Friday, December 12, 2008

Cash Cow, Baseball & Congressional Playoffs

Just how much is a left handed starting pitcher worth these days? I would think it is not as much as CC (Cash Cow) Sabathia will be making as a member of the New York Yankees. It seemed common logic Sabathia was going to be a very wealthy man in 2009, but the rediculous amount of money being thrown at a pitcher who has one of the worst postseason records of any Cy Young winner in the past decade leaves me wondering just what the Yankees won't do to bring a championship to their new home. With the economy in a state of shock, and investors unsure what to throw their pots of gold into, the Yankees' deal with CC is the biggest middle finger to the working class that could be made. Not only did they overpay, but they did so at a time where their fans' wallets are getting lighter. And they aren't done yet. This is one of the biggest reasons why the Yankees are so hated by the rest of the country. What will it take to get the Steinbrenners to close their wallet and use some "home-grown" talent to win some throphies?

It's times like these that I wish I had spent more time working on my fastball and less time on "i before e except after c."

On a positive note, the World Baseball Classic is returning in 2009. I really like the idea behind this, and I hope that the tv networks get their coverage right this time around. The last time it was held, in 2006, nearly half of the games were presented with abbreviated video. However, the advent of the MLB Network gives me hope. Competiton drives invention and a desire to succeed. Hopefully, ESPN will use this as a chance to deliver a better tv product this time around. In other words, show the whole game or don't show it at all!

The wonderful folks up in Bristol (ESPN) broke a story today on their Outside the Lines program that made me laugh. Apparently there is only one thing Republicans & Democrats can agree on, college football needs a playoff. And they want to do something about it. The planned legislation does not specify how the playoff system would be implemented, but it is clear on one thing: The BCS needs to go. It seems anyone who has watched one snap of college football has an idea of how to fix the BCS mess. Most will cite the March Madness college basketball tournament as a reason for why the playoff is needed for football. March Madness is one of the most lucrative tv contracts in all of sports and is currently owned by CBS. The network does a tremendous job of promoting, televising, and analyzing the games since they picked up the contract for the games in 1991. Nearly 20 years later, the Madness has thrived on CBS and the station has become synoymous with the March basketball.

Now, imagine if in 2010 when ESPN picks up the rights to the BCS that instead, we have a playoff system in place. The possiblities of some of those useless bowl games actually mattering would have fans salivating. Now, I have a reason to tune in for the Allstate Sugar Bowl because a team's chances of winning a National Championship will be ended within 4 quarters of play. It gives those games a sense of importance and urgency, which are two things sports thrive on. Why else would fans wish for a Game 7 in other sports?

Who would have thought I would agree with congress on something? The playoff system is long overdue for college football. There should be no guess work in determining the National Champion. No one wants to share the throphy. And congress is going to make sure that no one has to share a throphy again.

I was deeply disappointed to hear that Petty Enterprises has released 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Bobby Labonte amid concerns of no sponsorship. Times are tough, especially when one of the crowned jewels of the sport is forced to merge with another team just to make ends meet. The year 2009 will not be a kind one to NASCAR; I certainly hope Brian France has a plan to keep teams afloat this season, or we may be left watching Hendrick Motorsports battle Roush-Fenway Racing for the championship. Oh wait, we already did. Oh well.

Another sad note for NASCAR fans, the Wood Brothers team, another staple of the Cup Series garage for over 50 years, announced plans earlier this week to cut its racing schedule drastically. They will no longer run a full season, and their plans for the Truck Series have also been put into question. I hope this is not a sign of things to come for NASCAR, but with two of the most legendary teams in desperate trouble things do not look promising. Looks like Jimmie Johnson's road to the 4 in a row is going to be easier than previously thought.

Thanks for stopping by, and next time wipe your freaking feet off on the door mat!

Friday, December 5, 2008

WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 Review

Earlier this gaming season I had the misfortune of playing the first TNA game to hit the store shelves. Like most wrestling fans, I was looking for my cyber smackdown fix. Alas, it did not come in a six-sided ring. But there was hope on the horizon as started the annual SmackDown Countdown, hyping up the eagerly anticipated 10th anniversary installment of THQ/Yukes juggernaut franchise. After playing the game for two weeks now, I can say it was worth the wait and my PlayStation 3 is finally getting some use.

CM Punk introduces Chris Jericho to his boot.

The game play is solid. At times someone could mistake the game for the real product. Heck, even John Cena's character model in the game uses the exact same 5 moves the real Cena does! The controls are very user friendly and much easier to adapt to than the TNA game. The series introduces a new feature in match called Signature Moves. Each superstar has two moves that can be used by storing a full momentum meter. These two extra moves change the game and can be instrumental in winning a match.

It's time to play "The Game!"

The other great feature added to the squared circle is the use of abilities. Last year, every superstar had two fighting styles that determined what abilities they had. This presented a huge problem, with superstars doing moves and acting in ways they never would! (When is the last time you saw Jeff Hardy bust himself open with a chair to show he's hardcore?) This has been remedied as each superstar has up to six abilities. They can be something simple like the ability to double stack tables or something more complex and character specific like stealing an opponents finisher. And the A.I. is much more refined than ever before. Big Show won't go for top rope moves like a cruiserweight, Rey Mysterio takes to the air in ways that will leave you scratching your head. It really adds to the value of this game.

