocking, especially when he actually gets it on. Sonny jumps onto the apron and Dean goes out of character by chasing him off — The Shooter would *never* release a hold to chase off a manager. (2011 Scott sez: Unless he was on RAW today, in which case he’d release the hold, run out of the ring after the manager, stop to throw his opponent back in, and then act all shocked when he lost the match by countout.) A hot series of reversals builds to a Tiger (reverse double underhook) suplex on Dragon’s part for the pin and all 9 championships. Malenko really should have gone over. A good match otherwise, although I can’t give it higher than ***1/2 in good conscience.
  • Gene Okerlund hypes another major superstar joining the nWo. I believe this turned out to be Scott Norton. (2011 Scott sez:  As exciting an announcement today as it was back then.) 
  • WCW Women’s title tournament final: Akira Hokuto v. Madusa.

    Lee Marshall is brought in as an “expert” on women’s wrestling. Lee Marshall can’t even be called an “expert” on writing his own name. Kensuke Sasaki is at ringside for Akira, just to bring the talent level down *that* much further. Look, I appreciate a change of style as much as anyone, but both feds have been trying to “acclimate” us to women’s wrestling for years now, and it usually involves a maximum of *three* people in the women’s division. (2011 Scott says:  Hey now!  There’s FOUR people currently in the Women’s division, sometimes more depending on whether they need bodies for a battle royale.)  And it usually sucks. Like this match. So here’s a hint for WCW and the WWF: WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK. They like it in Japan because a) There’s more than 3 people and b) They already appreciate that style as it is. North America just doesn’t get it and never will. So stop trying to shove it down our throats. (2011 Scott sez:  This was before Lita and Trish Stratus, obviously.)  As for this match, Hokuto is slumming it here, which is saying something because I usually like her Japanese stuff. Lots of sloppy, poorly executed moves that kill the crowd heat. Hokuto with a sloppy brainbuster for the pin and the title. *1/2
  • Gene again, interviewing Roddy Piper. Piper gives the most drugged-out sounding interview I’ve ever heard, saying absolutely NOTHING that made sense. (2011 Scott sez:  I think he was rambling on about Vince starting his own football league and movie division and spending $20 million of his own money on his wife’s political campaign, and people were like “This guy’s speaking in tongues!  No one could be that stupid” and we just assumed he was doing some crazy promo.  HOW WRONG WE WERE.) 
  • Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Jushin Liger.

    Again, a match ahead of it’s time. Liger goes MEDIEVAL~! on Rey’s ass, beating him like a dog here with SWANK~! kicks and just general miserable dickness. Guess what — the crowd doesn’t give a fuck. It took until late 1997 for WCW crowds to really buy into this style. Rey is never really into it aside from a few token highspots to satiate the crowd. Liger dismantles him, finally blocking a top rope rana and finishing it with the Ligerbomb. From a technical standpoint, it was ****, but from an overall excitement standpoint, it was only about **1/2. I’ll split the difference and give it ***1/4 (2011 Scott sez:  I do an actual non-shitty recap of this match in the Essential Starrcade series, which of course we’ll get to later.) 
  • Chris Benoit v. Jeff Jarrett (No DQ).

    Times, they change. Let’s go back to 1996, as Kevin Sullivan comes up with one of the most horribly convoluted feuds in wrestling history: The Four Horsemen v. The Dungeon of Doom. Between the time Jarrett came into WCW and his eventual punking from the Horsemen, I and many others had *NO* idea what the FUCK was going on with this angle. (2011 Scott sez:  I have totally and completely blanked on the entire feud outside of the Bookerman angle and Benoit stealing Nancy in Germany.  Luckily Tommy Hall is getting into this point in his Nitro recaps so I can try to catch up again.)  At this point in our little soap opera, Chris Benoit has returned from Germany and is involved with Woman, while feuding with Kevin Sullivan and being “on the bubble” with the Horsemen. Jeff Jarrett has come into WCW and been endorsed by Ric Flair and who the hell knows what Arn Anderson thinks. Seriously, nothing about the whole mess made any real sense. For some reason, Benoit is a heel here and Jarrett is a face, which is stupid because Benoit is getting massive face heat and Jarrett is getting massive heel heat. Pretty bad match, too. Benoit wrestles like a mofo, stomping the hell out of Jarrett but not doing much else. Stuff happens for a while until Arn Anderson wanders out, followed by Kevin Sullivan, Konnan, and Hugh Morrus. The Dungeon members mess with Woman, while Anderson DDTs Jarrett and Sullivan breaks the only balsa wood chair in the building over Benoit’s head. (2011 Scott sez:  Boy, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell Benoit to only take balsa wood chairshots for the rest of his career, no matter silly it looked.  Or better yet, no chairshots, and no diving headbutts.)  End result: Jarrett is laying on top of Benoit and gets the win. Ugh. This feud was *so* bad… **
  • Mean Gene interviews Mongo and Debra, back in the heel days.
  • WCW World tag team title: The Outsiders v. The Faces of Fear.

    This is during the “Nick Patrick Is A Bad Person” era. Decent tag match for the first few minutes, surprisingly enough, then the Patrick angle starts to overwhelm the wrestling, as he refuses to count FOF pinfalls. And the inherent laziness of 3 of the 4 wrestlers involved doesn’t help, either. (2011 Scott sez:  Not sure if I was counting Meng in that one, because Meng is actually pretty great a lot of the time in his own way.)  Nash powerbombs Barbarian for the win, which the announcers made to sound screwy but the ending was never in doubt. Good pop for Nash, too. **
  • The following bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • The nWo yaks.
  • The preceding bullet has been paid for by the New World Order.
  • US Title tournament finals: Diamond Dallas Page v. EDDY~! Guerrero.

    Times, they change, part 2. Believe it or not, DDP was a cigar-smoking heel pig and Eddy was a virtuous babyface. (2011 Scott sez:  WHAT?  You mean people change from one personality to ANOTHER one in wrestling?  And this happens ALL THE TIME?)  I can’t watch this match without shaking my head at least once at how perfect both guys are at their currently reversed roles. (2011 Scott sez:  The irony of course being that Eddie then went on to become an even BIGGER star as an underdog cheating babyface after this was written) DDP was only a couple of weeks away from his monster face turn, but Eddy had a few months yet before he became a god. Good match, but it never really clicks in EDDY~!’s usual territory, much like the other two members of the Trinity on this night. Back and forth match, crowd doesn’t give a shit. They want big talentless shmoes and they want ’em now. Finally things get going as Eddy blocks the Diamond Cutter on several occasions, before the nWo runs in and DESTROYS Page as Eddy is out on the floor. Somehow the referee misses 5 guys in the ring on one. Eddy doesn’t see any of this (he’s the babyface, remember) and hits the froggy splash for the pin and the US title. The nWo then wipes the mat with Eddy, too, and steals the US title. Oh, sure, it’s not enough to just ruin matches that they’re involved in, they have to fuck up other people’s matches as well. *** for the wrestling, minus several million for the booking.
  • The first Souled Out promo. How little did they know…
  • The Giant v. Lex Luger.

    Oh, sure, NOW the crowd is into it. Giant, of course, is nWo 4 life at this point. Two minute lockup to start, and it goes downhill from there. Kick, punch, kick, punch. Ref gets bumped on a freakin’ kickout. Nick Patrick runs in as Lex puts his future Big Buddy in the rack, and kicks him in the leg. Syxx runs in and beats on Lex too. Then Sting comes in (could this BE anymore overbooked?) (2011 Scott sez:  Yes.  This is downright subdued compared to some TNA main events)  and whispers the Colonel’s secret chicken recipe to Luger, then goes to the Giant and tells him the secret password for WCW’s online hotline option (2011 Scott sez:  That password was probably “1234” knowing the brains behind the company). He drops his bat on the way out. Luger gets it first, makes use of it in dramatic fashion and knocks the Giant out cold. The pin is academic and draws the biggest pop of the evening. 1/2*
  • Battle of the ICONs: Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper.

    Hogan brings Dibiase, Vincent and Liz with him. So….much….stalling. Hogan sells 10x more for Piper than he does for Sting a year later. Sigh. They end up on the floor and “brawl” for a bit. The, uh, excitement keeps building with more devastating kicks and punches. Hogan misses the Legdrop of Death and the FUCKING NWO COMES INTO THE BOOKING AGAIN as Giant runs in and tries a chokeslam on Piper, but Piper fights out of it and puts Hogan in a sleeper for the win. This was even more painful to watch the second time around. The status of the title and the fact that it was a NON-TITLE match is only glossed over in the closing moments of the show. DUD
  • Giant and Hogan yell at each other after the match as the announcers pronounce the nWo “in disarray” for the first time, to be followed by the same pronouncement every week for the next year and a half. (2011 Scott sez:  Maybe they should have staged a walkout…#OccupyTBS)
  • The Bottom Line: This show had a big black and white line drawn right through the middle, as the mid-card and cruiserweights got the first few matches, then everything after that was dominated by nWo booking. And I mean *dominated*. This was Screwy Finishes R Us as everyone who could run in did so. They still hadn’t decided what to do with Sting and the entire midcard in general, and it shows. I think time period was the major problem with this show: Eric was still working the kinks out of the nWo storyline and trying to get North America used to Japanese style wrestling, so not much really clicked with the fans here. I think were this show presented today (with a different main event, I’d hope) it would be better received than it was in 1996. It’s an interesting glimpse into the formative months of the nWo, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a “good show”. (2011 Scott sez:  It was actually the start of a pattern in the nWo years, with a fantastic undercard followed by crap main events.  It’s a strong thumbs up for the wrestling alone, though.) 

Lohan Disappoints Again

http://gawker.com/5866715/all-of-lindsay-lohans-playboy-pictures-are-a-letdown So yeah, the Lindsay Lohan Playboy shoot has been leaked, and it’s pretty dull stuff.  The Marilyn photoshoot from a couple of years ago was much better, as this one is Photoshopped all to hell and not particularly creative.  That being said, you can’t fault the boobies no matter what else is going on around her.  On a scale of 1 (“I Know Who Killed Me”) to 10 (The Santa dance in “Mean Girls”), I’d give it about a 6.  Sebastian Howard should not be clicking on that link.

