This has been hell of a summer not just in terms of the chaos of the world but also in the fact that it’s fucking hot. Not just here in Georgia where the heat has been unbearable at times but also around the world. Once again, it is climate change and we have done little to really confront this issue as the world is still dealing with the remnants of the COVID-19 pandemic while here in the U.S. Things aren’t getting any better with the country just being divided on all sorts of things and it is just showing the ugly and stupid aspects of humanity. Everyone has to pick sides and such as I just prefer not to be involved since I think both liberals and conservatives can just fuck off. I have other things to worry about that are more important than a bunch of stupid issues and causes that I have no interest in.
The world of professional wrestling this year has been insane considering not just the highs and lows with WWE having its most chaotic year so far as they would have a good match worth watching every now and then but there’s too much shit that their audience have to endure. Even if that audience are nothing more than a bunch of mindless sheep who are unaware that the people at that company really doesn’t give a fuck about them. Ever since November of 2014 is when it was the last time I watched an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw in its fullest only to stop altogether as I had become not just bored by the product but also disillusioned with the whole company in the way they treated their talent and the booking. Most of all, Vince McMahon himself as he was starting to become more of a liability in the way he had been booking and organizing everything to the point of writing the shows up to the last minute.
Ever since he bought World Wide Wrestling Federation from his father back in 1982 and re-branded it as World Wrestling Federation only to change it 20 years later to World Wrestling Entertainment following a legal loss with the World Wildlife Fund. McMahon has been the creative force behind the company as would take his father’s company from this regional promotion in the Northeast of the U.S. and make it national where if it wasn’t for him. I wouldn’t be watching pro wrestling but then he made “wrestling” a dirty word as he chose to not brand his company as pro wrestling but sports entertainment. Sports entertainment is a term that McMahon used as a way to not deal with sports commissions and other things as some of it is true as what he does is entertainment but the product for more than a decade has been anything but entertaining.
It’s not just the product that I think drove away fans to either look for other and better things such as New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Impact, and now All Elite Wrestling. It’s McMahon himself as the show Dark Side of the Ring on Vice has definitely showcased a lot of the dark aspects of pro wrestling and a lot of it involves McMahon. There’s no question that the stories of how he helped destroy the wrestling territories in the 1980s to go national as well as the steroid trial of 1994 and other activities he had done back in the 1980s and 1990s. It is also no surprise for those that had read about him are aware that he’s been having extramarital affairs with other women including women wrestlers and such. However, what happened this past month in the fact that there’s NDAs involved and $12 million in hush money toward a few women in the past 20 years has become concerning. When you’re a CEO of a publicly-traded company, there’s certain behaviors that can’t be tolerated and the fact that he wasn’t taking it seriously until a few weeks ago is definitely alarming.
There have been stories of McMahon doing awful things to women including raping then-WWF referee Rita Chatterton in 1986 and told about it six years later only for a settlement to occur with no resolution. Chatterton’s story isn’t the only thing that wrestling fans know about as there is also a story about the late Ashley Massaro back in 2006 at a Tribute to the Troops show where she had been raped and the company did nothing to help her. Even as she was treated as more of a sexual object to McMahon and longtime WWE TV director Kevin Dunn as she later left the company never to return and is unable to tell her story due to her suicide in 2019. It’s not just McMahon that’s being investigated but also former head of talent relations in John Laurinaitis who had also been having extramarital affairs behind the scenes. Laurinaitis is pretty much gone as this point as I hope HHH told him in Laurinaitis’ own raspy voice “budget cuts kid” in the same Laurinaitis told released talents in the past few years.
