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R. Wood "ryecroftwood2"

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TNA Wrestling Sacrifice 2012 [DVD]
TNA Wrestling Sacrifice 2012 [DVD]
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £18.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific triple-main-event, and a strong undercard make Sacrifice one to own!, 20 Sep 2014
After the abysmal crowd and bad outcome of Lockdown's main-event, TNA nevertheless rebounded for Sacrifice 2012. The high-quality programming of Impact Wrestling thrived and led to a great pay-per-view here. The highlights this-time-around were of course World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode, with the legendary Rob Van Dam being the next in line for a title shot. Then there was X-Division Champ Austin Aries booked against Bully Ray in a fantastic feud that had real heat going for it.

Other superb talents were also on the rise, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles were still tearing the house down, and despite some really daft booking/tedious storylines, the booking/direction for TNA was perhaps better than it had ever been for the company. Of course, the Impact Zone crowd sure help make for a fun-filled night! As usual!

TNA World Tag Team Championship Match
Samoa Joe & Magnus (Champions) vs. Christopher Daniels & Kazarian
Take two great teams that both work harmoniously as units, and what do you get? A GREAT opener, that's what! Solid action, terrific chemistry, ace double-teaming, the right length and outcome make this a brilliant way to kick off the evening. The rise of Bad Influence starts here, ladies & gentlemen! (8/10)

TNA Knockout's Championship Match
Gail Kim (Champion) vs. Brooke Tessmacher
A great competitive bout between the Knockouts, and one that's been built-up well. The future `Miss' Tessmacher's improvement justified her being promoted to title-contendership, and she works really hard in matching-up against the expert Gail. A fine-feud and a fine women's bout, better than even their match at Slammiversary. Just a shame about the cheap finish, but least Tess would get her due eventually! (6/10)

Three-way TNA Television Championship Match
Devon (Champion) vs. Robbie E vs. Robbie T
Oh, the Robbies and their stupid gimmick. The fact that neither are really any good means that this should be avoidable at all costs. However, due to the short length, Devon doing well with the TV title and the arena's great crowd, the result is actually better than it should be! Yes, it's essentially a glorified handicap match, but the bout's actual structure makes this not only watchable, but entertaining. Just forget the ridiculous aftermath, and you'll be perfectly fine watching this. (6/10)

Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson
I've always believed in the chemistry between Jeff and Mr. Anderson, ever since their WWE days, and they've both proven plenty of times that they can have outstanding matches together. This, not one of them. The build-up could've been better, and the action doesn't seem to `click' like it has between them in the past. Nevertheless, both guys TRY to have a great match and the end-result remains solid. Shame about the botched finish. (7/10)

Crimson vs. Eric Young (w/ODB)
Meh...Crimson's undefeated streak. Did it achieve greatness? Does it have a legacy? Did it `make' him like those undefeated streaks made Samoa Joe, Goldberg or the Undertaker? NO. However, Crimson's character interacts well with Eric Young and ODB, but this comes across as more of a segment than an actual match. Entertaining in places, but ultimately filler. (4/10)

Austin Aries vs. Bully Ray
Despite Bubba Ray Dudley making his legacy as a true tag-team specialist in ECW and WWF/E, I never pictured him as a singles-wrestler, let alone main-event material. However, like JBL, the former Dudley Boy has really done well for himself by getting into shape, cutting great promos and reinventing his character. This is without doubt the greatest single's match Bully Ray has ever had, due to the sublime psychology & storytelling, and the perfect foil in Austin Aries. The X-Division Champion gives the Bully every bit as much as he takes in a bout that successfully elevates BOTH men as worthy (inevitable) candidates for the TNA World Title. Even Joseph Park's interference is welcome here! Brutal, fantastic, match of the night...a pivotal classic. (9/10)

Kurt Angle vs. AJ Styles
It's TNA, it's Angle, it's Styles...THIS is the kind of exhilarating bout we just can't get enough of! Sadly, there are a few key things going AGAINST this latest go-round on pay-per-view. Namely the tedious storyline between AJ and Daniels/Kazarian, the fact that the audience had already been blown away by Aries/Bully Ray, and that at it's too long at twenty-minutes. Despite all this, the two TNA veterans still tear the house down in yet another excellent encounter. This is indeed wrestling, and the aftermath leads to the Slammiversary classic! (8/10)

TNA World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match
Bobby Roode (Champion) vs. Rob Van Dam
A main-event of great quality. In both hype and the match itself, RVD seems more motivated than he's been in years. It's certainly his best outing in recent memory, and the best you'll see from him at this stage of his career. It won't take your breath away or break new ground like more famous ladder matches, but it'll certainly satisfy! Some sick spots and yet more exceptional work from Roode make this ladder bout a terrific way to close the show. Dodgy finish, but correct outcome. (8/10)

Two special features on hand, here. The `Before the Bell' documentary lasts half-an-hour and goes over the build-up/participants for the main-event with a fine-tooth comb. Roode naturally continues to thrive as the `IT Factor', but the `Whole F'N Show' deserves just as much props for his intelligent, confident interviews. RVD's promo-work is very overlooked at times, and this method of promoting the main-event is most refreshing indeed. The collection of post-match interviews are fab, also.

