Lucha Loot July ’18 Treasure Chest Unboxing / Review

A few months ago, we were informed that Lucha Loot was going through some changes including losing the ability to pre-pay for future boxes and a switch to a bi-monthly schedule instead of monthly. I suggested that this was likely for the better as getting too many loot boxes all of the time would probably get stale, and with three subscriptions (WWE Slam Crate, and Pro Wrestling Crate) it’s possible. So here we are, two months later, was it worth the wait?

Oh, before we move on….If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers.


Spoiler Card

Not much to say here, but I’m glad to see a spoiler card because I sometimes am not sure what person an item relates to with this box.


Sangre Chicana Mask

This one was pretty interesting for me as I’m not really familiar with the Sangre Chicana  Family. Reyes made his professional wrestling debut in 1973, wearing a red mask with a gold stripe, under the name Lemus. A year later he changed his name to Sangre Chicana but kept the mask with the golden stripe. He rose to prominence in a feud with El Cobarde and Fishman that led to a Lucha de Apuesta, mask vs. mask match where Reyes lost his mask. His two sons “Lemus, Jr.” and “Sangre Chicana, Jr.” have carried the lineage on, wearing variations of this same mask.


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Luchaverse Ancient Medallion pin

It was announced a while back that Masked Republic (who produces this box) decided to get into the comics industry by creating a brand initiative called Luchaverse. This pin by Lapel Yeah is basically the “logo” of the brand. Even without knowing what it ism this pin is pretty cool!


Marty “The Moth” Martinez Sticker

While the fans might chant “creepy Bastard” to old Marty here, nobody can deny how great he has been on Lucha Underground these past 4 years. While I’m not sure I’ll be tossing this sticker on anything prominent of mine, the art is cool and it’s cool to add to my folder of swag that I have.


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Luchaverse – Rey Mysterio Comic Book

This is the first release of the aforementioned Luchaverse line of comics from Chido Comics.

“The current in a family line of Mysterios that dates back centuries, each one trained to be a champion of the people and to take on a great evil that has been prophecised to return and plunge the world into darkness. Rey Mysterio is on a quest, aided by the military clandestine group known as “The Ambassadors”. The mission is clear: retrieve the one thing Rey will need to take on this returning evil…..THE MASK OF THE FIRST MYSTERIO!”

I have decided to do a full review of this Comic HERE.


El Mesias Ricky Banderas T-Shirt

Ever since seeing him in the short-lived and somewhat baffling Wrestling Society X, I’ve thought Banderas was pretty cool. This is especially true now as his Mil Muertes character on Lucha Underground has become one of my all-time favorites.


Masked Republic Keychain

This is a fun little take on the Masked Republic logo in Perler bead form – not sure I’ll be using this as Perler bead scultures always seem somewhat fragile, but it’s cool none-the-less.


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Black Danger Autographed 8×10

Solid autograph from the former Junior Champion from The Crash Lucha Libre.


All in all, solid box with the stand-out items being the El Messias shirt and Rey Mysterio comic book. If they keep tossing the comics in each box, I’ll be very happy and hop this acts as a subscription of sorts. Really, this is a great way to keep up with Lucha Libre here in the US, now it’ll be hard to wait two months for the next one.

If you’d like one of these, check this out here

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WWE Slam Crate June 2018 Unboxing / Review

Before going into any review for a box from Loot Crate, I wanted to touch base on a bit of controversy they seem to be perpetually embroiled in lately. Since I actually pay for these boxes, you won’t see any fake glowing reviews without criticism on my site. You see, I have been a member of WWE Slam Crate since the very first box and recently signed up for Star Trek Mission Crate (well about 6 months ago). Until recently, I had absolutely no issues, but this spring – Summer has been ridiculously bad for the company for many reasons. It seems that, for whatever reason, Loot Crate can’t keep any of their boxes on schedule lately. This WWE crate, for example,  was supposed to be shipped well over a month ago, apparently a Firefly Crate is really far behind, and my personal annoyance being Star Trek Mission Crate. The first STMC was supposed to ship sometime in January with the second arriving in March. If I recall we received #1 in February sometime and have YET TO RECEIVE #2!

Apparently the reason behind this is allegedly the shipping materials getting messed up or something, but I honestly could care less if my swag shows up in a model of a Star Trek shuttle craft (as the first one did) because after the initial novelty it will proudly be residing in my recycling bin because it’s a shipping box. I’d rather the money go to making sure delays like this don’t happen again. Allegedly, these will be shipped in about a week, but we’ll see :/

Star Trek crate update

sigh…

Well, without further ado, lets actually talk about this particular crate instead of ranting! This quarters theme was “Larger Than Life” and promised items from some of WWE’s biggest superstars, let’s see how it stacks up with my other wrestling crates like yesterday’s Pro Wrestling Crate.


The Box

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I already mentioned that I never keep these boxes or anything, but this one was pretty cool – Wish there were more people on this like Kane or Giant Gonzalez, but for what is basically getting thrown away, I won’t worry too much.


The spoiler booklet/Poster

While I don’t really hang these posters up, it’s a cool way to make the spoiler card something to hold onto.


Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase Money Clip

Hilariously, this is not the first Ted Dibiase money clip I’ve got from a subscription box, although this one’s a bit classier. Well, at least flashier.


Undertaker Shirt

Not much to say other than this is a really cool shirt, and I absolutely love that there is nothing printed on the back which 9/10 times ruins most WWE shirts.


WCW World Heavyweight Championship Pin

These pins are always so cool – I have amassed quite the collection of these these past few years, and this is already one of my favorites seeing how big of a WCW fan I was. We’ve already received a pin version of the infamous NWO spray painted version of this belt, so it’s nice having the clean one as well.

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Andre The Giant Fleece Blanket

It was astonishingly hard to take a picture of this for some reason, but here it is draped over my couch in perhaps the worst pictures on this entire post. It’s about 6 feet tall and has images of Andre’s actual hand and foot size which is cool. This is possibly the standout item of this box.


Braun Strowman Figure

I wasn’t too sure about these figures when they first started sending these as the last thing I need are a bunch of things like Funko Pop Vinyls cluttering up my nerd room, but these aren’t too bad. They are definitely better than the heavy die cast metal figures that the first few crates had.

