Sunday, November 20, 2016

My All Time Favorite Survivor Series Teams!




Ahhh...the 30th annual Survivor Series happens tonight and I am hyped! I always loved Survivor Series as a kid. The unique aspect of seeing 4-5 wrestlers who would normally never be around each other to take on their most vicious rivals. It was a lot of fun to watch and it made Thanksgiving night that much better! And as someone who loves Thanksgiving, this just gave me something additional to look forward to. Recently, The Royal Rumble has overtaken the Survivor Series as my current favorite PPV, but for my money, nothing takes away the fun of being a kid and watching this and getting excited over the elimination matches.



I even got to attend Survivor Series 2009 when it took place in Washington, DC. It was a great time. I really was happy to finally attend it, especially since I missed out on attending it in 1995 when it took place at the legendary Capitol Center. In fact, I still have my shirt from that night's event!





On top of that, I also own a throwback Survivor Series shirt AND a program from the first event signed by over ten superstars who appeared that night. Including Dynamite Kid, Sensational Sherri, Bobby Heenan, Jim Neidhart and more. In the photo below, you can see Dynamite Kid holding it at a recent private signing.



With that said, in 30 years, there's been a lot of great Survivor Series teams...and some not so great. For my money, as many great matches that have taken place in the history of the PPV, the team elimination matches were always my favorite. So what are my favorites? Well get ready...BECAUSE IT'S TIME FOR THE SURVIVOR SERIES!


1987. TEAM ANDRE: "Ravishing" Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, Andre The Giant, One Man Gang and "The Natural" Butch Reed

1988. THE MEGA POWERS: Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Hillbilly Jim, Koko B Ware, Hercules

1989. THE KING'S COURT: Macho King Randy Savage, Barry Windham, Greg Valentine, Dino Bravo.
Yes, I'm aware Earthquake replaced Barry but I prefer this lineup.


1989. THE ENFORCERS: Big Bossman, Akeem, Rick Martel, Honky Tonk Man.(Akeem was replaced by Bad News Brown at the actual PPV)




1989. The Hulkamaniacs: Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Demolition.





1990. THE PERFECT TEAM: Demolition and Mr. Perfect






1991. TEAM FLAIR: Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Mountie, The Warlord




1991. TEAM PIPER: Rowdy Roddy Piper, Virgil, Bret Hart, The British Bulldog




1994. THE TEAMSTERS: Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Jim Neidhart, Jeff Jarret, Owen Hart




2001. TEAM WCW: Shane McMahon, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam. 

AND 

TEAM WWF: The Rock,  Chris Jericho, Undertaker, Big Show, Kane



2006. TEAM D-X. HHH, Shawn Michaels, Matt and Jeff Hardy, CM Punk.



2014. TEAM CENA: John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Erik Rowan, Ryback, Big Show.



2016: TEAM RAW: Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins 

AND

TEAM SMACKDOWN: AJ Styles, Shane McMahon, Dean Ambrose, Randy Orton, Bray Wyatt




2016. TEAM RAW WOMEN: Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Alicia Fox,Bayley, Nia Jax

AND

TEAM SMACKDOWN WOMEN: Nikki Bella, Carmella, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Alexa Bliss



I'm excited for tonight. It should be a fun card. I'm hoping for some great action, fun matches and perhaps a memorable title change or two. And really, as a wrestling fan, that's all you need. 

In the words of Vincent Kennedy McMahon himself...who will survive?


-Chad

Friday, November 18, 2016

5 VHS For A Day Off: Volume 3

It's been way too long since I've done this. But, now feels like the right time to do it again.

 Having a day off and zero motivation to actually do anything is a very dangerous combination. I mean, I've had three days off this week and accomplished absolutely nothing whatsoever. Seeing as today is my last day off until I go back to work tomorrow, I need to at least do something. Clea the apartment? Play with the bunnies? Paint a portrait? Nah. I know what I need to do: A VHS MARATHON!

Awwwww yeah! Time for some goofy movies with bad special effects and corny one-liners. But what did I choose? Let's take a little looksee:


MONSTERS:


Being a huge fan of anthology series, I've always meant to check this show out, but never could get a hold of the episodes themselves. I even missed the reruns on SciFi Channel  when they'd be aired back in the day. But, thanks to a fateful trip to the flea market, I was able to score this tape featuring two episodes. And I am very happy I finally found it. Within the first episode, I was sold. It's like a Tales From The Darkside companion piece with a monster of the week aspect. If these episodes are any indication, it's my goal to score more of these. I mean, I'm not gonna be able to drop 50 bucks on the complete DVD set but if I can score more of these, that'll satiate my appetite for now.

