the homoeroticism of the side-scrolling brawler

It’s June. More importantly, it is Pride month, or as it is known today: Pridetm, presented by Mastercard, Raytheon, and the McElroy Brothers. In this month of people and corporations pretending to like us so long as we remain sexless, docile concepts rather than actual human beings, I thought I would do something a little different. And by “different,” I of course mean, “write about video games.”

The Side-Scrolling Brawler, also known as the “Belt-Scroller” and the “Beat ’em Up,” is a genre that gets a lot of shit. Critical reception these days looks at these games as boring, badly made, repetitive, “poorly animated guys lumbering around and punching other poorly animated guys.” This is bull shit, brawlers are awesome. Maybe some day we’ll get a big resurgence of the genre.

A big reason why these games are good is simple: they are gay as fuck. In this post, I’ll be playing a bunch of these games, and rating them on a scale of their homosexuality.

Final Fight

I’m starting this with the Grand Leather Daddy of them all. Final Fight is gayest game to ever gay. It is the story of gay archetypes beating up other gay archetypes that look like they bought their clothes at Stryper’s garage sale, and tearing their way through a suspiciously San Francisco-looking New York.

Let’s take a look at the playable cast:

You have Guy, a self-assured, twinky bottom-bitch. Then there’s Cody, the bisexual, versatile switch, complete with extremely form-fitting jeans. Finally, there’s Mike Haggar. The body, the single leather strap, the immaculate mustache. Mike Haggar is 80’s Gay in one large, bulging package. It’s like a Tom of Finland drawing did the Fusion Dance with Ray Harley.

So you pick your piece of ass, and get started beating people up. You start off in the most derelict part of the city, where amphetamines and isobutyl nitrate are easily acquired. Who is the very first enemy you encounter?

Bred

Bred is a man who knows what he’s into. And any of you fucking know-it-alls can spare me your bull shit “uhh actually, it is a mistranslation of ‘Brad'” and shut up. It’s fucking Bred. This is a man who joined up with the Mad Gear gang, and when picking his name, decided to use that opportunity to let the world know that he enjoys both cocks and cum in his ass. Nobody loves to get dirty more than Bred, and God Bless Him for it.

Final Fight also introduces us to Poison, one of the first transsexual video game characters. I once watched some porn where a trans girl doing Poison cosplay was cranking on her sizeable hog, then she stopped at the five minute mark to inform the viewers that, quote, “Poison was one of the first transsexual video game characters.” That’s awesome.

Okay, look, this dude’s name is goddamn Sodom. It cannot be more obvious that Final Fight is a game for the queers. You don’t have a game with two characters named after terms used to describe man-on-man anal sex and then try to pass it off as straight.

look at those jeans! cody wants the world to know what kind of heat he’s packing.

Final Fight is a game where tough, burly dudes with good physiques do manly shit with one another in the dirtiest way possible. Fighting. Wrestling. Grappling. There’s a level that takes place in a fucking public bathroom. Do not try to tell me that that’s a realistic depiction of street gangs; as if the Bloods and the Crips are getting into territory wars over nightclubs, public bathrooms, and any other notable spot used for gay cruising. This game has all the makings of a Can-Am Productions fetish video. It’s kind of hot, honestly.

oh hey, look at all these bikes. i bet they were all driven here by a hetero leather club!

These days, you get all these SJW snowflakes losing their shit over current day gay pride. Doing a Helen Lovejoy bit, freaking out over the possibility of a child seeing someone in a puppy mask and a leather harness. First of all: shut up, bitch. Second: When I was a child, you could walk into any arcade in America and play Final Fight. It was there, front and center, with all its extremely homoerotic imagery that made my brain feel funny until I was old enough to understand that Guys Being Dudes in a sexual way was something that I was into. Final Fight is gay, possibly the gayest thing. Actual gay sex is straighter than this game. A leather daddy pounding down a PBR before he walks into a gloryhole to get sucked off by some shirtless cumpig with a George Michael beard is more heterosexual than Final Fight. This is the greatest arcade game of all time, and the lack of homoeroticism is what what killed the subsequent Final Fight sequels.

Gay Rating: 10/10

 

Knuckle Bash

Knuckle Bash is a rare departure from STG masters Toaplan. It takes the eroticism of Final Fight, and makes it far more overt. You play Knuckle Bash and chuckle to yourself, “this game is gay lol” over and over. This is a game about pro wrestlers going out and fighting other, much more evil, pro wrestlers. The game itself is fine, it’s a short quarter muncher from a company that wisely went back to making shooters. But I’m not here to talk about “gameplay,” I’m here to talk about “gayplay.” Knuckle Bash has a lot of it.

First of all, let’s take a look at the between-level transition screen:

hachi machi

Do you enjoy excruciatingly detailed sprite work of muscles? Do you enjoy outfits that go way beyond the flamboyant excess of professional wrestling? Do you enjoy the camp nature of video games? Because if so, you should definitely load up your preferred version of MAME and load this game up.

You’ve got:

Kind of obvious gay dudes.

Middle-aged divorced dads who have finally discovered themselves.

