GTA5 in 500 words: The belated review

nerdMichael’s “loveable” son – Source: g3ar.co.za

That’s right. It’s time for a non-wrestling related post. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a frisky ride! It’s taken me far too long to get around to this, but as the title gives away, I’m going to try and sum up my feelings on GTA5 in exactly 500 words. Consider this a summary on what I love about it, and what I would change about it. I picked up the game around six weeks ago. I’ve completed the story mode, but haven’t done all the extra stuff to get to 100% yet. I’ll get around to it. I renewed my Live account for a month to play the online mode. That ran out yesterday and I won’t be renewing it. What did I make of them both you ask?

Well despite all the controversy about the lack of female protagonist, the story mode is excellent. I loved playing through the complex tale that is next gen Los Santos. Having three different characters makes the game-play better in ways you can only imagine, unless of course you have the game, which you probably do. All three of them are compelling and easy to root for in their own right. It’s the best storyline so far in the series in my opinion. For the record, I don’t want a female protagonist either.

The online mode is a different beast altogether. One positive for me was receiving the 500 thousand dollar in-game payment from Rockstar for all of the problems that players encountered in the early stages. Ironically, I only played once in October for an hour, and by the time I got round to giving it a real go in November, most of the server issues had been eradicated. I’m very grateful for the funds though. They helped me get a sweet apartment with a huge garage.

It’s a shame that the online mode is governed by a stupid system, in which you have to constantly grind out on races, missions and death-matches to painstakingly increase your RP. It’s by doing so that you can unlock practically everything on the game, from sniper rifles, to car modifications, to tattoos. I understand the concept, but it didn’t take me long to get bored of what seemed too much like hard work. Finding your friends and joining their games proved annoyingly difficult too. There were some high points, and I don’t think it’s the last time I will play by any stretch, but for now I’d rather focus on my three heroes Michael, Franklin and Trevor.

So it’s back to the story mode. I doubt I will be renewing my online membership until I get the new Call of Duty. I’d much rather cruise through the Vinewood Hills, listening to All Saints on the radio, with Chop in the passenger seat. I’d rather admire the insanely good graphics and ridiculously improved driving engine, in the peace and tranquillity of story mode Grant Theft Auto V.

Thanks for reading.

Craig [Editor]

The Wrestling Review Corner – The Rise and Fall of WCW [DOC]

stingjrOne of the bizarre moments in WCW history – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out another review here on The Real Mid Card, and it’s back to the documentaries this week. The Rise and Fall of WCW is a true classic. If you’re a wrestling fan and you haven’t watched this, you’re missing out. Let’s wet your appetite for it here, and then you can go out and get a copy. You won’t regret it.

The Wrestling Review Corner
The Rise and Fall of WCW

I’ve watched this film so many times, but I enjoyed it again once more recently, so I decided to write about it here. I never watched a whole lot of WCW growing up during the famous Attitude Era, because I was just so into WWF and Raw. I’ve learned a lot more about the company since it’s demise, than I knew back in those pre-teen days. A lot of what I learned came from this film, and from Eric Bischoff’s book Controversy Creates Cash which I picked up at my university library and loved. It’s still one of my favourite books. Maybe I will read it again and review it on here someday. I’m not as fond of the guy himself anymore though. Watch this movie and you will feel the same way.

You do get to see how great WCW was, and all of the things they did right. You also get the sobering reality of it’s ultimate doom. The first half is like a lesson in how to get hot, compete with the best, and dominate. The second is a guideline in what not to do when running a wrestling company. It’s a lovely blend. The tale is told mostly through great interviews with the people that worked there. It’s a roll call of the biggest names in the business, an array of credible on and off screen talent. This adds a real legitimacy to the content. Their brutal honesty gives it a good edge.

Considering it was made by WWE many years after the company was bought by Vince, it’s extremely unbiased and mostly complimentary. You can’t hide the reality of what happened towards the end, but the vast majority of the film applauds and reminds. I think that’s a nice touch. If it were me, I would release a DVD completely ripping them to shreds in revenge for everything Bischoff and co ever did to try and get one over on me, and my staff. That’s why I’m not the businessman that McMahon is. He deserves respect for that.