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And that’s it! all-in-all this was one of the better crates from these guys as I can see myself using that blanket and shirt and I LOVE the belt pins. In the past, this crate has send some sort of “meh” things (a problem with Lootcrate as a whole) and I believe I would rather have these larger items instead of a ton of small stuff if that’s the route they are taking. Perhaps my only issue with this selection of items is that it didn’t really take too much advantage of the theme of “big guy” wrestlers as it could. Now, here’s hoping the companies issues get ironed out.

Next up is going to be a crate called “Better Than You” which could be fun as it appears to be a heel crate.

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They’re big, they’re bad, and they don’t mind letting you know it. Bow down to the supreme Superstars who think they are BETTER THAN YOU! Celebrate the big egos of the WWE Universe with items featuring Alexa Bliss, Elias, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Miz!

 

Pro Wrestling Crate July 2018 Unboxing / Review

Just got back from my mail box, and was excited to see one of my subscription boxes had come in – today we’ll be looking at another Pro Wrestling Crate from the fine folks over at Pro Wrestling Tees. I’ve been getting this crate for well over a year now, and it’s always worth it.

This month, it looks like the chosen charity was for Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake’s surgery Indiegogo. Apparently he hurt himself pretty bad a while back and needs a full knee replacement:

“A few months ago I took a tumble and twisted my knee and I’ve been in some pain. Finally went to my doctor and had an MRI TODAY then back to the Dr with the disc! A lot of running around or hobbling around. Thank God for my wife Missy who took initiative to get me to the Doctor because I do need surgery! This is where I need help! I have no insurance to cover the day surgery which is roughly 12k.”

Without further ado, This Month’s theme was:

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So, what sort of dastardly items are we in store for?

If you’d like to see more reviews of the various subscription boxes I get, please head right on over HERE and check out the spoilers. If you’d like to get your very own Pro Wrestling Crate USE THIS LINK and use the coupon code “HOME” to get 20% off your first crate.


Spoiler Card

 


“Villain” Marty Scurll T Shirt

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I tell you what, these shirt designs have been really killing it lately, I’m not usually for “Wrestlers face on a shirt” type tees, but Marty has such a cool look with the plague doctor mask and wings in his entrance attire that it works here.


“Madness” Randy Savage Shirt

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This is a definite throwback to some late 90’s WCW shirts from back in the day. I have another WWF era Macho Man shirt from these guys, this will compliment it well.


Tetsuya Naito Micro Brawler Figure

Solid Micro Brawler for yet another future legend. Naito’s run as IWGP Intercontinental Championship last year was awesome.


Sami Callihan Baseball Card

I really hope this is a new exclusive line rather than a one-off item because a collection of retro pro wrestling cards is right up my alley.


Sami Callihan Autographed 8×10

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Yet another autograph I don’t have Yay! I never really followed Callihan much before he was in NXT, but he has slowly become one of my favorite fixtures of both Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling. So far, his feud with Pentagon Jr has been amazing!


Silas Young’s “Last Real Man” Pocket Knife

While sort of random (not as random as the fidget spinner from about a year ago), you can never go wrong with a small pocket knife.


“Rowdy” Roddy Piper – Piper’s Pit Enamel Pin

I’m always a fan of exclusive items since it’s not a “hey, here’s a bunch of overstock stuff” and these enamel pins from PWC are almost always pretty great. Being a big fan of Piper, I really like getting stuff from him, and PWC always delivers with their swag.


Behind Closed Doors – Jake “the Snake” Roberts DVD

This is a popular “shoot interview” by RF video that usually retails for about 10 bucks, so you’re really getting a good deal on this box with two shirts and this DVD. Here’s what my bad picture of the back says:

“Behind Closed Doors” with Jake Roberts was educational, informative and most of all entertaining. This new shoot style series today is with the dean of psychology Jake Roberts. If you ask any veteran in wrestling today who the king of psychology is, they would all tell you Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

This series will not be your typical shoot interview. Instead we will sit down with a wrestling superstar and ask them questions about the inner workings of the business. This has never been done before. Whether your a wrestling fan or even a indy worker this series is a must for you to own. Its the most tutorial wrestling DVD ever!!

Did you know that Jake Roberts played a huge part in the WWF to teach other workers how to get to the next level? Did you know at one time Jake Roberts was the stepping stone for every heel to get to Hulk Hogan. He would work with all the heels like Honky Tonk Man, Rick Rude, and Ted DiBase before they would reach Hulk Hogan and mold them into where they needed to be as a heel before going onto main event matches.

Jake knew what to do and when to do it in the ring. He could have you either cheering him or throwing bottles at his head. He knew what made a great heel or a baby face. He knew how to carry a match and when to do that false finish. He talks about all of this in this new series. He will talk about the three types of heels the chicken shit, liar, and the cheater heel character. We talk about when is the right time to get color in a match. We talk about a lot of today’s current WWE roster and we talk about who is doing the right things in the ring and who is not. You will be amazed on what Jake has to say. We talk about Raven as well. We even touch on his problems with the movie Beyond the Mat. We even got to ask him about his recent problem in England with the snake that they claimed he mishandled. We asked him about his drug and alcohol problems and how is he dealing with that today. What is the future for Jake? This is one DVD you don’t want to miss out on.”


That’s it for this month! Check back in a few weeks for a review of WWE Slam Crate (if it ever stops getting delayed) and other solid content. If you like spoilers for this crate check my links above and come back in about a month – you won’t be disappointed!

 

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Lucha Underground Returns: Thoughts on Season 4 so far

For a while now, my favorite wrestling promotion has NOT been WWE or Impact Wrestling, but Lucha Underground. I’ve always been a fan of lucha libre, ever since one of my friends and I attempted to watch AAA on Galavision in the late 90’s with VERY minimal Spanish language skills. The problem is that watching this style of wrestling was always largely ignored by most magazines and tape trading companies (the outlet at the time before the internet was useful). Yeah, you could get ahold of tapes of translated Japanese wrestling easily, but Lucha was somehow ignored. MTV tried to bring it over twice with Wrestling Society X (which had a LOT of lucha talent) and Lucha Libre USA, neither lasting very long. Then there was Lucha Underground.