Randy Orton is one of the most dominant in the game.
The most hyped feature this year is the increased focus on tag team matches. In past years, being on the apron waiting for the tag was a very boring part of the game. And if your friend was being a jerk and hogging all the ring time, chances were good you were going to be bored and pissed by the end of the match. Those days are over. Now the man on the apron is as much a part of the action as the guys in the ring. From the apron you can grab the opponent to hold him open for a cheap shot by your partner, distract the ref, and pull down the top rope when your opponent is coming towards the ropes sending him tumbling to the floor. Even the momentum meter is changed for tag matches as each team shares a meter. This really adds strategy to the matches, especially if the illegal man wastes the finisher at a crucial moment in the match. The hottest feature of tag matches is the Hot Tag. This is when your partner is getting beaten to a pulp and needs to get out of the ring. The guy on the apron gets the crowd cheering him on, then the partner lunges to make the tag. The fresh man comes in fired up, taking down the opponent and then knocking his opponent's partner off the apron. This feature is a lot of fun, and since it is only good once per match, adds to the strategy.

Taker's Road to WrestleMania dabbles in the supernatural.
The bread and butter of any wrestling game is story mode and create mode. The story mode is two seperate modes. The first is the brand new Road to WrestleMania mode. You start by picking on of 6 characters/stories: John Cena, Triple H, Undertaker, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio & Batista. Then, the game launches into the mode, getting you familiar with the superstar before going to a well-done cutscene of the opening pyro and announcer voice-over for the show. The announcers will actually progress your story along, a huge plus in my book! Then, you get some cutscene that is fully voiced-over to prepare you for your match. During the match, the announcer will provide insight into your story! No, I don't mean, "He needs to win the match." I mean, "If Chris Jericho is going to find out who is responsible for that vicious attack two weeks ago on Monday Night Raw, Shane McMahon must be covering for the man responsible. Why else would he put Jericho in a match with Snitsky tonight?" See how much better that is? Jericho's RTW story is without question the best in the game. The twists and turns that one took had me guessing until the very end.

Cena has never been a fan of the catering.

Almost all of the unlockables in the game come via RTW mode. However, Career Mode is needed for the final unlockable. I'm going to skip Career Mode for now because it ties in directly with Create Mode. Let's get into the creating! The standards of the series are back, Create-A-Superstar, Create-An-Entrance, & Create-A-Moveset. CAS, or CAW mode, is basically the same song and dance from past games. If you've played any of the last four games, you will be familiar with everything there. That's not a bad thing, but a little bit of improvement could have been put in here where the most replay value comes from. Some new entrances have been added this year, including an unlockable for Cena and one of my favorites from John Morrison. Seriously, have you seen his slow-mo entrance? That helps make him a star. The big news on this front for PlayStation 3 owners like myself is the ability to add your own music. That's right, Triple H is coming to the ring to Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl!" Take that, "King of Kings!"

Imagine the possibilities with Create-a-Finisher.
The new feature in the Create side is one that fans have been asking, craving, &/or demanding for 10 years, Create-A-Finisher. The finisher you create is up to you. Do you want to go from a powerbomb pick-up into a fisherman's suplex, with a DX crotch chop thrown in? Or would you like to string every low blow together into a Ric Flair special? (And if you do, for the love of God don't take that online!) There are some very unique possibilities, as of this writing, however, a decent Canadian Destroyer is impossible to create. Think of this year's version as a beta test, as the only finishers can be created from a standing front position. The groundwork is in place for great things in the future from this mode!

Make videos better than the guys in Stamford.
Another exciting new feature this year is the Highlight Reel. I was unsure of this mode when I first played the game, and with all the customization it nearly got lost in the shuffle! But when I finally did get the chance to use it, I was simply blown away. To use this feature, you must first save some video clips. By pausing the game during a match and selecting Highlight Reel, you can see a 30-second replay from your match, change angles, and more. If you like what you see, you can save it in one of 30 slots for later use. This replay mode is one fans have been asking for since day one, and its ease of use is fantastic.

Jeff is not going to like where that boot ends up!
After the match, you go into Highlight Reel mode, and the fun really begins. From here you can add clips together to make a video package complete with music (both in-game music & your own music on the hard drive.). Or if you're really crafty, you can add in sound effects for crowd noise and even plug in some lines from the announcers. Plus, you can add graphics to the video, adjust camera angles, adjust the speed and length of the clips, and so much more. When your masterpiece is complete, you get to create a DVD cover for the clips. There are so many options here, and let me say my Highlight Reel from a WCW Championship Ladder match between Undertaker & Jeff Hardy looked good, and after trimming away some unwanted footage told a great story of how a Tombstone Piledriver on the arena floor busted open the high-flying Hardy and allowed the veteran Taker just enough time to climb up the ladder and pull down the title. I suspect I won't be the only one spending too much time in the Highlight Reel studio.

You can unlock "The World's Angriest Man" amongst others.
The customization goes one step further this year with the all-new Roster Editor. Now, fans can change superstars brands (Raw, SmackDown, ECW, Legend, Free Agent, & the unlockable WCW!), change them to clean or dirty, and even switches championships without having a match. This is a very welcome addition to the series, and players will spend more time here than they might think.