If you are a young wrestling fan who didn’t grow up during this period, you should definitely check this out, for educational purposes if nothing else. If you are a seasoned veteran who wants to relive the glory days, you will be satisfied. I would recommend this film to any true wrestling fan, especially all of you TNA fans. It’s a stark reminder of what Bischoff, Hogan, Russo, Nash and the like will do when they have power. For all the good that was done, and for all the good intentions of the WWE to focus much more on the “rise”, it’s the demise that you take away from this. It’s hard not to.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment, and check out the film!

Craig [Editor]

The curious case of Daniel Bryan

danielbryanDaniel Bryan teases Triple H – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The Curious Case of Daniel Bryan

Since his debut on NXT in a match with Chris Jericho (one of my dream matches, and one that I hope will be revisited at some point between Jericho’s turns as a rock God), Daniel Bryan has continued to defy my expectations in WWE. I’ll be the first to say it: When Bryan first started working for WWE, I didn’t for a second believe that Bryan would win the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship within the first three years of his career, let alone become a cornerstone of the main event scene. Given WWE’s track record with stars made by other companies, I don’t think this is an unfair position to have taken.

Not only was Bryan a truly legendary wrestler from the independent wrestling scene, he’s also not what we’d assume WWE would want from someone they’re going to make a top guy out of and that’s putting it kindly. Just to clarify here: I don’t care what size or how a wrestler looks. I’m talking about the company here.

For Bryan Danielson I assumed that WWE would just exploit his amazing wrestling ability to get other people over in the eyes of fans. At best I was hoping that he’d get the Chris Jericho treatment, that he would rise to a position where he can flit between the main event and mid card at a moments notice, and that he’d maybe get a sympathy World Heavyweight Championship reign.

Bryan has blown those expectations out of the water. Not only did he win the Money in the Bank match (to date my biggest mark out moment), he went on to successfully cash in, and go on to win the World Heavyweight Championship, before going on a tear of amazing matches and moments as part of Team Hell No (still should have been called Team Friendship). Bryan managed to not only get himself over as a character, but he became the biggest deal on the show. He became the fan’s choice, the People’s Champion. In my honest opinion, over the last three or four years Daniel Bryan has achieved enough in WWE to be called a sure fire WWE Hall of Famer.

But the last few months of WWE have confused me slightly and caused me to second guess myself. For months on he garnered the best and loudest reactions that I’ve heard since the 1990’s, John Cena included. We’ve seen Bryan win not one, but two WWE Championships. If ever there was a chance for WWE to truly create a new mega-star, the main event of SummerSlam 2013 was it. Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam, but he didn’t walk out Champion. Bryan won the title again, but he’s not Champion right now. He’s not even in the main event anymore.

On this blog I’ve often alluded to my opinion that in the 21st Century WWE (and obviously I’m talking about one man here, Vinnie Mac) doesn’t know how to handle something when it’s hot. Look at the Summer of Punk, which quickly devolved from a simple but riveting tale of rebellion by one man, into a confusing mess of mysterious texts and Money in the Bank cash-ins. Look at The Rock’s return in 2011, which started as a major worldwide talking point into a two year popularity contest between two grown men. Look at Brock Lesnar’s return. In 2011, if you’d told me that Brock Lesnar would return to WWE, I would have laughed you out of the room. But he came back in 2012, only to lose to John Cena. Then he lost to Triple H. Twice.

What I’m trying to say here is that WWE can create amazing moments that look like they change everything, but then the booking doesn’t back it up, particularly when the angle in question is the main event. This is exactly what is happening with Daniel Bryan at the moment. For some unknown reason, WWE seems to have taken the ball from him. He’s not challenging for the WWE Championship anymore, he’s in an alliance with CM Punk against the Wyatt Family.

Who has benefited the most from Daniel Bryan’s monster push? Sadly the answer is Triple H and Randy Orton. Bryan’s popularity has allowed The Authority to get over as a legitimately hate-able entity. What has it done for Bryan? While I’m sure his bank account is groaning from the extra zeroes, right now Bryan is in the same place he was before his push: he’s one half of a tag team.