Lohan Disappoints Again

http://gawker.com/5866715/all-of-lindsay-lohans-playboy-pictures-are-a-letdown So yeah, the Lindsay Lohan Playboy shoot has been leaked, and it’s pretty dull stuff.  The Marilyn photoshoot from a couple of years ago was much better, as this one is Photoshopped all to hell and not particularly creative.  That being said, you can’t fault the boobies no matter what else is going on around her.  On a scale of 1 (“I Know Who Killed Me”) to 10 (The Santa dance in “Mean Girls”), I’d give it about a 6.  Sebastian Howard should not be clicking on that link.

Lohan Disappoints Again

http://gawker.com/5866715/all-of-lindsay-lohans-playboy-pictures-are-a-letdown So yeah, the Lindsay Lohan Playboy shoot has been leaked, and it’s pretty dull stuff.  The Marilyn photoshoot from a couple of years ago was much better, as this one is Photoshopped all to hell and not particularly creative.  That being said, you can’t fault the boobies no matter what else is going on around her.  On a scale of 1 (“I Know Who Killed Me”) to 10 (The Santa dance in “Mean Girls”), I’d give it about a 6.  Sebastian Howard should not be clicking on that link.

Lohan Disappoints Again

http://gawker.com/5866715/all-of-lindsay-lohans-playboy-pictures-are-a-letdown So yeah, the Lindsay Lohan Playboy shoot has been leaked, and it’s pretty dull stuff.  The Marilyn photoshoot from a couple of years ago was much better, as this one is Photoshopped all to hell and not particularly creative.  That being said, you can’t fault the boobies no matter what else is going on around her.  On a scale of 1 (“I Know Who Killed Me”) to 10 (The Santa dance in “Mean Girls”), I’d give it about a 6.  Sebastian Howard should not be clicking on that link.

Starrcade Countdown: 1995

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995. · Live from Nashville, TN · Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby. · Okay, this is what we call a “Concept Show.” The concept in this case is that Sonny Onoo and his group of baddies from New Japan Pro Wrestling are “invading” WCW and the result is a 7 match series to determine the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Neat idea in theory, stupid idea in practice, especially on the biggest show of the year. This predated the nWo by 7 months, it should be noted. · Opening match: Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger. Benoit is a freshly named Horsemen at this point (along with Pillman, Flair and Anderson) and is wrestling like Wild Pegasus instead of Ass-Kicking Mofo Pegasus. Liger rocks here, adjusting nicely to the North American style, which unfortunately means “dumbing it down” for the Tennessee audience. Good to start, slow in the middle, hot to finish. Tony is already spewing the “#1 wrestling organization” crap months before they ever won a decisive ratings victory, but his knowledge of the move names and history of the wrestlers is in-fucking-credible. He is definitely being an ignoramus today as part of the character, because 1995 Tony was Mike Tenay on steroids. (2011 Scott sez:  Really, hindsight says that, like most people in WCW, it was because Tony stopped giving a shit sometime in 1997)  This is America, so the Ligerbomb has minimal effect on Benoit. Benoit actually debuts the rollthrough german suplexes here and then doesn’t do it again for two years. And of course a screwy ending-Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit, allowing Liger a cheap win.  New Japan 1, WCW 0. ***1/4 · Alex Wright v. Koji Kanemoto. I was hoping for Alex to walk out with three broken bones and a mouthful of tooth fragments, but no such luck. Lots of legbars and armbars that look really good but don’t do much damage. Still, I credit Alex for effort here. Koji with a couple of SWANK~! spinning kicks, but the rest is way too loosey-goosey for someone who works as stiff as Koji does overseas. Koji wrestles a dead-on Muta impersonation for some reason here. This is spot-rest-spot Sabu type of match, which keeps the crowd alternately bored and excited. Kanemoto with Snake-Eyes and then a double-leg rollover for the pin. **1/2 New Japan 2, WCW 0.  (2011 Scott sez:  Alex Wright was WAAAAAAY out of his league here.) · Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Masa Chono. This is just after Luger’s heel turn at Havoc 95. And it’s as bad as you’d think it would be, given the talent involved, although Chono makes a go of it. Luger with the inevitable torture rack (hey, he’s in the main event later tonight, he has to win) for the submission. * New Japan 2, WCW 1. · Johnny B. Badd (w/ Kimberly) v. Masa Saito. Kim looks eminently do-able here, much more so than today’s Nitro Girl look. (2011 Scott sez:  She fell hard, FAST. By the time she did The 40 Year Old Virgin you could barely recognize her.)  And who thought this match up? A graphic on the bottom of the screen helpfully points out the score. Choke, slap, stall, rest. Goofy ending as Badd goes for Onoo on the apron, and Saito dumps him over the top rope to show how stupid the Japanese are for not knowing that’s a DQ here in the GOOD OL’ US OF A! HOOOOO! Oh, wait, that’s just Kimberly… DUD.  (2011 Fuad sez:  IS FUNNY BECAUSE KIMBERLY IS LOOSE WOMAN, HO HO!) New Japan 2, WCW 2. · Shinjiro Ohtani v. Eddy Guerrero. YES! YES! YES! And Ohtani is full “Screw you, I’ll be an asshole and you’ll like it.” mode, to make it even better. Lots and lots of great mat wrestling, and Eddy rules it with a foldover powerbomb. Ohtani says, “Fuck you, no way you’re gonna rule the world more than me” (Okay, so I actually said that, but still…) and pulls out a Taka top-rope springboard. I love this guy. Eddy’s not wearing a mask but Ohtani tries to rip it off anyway. Ohtani even manages to DRAW HEAT. On his own. Eddy does Splash Mountain, just to see who can be more SWANK in one match. Eddy beats on Ohtani some more, but My Lord and Savior comes back with his VICIOUS springboard dropkick to the back of Eddy’s head that looks like it nearly gave him whiplash. Then into a killer series of pinfall reversals, on the third of which Ohtani holds him down for the win. Awesome. ****1/4  (2011 Scott sez:  They played this match on either 24/7 or Vintage Collection, I forget which, and it was still pretty fucking awesome.)  New Japan 3, WCW 2. · Randy Savage v. Tenzan. They spell Tenzan as “Tensan” just to piss me off. (2011 Scott sez:  This coming from the guy who can’t decide if it’s “Eddy” or “Eddie” Guerrero) Macho is the World champion at this point, and has exactly one offensive move of any note: The flying elbow. Man, he went into a deep funk before making a comeback via DDP in 1997. Nothing match-Savage gets the shit kicked out of him, has one quick move to stun Tenzan, then elbow and it’s over. DUD. New Japan 3, WCW 3.  (2011 Scott sez:  They had a fucking Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and wasted it with this crappy Savage formula?  Holy cow that could have been a show-stealing slugfest for the ages!  But then I didn’t really get into Tenzan and Kojima until about three years after I wrote this rant anyway, so who knows if he was any good in 95.) · Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair, who is the only participant in the main event not wrestling a previous match tonight. That should have given it away right there… · World Cup final: Sting v. US champ Kensuke Sasake. Yes, Sasake (2011 Scott sez:  Wasn’t 1999 Scott just bitching earlier about them misspelling “Tenzan”?  It’s SASAKI, 1999 Scott.) was actually US champion in 1995, continuing that proud lineage that went on to produce US champ One Man Gang, US Champ Konnan, US Champ Jeff Jarrett and US champ Steve McMichael. (2011 Scott sez:  Don’t forget US Champ Orlando Jordan!) Major yawn. See Savage match, substitute “Scorpion Deathlock” for “Flying Elbow”. DUD. WCW wins the World Cup.  (2011 Scott sez:  And no one smashed the trophy?  WTF?) · Triangle match: Lex Luger v. Sting v. Ric Flair. Now this is the really interesting part of the show. This is a one-on-one match with the third guy on the apron, able to tag in. Winner of the pinfall gets a shot at Randy Savage’s World title immediately following. Basic story is this: Flair turned on Sting for the millionth time at Havoc 95 so they hate each other. Sting and Luger are best friends, despite the fact that Luger’s a ratfuck who turns on Sting regularly behind his back. And Luger and Flair just plain hate other from past history. This basically three separate matches: Sting-Flair, Flair-Luger and Luger-Sting. The Flair v. Sting segment is their typically excellent encounter, with neither man really dominating and Flair taking a shitkicking because Sting’s REALLY PISSED. Then we get Luger-Flair, with Luger playing the same babyface he played in 1988 and Flair playing the snivelling coward who takes out the knee and then works on that non-stop, all the while throwing sneering remarks at Sting just to annoy him. Flair finally tags out, just to be a shit disturber, and Tony effortlessly reels off the last date and event when Sting met Luger (Superbrawl II in Milwaukee). He never does that stuff anymore. You know, continuity. (2011 Scott sez:  Could be worse, could be Michael Cole just making stuff up based on what Vince is yelling in his earpiece that day.) Then some weird shit happens: Luger instantly morphs into heel mode, effectively doing a mid-match turn. Spooky… Luger beats the hell out of Sting, completely controlling that portion while Flair gleefully watches. Finally, the ref gets bumped as Luger puts Sting into the rack, and Flair pounces. He clips Luger and tosses him out of the ring, then nails Sting and tosses him too, then wakes up the referee, who counts out both guys. Flair is your winner and challenger for the World title. ****  (2011 Scott sez:  That…doesn’t really sound like a **** match to me.  Sounds like a clusterfuck that I overrated because the rest of the show was really good wrestling-wise.)  · WCW World title match: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair. Paul Orndorff wanders down to remind us what bad people the Horsemen are (he’s in a neck brace at this point, courtesy Pillman). Jimmy Hart is managing Flair for some reason. This is your basic Flair-Savage match, minus the excitement and drama. Savage nails Flair with the megaphone at one point and then blades Flair himself for some reason, opening a HUGE gusher. Pillman and Benoit run in (the ref is talking to Jimmy Hart) and cause mayhem to smoke-screen Arn Anderson, who nails Savage with brass knucks, allowing Flair to get the pin and World title #12. **1/2 Pillman snaps and beats on Savage with the World title as the Horsemen celebration takes us out. The Bottom Line: Hogan took a sort-of hiatus between World War III and Bash at the Beach (where he turned nWo 4 life) and the quality of WCW shows dramatically improved in that timespan. The NJ v. WCW idea was a cool idea that wasn’t suited for 1995 (it’d damn sure work today, though) and the Sting v. Luger v. Flair v. Savage trainwreck was a brilliant bit of characterization on everyone’s part that ended up going absolutely nowhere because Hulk Hogan came back and put the spotlight on the nWo. Still, this is a great slice of something different from WCW and a great show to look back on and wonder “What if…” about.  (2011 Scott sez:  That may have been the case in 99, but I barely even remember this show today.)

