About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: The Ides of March


Set during a crucial Democratic presidential race between Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney) and a slightly more conservative candidate. The film’s protagonist is Morris’ hotshot chief strategist, Stephen Meyers, who believes in his candidate as a progressive who can get stuff done. Meyers, who works under campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is asked to meet up with a rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti). He does so, in secret, which is a big no-no on top of another big no-no. Meanwhile, Meyers is sleeping with an intern (played by Evan Rachel Wood), and after intercepting one of her calls late one night, Meyers uncovers a dirty little secret that will rock his world. Politics is dirty, ugly, and icky, y’all! Marisa Tomei plays a cynical reporter always looking for a scoop between ‘friends’, Gregory Itzin is Wood’s influential father, and Jeffrey Wright is the Senator whose endorsement could make or break the election, depending on the candidate’s willingness to give him the cushy job of Secretary of State.

 

I was hotly anticipating this 2011 political film from director/co-writer/star George Clooney, and whilst it’s certainly better than his other 2011 offering, “The Descendents”, it’s actually a lot more disappointing. It’s clich├ęd, and plays very much like a serious-minded retread of “Primary Colours”, only not nearly as good and with no Oscar-winning Kathy Bates as a gun-totin’ lesbian trouble-shooter. It also has an ending that, no matter which way you interpret it (and there seems more than one option), isn’t satisfying or believable at all. But it’s definitely the similarity to “Primary Colours” (a wonderful, witty, and utterly convincing film) that bothered me. Both films feature an idealistic behind-the-scenes member of an American presidential nominee race coming to realise that the man he looks up to is a lot less of an heroic figure than he appears. Both films involve potentially damaging sex scandals. And unfortunately, this material, even if it weren’t so unoriginal, still feels far less applicable to the 2011-12 American political climate than it does American politics of the 1990s (The play it’s based on, is based on the Howard Dean campaign of 2004, apparently). Frankly, it’s all a bit useless, really, which surprises me given Clooney seems a fairly politically savvy guy. I know he’s a lefty who has nonetheless had his feelings of disappointment with Obama, and I thought for sure he and co-writers Grant Heslov (whose best work to me is still his role in “True Lies” as the other sidekick) and Beau Willimon (whose play the film is based on) would have something useful and interesting to say about the American political scene of today. Unfortunately, they’d apparently rather talk about sex scandals and dirty campaign tactics. Yawn. Been there, done that back in 1998. Besides, that subject matter doesn’t work nearly as well when we’re talking about a Democrat. The only people who care about a Democrat sex scandal are Fox News, so the film often feels like Clooney’s left-wing character was somehow initially envisioned as a Republican.

 

Even when the film tries to forge its own identity away from “Primary Colours” and say different things in the latter stages of the film, it still doesn’t quite work, especially the conclusion. **** SPOILER WARNING **** The ending seems to be able to be interpreted in a couple of different ways, but the vagueness is not the main problem (And if you take the title literally, perhaps there’s nothing remotely vague about it at all). None of the interpretations work for me. Either the Gosling character is going to get revenge on Clooney by revealing all to the press, or he doesn’t. If it’s the former, I simply don’t believe he would. He’d be so damn jaded that he’d quit politics altogether. It’s too much of a stretch to believe that this particular guy would go to these lengths just for revenge (and I don’t think he’d necessarily get away with it anyway), and in the process become everything he hates. If it’s the latter, then it still seems to suggest that he has become a sell-out, happy to blackmail his way back on the team (not by spilling the beans, but by letting Clooney know what he knows) and then keeping his trap shut about it, simply so that he can either get through all the policy ideas he has for the country when Clooney presumably becomes President. Or perhaps it’s so that he may eventually move higher up in the pecking order himself, taking Clooney out at a later stage (Which to me seems like a Hollywood fantasy version of what they think really goes on in politics. I doubt the real deal is as interestingly and convolutedly Machiavellian). I also think that if he doesn’t get revenge on Clooney, then he gets off way too lightly in my book, so it doesn’t work for that reason, either. In any of these scenarios, it asks the audience to believe that the Gosling character has become something that he has spent the rest of the film hating. Some people might go through this transition, but I simply refuse to believe the Gosling character be one of them, based on everything that happens beforehand, and considering he could just leave politics altogether. Maybe I’m missing something, but based on my understanding of the film, the ending did not satisfy me (even a line late in the film from Gosling to Tomei isn’t as revealing one way or another as many viewers seem to think). At the very least, character transformations are far too rushed for any of these scenarios to be convincing to me and it all came off as a bit silly, actually, and belonging to a different, less serious film. **** END SPOILER ****