On paper, the entire idea behind the show was destined to be like it’s spiritual predecessor Wrestling Society X – a show with decent matches overwhelmed with so many gimmicks it fell apart and looked silly. Viewers used to the wrestling product produced by WWE are used to a lot of conventions that haven’t really changed in decades. Yeah, the addition of constantly harping about social media and elaborate entrance ramps are new, but the core has not really changed much – and I think a lot of that is due to casual fans getting mad when chances are made.

So here we have a show that fundamentally changes what a wrestling show is, in fact one can argue that it’s not a wrestling show, but a show that uses wrestling to drive the drama of a narrative. The entire thing is produced like a film, with slick backstage promos produced by Robert Rodriguez. Throwing out the “realism” that modern wrestling has embraced for the last 20 years or so, Lucha Underground revels in silliness that would be commonplace in a comic book. Just thinking about common tropes in the show illustrate this well: there have been a handful of on-screen deaths, there have also been on-screen resurrections due to magical powers. There are a few immortal characters, at least one time-traveler, a tribe of half-dragon people (not guys in suits, real dragon people), a couple of undercover cops trying to investigate a murder spree, and a shady organization seemingly trying to bring about the end of the world by way of Aztec gods or something.

This embracing of the fantastic is one of the main reasons that I treat this as how many would treat something like Game of Thrones. While other shows can be predictable, there are some SERIOUS surprises with Lucha Underground.

Another major difference is the filming schedule. Instead of airing as a continually-running weekly show in the vein of WWE or TNA programming, Lucha Underground films episodes in batches and airs episodes on a weekly basis under a seasonal structure. Matches are taped first, then out-of-ring story segments are filmed later; this method allows for tighter control of storylines and helps the production team when it comes to writing around injuries. What this means, is that there is a far less likelihood of a meandering storyline that the audience forgets about. There is also less of a chance of hostile micromanaging from a promoter i.e. not letting someone become popular because they aren’t the person you decided should be popular. Each storyline climaxes when they should, and it makes the final shows of the season, Ultima Lucha, seem far more important than many WWE Events, even WrestleMania!

Far more than anything else, the real strong point of Lucha Underground is that it has taken a handful of midcard talent, some discarded by bigger federations, and grown them into bonafide stars. Pentagon Jr., Aerostar, King Cuerno (El Hijo De Fantasma), Drago, and even Fenix were small time players in Mexico until hitting Lucha Underground, now they call the shots much to the dismay of AAA who would have liked to keep them under cheap contracts and quiet. When people are trying to find “this generations ECW” – I would say that you should ignore feds like ROH and PWG – while solid federations, they lack the edge and game-changing mindset that ECW did for wrestling during the Attitude Era. Look no further than Impact Wrestling to see how influential Lucha Underground is, as it’s basically starting to have the same roster.

You can only imagine how excited I was to see the start date for season 4 to finally roll by considering how unlikely it seemed that there would ever even be a season 4. Here we are two episodes in and I have some thoughts to share:

New and returning Heroes:

Season 4 starts out with a bang immediately with Aztec Warfare – This is Lucha Underground’s answer to battle royale style matches like The Royal Rumble. The match starts with two people in the ring and new wrestlers are introduced frequently until a winner is determined via pinfall. The premise this year is that Antonio Cueto (more on him later) is trying to clean up messes his son made and wants a different world champion. Hopefully this sets up a Pentaagon Jr. VS Antonio feud.

New entrants included ECW legend Tommy Dreamer, Mr. Pectacular Jessie Godderz, and King Cuerno. Cuerno was returning from a long absence, as was Shawn Hernandez and Vinnie Massaro. Sadly, we are missing people like Dante Fox, Dr. Wagner Jr. and Texano Jr. so far, I really hope that doesn’t last all season. All in all, this was a solid Aztec Warfare and considering the final two were Pentagon and Marty Martinez, “The Moth” was shown to be a potential main even player of they want everyone’s least favorite sleaze ball to run for the gold. My favorite AW match is still AW 2 and the introduction of Matanza, but this was solid.

Episode two introduces new members of Infamous Incorporated (managed by Famous B and Beautiful Brenda) in Jake Strong, Big Bad Steve and Sammy Guevara. Jake Strong is the real standout here as he is the former WWE star Jack Swagger. It was cool seeing him get such a solid reception by fans in The Temple considering how crappily he was used in WWE towards the end.

New Villains:

I mentioned Antonio Cueto up there, you read that right as Dario is gone. In fact, he is currently dead due to being killed by his father’s goons. I say currently because anything can happen in Lucha Underground (I’m waiting for an undead Dario face-turn). The funny thing is, that the two characters are both played by Luis Fernandez-Gil but could not be any more different. The bombastic arrogance of Dario has been replaced by the cold-hearted no-nonsense demeanor of his father. Instead of constantly putting folks in bad situations like winning a match only to be placed into a second match right after, Antonio states that “he is a far better promotor than Dario” and sets things up for the following week. Let’s see how long that lasts before he also goes off the deep end as all Cuetos do. We saw a bit of this when Matanza lost against Pentagon Jr. only to be berated by his father to a point where he cowered in fear.

Confusion?

Really my only quibble with the start of season 4 was a bit of a continuity glitch wherein, they completely ignored that Vampiro (on commentary) cheated to harm Prince Puma (now in WWE as Ricochet) to help Pentagon yet again. This caused Matt Striker to rip into Vampiro for it. This week? No tension at all – I know time heals all wounds, but the lack of a call-back seems like an afterthought.

While this season was allegedly made with a budget slash in mind, and was touted to be different than different seasons in the press lead-ups to it in such a way that it seemed like it would be worse – This feels just like previous seasons of Lucha Underground. Perhaps there were less backstage vignettes than what we’re used to, but that’s about it. Great job so far, can’t wait for more!

The Monday Meme: Time

Pro Wrestling Crate June 2018 Unboxing / Review

Looks like it’s that time of the month again! Time for yet another subscription crate un-boxing. I know I seem to do a lot of these, but truthfully it’s just a few each month and the ones I usually get are awesome. As you may or may not know, I’m an avid collector of wrestling memorabilia and signed autographs, and as someone that usually doesn’t care for receiving gifts on holidays and other special occasions, these boxes seem to give me the same feeling most people get on their birthday or Christmas. Now before I start a therapy session, it’s time for the main event: This week we’re taking a look at the Pro Wrestling Crate June 2018!