Their amazing rivalry this year can be relived or rewritten on SvR 2009.
Remember the Career Mode I dodged earlier? Time to revisit that now. The only way to level up CAWs is to send them through Career Mode, or as I like to call it "The Gold Rush." The only point of this ridiculous mode is to win every championship while gaining attribute points in the matches. The biggest problem with this, unless you search for a list, you won't know how to get certain attribute points. So if you have a life and game during what little down time you do have, you will waste most of your time in this mode trying to get you character to a 50 overall. The other problem is, to assign abilities to your CAW you have to earn them by doing something specific in a match in Career Mode. But they don't tell you how to earn them, well, until you earn them. So if you really want the ability to steal finishers, and only have one ability spot open (and that will happen, frequently), you had best avoid the Cruiserweight Title completely (that gets you the Springboard ability), and you will want to avoid Chris Jericho completely unless you want the Lock Pick ability.

Unsafe working environment?
The biggest complaint I have with the game is how much was taken out of it from last year. Sure, we may have finally gotten the Inferno match, but why was the Buried Alive match removed? And yes, there are lot of new superstars in the game with new moves, but why is the most recognizable move in wrestling in this decade, the Stone Cold Stunner, only available as part of Create-A-Finisher? So you're going to have downloadable content for the game, great! Would you mind telling us what the hell it's going to be???

The landing really sucks.
I've loved the SmackDown series for 10 years, and as a veteran of the series I think it's time to give the franchise to someone else. Yukes put together a great game, but THQ's uniformed and most times stupid marketing ploys angered most fans of the series, myself included, who just wanted to know what makes this game so special. THQ sold this game to fans like a used car salesman. They let you take it for a test drive, but they didn't want you to know about the power windows, heated mirrors & 4-wheel drive.
The game is the same thing you've played for 4 years, and the bells and whistles added this year add to the solid gameplay, but in it's 10th year the series still plays the way it did on the PS2. However, this series has been solid over those past 4 years, and the control scheme has reached a nice balance between casual gamer & fanboy. The continued addition makes each game different from the last, and with 10 years of games THQ & Yukes have built a must-have franchise for wrestling fans. Hey Midway Games, take some notes!
My Score: 8.5/10
All photos courtesy of

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fantasy Matchup

Ok, this idea has been debated by my friends for the past week, and I thought I would see what you think of it. Here's the fantasy matchup. Who would win in a fight between:


Bruce Lee & Chuck Norris

Two of the most recognizable faces in martial arts in a fight, simple as that. I've tossed this idea around for a week and I've picked Bruce Lee over Chuck. Bruce Lee always had an aura of danger surrounding him. He's the only person I've ever seen in a movie that I thought could beat the crap out of me without breaking a sweat! Also, Bruce Lee was the original. When it comes to martial arts, he has been the measuring stick. With Chuck, we have all seen him in action, and that's the problem for Chuck in this fantasy fight. His move list is very predictable. I would bet that 9 out of 10 fights Chuck has been in have ended with him giving some poor soul the Roundhouse Kick. So if Bruce Lee does any video watching before the fight, Chuck's screwed!

Who do you think would win? And BTW, no one is allowed to cite the movie "Return of the Dragon!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MLB Playoffs Preview

First, let me apologize for some of the missing elements of this page. The Soapbox is currently undergoing reconstruction. I'm currently looking for a really cool blogger template to brighten things here, and I have very little knowledge of HTML, so if anyone knows how to increase the width of the blog columns. I have found a really cool template, but the columns are just too freaking narrow!

Alright, enough of the house cleaning, let's get down to baseball! This is the time of year that I can't get enough of! This is the reason 32 teams play 162 games for 6 months straight. This is the Playoffs, where one loss could cost you the championship! Eight teams, four per league are vying for the right to play for the title. While I'm not going to say I did great with my picks last year, I am hoping to bounce back this year.


What I like about this series, is the story of redemption. Last year, the Sox sweeped the Angels taking two at Fenway Park then finishing them off at Angel Stadium. This year, the Angels could do to Boston what the Red Sox did to the Angels. I like the team the Angels have. Good starting pitching with John Lackey and Ervin Santana, plus the best closer in the majors in Francisco Rodriguez. Couple that with the two big acquistions of Torii Hunter and Mark Texiera, and I see a team that is being overlooked. And they will use that to their advantage to surprise the Red Sox and knock off the defending Champions.
My Pick- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 3 games.

Who would have thought the "devil" was keeping down the Rays? I have enjoyed watching the young Rays shock the baseball world this season. Really, who picked the Rays to win the AL East at the beginning of the season? And who could have imagined that it would take a one-game playoff between the White Sox and the Twins to decide the AL Central, which many handed to the Cleveland Indians right out of Spring Training? The point is, going by conventional wisdom usually leads to predicitions that are just plain wrong. I've waffled on this pick since late last night. On one hand, you have the ChiSox momentum, coming out of the regular season winning two "do or die" games. The last team to do that, was last year's Colorado Rockies, and they made it all the way to the World Series. On the other hand, the Rays have come out of nowhere this season and have left a huge imprint on the entire 2008 season. It's hard to choose, so I'm going to go with my gut here.

