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Jak and Daxter rant

Well this game sure has gotten quiet a bit of hype.  Universally high reviews and praise have been heaped upon it.  Im a big fan of a good platformer and wanted the game but being poor I decided to just rent it.  I totally made the right decision.  It took me probably 7 hours (if that) to beat the game and complete 80% of all the possible things.  I may piddle around with it till it is due back and try to get 100% but really Im not all the concerned about it.   I doubt it would take much more then 4 more hours to complete everything especially if I used online help to open the mysterious precursor door at the end. 

The thing that amazes me about the good reviews is how absolutely derivative this game is.  There isnt an original concept in this game.  Like all 3d platform games (unless you count the awesome Jet Grind Radio as a 3d platform) it follows the Mario 64 format.  Which is have a bunch of boards in which you complete task to get an item (in this a power cell), each board has multiple task and as you get more of these items you unlock more of the world.  Its the standard format and actually quite a good one.  However Jak and Daxter take the coping one step further.   The gameplay is totally (and I mean totally) based off Banjo-Kazooie. 

Have all these reviewers never played Banjo?  I cant imagine they have with all the great reviews.  Are Playstation owners that  devoid of good platformers that they praise a total rip off as a great game? There is your hero with his smart mouthed little sidekick who team up to do combo moves.  Literally every action in Jak has a comparable action in Banjo.  Plus Banjo has many more options that arent  contained in Jak.  Also Banjo is probably 3 times bigger then Jak.  Basically Banjo is an awesome game and when compared next to it Jak sucks.  Jak may be the best platformer out yet for the PS2 and it may even be as good as anything for the PSX but lets face it, no PSX platformer were on the same level as Mario 64 or Banjo.  Right now Jak may even be the best platformer on a cutting edge system but in a three months Mario Sunshine will come around and probably absolutely smoke it. 

Jak and Daxter is a fun little game.  For the seven hours it takes to beat it youll have fun.  Yet that doesnt change the fact that it represents everything wrong with the industry.  Games that cost $50 dollars that you can beat in a half a rental and games that are just exactly like other games youve played.  However its not all the companies fault.  Naughty Dog has made a good buisness off of totally ripping off RARE or Nintendo.  Naughty Dog had better hope RARE stays second party because if they have to compete with RARE Naughty Dog will be running like a scalded dog.  Till then people buy their cheap rip off games and reviews continue to praise them.  Meanwhile a truly creative game like Conkers Bad Fur day totally bombs and the Dreamcast loaded with innovative games such as Shenmua, Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind Radio also bombs.   Stop buying these games!  Demand original games that actually are worth the money you spend on them.  Do not buy Jak and Daxter.  If you have some time and you only own a PS2 and you are desperate to play a platformer then rent it.  Or with the $50 dollars you were planning on wasting on this game buy a Dreamcast and have hundreds of hours of fun. 

dead at the age of 39

The British Bulldog becomes another wrestling tragedy
Tim and I were going to Judgement Day together in 2000.  We worked together at a shitty factory job and usually burned the hours talking about wrestling or exchanging dreams and such.  You were on this day planning on trying to get the best tickets possible for the big PPV.  We were hoping for right in camara view and if we got it (we didn't) we would bring some very negative signs. The main target that night for some reason became the British Bulldog. The best idea was Tim's of one saying "The British Pillhog",  I had the idea of a picture with Road Dogg and Davey saying Bettie Ford : The real Dog pound and the kicker Davey Boy 3:16 says i sold my family out to get a job.  Back in 2000 it was already clear Davey was going to end up as another wrestling tragedy.
What made me a fan of wrestling was the Hart Foundation angle in 1997. As a fan of the Harts I naturally became a fan of Davey Boy.  I proclaimed him and Owen the best tag team in the buisness with most WWF fans (i didn't know of the LCO or Kawada/Taue).  When he jumped to WCW I was frustrated by how poorly they used him.  I was mad at it.  He was lost and I wanted to see him.  So early in my wrestling fan life Bulldog was one of my favorites.  At the time though I didn't know so much.  I didn't know Davey was a drug addict.  I would have guessed he used steriods but I never comtimplated I was watching a dieing man.
In 1999 much more of the buisness was clear to me. It was rephrenseable how he used the tragic death of Owen to spring board into a job in the WWF.  It was equally terrible how the WWF used him as a public relations ploy saying they wanted to help him with his addiction then cut him lose when he was no longer of use for that. His problems with his family and domestic violence issues made me lose all respect for him. 
What is a tragedy?  Would Davey be alive now if he hadn't been a wrestler?  Probably.  Did he do this to himself?  Absolutely.  Davey took his drugs no one made him.  Davey surely knew the risk and just because he lived in a hard lifestyle is not an excuse.  In many ways his death is like a suicide.  A slow suicide.   The sad thing is that no one intervined.  Everyone knew Davey was going to end up dead but they let it continue till it was to late. 
Davey's finest moment in Wrestling can't even be credited to him.  In 1992 at Summerslam Bret Hart and him had one of the greatest matches in the history of the WWF.  And it was all due to Bret.  A totel carry job.  He was part of one of the best tag teams in the company as well  mainly due to how amazing his partner was the equally sad Dynamite Kid. 
Despite all this its still sad.  That we all were watching Davey die and could do nothing about it is sad.  That it happened as it had to happen isn't as sad.  That the way wrestling is will continue to facilate more Davey's is sad as well.  Davey isn't really a tragedy he is part of the larger wrestling tragedy that no one is doing anything about.  Is Eddy Guerrero next or is it HHH?  When will a truely big star die suddenly of drugs forcing media attention.  The way HHH looks it could be any day.  Although Hogan has made it this far.  Maybe instead of writing mournings for Davey we should come up with some solutions.   What they are I have no idea except for the federal government to enforce drug testing.  It may be time to stop crying and start demanding change.  RIP Davey Boy Smith. 