 

So I had grave misgivings here that prevented me from liking the film all that much. Not to mention that the film hangs almost entirely on a contrived coincidence of the right person answering a phone at just the right moment or else the film would cease to exist. I hate that, because it shows a lack of intelligence and creativity on the part of the writers.

 

This is not to say that the film has no redeeming qualities. It is, in fact, an extremely well-acted film right across the board, even by the usually uninteresting Evan Rachel Wood. I find George Clooney to be a smug, ‘Richard Gere with talent’, who does well in roles that play to his strengths. That is, roles that allow him to be George Clooney-esque. He rarely stretches himself in performance, but if the role requires charm and/or smarm, he’s perfectly suited, as one can see in the very fine “Up in the Air”. Clooney’s good here, and even though I don’t like the guy much, I’d vote for him if he had the stance on the death penalty his character has here. It’s the best argument against the death penalty (and I am indeed against it) I’ve ever heard. I do have one quibble, though. Very early on I was already taken out of the film due to Clooney’s character’s refusal to come down definitively on the issue of religion. ‘Off-camera’ we are led to believe his character is an atheist (or more likely an agnostic), but his wishy-washy dancing around on the issue when publicly pressed just isn’t accurate to the small amount of knowledge I have of American politics. America is a largely ‘faithful’ nation, and no politician, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, would classify themselves as anything other than religious. It don’t matter what religion (well, maybe not Islamic), but there’s no way a politician in the US would ever fail to declare their religion of choice (And if they did, they sure as hellfire wouldn’t win Iowa, for cryin’ out loud- What?). If they’re an atheist, they’d lie. I just didn’t buy Clooney’s stance here, and I’m surprised none of the screenwriters picked up on this because it’s wholly inaccurate (Unlike Australia, I doubt America would ever vote for an atheist Presidential candidate. Not in a million years).

 

Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman are instant scene stealers in colourful parts, as is Marisa Tomei who even in her 40s and bespectacled, is freakin’ hot. Personally I think the film could’ve done with more scenes with these three, and even Clooney. Gosling has never really blown me away as an actor, but he’s always rock-solid and that is no different here.

 

Everyone is well-cast and does good work, but couldn’t stop my interest from coming and going. Overall, there are good moments and great performances, but with nothing fresh or appropriate to say and a troublesome ending, this is a massive disappointment. You want this film to be a lot better than it ultimately is, especially with the talent on board.

 

Rating: C+

Review: The Ledge


Terrence Howard is a Catholic cop with marital troubles who is called upon to talk down a possible suicide jumper (Charlie Hunnam) from a tall building. Hunnam is a slick hotel manager and apparent atheist, and the predicament he finds himself in has something to do with his fundamentalist Christian neighbours (Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler), as he spills his guts to the admittedly distracted cop. Old Testament-loving Wilson apparently confuses Hunnam and his gay roommate for a couple (and finds it disgusting), and wants to pray for their souls. In reality, Hunnam actually has designs on shy and sweet-natured Tyler (who seems far less judgemental than Wilson) and sets about romancing her. Is he just trying to stick it to Wilson or is he genuinely hot for her? And just how in the hell does any of this result in Hunnam wanting to kill himself? You’ll have to watch to find out, but suffice to say, Hunnam isn’t your average suicide jumper. In fact, he rather looks like he doesn’t want to be up there at all.