Maybe WWE are biding their time again and this article will look like the ramblings of a paranoid maniac in a couple of months. Maybe they’ve got big plans. I’m sure that when it comes to WrestleMania season that Bryan will go on a tear and I’ll be as happy as Larry again; as I was between SummerSlam and Hell In A Cell. But honestly I’m just confused by what’s going on with Bryan at the moment. This should be his glory time. He should be rubbing the fact that he’s Champion in The Authority’s face. Instead he and Punk are going to be used to give the Wyatt Family relevancy.

Thanks for reading.

Steven Forrester

The Weekly Editorial: Is 3MB a good thing for Slater, Mahal and McIntyre?

3mbThe three man band, baby – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

3MB are every smart marks favourite team. They have that loveable underdog factor, even as a supposed heel team. The problem with the faction is that they do jobs every single week without fail, and have been doing so for a very long time. They are constantly buried by everyone in the ring, and on the mic. Even the announcers like to get involved. JBL regularly makes comparisons with the Mean Street Posse, Brooklyn Brawler, etc. The only love they do seem to get comes from the stands. That love is usually emanating from a group of 30 year old dudes being ironic. I’m not hating or “slating”, I do the exact same thing whenever I go to a show and they come out.

I think they are an entertaining bunch of guys. It’s completely random that these three totally different characters would be hanging out in this fictitious rock band. It’s great! I get why it’s so hilarious and enjoyable. My only concern is with the big picture. Can any of these guys now launch a credible singles career off the back of this? It’s like the effect of The Shield, only in complete opposite mode. The Wyatt Family are another three piece which may well sprout a couple of World Champions. The three man band just don’t look like ending up that way.

It’s great that these guys are getting paid a lot of money to do what they love. I mean, you could let Great Khali destroy me every week for ten minutes. I would do that for free, just to be a part of the show. I’m sure these guys feel the same way to an extent. They could be marched off to developmental, or just languishing in the locker room, but no they are on TV every week and have been in the ring with some great workers and big stars. If any of the three were childhood wrestling fans, they are now living the dream.

Nonetheless, these guys have grown to become men, and professional athletes at that. I’m sure they want to be given an opportunity to show what they can do, achieve things and earn real respect, to have a legacy. After biting that apple, you would surely want to invade more of the fruit basket. Drew McIntyre is the only guy I see with some remaining potential. Despite the unforgettable toll this charade will have taken on his character, I think he still has enough upside to possibly make a go of it in the future. That’s still a very slim chance. I don’t think the other two could even get to Kofi Kingston’s established mid-card status. That’s a bit sad, but a bit true. Which Headbanger or Mean Street Posse member went on to win the big one again? I thought so.

I think the idea has done a lot of good for the three guys, and for the fans. In the long term though, it’s a worrying burden to carry for Slater, Mahal and McIntyre. We will have to see if any of them are capable of shaking it off. Let me know what you think, by leaving a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Craig [Editor]

TNA: Would Turning Point 2013 be the end for Aces & Eights?

clubcareerClub versus career – Source: http://www.dailywrestlingnews.com

TNA: TURNING POINT
21/11/13

Today’s show is one of TNA’s ‘PPVS’. As their monthly shows didn’t make enough money, they cut down to 4 a year, One Night Only specials, and straight to TV shows like this one.

The show starts with Mike Tenay welcoming us to the show (they’ve gone back to Orlando, boooo) and showing us footage of Bobby Roode attacking James Storm in a nearby bar from the night before. I love it when rivalries end but there’s always tension between the men involved.

Backstage – Dixie Carter runs into Samoa Joe and basically tells him off for standing up to her last week.

Dixie heads to the ring and we get our first view of the new home of Impact Wrestling. Looks at least double the size of the last place, and obviously a much higher attendance. Dixie rips into AJ Styles and his world tour defending the TNA Heavyweight belt elsewhere. James Storm interrupts her, and says he wants to upgrade tonight’s Bull-rope match, to a ‘Florida Deathmatch’ that the crowd erupt for. I actually liked Storms promo tonight, he put in a lot of energy and used logic when he politely asked Dixie to change the stipulation.

FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE – SAMOA JOE VS MAGNUS

Magnus comes out to the ring, but we then see Joe on the big screen, challenging Maggo to join him backstage. With probably the worst timing I’ve ever seen, we then cut to commercial. When we come back, we see tables and the like scattered around and then two men wandering back towards the ring…great. They show us replays but it’s just not the same. The ending came when Joe ran into a chair that was lodged between the ropes in the corner. The commentators said that Joe pretty much beat himself, not putting over Magnus at all.

Bad Influence are dancing at ringside as we come back from the ad break. Turns out they’re just here to see what happens in the next match…

JOSEPH PARK VS ABYSS?

Christy Hemme announces Abyss two times, but obviously he doesn’t come out. After waiting a few minutes, Bad Influence enter the ring and tell Joseph he is a ‘water-bed’ and ‘a sack of mayonnaise with a law degree’. They then say he’s letting down his grandfather ‘Jurassic…Park’. These two are so weird, it’s great. Daniels say he would hit Park, but he knows that blood would set him off. This then cues Kazarian to throw a bucket of blood over Joseph, Carrie/The Brood style. They throw mean jokes at Park until he leaves, I genuinely felt bad for him!

GAIL KIM W/LEI ‘D TAPA VS CANDICE LAREA

No idea who this lass is, she looked very bland. Gail squashed her easily, Lei’D didn’t do ANYTHING! Why is she employed?! Have Gail nearly lose, then cheat with Tapa every week to get heat and actually use your roster.

We see footage of AJ Styles defending his Title in Japan, really cool to see stuff like that.

Backstage – Mr. Anderson says he’s taking out Bully Ray tonight.

Really nice video package of Storm vs Roode from the past few years, awesome stuff, but all I could do was laugh at Roodes old hair.

FLORIDA DEATHMATCH – BOBBY ROODE VS JAMES STORM

Standard Street Fight style stuff, loads of weapons. Storm ended up bleeding first even though he was controlling the match. I miss blood in Wrestling. After some cool back and forth, Roode pulled a barbed wire board from under the ring. He pulled Storm onto his shoulders for a Death Valley Driver, which caused Storms teammate Gunner to head to the ring and throw in the towel. Roode wins, but everyone wanted to see that last move! Obviously Storm wasn’t happy and shoved Gunner around.

We go to a video of Christy Hemme at small time wrestler Sam Shaws house, but he wants her to call him ‘Samuel’. He shows Christy some artwork he’s made, and then she calls cut. The cameras stop filming the bit, but catch Shaw asking Hemme to go out for dinner with him. She says yes and writes down her number. As she leaves, Shaws face completely dropped and he straightened out everything on the table, OCD style…I’m intrigued.

Backstage – Bully Ray and the remaining Aces & 8’s look hard backstage, and say they will retire Anderson tonight. Ethan Carter III tells the jobbers he’s been fighting recently that he’s fighting someone above their league tonight.

EC3 VS SHARKBOY

He actually pulled off a proper squash this time! Sharkboy might have gotten a couple of punches in, but EC3 was all over him. This means that the lads he’s been facing recently are actually better than Sharkboy. Ouch!

Backstage – Dixie tells Kurt Angle and Roode that she has booked a 5 on 5 tag match for next weeks Impact, with either man as captain. Same week as Survivor Series though?

MR. ANDERSON VS BULLY RAY

As was decided last week, if Bully loses, Aces split up. If Anderson loses, he must retire. Anderson has new attire, he’s in full length tights and a sleeveless shirt, must be feeling a bit insecure. Some of the roster walk out to watch the match from the ramp, not all of them, just a few. Decent match so far, but seemed a little tame after the ‘deathmatch’ earlier. Most of the match comprised of Anderson trying to get the upper hand but coming short through numbers/underhand tactics. Anderson hit his Rolling Samoan Drop(?) onto Bullys chain, Tenay didn’t notice. Bully pretty much no sold that and hit one of the slowest spears through a table I’ve ever seen. Brooke then tried to throw a hammer to Bully, only for Anderson to catch it and connect with a big swing and the 3 count.