Spoiler Card

This month’s theme is “Ladies of Wrestling” with some of the proceeds of this crate going to an organization called Womankind. Womankind is a UK-based organization that helps support other organizations in developing nations that help women’s rights. I’m not actually sure how long PWC has been donating to charity in these, as I may have been insanely unobservant in the past, but either way it’s cool to see them helping others with some of the money they receive.

With women’s wrestling in what many would consider to be it’s highest point in many decades, it’s fun to have one of these boxes devoted exclusively to the division.


Shirt 1: Sugar Skull Amy Dumas / Lita Shirt

 

Cool distressed sugar skull shirt from WWE’s Lita / Amy Dumas.


Shirt 2: Join the Hive – Rosemary

 

Easily Impact Wrestling’s biggest female star of the last few years and one of the cooler babyface gimmicks in the entire company.


Candice LeRae Micro Brawler

 

I absolutely love these little figures we get each month exclusively in this subscription box. This one will be proudly displayed next to my Joey Ryan figure to recreate the World’s Cutest Tag Team or holding a spot for a possible Johnny Gargano figure I hope we eventually get. I have started amassing quite the collection of these:


Barbie Blank / Kelly Kelly Poster

While not my favorite wrestler, Kelly Kelly sure makes a nice pin-up poster. Granted, I have very few places I could actually put this without looking like a total sleazeball. Maybe I can hang it near my exercise equipment.


Vickie Guerrero autographed 8×10

Another solid  addition to my collection. I really need to post some of those on here one of these days.


Shayna Bazsler Playing Cards

 

What better merch for the “Queen of Spades” than a deck of playing cards!


Tessa Blanchard collector’s Pin

 

Impact Wrestling’s latest female star and former Mae Young Tournament competitor Tessa Blanchard is the exclusive pin this month, very nice!


In the Ring DVD: Luna Vachon

I am woefully behind on my wrestling DVDs, but this looks pretty cool. Perhaps most well known for her work in WWF in the 90’s, Luna was one of the few female wrestlers at that time, that I was legit scared of.  Here is part of the blurb on the back on the DVD:

Shot on 6/6/06 at a wrestling school behind a mental institution, Luna and Vampire Warrior covered all the wrestling basics such as bumping, selling, and working for the camera as they weaved in stories from being on the road and working with WWE! This was an amazing performance that needs to be seen to be believed. Everyone remembers Luna’s insane promos and on this exclusive DVD she takes the time to work with the students on their promo skills. We even got a chance to watch Luna cut some of her most infamous promos and explained to us where they came from emotionally.


Tenille Dashwood’s aviator sunglasses

 

Emma was one of the most criminally underused characters in the last decade in WWE, I’m very glad she’s been doing well in the indies, and especially her work in Ring of Honor. Cool sunglasses as well.


All-in-all another great box from Pro Wrestling Crate – as always the autograph is always a highlight for me, but the shirts (especially the Rosemary one) were great, and I love my Micro Brawlers! pound for pound, this is the best wrestling crate out there. It usually has the most diverse selection of items, and the coolest themes. To get your own, head on over to Pro Wrestling Crate at the following link: Pro Wrestling Crate!

Next month’s box is all about the bad guys

Barbed Wire City: The Unauthorized Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling (2013, BWC Films)

Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) has been dead for well over a decade. People involved such as Paul Heyman, the cultish former owner, have moved on and seemingly distanced themselves from their one time passion, thus leaving multitudes of fans clamoring for something to whet their appetites. In a post-Benoit world, professional wrestling has sort of lost its way, alienating a lot of its former fans that kept it going in the late nineties. People have tried to replicate the magic of the extreme wrestling movement, but a lot of others have tried to merely capitalize on it. Since 2001, there have been many promotional imitations, direct to DVD lamentations, and even historical revisionism released to the masses. It seems that ECW is the “dead horse” that everyone has their clubs ready to beat the hell out of. When I saw that there was yet another ECW documentary in the works via Kickstarter, I was skeptical. I thought “what else can be said?” Boy was I wrong, Barbed Wire City: The Unauthorized Story of Extreme Championship Wrestling is exactly the sort of DVD that any wrestling fan should have on their shelf.

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I think my main problem with a lot of posthumously made ECW media, is that people have a tendency to use the whole thing as some sort of political device. WWE’s Rise and Fall of ECW, once thought of as the ultimate tribute of the company, reeks of a Vince McMahon victory lap over the failed venture. Another documentary, Forever Hardcore, was seen as a “counterpoint to WWE’s slightly revisionist offering, but was plagued by bitterness by those interviewed and suffered from a lack of actual ECW video footage. Possibly the most egregious misuse of ECW comes from a company that I am very fond of. TNA, the current number two wrestling federation in the United States, even did a “reunion show” called Hardcore Justice. While it had a solid card, they really had no business doing it as they were founded well after ECW’s demise and had no pony in the proverbial race. The whole thing seemed like a cashgrab.

The reason Barbed Wire City is different is that it comes from a different viewpoint; we’ve had the victorious billionaire, we’ve had the wounded former employees, and we’ve even had the copy-cats, now let’s hear from a fan. John Philapavage, the man behind the documentary, was like so many other rabid ECW fans: he lined up in long lines in the snow, huddled in crowded bingo halls, and got to meet some of his heroes. The thing that really set him apart from other fans is that he had the sense to record interviews of himself talking to the people involved. These interviews are combined with wrestling footage, and the odd Ken Burns-esque still photograph with a nifty 3D effect added in.

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I have to tip my hat to Mr. Philapavage on the quality of his interviews. Mostly taken around the time that ECW was on its last legs, these interviews are both entertaining and heartbreaking. Considering the decade worth of interviews here, there are some insights that many documentaries simply cannot hope to achieve. Sometimes you would see an interview from 2001 followed by a snippet of one made more recently to compare someone’s attitude change. Take, for example, Angel Medina in 2001: as he watched the company crumbling around himself with guys jumping ship left and right, he stayed positive. More recently he talks about why he stayed in there, and the mistakes he made by doing so. Balls Mahoney was another notable interview that really got to me. He goes from very optimistic in 2001, saying that there was no way the company could go under, to a very different man a decade later. He talks about some really dark times such as a bout with depression, an episode that nearly cost him his life.