 

Written and directed by Matthew Chapman (writer of “Consenting Adults”, “Colour of Night” and “Runaway Jury”), this 2011 drama/thriller has fine performances and brings up lots of potentially interesting ideas about religion/faith, atheism, tolerance, infidelity etc. In particular it seemed to suggest that neither atheists nor religious fundamentalists are necessarily blessed with a happy existence. For instance, the characters played by Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson appear to be the types who have sought religion as a means of getting over personal demons, and the interference in their lives and marriage by cynical atheist Charlie Hunnam seems to disturb the peace and stability that religious faith might well have brought this married couple. So there’s the suggestion that they have sought religious enlightenment (and each other, for that matter) for the wrong reasons, perhaps. Interesting stuff, on paper. In actuality, the film is a complete botch-job, with no likeable characters whatsoever (they’re all caricatures) and everything has been entirely overblown to the point where even an atheist like me feels sorry for fundamentalist Christians being portrayed as such rudely judgemental (not to mention slightly psycho) people. I mean, Wilson’s character seems to genuinely believe the world is an awful, evil and diseased place, surely not typical of those with faith. That’s just not playing fair, and making the atheist character a self-righteous jerk doesn’t make things ‘fair and balanced’, either, just even more heavy-handed and caricatured (though it must be said, at least Wilson does hospital visits and missionary work, he does have admirable qualities). I didn’t like Hunnam’s atheism stemming from a personal tragedy, either. That’s too easy, and doesn’t speak for all atheists, as I can attest to.

These characters aren’t characters, they’re mouthpieces for the writer/director.

 

Although perhaps the most interesting characters in the film, the scenes between Howard and Hunnam don’t even work. As fine as Hunnam is the rest of the time, he doesn’t seem remotely stressed enough to be in his situation, and Howard (who also produced) is burdened by stupid moments where he has to leave Hunnam for a bit to take a phone call. He’s got a possible suicide jumper and he leaves him periodically! How fucking lousy is he at his job? That was just ridiculous and the whole framing device was hokey and unconvincing.

 

I’m not even sure what Chapman was really getting at here, ultimately. I mean, a scene at the end with Howard and his family suggests Chapman is making some kind of statement about the overall importance of the family unit, but I’m not so sure about that. Maybe it’s about not playing with fire unless you want to get burned, but then how does the Howard character tie into that? I’ve heard Chapman is an atheist and the portrayal of the Wilson character might suggest a bias, but again, I’m not sure what exact point he’s trying to make. Furthermore, there’s at least one big plot contrivance revealed towards the end that if brought up earlier, could’ve saved characters (and the audience) an awful lot of trouble.

 

These social dramas (“Crash”, “Little Children”, etc.) aren’t really my favourite kind of film, but this one’s pretty bad, despite fine work by Hunnam and especially the sweet and charismatic Tyler (Wilson is his usual vanilla self, and not helped by a one-dimensional character) who has rarely seemed so vulnerable as she does here, especially the more you find out about her character.

 

There’s the kernel of an inspired and fascinating idea here, but Chapman has cocked it up. Then again, at least it’s better than his screenplay for “Colour of Night”, so maybe I should look at things as glass half-full. Wait, no, that movie had lesbians, and lesbians are awesome. Sorry, this one’s a mess.

 

Rating: C-

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Venus


Aging actor (and dirty old bugger) Peter O’Toole develops a thing for friend Leslie Phillips’ buxom (but sullen and uncultured) grandniece Jodie Whittaker, who arrives to look after elderly Phillips (who detests her, by the way). Whittaker seems put-off by the randy old codger’s blatant sexual advances, but hey, so long as he’s showering her with gifts, paying attention to her, and not getting physical, she’s compliant, perhaps a little intrigued. Richard Griffiths is a mutual friend, and Vanessa Redgrave is O’Toole’s surprisingly supportive ex-wife.