Well defined asses that not even Yoko Taro could imagine.

this is the “bonus stage.” you mash buttons until the timer runs out, and whoever mashed better lands a punch.

A little something for the furries.

please ignore my mature intials

Football players, for those of you out there with a jock fetish.

Unfortunately, the homoerotic stuff declines late into the game. So unless you have a thing for dudes with pig faces grafted onto their own, you won’t be getting as much out of the second half as you did in the first. But fuck me, what a first half! Worth the 15-20 minutes it takes to play through the whole thing.

yeah this is cool in a body horror sense, but not in a hot gay sex sense.

Gay Rating: 9/10

 

64th Street: A Detective Story

A real hidden gem here. I mean, the game itself kind of sucks, and the gayness is toned down compared to the last two games. But it’s worth looking at, if only due to the fact that it is very obvious that the two protagonists, Rick and Allen, are definitely in a “daddy-boy” relationship.

Other than that, and the funny plot point about secret messages in the classifieds, there’s not a whole lot here. But I don’t think this a game a lot of people know about, and even trash has its fun.

wait, what the fuck?

Gay Rating: 3/10

 

Streets of Rage

NO COPS AT PRIDE

GAY RATING: 0/10

 

Rushing Beat

Rushing Beat is honestly, pretty fucking generic. Generic in terms of how it plays, and generic in terms of being homoerotic. However, one of the characters, Bild, dresses up like M. Bison at a gay bar, and the second level lets you recreate the iconic scene from Lords of the Locker Room.

hey buddy, i think you got the wrong door. the leather club’s two blocks down.

Gay Rating: 6/10

 

There’s plenty of other gay ass brawlers out there. I thought I would look at a handful of them for funsies. I’m mostly doing this post to let everyone that brawlers are for the queers, and don’t let anyone dump on this genre without a fight!

i’m watching the virtua fighter an*me

People seemed to enjoy my last write up on the world of Japanese animation. As such, I figured that I would do it again. After all, There Has Never Been A Better Time To Watch Something On Tubi. Also, never been a better time to watch the Virtua Fighter an*me…several weeks after the rerelease of Virtua Fighter 5 on the PS4, and during a time where the only fighting game I’ve played for the last week is Guilty Gear Strive (I’m on the 10th floor, btw, making me a high-level player). Like The Tower of Druaga, I heard that this adaptation sucked too. But as we all found out, Druaga got good after the first episode (follow-up: having watching several more episodes since, the show has improved even more). Maybe this will also be the case? Let’s find out!

When I think about it, this show in and of itself is not a bad idea; Virtua Fighter is a series notoriously known for having zero plot development in the games themselves, leaving it to supplemental materials, like the instruction manual. So, to have something like this, that can expand upon characters that are otherwise simply faces given to real-life fighting styles, can be a good thing. I guess it will all come down to its execution.

Episode 1- Akira of the Hakkyoku-ken

As the title gives away, this episode introduces us to Akira Yuki. Unlike the games, where Akira is a stoic, no-nonsense Karate Man, Akira in the show is a goofy, hapless idiot with a bottomless stomach who also uses dumb luck to take out guys trying to kill him. Basically like a less charming Goku. He’s at this restaurant, taking an all-you-can-eat challenge so as to get free food, since he is broke.

While this is all going on, Pai Chan, who is now apparently a teenage girl instead of a fully grown woman who stars in martial arts films, is being chased by a bunch of dudes because of reasons. To get away, she runs into the restaurant that Akira is eating at.

Hijinks ensue.

I need to make it clear that is a painfully unfunny sequence. The worst kind of wacky bull shit. Hey look at all this chaos going on, but Akira is too busy trying to stuff his face to care! HA HA! Bad guys are trying to beat him up, so he deftly avoids their blows and catches slowly falling dumplings in his mouth! Hilarious!! It works when Jackie Chan does it in his movies, but it always seems to fall flat whenever it happens in an an*me. It comes across as obnoxious, rather than humorous. Maybe it’s the subtlety of Jackie’s performance, and not him constantly making that expression that I can only describe as the A-Word equivalent of a Soy Face:

funny thing: the subtitles started bugging out here. this is funny because i was watching the english dub, and therefore had subtitles turned off.

Anyways, Akira and Pai end up accidentally kissing in the fracas and it’s so funny because Akira ate so many dumplings that his breath smells like garlic and this was Pai’s first kiss and it sucked so she beats him up and the bad guys kidnap Pai and I hate this show.

I…

Look, confession time: I’ve been working on this post for the last three days. I have watched one episode per day. Virtua Fighter starts bad, and manages to get even worse. I hate the writing. I hate the bad animation. I hate the shitty 4Kids voice acting. And while I’m at it, fuck this too:

There’s a stupid villain who isn’t in any of the games, and he sounds like Stewie Griffin. Then Akira disguises himself as a racist Chinese stereotype to break Pai out of the evil Kung-Fu jail, before he suddenly gets all serious and starts to actually fight, complete with a Magical Girl-esque transformation.