One of the Greats

The Babe Ruth of Wrestling passes at the age of 86
Well Pro Wrestling recieved the news that the great Lou Thesz had passed this weekend.  Truely this is a huge story but not a really sad one.  Thesz was 86 and by all accounts was healthy for the vast majority of it.  Lou Thesz represented everything that was good about wresting and also a link to wrestling history.  So he should be celebrated this is no wrestling tragedy.
Lou Thesz's accomplishments are among the greatest in wrestling history.  He was world champion 6 times for more the 4600 days. .  In his first NWA reign he defended the belt 936 times with wins.  An amazing accomplishment.  Thesz wrestled his last match in 1990 against his best student (Masahiro Chono) and reportedly did quite well for a man in his 70's.  Thesz himself was a great student of one of wrestlings legends Ed "Strangler" Lewis.  Lewis being the man who really popularized the headlock.  Lewis thought enough of Thesz to be his manager.
Its tough to gauge how good most people from the 50's and 40's were.  More tape exists of Thesz then probably anyone else.  This is a good thing because Thesz looks to be as good or better then anyone else of the era.   No one from the era looks anywhere near as good as the best of the 80's through today so Lou was not the best ever.  He also not the best draw ever and in many ways Gorgeous George was a bigger draw at the time.
Lou in the ring though for his time was really great though.  The first thing is he had an aura. Very few wrestlers just have an aura where you feel like they are a badass and can hurt someone.  Thesz walked and carried himself like a bad ass.  He did holds that looked vicious.  He hit hard and was no bull shit.  Lou was cool.  Again when you talk about innovative wrestlers Lou has to come up.  He invented the powerbomb although he didn't use it often and it wasn't popularized till later.  His most famous move was of course the Thesz press which was one of the more exciting finishers of his days.  Lou could grind a wrestler on the mat, punish them with strikes or do high end moves for the time such as a flying head scissors.
Another thing that always strikes me about Lou is how he truely seemed to be the one who invented the prototypical champion.  Lou was played the role that the match demanded in every case.  If he was facing the evil heel he played the determined babyface.  Against a young face he would play the craggy old heel.  Against a cocky shit eating heel he'd be the mean face giving them the ass kicking they deserved.  Lou always tried to play the role that would help the guy he was facing the most.  He was the champion he was the man he could give rubs.  Ric Flair tried to do that but in my oppinon was to over the top with it to be as good at it as Lou was.
Lou also has a major hand in the development of Japanese Wrestling.  He gave strong rubs to Rikidozan and later Inoki.  He was the first and maybe one of the few truely respected American Wrestlers.    Lou was to many just the champion and hense many champions after him have tried to pattern themselves after him. 
Thesz didn't have a major impact on wrestling after the 70's.  He didn't like the direction the buisness had taken.  He never became as silly or as bitter with his criticism as did say Sammartino but he did make clear his distaste.  Still he never harmed his legacy and is revered by many as the greatest ever. 