My Pick- Tampa Bay Rays in 4 games.

Has there been a time when Chicago has been any more excited? Both teams in the playoffs for the first time since 1906, when the White Sox won the championship. Could it be the Cubs' time to shine? Not if the Dodgers have anything to say about it! Many are considering the trade for Manny Ramirez one of the best trades of this season. It was absolutely key to getting the Dodgers to the playoffs, but I don't think it is enough to keep them going in the playoffs. It has been 100 years since the Cubs won their last World Series championship, and this series is going to be one of the biggest tests.

My pick- Chicago Cubs in 5 games.

If there's any series I'm looking forward to, it's this one. The Phillies had a rough NLDS last year, as they were swept, at home by a surging Colorado. This year, they face another surging team, the Brewers. CC Sabathia has been the best pitcher in the NL since being traded by the Indians. He has put the Brewers on his back and has carried them to October baseball. This will be Sabathia's second trip to the postseason in a row, and I hope for Milwaukee's sake he has learned from his many mistakes last year. But I do not think he has, and that will hurt the Brew Crew.

My Pick- Philadelphia Phillies in 4 games.

I like the boppers of the Angels. There is some serious power in that lineup! Having home-field advantage can only help the Angels, but as much as I like the Angels I just have this feeling in my gut that the Rays are the team to beat in the American League. I had that same feeling last year about Boston, and I foolishly ignored it. I won't be doing that again!

My Pick- Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games.

The season series between these two was very close, with Philly winning it 4-3. I like the Cubs in this series. Their pitching is good, they have the bats in the lineup to get the job done, and they have Lou Pinella who knows how to handle October baseball. Philly is good, don't get me wrong, and this series is so close it really could go either way. The one question I have about the Phillies is Brad Lidge. He won the NL Comeback Player of the Year, but I question his reliablity in pressure situations. If you recall this is the same closer who could not get the job done for the Houston Astros in 2005. That is not something you can fully recover from. And I feel like it will rear its head again in 2008.

My Pick- Chicago Cubs in 7 games.

Holy cow! Rays & Cubs? How the hell did that happen? We have a team that has never even sniffed the postseason until 2008 going up against a team that has not won a World Series Championship in 100 years! I think this series is one of the best possiblilties of the postseason. I would love to see what the Rays lineup would do against Carlos Zambrano. Or how about Kosuke Fukudome going against Troy Percival with the game on-the-line? The possiblilities are endless! Now for the tough part. Who would win in the this series? As much as I love the youth of the Rays, the Cubs' experience is a big key to this series. As much as I would love to see the Rays pull off the biggest shocker in MLB history with the ultimate worst to first story, I don't see it happening.

World Series Champions- Chicago Cubs in 5 games.

So, 100 years after their last World Series Championship, the Chicago Cubs will bring the title home to their very excited fans in a story bigger than that of the Red Sox in 2004! I'm sure that makes a lot of you happy. And I'm sure those of you who have followed my picks in the past know that I have cursed every team I picked last season. So some Cubs fans might be angry with me, but that's my preview of the 2008 MLB Postseason. So I ask you now, who are your picks?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

TNA iMPACT! Game Review

If there's anything I love more than sports, it's my brand spanking new PlayStation3. And since it's so new, the only game I have for it as of now is Madden 09 (Hey, no snickering!). And as most of you know, I'm a huge pro wrestling fan (and if you have not checked, please head over to the BWE site to see what we're up to! No, not now! Wait until I'm finished here!)

So when I heard the only direct competition to Vince McMahon's wrestling dynasty was coming out with a game, I was intruigued. I have played every game in WWE's SmackDown! series, and it has gotten stale over the past two or three years. So TNA's game is a refreshing addition to a very limited genre. I went to pick up a copy of the game at the local Family Video store (because I just can't stand LackLuster Video's selection anymore). After about a week after the game's release, I rented the brand new TNA game from Midway.

Get used to seeing this, often.

First off, if you're a PS3 owner, get the game and let it install immediately, because it takes at least 20 minutes. Yeah, I thought that was crazy myself. The game opens with a really cool video highlighting TNA Wrestling and is well worth a watch. Then, you get to the main menu. All the obvious options are there, and I would strongly recommend you go to the Options menu and watch the training videos, especially if you're a WWE gamer such as myself. These controls take some time getting used to! There's a button for kicks, a button for punches, a "strong modifer," and of course a counter button. The problem is, the basic buttons are easy to use, but if you want to use more than 4 moves in your very limited moveset, you have to look at the instruction manual and figure out which buttons to press and which direction to move the left stick in. The ease of execution for finishers saves the control scheme (simply lock up and hit the O button).

Who reads a newspaper these days?

With any wrestling game, there are only two modes that anyone cares about: Story Mode & Create-A-Wrestler. And TNA iMPACT! melds the two together. (SPOILER ALERT!!! Story details are about to be revealed!) You start Story mode with a nice introduction of how your character, named Suicide, has been tearing it up in TNA, basically dominating all your opponents. Unfortunately, someone is unhappy with you, and demands that you take a dive in the next match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Obviously you don't and you meet the tag team LAX (Latin American Xchange). And by meet, I mean get beaten to within an inch of your life and left for dead in Mexico. No, I didn't just make that up.