 

Oddball, foul-mouthed 2006 Roger Michell (“Notting Hill” of all films) critic’s fave is of moderate interest for a while, if only to hear O’Toole and scene-stealing Phillips (I didn’t even know the veteran British comedian was still alive) say the darndest things. But the story is utterly predictable (if very strange at times), and the relationship between O’Toole and Whittaker (who has nice jugs, by the way. Hey, it’s that kind of film!) entirely unbelievable, if not outright weird. I’m not suggesting that an old man and a young woman can’t have a relationship, but I am saying that these two couldn’t, and I didn’t really want to be exposed to it. I just don’t think there was enough of an indication as to why Whittaker tolerated O’Toole’s dirty old man (at least in O’Toole’s case physical attraction and lust were evident, but what the hell did Whittaker (whose character, frankly, isn’t very likeable) see in decrepit, horny O’Toole? I had to guess Whittaker’s motives/feelings when writing the plot synopsis). It just made no sense and came off unconvincingly.

 

Tonally the film is also problematic, I was never sure whether I was meant to take any or all of this seriously. It’s all a bit of a head-scratcher if you ask me. I’m just not sure what I was meant to get out of it.

 

O’Toole (who would’ve likely won an Oscar if not for Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” being so damn impressive) isn’t my favourite actor, I think he’s an old windbag and always has been, even when relatively young. However, any scene involving Phillips or the almost unrecognisable Redgrave is certainly terrific, though neither is in the film enough to really matter.

 

With a screenplay is by Hanif Kureishi (“My Beautiful Laundrette”), the critics might have liked this one, but I think it will alienate a lot of others (some have labelled it a creepy “Lost in Translation”, but I didn’t like that film either). At least it’s mercifully short.

 

Rating: C

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Arachnophobia


Big city doc Jeff Daniels moves his family to a small Northern Californian farm to become the local GP. But in addition to suffering the suspicion of the locals, the poor doc must soon deal with an even bigger problem- people start dropping like flies, seemingly from deadly tropical spider bites. Did I mention that Daniels hates spiders? Hey, maybe that’s why the movie’s called Arachnophobia? Do ‘ya think? Harley Jane Kozak is the boring wife, John Goodman is a weird exterminator, Julian Sands a spider expert, Henry Jones is the cantankerous doctor who refuses to give his job to Daniels, and other locals are played by C-graders Roy Brocksmith (from “Total Recall”), Kathy Kinney (who moved up a grade or two a few years later when she co-starred on “The Drew Carey Show”) and Peter Jason (just about every John Carpenter movie you’ve ever seen).

 

Supremely overrated, terminally dull, ‘safe’ horror-comedy from Spielberg’s best bud Frank Marshall (the OK B movie “Congo”), that gives us few interesting characters (Goodman and a well-cast Sands are the only standouts), no horror, and aside from Goodman’s comic bug guy, nothing to laugh at. Casting Daniels (talented guy, but he can’t carry a film like this on his own) and uber-vanilla Kozak as our supposedly sympathetic leads was a major mistake, but really, the whole thing is like a poor attempt to do what Joe Dante has already done better twice before (“Piranha”, and oddly enough “Gremlins” for Spielberg who also produced this film). The whole spoof of small-town America spoof wrapped in a monster movie spoof thing has simply been done to death (and hell, even some of the subsequent films were better than this one, even the goofy giant spider flick “Eight-Legged Freaks” was a bit better)

 

Also, spiders might be scary in real life (and they are, trust me, they are), but on-screen, they make our fear of them look stupid- unless they’re giant spiders, which they are not here. Best scenes take place at the beginning, with Sands and co in Venezuela, having a bit of an old Universal horror feel to them. The screenplay is by Don Jakoby (“Blue Thunder”) and Wesley Strick (“Wolf”, and the unnecessary Scorsese remake of “Cape Fear”), from a story by Al Williams and Jakoby.

