Upcoming Conventions!

Finally Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things…

I attended three conventions last year. Those conventions were Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA, CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA, and the first ever Beaumont Comic Con in Beaumont, TX. I have plans to attend all three again this year, but Beaumont Comic Con is still quite a few months away, so I’ll post about it once it gets closer. For now, let’s focus on the two that are hitting earlier this year.

Louisiana Comic Con will hit Lafayette once again on March 14th and 15th. I submitted a panel for the event and will hopefully get a notice about whether or not I’ll get to present it in the near future. The event is still announcing guests, but so far they’ve revealed a stellar lineup.

Wrestling fans will get a chance to meet Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love….all of whom happen to be one man, Mick Foley. I’m actually very pumped to have the chance to meet Mr. Foley, as I’ve been a longtime fan of his. Kevin Sorbo, star of such popular shows like Hercules and Andromeda, will also be in attendance. I’ve attended panels featuring Mr. Sorbo before and he’s one of the best panelists you’ll ever have the opportunity to hear. Other guests include actor Brett Cullen (recently in Joker), artist Rob Guillory, Suzanne’s Cosplay, and voice actor Brina Palencia.

Oh, and Louisiana Comic Con is also bringing in the legendary Kevin Conroy, arguably the greatest actor to ever portray Batman (even though it’s just his voice)! I am totally stoked to meet Mr. Conroy as well as Poison Ivy herself, Diane Pershing, who starred alongside Conroy on Batman: The Animated Series.

The Big Blue Boy Scout will also be in attendance. George Newbern, best known to fandom as the voice of Superman in Justice League Unlimited and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, will be joining Batman and Poison Ivy for a trio of DC Comics heavy hitters. Some older fans might remember him as Payne, Dixie Carter’s son on Designing Women or as Steve Martin’s son-in-law, Bryan, in the Father of the Bride films. More guests are being announced, so be sure to keep up with the convention’s Facebook page for the latest information.

Less than a month later, CyPhaCon returns to the Lake Charles Civic Center for its tenth year on April 3rd-5th. In celebration of their tenth anniversary, CyPhaCon is loading the deck with some excellent guests and events. On the first evening of the convention, CyPhaCon will host a pub crawl. This is their fifth year to have a pub crawl and sadly I’ve never been available to attend it. I might just have to check it out this year.

The list of announced guests is pretty awesome so far, but there are still more guest announcements to come! From the realm of anime, confirmed guests include Cristina Vee (Sailor Moon, Devilman Crybaby, The Seven Deadly Sins), Eric Vale (My Hero Academia, Dragonball, Fullmetal Alchemist), Sarah Wiedenheft (Tokyo Ghoul, Dragon Ball Super, My Hero Academia), and Aaron Dismuke (Blood Blockade Battlefront, RWBY, Devil Is A Part Timer).

Live action guests include Doug Jones, one of my favorite actors of all time, who has appeared in Hellboy, Star Trek: Discovery, Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and The Shape of Water. You may not recognize Mr. Jones’ face because it is almost always covered with makeup, latex, or a little CGI magic. He’s one of the friendliest actors that I’ve ever encountered and can’t wait to see him again! Be sure to check CyPhaCon’s webpage for more guest announcements.

Announced cosplay guests include Space Lion Cosplay, Sarah Kathrine, and NoirFX & The Killing Draik. I’m familiar with Sarah Kathrine’s work and am especially fond of her Spider Gwen and Wonder Woman builds. Check out her Facebook page for more information.

Announced author guests include G.M. Kelso, Veronica Smith, and Chris Hayes. Other guests include the returning Take One Improv group, who always put on a great performance for attendees, the Louisiana Ghostbusters, Rachel Pizzolato, The Week in Geek Radio Show, and the Rebel Legion, Dagobah Base. There are tons of other guests, fan groups, and artists still to be announced, so check CyPhaCon’s webpage and Facebook page for updates.

I’ve applied for a media pass and also submitted a panel to CyPhaCon. Once I hear back from them, I’ll let all of my faithful readers know if I’ll be in attendance and which panel I will be doing, if any. Keep your eyes peeled on my blog for more information.

I’m sad to report that I won’t be able to attend CoastCon this year. Due to distance and finances, I’ll have to skip out on one my favorite conventions again. CoastCon is, at least to my knowledge, the oldest fan-run convention in the southern United States. This will be their forty-third year. That’s a long time, which means that they are obviously doing something right! Be sure to check out their Facebook page for updates on the upcoming event. The event will be taking place on March 6-8 in beautiful Biloxi, MS. Announced guests include voice actress Morgan Berry, author Seanan McGuire, artist Melissa Gay, and author THE Rob Cerio! It’s really killing me that I can’t attend this year. CoastCon is the biggest little convention in the Gulf South and it has more heart than any other convention that I’ve ever attended.