So that’s Aces & 8’s finished! TNA followed the broadcast with a package hyping up next weeks show, including Anderson’s plans for an Aces Funeral, Bully only lost a few seconds ago!

As always you can contact me with any thoughts, or even if you just want to chat about wrestling at @jrholberry on twitter.

Thanks for reading,

Joseph Holberry

WWE: Was Survivor Series the dud that most expected it to be?

ouchortonOrton after taking a stinging chop – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out the review of WWE Survivor Series 2013, right here on The Real Mid Card. I’m going to take a look at each match specifically, and mention any relevant segments or packages. After a whirlwind two shows going into the pay-per-view, I had serious doubts over the card’s ability to not be overshadowed. Let’s have a look how it all went down, and see how successful it was.

WWE Survivor Series
24/11/13

I was watching the Kick-Off show on the app before it began, and noticed the dinstinguished guest panel featuring Mick Foley, Booker T and none other than Mr. 4/10 Bret “The Hitman” Hart. I wonder how that happens. It just seems insane for Triple H to put in a call and invite Bret on the show. It seems crazy to me!

Well Triple H and his wife were out first, to a big pop. They announced that there would be no physical interference of any kind, in any match. The crowd booed this. I don’t know if the booking has been crazy, or if this crowd was.

Rey Mysterio, Goldust, Cody Rhodes & The Usos v The Shield & The Real Americans (5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match)
What a way to start the show! I knew this would be a very tough act follow. Ricardo Rodriguez had joined the Spanish announce team, which was awesome. Zeb Colter twerked, and so did Cody Rhodes. It was great before it even started. Dean Ambrose was eliminated pretty much instantly by Rhodes, after talking trash to the referee and not paying attention. This has not been a strong week for him. The match then broke down into pure bedlam and Uso-mania. Huge “We the people” chants were met with Jack Swagger’s elimination and the odds looked anything but even.

Cesaro performed his swing on both Usos consecutively, to the fans utter glee. He needs a face turn soon! He was another to fall victim to Cody’s roll-up, making it 5-on-3. Reigns got one of the Usos and Rollins got the other, to even it up. A couple of eliminations later, it was down to Roman Reigns against Mysterio and Goldust, with a proverbial mountain to climb. It was the two ring veterans against the young Minotaur. Reigns speared Goldust to make it one-on-one. Mysterio quickly took advantage and set him up for the 619. As he came back off the rope, the camera couldn’t even react quick enough to catch Reigns plough through him with the spear, and pick up the win as the sole survivor. This is how you push someone! A career defining moment for Reigns. The highlight of the night by far.

reignsvictoryA dominant mixture of warrior and animal – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

After a great start like that, I wondered how the rest of the show could keep up.

Big E Langston(c) v Curtis Axel (for the Intercontinental Championship)
The big man retained his title in this hard fought, well executed match. There wasn’t a whole lot of crowd heat, but I put that down to them being completely worn out from the first match. Langston showed charisma and brought them back with a festival of cheap pops on the mic after the match.

Team Total Divas: Natalya, Eva Marie, Jojo, The Funkadactyls & The Bellas v Team True Divas: AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Alicia Fox, Aksana, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendez & Kaitlyn (7-on-7 Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match)
AJ gave an unorthodox rallying cry to her team backstage before the match, like only she can. This promo really told the story and set up the match well. It created intrigue, suspense, tension. I have to say the match was pretty good too, by diva standards. It had good storytelling, psychology and some interesting moves. Some of the pinfall finishes from dropkicks, leg sweeps, etc were very tame. Besides that, it was a decent contest. Natalya was the sole survivor after submitting AJ Lee with the Sharpshooter. Although, I think one of the Bellas was still in the match but knocked out at ringside.