Whilst TNA Sacrifice is surpassed by the more unforgettable shows of 2012 (i.e. Slammiversary, Destination X and Bound for Glory), this nevertheless remains a high-quality purchase for TNA fans, and wrestling fans in general. One to fit on your shelf!

TNA Bound For Glory 2012 [DVD]
TNA Bound For Glory 2012 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeff Hardy
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar flagship show...from a stellar 2012 for TNA!, 14 Sep 2014
With TNA’s future now being most uncertain in 2014 (what with losing their deal with Spike TV and the company direction being at an all-time low), I despair and wonder how it all could’ve gone so wrong. Especially when it was only two years ago that TNA were truly on cloud 9 and ascending even higher.

Rewind to 2012, TNA had an absolutely stellar year, with (overall) tremendous booking all-round, a fantastic roster and storylines, plus quality direction & programming. Impact Wrestling was my favourite wrestling show on TV back in 2012, and there were so many essential pay-per-views they put on for fans, like Sacrifice, Destination X, and of course, the ten-year-anniversary show Slammiversary.

The 2012 edition of Bound for Glory was another classic example of how vital it was to be a TNA fan at this time. With a strong, enthusiastic Phoenix, Arizona crowd, a focused-booking committee and a superb card where every-match was built-up brilliantly, this is indeed TNA’s equivalent of WrestleMania.

TNA X-Division Championship Match
Zema Ion (Champion) vs. Rob Van Dam
I was hoping for an absolutely thrilling X-Division opener here, but I didn’t get one. However, despite a few botches, this remains a solid opener, complete with memorable highlights, a tremendous audience and a sensible outcome. Good start to the show. (7/10)

TNA Television Championship Match
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Magnus
Of all the titles created for TNA, the Legends/Global/Television belt was by far the least prestigious, due to its confusing lineage and mismanagement. So kudos to the almighty Samoa Joe for his actual effort in bringing some credibility to the TV title as champion. Against former tag-team partner Magnus, the two engage in a hard-hitting wrestling bout that the crowd are really into! This bout – and the rivalry itself – deserved a longer run, but still very nice indeed! (8/10)

Street Fight
‘Cowboy’ James Storm vs. Bobby Roode
Special Guest Enforcer: King Mo
For me, the absolute highlight of Impact Wrestling back in 2012 was the storyline between James Storm and Bobby Roode. The break-up of Beer Money, and the subsequent fallout was masterfully done, and REALLY should’ve been the main-event AND FOR THE WORLD TITLE! Still, after a year of waiting, Roode and Storm tear the house in a good old-fashioned bloodbath. Violent, intense, full of great spots, and the resolution to the feud we’ve been longing for. Match of the night! (9/10)

Joey Ryan vs. Al Snow
The whole ‘Gut Check’ idea was something I always enjoyed. It’s just a shame it didn’t do more for TNA in the long-term. Anyway, this was another well-built TNA storyline, due to Joey Ryan’s tremendous character and skills being a natural foil for the legendary Al Snow. The storytelling is sound, but the execution itself feels somewhat anti-climactic. Snow’s ‘still got it’, the outcome is correct, and there’s a good surprise return at the end…it all just seemed to fall flat, strangely. (5/10)

Three-way TNA World Tag Team Championship Match
Christopher Daniels & Kazarian (Champions) vs. Kurt Angle & AJ Styles vs. Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez
Daniels & Kazarian as ‘Bad Influence’ (as they would famously become) were truly the best tag team TNA had in years, certainly one of the greatest in wrestling. With Kurt & AJ again gunning for gold, I was hoping for another classic bout, especially with Chavo & Hernandez now involved. Sadly, it doesn’t come close to touching the epic Slammiversary encounter, but all six-men work hard and give spectators a brilliant display. Iffy-pacing here and there…but still a great outcome. (8/10)

TNA Knockout’s Championship Match
Miss Tessmacher (Champion) vs. Tara
Here at the age of 41, Tara (Victoria) was still proving how beautiful, relevant, powerful and skilled she is. In a great little program with the feisty Knockout’s Champ, Tara cements her legacy as one of the most valuable assets to women’s wrestling. Miss Tessmacher worked very hard here in a solid bout with the right outcome. Shame the crowd wasn’t more into it, that it wasn’t given more time, and that the aftermath was such a flop…but still really good nevertheless. (6/10)

No Disqualification Tag Team Match
Sting & Bully Ray vs. Aces & Eights
Sigh…the whole ‘Aces & Eights’ saga had its moments, but ultimately became such an arduous, mishandled mess. The one worthwhile thing it DID achieve though was the eventual main-event push for Bully Ray. This is an average brawl (the kind of bout to expect from Sting these days, and the calibre of most wrestlers drafted into Aces & Eights), but the action DOES pick up in the final moments. The aftermath is GENUINELY brilliant and jaw-dropping! (6/10)

TNA World Heavyweight Championship Match
Austin Aries (Champion) vs. Jeff Hardy
Despite my adamant belief that Roode/Storm should’ve been the main-event and for the title here, this is nevertheless an excellent, most-worthy substitute. The Phoenix crowd really come alive here, booing the babyface Jeff Hardy and cheering the heelish Austin Aries. The two have a natural in-ring/storyline chemistry, and that translates into over twenty-minutes of pure wrestling. Aries again cements his worthiness as world champion/main-event material, and the Charismatic Enigma completes his real-life redemption. Overall, a stellar conclusion to what is an all-round stellar show. (9/10)

This 2-disc DVD set has a splendid accompaniment of extras to honour the show’s quality. There’s the ‘Before the Bell’ documentary, post-match interviews, TNA stars recapping their favourite Bound For Glory moments, the entire TNA Hall of Fame ceremony (inducting Sting), music videos and various fan interactions. All engrossing, worthwhile stuff for fans to indulge in.