I’ll be sure to post about all of the conventions that I attend this year. I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple of other events this year. Thank you for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Dracula Drains In Third Act

The BBC and Netflix Almost Had A Winner

I was excited to see that the story of Dracula was going to be getting its own series on Netflix. I became less excited whenever I heard that Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were involved. While I’m fully aware that both of these men worked on highly successful runs of Doctor Who and Sherlock, I’m also aware that they have a tendency to run out of ideas, reuse old ones, and ultimately fall flat by the end of their runs. I personally witnessed Moffat run Doctor Who into the ground and cheered along with other Whovians when he announced his exit. I prayed that Dracula wouldn’t meet the same fate as the good Doctor.

The BBC gave the mini-series the green light and released the final product on both BBC One and on Netflix. As I suspected, the mini-series had two solid episodes and one terrible one.

The first episode, The Rules of the Beast, was told from the perspective of an undead Jonathan Harker (John Heffernan). He recounts his tale to a nun, Sister Agatha Van Helsing (Dolly Wells), who also happens to be an atheist (that bit gets explained during the episode). She asks him numerous questions, many of which are extremely personal, in order to get an idea of who exactly Count Dracula is and what he is attempting to achieve.

She then has to square off against the count himself. Played with buckets of scene-chewing (or perhaps that should be scene-draining) charisma by Claes Bang, the count tricks his way into the convent and battles the nuns, all of whom have been trained by Sister Van Helsing to protect themselves and defeat the count.

The episode has some genuinely scary moments. During Harker’s exploration of Castle Dracula, a sense of claustrophobia invaded my mind as he walked deeper and deeper into the dark recesses of the castle. The viewer never knows what might turn up at any time. The episode also recalls a few classic episodes of Doctor Who, particularly Tooth & Claw, in my opinion and also references the classic Hammer Productions film, Dracula/Horror of Dracula (1958) that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In fact, there’s one scene in which Bang’s count looks exactly like Lee’s count as he drinks his fill of a victim.

The second episode, Blood Vessel, expands upon Dracula’s trip across the sea to England. In the book, this particular story is covered in just a few pages. Moffat and Gatiss expand the trip to a full ninety-minute episode. It works quite well, in my opinion, as it develops members of the Demeter’s crew and puts a Sherlock-like spin on the reasoning behind all of the crew members’ and passengers’ reasons for being on the vessel.

This episode plays out more like a murder mystery than a true horror story as the crew attempt to uncover the identity of the murderer on the ship. Sister Agatha shows up in the story eventually, and she teams up with the remaining crew and passengers in order to snuff out the count.

I’ve read reviews that said that this episode was entirely too long and that too much focus was placed on the crew and passengers of the Demeter. I personally enjoyed how Gatiss and Moffat fleshed out this particular part of the tale. Oh, and be on the lookout for a certain Russian scientist from Season 3 of Stranger Things as a member of the crew!

As brilliant and fun as the first two episodes were, things start to derail at the end of Episode 2 with a teaser for the final installment in the mini-series. Without explaining anything, let’s just say that Count Dracula finds himself stranded in England in the year 2020. Yep, that’s right. There’s a massive time jump in the series. Things do not go well….at all.

Dracula finds himself at the mercy of the Jonathan Harker Foundation in the third and final episode of Dracula entitled The Dark Compass. Gone are the Gothic horror elements and mystery, replaced instead by a self-centered society that puts everything on social media and tries to “live its best life” in front of anyone willing to look at it.

In the episode, Dolly Wells takes on the role of Dr. Zoe Van Helsing, great great niece of Sister Agatha Van Helsing. She heads up the aforementioned Jonathan Harker Foundation who captures Dracula and locks him away to study him and his blood. She happens to be dying from cancer and is hopeful that Dracula’s blood could lead to a possible cure. Along for the ride are Lydia West as Lucy Westenra and two of her suitors from the original Bram Stoker tale, Jack Seward (Matthew Beard) and Quincy Morris (Phil Dunster). There’s no mention of Arthur Holmwood, although Zev, Lucy’s best friend portrayed by John McCrea in the series, might have been designed with Holmwood in mind.

Sister Agatha does eventually show up (although not in the way you might think) and she continues her quest to find out exactly what makes Count Dracula tick. Along with Zoe, she eventually discovers what it is that Dracula fears the most…and it’s pretty lame. The reasoning behind Count Dracula becoming enamored with Lucy is also extremely lame. It also reveals just how shallow modern society has become. Everything is tied up with a very convenient bow at the end of the episode and while things might not look to good for everybody’s favorite bloodsucker, I wouldn’t count hims out just yet!