 

Rating: C

Sunday, September 9, 2012

12 WWE Superstars who aren't 'superstars' (and why)


The WWE makes 'Superstars' (i.e. The term WWE use for their male wrestlers) and turns them into 'superstars', people who are the cream of the crop in the company. The WWE also occasionally (and perhaps more than occasionally) drops the ball in either destroying a wrestler's push, or simply failing to capitalise on their talent in the first place. However, for every legit case of the WWE screwing up, there are also wrestlers who frankly, are lacking in some areas. They can still improve on those areas in some cases, but ultimately, where does the responsibility lie for that? I’m sorry, but the WWE isn’t always to blame for someone not making it to the top. So this list is made up of the most obvious cases of wrestlers who could be bigger deals than they currently are, and discusses where the blame lies for this, and how things can be improved.

 

Notable Omissions: I decided not to include a main eventer like Alberto Del Rio, despite the fact that he simply isn't over. That said, he deserves an honourable mention. It's obvious he's not quite over, and as far as I'm concerned that's the WWE's fault. He has everything: The look, presence, mic skills (despite average English-speaking skills), ring skills (terrific when with a smaller opponent in particular), a character that should work, but the WWE dropped the ball by having Edge go over him at WM (did they really know Edge would retire soon after?), and he has failed to regain his momentum since. Thus, all his potentially wonderful promo work just sounds like repetitive hot air now. I also didn't include Yoshi Tatsu or R-Truth on the list because both guys are pushing 40, and their respective issues (momentum and creative support for Tatsu, refined wrestling skills and creative support for Truth) seem unlikely to be resolved at this point. The Miz also misses out because I honestly think it's only a matter of the right time for him and he's potentially having a resurgence at the moment. Wade Barrett in my opinion is one of the top 3 heels in the business, but as he is about to return to TV, there's a chance he'll make an immediate and  significant impact, so I'll not put him on the list. Finally, I also left the underrated Percy Watson off the main list because, to be honest, I'm worried about his employment in the coming months. The guy is talented and super-charismatic, but ever since dropping his Eddie Murphy character, he's become more generic, struggled to regain the crowd support he initially had on NXT, and is sparingly used at all to be frank. I don’t get it, his character worked...and then they changed it to something generic.

 

On with the list, and in no particular order...

 

Cody Rhodes: A lot of people, especially lately, seem to support the idea of Cody as a main eventer. Won't happen, shouldn't happen. Sorry, but it's almost certain not to happen. He's fine in the ring and has played all the variations/stages of his demented character very well since Legacy mercifully  disbanded. Yes, even Dashing Cody Rhodes, before he moved into the Dr. Doom side of things to whatever he's playing now. But all of those personas share one thing in common: They're all midcard characters. Dolph Ziggler's character is a bit of a midcard character too, but Ziggler is such a phenomenal in-ring competitor and has a better look than Rhodes, so I think he might get away with it. But Cody? No. He needs a more serious, vicious side to his character, and whilst he's a lot more no-frills without his mask, I still feel like he's a somewhat cowardly, minor league heel who isn't a serious threat to anyone, really. Unless Cody can find some kind of intimidation factor to make his character more mature, I just don't see him being a bigger deal than he currently is.