WRESTLEMANIA 5:




Ooooooh yeah! Wrestlemania 5 is regarded as a very unpopular show amongst wrestling fans, but I gotta be honest with you, I dig it. I mean, yeah there's some real stinkers on the card but for nostalgia sake, it's a nice trip down memory lane. It was at a time when WWF was still the number 1 show in town and Hulk Hogan still was the king of the world. Plus, look at all the all-stars on the card: Randy Savage, Demolition, Big Bossman, Ted DiBiase, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, The Ultimate Warrior, The Rockers, Jake The Snake Roberts, Andre The Giant just to name a few. It'll send you back to your childhood pretty darn quick.


LABYRINTH:



Ok. Time to confess: I've never actually seen Labyrinth. Yes, I know. That's a crime punishable by being heckled. I get it. My fiancée Laurie has tried to get me to watch this for years and years and really chipped away at me to the point that I've finally given in and picked up the VHS at a thrift store. Now, I haven't popped it in yet but I'll be waiting for my lady to get home to watch it after she gets home from work. I like David Bowie and love Jim Henson's creations so to be honest, other than straight up stubbornness, I don't know why it's take me so long to watch this.But I'm excited to see it. I'm already sold on Dance Magic Dance and watching David Bowie kick around goblins.



TRANSFORMERS: THE RETURN OF OPTIMUS PRIME:



You guys remember when Optimus Prime was killed off in that amazing Transformers The Movie? Well, depending on what release you ended up watching, there was a teaser at the end that revealed Optimus would come back later. They delivered in season 3 and by that point, the series had gone off the rails just became insane every episode. This episode was no different. The highlight was a red plague that caused everyone to hate each other. Um. Yeah, that was something to see. A bunch of Autobots fighting each other and even dropping the line "I'm a pepper. Don't you want to be a pepper too?". On top of that, Stan Bush's "The Touch" is used in the final battle scene. Bumblebee is given a new paint job and called "Goldbug". Rodimus Prime reverts back to just being Hot Rod. That's just a few things that they stuffed into this weird two part event. Which, at this time made sense. GI Joe was getting more and more ridiculous so Transformers followed suit. It's a pretty fun tape to watch and I'm sure the "FHE" logo at the beginning helps even more.




NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER:



What better way to end this marathon than with a movie about a loser named Jason who invokes the spirit of Bruce Lee to take on Jean Claude Van Damme?

No I'm not joking. This actually happened. Stop laughing.

This movie is amazing for all the wrong reasons. Mainly due to the terrible karate "action", terrible dialogue, bad camera work, or the best friend of the main character, R.J, rapping terribly, and being picked on by the chubby bully or the fact that RJ actually eats ice cream and sits on the crotch of Jason while he works out and does pelvic thrusts.


No, please don't make me post this. Stop.

Fine:





Yup. That's real.

This movie has apparently, not surprisingly, gone unacknowledged by the Bruce Lee Estate due to their unauthorized use of his name and image. One can't blame them for that. It's a hot piece of garbage but it's a FUN hot piece of garbage and if you can't find the VHS, Umbrella Entertainment released a fantastic bluray release, that you can pick up for cheap. It's worth it. Trust me. Awkward training montage and all.


So now that I've assembled a great vhs marathon, it's time to crawl into bed and actually press play. Yeah, maybe I should go to the gym instead, but uh...tomorrow?


Check out my previous VHS Marathons: here and here.

-Chad

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Celebrating/Reviewing Space Jam!

So 20 years since Space Jam entered our lives, eh? I still have a hard time believing that. Maybe I'm just in serious, serious denial. I feel I'm like others in thinking the 90s was just 6 or 7 years ago. That's the fun of getting old, kids.

Now I could sit here all day and say how lame Space Jam is but I can't. In fact, I have fond memories of this movie. Oh sure, it doesn't hold up 100% to some of us adults but it's a nice nostalgia trip. Then again, I'm the guy who rants and raves about how much he loves The Wizard, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

In fall 1996, my world revolved around three things: Wrestling, comics and Space Jam. I was a huge fan of Michael Jordan(but who wasn't?) and loved anything Warner Brothers offered, so was I gonna turn down a movie that involved The King of Air and Bugs Bunny playing basketball in space? Of course not! I was sold the second I saw the poster! I became obsessed with finding out everything I could with those two words. I had every piece of promotional offering from McDonalds, a Sports Illustrated special, and even a sweet Space Jam shirt I wore everywhere. Check it out:

With authentic 1996 angst and denim.
My buddy Ryan and I were all hyped, prepared and ready for this movie on opening night. It's not easy for a 13 year old to get super excited for a movie aimed at 7 year olds but if there was ever a reasonable exception, it's this. I mean, by that point, I was in middle school. Even expressing love in  Disney movies was social suicide. But, I feel like due to Michael Jordan's involvement, everyone was given a pass. Just. This. Once.