It’s not just Laurinaitis that is pretty much out of the company but Kevin Dunn is also likely on his way out because he has been really unpopular with a lot of the people in the company in the way he presents the TV product with its shaky-cams and fast-cuts as well as the fact that he’s a fucking creep. Also on borrowed time are two more of McMahon’s cronies in longtime creative head/booker Bruce Pritchard and Michael “P.S.” Hayes as they’re just a couple of old farts who WWE don’t really need as it is clear that it’s not just McMahon’s cronies that are on their way out but also McMahon. On July 22, 2022, Vince McMahon announced his retirement as CEO of WWE placing his daughter Stephanie and Nick Khan as co-CEOs of WWE with HHH now doing double-duty as head of talent relations (w/ Pritchard for the time being) and head of creative. McMahon’s retirement is something fans have been waiting for though it’s a forced retirement due to the fact that $14 million dollars was unrecorded in tax records as it allows the federal government the one thing they didn’t get to do back in 1994 during the steroid trial. That is to put McMahon in jail.
With McMahon and his cronies on their way out for now and Stephanie and her husband HHH along with Nick Khan in charge, change is going to come to the WWE but it’s going to be a slow process. Will it get me back on board? Probably not as I’m largely content with AEW, New Japan, and the NWA while I’ll watch something from Impact and GCW. The WWE wrestling style doesn’t impress me though I’ll watch a match or two from them on YouTube depending on word of mouth. HHH is someone I’m rooting for as he did a lot of amazing work in creating and building new stars that came from the indies in NXT as it was the brand that kept WWE afloat though once someone from NXT is called up to the main roster whether it’s on RAW or Smackdown, they’re fucked. I hope HHH succeeds and allow the talent to find themselves and get over on their terms without having the old man micro-manage everything and have them say stupid things to appeal to the audience.
The one thing I’m worried about for HHH, Stephanie, and Nick Khan is the WWE audience as they really have no clue what they want as they would cheer for Vince which is proof that they’re sheep. Plus, they would want this and then want them which only adds the argument of what Bryan Danielson said during his heel-run in the late 2010s in WWE by calling them fickle. There’s also the idea that McMahon and his cronies could return which is what will hold this company back as well as it relates to business as WWE might be putting themselves up to be sold to some other company. The library and content of the past is worth a lot of money but the television and pay-per-view programming however is largely terrible. Who will buy WWE and for how much? What will happen when McMahon comes back and makes things worse to the point where the company could go bankrupt? This is now a new era for WWE but where it is going is now filled with uncertainty. For their competitors, they’re keeping a close eye knowing what WWE has done in the past as they will be ready for a big fight. In the month of June 2022, I saw a total of 31 films in 20 first-timers and 11 re-watches with 7 of these first-timers directed by women as part of the 52 Films by Women pledge. Slightly down from last month yet there was a lot of good films that I saw as a highlight this month has been my Blind Spot film in Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. Here are the top 10 first-timers that I saw for July 2022:
1. Midsommar 2. Hereditary 3. Endless Poetry 4. New York City Ballet 5. La Ricotta 6. North Terminal 7. Summer of 85 8. Thor: Love and Thunder 9. All the Crows in the World 10. Blue Monthly Mini-Reviews/What Else I’ve Watched
The “Dew” Project
A short film made by Brie Larson when she was just a kid, it is a hilarious short that has Larson running away from something that is really horrifying. She’s in a park with her mom and sister as she keeps seeing some object that is just scaring the living fuck out of her. Honestly, I don’t blame her. I don’t like what’s scaring her at all. It’s disgusting. No wonder she was freaking out as this is just a fun short from an already incredible figure in cinema.
Avengers: Quantum Encounter
While this is just a short film Marvel made strictly for Disney cruise ships (like I would ever go to another fucking cruise ever again), there is something that fans of Marvel would like to see. It is in this short in which Ant-Man and the Wasp are trying to present a new gadget that suddenly goes wrong which brings in Ultron and his army as the two along with Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Ms. Marvel to come in and save the day. It is a fun little short film that does give audience the chance to see old and new heroes saving a cruise ship and having some fun with Ms. Marvel definitely holding her own and having fun interactions with Sam Wilson.
La Ricotta From Pier Paolo Pasolini, that was part of an anthology film made with Jean-Luc Godard, Roberto Rossellini, and Ugo Gregoretti known as Ro.Go.Pa.G., is a segment that got Pasolini in trouble with the authorities in Italy over its religious content. Yet, it is a segment that marks a unique period in Pasolini’s career that would have him explore not just comedy but also serious subject matters in the years to come. Starring Orson Welles as a filmmaker trying to make a film about the Passion as it includes an actor trying to get some food to eat as it is told in a comical manner. Add a difficult actress to the mix as well as shot in an array of cinematic style is a short that fans of Pasolini need to see as it is available on MUBI.