 

Alex Riley: I could argue that turning Riley heel was the biggest mistake, and indeed I do prefer him as a loudmouth, Miz-esque heel. However, if you've ever seen him on WWE Superstars, you'll know just how surprisingly popular he is as a babyface. It's shocking to me that the WWE don't capitalise on this more. But I'm still not a fan, to be honest. His in-ring work is extremely sloppy (e.g. His RR mistake, sandbagging Swagger on RAW, beating up Percy Watson on NXT when he was meant to be on his side, etc.), it's like he gets a brain fart at some point in every part of every show he's on. It's all well and good to be popular, but he's just not refined enough in the ring yet. He's young, though, and can work on it, if motivated. His other problem is that Creative don't give a fuck about him right now. He's basically got no character to speak of. He's no longer the Varsity Villain, instead he's the Rare Breed. What the hell does that mean in a wrestling context? Still, if fans are responding to him even with these drawbacks, it just goes to show there's potential money there.

 

Jack Swagger: In my opinion, Jack Swagger has everything necessary for a main eventer and should not have lost his World Title as quickly as he did, let alone descended into a jobber. He can speak (despite a speech impediment), he's got a terrific size, he's a top mat technician, and he plays his obnoxious character so well that despite being a patriotic character, he's so brash and horrible that no one bothers to chant 'USA! USA!' for him. And believe me, that's almost an involuntary spasmodic response for a lot of Americans. Unfortunately, his title run was notoriously botched, making him look completely weak, and he has failed to get anywhere near the top since. Some claim his mic skills were the problem, I think that's ridiculous. His issues were poor booking, a lack of support from Creative, and a complete and total lack of momentum. This guy should be one of the top heels in the business, unquestionably. Instead, he'll likely be remembered as the biggest joke of a former world champ since The Great Khali. Shame on you, WWE. Shame on you.

 

Kofi Kingston: I'll keep it brief, because you're probably used to my thoughts on this guy already if you’ve read previous wrestling-related posts. He can wrestle, he is over with the crowd, he's a natural super-happy babyface, and his mic skills are far from the worst on the roster. I could list Randy Orton as the sole reason for Kofi's failure to stay on his ascent to the Main Event back in the day, but really, Randy's inappropriate outburst and backstage nonsense aren't really what is keeping Kofi from the main event today. He's just not getting any support. Creative don't want him to talk much, it seems, his character hasn't evolved (the volatility he showed in some of his matches with Dolph seemed to be dropped after a while), and given how 'over' he is and how great he appears to be to work with, the WWE would rather use him as a tag team specialist or a top midcard singles guy used as a popular babyface to put the top heels over. He's good in these areas, but Kofi really does have Rey Mysterio potential for me, if not being on a John Cena level perhaps. He can wrestle, he can speak, and the crowd loves him. What else does he need?

 

Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd: This counts as two, but since they are a tag team at the moment, I'll deal with them both here. I'm not one of these Indy fanboys who worship what some class as 'vanilla midgets', but I have to admit, in conjunction with Kofi Kingston, Rey Mysterio and (unless he gets a third strike) Evan Bourne, Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd are amongst my absolute favourite competitors from an in-ring perspective. These guys sure can 'go' and have a style that is unique to them. Neither will ever be a main eventer, and not every great wrestler needs to be. Look at Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig, and Jake Roberts, to name but three who were never world champs in the WWE. Gabriel and Kidd aren't on the same level as these guys, charisma-wise, but they do deserve to be higher on the roster than they have been in their careers thus far. Tyson Kidd, for instance, is in my opinion the best in-ring performer on the entire roster not named Chris Jericho (Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Rey Mysterio are no slouches, either). Unfortunately, there are two things holding both Kidd and Gabriel back, and no, I don't believe size is really the issue. Neither is good on the mic. Kidd has improved, but Gabriel is absolutely awful, and his accent is only part of the problem. And in the current WWE, a lack of mic skills is a big problem for anyone wanting significant TV time. Teaming these guys up has helped somewhat, but the stop-start revival of the tag team division is doing them (or anyone else) no favours at all. These two could be one of the best tag teams around, but the fact is, they barely get any time on the two main shows as singles competitors, let alone tag team competitors. Perhaps this will change, but given the current tag champs are faces too, I don't really see it happening. And that's a shame, because Tyson is enormously talented and Justin is clearly a favourite with the ladies and a talented wrestler in his own right.