Bang does a great job as Count Dracula. It’s sad that the third act is so terrible, as I would love to see Bang receive a better swansong. Perhaps Gatiss and Moffat will explore more of the Count’s life prior to meeting Jonathan Harker in a later series. Dolly Wells is extremely likeable as Sister Agatha, but her performance as Zoe is greatly hindered by poor writing and direction. There are a few moments of brilliance in the final episode, particularly whenever Count Dracula teaches Lucy about the children of the night. Speaking of those children, fans of the classic Bela Lugosi film from 1931 will be glad to hear a couple of quotes from that film and even a couple of shots done in homage (at least to my eyes) to the legendary film.

Two great episodes out of three isn’t all that bad. I highly recommend watching the first two installments of this mini-series, but viewing the third one is entirely up to you. I didn’t like it very much, and in my opinion it doesn’t add anything new to the Dracula mythos.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be posting about upcoming conventions in the near future AND I’ll also get everyone up to speed on this weekend’s upcoming Hurricane Pro Wrestling Queens of the Ring 2 event!

Give "Cats" A Chance

You Need To Calm Down

In July of 2019, Universal Pictures released the first trailer for Cats, a film based on the long-running Broadway and West End musical. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since July of last year, you probably know that the web had a field day with the look of the human actors in the trailer who were turned into cats through the use of CGI. People complained that the cats looked too human or that they were downright creepy. Words like “nightmare,” “haunt,” and “horrific” littered tweets, Facebook posts, and every other social media outlet. When the film was finally released, the professional critics dug their claws into the film by telling everyone that it was the worst film that they’ve seen all year long. It seemed as if they were all battling one another in order to get in the smartest and nastiest digs at the film and/or its cast.

Guess what? They are all wrong.

This film is fantastic. It’s bizarre, wonderful, and most important of all, fun. While critics were analyzing each and every minute detail of the film in order to find yet another zinger to throw into a review that everyone will read, share, and, hopefully, get the critic recognized, myself and others simply paid for our ticket, sat back in our chairs, and let the film be whatever it would end up being.

We enjoyed it for the music, the breathtaking CGI shots of the moon, the Thames, and Big Ben, and for the catchy musical numbers that celebrated all of the featured cats. We found that elusive plot that all of the critics and naysayers couldn’t pinpoint. We laughed at James Corden, Rebel Wilson, and others as they commanded our attention in their respective songs. We watched as Jason Derulo embraced Rum Tug Tugger in all of his tomcat glory. Some of us shed a tear as Jennifer Hudson’s Grizabella belted out the epic song Memory and cheered on Laurie Davidson as his Mister Mistoffelees attempted to conjure up Old Deuteronomy (Dame Judi Dench) from wherever Macavity (Idris Elba) had her hidden away.

We looked beyond the uncanny valley, a term tossed around in more reviews than I can count in an apparent attempt for critics to appear intelligent, and saw these creatures for what they were: Cats. We sang the songs we knew and left the theater singing the ones we just learned.

In short, we enjoyed the movie. You might enjoy it as well. This film isn’t for everyone, but for those that it connects with, it will become something that you’ll want to watch over and over.

Mild Spoilers Ahead

The film opens with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being unceremoniously dumped into an alley by her owner. The music playing throughout this sequence sets the ethereal tone for the entire film. Victoria is discovered by the Jellicle Cats, a gang of cats that question her through the song Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats in order to see if she can become part of their gang. They decide to allow her to join them conditionally and tell her about the Jellicle Ball, which is happening that very night. According to Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild), Old Deuteronomy will choose one Jellicle Cat to ascend to the Heaviside Layer. Here, the cat can choose a new life and be reincarnated into whatever they wish.

From that point on, the film becomes a sequence of musical numbers that introduce all of the potential picks to ascend to the Heaviside Layer. We are introduced to Jennyanydots (Wilson), the Rum Tug Tugger (Derulo), Bustopher Jones (Corden), Skimbleshanks (Steven McRae), and Gus (Ian McKellan). We also catch glimpses of the mysterious cat, Macavity (Elba), and Grizabella (Hudson), an outcast that was once beautiful and is now forced into the shadows by the other Jellicles.

Victoria gets herself into a little trouble along the way with Mungojerrie (Danny Collins) and Rumpleteazer (Naoimh Morgan), a pair of cat burglars that show her how fun a life of crime can be when it’s done right. During this sequence we get to see Mr. Mistoffelees (Davidson) come to Victoria’s rescue whenever a dog attempts to attack her. Mistoffelees has an obvious crush on Victoria at the beginning of the film, and she begins to return the affection after he saves her.

The film comes to a climax at the Jellicle Ball. When Old Deuteronomy arrives to pick the feline that will ascend to the Heaviside Layer, it’s noted that all of the contestants have mysteriously vanished. Then a crescent moon descends from the ceiling. Seductively laying across it is Bombalurina (Taylor Swift), a vampy vixen that sings Macavity: The Mystery Cat. While singing, Bombalurina, Mungojerrie, and Rumpleteazer sprinkle catnip all over the Jellicles, sending them into a frenzy. Macavity appears and insists that he is the only choice to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, but Old Deuteronomy refuses to pick him. In anger he uses magic to whisk her away.