The 2012 edition of Bound for Glory may possibly be the most consistent (and greatest) Bound for Glory of them all. It’s not quite the absolute party that Slammiversary and Destination X were, but it definitely embodies what a fantastic year 2012 was for the company. I just hope that TNA can get back to this level of awesome programming.

For TNA fans (and wrestling fans in general), highly recommended.

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike)
The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike)
by Robert Galbraith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Strike and Robin are back!, 31 Aug 2014
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (or rather J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter-fame) was an all-round excellent crime novel; for its pacing, its diction, characterisation, domestic issues, sub-plotting and sheer humanity that the author breathed into the book. As Galbraith, Rowling was able to develop her writing even further, and successfully move on from Harry Potter towards appeasing a more adult demographic.

So now we have the long-awaited sequel; The Silkworm. Private Detective Cormoran Strike and loyal, brilliant assistant Robin Ellacott are back. Several months after the successful closure of the `Lula Landry' case, Strike's name has been made, and his reputation has gone through the roof! Strike's business is booming, with more-and-more clients coming to him for help. The latest (and most prominent) is Leonora Quine, the wife of controversial novelist Owen Quine. Owen's gone missing, and Leonora wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

Of course, as in The Cuckoo's Calling...NOTHING in The Silkworm is as simple as the synopsis implies. The manuscript of Owen's latest novel is his most shocking yet, and ruffled enough feathers to the point where he's made too many enemies. As events spiral out of control, Strike will have a most sinister case on his hands...and all kinds of problems OUTSIDE of work to deal with.

All the quality from The Cuckoo's Calling can be found in The Silkworm...and then some. The events from the previous book are used to brilliant effect in developing both Strike and Robin's characters, as are their ongoing lives outside of work. In the case of Strike, the success from his last `big case success' has put him in a brand-new environment to work in. No longer is he struggling to put food on his table, he's struggling to keep up with the workload, and deal with the eager press and the jealous police. Yet throughout that, and the difficulties he suffers with his prosthetic leg and single-status, Strike retains his desire for justice, amazing intellect and guts, as well as the desire to do the right thing. He remains as inspiring a protagonist as ever.

As does Robin, who's brilliant, capable, resourceful...and with all the potential in the world. She's an invaluable asset to Strike, as well as an endearing human being. Of course, her own problems stem from her fiancé Matthew, who doesn't approve of her job or employer. Other difficulties facing Robin include her own fear that Strike maybe selling her short, and the expectations placed on her by her family. Robin's story is just as engaging as Strike's. The use of character here is even richer than it was in the last book. It's beautiful.

Like its prequel, The Silkworm is driven more by character than by plot, but that's what makes Robert's writing so appealing and so human. Character's second-guessing themselves, qualities and flaws in every individual coming across through speech, gestures and's all so true-to-life, and it's ultimately what keeps the reader guessing regarding the mystery. There are so many genuine suspects and `red-herrings', along with enough twists, confrontations and action that quells any monotony that might develop.

The resolution is not only satisfying and plausible, but very clever indeed. Rowling knows where she's guiding her plot, and she also knows where she's leaving the clues. It's unobvious to the point that the reader genuinely won't see the revelation coming, and the pieces complete the puzzle in a fashion that's worthy of Agatha Christie. This makes The Silkworm even more of a masterwork than its predecessor, and the references to things like the News of the World and the Royal Wedding help ground the book in a way that adds strength to the setting.

Those who loved The Cuckoo's Calling will be all-the-more impressed by J.K. Rowling's work as Robert Galbraith. For those who weren't quite keen on the first-outing of Cormoran Strike maybe pleasantly surprised to discover this superior sequel. Well-paced, utterly engaging and highly recommended.

True Legend [DVD]
True Legend [DVD]
Dvd ~ Man Cheuk Chiu
Price: £5.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, masterful...ALMOST perfect!, 22 Aug 2014
This review is from: True Legend [DVD] (DVD)
True Legend appealed to me for many reasons. It’s martial-arts, it’s directed by Yuen Woo Ping (legendary Chinese martial-arts choreographer behind films like The Matrix and Kill Bill), and it also stars the beautiful and amazing Michelle Yeoh (star of Silverhawk, Tomorrow Never Dies and of course Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), as well as the late, great David Carradine (who’s starred in things like Queen of Swords and Kill Bill), with this movie being one of his final film roles.