It isn’t all sadness in modern times, as the film is bookended by clips of an upstart federation out of Philadelphia called Extreme Rising ran by ECW alumni Shane Douglas. From meager beginnings, the story of Extreme Rising seems to both mirror and be haunted by its connections to ECW right from the get go. By the end of the film we are left wondering if Douglas can really recapture the magic from a decade past. I liked seeing this stuff in here because it acts as the anchor to our modern world, and really shows how much the wrestling world has changed. While one is left with a little glimmer of hope that we really could see this style of professional wrestling come back, there is a lot of shadows there as well. What was once cutting edge and trendy almost seems depressing today.

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I commend the documentarians discussing the dark times when ECW was said to be “taking it too far”. They were on the cusp of being so big that the glamorized violence and dangerous stunts were causing problems, but too small to chance upsetting loyal fans by toning it down. Some ECW documentaries have a tendency to not talk about bad things aside from the occasional reference to Paul Heyman’s poor business decisions. By having wrestlers discuss their personal issues, and problems within the company, the documentary seems more “balanced”. Instead of having an agenda, John Philapavage has stayed fairly neutral. He discusses the good things, the bad things, and the downright ugly side of professional wrestling here.

My one real quibble with the film is that there was no footage of the “Mass Transit Incident”. This was a notorious controversy involving an untrained and underage wrestler that got hurt during a match, then tried to sue ECW out of existence. The man in question lied his way into filling a slot in a show and was “cut open like a stuck pig” when he allowed a wrestler named New Jack to cut him. One thing most casual wrestling fans don’t realize is that wrestlers used to have small strips of razor blades hidden either on their person or some other strategic spot to cut themselves open. This was done for dramatic effect, as the “fake” nature of the violence needed to sometimes be “spiced up” to tell a story. “Mass Transit” was not comfortable doing this himself, and asked New Jack to “help him”, which was a bad idea. This controversy was a main talking point towards the end of the film, and there was no footage, or even a stock photo of what happened. I felt that this was a missed opportunity, and could have confused someone that did not already know about it.

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On a technical standpoint, the DVD is a class act; it even has its own composed music. While I would have LOVED to see this in HD on my widescreen TV, the standard definition print is very professional and looks great. There were no stutters or other anomalies, something that can’t be said for other fan productions. There are extended interviews and deleted scenes in the special features tab including a series of clips involving Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins. Despite many appearances on many wrestling shows, fans don’t seem to realize how much of a wrestling fan Corgan is, to the point that he owns his own federation. This special feature was cool because you really got to see his passion for ECW, and how it got him into the business. One thing I would love to see is an eventual “Director’s Cut” edition of this film with more outtakes, deleted scenes, and maybe some more interviews. I bet the guys at BWC films are sitting on tons of footage for this, why not get it out there!

All in all, I loved this DVD. For years Beyond the Mat was seen as one of the few great wrestling documentaries out there; now we can add Barbed Wire City to the same level of prestige. The RF video footage, the interviews, and the 3D still images all mesh in such a way that I could really see BWC Films going somewhere in the world of independent filmmaking, and I can’t wait to see what they do next. So if you are even a small fan of ECW, do yourself a favor and watch this DVD, you won’t regret it.


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A Look at All the Cameos in Tiger Mask W

I’ve recently started watching the winter 2016/7 anime Tiger Mask W, a wrestling anime featuring stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling. New fans might think that all of the colorful characters are from the minds of producers alone, but I’m here to show that a handful of these grapplers are actual people! This has always been something cool when a wrestling anime comes out in Japan, as Jushin Thunder Liger had an anime show, and guys like Terry Funk appeared in Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E. I’ll eventually review Tiger Mask W, but for right now check out some characters you’ll get to see if you start watching this.


 

 

TIGER MASK

Naoto Azuma is the main protagonist of the anime series, which is actually a sequel to a 1968 manga and 1971 anime series. While Naoto is a fictional character made for this show, many people have actually portrayed the character in real life. There have been a handful of wrestling anime characters that have spilled over into the real world, and Tiger Mask is perhaps the longest running.

  • Tiger Mask I Satoru Sayama
  • Tiger Mask II Mitsuharu Misawa
  • Tiger Mask III Koji Kanemoto
  • Tiger Mask IV Yoshihiro Yamazaki
  • Tiger Mask V Ikuhisa Minowa
  • Tiger Mask W Kota Ibushi

 

TIGER THE DARK

Takuma Fujii is a new character in the anime called “Tiger the Dark”. He is basically this anime’s version of the Black Tiger who has always been a rival of the Tiger Mask character. A lot of famous foreign wrestlers have portrayed “Black Tiger” through the years, even the legendary Eddie Guerrero once held the title! There is currently a version of the actual character of “Tiger the Dark” currently in NJPW and is feuding with the real life Tiger Mask W.


 

SPRING TIGER

Haruna Takaoka aka Spring Tiger is the female protagonist of the series. Like the previous two, she is a made up character, but is not wholly based on fiction. A female Tiger Mask iteration, called Tiger Dream, was played by female wrestler Candy Okutsu in the mid-1990s. unfortunately, Okutsu being injury-prone and having to take several sabbaticals from the ring, the character was easily forgotten by the fans and eventually abandoned.


 

KAZUCHIKA OKADA

Kazuchika Okada is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Okada joins Naoto in his fight against GWM. In real life Okada is a very accomplished wrestler who has held the IWGP Heavyweight title on four occasions as well as a ton of other accomplishments. He did have a breif, and largely forgettable run in america in TNA (Total Nonstop Action) Wrestling.


 

HIROSHI TANAHASHI

Hiroshi Tanahashi is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. A wrestling ace who helps Naoto in training. In real life, he is a former seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and two-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. Tanahashi holds the record for most reigns as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, while his fifth reign holds the record for most successful defenses, with eleven.