The Jellicles demand to know where Macavity has taken Old Deuteronomy and the other cats. Macavity and Bobalurina escape, leaving Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer at the mercy of the Jellicles. Victoria believes that Mister Mistoffelees can conjure Old Deuteronomy back. Mistoffelees doesn’t believe that he can do it, but with the support of the other Jellicles and through the singing of my favorite song in the film, Mr. Mistoffelees, he succeeds in bringing Old Deuteronomy back. The other cats are saved as well, and a certain feline (who’ll remain nameless) is chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer. Who is it? You’ll have to check out the film in order to find out!

I love this film. There are so many things that I love about it that I can’t list all of them. That being said, here are my favorite highlights and just a couple of negatives.

Pros

  • The music. Good Lord, the music. It’s so wonderful, catchy, and easy to sing along with both during and after the film.
  • The cinematography is brilliant. Bright neon colors and deep blues make for a beautiful backdrop to the wide shots in this film. The closeups catch all of the pain in certain characters’ faces as well.
  • The story is chaotic, but simply listening to the songs and actually watching the film with an open mind makes it easy to pick up on the plot.
  • The actors, save for one, all do excellent jobs. Laurie Davidson is the greatest surprise in this film and I was also very fond of Rebel Wilson and Francesca Hayward’s performances.
  • The overall bigness of the film. It felt like I was watching a massive movie on the big screen thanks to the cinematography.

Cons

  • While Taylor Swift definitely knows her way around a pop song, she struggled to fit into this film. She was miscast in my opinion, and her portrayal of Bombalurina was awkward. I understand why Universal put her in the film (to draw in young female viewers and a few older weird guys that want to see Swift as a cat), but she just wasn’t the best fit for her role. Vocally, she wasn’t up to par with the rest of the singers in this film, either.
  • The lone new song in this film, Beautiful Ghosts, fails to make any real impact. Written by Swift and Webber, it’s the weakest track in the entire film. Both Hayward (in the film) and Swift (in the credits) perform the song, and while Hayward’s vocals are stronger, the lyrics just drag the entire performance down.

Yes, this film features singing and dancing cockroaches and mice. I understand that some folks might be creeped out by the look of the cats in the film. I’ll even admit that the CGI is a bit dodgy at times. That being said, this film is just too much fun to pass up. There has already been talk of the film becoming the next Rocky Horror Picture Show and, as far as I’m concerned, that sounds great. This film is bizarre, insane, beautiful, and fun all at the same time.

Give it a chance.

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to give your own thoughts in the comments section.

Adios, 2019!

A Look Back On The Year That Was 2019

All things considered, 2019 was a pretty good year. A few personal things occurred that made me proud and a few other things happened that cranked up the ol’ anxiety. Still, it could have been worse. Let’s take a quick glimpse at the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2019.

The Good.

  • There were quite a few superhero films released this year including my personal favorite, Shazam! While Joker was also a favorite of mine, it was on an entirely different level than your standard comic book film. I’ll review it in the very near future. Other superhero based films released this year included the mediocre Captain Marvel and the somewhat long-in-the-tooth ending of the MCU’s latest phase, Avengers: Endgame. In fact, toss in the very forgettable Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Marvel had three extremely successful average films released this year. Hopefully they’ll up their game in 2020.
  • A two other films that I enjoyed this year were Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Brightburn (basically an evil version of Superman). I’ll mention a couple of other films later.
  • Stranger Things hit the world big time with its excellent third season. With Russian scientists and assassins, Starcourt Mall, missing lifeguards, and a huge climactic finale, the season quickly became my favorite.
  • Doom Patrol finished up its first season in 2019 and it quickly became the best series on DC Universe’s platform. Titans gave us their second season and introduced a few new characters as well. Swamp Thing was also released in 2019. Sadly it was shut down due to some dirty dealings with funding. Hopefully it will return.
  • I attended fewer conventions this year, but I still had a great time. I got to meet Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Amy Dumas (Lita of WWE) at Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA. I also presented a panel there and at CyPhaCon in Lake Charles, LA. Later in the year I went to Beaumont Comic Con in Beaumont, TX. This was their first event, and I expect bigger and better things next year.
  • I attended almost every Hurricane Pro Wrestling event this year. That company is continuing to grow and become more popular. They’ve added excellent storylines with groups such as Great Sexy Love and The New Warriors and have had a number of popular wrestlers fight in their ring like Thunder Rosa, Joey Ryan, and Priscilla Kelly.
  • I attended Calcasieu Serial Fest and the Lake Charles Film Festival again this year. Both of these events are extremely important to southwestern Louisiana, as one looks at the history of cinema and the other offers up the future by showing us independent films featuring new and up-and-coming writers, actors, and directors. I also got to meet John Davey and Michael Gray from the classic 70’s show Shazam!
  • My Thirty-One Days O’Horror proved to be very popular this year. Many of the posts in that series, which focused on classic Universal horror films, received likes and comments. I plan to do that series again next year but I haven’t decided on what films I’ll be focusing on for the month.