The whole crux of Virtua Fighter is that it is, you know, a 1-on-1 fighting game. Combat is the focus of the whole thing. The an*me? 1 minute fight scenes where it is very obvious that this show was made on a small budget, with static images with speed lines that cut before you see fists making contact with a face; the kind of thing that makes it clear this was meant for kids, with the typical American censorship of the era. Then the episode ends with Akira chasing Pai around with a plate of garlic dumplings, because THAT IS FUNNY.

I’m tapping out. Like I said, I watched three episodes of this crap, and I don’t feel like going back and re-watching them so I can get screenshots. Don’t watch Virtua Fighter. Play the game instead; it’s free for PS Plus users until August. Have a few matches before you do what I did and start playing Strive again, marveling at the latter’s amazing netcode. Play Guilty Gear Strive. Watch literally any other an*me in the world. Do not waste your time with goddamn Virtua Fighter.

nocturne

There is one game that I have been playing way too much lately, and that is the HD remaster of Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. I do understand that by buying this, I’m perpetuating the terrible cycle of constantly rereleasing stuff that already exists, but a couple of things:

1) This is a game I actually really like that came out in 2003, not some soulless bull shit from 2019 that Sony needs to shove out the door because they fired all their dev teams.

2) The inclusion of Raidou Kuzunoha without me needing to find a second copy of the PS2 game fits in the “it’s okay to remake/remaster if cut content is included” clause.

Now then, with that out of the way, let me get started on this bad boy.

Like Resident Evil, the Megaten series is one of my favorites. Unlike Resident Evil, I don’t find myself in many situations where the topic of Megaten comes up. Probably because I don’t have too many friends who have played these games; even in 2021, with Atlus being a much bigger deal than they would have been 20 years ago, these games are still very niche. Megaten is the mainline series, yes, but Persona is the money maker, and the one that everyone knows about. But, as this is my web site, maybe I’ll take this time and make the topic of Megaten come up.

For those unaware, you poor fools, Shin Megami Tensei is a series of RPG’s. For the most part, they aren’t especially connected to one another in the plot department, so you can find any game in the series and go to town. All of them are very obviously influenced by Wizardry, with an emphasis on exploring long, winding dungeons with increasingly difficult enemy encounters. The big appeal, on a mechanical level, is the ability to recruit enemies over to your side. You talk to a demon, and if they like you, they join you. Then you can take two of your demons and fuse them together into one stronger demon. This has led to Megaten being described as “Pokemon For Adults,” despite predating Pokemon by a number of years. You know, hey, we are Americans, and we live and die by the Elevator Pitch.

it also has a cute doggy! hello, pascal!

Megaten is also, underneath the large amount of memes and shitposts you can find online, very political. Every game involves the world coming to an end thanks to the actions of some dickhead, and then you spend the rest of the game gaining enough power to kill God, and remake the world in your image. None of these choices are perfect, each with their own pros and cons. You can create a world of law and order, which can lead to a fascistic police state. You can create an anarchic society that can also lead to a eugenics-based “survival of the fittest.” Or you can create a world that shuns these ideals, leading to freedom for the individual without the use of class systems or “fuck you, got mine.” Megaten is a series that tends to have you dismantling systems of oppression, both religious and state-based, though the two tend to blur in these games.

Putting all this information here because I have friends who have never played these games, and wanted to know what they were all about. Now I will talk about Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.

Nocturne is a pretty brutal game. It begins with the world suddenly and violently coming to an end, thanks to the machinations of a tech company CEO that leads his own cult. Even for 2003, even for the Playstation 2, it’s still a very unsettling sight. This 100% has to do with Kazuma Kaneko’s art style making a beautiful transition to 3D. Everything from an abandoned hospital to a simple magazine cover manages to look genuinely creepy and unnerving.

The silent protagonist, who can be given a name at the beginning (I named him after Astro Boy), is a student who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and ended up surviving the apocalypse. He’s then forcibly turned into a half-human, half-demon creature, and is left to his own devices. I bring up this extremely brief synopsis to explain that Nocturne is a departure from previous games. The first Megaten began before the world was obliterated in a nuclear war, and the second began several decades after that apocalypse. Both games also had the protagonists use a wrist-mounted computer to  summon demons, via a program written by Stephen Hawking. This one has the shit hit the fan immediately, and say that no, John, you are the demons. Nocturne does a mostly good job of maintaining this hurried pace. I say “mostly” because I really love to take a good few hours to not go forward, and instead grind out levels like a weirdo. Like Wizardry, Megaten games tap that pleasure center in my brain of watching a number go up.

dude does look an older astro boy, let’s be real

This young demon thing, now called the Demifiend, has the power to punch things to death, and speak the language of the demons. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the demons are all various creatures from different religious texts, urban legends, and folklore. So it can be you, a Hindu spirit, the Mothman, and even Baphomet, just walking around the ruins of Japan fucking up anything stupid enough to start a fight.

There is one more aspect to Nocturne that I think everyone is aware of: the inclusion of Dante from the Devil May Cry series…

…which I won’t be talking about, because this particular run of the game I’m doing is with the other guest character: Raidou Kuzunoha from Devil Summoner 1 & 2.

both are pretty interchangeable, really

So these are all things that Nocturne has. What makes it appeal to me? After all, this is my web site, where I put down my thoughts and feelings.