Not another The Mummy movie!

You wake up in a run-down hospital room in Tijuana with no idea who you are, your face heavily bandaged and doctors telling you they can help fix you up (you know, because all the top plastic surgeons practice in the middle of nowhere). This is when you enter Create-A-Wrestler. You get to use the limited options available to sculpt your character. While the choices are limited, they are options that make sense like jeans, shorts, tights, shirts, etc. Once you are finished, you are thrust into one of the most mind-numbingly crazy stories ever devised. I have wondered if TNA's head writer Vince Russo had a hand in writing this, because it has so many annoying Russo-esq moments.

Big Kev will watch your back in TNA. Sorta.

The story puts you in a very cool looking "arena" in the middle of a Mexican nighborhood where you have to fight in a three matches to win a chance to fly to the States and compete for an indy promotion. When you win a match at the Armory, you will be challenged by a TNA star for a chance to fly to the Impact Zone in Orlando to ply your craft in TNA Wrestling. Are you following so far? Good, because that was just the beginning. Once you make it to TNA, you will meet Kevin Nash, and he decides to take you under his wing. And in his "brillance" he decides to team you with Eric Young, a TNA star who is basically afraid of everything. Tag matches in this game suck, plain and simple. The A.I. does not understand when to come in and help you, but the CPU's team blatantly attacks you whenever they feel like it. During this time, you will notice something about the game that may annoy you. More on this later. After more tag matches than there are teams in the game, you will get a shot at the TNA Tag Team Champions, and guess who that is. If you guessed LAX, congratulations! After winning the titles, you and Eric are attacked after the match and Eric disappears.

Just 3 TNA Stars Hanging Out.

This thrusts you into the signature of TNA Wrestling, the X-Division. The X-Division consists of some of the high-flying mid-card stars of TNA, and early in TNA's history was considered the highlight of the company. This is when you will notice the difficulty of the game rise, quickly. Moves that were winning matches previously will be less effective now. Of course, you don't have to worry too much about that, since you will have only one or two new moves unlocked by this point anyway. The signature match of the X-Division is the Ultimate X. For this match, two cables are crossed in the form of an X and hung over the ring attached to steel beams on either side of the ring. An object, in this case an X, is hung in the middle of the X of the cables and the only way to win the match is to grab the X. The controls for the match and general execution is surprisingly good. Climbing and hanging on the cables is intuitive and looks very good. And the mini-game for grabbing the X, while annoying at first, is one of the few ways the match could have been executed. What happens is, when your wrestler gets to the X, you press a button to reach for the X and then a meter appears above the X with a green area in the middle and a moving target which you have to stop in the green area to advance your progress. Sounds easy, but each time you do it right, the speed of the target increases. It takes about 3 or 4 times of this to win. This is by far one of my favorite matches in the game, but after the third or fourth match in story mode, it becomes much less fun.

Holy crap! The stage exploded!

Eventually you will get a shot at the TNA X-Division Championship, but this is where the convuluted mess of the story starts to take shape as you accidentally run into Jeff Jarrett, the man who has dominated TNA since its inception (and for the wrestling smarks out there, the co-founder of the company). He tries to recruit you, but you want nothing to do with him and his group of followers, including LAX, who have caused you trouble throughout your X-Division battles. Then it is revealed that one of his followers was actually an insider your buddy Kevin Nash planted to get information about Jarrett's plans. Jarrett gets pissed and takes it out on you by black mailing you into doing his bidding. Once you win the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Suicide regains his memory and comes to a not so surprising realization, Jeff Jarrett was behind the attack that nearly cost him his life! The final battle is against Jarrett, and good luck with that one! It took me a dozen tries to beat that lousy, well, you know!

Damn you, Sting!

And while I'm by no means the ultimate gamer, I can hold my own in the ring, but as you progress through story mode you will notice how cheap the A.I. is. I have no problem with a game being tough, but when the game counters every freaking move you throw at it, there's something wrong! I can honestly remember a match when Sting punched me in the mouth, clotheslined me, and pinned me. My other PO moment came when I had hit my finisher (the insanely awesome Cradle Shock!) on Kurt Angle, who promptly got up, walked out of the ring, grabbed a chair and smacked me with it until it disappeared! By that time, my whole body was red and the SOB pinned me for the win! That my friends is a WTH? moment.

Sting just had a stunning realization.

