Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On The Passing of The Ultimate Warrior

Having just been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this past Saturday, making his first appearance on Raw in 18 years this past Monday and after signing a multi-year contract to become a WWE ambassador, The Ultimate Warrior has died.

He was 54.

You can read proper obituaries here, here and here.

It’s always been hard for me to be a fan of The Ultimate Warrior. When he first debuted, I was at that age where Hulk Hogan was akin to a god.  So someone else competing for the Hulkster’s spotlight made me uncomfortable. Sure, like every other kid at the time, I couldn’t avoid being drawn in by his energy, his mystique and his batshit insane promos. But that’s about where it ended for me, and at Wrestelmania VI, when Ultimate Warrior challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship, I was rooting hard for Warrior to lose.

Needless to say there were tears in the Brennaman house that night.

Still, I enjoyed watching the guy in the ring, I enjoyed his rivalry with Macho Man Randy Savage and I enjoyed the hell out of watching him shake the ropes like he was some sort of wrestling ring safety inspector. I even got to see him perform live once and, boy howdy, let me tell ya, the guy knew how to whip a crowd into a frenzy.

That ability to work a crowd into a frenzy would, after his wrestling career came to a close, be used for evil. That's why I've always had a problem celebrating the man. Over the weekend, as I watched his WWE Hall of Fame induction, I couldn’t help but tweet on some of the actual hate Ultimate Warrior spewed in recent years. See, he became a prolific “motivational speaker” and his speeches were filled with some pretty terrible things. You can do a Google search to find some of the things he’s said, but to me the highlight will always be: “Queering doesn’t make the world work.” It’s hard to celebrate someone like that, even when they’re being inducted into a hall of fame, or making a celebrated return…

Or dead.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to separate the art from the artist.

For wrestling fans, The Ultimate Warrior is so indicative of this one, magical moment in time when it seemed like super heroes actually walked among us. To watch an Ultimate Warrior match was to be almost overwhelmed with energy and excitement. Despite his world views, Ultimate Warrior’s return to WWE this past weekend did feel special. Watching his Hall of Fame induction speech and his speech Monday night on Raw did illicit feelings of closure while giving everyone a glimpse at a new beginning.

It’s sad that beginning is already over.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Come See Me On HuffPost Live With The Iron Sheik

I guess I didn't do a completely horrible job questioning Hulk Hogan on live Internet TV two weeks ago as the good folks at HuffPost Live emailed me yesterday asking if I wanted to come on with The Iron Sheik.

Of course I said yes. Who would say no to that?

The segment airs today at 3:30 p. EST. And no worries if you're reading this from the future as HuffPost Live segments are all archived.

Monday, April 7, 2014

On Wrestlemania 30

Wrestlemania 30 is now part of the WWE history books and what an entry it turned out to be. It was that fantastic sort of event filled with meaning and pay-off. It had moments that sent the crowd into a frenzy and moments that left the crowd in stunned silence. Here're my favorite moments from the Showcase of the Immortals:

1. The End of "The Streak"

I'll be honest and admit that I felt like The Undertaker's legendary Wrestlemania winning streak should have come to an end years ago. It was cool at first when this happy accident became a thing, but The Streak had grown to become to center of the conversation for every one of Undertaker's Wrestlemania bouts. It's been long past due for The Streak to end...

But at the hands of Brock Lesnar? Really? That's who we allow to end this? Not some young athlete who would be able to use the victory for a boost into mega-stardom (like, say Roman Reigns), but... Brock Lesnar? That this is who the WWE chose to end The Streak is still baffling me 12 hours later and probably will for a long time to come.

That said, I'm glad The Streak is over and look forward to see what The Undertaker does now that he's free from it.

2. Daniel Bryan's Wrestlemania Moment

I got the same feeling from Daniel Bryan's victory as I did when HBK won his first title way back at Wrestlemania 12. There was a legitimate sense of accomplishment and actual pay-off that was made this match gratifying to watch as a fan. And kudos to Triple H for selling the shit out Bryan all through the evening. The Internet loves to hate on The Game, but last night there's no reason for anyone to give him anything but props.

3. Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock

For me, the show opener of three of the biggest names in wrestling all standing in one ring together cutting promos was damn near the highlight of the evening. Not only did it bring back some pretty fantastic memories from childhood, college and beyond, but those three guys looked like they were having a legitimately good time.

4. Bray Wyatt Continues On The Road To The Big Time

It's been clear for a while now that Bray Wyatt is one of the rising stars, but his Wrestlemania 30 match with John Cena just made that all the more official. If Wyatt continues on his current path, I'm guessing we'll be seeing him headline Wrestlemania 31 this time next year.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mario Kart 8 For Wii U Looks Amazing

Over the years I've donated quite a bit of time to the Mario Kart franchise. In high school I almost got kicked out of a play when me and some friends were an hour late to rehearsal because we were trying to settle a long-standing grudge match on the slopes of Choco Mountain. In college, once the partying had died down, odds were those who hadn't passed would power on the N64 to drunkenly duke it out on Toad's Turnpike or Donkey Kong's Jungle Parkway. So I always get a little excited when it's time for a new Mario Kart game and boy howdy, does the new trailer for Mario Kart 8 get the goose bumps goin'.

I know it's posh right now to hate on Nintendo, but come on! Look at that! Look at it! How can you hate that? Have you no soul? No humanity?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sent to the Onion Fields

For those precious few wondering why there was no Nerduary update yesterday, you can blame it all on onions.  My pal Jake runs a production company called Stouthouse Media and every year he does some fairly intense promotional video work for a Vidalia onion grower and distributor. This year he called on yours truly to come lend a hand, thus I spent the last two days standing in an onion field in south Georgia, running a camera.

I thought I was supposed to be wished into a cornfield...

But I'm home now and hopefully I can get back to Nerduary business tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy a photo of me reading Jim Starlin's Warlock run to my (almost) two-year-old godson.

He can now correctly identify Thanos, Warlock and Gamora.