Nocturne is a game where a shy teen boy becomes something that society considers a monster, amid a world-destroying event that could have easily been avoided and was only done so a rich guy could have more power, who uses the powers of Satanic powers and allies, all to literally run up and punch God and Elon Musk right in the fucking face, and use that power to make the world a better place for everyone. Why the fuck wouldn’t I like this?

It is a game where you sift through the rubble of the old world, dealing with old friends who have since moved to the extreme poles of a political compass. The new world is a constant power struggle; there are warring factions everywhere, and everyone wants to create their own shitty version of the world. Now it’s up to me, the smartest asshole in the room, to tell them that they’re wrong (using my fists), and do this shit right. I don’t want a Libertarian hellhole! I don’t want a do-over of Capitalism! What if we had an anarchic system in place? Is that a perfect solution? Probably not! I mean, the entire premise of SMT2 is how that system can be warped into something shitty. But it’s certainly a better idea than “I have a lot of money, which gave me a god complex” or “I lost all my friends when the world ended, so I think more people should die.”

Really, I’m only doing all this because I’m in a position where I have to. If I were the Demifiend, I would be more like the Manikins (one of Nocturnes many factions), and move far away from all the bull shit, where I can live in peace. But since I can’t, I’ll simply have to beat the shit out of every religion and system of government until I can.

That is Nocturne. It rules. The other Megatens also rule. It is this stylish, rebellious piece of art where you constantly walk that fine line between hope and pessimism. The prevailing message here is: the world is fucked, but it doesn’t have to be.

aew, two years in: part 2 (the good)

The complete 180 of Britt Baker

I’ve said this a couple of times already, but when AEW began, I saw nothing in Britt Baker. Her happy-go-lucky babyface character felt incredibly fake and disingenuous. And on top of that, she wasn’t exactly the best wrestler, either. She looked like someone who was on her way to the WWE Performance Center, and got lost along the way.

Then, in response to Riho never showing up to defend the women’s title on Dynamite, Britt turned heel. During this turn, Britt Baker proceeded to cut what it probably one of the absolute worst promos I have heard in years. If I may make an indulgent wrestling reference, she made “Sufferin’ Succotash” sound like “Cane Dewey.” It was so bad, AEW literally went to a commercial right in the middle of it, probably one of the only times AEW not showcasing a woman was actually a good thing. Thankfully she wasn’t actually at the Performance Center, because that one performance would have killed her career; you think Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn are going to let a woman live down having a bad night?

For a long time, Britt Baker had “go away” heat. I did not want to see her on my TV, and I questioned AEW management’s decision to put her there.

A funny thing started to happen pretty quick: she got good. Like, really good. “I might actually buy an AEW t-shirt” good. Her promos got better. Her wrestling got better. Her whole character of “unintentionally racist, entitled Karen” was pretty dang entertaining, even when she couldn’t actually wrestle due to injury. Her whole, “I hate everyone in AEW except for Tony Schiavone and maybe Rebel (not Reba)” trait is a surprising breath of fresh air; even heels have friends! When was the last time anyone in wrestling had an on-screen friend? Well okay, The New Day. But is there anyone else?

The Lights Out match between Britt and Thunder Rosa (also really awesome) is in the running for my favorite match of the year, and I imagine that it’s going to end up clinching that dubious honor. I watched two extremely talented women beat the fuck out of each other in the main event of an AEW show, the first time that has ever happened. I watched them do ridiculous, violent, hardcore wrestling that even most male wrestlers would shy away from. I watched them bleed. This was a match that showed 1) how fucking good the women of AEW actually are, 2) that Thunder Rosa rules, and 3) that Britt Baker is going to be a main event player for years to come. It also showed something that’s been missing from the wrestling landscape for way too fucking long: losing does not mean that you are done, and you’ll never make it back up the card. Britt Baker lost that Lights Out match, and look what that did for her. It looks like her next feud is with Nyla Rose, and while I will always be in Nyla’s corner, I’m certain Britt will be more than entertaining in this rivalry.

 

Using the veterans well

For the sake of clarity, when I say “veteran,” I don’t mean someone who’s been in the business for ten years, but is still young and in their athletic prime. I mean guys that I grew up watching. So like Sting, Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy, Christian Cage, etc.

There’s a tradition, for lack of a better term, in wrestling: popular older wrestler who can still get ratings and pay per view buys, but is beyond his best years athletically, and becomes world champion anyways. Hell, I’m sure Bill Goldberg and/or Brock Lesnar are on their way to dismantling whatever promising young talent is currently holding the WWE title again.

Of all the names I brought up, the only one to ever hold the AEW title is Jericho. This makes sense, as he was the biggest name in the company while AEW and its roster were still establishing their identity. Jericho eventually lost the belt, and (editorial aside, thankfully) has not been anywhere near the title picture since.