 

Derrick Bateman: Like Percy Watson, for the life of me I cannot understand why the character of Derrick Bateman was changed after his first stint on NXT. He got over as a goofy, OTT babyface paired with the then babyface Daniel Bryan. So why strip all of that away to turn him heel, only to turn him back into a face, minus most of the OTT goofiness that made him what he was when he didn't suck? His ring skills are OK but boring, and it's his personality and mic skills that are his obvious strengths. I just don't get it. I also think he belongs on the main roster by this stage, but only if they give him his old gimmick back. His current character sucks only slightly less than his heel persona. Time for Freedom, Chicks, and America to return! (And if you have heard the rumours, he is apparently trying to get over a pro-USA character as of right now, though I have no idea what it's like)

 

Drew McIntyre: I've never understood the dislike for Drew McIntyre, nor do I understand why he is currently a jobber, who can't even guarantee a win on WWE Superstars. I'm not sure I'd have him as a Main Eventer, but he's a proven top midcarder if you ask me. Some find him boring on the mic, but that simply boggles my mind. He's really good on the mic, he’s charismatic, good-looking, and knows his character as well. I also love his mean streak and his use of the ring and its surrounds as a weapon. What I think he lacks is the actual wrestling skills and move-set beyond the beating and throwing opponents into the ring steps, etc. Aside from his double underhook DDT and a big boot, I don't see much in the way of actual wrestling from Big Mac, and it's the one thing stopping me from truly being impressed. I like him, and I think he deserves better, but he's got to take some of that blame. It has to be said, though, that he needs support from the brass and some genuine interest from Creative in his character again. Momentum is also key. When was the last time he appeared on one of the main shows? When did he last win on one of the main shows? I know every wrestling company needs jobbers, but Drew shouldn't be one of them.

 

Hunico: Aside from one sloppy match under the Sin Cara mask with Heath Slater, this guy's easily the best of the two men to have portrayed Sin Cara in WWE. Since then, he has shown himself to be one of the best and most underrated and innovative workers in the company. I always love his rare appearances in the ring because I'm always wondering what move he'll bring out next. Unfortunately he's currently stuck with a lowlife Mexican thug stereotype and I'm not sure he'll ever be able to break out of the undercard in this persona. He should, most definitely, but I doubt it, particularly if he's continuing to hang around that Samoan...er...Tongan...er...Mexican bodyguard of his, Camacho. And especially if he continues the archaic foreign heel gimmick of speaking half in English and half in his native tongue. It's played out, it doesn't get anyone over anymore, and Hunico's a good enough English speaker not to need to rely on such a thing. But since he's playing a lowly thug...he's stuck with it, I guess, because in Vince's world, Mexican thugs don't speaka the English so good.

 

Jinder Mahal: I've previously been critical of mini-Khali, and although he has shown glimmers of talent here and there, I'm still critical of him. He's just not over and I doubt he ever will be. His strangely sinewy, lanky physique is certainly odd to behold. But the main areas necessary for improvement here are his move-set, his one-dimensional character, and his mic skills. The latter two are somewhat tied together, as he is playing the stereotypical foreign heel who speaks predominantly in a non-English dialect, in this case Hindi. It's such an archaic trick for a foreign heel to gain heat, and in Jinder's case, it hasn't even worked. Perhaps this is because it's so old that no one cares about such a stereotype any more. The fact that Jinder has occasionally spoken in English and done so fluently and expressively (He’s actually Canadian, in case you didn’t know), makes me even more annoyed. I just don't enjoy this character nor what he has to say, as it's a midcard act at best. It boggles my mind that he seems to be reasonably well favoured by those in power. He will certainly need to change character I think, in order to be truly taken seriously, and if he's to entertain me in the slightest, he'll have to do more in the ring too. Because he's so large, he adopts the monster heel role, but he's simply not large enough for that, he's somewhere in between and too skinny to boot. Thus his ring work is boring, ill-suited, and one-dimensional (lots of strikes and rest holds, etc), and his camel clutch, frankly doesn't seem all that devastating. He's shown glimmers of talent and agility in the ring, but not enough.