 

YUJI NAGATA

Yuji Nagata is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Aside of wrestling, he’s also involved with the management of NJPW. Most American fans will recognize him for his tenure in World Championship Wrestling in 1997-8 during the height of the Monday Night Wars.


 

TOGI MAKABE

Togi Makabe is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. In the show, he has a sweet tooth and hosts a famous blog about sweets, being so obsessed with them that he can lack motivation without sweets. One cool tidbit – The character is voiced by the real Togi Makabe.


 

KIMIHIKO OZAKI

Kimihiko Ozaki is based on a real-life ring announcer in NJPW.


 

TOMOAKI HONMA

Tomoaki Honma is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. He is currently working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). He is a former one-time IWGP Tag Team Champion and a two-time World Tag League winner with Togi Makabe.


 

TOMOHIRO ISHII

Tomohiro Ishii is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name.Though pushed for most of his career as an undercarder without any major championship wins, Ishii gathered a cult following, until he was too popular to ignore. Since then he has gained tag championships, singles titles and even the ROH Television title.


 

YOSHI-HASHI

Yoshi-Hashi is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. While he was almost an enhancement talent of sorts in real life, he has slowly started to win occasional matches. a feat that earned him a PWI ranking of 314 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016.


 

BILLY THE KIDMAN

Billy the Kidman is a fictional character in Tiger Mask W, but it’s funny to note that there is a real-life wrestler from the late 90’s – 2000’s named Billy Kidman.


 

 

BULLET CLUB

Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale are real life members of the gaijin (foreigner) heel stable “The Bullet Club”. Also represented is Kenny Omega who is the current stable leader. Previous members of the group include WWE’s Anderson and Gallows, Finn Balor and AJ Styles.


 

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND PAYNE FOX

While not a direct cameo, Queen Elizabeth and Payne Fox are obviously modeled after WWE women’s champions Charlotte Flair (daughter of Ric Flair) and Becky Lynch.


 

TETSUYA NAITO

Tetsuya Naito is based on the real-life professional wrestler of the same name. Naito is currently in his first reign as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, while also being a former IWGP Heavyweight and NEVER Openweight Champion as well as IWGP Tag Team and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion with former partner Yujiro Takahashi, with whom he teamed as No Limit. In addition to those, Naito is also a one-time winner of NJPW’s premier singles tournament, the G1 Climax, having won it in 2013, and the New Japan Cup, winning it in 2016. In 2016, Tokyo Sports named Naito the wrestler of the year.


 

BLACKOUT

Blackout is a robot (sure why not) from the Tiger’s Den, he serves as the gatekeeper of the Hell in the Hole match being the last challenge to face. He bares more than a passing resemblance to WWE’s wrestler The Undertaker.


 

METAL BROTHERS

Metal Brothers I & II are a couple of masked wrestlers that make an appearance. They bare a resemblance to the WWE’s legends the Road Warriors.


 

FUKUWARA MASK

Fukuwara Mask isn’t a real character, but his “gimmick” is very similar to a number of clownish wrestlers from Osaka Pro like Ebessan, Kikutaro and Kuishinbo Kamen. He dresses with a Hyottoko mask and common clothes, giving him a ridiculous appearance. Fukuwara Mask’s focus is in providing laughs and serving as a comic-relief by deliberately acting like a fool in his matches, which the audience enjoys.


 

And More!

There are other references and mentions like Jushin Thunder Liger, Captain New Japan, Toru Yano, and members of Los Ingobernables de Japon such as Evil and Bushi. Here’s hoping they do more of this show, as I would love to see a lot of of the real life wrestlers from NJPW! Stay tuned for a full review of this show soon, I still need to finish it up and I’ll let you know what I thought!

To see more of these, check out:

A Look at EVEN MORE Cameos in Tiger Mask W


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Throwback Thursday – That time my friends and I attended a TNA wrestling PPV in St. Louis and met Lucha Redneck.

If you guys don’t mind, a new thing I want to try every week is to tell a story of something that happened in the past, a story that might mean a lot to me, or maybe something I just find funny. Since the outlets I used to blog on like Livejournal and Myspace are long distant memories that I really don’t use anymore, resurrecting these old stories is fun since the majority of my readers might not know me personally or might not have heard any of these. I don’t really want to ONLY use this blog to review things and post news, I want to share stuff with you guys as well. This week is a road trip story, one that involves a trek across our state to an area we aren’t used to in order to watch some simulated fighting. I hope that even those who could not care one-half of a cat’s fart about wrestling will still get a chuckle out of this. I managed to resurrect things like crappy M.S. paint drawings of stuff that happened because this, while not an era before phone cameras, was an era when most folks still had flip-phones and iPhones were exorbitantly priced.

It was April of 2007, and my buddies and I saved up some cash to attend a wrestling Pay Per View in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s funny having to explain what a Pay Per View is, but the entire concept has basically gone out the window in the past five years. basically, wrestling feds would use their weekly television shows as a commercial of sorts for a BIG monthly show that cost a ton of money and usually had cooler stuff happen. Now people have Netflix and WWE Network, so folks are not willing to throw down that sort of cash on a monthly basis for three hours of entertainment. It also feels bizarre that this was more-or-less ten years ago, and I now feel very old. When I think “ten years ago” my mind jumps the the late nineties, which is in fact, nearly twenty years ago. The federation in question, TNA wrestling was sort of the alternative wrestling federation out there at the time, and Pay Per Views were usually big news and rarely came to our state at the time. This was before our Sprint Center opened allowing bigger shows to go on, and something about the death of Owen Heart in Kemper Arena seemed to keep WWE and other groups away for many years.

The day started with my friends Dave, Mike, Marco and I hauling up and driving the three and one-half hours to the PPV venue. Immediately, out of the gate, this trip was weird as we passed a dude that was legit wearing a white cloak, Quaker hat, and a walking staff and walking down the highway. I think most of us saw him, but we were all in shock and could not vocalize our feelings for a bit. Finally I broke the ice:

“Can we discuss the fact that we just drove past a god damned wizard back there!?”

“Holy Crap dude I know!”

During our long car ride, we created an entire backstory for this guy, his name was Mordecai and he was in fact some sort of Warlock now. Hey, it helped us pass the time I suppose.