Sting is here to establish Darby Allin as a major star, something that I feel he has done well. Sting may as well come to the ring with a blinking neon sign that says HELLO OLDER FANS WHO REMEMBER ME. HI, I AM STING. I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT I SUPPORT AND ENDORSE THIS GUY, THIS GUY RIGHT HERE: DARBY ALLIN. PLEASE WATCH DARBY ALLIN WRESTLE AND DO COOL STUFF OFF THE TOP ROPE. I was a bit worried that he would only ever be a Cinematic match kind of guy, but his showing at Double or Nothing last week fucking rules. For a moment, I thought I was looking at the old Sting, and not the Old Sting.

Christian is still fairly new to the company, and hasn’t done much of note (aside from have excellent matches). This is mostly due to his planned feud with Ricky Starks being put on the backburner after Starks got a neck injury via Mortal Kombat X-Ray Move. But at least in his short time, he’s made Jungle Boy look like an absolute rock star.

Matt Hardy has mostly been okay in his role. Not through any fault of his own, but it does feel like the other members of his Hardy Family Operations stable are in the background. I’m chalking this up to Private Party and The Butcher and The Blade not being on TV as much lately, and some inconsistent booking; are Jack Evans and Angelico even part of the group anymore or what? That being said, Matt Hardy did get Adam Page over in their short feud.

Older wrestlers stepping aside and letting the younger generation look good is something that has also been sorely lacking in wrestling for a long time. It’s hard to create new stars if they look like shit compared to the current stars, or the old stars.

 

The redemption of Tony Schiavone

Remember all that stuff I said about Jim Ross in the last post? You know, how he was once the greatest voice in wrestling, and has since gone on to be absolute shit from a dog’s ass since then? Take all that, and apply the exact opposite to Tony Schiavone. The dying days of WCW, Tony could not have been more checked out. His post-wrestling reputation was that of a bitter old dickhead, and his repeated use of “the greatest night in the history of our sport” became a meme.

Then, after a brief stint with Major League Wrestling, he’s back to full-time wrestling commentary with AEW. What I love about Tony is that 1) he’s actually really good at commentary again, and 2) it is very obvious from watching the show that he is having the time of his life. It’s as if he traveled back in time to the 80’s, and he’s sitting next to Dusty Rhodes and Magnum T.A all over again. Tony Schiavone is like the Dad of wrestling, just a guy who loves wrestling, and loves playing Uncharted on his PS4. Now keep in mind, I haven’t looked at his Twitter or listened to his show with Conrad Thompson, as I do not want to risk seeing or hearing something that shatters my illusion of Tony Schiavone being fucking awesome. Let me have this, please.

Anyways. In a strange twist of time and fate, Jim Ross is the bitter has-been that needs to hit the bricks, while Tony and Excalibur handle the announcing duties. Tony rules.

 

Creating new stars

Jungle Boy. Darby Allin. Maxwell Jacob Friedman. “Hangman” Adam Page. Rey Fenix. Sammy Guevara. The Acclaimed (Max Castor has since gotten a lot better than rapping about Twitter Trends). Private Party. Only some of the names of guys that in only a couple of years, went from “who the fuck is that?” to, “holy shit, that dude rules!” Guys who are young, relatively young, or mostly unknown, being able to showcase themselves in front of a much larger audience. Adam Page is legitimately one of my favorite wrestlers at the moment, and I’m glad he was rescued from the purgatory that is being Yet Another White Guy In The Bullet Club. I only knew Sammy Guevara from that time he botched his Wrestling With Wregret promo, now I know he’s fucking awesome and needs to break away from The Inner Circle right fucking now and do his own thing.

Darby Allin? Well, he’s come a long way from the “I Like Turtles” video.

yeah i stole this joke from osw review. bite me.

It could have been so easy for Cody, the Bucks, and Omega to use AEW as a playground to only get themselves over. And instead, there’s a whole bunch of new/new-ish guys that I think are really great. Okay, admittedly, Anthony Ogogo definitely got his shit derailed at Double or Nothing, but there’s still a good chance that he’ll rebound; he’s immensely talented.

 

Brodie Lee Tribute Show

The day after last Christmas, Brodie Lee tragically passed away from an unknown medical condition. This was especially tragic as Brodie was making great strides in proving just how overlooked he had been in WWE, and proving that he had what it took to be a main eventer.

Naturally, AEW held a tribute show in his honor. A show that was not only probably the best episode of Dynamite ever from an in-ring standpoint, but definitely the best tribute show in the history of wrestling. As a long-time fan, there have way too fucking many tribute shows to fallen wrestlers, and they have always, without fail, felt cynical. This one didn’t. Probably because, unlike other tribute shows, Brodie Lee wasn’t literally killed by the company that he worked for. This was two hours of wrestlers giving their all in a heartfelt showing of love to a friend they lost.

And fuck me if the end of that show wasn’t the most gut-wrenching thing. Seeing Brodie’s wrestling boots get metaphorically hung-up by his son is a moment that, even to a non-wrestling fan, is a powerful image.

As great as this was, I really do hope that this is the one and only tribute show AEW ever does.

 

Maintaining goodwill

The most important thing to know about AEW is that it is a Wrestling company that Wrestling fans watch because they want to see Wrestlers Wrestle. They are not WWE, in that they are not ashamed of what they are. AEW does not insult my intelligence. It does not insult me, period. Are they a perfect company? Well, no. I mean, I literally just wrote an entire post about how they weren’t. But the thing is, when AEW does fuck up, it feels as though is comes from an attempt to actually try, and it failed in execution. Tony Khan’s not exactly saying, “you will like what I tell you to like,” as Vince McMahon has long before I was even born.