And you know what? The hype paid off. The movie was entertaining. It was a pretty decent hit for WB and the audience. Anyone who came out immediately fell in love with the movie. Or maybe older audiences who moved on from cartoons came running back. In fact, as my friend Ryan walked out, at least according to Ryan, I apparently proclaimed "RYAN WE ARE NOW JAMMERS". I will go to my grave saying that it was Ryan saying that. But either way, we were very happy. And so were you. Admit it! In fact, at a box office of $230 million, I'm sure WB was happy too. In the long run, Bugs Bunny and the gang were also thrown back into the limelight after playing a second place to Disney. This helped make WB characters popular again, which was a great benefit as well.




Today, WB celebrated this cherished classic with a sweet bluray/dvd/digital copy SteelBook combo pack. I gladly jumped at the chance to check it out! That said, it's now been a good 19 years since I've seen it last. So when I received the bluray for review, I was kinda scared. Sometimes, your favorite childhood movies don't hold up. We've all seen this happen. We wanna revisit our childhood and our childhood slaps us and says "lol".

Sadly, that fear was...somewhat proven. I think it's more of the silliness of the story itself. And the acting is a little stiff, but Jordan wasn't known as an actor. He was an athlete. Thankfully, he was surrounded by comedic greats like Bill Murray and Wayne Knight who kept him grounded. Was MJ gonna win an Oscar? No, but he tried his hardest and I'm gonna give an A for effort.

Now, I'd lie if I said I was blown away just as much now as I was at age 13 but there were things that stood out. Let's check them out:

The Animation:

screencap credit: HighDef Digest

For a live action/animated hybrid movie released in 1996, the animation really looks crisp and perfect. There's not a lot of flaws in this, mainly due to the mixture of CGI and cell-based animation. In fact, if I was to point to an example of great 90s animation, I'd say this is one of the finer productions. The transfer on this

The Music: 






R. Kelly, Quad City DJ's, Coolio, Seal, even Jay-Z. One of the finest R&B soundtracks of the decade.  To this day, while working at summer camps and schools, I've heard kids sing "I Believe I Can Fly" as they play basketball. I'd say that's a pretty testament to the longevity of this movie and soundtrack.


Cameos:



Patrick Ewing, Buggsy Mogues, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, are just some of the other basketball legends that join Michael in this movie. It's virtually a who's-who of basketball at that time to help the king get his ducks in a row to defeat the intergalactic MonStars. Or...Daffy Ducks in a row...


Voice Acting Cast:


Billy West, Bob Bergen, Danny DeVito, Dee Bradley Baker, Frank Welker, Maurice LeMarche, June Foray and Bill Farmer are just some of the names that round out this cast. A virtual Hall of Fame of animation voice actors. It's no easy task to fill Mel Blanc's shoes, but I'd say Billy West did a decent enough job. Warner Brothers definitely casted the best of the best and gave them some pretty good material to work with.



So, while I can't say some of the movie holds up the best, in my opinion, there are elements of it worth watching and picking up. Especially since 90s kids are getting older and starting to have families. This will be a perfect movie to hand down to the next generation. I can definitely see this being a new tradition and a bonding film between kids and parents.


So I highly recommend picking this up. But, before you do that, check out this archived Space Jam site to see what internet was like back in 1996. I'm just glad we got out alive.


-Chad

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Mickey Mouse Fan Club Kit!

Very few things scream "being an 80s kid" than signing up for a fan club. Back then, we as kids had so many different options in pop culture to sign our allegiance over to. GI Joe, WWF, Ninja Turtles, Barbie were just a few properties that had fan clubs. Heck, even local tv networks had "kids clubs". And who can forget the Burger King Kids Club?


And of course, these days you can't get much cooler of a fan club than StrangeKidsClub, which you should be regular reading material for all of you!

In the 1980s though, if you had close to 12 bucks and a lot of patience, you could receive a giant tyvek envelope filled with a bunch of crazy crap that would most likely get lost under your bed after a year or two. A sticker sheet, a membership card, maybe a t-shirt, maybe a magazine or a hat and some other stuff you could probably wow your friends with. If you're friends aren't impressed by a GI Joe fan club belt buckle, they're not really your friends. In fact, they're stinky, dirty mutants who don't deserve anyone's friendship. Banish them!

So now that you've dropped the dead weight of dirty sewer CHUDs from your life, you can start sitting down and enjoy the majesty of the subject of today's blog entry. Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to present you with...THE MICKEY MOUSE 1989 FAN CLUB KIT:


Drink it in, maaaaaaan.

So that's the envelope that would hit your doorstep in 1989, if you were one of the lucky ones. Kids most likely waited weeks and weeks for this. Those kids were most likely so anxious that they wouldn't be able to focus at school, sports, chores or other boring, non-fan club related activities. I remember waiting for my GI Joe fan club kit and literally running in the house and asking my mom "DID IT COME TODAY?". The wait was brutal but the payoff was absolutely worth it in the end. And if this beautifully 1989 themed envelope is any indication, it's gonna be a sweet ride.