True Legend’s story focuses on martial-arts war hero Su Can (Vincent Zhao), who’s life is torn apart when vengeful step-brother Yuan Lie (Andy On) rises to power, kills his father, takes his son, and sends Su and his wife Xiao Ying (Zhou Xun) into exile. Broken and despaired following this brutal defeat, Su Can (or rather ‘Beggar Su’ as he has become) succumbs to banishment and drink. Can this once-proud legend rekindle his fighting-spirit? He must, for the sake of his family and kingdom depend on it.

Sounds all-too clichéd? I assure you that this is anything BUT. True Legend is an exceptional film, with many developments for all characters and the overall story. What could easily have been a forgettable action-flick instead turns out to be something so much more.

Needless to say, the choreography goes without question (given Yuen Woo Ping’s legendary work for Hollywood). All the fight sequences are magnificent and the direction is stellar, but the overall depth to be found in True Legend’s tale and its players is surprisingly beautiful, worthy of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in my opinion. The characterisation and story-telling are plentiful, and the performances from all the cast members is nothing short-of-convincing.

Contrary to what was originally listed on Amazon, this movie is NOT dubbed in English. This Region 2 release of True Legend features the entire film in its original Chinese audio, accompanied by English subtitles. It didn’t bother me, as it makes for a nice change of movie-viewing, BUT other customers who may be thinking of checking this out should know what to expect.

There’re shockers, thrills, surprises and genuine moments of elation and heartbreak in True Legend, all resulting in something that I’d highly recommend. The film itself would be perfect if not for the fact that it sadly outstays its welcome. Everything flows naturally until the last forty-minutes, where the film changes gears into something else entirely. If this twist had been executed properly, True Legend could’ve ended up being all the more masterful. Instead, it just feels like another movie ‘stapled-on’ to a superior flick, and that’s annoying after such excellence throughout.

For Special-Features, there’re some really good ones. The film’s trailer, a ‘Making Of’ documentary and a beautiful music video, ‘Wandering Heart’ by Xun Zhou. All of this accompanied by the crisp-picture and sound, make this DVD all the more of a real treat to indulge in. Despite dragging its feet in the last third, True Legend is a highly recommended piece of cinema. All the positive reviews of this are justified. Purchase now to discover why.

WWE - Breaking Point 2009 [DVD]
WWE - Breaking Point 2009 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Randy Orton
Offered by Bee-Entertained
Price: £3.65

4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific concept that was (all-in-all) very well executed, 21 Aug 2014
The PG Era was in full-swing for WWE back in 2009. Everything was changing, even the names of their pay-per-views, and sadly it meant we had to say goodbye to Unforgiven as the September event in WWE’s calendar.

So came the gimmick-themed names/concepts for Vince’s shows, such as Hell in a Cell, TLC, Night of Champions etc. Breaking Point here was an idea that had merit; promoting the top-tier matches on the card as submission-style bouts. Although this could’ve been an annual thing, the concept of Breaking Point strangely hasn’t been used since. That’s something of a shame, as this show (despite being flawed) offers a lot more good than bad, with the Montreal crowd being absolutely fantastic throughout.

Unified Tag Team Championship Match
Chris Jericho & The Big Show (Champions) vs. MVP & Mark Henry
The Jericho/Show pairing was a really surprising success. They worked very well as a unit and enjoyed a nice dominant run as tag team champions. Against the random pairing of MVP and the World’s Strongest Man, what you have is a simple, yet decent opener with all four chaps working well together. (7/10)

WWE United States Championship Match
Kofi Kingston (Champion) vs. The Miz
Great U.S. title bout here between these rivals. Miz was really starting to come into his own here as a heel & singles-wrestler (his French promo against the Montreal crowd is brilliant!), and Kofi is as terrific as ever. Not as memorable as their fantastic Intercontinental Championship affair on Main Event four years later, but still an excellent encounter. Quality. (8/10)

Submissions Count Anywhere Match
D-Generation X vs. Legacy
The first of its kind, this Submissions Count Anywhere bout is a fantastic success. This tornado tag affair thrives beautifully on its intensity, its brawling and its genius gimmick. Like the previous month at SummerSlam, Triple H and Shawn Michaels graciously make Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase look like their equals, with convincing submissions, superb utilisation of the stipulation and fantastic psychology. It’s damn-near perfect, especially with the right team going over. Such an overlooked gem this was (both the feud and the matches themselves)! Match of the night. (9/10)

Singapore Cane Match
Kane vs. The Great Khali (w/Ranjin Singh)
Oh, dear…I really despair over those times that Kane had to wrestle Khali. Not even the stipulation helps here. Marginally better than the bout at SummerSlam, but that’s not saying much. Only five minutes, but that’s five minutes too long. At least the outcome and finish were correct. SKIP. (3/10)

ECW Championship Match
Christian (Champion) vs. William Regal
Thankfully, the disappointment at SummerSlam was more than made up for HERE. No tomfoolery or stupid booking, just two brilliant veterans fighting tooth-and-nail in a pure, wrestling bout. There’re some stiff, brutal moments (cheers, Regal!) and absolute quality to behold. Stuff like this and Christian as ECW Champion are what made those final days of the ECW brand something to value. (8/10)