Think about all those times you watched WWE programming. All those great wrestlers you wanted to see at the top. Now think about how many times they got fucked over in the end. You want Daniel Bryan? No, you want Sheamus. You want CM Punk? No, you want Kevin Nash. You want Bray Wyatt? No, you want Bill Goldberg. You want Kofi Kingston? No, you want Brock Lesnar.

AEW has been really good about not shoving the wrong guy down our throats. Like, yes, there’s Cody Rhodes. And there was that time I wanted Nyla Rose, and they gave me Riho, but I think I may literally be in the minority for that one. But the rest of the time? Pretty cool to see people you like actually be on the show, rather than feuding in the catering room.

This carries over to the actual shows. Remember that fucked up finish at the end of Revolution? That would almost certainly killed a lesser company, or at least damned it to obscurity for twenty years like Impact Wrestling was. But I know that myself, and a lot of other fans, are still giving AEW a chance because, holy fuck, it’s a wrestling show! We will still get to see great wrestling and storylines that mostly make sense and are actually good and have long-term planning behind them. There has never been an episode of Dynamite where there was no wrestling for an entire hour, you know? Outside of one segment, there’s never been time taken away for dance contests, terrible backstage segments featuring extremely wooden acting with one-liners done by the team behind one of Chuck Lorre’s shitty shows, or having to listen to Michael Cole try to rap. AEW is essentially Tony Khan using his vast fortune to play his own real life Fire Pro Wrestling sim, but at least he’s pretty good at it.

These are my thoughts on this nice little wrestling promotion that has reignited my love of the game. I honestly always thought that I would only ever watch wrestling out of life-long obligation, and not because I actually really fucking like it. And even if AEW sucked, its existence is still a really good thing, as actual competition in the business makes everyone better.

Really, all I would like is for my complaints to be fixed, and for Luther to be a world champ in 2022.

aew, two years in: part 1 (the bad)

I had originally planned on doing a review of last week’s Double or Nothing, but then it hit me: Double or Nothing 2019 was AEW’s first show ever, making this the second anniversary of the companies’ existence. So instead, I thought I would do a year(s) in review. Two years in, what’s good about All Elite Wrestling? What sucks total ass?

Let me be clear here, before I begin: at the end of the day, no matter what amount of shit-talking I do, I’m still a fan of the company. No fucking joke, WWE got so fucking bad that I stopped watching wrestling for years. AEW is what got me back into it. So, if not for any other reason, I’ll always give AEW that.

Now then, let’s start this post a bunch of negativity!

The Bad

Riho being the first AEW Women’s Champion instead of Nyla Rose

Am I still bitter about this one? Absolutely! Even looking past my very obvious bias of wanting to see a trans woman be the first women’s champion in a promotion with a world wide audience, giving the title to Riho is still such a mind-boggling decision. Maybe, because I’m not actually in the business, I don’t get it, but I feel like your first champion being crowned on your first episode of your first TV show should, I don’t know, actually work for your company? Riho isn’t, or at least wasn’t, part of AEW’s roster! She was on-loan from Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling! If you’re not going to book Nyla as your first champion, then why not someone else on your active roster? Because as it was, Riho won, barely showed up, then AEW fixed the mistake they made by having her lose the title to Nyla. The most Riho did to benefit AEW during her run was serving as a tangential catalyst to Britt Baker’s heel turn.

 

Still treating the women’s division like an afterthought

Let’s keep on the subject of women, here. Specifically, the women’s division still sucks. It doesn’t suck because of the women involved, far from it. Two years in, and it’s still one women’s match per show. Pay per views still have a women’s match on the pre-show, and one women’s match on the actual event. Now, you can get plenty of women’s matches on the YouTube exclusive shows, Dark and Dark: Elevation, but that’s another problem. Myself, other fans of my generation, as well as the actual wrestlers of this generation, have all been told one thing multiple times when it comes to wrestling: if it doesn’t happen on TV, it doesn’t count. As such, either AEW needs to start putting women on their shows more, or make it real fucking clear that they want to break from tradition using their YouTube events.

Small credit where it’s due: 2021 has gotten slightly better in terms of promoting their women. But it’s still only one match per show, and it feels like the booking begins and ends with whoever is in the title picture. Hopefully, the upcoming AEW Rampage show will alleviate this issue, what with giving the company an extra hour of TV time. But if AEW doesn’t fix this, NXT is going to have a much bigger women’s division in the next year or two. I mean, they’ll be booked like shit in WWE too, but at least they’ll be on TV. The women of AEW are way too talented to be squandered the way they are.

 

The downfall of Cody Rhodes

Two years ago, Double or Nothing 2019, Cody Rhodes was the man. On a show that had Adam Page, Kenny Omega, Hikaru Shida, Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks, and Rey Fenix (among many others), he had the best match on that entire show. Him and his brother Dustin spent half an hour beating the shit out of each other and bleeding all over the place. The tearful promo Cody did after the match was incredible, and I would consider it to be one of the few genuinely emotional moments in the history of wrestling.