Old Man Tenyru gets the Cheappop.
First off let me say that I don't endorse picking on the worlds greatest referee: Kyohei Wada.  If he continues down that path he'll move down my list of favorite wrestlers really quick!
But anyway what is not to love about Genchiro Tenyru?  He's old, he's mean, he's over, and he still is one of the best wrestlers in the game.  When I say that don't get confused.  He is not nor has he ever been one of the elite wrestlers out there.  Yet for amazing portion of his career hes been a top 50 in the world (though rarely a top 10.)  Tenyru has a few unique honors.  According to many experts he had the best tag match ever up to the time when he and my hero Jumbo Tsuruta wrestled Chosyhu and Yatsu in 1986.  I haven't seen the match yet but its high on my want list.   Then in June of 1989 he had the best singles match up to the point against Jumbo.  Now have no doubt that match was what it was mainly because of Jumbo.  Jumbo may well have been the best wrestlers ever and no worse then top 3.  Yet Tenyru was excellent in that match and I think he deserves some credit for being in the match that established the style that AJPW would use for the 90's. 
Tenyru has a couple of unique honors.  He is the only native to hold both the IWGP title and the Triple Crown and he is the only native to have pinned both Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki. 
Its tough to sum up what I like about Tenyru.  Maybe its the fact that he's a tough bastard.  This is a guy who is not afraid to take as stiff as strikes as you want to give and then give it right back.  His match with Hashimoto is considered one of the stiffest ever in New Japan and his match with Kawada in 2000 is probably the stiffest I've ever seen. 
The thing that really seperates Tenyru is I still enjoy seeing the lumpy old bastard go.  He's not like Flair or somebody who when I watch them I feel like they are just a shadow of their former self.  Tenyru by amping up the stiffness and using his brain and experience has allowed himself to stay as good as ever. He really is as entertaining to me now as he was in the 80's.  Plus he's a total old asshole which you just have to love.  So to Genchiro Tenyru enjoy your cheappop!

A man who should be the smart's champion as well

The Rock gets a cheappop.

I remember years ago way back in 1998 the Rock became the smart's champion. As a smart alecky heel with charisma and good looks we all snickered when people would chant Rocky sucks. We were smarter we knew he would be the next big thing. We loved the people's elbow what a great way to taunt and show your attitude we said. When the Rock won the belt we felt justified for saying it. The only people who didn't like the Rock would be purofreaks like I am now who critized the gapping holes in his psychology and his use of the peoples chinlock and such. Looking back we were all right. When I watch Rock matches from 1998 he was pretty bad in many ways but damn he's just got that charisma thing down.

However 1999 came and so did the Rock's face turn. Vince Russo had the book and in his genius he decided that catch phrases were over so he would just have the Rock spew on catch phrase after another. Rock got hugely over but was about as stale as possible. He was put in fueds with Billy Gunn, the Big Show, and the NAO naturally these matches sucked. I was very Anti Rock at this point and hoped he would just go away.

Around Wrestlemania things changed the Rock started cutting creative promos again and stepped up his work rate. Since that time Rock has been as consistently entertaining as anyone in the WWF's roster. More entertaining then HHH or Kurt Angle and almost as good as Austin.

In the ring Rock will never be Jumbo Tsuruta (i worked Jumbo into a column again!!!!) In many ways he is a male Manami Toyota in the ring. Manami was never a psychological marvel and she had pacing problems which are the Rock's two main problems although I think he paces better then Manami. Rock has a good moveset (Manami had a great one), Rock has excellent timing as in he knows when to comeback how hard to comeback when to tease a comeback and when to sell (Manami was excellent at this), and Rock sells hard (as did Manami.) Rock can actually sell his injuries pretty well when that is the story of the match when its not he doesn't but usually no injury is established so it doesn't matter now does it. What this means is that Rock isn't going to go in there and carry Billy Gunn to a great match but he is a very light load to carry just like Manami was.