The Bad.

  • 2019 did have a few stinkers that I had to witness. For starters, one of my favorite bands, The Amorettes, lost two of their founding members, Heather and Hannah McKay. Hannah is currently with a new band, She Burns Red, and I’m not sure what Heather is up to these days. Founding member and vocalist/lead guitarist Gill Montgomery has kept the band alive, though, blending in new members from bands such as Tequila Mockingbyrd and Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics.
  • A number of popular film and television stars left us this year as well. Danny Aiello, Peter Mayhew, Rene Auberjonois, John Witherspoon, Denise Nickerson, Cameron Boyce, Rip Torn, Ashley Massaro, Peggy Lipton, Dick Dale, Luke Perry, King Kong Bundy, Katherine Helmond, Peter Tork, Jan-Michael Vincent, Frank Robinson, James Ingram, Carol Channing, and Mean Gene Okerlund are just a few of the many that we lost this year.

The ugly.

  • Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker did more to divide the already disgruntled fanbase with its release in December. While it definitely wasn’t a great film, I still enjoyed it. What I don’t enjoy is the way fans react not only to the film, but to the actors, J.J. Abrams, Rian Davidson, and each other. I’ve always felt that fandom has a large minority of immature adults within its ranks, and its films like TROS that bring them to the surface or the geeky pond. I might have to post about immaturity in the near future.
  • Oh, and the New Orleans Saints were robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl earlier this year thanks to a massive missed call near the end of their playoff game against the Rams.

There were plenty of other negative things out there, but I’d rather focus on the positive for just a few more minutes. To start, I got to attend KISS’ End Of The Road Tour this year with my son. It was his first concert and my third time to see my favorite band live. I also got to see Bumblebee and They Shall Not Grow Old on the big screen and I loved both of them. The Cybertronic Spree released Transformers 1986 and it sounds great. The National Wrestling Alliance was given new life with their web series, NWA Powerrr and I also got to visit the Texas Renaissance Festival once again!

To top it all off, I recently won tickets to the new Stadium Tour coming up in 2020. It will feature Def Leppard, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Poison, and Motley Crue! I’ve seen the Crue before, but this will be the first time that I will get to see the rest of the bands live. I’ll definitely post a review of the concert once it happens (July, 2020).

This year has been pretty good to me. I appreciate each and every one of you that have taken time to read my posts, comment, or like them. Here’s hoping that you will all have a great 2020!

Hurricane Pro: Glory & Pain

12/28/19, Ford Park Exhibit Hall, Beaumont, TX

My daughter and I attended the latest Hurricane Pro event, Glory & Pain, over the weekend. Of all of the HP events that I’ve attended, this was definitely one of the best ones. There were title changes, wrestler debuts, and even a good ol’ fashion slobberknocker involving members of Great Sexy Love and The New Warriors.

Things got pretty heated right away with the Pump Patrol defending their HP Tag Team belts against a young tag team new to Hurricane Pro, The Millennials. Brendan Divine and Daniel Moon entered the exhibit hall on their phones, checking their Twitter feed, posting selfies on Instagram, and updating their status across social media. They immediately drew heel heat from the crowd, setting up a big pop for Curt Matthews and Jared Wayne when they entered the arena. The duo handled the Millennials easily, but the match was extremely fun to watch. Divine and Moon fed off of the crowd as did Matthews and Wayne. When the match was over, Pump Patrol left victorious and the Millennials took time to post another selfie before leaving the arena.

Next up was Avarice and Ricardo Cage (of Make Your Own Path) versus the monster, Tama Ku. Led to the ring by the lovely Stacey Rae, Tama Ku toyed with Avarice and Ricardo Cage until he was given the command to end the fight by Stacey Rae. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to Tama Ku’s family, and while I cheered on Avarice and Ricardo Cage, they booed me and cheered for Ku. It was a pretty great moment.

After Ku cleared the ring, the cruiserweight belt was put on the line by Jonny Flex against fan favorite, Bu Ku Dao. A new belt was was revealed to the audience, and Jonny immediately grabbed hold of it. Unluckily for him, he didn’t get to hold the new belt for very long as Bu Ku Dao ended up defeating Flex for the title. It was a shock for the fans, but everyone was glad to see Bu Ku when the strap. Flex, as always, drew major heel heat from the audience and Bu Ku babyfaced his way to victory.