Starrcade Countdown: 1995

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995. · Live from Nashville, TN · Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby. · Okay, this is what we call a “Concept Show.” The concept in this case is that Sonny Onoo and his group of baddies from New Japan Pro Wrestling are “invading” WCW and the result is a 7 match series to determine the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Neat idea in theory, stupid idea in practice, especially on the biggest show of the year. This predated the nWo by 7 months, it should be noted. · Opening match: Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger. Benoit is a freshly named Horsemen at this point (along with Pillman, Flair and Anderson) and is wrestling like Wild Pegasus instead of Ass-Kicking Mofo Pegasus. Liger rocks here, adjusting nicely to the North American style, which unfortunately means “dumbing it down” for the Tennessee audience. Good to start, slow in the middle, hot to finish. Tony is already spewing the “#1 wrestling organization” crap months before they ever won a decisive ratings victory, but his knowledge of the move names and history of the wrestlers is in-fucking-credible. He is definitely being an ignoramus today as part of the character, because 1995 Tony was Mike Tenay on steroids. (2011 Scott sez:  Really, hindsight says that, like most people in WCW, it was because Tony stopped giving a shit sometime in 1997)  This is America, so the Ligerbomb has minimal effect on Benoit. Benoit actually debuts the rollthrough german suplexes here and then doesn’t do it again for two years. And of course a screwy ending-Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit, allowing Liger a cheap win.  New Japan 1, WCW 0. ***1/4 · Alex Wright v. Koji Kanemoto. I was hoping for Alex to walk out with three broken bones and a mouthful of tooth fragments, but no such luck. Lots of legbars and armbars that look really good but don’t do much damage. Still, I credit Alex for effort here. Koji with a couple of SWANK~! spinning kicks, but the rest is way too loosey-goosey for someone who works as stiff as Koji does overseas. Koji wrestles a dead-on Muta impersonation for some reason here. This is spot-rest-spot Sabu type of match, which keeps the crowd alternately bored and excited. Kanemoto with Snake-Eyes and then a double-leg rollover for the pin. **1/2 New Japan 2, WCW 0.  (2011 Scott sez:  Alex Wright was WAAAAAAY out of his league here.) · Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Masa Chono. This is just after Luger’s heel turn at Havoc 95. And it’s as bad as you’d think it would be, given the talent involved, although Chono makes a go of it. Luger with the inevitable torture rack (hey, he’s in the main event later tonight, he has to win) for the submission. * New Japan 2, WCW 1. · Johnny B. Badd (w/ Kimberly) v. Masa Saito. Kim looks eminently do-able here, much more so than today’s Nitro Girl look. (2011 Scott sez:  She fell hard, FAST. By the time she did The 40 Year Old Virgin you could barely recognize her.)  And who thought this match up? A graphic on the bottom of the screen helpfully points out the score. Choke, slap, stall, rest. Goofy ending as Badd goes for Onoo on the apron, and Saito dumps him over the top rope to show how stupid the Japanese are for not knowing that’s a DQ here in the GOOD OL’ US OF A! HOOOOO! Oh, wait, that’s just Kimberly… DUD.  (2011 Fuad sez:  IS FUNNY BECAUSE KIMBERLY IS LOOSE WOMAN, HO HO!) New Japan 2, WCW 2. · Shinjiro Ohtani v. Eddy Guerrero. YES! YES! YES! And Ohtani is full “Screw you, I’ll be an asshole and you’ll like it.” mode, to make it even better. Lots and lots of great mat wrestling, and Eddy rules it with a foldover powerbomb. Ohtani says, “Fuck you, no way you’re gonna rule the world more than me” (Okay, so I actually said that, but still…) and pulls out a Taka top-rope springboard. I love this guy. Eddy’s not wearing a mask but Ohtani tries to rip it off anyway. Ohtani even manages to DRAW HEAT. On his own. Eddy does Splash Mountain, just to see who can be more SWANK in one match. Eddy beats on Ohtani some more, but My Lord and Savior comes back with his VICIOUS springboard dropkick to the back of Eddy’s head that looks like it nearly gave him whiplash. Then into a killer series of pinfall reversals, on the third of which Ohtani holds him down for the win. Awesome. ****1/4  (2011 Scott sez:  They played this match on either 24/7 or Vintage Collection, I forget which, and it was still pretty fucking awesome.)  New Japan 3, WCW 2. · Randy Savage v. Tenzan. They spell Tenzan as “Tensan” just to piss me off. (2011 Scott sez:  This coming from the guy who can’t decide if it’s “Eddy” or “Eddie” Guerrero) Macho is the World champion at this point, and has exactly one offensive move of any note: The flying elbow. Man, he went into a deep funk before making a comeback via DDP in 1997. Nothing match-Savage gets the shit kicked out of him, has one quick move to stun Tenzan, then elbow and it’s over. DUD. New Japan 3, WCW 3.  (2011 Scott sez:  They had a fucking Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and wasted it with this crappy Savage formula?  Holy cow that could have been a show-stealing slugfest for the ages!  But then I didn’t really get into Tenzan and Kojima until about three years after I wrote this rant anyway, so who knows if he was any good in 95.) · Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair, who is the only participant in the main event not wrestling a previous match tonight. That should have given it away right there… · World Cup final: Sting v. US champ Kensuke Sasake. Yes, Sasake (2011 Scott sez:  Wasn’t 1999 Scott just bitching earlier about them misspelling “Tenzan”?  It’s SASAKI, 1999 Scott.) was actually US champion in 1995, continuing that proud lineage that went on to produce US champ One Man Gang, US Champ Konnan, US Champ Jeff Jarrett and US champ Steve McMichael. (2011 Scott sez:  Don’t forget US Champ Orlando Jordan!) Major yawn. See Savage match, substitute “Scorpion Deathlock” for “Flying Elbow”. DUD. WCW wins the World Cup.  (2011 Scott sez:  And no one smashed the trophy?  WTF?) · Triangle match: Lex Luger v. Sting v. Ric Flair. Now this is the really interesting part of the show. This is a one-on-one match with the third guy on the apron, able to tag in. Winner of the pinfall gets a shot at Randy Savage’s World title immediately following. Basic story is this: Flair turned on Sting for the millionth time at Havoc 95 so they hate each other. Sting and Luger are best friends, despite the fact that Luger’s a ratfuck who turns on Sting regularly behind his back. And Luger and Flair just plain hate other from past history. This basically three separate matches: Sting-Flair, Flair-Luger and Luger-Sting. The Flair v. Sting segment is their typically excellent encounter, with neither man really dominating and Flair taking a shitkicking because Sting’s REALLY PISSED. Then we get Luger-Flair, with Luger playing the same babyface he played in 1988 and Flair playing the snivelling coward who takes out the knee and then works on that non-stop, all the while throwing sneering remarks at Sting just to annoy him. Flair finally tags out, just to be a shit disturber, and Tony effortlessly reels off the last date and event when Sting met Luger (Superbrawl II in Milwaukee). He never does that stuff anymore. You know, continuity. (2011 Scott sez:  Could be worse, could be Michael Cole just making stuff up based on what Vince is yelling in his earpiece that day.) Then some weird shit happens: Luger instantly morphs into heel mode, effectively doing a mid-match turn. Spooky… Luger beats the hell out of Sting, completely controlling that portion while Flair gleefully watches. Finally, the ref gets bumped as Luger puts Sting into the rack, and Flair pounces. He clips Luger and tosses him out of the ring, then nails Sting and tosses him too, then wakes up the referee, who counts out both guys. Flair is your winner and challenger for the World title. ****  (2011 Scott sez:  That…doesn’t really sound like a **** match to me.  Sounds like a clusterfuck that I overrated because the rest of the show was really good wrestling-wise.)  · WCW World title match: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair. Paul Orndorff wanders down to remind us what bad people the Horsemen are (he’s in a neck brace at this point, courtesy Pillman). Jimmy Hart is managing Flair for some reason. This is your basic Flair-Savage match, minus the excitement and drama. Savage nails Flair with the megaphone at one point and then blades Flair himself for some reason, opening a HUGE gusher. Pillman and Benoit run in (the ref is talking to Jimmy Hart) and cause mayhem to smoke-screen Arn Anderson, who nails Savage with brass knucks, allowing Flair to get the pin and World title #12. **1/2 Pillman snaps and beats on Savage with the World title as the Horsemen celebration takes us out. The Bottom Line: Hogan took a sort-of hiatus between World War III and Bash at the Beach (where he turned nWo 4 life) and the quality of WCW shows dramatically improved in that timespan. The NJ v. WCW idea was a cool idea that wasn’t suited for 1995 (it’d damn sure work today, though) and the Sting v. Luger v. Flair v. Savage trainwreck was a brilliant bit of characterization on everyone’s part that ended up going absolutely nowhere because Hulk Hogan came back and put the spotlight on the nWo. Still, this is a great slice of something different from WCW and a great show to look back on and wonder “What if…” about.  (2011 Scott sez:  That may have been the case in 99, but I barely even remember this show today.)