Since then, though, Cody has been slipping more and more. In 2021, he is the worst part of any AEW show by a mile. Barely coherent interviews about hanging out with Rosario “physically assaulted a trans man” Dawson. Serviceable matches attached to terrible feuds (his Dog Collar match with the late Brodie Lee being a notable exception). I hate his ludicrous entrance. I hate how he gets his own entrance-way. I hate his never-ending feud with QT Marshall. I hated that ooh rah I love America feud he had/has with Anthony Ogogo. Yeah, Cody was going to save America from the evil foreigner! Here’s his shitty promo where he starts crying talking about how his unborn daughter, who is half-Black and half-white, by the way, will grow up and end racism forever. Unlike that slimeball Ogogo, who himself is also half-Black and half-white, and absolutely did not do anything to showcase Black excellence like, say, winning an Olympic bronze medal in Boxing back in 2012.

Like, dude, draping yourself in the American flag? Getting your own special entrance? Talking about hanging around with famous people? That’s heel shit! But Cody’s not a heel! He’s a fucking weirdo that I’m supposed to cheer for. Maybe when he leaves to go be a dad, he can come up with some good ideas, and we can see the return of 2019 Cody, and not whatever the fuck this boring, cringe character is now.

Also, maybe you should have announced your Pride t-shirt after the actual LGBT members of AEW did.

 

The continued employment of Jake Hager

Jack Swagger was a guy in WWE who was actually pretty good at wrestling, but he had very little charisma to speak of. His closest run at the top was his time as a “Real American,” a xenophobe who blamed Mexicans and “illegal immigration” for his ridiculously long losing streak. Even then, his Wrestlemania match played second fiddle to Vince McMahon wanting to piss off Glenn Beck, who Swagger’s character was a parody of. Then he did fuck all after that, then left WWE.

Then we all found out that, oh no, actually, Jake Hager hating Latinos was not a work. He was a shoot piece of shit, rather than a worked one.

Somehow, he got hired by AEW. Dude was liking and retweeting Candace Owens going off on yet another tear about trans people the same day he debuted on the first episode of Dynamite, which, you guessed it, also had Nyla Rose on the card. Dude clearly has issues with Latinos, and is in a stable with three of them.

Aside from being a bigoted dickhead in a company that promotes itself on the concept of diversity and “Wrestling Is For Everyone,” he provides nothing to any show he’s on. Quick, name me a good Jake Hager match. How about a stellar Hager promo? Actually, can you name a Jake Hager match at all? One where he’s by himself, not in a tag team with the other members of the Inner Circle? Chris Jericho might be a right-wing weirdo whose wife and mother-in-law stormed the Capitol Building, but at least he can wrestle! Jake Hager can’t even do that anymore! His in-ring skills have plummeted pretty bad since his days as “The All-American American.” He has zero business being in AEW. All he’s doing is helping Jericho drag down Santana, Ortiz, and Sammy Guevara. Please, let him go back to Bellator, where he can feel like a tough guy beating up plumbers and mechanics where I don’t have to see him.

 

Jim Ross

Twenty years ago, Jim Ross was the undisputed voice of professional wrestling. Nobody else came close to being in his league. Tony Schiavone, at that time, was the epitome of being checked out. He clearly did give a single fuck about WCW at the end of its existence, and it showed every Monday night. JR was the exact opposite. The passion that he had for wrestling was evident; he could make good moments great, and great moments into a permanent memory. Granted, in recent years, he hadn’t been as good as he used to, but you could maybe chalk that up to being chewed up and spit out by the industry. Perhaps being the lead announcer for AEW would be a career resurgence.

It is not.

Jim Ross is a legend in wrestling, so I will put this as gently as possible: his commentary in AEW is completely fucking abysmal. He’s only there for a paycheck, and it’s obvious. He openly hates the show, to the point of openly hating it while he is still on the air. He’ll go on his terrible podcast and shit-talk the AEW wrestlers as being nothing more than a bunch of high-spot indie geeks who don’t know how to sell, then when said “indie geeks” actually sell on an episode of Dynamite, he’ll then straight up give them grief for not immediately getting up and pinning their opponent. “Don’t know why he’s not shrugging off the fact that he’s been in there, full-tilt, for fifteen minutes and needs to recover from hitting a big move after being beaten up and exerting himself the whole time! Hell, why’s he even going for a pin? He should go for a count out win, like it’s season mode in WWF Attitude for Nintendo 64, bah gawd!” He’s one of those assholes that is intentionally not going to be happy, no matter what kind of performance you put out. The only difference between him and Jim Cornette is an ability to remain employed.

Never mind all the fucked up shit he says when he isn’t grumbling about the damn kids these days, or hating Chuck Taylor. Calling Emi Sakura an “Oriental.” Making Sonny Kiss matches completely unwatchable because he could not stop himself from making gay jokes that even the edgiest 14 year old would roll his eyes at. Suddenly “forgetting” Nyla Rose’s gender during her matches. Being a creepy weirdo about Anna Jay.