Next up was the Hurricane Pro debut of Johnny O’Mara. Hailing from Shamrock, TX, O’Mara took on local favorite, Alex Lane, of Make Your Own Path. The duo squared off for a very entertaining bout. Lane won the match, but both of these guys took a beating. I look forward to seeing O’Mara return in the future.

My ugly face next to the Hurricane Pro Women’s champ, Heather Monroe.
Photo taken by my patient and lovely daughter

The next match saw another belt on the line as former Hurricane Pro Women’s champ Miranda Alize (who was recently on AEW) took on the Pink Dream, Alex Gracia, and the Killer Bae, reigning HP Women’s Champion, Heather Monroe. Early in the match it appeared as if Miranda had things under control. Monroe spent a little time outside of the ring while Miranda and Gracia battled one another. Soon enough, Monroe was back in the ring and it was touch-and-go between her and Miranda for a bit. Then, out of nowhere, Alex Gracia flew off of the top turnbuckle and took control of the match. I honestly believed that she was going to take home the gold, but Heather Monroe’s sly ring knowledge gave her the edge in the end. She retained her title and will defend it yet again on January 18th for Queens of the Ring II.

Photo taken by Ken Fontenot

The final match of the evening was a six man gauntlet match for the Hurricane Pro Heavyweight Championship. Things started off with defending champion Jordan Jensen against the man that all of Beaumont loves to hate, Ashton Jacobs. As always, Jacobs drew insane heel heat, but he was ultimately dispatched by Jordan. The third contender in the match, Sexy Steve DeMarco, was attacked by Jordan Jensen before he could even get into the ring. If you’ve been following Hurricane Pro recently, you know that Jensen and DeMarco have had a major feud going as of late. DeMarco’s entourage, Great Sexy Love, has been infiltrating HP events for a few months now, and in response, Jordan has created the New Warriors.

When the match started to go south for Sexy Steve, one of his cohorts, Loverboy Nate Andrews, flew into the ring and began assaulting Jordan Jensen. Then more members of GSL, the Great Ones, decided that they would enter the fray as well. Soon enough, Don Rodrigo and Make Your Own Path entered the ring to help Jordan. Things came to a head when almost everyone from the back came out to battle GSL.

General Manager Richard Cranium came out and stopped the match. He booted both Jordan Jensen and Sexy Steve DeMarco from the competition. This action cost Jordan his belt, and I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of DeMarco or the rest of Great Sexy Love.

New Hurricane Pro Heavyweight Champion Ryan Davidson.
Photo taken by Ken Fontenot

With Jensen eliminated, the three remaining men in the gauntlet were guaranteed a shot at the title. Those three men were J Spade, Ruthless Ryan Davidson, and the massive Edgrin Stone. Spade and Davidson battled first. Their match was extremely fun to watch as both of them won over the crowd. Spade ultimately fell to Davidson, and the final man in the gauntlet, Stone, entered the ring. He and Davidson battled as only two heavyweights can, with strength move after strength move and even a few finesse moves. The match looked as if it could go either way but in the end, Ryan Davidson got the edge on Edgrin and was crowned the new HP Heavyweight Champ.

On January 18th at Ford Park Exhibit Hall, Hurricane Pro returns with more action. This time around it will be an all ladies affair as Queens of the Ring II will take place. I’m especially excited for this event. If it’s anything like the first QOTR event put on by Hurricane Pro, it’s going to be a must-see event.

Here is a list of announced matches so far:

  • Women’s Champion Match: Killer Bae Heather Monroe (Champion) versus Hell’s Favorite Harlot Priscilla Kelly (Challenger)
  • Simone Sherie versus Veda Scott
  • Amber Nova versus Madi Wrenkowski
  • Ivelisse versus Rok-C

Also in action will be Tesha Price and Miranda Alize. They’ve been announced to appear but have not been listed in a match yet. I have never seen Price, Sherie, Wrenkowski, or Scott in action, so it will be nice to see some new faces (at least to me) in the ring. Kelly has been in action at HP before against Rok-C, who has been stunning in the ring every time that I’ve seen her perform. Amber Nova brings her high octane brand of wrestling back to HP and for fans of Lucha Underground, Ivelisse is no stranger.

There’s no telling who else might show up for QOTR II. All I do know is that this is going to be an exciting event. Be sure to check out Hurricane Pro on Facebook and keep an eye out for my post after this event!

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I’ll be doing an End of the Year post. I hope you return to check it out!

All images are taken from the Hurricane Pro Facebook page except where noted.

Star Wars: The Rise Of Questions?

The Force Comes Full Circle….Sort Of…

I know that I’m in the minority whenever I say that I liked Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I didn’t say that I loved it, because it was just a so-so film, but I’m definitely not one of those folks that completely hated the film for whatever reasons they have. If you didn’t like that film, good for you. I can definitely see why many people hated it.