Starrcade Countdown: 1995

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995. · Live from Nashville, TN · Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby. · Okay, this is what we call a “Concept Show.” The concept in this case is that Sonny Onoo and his group of baddies from New Japan Pro Wrestling are “invading” WCW and the result is a 7 match series to determine the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Neat idea in theory, stupid idea in practice, especially on the biggest show of the year. This predated the nWo by 7 months, it should be noted. · Opening match: Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger. Benoit is a freshly named Horsemen at this point (along with Pillman, Flair and Anderson) and is wrestling like Wild Pegasus instead of Ass-Kicking Mofo Pegasus. Liger rocks here, adjusting nicely to the North American style, which unfortunately means “dumbing it down” for the Tennessee audience. Good to start, slow in the middle, hot to finish. Tony is already spewing the “#1 wrestling organization” crap months before they ever won a decisive ratings victory, but his knowledge of the move names and history of the wrestlers is in-fucking-credible. He is definitely being an ignoramus today as part of the character, because 1995 Tony was Mike Tenay on steroids. (2011 Scott sez:  Really, hindsight says that, like most people in WCW, it was because Tony stopped giving a shit sometime in 1997)  This is America, so the Ligerbomb has minimal effect on Benoit. Benoit actually debuts the rollthrough german suplexes here and then doesn’t do it again for two years. And of course a screwy ending-Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit, allowing Liger a cheap win.  New Japan 1, WCW 0. ***1/4 · Alex Wright v. Koji Kanemoto. I was hoping for Alex to walk out with three broken bones and a mouthful of tooth fragments, but no such luck. Lots of legbars and armbars that look really good but don’t do much damage. Still, I credit Alex for effort here. Koji with a couple of SWANK~! spinning kicks, but the rest is way too loosey-goosey for someone who works as stiff as Koji does overseas. Koji wrestles a dead-on Muta impersonation for some reason here. This is spot-rest-spot Sabu type of match, which keeps the crowd alternately bored and excited. Kanemoto with Snake-Eyes and then a double-leg rollover for the pin. **1/2 New Japan 2, WCW 0.  (2011 Scott sez:  Alex Wright was WAAAAAAY out of his league here.) · Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Masa Chono. This is just after Luger’s heel turn at Havoc 95. And it’s as bad as you’d think it would be, given the talent involved, although Chono makes a go of it. Luger with the inevitable torture rack (hey, he’s in the main event later tonight, he has to win) for the submission. * New Japan 2, WCW 1. · Johnny B. Badd (w/ Kimberly) v. Masa Saito. Kim looks eminently do-able here, much more so than today’s Nitro Girl look. (2011 Scott sez:  She fell hard, FAST. By the time she did The 40 Year Old Virgin you could barely recognize her.)  And who thought this match up? A graphic on the bottom of the screen helpfully points out the score. Choke, slap, stall, rest. Goofy ending as Badd goes for Onoo on the apron, and Saito dumps him over the top rope to show how stupid the Japanese are for not knowing that’s a DQ here in the GOOD OL’ US OF A! HOOOOO! Oh, wait, that’s just Kimberly… DUD.  (2011 Fuad sez:  IS FUNNY BECAUSE KIMBERLY IS LOOSE WOMAN, HO HO!) New Japan 2, WCW 2. · Shinjiro Ohtani v. Eddy Guerrero. YES! YES! YES! And Ohtani is full “Screw you, I’ll be an asshole and you’ll like it.” mode, to make it even better. Lots and lots of great mat wrestling, and Eddy rules it with a foldover powerbomb. Ohtani says, “Fuck you, no way you’re gonna rule the world more than me” (Okay, so I actually said that, but still…) and pulls out a Taka top-rope springboard. I love this guy. Eddy’s not wearing a mask but Ohtani tries to rip it off anyway. Ohtani even manages to DRAW HEAT. On his own. Eddy does Splash Mountain, just to see who can be more SWANK in one match. Eddy beats on Ohtani some more, but My Lord and Savior comes back with his VICIOUS springboard dropkick to the back of Eddy’s head that looks like it nearly gave him whiplash. Then into a killer series of pinfall reversals, on the third of which Ohtani holds him down for the win. Awesome. ****1/4  (2011 Scott sez:  They played this match on either 24/7 or Vintage Collection, I forget which, and it was still pretty fucking awesome.)  New Japan 3, WCW 2. · Randy Savage v. Tenzan. They spell Tenzan as “Tensan” just to piss me off. (2011 Scott sez:  This coming from the guy who can’t decide if it’s “Eddy” or “Eddie” Guerrero) Macho is the World champion at this point, and has exactly one offensive move of any note: The flying elbow. Man, he went into a deep funk before making a comeback via DDP in 1997. Nothing match-Savage gets the shit kicked out of him, has one quick move to stun Tenzan, then elbow and it’s over. DUD. New Japan 3, WCW 3.  (2011 Scott sez:  They had a fucking Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and wasted it with this crappy Savage formula?  Holy cow that could have been a show-stealing slugfest for the ages!  But then I didn’t really get into Tenzan and Kojima until about three years after I wrote this rant anyway, so who knows if he was any good in 95.) · Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair, who is the only participant in the main event not wrestling a previous match tonight. That should have given it away right there… · World Cup final: Sting v. US champ Kensuke Sasake. Yes, Sasake (2011 Scott sez:  Wasn’t 1999 Scott just bitching earlier about them misspelling “Tenzan”?  It’s SASAKI, 1999 Scott.) was actually US champion in 1995, continuing that proud lineage that went on to produce US champ One Man Gang, US Champ Konnan, US Champ Jeff Jarrett and US champ Steve McMichael. (2011 Scott sez:  Don’t forget US Champ Orlando Jordan!) Major yawn. See Savage match, substitute “Scorpion Deathlock” for “Flying Elbow”. DUD. WCW wins the World Cup.  (2011 Scott sez:  And no one smashed the trophy?  WTF?) · Triangle match: Lex Luger v. Sting v. Ric Flair. Now this is the really interesting part of the show. This is a one-on-one match with the third guy on the apron, able to tag in. Winner of the pinfall gets a shot at Randy Savage’s World title immediately following. Basic story is this: Flair turned on Sting for the millionth time at Havoc 95 so they hate each other. Sting and Luger are best friends, despite the fact that Luger’s a ratfuck who turns on Sting regularly behind his back. And Luger and Flair just plain hate other from past history. This basically three separate matches: Sting-Flair, Flair-Luger and Luger-Sting. The Flair v. Sting segment is their typically excellent encounter, with neither man really dominating and Flair taking a shitkicking because Sting’s REALLY PISSED. Then we get Luger-Flair, with Luger playing the same babyface he played in 1988 and Flair playing the snivelling coward who takes out the knee and then works on that non-stop, all the while throwing sneering remarks at Sting just to annoy him. Flair finally tags out, just to be a shit disturber, and Tony effortlessly reels off the last date and event when Sting met Luger (Superbrawl II in Milwaukee). He never does that stuff anymore. You know, continuity. (2011 Scott sez:  Could be worse, could be Michael Cole just making stuff up based on what Vince is yelling in his earpiece that day.) Then some weird shit happens: Luger instantly morphs into heel mode, effectively doing a mid-match turn. Spooky… Luger beats the hell out of Sting, completely controlling that portion while Flair gleefully watches. Finally, the ref gets bumped as Luger puts Sting into the rack, and Flair pounces. He clips Luger and tosses him out of the ring, then nails Sting and tosses him too, then wakes up the referee, who counts out both guys. Flair is your winner and challenger for the World title. ****  (2011 Scott sez:  That…doesn’t really sound like a **** match to me.  Sounds like a clusterfuck that I overrated because the rest of the show was really good wrestling-wise.)  · WCW World title match: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair. Paul Orndorff wanders down to remind us what bad people the Horsemen are (he’s in a neck brace at this point, courtesy Pillman). Jimmy Hart is managing Flair for some reason. This is your basic Flair-Savage match, minus the excitement and drama. Savage nails Flair with the megaphone at one point and then blades Flair himself for some reason, opening a HUGE gusher. Pillman and Benoit run in (the ref is talking to Jimmy Hart) and cause mayhem to smoke-screen Arn Anderson, who nails Savage with brass knucks, allowing Flair to get the pin and World title #12. **1/2 Pillman snaps and beats on Savage with the World title as the Horsemen celebration takes us out. The Bottom Line: Hogan took a sort-of hiatus between World War III and Bash at the Beach (where he turned nWo 4 life) and the quality of WCW shows dramatically improved in that timespan. The NJ v. WCW idea was a cool idea that wasn’t suited for 1995 (it’d damn sure work today, though) and the Sting v. Luger v. Flair v. Savage trainwreck was a brilliant bit of characterization on everyone’s part that ended up going absolutely nowhere because Hulk Hogan came back and put the spotlight on the nWo. Still, this is a great slice of something different from WCW and a great show to look back on and wonder “What if…” about.  (2011 Scott sez:  That may have been the case in 99, but I barely even remember this show today.)