 

Brodus Clay: I loved Brodus on NXT. He was a reasonably agile big man, but more importantly, he was terrific and genuinely intimidating on the mic as a true monster heel. Then, after a few unfortunate false starts, he re-debuted as the fun-loving, dancing babyface Funkasaurus. And although it seemed like a rib at first, he had the crowd (and me) won over by his enthusiasm and the sheer ridiculous entertainment value. The character got over, and whilst I prefer Clay as the beast heel, I felt this was a good fit considering Mark Henry was currently tearing it up with a monster heel gimmick Clay allegedly thought of for himself. Several months later, and whilst I still enjoy the Funkasaurus act and think Clay is a genuine talent...he's in limbo at the moment (Not helped by Funkadaktyl Cameron fucking up by apparently bribing the fuzz). Perhaps the WWE have painted themselves into a corner by creating an act that they can't see fitting in beyond the undercard. As far as I'm concerned, if he's getting a good crowd response, that is enough reason to move him up the card. However, his lack of momentum at the present time is really starting to bother me. and Clay is losing a lot of matches with others (something he was also doing with his previous heel persona, I might add) or at least getting beaten up a lot in order to help push others, like The Big Show. Since he's  a relatively fresh character still trying to make his mark, I'm worried that a lot of damage has been done to him.  So I think at least a tweaking of his character is necessary. They showed a bit of bravery and vulnerability in his bouts with The Big Show, but this was often through losing or being beaten up. So I'd suggest either a tweak in character or a return to his heel persona. The Funkasaurus was a lot of fun while it lasted, but if they aren't going to advance the character, I say change it altogether. And give him some momentum for crying out loud. He seems to be involved in a feud with Damien Sandow at the moment, and maybe he will be victorious in a lot of their matches. Unfortunately, Sandow is seen as a big prospect too, so I'm not overly keen on feuds between two characters who are new and in need of protecting.

 

Zack Ryder: I'm in two minds about Ryder. I like him, he can wrestle, has charisma, and although I prefer him as a cocky douchebag heel, I like his dorky persona too. I feel the WWE have done wrong by him to a certain extent by not pushing him as consistently and rewarding him for managing to attract a cult following (and a pretty large one at that) on his own for the most part. The stop start pushing has been extremely upsetting to watch, even for someone like me who isn't his biggest fan. However, one needs to face facts. His character is a two-dimensional midcard act, entertaining or not, and although Ryder has enough talent to evolve the character, he thus far hasn't done so, and I'm not entirely certain if he could rise above the midcard anyway, let alone fit into feuds with other top talent. And once the WWE DID start to pay more attention to him, the fans in attendance weren't always highly receptive to him anyway, and not all of that is the WWE's fault. To be perfectly honest, I think where Ryder is now, is largely where he deserves to be. He gets on RAW and/or Smackdown a lot of the time, and that is all I expected of him. I never expected him to advance beyond the lower-midcard, so anything above that is a bonus, and if you look at his character, he's meant to be a dork who isn't taken all that seriously. That's how he has been designed, so what's the problem? Well, the problem is that I don't believe the WWE are treating Ryder this way because that's what he's meant to be, based on his character. They're treating him this way because Vince is a petty little man who doesn't want anyone he didn't create to be a success. My opinion, but it seems to hold true, aside from maybe CM Punk. And although I've never been deluded into thinking he's a future world champion, I wouldn't hate the idea of Ryder being a midcard champ for a while. At the end of the day, whether he's seen as a midcarder, under-carder or main eventer, it's obvious Ryder at least needs to be given a bit of support and treated with consistency.