An example of this is his match against Jericho. Now some Jericho bashers may not realize this was a Jericho match but it was. The structure was a carbon copy of Misawa/Kawada 6-3-94 and for some reason I doubt the Rock has been boning up on his Kawada recently. I know Jericho does study Japanese tapes. The match starts off with Jericho taking it to Rock hard in a very heelish manner showing how badly he wants it and his frustration with being held down (just like Kawada did.) Eventually this peters out and Rock takes control and just beats the living hell out of Jericho. He is pissed off from Jericho's behavior earlier and the fact that Jericho is trying to steal is spot and just goes ultra dickish on him (just like Misawa did). Then the go to the big finish where Jericho throws everything he has at Rock but just can't finish him off (just like Kawada couldn't). This is wear sports entertainment breaks in. In the Misawa Kawada match most people who probably visit this site know (if you don't you are ordered to buy a custom comp from me featuring that match) Misawa regroups and unleashes an absolutly viciuos assualt on Kawada that even no one could withstand. In this match Stephanie interferes and Jericho cheats to win. If your wondering that and many other reasons are why Misawa/Kawada is 5 stars and this match was 3 1/2 stars. The thing that impressed me is that Rock played the ace. He allowed the crowd to get behind Jericho and his quest. He did it quite well actually. This is not something a bad wrestler could do. It again showed that while Rock is not a psychogist out there he can easily accomplish someone elses goals. In other words as a load that has to be carried Rock just like Manami ways about 1 pound. This is why even though he has psychological flaws and isn't as stiff as some of us would like he consistently puts out good to very good matches.

His interviews are outside of Austin's easily the best in the buisness. He has smooth delivery and a great wit. The Rock's character has actually developed into something likeable as of late. He is smart, he stands up for what is right, he doesn't get fooled, he fights as hard as he can but he fights fair, and he is an individual. Plus he actually kisses girls which is a nice change from all the homoerotic stuff the WWF likes to throw our way. In other words if you think the Rock sucks you are wrong and its just that simple. Rock hasn't had to grow but he consistently has. Hell he doesn't even have to wrestle anymore but he does. The Rock could refuse to job but he always does the right thing. Bottomline Rock is everything right about wrestling.

the mans man

JHM- Thanks Vince for granting this interview.
VKM- Your very welcome I always am willing to speak to the average everyday fan.
JHM- First off what is with all of this showing off your ass?
VKM- Well thats a very good question and one that has a very simple answer. It so happens that Ive been reading in my wrestling observers about how the WWF has been losing fans in the over 30 market.
JHM- What does this have to do with your ass
VKM- Bear with me remember I once took down a group of Navy seals by myself.
JHM- I thought it was you and your friends beat up some Marines.
VKM- Notwithstanding that this is another story. They basically were hitting on my wife a few years back and so I ran up behind them with a crowbar and beat them all silly. You know they teach you fitness and stuff in the Seals but that doesnt help much when someone beats you over the head with a crowbar. Back to your original question. Basically I was sitting back and thinking about the current product and I realized that we werent offering T and A for an adult audience.
JHM- Huh?
VKM- Thats right I realized that older people want to see older people so I figured if it got around that I was showing off my ass that older people would be attracted. I think this will help the WWFs image.
JHM- Huh?
VKM- Thats right we are standing up for the rights of old people to show off their bodies. Were saying that your body is still beautiful after 50 and should be shown off just as much. In fact we are planning in showing off my beautiful wife in a thong bikini soon.
JHM- Are you out of your mind?
VKM- Absolutely not. You see Im not worried if the ratings dont reflect it right now because you see at rest homes 20 people crowd around one television. I feel confident that we will start getting those TVs switched to the WWF. So the ratings may reflect no change at first nevertheless we are confident in our new older brand. Were considering starting new older brands such as adult body building and a senior football league. We feel here at the WWF its for the whole family.even Grandpa and Grandma.
JHM- Do you think you and your wife are enough?
VKM- Why do you think Im bringing in people like Ric Flair? Do you remember the outfit Billy Gunn and Chyna wore at Fully Loaded 1999?
JHM- Im trying to forget.
VKM- Well that is the outfit the nature boy will wear in his return to the ring WHOOOOOO!!!
JHM- Shivers
VKM- Moolah, Mae Young, Lilani Kae, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, hell I think Mae Young wheeling Freddie Blassie in matching g-strings would be ratings gold. Or maybe I should save that for a pay per view?
JHM- Maybe a house show instead?
VKM- Good idea good idea.
JHM- Can we change the subject?
VKM- Youre the one giving the interview.
JHM- Now many people have critized the WWFs drug policy in recent years.
VKM- We dont need a drug policy because the WWFs lockerroom is the cleanest its ever been. Why now instead of going to Bars everyone stays together and watches wrestling tapes and plays Dungeon and Dragons. In fact I happen to have the strongest Wizard in the locker room.
JHM- Really what else do you do in the locker room?
VKM- Well recently the Undertaker, the Big Show, and I have been studying Japanese tapes.
JHM- Wow you do you like.
VKM- I got to tell you there is some revolutionary stuff going on there I was just wowed that we would let Giant Silva go. His match with Scott Norton was UN BE LIEVABLE.
JHM- What do you think about Kawada?
VKM- Oh much to small and way to stiff. But Ill tell you what he had a couple of whatamaneuvers.
JHM- Many people criticize the WWF for not creating new talent what do you have to say.
VKM- I find this funny because Chris Jericho is older then the Rock and Chris Benoit is older then HHH so how are we not pushing young talent? Notwithstanding though we are going to be bringing in some new talent.
JHM- such as?
VKM- Well this is going to be a huge story but we are going to be bringing in a major face to renew a feud with the Undertaker!
JHM- Who?
VKM- Guess!
JHM- Um Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Golddust!
VKM- Giant Gonzalas!
VKM- We feel that one of our problems has been that we havent paid off feuds well enough. There was never a satisfactory end to the Giant Gonzalas Taker feud so were going to bring him back as a face. We feel this will renew the Undertaker as a heel.
VKM- When we bring in the Giant Gonzalas it will reinforce that anything can happen in the WWF. In fact were hoping to build up for a three way mega dance between The Big Show/Giant Gonzalas vs Undertaker/Kane vs The Outsiders for RRRRRRRRRSTLEMANIAAAAAAAAA!!!!
JHM- Why not just throw Mable and King Kong Bundy in and make it a four way.
VKM- (gets a thoughtful look on his face) Hmmmmm maybe we should save that one for Summerslam we dont want to hotshot.
JHM- Your probably right.
VKM- Hey Im VINCE MCMAHON Im never wrong.
JHM- But yet you have your critics on the Internet.
VKM- What? What about Wrestleline!
JHM- They are out of buisness Vince
VKM- Damnit that mean I have to pay off another website. Is the torch still in buisness?
JHM- Yes
VKM- Good that means I only have to pay off one more.
JHM- Vince I think we should end this interview.
VKM- Your welcome Jerad anytime. Just try to keep the calls between 4 and 6 the nurses here in the sanitarium dont think its good for me to talk to often.