Starrcade Countdown: 1995

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Starrcade 1995. · Live from Nashville, TN · Your hosts are Tony, Dusty and Bobby. · Okay, this is what we call a “Concept Show.” The concept in this case is that Sonny Onoo and his group of baddies from New Japan Pro Wrestling are “invading” WCW and the result is a 7 match series to determine the “World Cup of Wrestling.” Neat idea in theory, stupid idea in practice, especially on the biggest show of the year. This predated the nWo by 7 months, it should be noted. · Opening match: Chris Benoit v. Jushin Liger. Benoit is a freshly named Horsemen at this point (along with Pillman, Flair and Anderson) and is wrestling like Wild Pegasus instead of Ass-Kicking Mofo Pegasus. Liger rocks here, adjusting nicely to the North American style, which unfortunately means “dumbing it down” for the Tennessee audience. Good to start, slow in the middle, hot to finish. Tony is already spewing the “#1 wrestling organization” crap months before they ever won a decisive ratings victory, but his knowledge of the move names and history of the wrestlers is in-fucking-credible. He is definitely being an ignoramus today as part of the character, because 1995 Tony was Mike Tenay on steroids. (2011 Scott sez:  Really, hindsight says that, like most people in WCW, it was because Tony stopped giving a shit sometime in 1997)  This is America, so the Ligerbomb has minimal effect on Benoit. Benoit actually debuts the rollthrough german suplexes here and then doesn’t do it again for two years. And of course a screwy ending-Kevin Sullivan distracts Benoit, allowing Liger a cheap win.  New Japan 1, WCW 0. ***1/4 · Alex Wright v. Koji Kanemoto. I was hoping for Alex to walk out with three broken bones and a mouthful of tooth fragments, but no such luck. Lots of legbars and armbars that look really good but don’t do much damage. Still, I credit Alex for effort here. Koji with a couple of SWANK~! spinning kicks, but the rest is way too loosey-goosey for someone who works as stiff as Koji does overseas. Koji wrestles a dead-on Muta impersonation for some reason here. This is spot-rest-spot Sabu type of match, which keeps the crowd alternately bored and excited. Kanemoto with Snake-Eyes and then a double-leg rollover for the pin. **1/2 New Japan 2, WCW 0.  (2011 Scott sez:  Alex Wright was WAAAAAAY out of his league here.) · Lex Luger (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Masa Chono. This is just after Luger’s heel turn at Havoc 95. And it’s as bad as you’d think it would be, given the talent involved, although Chono makes a go of it. Luger with the inevitable torture rack (hey, he’s in the main event later tonight, he has to win) for the submission. * New Japan 2, WCW 1. · Johnny B. Badd (w/ Kimberly) v. Masa Saito. Kim looks eminently do-able here, much more so than today’s Nitro Girl look. (2011 Scott sez:  She fell hard, FAST. By the time she did The 40 Year Old Virgin you could barely recognize her.)  And who thought this match up? A graphic on the bottom of the screen helpfully points out the score. Choke, slap, stall, rest. Goofy ending as Badd goes for Onoo on the apron, and Saito dumps him over the top rope to show how stupid the Japanese are for not knowing that’s a DQ here in the GOOD OL’ US OF A! HOOOOO! Oh, wait, that’s just Kimberly… DUD.  (2011 Fuad sez:  IS FUNNY BECAUSE KIMBERLY IS LOOSE WOMAN, HO HO!) New Japan 2, WCW 2. · Shinjiro Ohtani v. Eddy Guerrero. YES! YES! YES! And Ohtani is full “Screw you, I’ll be an asshole and you’ll like it.” mode, to make it even better. Lots and lots of great mat wrestling, and Eddy rules it with a foldover powerbomb. Ohtani says, “Fuck you, no way you’re gonna rule the world more than me” (Okay, so I actually said that, but still…) and pulls out a Taka top-rope springboard. I love this guy. Eddy’s not wearing a mask but Ohtani tries to rip it off anyway. Ohtani even manages to DRAW HEAT. On his own. Eddy does Splash Mountain, just to see who can be more SWANK in one match. Eddy beats on Ohtani some more, but My Lord and Savior comes back with his VICIOUS springboard dropkick to the back of Eddy’s head that looks like it nearly gave him whiplash. Then into a killer series of pinfall reversals, on the third of which Ohtani holds him down for the win. Awesome. ****1/4  (2011 Scott sez:  They played this match on either 24/7 or Vintage Collection, I forget which, and it was still pretty fucking awesome.)  New Japan 3, WCW 2. · Randy Savage v. Tenzan. They spell Tenzan as “Tensan” just to piss me off. (2011 Scott sez:  This coming from the guy who can’t decide if it’s “Eddy” or “Eddie” Guerrero) Macho is the World champion at this point, and has exactly one offensive move of any note: The flying elbow. Man, he went into a deep funk before making a comeback via DDP in 1997. Nothing match-Savage gets the shit kicked out of him, has one quick move to stun Tenzan, then elbow and it’s over. DUD. New Japan 3, WCW 3.  (2011 Scott sez:  They had a fucking Savage v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and wasted it with this crappy Savage formula?  Holy cow that could have been a show-stealing slugfest for the ages!  But then I didn’t really get into Tenzan and Kojima until about three years after I wrote this rant anyway, so who knows if he was any good in 95.) · Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair, who is the only participant in the main event not wrestling a previous match tonight. That should have given it away right there… · World Cup final: Sting v. US champ Kensuke Sasake. Yes, Sasake (2011 Scott sez:  Wasn’t 1999 Scott just bitching earlier about them misspelling “Tenzan”?  It’s SASAKI, 1999 Scott.) was actually US champion in 1995, continuing that proud lineage that went on to produce US champ One Man Gang, US Champ Konnan, US Champ Jeff Jarrett and US champ Steve McMichael. (2011 Scott sez:  Don’t forget US Champ Orlando Jordan!) Major yawn. See Savage match, substitute “Scorpion Deathlock” for “Flying Elbow”. DUD. WCW wins the World Cup.  (2011 Scott sez:  And no one smashed the trophy?  WTF?) · Triangle match: Lex Luger v. Sting v. Ric Flair. Now this is the really interesting part of the show. This is a one-on-one match with the third guy on the apron, able to tag in. Winner of the pinfall gets a shot at Randy Savage’s World title immediately following. Basic story is this: Flair turned on Sting for the millionth time at Havoc 95 so they hate each other. Sting and Luger are best friends, despite the fact that Luger’s a ratfuck who turns on Sting regularly behind his back. And Luger and Flair just plain hate other from past history. This basically three separate matches: Sting-Flair, Flair-Luger and Luger-Sting. The Flair v. Sting segment is their typically excellent encounter, with neither man really dominating and Flair taking a shitkicking because Sting’s REALLY PISSED. Then we get Luger-Flair, with Luger playing the same babyface he played in 1988 and Flair playing the snivelling coward who takes out the knee and then works on that non-stop, all the while throwing sneering remarks at Sting just to annoy him. Flair finally tags out, just to be a shit disturber, and Tony effortlessly reels off the last date and event when Sting met Luger (Superbrawl II in Milwaukee). He never does that stuff anymore. You know, continuity. (2011 Scott sez:  Could be worse, could be Michael Cole just making stuff up based on what Vince is yelling in his earpiece that day.) Then some weird shit happens: Luger instantly morphs into heel mode, effectively doing a mid-match turn. Spooky… Luger beats the hell out of Sting, completely controlling that portion while Flair gleefully watches. Finally, the ref gets bumped as Luger puts Sting into the rack, and Flair pounces. He clips Luger and tosses him out of the ring, then nails Sting and tosses him too, then wakes up the referee, who counts out both guys. Flair is your winner and challenger for the World title. ****  (2011 Scott sez:  That…doesn’t really sound like a **** match to me.  Sounds like a clusterfuck that I overrated because the rest of the show was really good wrestling-wise.)  · WCW World title match: Randy Savage v. Ric Flair. Paul Orndorff wanders down to remind us what bad people the Horsemen are (he’s in a neck brace at this point, courtesy Pillman). Jimmy Hart is managing Flair for some reason. This is your basic Flair-Savage match, minus the excitement and drama. Savage nails Flair with the megaphone at one point and then blades Flair himself for some reason, opening a HUGE gusher. Pillman and Benoit run in (the ref is talking to Jimmy Hart) and cause mayhem to smoke-screen Arn Anderson, who nails Savage with brass knucks, allowing Flair to get the pin and World title #12. **1/2 Pillman snaps and beats on Savage with the World title as the Horsemen celebration takes us out. The Bottom Line: Hogan took a sort-of hiatus between World War III and Bash at the Beach (where he turned nWo 4 life) and the quality of WCW shows dramatically improved in that timespan. The NJ v. WCW idea was a cool idea that wasn’t suited for 1995 (it’d damn sure work today, though) and the Sting v. Luger v. Flair v. Savage trainwreck was a brilliant bit of characterization on everyone’s part that ended up going absolutely nowhere because Hulk Hogan came back and put the spotlight on the nWo. Still, this is a great slice of something different from WCW and a great show to look back on and wonder “What if…” about.  (2011 Scott sez:  That may have been the case in 99, but I barely even remember this show today.)

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!)–12.07.11

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff, Too!) I continue to tweak my pull list, as lots of people have recommended Swamp Thing to me, so I figured that it was easy enough to catch up with only 3 previous issues thus far.  And I love it!  Surprising to me because I was never into the original series in the 80s, but Scott Snyder makes it easy to pick up and go.  It’s replacing Detective Comics for the moment.  So we’ll kick things off there…  
 
Swamp Thing #4 As mentioned above, this is quite the interesting title.  I was only vaguely aware of Swamp Thing’s deal back in the 80s, as in I basically knew he was Dr. Alec Holland and now he was recently back from the dead as a part of Brightest Day.  Of course, that particular crossover may or may not have actually happened now, but for the purposes of the story Holland is now mysteriously back from the dead regardless.  This is kind of like a sister title to Animal Man, with a horror feel but with much cleaner and more pleasant artwork than Animal Man offers.  Instead of the Red, Swamp Thing focuses on The Green, aka the plantlife of the world.  The really interesting thing about this book thus far, for me, is that we’re 4 issues in and it’s still only about Alec Holland and not about Swamp Thing.  In fact, the whole first arc is about Swamp Thing bugging Holland to accept his destiny and become Swamp Thing himself.  Abby Arcane returns from the original series, with shorter hair, and her brother William is a creepy bubble boy who taps into The Rot.  This means that although he’s allergic to air basically, he can harness and control any dead matter he can see.  He’s a nasty little guy and bad stuff happens if you don’t get his milkshake order right.  I liked how Snyder builds up sympathy for William early on, as he’s tormented by bullies in his hospital room, but then pulls the rug out from under you by revealing just what he can do to people.  It involves pulling their lungs out through their mouth.  And this is all great stuff, as I had no problem getting right into the series from #1.  I’m kind of disappointed that Paquette is gone as penciller, but it’s not a jarring transition to the new guy or anything.  Thumbs up and welcome to the pull list, Swamp Thing!