Ryback came to the ring and called out the legends on the panel, for cheap heat. He declared an open challenge to anyone in the back again. Here I was expecting another pointless squash in-keeping with the lazy attempt to book Ryback as a credible opponent for Goldberg. Then Mark Henry came out, sporting the amazing new look that has been my Facebook cover photo for the last month. Ryback did the job on pay-per-view again. That must be a record. Surely any chance of him even being on the Wrestlemania card, let alone against Goldberg, has ultimately gone now.

John Cena(c) v Alberto Del Rio (for the World Heavyweight Championship)
It was another mixed reaction for Cena as usual, even in his home state. There was an awesome “Fire Lawler” sign in the front row. I thought that was great. Del Rio went after the arm for the whole match. No surprise there, but I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. An age old story like that is always good to bring out. Cena obviously overcame this barbaric abuse and retained his title. Yippee.

cenasucksA loving welcome home for John Cena – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Then there was a ridiculous segment with all the mid-carders who couldn’t get on the show playing with action figures in the locker room. This sparked Fandango-ing, which could be heard over the arena microphone, and a surprise appearance from John Laurinitis. I would love to see him involved in this authority storyline somehow.

Daniel Bryan & CM Punk v The Wyatt Family
The pre-match vignette was excellent for this, and really built up a sense of anticipation. There was a huge crowd reaction for all of the entrances and pretty much the whole match. I noticed that four of the five guys in or around the ring had huge beards. I love modern day WWE. The Wyatts slowed the pace and took dominant control. Punk took everyone out with some amazing athleticism. The rapturous crowd chanted “This is awesome!” The two of them combined to polish off the face win. In the words of JBL: “What a match!” Bray Wyatt teased like he was actually going to go in there and fight the two of them up front. Of course, he backed away.

Randy Orton(c) v Big Show (for the WWE Championship)
I knew that regardless of how good this match was, the show was easily above average. That kind of helped me get through this monotony. Looking at the marquee, you knew it wasn’t going to be Savage and Steamboat, and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. There seemed to be more dissension between Orton and the authority in the office before the match, and John Cena was also in there. The two of them had a little stare-down to tease the much rumoured unification match between them. Before the action got under way, we saw another top quality preview vignette.

The early going in the match was deservedly greeted with “Boring” and “We want Bryan!” chants. It was always going to be tough to follow the earlier matches, but this was a real borefest as expected, for the most part. It got a bit more interesting when the authority showed up on the ramp, helping Orton take advantage of the distraction and connect with the RKO. There were more “Daniel Bryan” chants. Randy then punted the giant to get the win. This was a slightly more inventive ending than expected, but an overall anti-climax. John Cena came out at the end to do a little Champion v Champion pose. I guess this could be the main event at the Royal Rumble?

champtingLooks like they’re going with the unification idea – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

8/10: This would have gotten a nine if the main event were better. That kinda killed it. Overall though, the show was very good. I give credit where it’s due, and I have to say that WWE over-achieved on this one, given the card they had booked. I was pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you thought of the show by leaving a comment.

Craig [Editor]

UFC: A look back at the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter

wallclimbRousey flipping the infamous bird – Source: jerseygirlsports.com

The most recent episode of TUF was said to have a shocking result. The previews showed Britain’s own Grant crying, which got me thinking that for some reason he could not continue. It was the coaches challenge, that challenge being a wall climb. The two were toe-to-toe for the most part but Rousey put a spurt on towards the end to claim the victory and the cash for herself and her team. Another interesting part of the show was seeing Rousey grapple with one of her fellow female coaches. She basically had her mate in a position where her ass was up the air. The camera appeared to be dead focused on said ass. The clothing covering it was a little bit see through. That was nice.

The rest of the episode was basically building up to a non-event. In actual fact it was Grant’s opponent that could not make weight. The frustrating thing being that he himself got a pass because his own opponent could not make weight. He gets kicked off the show and we have a Brit in the finale. Next week we have the semi-final for the ladies. This fight actually does appear to happen and I believe that the winner of this fight determines the winner of the whole season for the ladies. As tough as Pena is, I just think that these two ladies are a whole load tougher. This fight should be very entertaining.

Thanks for reading this recap,

Arun Paul Smith