Pat Patterson & Dolph Ziggler
Before the main-events, we had this segment to provide the audience with a bit of a breather. It was great to see the first-ever Intercontinental Champion/former stooge/Hall of Famer here, and he does some admirable mic-work here (to the approval of the Montreal crowd). However, the whole thing DRAGS because of Ziggler, whose mic-work at this early stage in his career REALLY wasn’t up to scratch! The final moments and John Morrison’s run-in is all done to keep the IC Title picture hot (as it had been back in 2009), but the whole segment needed to be booked better. Skip. (4/10)

“I Quit” WWE Championship Match
Randy Orton (Champion) vs. John Cena
This was without doubt the most brutal, intense and psychological chapter in the entire Cena/Orton rivalry, and the entire execution is beautiful. Orton’s sadism, character skills and timing are on FORM here, as are Cena’s, and his resiliency is actually inspiring here. There are sick moments involving steel chairs, Singapore canes and handcuffs; all resulting in a brilliant story being told. Is it as good an ‘I Quit’ match as say Flair/Funk, Rock/Mankind or even Cena/JBL? No, but it’s certainly the greatest ‘I Quit’ bout out of the entire PG Era, and will certainly be remembered for a long, long time. (9/10)

Submission World Heavyweight Championship Match
CM Punk (Champion) vs. The Undertaker
After the legendary feud with Jeff Hardy, CM Punk had truly cemented his right to be world-title/main-event material. And after the Undertaker’s shocking return, things could only look up, right? Well, given hindsight I sorely wish Punk’s glorious world-title reigns in 2009 had gone on longer, and that the Taker feud had been much more productive. This is barely nine-minutes long, and while the action is good (with Punk standing up quite well to Taker), the finish and outcome is not only ultra-cheap, it did a great disservice to Punk and the audience! Recreating the Montreal Screwjob twelve years on? REALLY? Terrible way to conclude what had been an all-round great show. (7/10)

There’re some good extras to support this show. Eve Torres conducts a fine interview with Chris Jericho and the Big Show…and then there’s highlights from the 07.09.09 edition of Raw, where U.S. TV presenter Bob Barker guest-hosts the show. During that whole ‘Celebrity Guest-Host’ phase that dominated Raw for a time, Barker presents a crossover with ‘The Price of Right’ (the original, U.S. version). Presented in highlight-form and featuring a variety of different WWE Superstars, ‘The Price is Raw’ is absolutely bizarre and out-of-place, yet strangely – and rather ironically - very entertaining. A welcome goodie indeed.

In my opinion, it’s a shame that WWE Breaking Point was only a one-time event, as there’s a lot of terrific ideas that merited the show being turned into an annual affair. There’re some classic bouts and a strong undercard here, which is sadly letdown by a few major blunders, but Breaking Point’s concept and all-round quality is exceptional. Very much worth the purchase, fellow fans!

WWE - Survivor Series 2010 [DVD]
WWE - Survivor Series 2010 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Rany Orton
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: £5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Survivor Series offering, 15 Aug 2014
Contrast to the previous year’s Survivor Series, this 2010 edition is an overall solid (if somewhat forgettable) event. The match quality varies between outstanding, very good and ‘meh’, but unlike the 2009 showing, the 2010 Survivor Series benefits from actual build-up invested in EVERY-single-bout, with the biggest story going into the main-event itself.

As I’m sure many will recall in 2010, John Cena was at war with the Nexus – the NXT rookies led by Season 1 winner, Wade Barrett. After being forced to join the Nexus, Cena was the humiliated puppet of Barrett, whilst taking turns to humiliate and thwart the faction in turn. Which led to Cena being the special guest referee in the WWE Championship Match with Wade challenging then-champion Randy Orton. If Wade won the title, Cena would be free of the Nexus, but if Orton retained, Cena would be ‘fired’.

As if…

Anyway, this Survivor Series is a pretty good outing. And worth checking out.

WWE United States Championship Match
Daniel Bryan (Champion) vs. Ted DiBiase (w/Maryse)
It’s a shame that the younger DiBiase didn’t have anywhere near the great career that his Million Dollar father did, as Ted Jr. REALLY was a great wrestler. In this highly-aggressive opener, DiBiase gives perhaps the greatest match of his life against the impeccable Daniel Bryan. Hard-fought, vicious and ripe with technical excellence, this is yet another hugely memorable chapter in Bryan’s successful United States title run. Kudos to Maryse for her mannerisms at ringside, and the aftermath featuring the Miz. Match of the night. (8/10)

John Morrison vs. Sheamus
In my view, this was an overlooked rivalry. Sheamus played the role of bully extremely well, and Morrison stood up to him convincingly. The resulting series of matches were very good indeed, with Morrison’s high-risk spectacular offence clashing well with Sheamus’ vicious brawling and wrestling skills. Not that memorable, but still a solid display. Morrison should’ve been a main-event player after this. (7/10)

WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Dolph Ziggler (Champion w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Kaval
I REALLY think WWE missed the boat with Kaval (more famously known as Low Ki from his more-successful time in TNA), as the guy was a truly amazing in-ring performer. He certainly shows that against the Intercontinental Champion in what is a very good, if somewhat lacking match. More fantastic work from Dolph as the IC Champ…just a shame about the finish. (7/10)

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Tag Team Match
Rey Mysterio (Captain), Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Chris Masters & MVP vs. Alberto Del Rio (Captain), Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, ‘Dashing’ Cody Rhodes & Tyler Reks
These Survivor Series elimination bouts have always been great fun throughout the years, and this one’s no exception. The great feud between Mysterio and Del Rio led to them captaining opposing teams, and the result features great action and bags of entertainment all-round. EVERYONE works hard in this match, and the end-result satisfies. Fun outing. (8/10)

2-on-1 Handicap Divas’ Championship Match
LayCool (Co-Champions) vs. Natalya
All three of the talents involved here – Michelle McCool, Layla and Hart Dungeon graduate Natalya - had a good little program going. The talented, beautiful Natalya chasing after the title, guarded by the brilliantly heelish LayCool. But again, WWE Creative cares so little about the Divas’ division these days, which is why this bout is so ridiculously short. Barely over three-minutes long! Decent action, great outcome and an ace aftermath at the end(!)…just wish it was longer! (5/10)

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Kane (Champion) vs. Edge
After getting back to his monstrous best at Money in the Bank 2010, and concluding great programs with Rey Mysterio and the Undertaker, Kane was having a fantastic reign as World Heavyweight Champion. Then this stupid feud with Edge ruined everything. Really, the babyface Edge acted WAY too heelishly than he had a right to, and that completely undermined all the menace and grandeur that Kane had established as World Champ. It reflects in the match-quality here too. Unlike all those fun bouts they had back in 2005, THIS Kane-Edge bout borders on humdrum at times. Pretty poor indeed, with a stupid finish and aftermath. (4/10)

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel (Champions) vs. Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov
Have to agree with other reviewers here. This is more of a TV bout instead of one we’d expect on pay-per-view. It’s unfortunate really as Santino’s antics are absolutely brilliant to behold. But at the end of the day, it’s barely longer than the Diva match and really rushed, when these guys should’ve been given more time to play. (5/10)

WWE Championship Match
Randy Orton (Champion) vs. Wade Barrett
Special Guest Referee: John Cena
The best word I’d use to sum up this match would be ‘intriguing’. The crowd is in absolute silence throughout the majority because they seem totally into the fate of John Cena. Orton and Barrett put on a good title bout, with Cena calling the action right-down-the-middle. There’s good psychology present, but all the attention seems to be on Cena here, which I think hurt the work put on by the champion & challenger. Nevertheless, this was a good main-event, with the outcome and aftermath being genuinely shocking and poignant. If only it had been used for the long-term scenario…(7/10)

While Survivor Series 2010 is hardly one of the ‘must-have!’ shows to purchase, there’s some quality action/entertainment here that’s worth the price. Particularly the DIAMOND of a special feature from the night after on Monday Night Raw, which sees the Miz FINALLY cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become WWE Champion in one of the most shocking and surreal moments in Raw history. The reactions of the audience alone are priceless, and the moment itself is truly one-to-behold as we see the Miz take his rightful place (in my opinion) as the WWE’s kingpin. It’s a well-executed moment, very much deserved and a fantastic extra to this DVD.

Overall, worth the purchase.

D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
D'Addario NYXL1046 Regular Light 10-46 Electric Guitar Strings
Price: £11.86

4.0 out of 5 stars My Dad approved, but he did have reservations..., 7 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
N.B. This product was reviewed by my father

"I have been using standard D'Addario XL guitar strings for years; I tried lots of different brands, but when I discovered D'Addario, I stopped looking any further, so I don't need any convincing about the manufacturer.

"These new XL NY strings are claimed to have 'more punch, crunch, and bite', 'bend farther', 'sing louder' and 'stay in tune' better than any others. I tried a set of 10/46 strings, the same gauge as I normally use, so this should be a close like-for-like comparison.

"(The guitar was a Fret-King Corona GW, which if you aren't familiar with it, is basically a Stratocaster style, and in my view a really excellent and versatile guitar.)"


"Yes (maybe). They probably are a little brighter/punchier than the standard XL's, but any new set generally sounds brighter, and I wouldn't say there is a world of difference in tone, particularly when one tweak of a tone control can change the sound so much (and sometimes you actually do want it a bit more mellow). Will they stay brighter for longer? Can't say at this stage. But the sound is great, whether or not it is actually all that different from the standard XL's."


"Well, they certainly ring out nice and crisp and clear, just like the standard XL's. Louder? Not so you would notice. They are as loud as you would expect any nice, new set of strings to sound. I think this claim is either a) more along the lines of a general statement that they 'sound very good' (which is true), or b) intended to appeal to those guitarists who think you can never, ever be loud enough, no matter what amplifier you have (which is not true)."


"I changed the strings, stretched them in well (vital), gave them only a short while to settle down, and proceeded to hit them fairly hard, accompanied with a hefty dose of whammy bar. For newly fitted strings, Yes, they stay in tune very well - just like the standard XL's. To be honest I think that has far more to do with the guitar, the string gauge, and how you fit them, than the strings themselves, at least when they are new. When they have been on the guitar for a few weeks/months, will they still hold their tune as well as the standard XL's? If they can do that, I wouldn't expect any more."