Animal Man #4
Hey, speaking of The Rot, Animal Man is also busy fighting them in his own title.  I smell crossover!  This continues to be a title that’s creepy as hell, with a bad guy seemingly right out of Men In Black (you know, the farmer infested with the insect alien?).  Buddy Baker faces the question that all parents eventually have to:  Do you let your 4-year old daughter act as an avatar for a supernatural force of nature?  And if so, do you get her a costume and cool superhero nickname?  Maxine continues to steal the show here, developing healing powers to save her dad and then bonding with a cat who’s actually her mentor in the Red (“My name used to be Socks, but I prefer to be called Ignatius.”  “I’m gonna call you Socks.”)   I’m actually glad I jumped onto Swamp Thing when I did, because these storylines will mesh well together.  This continues to be the nicest surprise of the New 52 thus far and makes me wonder if I should be reading Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein as well.

Action Comics #4
Superman has his showdown with Metallo (still not named as such, but it’s basically him), thus ripping his t-shirt all to pieces.  Luckily, Steel joins the new universe and makes the save, giving us a connection that I’m kind of shocked no one ever thought of doing before.  Much like the title, this is all action, leading up to the shock cliffhanger and reveal of the big villain…and then it’s continued in Action #7?  That’s just mean, Grant Morrison.  Not as much of a blowaway issue as the previous three, but dammit if  don’t want to know what happens next, something I’ve never said about Superman to date.  The backup story focuses on the fight between Steel and Metallo, a weird storyline choice where you learn the outcome of the fight after it’s already wrapped up in the main story.  I don’t think anyone’s buying this for John Henry Irons, but it was fine.

Justice League International #4
So it turns out that the dude the JLI is after, who calls himself Peraxxus, is really just a glorified scrap dealer who wants to blow up the Earth and sell the salvage parts to some sort of galactic pawn shop.  As evil plans go, that’s a pretty evil one.  He’s also too individually powerful for the League to take out, even after they escape his clutches and regroup, so that’s not good either.  Hopefully Batman’s got a plan to deal with this, although really he feels a bit superfluous when there’s already Booster Gold and Guy Gardner to carry the star power for the title.  I don’t mind the new serious leader Booster, although the artwork gives everyone way too much ab definition.  Do all these heroes just do crunches in their downtime?  Anyway, as I’ve said before, this is a solid and enjoyable superhero team book that I am enjoying a lot after a shaky start, but this is all so paint-by-numbers that it’s not like you’re missing anything if you’re not reading it, either.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, I go where Booster goes, so I’m in it for the long haul anyway.

Batwing #4
I don’t know if the artwork change from Ben Oliver’s painted backgrounds to ChrisCross’s standard pencils is a temporary thing, but it really hurts the issue for me.  Nothing against the fill-in artist, but the dark and slightly dreamy feel of the original art helped out the story for me a lot.  Without it, all you’ve got is a guy in a Batsuit who killed a bunch of people as a kid.  This would be the “secret origin” issue, although it’s more of a backstory rather than a discussion of the hows and whys behind David becoming Batwing.  Unfortunately the characters aren’t really distinct enough to where it’s easy to follow what exactly was going on, and that’s kind of frustrating.  I’ll give Winnick the benefit of the doubt and keep coming back, but hopefully Ben Oliver sticks around.

OMAC #4
I think I’ve said it before, but this is just a FUN comic.  Keith Giffen lets it all hang out with nine-panel goofy comic book adventures here, gleefully swiping from Kirby in only the best manner possible.  Poor Kevin Kho continues to get jerked around by Brother Eye and his soul-crushing job, (“I’m afraid you’ll have to take the past week as UNPAID time.”) as well as dumped by his girlfriend.  Luckily, it turns out that the subway blocks Eye’s signal, so he can ride the train in peace and quiet.  Until giant mutant alligators attack him, of course, and then he suddenly would like to OMACTIVATE at the soonest possible opportunity.  I actually giggled while he was hanging from a sewer grate and desperately asking Brother Eye “Can you hear me now?” because it’s such a cheap gag and thus the most awesomely cheesy thing for DiDio and Giffen to have him say.  Unfortunately this wonderful comic book is one of the lowest-selling of the new 52 line, so buy it and support it while you can!  

Avenging Spider-Man #2
I picked up the first issue on a whim because it’s got a great title and team-up books are really cool, generally speaking.  It wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but it was such a fun and effectively drawn romp that I just had to keep going with it.  Red Hulk, who I know nothing about outside of him being General Ross, makes a nice super-serious counterpoint to the wisecracking Spider-Man (“So we got eaten by this thing.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”) and Jonah Jameson (he’s the MAYOR?) giving the Mole-Man some “New York diplomacy” is also tremendously entertaining.  Even J. Jonah gets some good lines (“I’ve got a direct line to the Avengers.  I don’t know which team exactly, but it’s a good one!”), and Rulk apparently meets a bad end for the big cliffhanger.  I’m pretty sure he’ll pull through.  This stays on my pull list. And because it’s the season, we finish with a Christmas special that’s been out for a few weeks.

Batman:  NOEL
This one was annoyingly present in the backpages of almost all the October DC comics, so I figured I might as well give it a look.  And as promised, the artwork from Lee Bermejo is breathtaking.  Kind of reminded me of Alex Ross with the hyper-detailed photo look to it, in fact.  The details in Batman’s boots and costume in general are amazing.  The story, however, is something else entirely.  Basically it’s “A Christmas Carol” welded onto the Batman mythos and it works about as well as you’d imagine.  Batman is “Scrooge”, and he’s visited by the ghost of Robin and then three “spirits” while he’s suffering from pneumonia.  It’s a kind of cliché story about a henchman (named Bob Cratchit) who just wants to do right by his young son (Tiny Tim), but mean old Bruce Wayne makes him work Christmas and so he does work for the Joker on the side.  This was a wonderful book to look at, but the juxtaposing of Dickens with Batman just doesn’t work.  At all.  But that scene of Superman flying down to help Batman and bathed in a red glow…awesome.  I’ll give it a slight recommendation because it’s so damn pretty to look at. Your winners this week:  Animal Man and Swamp Thing, with OMAC continuing to be the stupidest and most fun comic you’ll see on the rack this week.

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!)–12.07.11

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff, Too!) I continue to tweak my pull list, as lots of people have recommended Swamp Thing to me, so I figured that it was easy enough to catch up with only 3 previous issues thus far.  And I love it!  Surprising to me because I was never into the original series in the 80s, but Scott Snyder makes it easy to pick up and go.  It’s replacing Detective Comics for the moment.  So we’ll kick things off there…  
 
Swamp Thing #4 As mentioned above, this is quite the interesting title.  I was only vaguely aware of Swamp Thing’s deal back in the 80s, as in I basically knew he was Dr. Alec Holland and now he was recently back from the dead as a part of Brightest Day.  Of course, that particular crossover may or may not have actually happened now, but for the purposes of the story Holland is now mysteriously back from the dead regardless.  This is kind of like a sister title to Animal Man, with a horror feel but with much cleaner and more pleasant artwork than Animal Man offers.  Instead of the Red, Swamp Thing focuses on The Green, aka the plantlife of the world.  The really interesting thing about this book thus far, for me, is that we’re 4 issues in and it’s still only about Alec Holland and not about Swamp Thing.  In fact, the whole first arc is about Swamp Thing bugging Holland to accept his destiny and become Swamp Thing himself.  Abby Arcane returns from the original series, with shorter hair, and her brother William is a creepy bubble boy who taps into The Rot.  This means that although he’s allergic to air basically, he can harness and control any dead matter he can see.  He’s a nasty little guy and bad stuff happens if you don’t get his milkshake order right.  I liked how Snyder builds up sympathy for William early on, as he’s tormented by bullies in his hospital room, but then pulls the rug out from under you by revealing just what he can do to people.  It involves pulling their lungs out through their mouth.  And this is all great stuff, as I had no problem getting right into the series from #1.  I’m kind of disappointed that Paquette is gone as penciller, but it’s not a jarring transition to the new guy or anything.  Thumbs up and welcome to the pull list, Swamp Thing!

Animal Man #4
Hey, speaking of The Rot, Animal Man is also busy fighting them in his own title.  I smell crossover!  This continues to be a title that’s creepy as hell, with a bad guy seemingly right out of Men In Black (you know, the farmer infested with the insect alien?).  Buddy Baker faces the question that all parents eventually have to:  Do you let your 4-year old daughter act as an avatar for a supernatural force of nature?  And if so, do you get her a costume and cool superhero nickname?  Maxine continues to steal the show here, developing healing powers to save her dad and then bonding with a cat who’s actually her mentor in the Red (“My name used to be Socks, but I prefer to be called Ignatius.”  “I’m gonna call you Socks.”)   I’m actually glad I jumped onto Swamp Thing when I did, because these storylines will mesh well together.  This continues to be the nicest surprise of the New 52 thus far and makes me wonder if I should be reading Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein as well.

Action Comics #4
Superman has his showdown with Metallo (still not named as such, but it’s basically him), thus ripping his t-shirt all to pieces.  Luckily, Steel joins the new universe and makes the save, giving us a connection that I’m kind of shocked no one ever thought of doing before.  Much like the title, this is all action, leading up to the shock cliffhanger and reveal of the big villain…and then it’s continued in Action #7?  That’s just mean, Grant Morrison.  Not as much of a blowaway issue as the previous three, but dammit if  don’t want to know what happens next, something I’ve never said about Superman to date.  The backup story focuses on the fight between Steel and Metallo, a weird storyline choice where you learn the outcome of the fight after it’s already wrapped up in the main story.  I don’t think anyone’s buying this for John Henry Irons, but it was fine.

Justice League International #4
So it turns out that the dude the JLI is after, who calls himself Peraxxus, is really just a glorified scrap dealer who wants to blow up the Earth and sell the salvage parts to some sort of galactic pawn shop.  As evil plans go, that’s a pretty evil one.  He’s also too individually powerful for the League to take out, even after they escape his clutches and regroup, so that’s not good either.  Hopefully Batman’s got a plan to deal with this, although really he feels a bit superfluous when there’s already Booster Gold and Guy Gardner to carry the star power for the title.  I don’t mind the new serious leader Booster, although the artwork gives everyone way too much ab definition.  Do all these heroes just do crunches in their downtime?  Anyway, as I’ve said before, this is a solid and enjoyable superhero team book that I am enjoying a lot after a shaky start, but this is all so paint-by-numbers that it’s not like you’re missing anything if you’re not reading it, either.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, I go where Booster goes, so I’m in it for the long haul anyway.