Opening it up, we are greeted by the obligatory welcome letter. A letter written by some PR person who welcomes you to the legion of Mickey Mouse fandom. And what a fandom it is. This letter signifies that you chose the coolest fan club of that time and you are now one of Mickey's most loyal fans and friends. Mickey Mouse speaks the language that unites people of every race, religion and creed. Sure, everyone can love Mickey but not everyone is willing to truly sign up for the very exclusive fan club. You are now one of those few and proud fans. You're now on the level of Pluto. Maybe even higher than Goofy. I don't really believe Mickey and Goofy would truly be friends. I feel like if Mickey saw Goofy at the market, he'd pull out his phone and just wave to Goofy as he rushes by.


Next up, the membership card and certificate. You can't carry around the letter wherever you go but the membership card is something, when needed, can be pulled out in order to impress and wow others. Just imagine talking to someone and asking what they do in life. You respond with "oh I don't know, how about BEING A PART OF THE MICKEY MOUSE FAN CLUB?!?!?!". Nations will crumble at your feet.

For those people who are forgetful and always losing things(me), this certificate proves to be the perfect surrogate card. Can't fit it in your wallet, but you can hang this delightful certificate on your wall. Which is for the best. You'd want to keep that stuff as pristine as possible. A wrinkle to that certificate would make you the outcast of the club. Get a nice neon green for that certificate too. It would look right. Or it would look like a decoration hanging out at Edna's Edibles.




STICKERS! I love me some stickers and I know you do too. No fan club is complete without a sticker sheet but this may outshine all of them. Be it the Disney Channel logo, the "Club" logo, Mickey just hanging around or those weird Saved By The Bell credit triangles and squiggles, you're gonna have the coolest locker in school. Or if you're like me now, I'll gladly put this on my VHS cabinet. They're just that good. Don't tell me you wouldn't want to put these all over the interior of your car. You're lying to me, yourself and Mickey. Shame.








At the time, The Disney Channel was really pushing the new Mickey Mouse Club as a newer, hipper variety show for kids. While everyone at Disney no doubt respected and loved the Mickey Mouse Club of the 1950s and 1960s, this was a new time and needed a huge update. So what do you do? Get some younger and hipper kids. In this magazine, we get to know and learn all about the new cast. The coolest kids this side of an LA Gear commercial. It's a good chance to get know you're new friends and Disney comrades. I'm not not saying these kids are uninteresting but despite their amazing 1989 haircuts and talented breakdancing skills, I don't think many of them  went on to bigger and better things. Sorry guys. I'm sure you're a lot of fun to play Connect Four or NES Track and Field but...save your money, please.


Ah yes, along with your magazine, you also get an "autographed" photo of the entire cast. A nice piece, but I assume if it fell off your wall and fell behind the radiator, you wouldn't really be heartbroken.


Disney's really pushing the narrative. Give us more money. Recommend a friend, order the Disney Channel, whatever. Mickey's no fool. He didn't build his empire on giving handouts. Fan club member or not, Mickey still has to pay the builds. Hence why he decided to sandwich these offers for your parents in between the cool stuff. Smart mouse. A+ for strategy.


Oh boy...this is something pretty rad. In fact, this whole fan club kit falls apart without it! An almost  Ecto Cooler-colored watch! If your goofy friends weren't blown away by your membership card, the next time they ask for the time, they will be when they see this sweet watch. Sure, it's no Swatch but it's hardly something I'd scoff at. At the time, Mickey Mouse wristwatches were pretty popular but for those who were more into the trendy and bright colored bs side of things, this was a perfect choice. Show all the kids down at the Galleria food court who the real boss is.

Feel like having some privacy while watching the Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland? This great door hanger keeps unwanted pests out of your space but still being polite about it. Some door hangers say "STAY OUT!" or "GO AWAY!". But not this one. Some decency has been missing in the door hanger community and quite frankly, I'm glad to see Disney and M&M's taking a stand. Good on you. Very good on you.











Whoa...now here's a huge trip down memory lane. As if the rest of the items weren't a giant time capsule, we're given a coupon book featuring deals on the hottest toys, food and attractions. As great as everything else is, I'm totally marking out over the Ecto Cooler and New Adventures of He-Man coupons. And of course, what kid wouldn't be begging to cash in that free kids rental at coupon at Blockbuster? Something for everyone, but mostly for the kids. I mean, of course, there's always a chance that back in 1989 some weird adult would've used these coupons for the sole reason of buying themselves Mega Man 4.



Gotta be honest of all the goofy fan club kits I've seen through the years, I'm seriously surprised this has slipped through the cracks of time. Especially since 80's nostalgia is going so strong. And just before you leave, take one good look at this sweet logo...




-Chad