"Yes, they do. They definitely feel easier on the fingers for bends, I'm sure I'm not imagining that, and that is a plus. I stick to 10's gauge strings for the sake of tone and tuning stability, but there are times my fingertips complain, and these feel almost (not quite) like a gauge lighter.

"So, would I buy them again next time? Cutting to the chase, it depends on the price. I certainly wouldn't pay a lot more for them over and above the standard XL's, because I already thought those were the best available for a moderate price. If they were only slightly more expensive, then Yes I would probably consider them, mainly because of the easier bending. But I am by nature mean, there are lots of guitarists out there who don't seem to care how much it costs, only what it sounds like."

Doctor Who: Engines of War
Doctor Who: Engines of War
by George Mann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.09

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Doctor no more...", 3 Aug 2014
Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary last year knocked everyone for six. All the various means of celebration were wonderful, but it was the events of `The Day of the Doctor' - and `The Name of the Doctor' & `The Night of the Doctor' - that shattered everything we thought we knew about the infamous Time War, the Doctor's previously unknown regeneration and his role in those events.

John Hurt's outstanding performance as the mysterious `War Doctor' truly added to the prestige and lineage of the Doctor's history. So when Engines of War was announced - shedding more light on the darkest period in the Time Lord's life - I knew I just had to purchase.

Ever since his Eighth Incarnation regenerated, the Doctor has been leading his people into arduous, devastating conflict with the Daleks, fighting on the front-line. Realities have been torn asunder by the two almighty species, with humans and other races caught right-in-the middle. Centuries of god-awful war have taken their heavy toll on the man who has long renounced the name of the Doctor. And after his TARDIS crash-lands on the planet Moldox, the events that follow will be the final straw for the renegade Time Lord.

"No more."

George Mann had a BIG assignment given to him. Could he write a story that is worthy of the nightmarish events constantly alluded to and/or (occasionally) actually revealed on Doctor Who ever since its 2005 revival? The answer is simply `yes'. Mann writes a tale that is most worthy of the creative visions of both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat. The happenings of the Time War are not only detailed in dark and horrific fashion, but the consequences of the Time Lord/Dalek conflict are also clearly stressed for the unfortunate humans. Their fear and hatred for Time Lord and Dalek alike is not only understandable, it's justified.

And this is one of many things that has clearly scarred the War Doctor. Too many innocents and civilizations have been caught in the crossfire, and it's not just the Daleks, but himself and the Time Lords that are to blame. George captures the essence of the Doctor's War Incarnation SO well, that you can perfectly envision John Hurt back in the swing of things. The Doctor here is clearly bitter, tired and ashamed, and feebly trying to hang onto the quirks and ideals that made him who he was. You can't help but feel sympathetic towards him.

But it's not just the Doctor's personality and the horrors of the Time War that George Mann writes with panache. The author's writing style is so imaginative, with a clear (and exciting) understanding of how a Time War WOULD be fought. How the Daleks evolved and advanced to a point where they could use time & space to exterminate all life is most ruthless and extreme, and in a manner that completely befits them. Likewise, the Time Lords' fear of the Daleks has grown to the point where their change from a peace-loving, orderly and wise society, into a selfish, sinister and morally corrupt is also understandable. Nothing is black-and-white here; only a deep, deep grey. It's so intelligent that the writer deserves the highest commendation.

As Whovians will remember, there were TWO camps of Time Lords created in the Time War; the corrupt High-Council (as lead by Rassilon) who favoured their own survival above all else, and Gallifrey High Command (lead by the Time Lord General) who retained their honour and moral-codes, while fighting tooth & nail to ensure the safety of innocent people. For Engines of War, Mann wisely chooses the corrupt High-Council and Rassilon for the antagonistic side of the Time Lords. Rassilon is just as we remember him from The End of Time; almighty, full-of-self-importance/preservation and all ethics thrown right out the window. His portrayal here is so good that you can actually visualise John Hurt and Timothy Dalton going at it!

Then of course, there's Cinder. As a one-shot companion written exclusively for this story, the author writes her as impeccably as everything else. Like the Doctor, Cinder has lost everything, with only hatred against the Daleks and Time Lords to show for it. Like all other companions before and after her, she NEEDS saving. Throughout the story, Cinder grows to realise the enormity of the Time War beyond her own world, and is able to change for the better, and help the Doctor bear his own burdens as well. Cinder's role here is not only a reminder of how much the Doctor needs a companion, but also showcases what a three-dimensional character she is.

As other reviewers have said, the plot of Engines of War is that of a typical adventure book, and there's plenty of good twists-and-turns, with the best shockers coming from revelations behind characters themselves, and the machinations of the Daleks. The prose is beautiful and accessible, with some brilliant utilisation of events like `The Night of the Doctor', `Genesis of the Daleks' and `The Five Doctors' to help drive the story. The events here also steamroll nicely towards the cataclysmic events of `The End of Time' and `The Day of the Doctor', coming across naturally instead of force-feeding us.