At risk of going to bat for the large company owned by a billionaire, it is pretty fucking insulting of JR to act like this. AEW has bent over backwards to accommodate him. He only calls Dynamite and PPV’s, so he doesn’t have to do Dark or any “B-shows.” He gets his own entrance at the start of every pay per view, something that Excalibur and Tony Schiavone do not. He is referred to as a legend on TV every week. On top of all that, AEW has never openly mocked his disability.

Really, think about that. WWE has repeatedly made extremely shitty “jokes” about Jim Ross’ Bells Palsy. They even did a segment that felt like an hour long mocking the fact that he got life-saving colon surgery, a segment that literally nobody liked or found funny, except for Vince McMahon (of course). They’ve done storylines solely designed to embarrass him in his hometown. They’ve fired him multiple times just because. After all that, Jim Ross would rather put more into a company that treats him like shit, instead of one that’s a step away from worshiping him.

His commentary, at best, adds nothing to matches. At worst, he can take really exciting stuff that the talent is doing, and make it worse. I mean, I remember him very blatantly reading from a script during an MJF match; pronouncing an ellipses as “dot dot dot.” That is the definition of not giving a fuck. I get wanting to hire him, because his name can provide legitimacy, but it’s been two years, and AEW is legitimate enough. Let his contract run out, and let him ride into the sunset, where he can be free to complain about millennials and sexually harass comedians on Twitter.

 

That’s it for part one of this post. Come back later, maybe tomorrow, where I talk about all the good things AEW has done in the last couple years. It is significantly more positive!

what the fuck happened to the internet?

I need to sit down and go on a rant about something that has been bothering me for quite some time now. It’s something that you, the reader, have probably also noticed.

As you all probably know, I like to play fighting games. I especially like to play them on a competitive level. Now, the thing about fighting games is that they are actually pretty fucking complicated; “getting good” is really hard. Sometimes I am stumped on how to respond to certain attacks, blockstrings, knowledge of frame data, and various other miscellaneous things. As a result, I need to hop on over to Google and type a query into its search bar. At risk of dating myself here, but back in my day, when you typed something into Google, you got the information that you needed. It was pretty fucking painless. You didn’t know something, so you asked a question, then you learned something.

These days, Google is completely fucking useless. I mentioned fighting games earlier, because that’s what kicked off me wanting to write this. I’m trying to get better at The King of Fighters 2002 and Virtua Fighter 5. No matter how specific my search query is, the result is the same: “The King of Fighters 2002 is a 2002 release for the SNK Neo-Geo arcade system.” “Press down, down-forward and punch to throw a projectile.” “Virtua Fighter Street Fighter Chun-Li Hentai Fuck Prada Bag.” Maybe I’ll get a copy/paste of the game’s Wikipedia entry from some place called cheesewheel.chgrz.notavirus.com. It is such bull shit. Like, huh, I am losing a lot of matches, and I need to figure out how not to lose so many matches, let me go to the internet for advice. Then the internet responds by being actively antagonistic about it. Sorry, I guess I should have been born with the wisdom of the cosmos.

Now, getting better at fighting games is not really all that important in the grand scheme of things, but it does help illustrate a bigger problem. Trying to look up anything these days sucks. If you are looking for help, you ain’t getting it! Google would probably save a lot more money if they changed their results page to a picture of a middle finger in front of a flashing, seizure-inducing background that called you a dumb ass idiot bitch moron retard clown shithead stupid motherfucker that doesn’t know things. Why not have your results posted to a Twitter account in real-time where Google doxxes users, like, “Dick Gosinya at 2487 Riverfuck Lane in Salt Lake City, Utah doesn’t know things!” Just go full-on insulting to my intelligence, why not?

I’m not sure what exactly caused this very quick decline. Is it capitalism? Tech bros desperate for Elon Musk’s validation? Because this is not just a problem with Google so much as it is a problem with the greater internet. A reason why I’m so adamant in my stance of making your own web site is because doing so is frowned upon by the people in charge of this new, shittier, internet. The Internet is supposed to be a tool for communication and information. It’s not anymore. It is a place where some blue check mark who makes way too much money says something asinine and inflammatory, gets dunked on hundreds or even thousands of times, and this is considered normal; profit is generated on outrage. It’s a place where you watch a couple of video on YouTube to have a laugh, then spend the next five years rolling your eyes and blocking a deluge of recommended videos where some white supremacist fuck sits in his bathtub for two hours and rants about pronouns or some shit. It’s a place where whether you are doing research on a serious scientific topic, or figuring out how to escape Orochi Chris’ corner pressure, you are instead served with ads. It’s a place where the individual no longer matters. Get on Medium. Get on Substack. Pivot to video. Become a “Content Creator.” Like, Comment, and Subscribe.

Fuck that.

I don’t have any sort of answer on how to fix any of this; I am simply here on my own web site to complain about it. I’m almost 35 and I feel like a fucking boomer. I do not get, nor do I like, this new generation of the World Wide Web. My heart goes out to the younger generation, who don’t know how things used to be. Fuck, I was frustrated when I started writing this, now I’m sad.