Batwing #4
I don’t know if the artwork change from Ben Oliver’s painted backgrounds to ChrisCross’s standard pencils is a temporary thing, but it really hurts the issue for me.  Nothing against the fill-in artist, but the dark and slightly dreamy feel of the original art helped out the story for me a lot.  Without it, all you’ve got is a guy in a Batsuit who killed a bunch of people as a kid.  This would be the “secret origin” issue, although it’s more of a backstory rather than a discussion of the hows and whys behind David becoming Batwing.  Unfortunately the characters aren’t really distinct enough to where it’s easy to follow what exactly was going on, and that’s kind of frustrating.  I’ll give Winnick the benefit of the doubt and keep coming back, but hopefully Ben Oliver sticks around.

OMAC #4
I think I’ve said it before, but this is just a FUN comic.  Keith Giffen lets it all hang out with nine-panel goofy comic book adventures here, gleefully swiping from Kirby in only the best manner possible.  Poor Kevin Kho continues to get jerked around by Brother Eye and his soul-crushing job, (“I’m afraid you’ll have to take the past week as UNPAID time.”) as well as dumped by his girlfriend.  Luckily, it turns out that the subway blocks Eye’s signal, so he can ride the train in peace and quiet.  Until giant mutant alligators attack him, of course, and then he suddenly would like to OMACTIVATE at the soonest possible opportunity.  I actually giggled while he was hanging from a sewer grate and desperately asking Brother Eye “Can you hear me now?” because it’s such a cheap gag and thus the most awesomely cheesy thing for DiDio and Giffen to have him say.  Unfortunately this wonderful comic book is one of the lowest-selling of the new 52 line, so buy it and support it while you can!  

Avenging Spider-Man #2
I picked up the first issue on a whim because it’s got a great title and team-up books are really cool, generally speaking.  It wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but it was such a fun and effectively drawn romp that I just had to keep going with it.  Red Hulk, who I know nothing about outside of him being General Ross, makes a nice super-serious counterpoint to the wisecracking Spider-Man (“So we got eaten by this thing.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”) and Jonah Jameson (he’s the MAYOR?) giving the Mole-Man some “New York diplomacy” is also tremendously entertaining.  Even J. Jonah gets some good lines (“I’ve got a direct line to the Avengers.  I don’t know which team exactly, but it’s a good one!”), and Rulk apparently meets a bad end for the big cliffhanger.  I’m pretty sure he’ll pull through.  This stays on my pull list. And because it’s the season, we finish with a Christmas special that’s been out for a few weeks.

Batman:  NOEL
This one was annoyingly present in the backpages of almost all the October DC comics, so I figured I might as well give it a look.  And as promised, the artwork from Lee Bermejo is breathtaking.  Kind of reminded me of Alex Ross with the hyper-detailed photo look to it, in fact.  The details in Batman’s boots and costume in general are amazing.  The story, however, is something else entirely.  Basically it’s “A Christmas Carol” welded onto the Batman mythos and it works about as well as you’d imagine.  Batman is “Scrooge”, and he’s visited by the ghost of Robin and then three “spirits” while he’s suffering from pneumonia.  It’s a kind of cliché story about a henchman (named Bob Cratchit) who just wants to do right by his young son (Tiny Tim), but mean old Bruce Wayne makes him work Christmas and so he does work for the Joker on the side.  This was a wonderful book to look at, but the juxtaposing of Dickens with Batman just doesn’t work.  At all.  But that scene of Superman flying down to help Batman and bathed in a red glow…awesome.  I’ll give it a slight recommendation because it’s so damn pretty to look at. Your winners this week:  Animal Man and Swamp Thing, with OMAC continuing to be the stupidest and most fun comic you’ll see on the rack this week.

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!)–12.07.11

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff, Too!) I continue to tweak my pull list, as lots of people have recommended Swamp Thing to me, so I figured that it was easy enough to catch up with only 3 previous issues thus far.  And I love it!  Surprising to me because I was never into the original series in the 80s, but Scott Snyder makes it easy to pick up and go.  It’s replacing Detective Comics for the moment.  So we’ll kick things off there…  
 
Swamp Thing #4 As mentioned above, this is quite the interesting title.  I was only vaguely aware of Swamp Thing’s deal back in the 80s, as in I basically knew he was Dr. Alec Holland and now he was recently back from the dead as a part of Brightest Day.  Of course, that particular crossover may or may not have actually happened now, but for the purposes of the story Holland is now mysteriously back from the dead regardless.  This is kind of like a sister title to Animal Man, with a horror feel but with much cleaner and more pleasant artwork than Animal Man offers.  Instead of the Red, Swamp Thing focuses on The Green, aka the plantlife of the world.  The really interesting thing about this book thus far, for me, is that we’re 4 issues in and it’s still only about Alec Holland and not about Swamp Thing.  In fact, the whole first arc is about Swamp Thing bugging Holland to accept his destiny and become Swamp Thing himself.  Abby Arcane returns from the original series, with shorter hair, and her brother William is a creepy bubble boy who taps into The Rot.  This means that although he’s allergic to air basically, he can harness and control any dead matter he can see.  He’s a nasty little guy and bad stuff happens if you don’t get his milkshake order right.  I liked how Snyder builds up sympathy for William early on, as he’s tormented by bullies in his hospital room, but then pulls the rug out from under you by revealing just what he can do to people.  It involves pulling their lungs out through their mouth.  And this is all great stuff, as I had no problem getting right into the series from #1.  I’m kind of disappointed that Paquette is gone as penciller, but it’s not a jarring transition to the new guy or anything.  Thumbs up and welcome to the pull list, Swamp Thing!

Animal Man #4
Hey, speaking of The Rot, Animal Man is also busy fighting them in his own title.  I smell crossover!  This continues to be a title that’s creepy as hell, with a bad guy seemingly right out of Men In Black (you know, the farmer infested with the insect alien?).  Buddy Baker faces the question that all parents eventually have to:  Do you let your 4-year old daughter act as an avatar for a supernatural force of nature?  And if so, do you get her a costume and cool superhero nickname?  Maxine continues to steal the show here, developing healing powers to save her dad and then bonding with a cat who’s actually her mentor in the Red (“My name used to be Socks, but I prefer to be called Ignatius.”  “I’m gonna call you Socks.”)   I’m actually glad I jumped onto Swamp Thing when I did, because these storylines will mesh well together.  This continues to be the nicest surprise of the New 52 thus far and makes me wonder if I should be reading Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein as well.

Action Comics #4
Superman has his showdown with Metallo (still not named as such, but it’s basically him), thus ripping his t-shirt all to pieces.  Luckily, Steel joins the new universe and makes the save, giving us a connection that I’m kind of shocked no one ever thought of doing before.  Much like the title, this is all action, leading up to the shock cliffhanger and reveal of the big villain…and then it’s continued in Action #7?  That’s just mean, Grant Morrison.  Not as much of a blowaway issue as the previous three, but dammit if  don’t want to know what happens next, something I’ve never said about Superman to date.  The backup story focuses on the fight between Steel and Metallo, a weird storyline choice where you learn the outcome of the fight after it’s already wrapped up in the main story.  I don’t think anyone’s buying this for John Henry Irons, but it was fine.

Justice League International #4
So it turns out that the dude the JLI is after, who calls himself Peraxxus, is really just a glorified scrap dealer who wants to blow up the Earth and sell the salvage parts to some sort of galactic pawn shop.  As evil plans go, that’s a pretty evil one.  He’s also too individually powerful for the League to take out, even after they escape his clutches and regroup, so that’s not good either.  Hopefully Batman’s got a plan to deal with this, although really he feels a bit superfluous when there’s already Booster Gold and Guy Gardner to carry the star power for the title.  I don’t mind the new serious leader Booster, although the artwork gives everyone way too much ab definition.  Do all these heroes just do crunches in their downtime?  Anyway, as I’ve said before, this is a solid and enjoyable superhero team book that I am enjoying a lot after a shaky start, but this is all so paint-by-numbers that it’s not like you’re missing anything if you’re not reading it, either.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, I go where Booster goes, so I’m in it for the long haul anyway.

Batwing #4
I don’t know if the artwork change from Ben Oliver’s painted backgrounds to ChrisCross’s standard pencils is a temporary thing, but it really hurts the issue for me.  Nothing against the fill-in artist, but the dark and slightly dreamy feel of the original art helped out the story for me a lot.  Without it, all you’ve got is a guy in a Batsuit who killed a bunch of people as a kid.  This would be the “secret origin” issue, although it’s more of a backstory rather than a discussion of the hows and whys behind David becoming Batwing.  Unfortunately the characters aren’t really distinct enough to where it’s easy to follow what exactly was going on, and that’s kind of frustrating.  I’ll give Winnick the benefit of the doubt and keep coming back, but hopefully Ben Oliver sticks around.

OMAC #4
I think I’ve said it before, but this is just a FUN comic.  Keith Giffen lets it all hang out with nine-panel goofy comic book adventures here, gleefully swiping from Kirby in only the best manner possible.  Poor Kevin Kho continues to get jerked around by Brother Eye and his soul-crushing job, (“I’m afraid you’ll have to take the past week as UNPAID time.”) as well as dumped by his girlfriend.  Luckily, it turns out that the subway blocks Eye’s signal, so he can ride the train in peace and quiet.  Until giant mutant alligators attack him, of course, and then he suddenly would like to OMACTIVATE at the soonest possible opportunity.  I actually giggled while he was hanging from a sewer grate and desperately asking Brother Eye “Can you hear me now?” because it’s such a cheap gag and thus the most awesomely cheesy thing for DiDio and Giffen to have him say.  Unfortunately this wonderful comic book is one of the lowest-selling of the new 52 line, so buy it and support it while you can!  