The biggest complaint I have with the game is the stun meter. Each time you get hit, your stun meter fills. When it fills completely, your character is stunned and is defenseless until the meter slowly empties. The only thing you can do in the mean time is risk breaking your controller by wiggling the right stick back and forth to help speed up the meter. This is the same way you kick out of pins, and it is a giant pain in the ass! I have no interest in plunking down another $50 on a new controller! I was reading on a message board about the game one person actually snapped their right stick in half doing this! Someone in the testing department did not do their job!
Overall, this game is a major disappointment. There was so much that could have been done to put the pressure on THQ & Yukes for the SmackDown! series. Ultimately, the game feels like something that just isn't ready. I think Midway should have stuck this game back in the oven and let it cook a little longer, because after beating Story mode in two days I played one final Ultimate X match and put the game away. There is very little replay value in this game, which is a big problem. Ultimately, the game is well worth a $7 rental. But there is no reason whatsoever to buy this game until it's in a bargin bin $20 game.
Final Score: 6.1 out of 10
I will also be reviewing the new SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 game when it launches in early November. If you would like more info on either game, is the place to go. They are doing the traditional Smackdown Countdown right now for SvR 2009. Good stuff, highly recommended.
Photos courtesy:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Random Thoughts

Before I begin, I would like to apologize to my readers for not updating my blog recently. It is not for lack of trying, but when I post something I want to give you something to think about. I don't just post get my post counts up, that's just pathetic. So just know that if you read something here, it's the best I've got at that time.

Alright, enough of that. What is going on in the NFL? Tom Brady's done for the season. And that means the Patroits are in deep trouble. I'm not going to judge Matt Cassel, New England's backup, because I have not watched him play. But I will say this, it is going to be a uphill climb for the AFC Champions for the rest of this season. It will be interesting to see how they fare the rest of the season. And if Cassel doesn't live up to expectations, I would not be surprised to see the Pats looking for a replacement QB on the trading block.

Aaron Rodgers deserves much better media than what he has got thus far. If I hear Rodgers compared to Favre one more time before season's end, my head may explode. How can you compare the two when one has not played a full season? Could someone please relay that message to the folks in Bristol? I'm going to spew nonsense about Rodgers being Favre-like in Green Bay because that is probably never going to happen again. Rodgers will be good, he will win some games, and he will do what Favre seems unable to do, shut up and play!

What happened in Cleveland? My Browns faced their team's mortality it would seem against the Dallas Cowboys. I have to admit, I picked the Brownies to lose that game (Kinda bittersweet, huh?) The problem is the problem the Browns have had since they returned in 1999, their defense sucks. And while offense wins games, defense wins championships. So until Cleveland puts together a defense that can get through an offensive line, were going to waiting a while for a championship in Cleveland. (You would think I would be a little more optimistic about the home team!)

NASCAR continues to put on some of the worst racing seen in many years with the Car of Tomorrow. The race at Richmond, the race before the chase, was so boring that I felt bad for everyone who braved Tropical Storm Hanna to see it. The racing probably would have been better had everyone raced for 400 laps instead of 25! This whole "save your stuff for the end" crap needs to end! Recently I went go-karting with my brother and my best friend and had a great time! Good speed, hard corners, and loose cars is a recipe for a good time in my book! Anyone who enjoys NASCAR or racing of any kind needs to get behind the wheel of one these things. But with all the fun, I did notice something wrong. There are rules at the track at was racing on:

1. No intentional bumping
2. No spinning
3. No cutting someone off

And if you didn't obey these rules, you were parked. Sound familiar? It should, because this is the same crap NASCAR drivers are dealing with now. My point, rules are fine, in moderation and with the idea that they be fluid. Bring back the old NASCAR! Oh, and support go-karting.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I had the misfortune of watching WWE Unforgiven, the most recent PPV. The event was held in my backyard in Cleveland, and I tried desperately to get tickets for the event. I'm so glad I didn't. There was so much that went wrong, from World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk losing his championship without even competing in a match; Chris Jericho getting beaten six ways from ugly and still having the ability to come out later in the show and win the World Heavyweight Championship; to Big Show beating the hell out of the Undertaker; and matches that just, well, sucked.

The only good thing to come out of that event was the Championship Scramble concept match. The rules to this match are convulted and tough to follow, but it basically boils down to this:
  • 2 men start the match. Every 5 minutes a new superstar enters the ring until all 5 competitors are in the ring. The match last 20 minutes.

  • A pin or submission names that person the "interim champion" of the match. He is not officially recognized as champion until the match ends, if he is the "interim champion" at its conclusion

  • The "interim champion" does not have to be pinned or submit in order to lose his status.

Overall, the match was fun to watch, and presented some good exciting moments. Unfortunately, it was not enough to save this PPV. Please save your money and avoid this one at all costs.

Remember how I said I was not going to buy Madden 09 for the XBOX 360? Well, I didn't. I bought the "Collector's Edition" for the Playstation 3! Boo me all you want for that, but at least it didn't have Brett Favre on the cover! Another game that is on my watch list is WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 (no surprise there!). If you are a wrestling fan, head over to and checkout the exclusive content on this year's SvR game. Early reports look good, but we won't know for sure until the game's release in November.

One final note, I'm going to be experimenting with this blog over the next week or two to see what all blogger can do. So, if you notice some changes to this entry and they look a little weird, just know that they are intentional and will most likely be fixed.

Alright, that's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading, and as always, I'll try to get it right next time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

WWE SummerSlam Preview

I'm sure I've mentioned on here somewhere my passion for pro wrestling. If not, then check out the BWE Promotions site, and see what we have going on there.

Anyway, WWE SummerSlam is this Sunday on pay-per-view, and as the biggest event of the summer, I have to put in my two cents. There have been many great moments in the event's over 20-year history, from the event in Wembley Stadium, to Undertaker vs. Austin, to the first World Championship of Randy Orton's career, there have been some big moments here.

