Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

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Monster

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It’s 2014 and half of the year is already in the rear-view where many people are stuck on moments in February with each of the top sports championship games ending in blowouts. Here I am catching up with much of the year in music, capped with great loosies and singles but not too many albums that I sunk my teeth into. Pertaining to the ever-growing genre of rap, much of my focus centered on one region within their resurgence: The West Coast led by the G-Funk synths and hand claps of DJ Mustard.  Atlanta continued to churn out hits and burgeoning young artists with club numbers and New York stretched to find ways to “bring NY Rap back” all the while ignoring the interesting music that is formulating in their inner-circle.

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BET AWARDS '14 - Backstage And Audience

When Busta Rhymes announced that his latest single for Extinction Level Event 2 – the sequel to his 1998 third studio album that’s best known his collaboration with Janet Jackson – will feature Eminem, a bittersweet feeling trickled around my heart. Sure, this is not the first time the two have knowingly worked with one another* and the two are still lyrical giants that tower people in awe. Yet it felt like a newsworthy note that felt on deaf ears for a collaboration that’s 15 years too late.

Back when I was a child, I along with much of the rap world saw Busta Rhymes and Eminem as two of the most colorful and dynamic rappers in the industry. Their charisma was off the charts and the way they intricately mixed humor and their bombastic personas with their technical prowess made them all-time greats at their craft. Ten-year-old Mac always wondered when the two would connect to make something epic and tear the very fabric of space and time. Now at 23 growing up to a genre that has changed drastically, the news of a Busta and Em collab felt contrived.

Listening to “Calm Down” left me empty on the number of levels; an unfulfilling trip back into nostalgia complete with a flip of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. It is not a bad song per se, but it wasn’t entirely great either. Busta and Em show that they can tip-toe as effortlessly as anyone laying down bar-upon-bar of furious six-minute lyrical shadowboxing. Not to mention that the artwork is fucking phenomenal, but something was still very amiss. The two really did their best to turn back the clock and while that was nice and all, it lacked the authenticity it should have had.

There was a time where Busta at his most maniacal and visually creative tag-teaming with Slim Shady at his most ridiculous would have made for a superb moment at the height of their careers. The only other rapper I can think of that had highly exuberant qualities as a lyricist and entertainer at the time was Ludacris, whose triumphant triumvirate of albums put him on top of Atlanta’s hottest rappers in the mid-2000s. Another common ground I can find with that is throughout time detractors critiqued their flash over their substance, in particular to the latter. With Luda being a Southern rapper, the deck was stacked against him tenfold and his subsequent efforts in adapting to the times left him broken.

His counterparts found ways to combat them in numerous flashes of brilliance at their disposal. Busta began to simmer down a bit and connected with Dr. Dre with Aftermath, seemingly aligned with Eminem but still haven’t come in frequent contact with one another. Out came The Big Bang, a criminally underrated record in its own right and the last really great effort Busta has created in a full body of work. Eminem on the other end rode the success of the Slim Shady persona long enough to kill it off (somewhat) with his two outings The Eminem Show and Encore. From that point on, he focused on rapping and rapping well along with cleaning himself up personally.

While he attempted to make a resurgence of the bleach blonde psychopath on a few occasions (Relapse, The Marshall Mathers LP II), it was more nauseating than charming hearing a 40-year-old make dick jokes again. And that’s what I was looking at listening to Busta’s new single: sad, dejected, and confused with what has transpired. Things just aren’t the same with those two musically and no matter how great they can bend their syllables in 2014 as they could in 1998, I’ll always feel robbed of something special.

So instead of tearing the track apart, I’m just going to cherish it for what it is and that’s two favorites just rapping for a long time.

* I will say that “I’ll Hurt You” is as good as a collaboration we will get from the two and is much better than their most recent one. Crazy how that song was kept off of The Big Bang final cut. 

Paul Cantor wrote a strong piece on Busta Rhymes’ recent career steps and explained it better than I ever could here. He’ll always be great to me and he can do whatever he wants. I just wasn’t feeling it here. 

 

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April 7th is almost upon us. It only happens once a year and in New York City at MetLife Stadium, the WWE host their Mecca in the form of WrestleMania 29. It’s the time where casual fans, former wrestling fans, the die-hards, and IWC congregate towards the squared pulpit. This is the moment where old stars are given another chance of glory, current stars adding on to their legacy, and new stars creating their own path. It is the time where long-running chapters come to an end, and new ones begin. That’s what it should be, but in the past years there hasn’t been much of a closing and more of a rehashing.

While a few matches were set in stone a year prior, two consist of rematches from the 2012’s premier Pay-Per-Views WrestleMania 28 and SummerSlam. The undercard was haphazardly put together after a stop-and-start on certain programs, leaving a few people behind while giving some new opportunities. The Intercontinental Title gets buried again and The Undertaker returns from semi-retirement to face the biggest heel in the past year. There is a lot to discuss here and without further ado, let’s rundown the card for the “Showcase of the Immortals”.

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Three Days. Two Regions. 65 matches. 226 wrestlers. 18 title defenses. All of this compacted to one glorious weekend from April 5th-7th. What was once known as a time for wrestling fans as the weekend of one big show has now grown to several major shows over the years. Starting in March 2006, independent wrestling promotion Ring Of Honor did a doubleshot of shows in Chicago, Illinois, exactly at the same weekend where the city would host WrestleMania 22. The end result saw the promotion having the two best shows that weekend, blowing out anything that was featured on WWE’s premier Pay-Pay-View event. Since then, ROH has made it an annual tradition to have shows at the location of the next WrestleMania and constantly continues to outshine the big guns.

In the subsequent years, a number of independent promotions began to take notice and also began following suit. When booker Gabe Sapolsky left Ring Honor to create EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA, he took that approach and began doing shows for the past four years at the Mania locations. Now CHIKARA, CZW, SHIMMER, and a plethora of independent promotions are working this year’s WRESTLECON, which is a major wrestling convention that happens annually. This year, it will also be in the New York area and this weekend will be full of mat-slamming and high-flying action.

This week, I’ll be covering the eight major shows happening this weekend from Ring Of Honor, DGUSA, EVOLVE, New Japan, and WWE. It wouldn’t be WrestleMania Weekend without WrestleMania, but it isn’t the only show in town anymore.

So, Are You Ready?

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

With a little more than 48 hours to go, the WWE will hold its 26th annual Royal Rumble from the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix Arizona this Sunday. As far as pay-per-views are concerned, this is looking like the biggest non-WrestleMania show in quite a while with The Rock returning to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship. Instead of previewing the entire card for the event, the focus will be strictly held on the Royal Rumble match itself and how this can be a little more interesting.

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