the dangerous queen

Akira Hokuta

I definatly won't be the first or the last to anthologize the Dangerous Queen. I think she has the most loyal internet fan base of any female wrestler. Deep down we all know Mutoh isn't nearly as good as Misawa but for some reason we love him and just like with him we love Akira. Akira in many ways always reminds me of Mutoh. Her body much like his is totally broken down and she has a willingness to phone in matches like Keiji. Yet on some days that magic returns and she is again the best female wrestler on the planet. I haven't seen her match with Satamura yet but I'm sure I will love it and just watch as Hokuta shows hows its done.

Hokuta in many ways is like Kawada as well. She's tough, determined, yet she always fells a bit short just like Kawada. Just like Kawada at the Tokyo Dome she shared her greatest moment with the promotions greatest moment. They both were shapped by this in their character's. Hokuta's whole persona was a grug condescending tough girl image. yet this was a woman who cried, who bleed buckets trying desperatly to salvage a victory from an unbeatable opponent. Hokuta seemed to live her gimmick and the best example of that is her 1991 match against Toyota. This match is famous for her busting her knee so she couldn't walk with it and it bleed profusely. Hokuta tried to continue desperatly begging them not to stop the match. Crying as she did. Watching her we know this is not the reaction the Dangerous Queen would have wanted to give but we know that is the one she would have given. I don't think their is a more powerfull example of what a worked wrestling match can mean to a wrestler then that.

This is a woman who wrestled for months with a slightly broken neck and then rebroke it and finished the damn match. These are the most amazing stories of toughness I've heard in wrestling and they are about a woman. When we watch women's wrestling often times we are dazzled by their beauty and sometimes its hard to not focus on that or to take them as seriously as a man. Hokuta was hot in her prime but I could never look at her like that. Before I even knew the stories I took her seriously it was just in the way she carried herself and the deep story her matches told. There was just always a determination and a vulnerablity in her that I've never seen in anyone else.

Like I say I think the key to that is that is the way she actually is. Hokuta respects tradition and the promotions she works for. It had to be hard for her to come back after having a baby. It had never been done. Yet she did and remains one of the top women draws in Japan. She had to be scared but she did it and succeeded. Akira's body is beaten down and ravaged but occasionally we see sparks that show that she was at one point the best women's wrestler I've ever seen. (Jaguar Yokuta is the best ever due to longevitiy and consistancy, Akira was better on a given night IMO.)

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