This year's event is being billed as "The Biggest Blockbuster of the Summer," and it looks interesting on paper. There's potential in this event, so I'm going to do my best to predict what's going to happen.

Jeff Hardy vs. MVP
I'm intrigued by the build for this as it's another one of those times where WWE is trying to blur the line between fiction and reality. Both are very talented, and in line for a push (hopefully), so this match may reveal the future booking on SmackDown. With Triple H as the WWE Champion for the forseeable future, there's no reason to weaken one of the few heels on the blue brand. So, I'm going with MVP to win the match, and get a push to the WWE Title picture, so that Triple H has fresh blood at the next PPV.

ECW Champion Mark Henry vs. Matt Hardy
I like the "World's Strongest Champion." Even though it's mostly a gimmick, he's incredibly believable in that role. I hate the new look of the ECW Title belt, but there's no changing that. I really like the addition of Tony Atlas as the man behind the champion. Ok, maybe I'm nostagic. Point is, all signs point to Matt winning the title at SummerSlam, so he won't. Mark Henry wins, with help from Tony Atlas, setting up a rematch where Matt wins the title.

Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston & Women's Champion Mickie James vs. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix in a Winner Take All match
I may be in the minority, but I like new Raw General Manager Mike Adamle. The creative team is doing a good job of booking the "anything can happen" idea, and this is being called an "Adamle Original." The idea is the winning team gets both titles. I admit, I have been split on this one. I really like the current champions. Kofi Kingston is one of the most exciting young stars on Raw, and Mickie has been deserving title runs since her program with Trish Stratus ended in 2006. Santino & Beth don't need titles to get over, and with those two flirting like high schoolers, I don't see a reason for them to win. I'm picking Kofi & Mickie to retain their titles after Beth goes for the cover on Mickie, but Santino's ego causes him to come in and cost his team the match.

World Heavyweight Champion CM Punk vs. JBL
I'm really disappointed with the way Punk is being booked as Champion. In fact, I'm disappointed with this match. This is the exact same match we saw on Raw the night Punk won the title! So, either none of the writer's watch their program, or they have a very poor short term memory. Either way, this match will be very forgettable, which is a shame because it will be Punk's first clean win for the title.

Shawn Michaels is scheduled to announce his future at the event. As recapped a week ago, HBK has retired so many times that the mention of it has been met with jeers and angry fans. Why WWE continues to insult the intelligence of its fans, I have no idea. So here's what's going to happen. HBK will come out, sing his sad song about how doctors say he has to hang up his boots, then as the fans give him pity, Chris Jericho runs in and attacks HBK to continue their angle. While all this is happening, I would suggest a concession run to the fans in Indianapolis, because you'll be seeing it on WWE TV for the next two weeks.

"First Time Ever" John Cena vs. Batista
If ever there was a money fued, this is it. And as much as we may hate to believe it, the writer's know what they are doing with the main event talent. They are not going to give away this match. There's no story behind this angle, except for a mis-aimed punch. Great way to build your big match. My pick, a draw, most likely after a Batista Bomb or Spinebuster from Batista and both not being able to get up before the 10-count. Get ready to see Cena vs. Batista II at WrestleMania 25, where this match needs to take place.

WWE Champion Triple H vs. The Great Khali
The only way Khali is going to win this match is by DQ. Triple H wins.

Hell in a Cell: Undertaker vs. Edge
This is probably the best story in WWE currently. Edge and Taker have been feuding for over a year now, and it still has steam. These two have put on some great matches, including the main event at WrestleMania XXIV. Their TLC match at One Night Stand was also good, and now they are in a Hell in a Cell. I enjoy the cell. It tends to heighten the violence and brutality in the ring. I can't remember the last time a cell match ended without blood. So I expect the same. The build for this match has been great, and the emergence of the "old Edge" has added a new dimension to this match. However, I can't look at the build without thinking one thing. What's the swerve?

The swerve: Vickie Guerrero has not divorced Edge, even after it was revealed his cheated on her. This set-up looks obvious. Taker will have to deal with Edge and his "La Familia" as it will be revealed Edge had this all planned from the beginning and was conspiring against Undertaker so that he could put the final nail in the coffin by beating the Deadman in his own match.

But with Taker just returning, it makes no sense to have him lose here. So, Undertaker wins, with the Tombstone, after fending off every member of la familia, and hopefully he gets his hands on Vickie Guerrero as well.

BTW, if anyone is buying WWE's story about Randy Orton's motorcycle accident, I don't know why. This pretty much confirms Orton will appear at SummerSlam, I'm just not sure when and why.

I don't think this event will live up to the card. There's not enough build in two of the three top matches. You have to give the fans a reason to watch the event. I don't see a reason to, so I'll be reading the results online Monday morning.

There you have it. I hope you enjoyed this preview. As always, thanks for reading, and I'll try to get it right next time.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Brett Favre Just Cost EA Sports $60

You know, I've officially had it with the "Brett Favre Saga" as the esteemed sports media is calling it. I have had the utmost respect for Favre. Being a Cleveland fan, you tend to look for someone else to root for as well, and I admit, I have had a secret love of the Packers, and Favre was part of the reason. One of the toughest positions to play on the field is QB, and Favre was one of the best. That's why when he finally announced his retirement earlier this year, I was sad to see him go, but happy he made the right decision for himself and the team that made him a household name.