In closing, George Mann has done an impeccable job with Doctor Who: Engines of War. It's a beautiful book to hold and read. An utterly exceptional piece of work; one that makes me look forward to the audiobook release.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2014 11:59 PM BST

Top Gear - The Burma Special [DVD]
Top Gear - The Burma Special [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Clarkson
Price: £7.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Roll out, lads!, 31 July 2014
Over the years, Clarkson, Hammond and May have journeyed and adventured all corners of the globe to prove the amazing capabilities and character of the car. Their Great Adventures have resulted in all manner of incredible accomplishments; from America to the North Pole, from Africa to the Middle East, from Botswana to Vietnam. Barring the dismal outing in India, every one of these Great Adventures have been brilliant, brave…and utterly memorable.

With no signs of winding down anytime soon, Jeremy, Richard and James’ latest mission is to take three clapped-out lorries, journey through Burma to get to Thailand, and drive their ‘mighty machines’ over the River Kwai…via a bridge they must build THEMSELVES.

True to form, this Burma Special has all the ingredients for a classic Top Gear. There’re so many highlights – bringing down Burma’s power supply, insane parties, breakdowns and relying on horses etc – the usual (ingenious) vehicle modifications, mishaps, thrills and dangers, breathtaking shots of a beautiful country, remarkable places and cultures, and a real sense of achievement when all’s said and done. This latest Great Adventure is right up there with the VERY best episodes.

Now, those who watched this special back in March on BBC2 will remember this as being a two-parter (like the Africa Special), so you can expect both parts merged together here. But there’s plenty of notable new footage thrown in this Uncut version for fans to drool over, and the number of exclusive extras to boot make this release one of the meatier Top Gear DVDs to be released.

There’s a twenty-minute compilation of ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ footage, a nifty Photo Gallery, an interactive ‘Wallpaper’ feature for your computer, and some trailers for ‘Race the Stig’ game. For Top Gear fans and completists, The Burma Special NEEDS to be on your shelf, for both the main-feature and the extras that come with it. Proof that there’s plenty of life left in the show.

The Lego Movie [DVD] [2014]
The Lego Movie [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Chris Pratt
Price: £10.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome flick that captures the imagination of the toy itself!, 29 July 2014
This review is from: The Lego Movie [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
When I first saw the initial trailer for The Lego Movie back in November, the first thing that went through my mind was, ‘HAVE to see this!’ Let’s be honest, Lego is the most imaginative, versatile and everlasting toy EVER created. It’s been that way for generations and its global appeal will doubtless continue to stand the test of time.

Now, previous Lego animations have either been stop-motion-based shorts (i.e. ‘Monty Python & the Holy Grail…in Lego!’) or CGI feature-lengths based on various Lego Franchises (i.e. Batman, Star Wars, Bionicle etc). The Lego Movie is the first true production to be released in cinemas…and it’s a REAL work of art.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the masterminds behind it all, and they’ve produced a story that’s not only full of humour and excitement, but also heart. The protagonist is one generic Lego Minifigure; construction worker Emmet Brickowski, who just goes about his life until accidentally stumbling upon the legendary ‘Piece of Resistance’, the one thing that can thwart the evil Lord Business’ plan to end the world. Now a target from the forces of evil, and mistaken by the elite Masterbuilders (rebelling against the evil tyrant) for being the prophesized ‘Special’, Emmet finds himself unwillingly forced into the greatest adventure of all time.

The sheer imagination of The Lego Movie is worthy of the toy it’s based on. The multitude of endless creations, worlds and possibilities spawned by Lego is somehow captured brilliantly in these 96 minutes. And there’s all manner of cameos from Lego Minifigures galore, such as William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Milhouse (from The Simpsons), Michelangelo (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Superman…the list is endless.

But the main-cast members themselves drive the story beautifully, loading the film with TONNES of charm to make you care about them individually. Emmet (Chris Pratt), Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), Lord Business (Will Ferrell), Good Cop/Bad Cop (Liam Neeson), Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), Benny (Charlie Day), Metal Beard (Nick Offerman) and of course, BATMAN (Will Arnett); ALL these characters have ample opportunity to steal your hearts, and the entire film is so full of surprises you’ll have a hard time keeping track!

Needless to say, it’s the animation that takes your breath away. Initially assuming this was all purely stop-motion, The Lego Move is actually computer animated, scanning endless Lego bricks to the point where it actually replicates textures, lighting and dirt-traces of the pieces themselves! I didn’t think computer animation could impress me anymore, but this shows how little I know. I don’t think there are any bounds for the future now. This animation is revolutionary!

So The Lego Movie is obviously recommended to kids of all ages, but the appeal of Lego is still carried on over to adulthood, so grown-ups will love it just as much. The DVD release has some nice features, such as the excellent selection of Fan-Made Films from the Lego Movie Competition itself, and the ‘Everything is Awesome’ Sing-Along (that song is just SO infectious!). However, if you’re after more, perhaps you’re better off turning to the Blu-Ray version for further special-features.

Quite possibly film of the year. Buy it now.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2014 10:47 PM BST

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