In hindsight, this was likely a local person that was mentally unstable and claimed to be a time traveler. I recall seeing him try to warn everyone at a bank that the end of the world was coming when I was younger – all whilst carrying a huge wooden staff and a robe of some sort. The town I lived in sadly had a few guys like this after a homeless shelter shut down, all with varying degrees of instability.

We ended up there a tad bit early (around 2 o’clock) so we had some time to kill. Being in a rural area near a big city, we didn’t really want to drive so far, and went across the parking lot to a shopping center. We attempted to go to Bass Pro shop, not because any of us are outdoorsmen (although I do like to fish), but we didn’t want to drive too far away from the arena. The only thing we successfully did was scare the crap out of ourselves by walking past this abomination of a statue that was on display. I really wish we would have taken a picture of this thing, because it was like the Burger king and a deformed cigar Indian statue had a kid. This thing was so terrifying that it had a smile that would send chills down Chuck Norris’s Spine. I believe Chuck Norris was a period specific reference to use here, maybe something about voting for Pedro etc. We all joked that it would be in the car when we got back to it, and tons of other hypothetical horror movie starters that we could think of. Perhaps this thing was actually Mordecai, once again trying to warn us of impending doom? Realizing that none of us really needed any bear mace or razor tipped hunting arrows, we all drove back to the arena.

We decided to go ahead and get in line because a line was beginning to start, and sometimes people at the beginning of the line get to be on TV during the pre-shows. Once, in the line we struck up conversation with some guys from Houston TX, that were pretty cool, and generally just talked about what we felt was going to happen at the event. That’s when we saw him: the finest specimen of redneck-dom if I have ever seen one. This guy was a scrawny man with very few teeth wearing a TNA shirt for a tag team called “Team 3-D” or “The Dudley Boys”, which ironically used to have the gimmick of being inbred rednecks. I know what most of you are saying “That doesn’t sound that out of the ordinary…” Well on top of that this guy and his friend were both sporting bright ass red Luchador (Mexican wrestler) Masks. To top it off, he also had a mullet under the mask. After this realization, what we all had to endure was 2 hours of the most inane drunken cat calling and sheer insanity that we could handle. I didn’t want to make fun of this guy, but he was so bad that it was hard not to. He was either insanely drunk, or on the shallow end of the gene pool, and since he had no alcohol on him, i’d unfortunately say the second.

At one point they began taping the crowd for the pre-show that airs just prior to the Pay-per view. We felt that we all had a good chance of being on TV, because we were at the front of the line, but Lucha-Redneck was so annoying and vulgar that the camera stayed well away from our area. As wrestlers began to walk in he got really bad. At one point a female wrestler by the name of Gail Kim came walking out to cut a promo.

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(picture capture from the DVD)

This was a set up for a match that was essentially the first all-female steel cage match that the promotion has ever had. All of the sudden Lucha-Redneck starts shouting:

lucharedneck

The “you tell’er daddy” part was that this guy happened to have what I would assume was a wife and 2 kids, and he was always being encouraged by them to say more and more idiotic things. Don’t believe me? here is photographic proof of this guys existence. Supposedly, this guy went to the fanfest the day before and was trying to pick fights with wrestlers and acting very similar to the day of the event.

lockdown003

Once we got inside were were all worried that this guy would be right beside us in the seats, thankfully he wasn’t but we did see that he brought some signs with him to the event, with hopes of being on TV. One that said “We Want Rats” (eingrats is a somewhat derogatory term for female wrestling fans, that implies all they are there to do is try to have sex with wrestlers), and another that simply said “who wants a rimjob?” (classy!) So yeah if you look up the word “redneck” in the dictionary, I bet this guys face is on there. I have family from Arkansas and I have NEVER EVER seen somebody as bad as this guy.

In the line, it was made very clear that there were basically two types of wrestling fans:

1) The Smart wrestling fan – this fan (like myself) is essentially a wrestling nerd. We watch matches for the athleticism more than anything. this type of fan has some knowledge of how the business of booking works, and will sometimes keep up with indy organizations. sometimes these fans are terrible as they think they know everything and that they are part of the show.

2) The Norms – These are the fans that to some degree think wrestling is real, they watch what is on TV and usually like trashy stuff like lingerie matches. This is the stereotypical fan that most think of when they imagine a wrestling fan.

Sadly we were around a lot of guys that were the bad side of both, including a guy that attempted to start a fight with the somewhat infamous wrestling writer and personality Vince Russo.

Fun Fact: The camera zoomed over us a few times, but since the house lights were lowered we seldom appeared on TV. The best I could find was this:

snapshot20070418150812

Note: Lucha-redneck, thank god his sign didn’t show up.

The one thing that struck me about this PPV was the amount of fan interactivity that they offered to us. Right from the start the wrestlers were walking around in the audience and signing autographs before the show. Even the owner of the company at the time, Dixie Carter, was talking to people, a few of us shook her hand and told her that we really appreciated them coming to St. Louis (they normally tape in Orlando). The experience that I’ve had with a WWE show was that it was really distanced from the fans, and it seemed like we were all named “Franklin”,” Washington”, and “Lincoln” rather than fans. Since this show, I actually attended a few more TNA shows and each one was similar. I even have a book somewhere full of autographs of pretty close to the entire roster from a local show we went to a few years later. I’ve met guys like Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles, TNA knows how to make fans have a great time.

The Matches themselves were awesome, aside from one match that was too gimmicky (a blindfold match) and a match that could have been handled better for realism (an “electrified cage” match, never a good idea from the realism standpoint). The problem with the electrified cage match was that for something that everyone knows is fake, they could have done a better job to help us suspend disbelief. The premise was that these two tag teams were so at eachother’s throats that even a normal cage would not suffice. allegedly, if somebody was tossed into the metal of the cage they would receive some exaggerated shock from wires going into the metal. What actually happened was that the lights flickered and they piped a noise into the sound system. In Japan, they used to do matches like this where pyro would shoot off if somebody touched the ropes, something that looks equally fake and stupid. The cage itself looked like the electric fences from Jurassic Park, a fact that actually made it hard to see the show live. The wrestling itself in the match more than made up for it though, it could have been so much better without the goofy crap.