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I found myself neither here nor there about the film or its success. I knew that I wanted to see it, but I wasn’t in that much of a rush to get to the theater. When I did see the film, I was left somewhat confused by what all went down and still felt as if I’d watched a pretty good movie. Not a great one, but a good one.

No Spoilers For Now!!!! That’ll Come Later In This Post!!!

The film’s plot is a tad all over the place. The Emperor has returned and has plans to once again take over the galaxy. Kylo Ren plans on maintaining control of the First Order and convincing Rey to join him as a co-ruler of the galaxy after the Emperor is eliminated from the picture. Rey has been training to become a better Jedi, but she keeps getting interrupted by the pesky connection that she has to Kylo Ren. Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, and everyone else are doing their best to end the First Order, but hope is beginning to die once again.

Including the Emperor, a few other old faces return in this film. The one that has already been spoiled, Lando Calrissian, has a small but key role in the movie. There are other cameos and flashes of other characters, but I won’t get into them here. Just keep an eye out for a few faces (and voices) that you might not even remember or expect to be in the film.

Much like The Last Jedi, this film bounces all over the place. Unlike The Last Jedi, the subplots are all a cohesive and necessary piece of the puzzle despite being difficult to keep up with at times. Parts of the film show amazing flashes of brilliance under J.J. Abrams’ direction and other parts remind us that he remade Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. In fact, a lot of things that happen in this film made me think of Star Wars IV: Return of the Jedi and, to a lesser degree, bits and pieces of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. Both of those films, at least in my opinion, are superior to The Rise of Skywalker.

The film spends too much time trying to tie up loose ends left in the wake of the events of The Last Jedi. It also wastes time trying to pull at the heartstrings of old fans and apologizing to them for the newest trilogy as a whole. Major liberties were taken with the Force, Sith and Jedi lore, and a few things happened that just had me scratching my head.

I will say that the film does a great job with Princess/General Leia Organa. The loss of Carrie Fisher definitely hurt this film more than anything else, and it appears as if a lot of things were rushed in order to somewhat neatly close out the saga. This made the entire film seemed rushed and a little too “lucky” with certain things that happen in the film.

Overall, though, this movie really isn’t that bad. It’s my least favorite film in the Disney trilogy but it also includes two of my favorite moments in the entire Star Wars film collection. It has extremely excellent performances from certain actors, especially Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Joonas Suatomo (Chewbacca), and Keri Russell (I won’t name her character in this portion of the review).

The music, by John Williams, was as excellent as it always has been under his guidance. The special effects were solid, but there were a couple of times where the limits of the artists were glaringly revealed.

I do recommend this film, albeit with some reservations. It has almost as many misses as it does hits, and most of the hits are of the emotional kind. I do recommend seeing the film on the big screen if space battles are your thing. There’s also a brilliant battle between Kylo Ren and some of his old pals that will remain nameless, but the big lightsaber battle that occurs in the film is like a bizarro version of the battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar. It ended up being a tad wet in the end, just like the rest of this film. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great, either.

Spoilers Below!!!! Stop at Lando’s smile if you haven’t seen the film yet!!! You’ve been warned!!!

Spoilers ahead!!!!

For those of you still reading, thanks for checking out my post. I’m going to list some of the things that I loved and hated about the film and a few things that left me a bit confused after the film.

Things That I Loved (or really, really liked)

  • The performance of Adam Driver across all of the films in this trilogy.
  • The brilliant way that Joonas Suatomo portrayed Chewbacca. When he is told of Leia’s death, I started crying not because she was gone, but because Chewie was obviously in so much pain.
  • Keri Russell as Zorii Bliss, one of two new characters in the film that I absolutely loved.
  • Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde, the other new character that I loved. He’s the baddie that was sorely missing from this trilogy!
  • The quick cameos of Wicket (Warwick Davis) and Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson). I yelled out Wedge’s name, came out of my chair (thankfully no one was behind me), and gave two big thumbs up when he appeared on screen.
  • The battle between Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren. Sure, they were absolutely useless in the rest of the film, but they died extremely well.
  • The “death” of C-3PO. That scene hit me harder than I ever expected.
  • The sandsled vehicles on Pasaana with the trooper launchers on the back. When they appeared on the screen, I immediately wanted to be nine years old again so that I could get the toy version.