Fast forward to now. Favre has been reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell, one of the worst decisions he has made thus far. Favre had no interest in staying in Green Bay. Not only that, but he wanted to be traded in the division. And because he was not getting what he wanted, he caused more trouble than Brittney Spears on a comeback tour. What Favre did is unfair, not only to Aaron Rodgers, the guy who's been waiting on the sidelines waiting for his chance, but also to the fans who have practically worshipped him in Green Bay. Do you have any idea how many kids in Wisconsin have #4 jerseys?

Bottom line here, Favre is a selfish, disrespectful jackass. If he wanted to play so bad, then he should not have retired in the first place. He should have had more respect for the Packers and the history of the franchise, because like it or not, he will be the face of that franchise long after he overstays his welcome in the NFL and becomes just another washed-up has been. He should be ashamed of the way he treated his fans in Green Bay, who stood by him even when the team was not great.

It's a shame that Favre will be a member of the New York Jets. It's a shame that Aaron Rodgers is being put "on-the-map" by this crap instead of his work on the field. And it's a shame Favre's best years are behind him, and he does not realize it.

And it's because of all this that I can't justify plopping down $60 of my hard earned money to have Favre staring at me from the cover of Madden 09. Oh and Brett, I hope the guys at EA Sports told you about the curse.
Photo courtesy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carson Palmer Says Some Things

I've been a Buckeye my entire life. I've seen some really cool sports moments--including Grady Sizemore's major league debut! And if there's one thing I've learned being a Buckeye, it's this: Don't mess with Ohio State fans! Apparently, Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer did not get that particular memo.

For those of you not familiar with his comments, here's what was said to a radio station in Los Angeles:
"I cannot stand the Buckeyes and having to live in Ohio and hear those people talk about their team, it drives me absolutely nuts. We got Keith Rivers out there and we got Frostee Rucker, we finally got a couple other 'SC guys. It's amazing to hear what those guys think about that university and what they think about that football program and Tressel and all the crap I got to put up with being back there.

"I just can't wait for two years from now when 'SC comes to the 'Shoe and I get to, hopefully have a home game that weekend and I can go out there and watch us pound on them on their own turf and kind of put all the talk to rest, because I'm really getting sick of it. I just can't wait for this game to get here so they can come to the Coliseum and experience L.A. and get an old fashioned, Pac 10 butt-whooping and go back to the Big Ten."

Now I never claimed to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, but I can't imagine these comments are being taken kindly around Cincinnati or anywhere else in the state. That said, how can someone be so ignorant as to say that on talk radio?! Did he think his comments were not going to make it across the country? I'm seriously dumbfounded on this one.

Of course the very next day, Palmer issued a statement (which is short hand for "I really screwed up and now I'm taking the easy way out to fix the problem."): "I'm a Trojan all the way, and I was talking to a Trojan audience in California. I guess I got a little fired up, as all good fans will do. But I really do respect the Buckeyes, and I know their fans are passionate, too.

"I hope they all understand I'm just looking forward to a big game for my school against a very tough opponent, and that it's all in the good fun of a rivalry. You don't have a real rivalry unless both sides are great teams."

Wow. I have not seen that much bologna since my afternoon snack! If you really respect Ohio State fans, you would not have said it in the first place! I can appreciate being loyal to your college roots, but when you attack as universally loved in the state as OSU, you're asking for trouble. And these are the same fans who were rooting for you! Why would you want to alienate your fans? And by the way, rivalries are usually between teams that play more than twice every 20 years! I have no problem with USC fans or the team, but I hope Cincinnati fans give Carson Palmer an earful for saying things that never should have been said.

Thanks for stopping by, and I'll try to get it right next time.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

First Time Out

Since I've been getting my start here at blogger with the BWE Promotions blog, I thought I would also finally get around to posting here in my own blog.

Since it's incredibly late as I write this, I just wanted to mention a few things I noticed this July 4th that made me go, What The Hell?

1. I actually watched the infamous Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on ESPN. No, I don't know why. No, I'm not a fan of Kobayashi, but I watched it nonetheless. And as I watched I noticed the announcers were getting more excited than a wrestling announcer during the main event. Seriously, they were eating hot dogs and the announcer's acting like the eaters were saving someone's life! When it got to the "Dog Off" (their words, not mine), I thought the announcer was going to pass out! The guy calls the NHRA drag races where the cars reach crazy speeds, and he seems nearly comotose. But give him a hot dogger, and he's like a six-year-old at Christmas time.

2. My beloved Cleveland Indians are so far out of first they are no longer in the cellar. At least a cellar has a door to climb out of. No, this is more like a bottomless pit. They just keep falling, waiting to hit the bottom but it never comes. So, what do you do when you're free-falling? You get rid of dead weight, of course! So exit closer Joe Borowski, stage right. C.C. Sabathia, get your bags packed, because you're next.

3. Speaking of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays are the best team in MLB. My readers, I'd like you to go back and read that last sentence again.

Alright, that's all I have for now. Stop back again for more rantings, sports-wise, and for good measure I may throw in some pro wrestling!