So there it is, watch out for redneck Luchadors and highway wizards folks, it’s scary out there!


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Broken Hardy Brothers leaving TNA – My Thoughts.

News broke earlier this week that there was a distinct possibility that Matt and Jeff Hardy, legendary tag team and singles wrestlers currently signed to TNA Impact Wrestling, were perhaps going to be leaving for their original stomping grounds – WWE. I gather Dave Meltzer broke the news, but a lot of his speculation gets posted as fact so I paid it no heed initially. Upon waking up, the cat was out of the bag, and it seems like it’s true.

hardy

I have two minds in regards to this situation. On one hand, I would absolutely love seeing the Hardys wrestle at WrestleMania this year, but what version of the Hardy Boys will we be getting?

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Let’s take a trip back in time to a bit less than a year ago, Matt Hardy had just finished up a decent, albeit bland, run as an egotistical heel character and suffered a storyline injury from his brother Jeff. He returned sporting a streak of white hair on his head, a limp (from said fake injury) and a bizarre accent that sounded almost like a South African / Afrikaans accent by way of the deep south. For a few weeks, nobody knew what the hell was happening. Most fans shrugged it off as a terrible storyline, Matt Hardy was obviously being awful and they threatened to never watch TNA again like some annoying fans do 24/7 on the internet. It almost came across, taking into account the previous character, what an egotistical jerk would do to pretend he was now an evil mastermind and was trying to get attention.

Then it happened.

TNA gave the Hardys a camera and said – have at it.

 

What followed was week after week of the most insane nonsensical wrestling programming I have ever seen. It was a MST3K fans dream – a wrestling version of The Room or Manos: The Hands of Fate. This was a storyline involving a robot army, a sentient boat, faithful servants including Matt’s gardener and faithful scribe, seven deities that have imbued Matt with powers and a new way of life, a fight on an active volcano, and recently – time travel. Why does it work? Much like the Sharknado films, the fans are let in on the joke. This isn’t serious, it’s like some weird comicbook story come to life, and each week it gets sillier and sillier while the rest of any given episode of TNA stays normal.

Click here for a run-down of the Broken Saga with videos

For the first time in a while, I was eagerly awaiting each episode of TNA, to see what happened next. Honestly, I was waiting to see if it culminated with the Hardys fighting aliens or something – it was getting that ridiculous. Most importantly, I was getting into it because Matt Hardy – a man who lived in his brothers shadow nearly his entire career was not only relevant, but more “over” than he had ever been. He was no longer “The Jannetty” of this tag team, they were equals once again.

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With a “changing of the guard” at TNA, there seems to be sweeping changes on the horizon as Dutch Mantell and Jeff Jarrett are soon to be booking everything. I would speculate that they are not down with the “Broken Saga”. Is WWE going to be a good fit? My fear is that we are about to see the end of this new character and WWE will force Matt to switch to a more “classical” version of himself, like he took a dip in the fabled lake of Resurrection (part of this storyline). Gone will be Vamguard 1, Matt’s robot sidekick and we’ll never see Senior Benjamin again 😦 I could be wrong, WWE has surprised me before, and I hope they do it again. I want Broken Matt vs the Wyatts, New Day, and much more, not a nostalgia trip for guys being forced to act like they are 20 again.


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Kick Heart (2013) Short Film

production-ig-kick-heart-logo
As promised, I’m going to review a newer anime today rather than sticking to the decade of my birth like my last few entries. This short film is one that many people have probably not heard of before, as it was created via a “crowd funding” project. About a year ago, I found a film called Kick Heart by Masaki Yuasa and Production I.G. on Kickstarter. Mr. Yuasa is of course the man behind the surreal (and pretty much awesome) short film Cat Soup, so I knew I just HAD to back the project. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a huge pro wrestling fan either! It eventually made it’s required money, but missed it’s “stretch goals” which would have potentially moved the project into a feature length film, but what we got was pretty awesome none-the-less.

The story follows a man named Romeo Maki as he tries to get by with a fairly surprising dual life. Romeo works as both a masked professional wrestler and the CEO of a rundown orphanage. He funds with orphanage via proceeds from his night job, but things aren’t looking good. Lately the roof has been leaking non-stop, and it appears that a large snake has taken the children’s restroom as his home. In desperation, Romeo enters a $50,000 “winner takes all” contest against another masked wrestler named Lady S, but things get weird real quick. Lady S “gets off” by inflicting pain on her opponents, and Maskman M (Romeo) get’s the same pleasure from receiving pain. I know this sounds like the makings of an adult film, but don’t worry, Kick Heart is pretty much PG-13. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Lady S also works at the orphanage as a quiet young nun named Juliet, but Romeo doesn’t realize this.

production-ig-kick-heart-tokio-dome

The animation in this film is pretty nice, and resembles those old Bill Plympton cartoons more than any anime I’ve ever seen. Everything is sort of “sketchy” and VERY brightly colored, which really helps this film have an “edgy” or “underground” feeling to it. It’s almost like something that would have aired on MTV’s ancient Liquid Television show really late at night. I enjoyed the fact that you never got to see Romeo’s face completely, this was mostly because he lived most of his life as a masked wrestler, and tradition generally goes that such performers are never to be seen in public without their masks on. Romeo, in businessman mode, always has a black censorship bar over his eyes, a little touch that gives this film something different that really makes it stand out.

The character designs are pretty awesome and some are even borderline grotesque. Lady S’s tag team partner, in particular, is a giant of a woman that is so large that she crushes a portion of the audience when she is defeated in one of their bouts. The cool thing is that because of this, no two characters look the same, and are “larger than life” just like how pro wrestling characters generally are.

production-ig-kick-heart-lady-s

I love what Kickstarter and other crowd funding services could potentially bring to the anime market. Films like this or the recent Bubblegum Crisis Blu-Ray release are products that most likely would not have been produced in the current anime market, so pre-ordering these projects beforehand really lessen the risk of the project being unsuccessful, and guarantees the releases. Eventually I want to see more experimental films like this, and maybe older anime getting put up. It really could change the landscape of the whole industry.

Here is a trailer:

production-ig-kick-heart-maskman-m