Things That I Hated (or really, really disliked)

  • The Knights of Ren were completely useless in this film.
  • The Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) were entirely too overpowered.
  • The death of Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). He deserved to die at the hands of Kylo Ren in a blaze of glory.
  • The way that the Force was used to bring so many people back to life.
  • The big reveal of Rey being a Palpatine wasn’t really a surprise.
  • The way that we were sort of forced to feel bad when Snap Wexley (Greg Grunberg) dies in the final battle. J.J., we get it, Greg’s your buddy and you’re throwing him a bone. It doesn’t mean that his character is that important to anyone but you.
  • The wretched CGI on young Leia during her training session flashback with Luke. The graphics team nailed young Luke, but Leia looked like she was peeled from an animated series.
  • The multiple nods, apologies, and winks to the angry members of the fanbase that hated The Last Jedi. These felt unnecessary and only added to the rushed feel of the film. It also reduced characters like Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) to window dressing.

Things That Left Me A Tad Confused And Other Questions

  • Why did this film feel like a repeat of Return of the Jedi?
  • Where has Pryde been all of this time? Wouldn’t Kylo Ren have had him replace Hux sooner? It was hard to ignore that dude.
  • Where were all of those folks willing to help in the end of TROS whenever the call was sent out for assistance in TLJ?
  • How much money did Harrison Ford make for his cameo????
  • When was it ever established that the Sith could take on the spirits or souls of previous Sith? That bit sounded a tad too convenient to throw into the film. It reminded me of the “There can be only one” law from the Highlander films and television series.
  • Was it just me or was that battle between Kylo Ren and Rey on Kef Bir nothing more than a wet version of the Kenobi/Skywalker battle on Mustafar?
  • What was the point of throwing Dominic Monaghan into this film? Nothing against him personally, but couldn’t all of his lines been said by Rose instead?
  • With the Emperor apparently gone for good, who will be the next great enemy in the Star Wars saga?

That’s all, folks. I hope that you liked my review and I also hope that you leave me a few comments about this film. There are tons of other things that I want to talk about, but this post is already too long-winded to continue.

I’ll be announcing a few conventions that I’ll be attending in 2020, so if you go to any of them, be sure to hit me up about TROS or any other topic!

Focus On Christmas: It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

“I Told You, George. I’m Your Guardian Angel.” – Clarence

Considered by many to be one of the best films ever made, It’s A Wonderful Life stars Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, and a ton of other wonderful actors. Released in 1946, the film didn’t meet expectations and floundered about until it found its audience on television. It has since become a film traditionally viewed at Christmas time.

The film centers around the life of George Bailey (Stewart), a wide-eyed dreamer that plans on leaving the sleepy little town of Bedford Falls only to end up an anchor for the community. A series of tragedies force George to give up his dreams of becoming an adventurer and he stays behind in Bedford Falls in order to keep the family business, a Building And Loan company, out of the money-grubbing hands of Mr. Potter (Barrymore). Potter is quickly buying up property in the town and forcing others out of their homes and businesses. The only person standing in his way is George.

As George battles Mr. Potter, he watches as his brother becomes a collegiate football star (George paid his brother’s way through college) and eventually a war hero. George’s friend Sammy (Frank Albertson) becomes a wealthy business owner and others in the town make their own way (some not as successful as others). George marries Mary Hatch (Reed), and the two struggle to make ends meet, all the while helping out many people in the community.

When things finally seem to start falling into place, George’s uncle, Billy (Thomas Mitchell), accidentally loses an $8,000 dollar deposit that will keep the bank from forcing the Building and Loan to close. In actuality, Uncle Billy accidentally hands off the money to Mr. Potter, who sees an opportunity to end the problem that is George Bailey.

Desperate, George realizes that he is worth more dead than alive and decides to commit suicide. It is at this point that Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) jumps in to stop George from killing himself. On a mission to earn his wings, Clarence shows George what life in Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born. The result shakes George to the core and he decides to live just a little bit longer. In the end, the town comes together to help George save the Building and Loan and the entire town itself.

Everyone talks about the performances of Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Henry Travers. That talk is justified, as they give brilliant performances in a film full of great performances. That being said, I believe that two other actors in the film deserve a little attention of their own. Bobby Anderson portrays George Bailey as a child. He gives an amazing performance, easily setting up the role for Stewart to take over in adulthood. Anderson establishes George Bailey as a selfless hero willing to risk his own life to help others.

The other actor that deserves more recognition is Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick, the local temptress with a heart that isn’t doing as well in life as her appearance would lead one to believe. Grahame dominates the few scenes that she has in the film and she ends up being one of the most likeable characters in the movie despite being somewhat of a foil to Mary Hatch in her pursuit of George Bailey. Sadly, Grahame’s career never got the recognition that it deserved and her life was cut short due to complications from breast cancer.

This film hits home with me on multiple levels. Without going into too much detail about my personal life, I’ve been in George Bailey’s shoes before. I’ve also been in the position of other characters in this film. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, especially if you’ve been in George’s position before, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself both laughing and crying during the film.

Thanks for reading my review of It’s A Wonderful Life. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my Focus On Christmas series this month, and I plan to do more Focus On features in the near future.