Avenging Spider-Man #2
I picked up the first issue on a whim because it’s got a great title and team-up books are really cool, generally speaking.  It wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but it was such a fun and effectively drawn romp that I just had to keep going with it.  Red Hulk, who I know nothing about outside of him being General Ross, makes a nice super-serious counterpoint to the wisecracking Spider-Man (“So we got eaten by this thing.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”) and Jonah Jameson (he’s the MAYOR?) giving the Mole-Man some “New York diplomacy” is also tremendously entertaining.  Even J. Jonah gets some good lines (“I’ve got a direct line to the Avengers.  I don’t know which team exactly, but it’s a good one!”), and Rulk apparently meets a bad end for the big cliffhanger.  I’m pretty sure he’ll pull through.  This stays on my pull list. And because it’s the season, we finish with a Christmas special that’s been out for a few weeks.

Batman:  NOEL
This one was annoyingly present in the backpages of almost all the October DC comics, so I figured I might as well give it a look.  And as promised, the artwork from Lee Bermejo is breathtaking.  Kind of reminded me of Alex Ross with the hyper-detailed photo look to it, in fact.  The details in Batman’s boots and costume in general are amazing.  The story, however, is something else entirely.  Basically it’s “A Christmas Carol” welded onto the Batman mythos and it works about as well as you’d imagine.  Batman is “Scrooge”, and he’s visited by the ghost of Robin and then three “spirits” while he’s suffering from pneumonia.  It’s a kind of cliché story about a henchman (named Bob Cratchit) who just wants to do right by his young son (Tiny Tim), but mean old Bruce Wayne makes him work Christmas and so he does work for the Joker on the side.  This was a wonderful book to look at, but the juxtaposing of Dickens with Batman just doesn’t work.  At all.  But that scene of Superman flying down to help Batman and bathed in a red glow…awesome.  I’ll give it a slight recommendation because it’s so damn pretty to look at. Your winners this week:  Animal Man and Swamp Thing, with OMAC continuing to be the stupidest and most fun comic you’ll see on the rack this week.

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!)–12.07.11

Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff, Too!) I continue to tweak my pull list, as lots of people have recommended Swamp Thing to me, so I figured that it was easy enough to catch up with only 3 previous issues thus far.  And I love it!  Surprising to me because I was never into the original series in the 80s, but Scott Snyder makes it easy to pick up and go.  It’s replacing Detective Comics for the moment.  So we’ll kick things off there…  
 
Swamp Thing #4 As mentioned above, this is quite the interesting title.  I was only vaguely aware of Swamp Thing’s deal back in the 80s, as in I basically knew he was Dr. Alec Holland and now he was recently back from the dead as a part of Brightest Day.  Of course, that particular crossover may or may not have actually happened now, but for the purposes of the story Holland is now mysteriously back from the dead regardless.  This is kind of like a sister title to Animal Man, with a horror feel but with much cleaner and more pleasant artwork than Animal Man offers.  Instead of the Red, Swamp Thing focuses on The Green, aka the plantlife of the world.  The really interesting thing about this book thus far, for me, is that we’re 4 issues in and it’s still only about Alec Holland and not about Swamp Thing.  In fact, the whole first arc is about Swamp Thing bugging Holland to accept his destiny and become Swamp Thing himself.  Abby Arcane returns from the original series, with shorter hair, and her brother William is a creepy bubble boy who taps into The Rot.  This means that although he’s allergic to air basically, he can harness and control any dead matter he can see.  He’s a nasty little guy and bad stuff happens if you don’t get his milkshake order right.  I liked how Snyder builds up sympathy for William early on, as he’s tormented by bullies in his hospital room, but then pulls the rug out from under you by revealing just what he can do to people.  It involves pulling their lungs out through their mouth.  And this is all great stuff, as I had no problem getting right into the series from #1.  I’m kind of disappointed that Paquette is gone as penciller, but it’s not a jarring transition to the new guy or anything.  Thumbs up and welcome to the pull list, Swamp Thing!

Animal Man #4
Hey, speaking of The Rot, Animal Man is also busy fighting them in his own title.  I smell crossover!  This continues to be a title that’s creepy as hell, with a bad guy seemingly right out of Men In Black (you know, the farmer infested with the insect alien?).  Buddy Baker faces the question that all parents eventually have to:  Do you let your 4-year old daughter act as an avatar for a supernatural force of nature?  And if so, do you get her a costume and cool superhero nickname?  Maxine continues to steal the show here, developing healing powers to save her dad and then bonding with a cat who’s actually her mentor in the Red (“My name used to be Socks, but I prefer to be called Ignatius.”  “I’m gonna call you Socks.”)   I’m actually glad I jumped onto Swamp Thing when I did, because these storylines will mesh well together.  This continues to be the nicest surprise of the New 52 thus far and makes me wonder if I should be reading Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein as well.

Action Comics #4
Superman has his showdown with Metallo (still not named as such, but it’s basically him), thus ripping his t-shirt all to pieces.  Luckily, Steel joins the new universe and makes the save, giving us a connection that I’m kind of shocked no one ever thought of doing before.  Much like the title, this is all action, leading up to the shock cliffhanger and reveal of the big villain…and then it’s continued in Action #7?  That’s just mean, Grant Morrison.  Not as much of a blowaway issue as the previous three, but dammit if  don’t want to know what happens next, something I’ve never said about Superman to date.  The backup story focuses on the fight between Steel and Metallo, a weird storyline choice where you learn the outcome of the fight after it’s already wrapped up in the main story.  I don’t think anyone’s buying this for John Henry Irons, but it was fine.

Justice League International #4
So it turns out that the dude the JLI is after, who calls himself Peraxxus, is really just a glorified scrap dealer who wants to blow up the Earth and sell the salvage parts to some sort of galactic pawn shop.  As evil plans go, that’s a pretty evil one.  He’s also too individually powerful for the League to take out, even after they escape his clutches and regroup, so that’s not good either.  Hopefully Batman’s got a plan to deal with this, although really he feels a bit superfluous when there’s already Booster Gold and Guy Gardner to carry the star power for the title.  I don’t mind the new serious leader Booster, although the artwork gives everyone way too much ab definition.  Do all these heroes just do crunches in their downtime?  Anyway, as I’ve said before, this is a solid and enjoyable superhero team book that I am enjoying a lot after a shaky start, but this is all so paint-by-numbers that it’s not like you’re missing anything if you’re not reading it, either.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, I go where Booster goes, so I’m in it for the long haul anyway.

Batwing #4
I don’t know if the artwork change from Ben Oliver’s painted backgrounds to ChrisCross’s standard pencils is a temporary thing, but it really hurts the issue for me.  Nothing against the fill-in artist, but the dark and slightly dreamy feel of the original art helped out the story for me a lot.  Without it, all you’ve got is a guy in a Batsuit who killed a bunch of people as a kid.  This would be the “secret origin” issue, although it’s more of a backstory rather than a discussion of the hows and whys behind David becoming Batwing.  Unfortunately the characters aren’t really distinct enough to where it’s easy to follow what exactly was going on, and that’s kind of frustrating.  I’ll give Winnick the benefit of the doubt and keep coming back, but hopefully Ben Oliver sticks around.

OMAC #4
I think I’ve said it before, but this is just a FUN comic.  Keith Giffen lets it all hang out with nine-panel goofy comic book adventures here, gleefully swiping from Kirby in only the best manner possible.  Poor Kevin Kho continues to get jerked around by Brother Eye and his soul-crushing job, (“I’m afraid you’ll have to take the past week as UNPAID time.”) as well as dumped by his girlfriend.  Luckily, it turns out that the subway blocks Eye’s signal, so he can ride the train in peace and quiet.  Until giant mutant alligators attack him, of course, and then he suddenly would like to OMACTIVATE at the soonest possible opportunity.  I actually giggled while he was hanging from a sewer grate and desperately asking Brother Eye “Can you hear me now?” because it’s such a cheap gag and thus the most awesomely cheesy thing for DiDio and Giffen to have him say.  Unfortunately this wonderful comic book is one of the lowest-selling of the new 52 line, so buy it and support it while you can!  

Avenging Spider-Man #2
I picked up the first issue on a whim because it’s got a great title and team-up books are really cool, generally speaking.  It wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but it was such a fun and effectively drawn romp that I just had to keep going with it.  Red Hulk, who I know nothing about outside of him being General Ross, makes a nice super-serious counterpoint to the wisecracking Spider-Man (“So we got eaten by this thing.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”) and Jonah Jameson (he’s the MAYOR?) giving the Mole-Man some “New York diplomacy” is also tremendously entertaining.  Even J. Jonah gets some good lines (“I’ve got a direct line to the Avengers.  I don’t know which team exactly, but it’s a good one!”), and Rulk apparently meets a bad end for the big cliffhanger.  I’m pretty sure he’ll pull through.  This stays on my pull list. And because it’s the season, we finish with a Christmas special that’s been out for a few weeks.

Batman:  NOEL
This one was annoyingly present in the backpages of almost all the October DC comics, so I figured I might as well give it a look.  And as promised, the artwork from Lee Bermejo is breathtaking.  Kind of reminded me of Alex Ross with the hyper-detailed photo look to it, in fact.  The details in Batman’s boots and costume in general are amazing.  The story, however, is something else entirely.  Basically it’s “A Christmas Carol” welded onto the Batman mythos and it works about as well as you’d imagine.  Batman is “Scrooge”, and he’s visited by the ghost of Robin and then three “spirits” while he’s suffering from pneumonia.  It’s a kind of cliché story about a henchman (named Bob Cratchit) who just wants to do right by his young son (Tiny Tim), but mean old Bruce Wayne makes him work Christmas and so he does work for the Joker on the side.  This was a wonderful book to look at, but the juxtaposing of Dickens with Batman just doesn’t work.  At all.  But that scene of Superman flying down to help Batman and bathed in a red glow…awesome.  I’ll give it a slight recommendation because it’s so damn pretty to look at. Your winners this week:  Animal Man and Swamp Thing, with OMAC continuing to be the stupidest and most fun comic you’ll see on the rack this week.