ASSEMBLED: The Making of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness From Disney+ is the next making-of documentary film from the ASSEMBLED doc series that focuses on Sam Raimi’s film that is hosted by Bruce Campbell. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew, the documentary series does showcase the work that Sam Raimi put in towards the film with a lot of the actors wanting to do their own stunts in order to add some realism to a film that is largely a fantasy. The subject of the multiverse is also discussed with the actors as well as the sources from the many comics on the characters in the film. It is a strong effort from Marvel as well as another entry in the ASSEMBLED documentary series.
All the Crows in the World The 2021 winner of the short film Palme d’Or at that year’s Cannes Film Festival by Tang Yi is an incredible short that explores a young schoolgirl asked by her cousin to attend a dinner with a bunch of older men as if she is meant to become a future bride for one of these men. Yet, it a short that does play into bits of fantasy but also revelations into one of the men at the dinner whom the young schoolgirl befriends where they would act out as it is told in colorful style.
North Terminal From Lucrecia Martel is a 36-minute short released exclusively on MUBI is a documentary short of sorts set in the largely-conservative area of Salta, Argentina that explore a group of musicians and artists who don’t play to the conventions of that area. Lead by Julieta Laso, the film is shot largely in the forest that explore different array of music including a transgender folk performer as it allow these musicians and artists who are expressing themselves as there’s a richness to these performances. Especially with Laso who is accompanied by a pianist who fucking kills it with that instrument as it is something that anyone who loves music must see.
New York City Ballet
A short film by Sofia Coppola funded by Chanel and shot in March of 2021 is about the ballet group who return to the stage after a year because of the pandemic. The short feature five different performances by members of that group where four of them are shot in black-and-white. Coppola and cinematographer Philippe Le Sourd bring a lot of movement and style while knowing when to step away to let the dancer or dancers do their work with the final performance shot on the main stage and in color. It is something fans of ballet would need to see while it is also an incredible short by Coppola who adds another winner to her body of work.
The Unseen River One of two shorts from Southeast Asia that I saw on MUBI revolves around paralleling stories set in a river in Vietnam. One about a couple who travel to a monastery where a young seeks a cure for his insomnia while another story revolves around a middle-aged woman meeting an old lover she hadn’t seen in years. It is a short that explore the world of nature and the modern world and its collision yet also this sense of peacefulness that these characters encounter.
Blue From Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a surreal short film about a woman trying to sleep as it is shot on a soundstage where the backgrounds would change at times while there are also these moments that add to the surreal elements of the film. It is a fascinating and visually-entrancing short that showcases why Weerasethakul is considered one of the best living filmmakers working today.
Volleyball (Foot Film) A 10-minute avant-garde silent show by Yvonne Rainer is essentially a shot of a volleyball on the floor with a person’s feet on display. It is just a simple short that was available on MUBI that is still worth watching despite its lack of a strong premise.
One of two commercials helmed by Nicolas Winding Refn has him making one for Gucci with Blake Lively for a new perfume as it is told with such style. Notably as it revolves around this perfume with Refn making an appearance in the commercial as it is a worthwhile commercial to watch.
Hennessy X.O.: Odyssey
Refn’s second commercial but for Hennessey’s new cognac in how it is created. It is again told in style as it has a lot of things going on but it showcases the hard work that it takes in creating cognac. It is the better of the two commercials that Refn has directed as it is something filmmakers need to do for the money they need to fund their own projects.
Ms. Marvel (episodes 5 & 6) Given the polarizing reaction towards the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as far as the films are concerned (though I do enjoy most of what they’ve done), it is the television work that Marvel has been producing that’s been really solid. After the viewing the last two episodes of this show, I must say that this isn’t just best thing of Phase 4 so far but easily one of the best things of the MCU. My only gripe about the fifth episode was that it was too short though it did give Western audiences not just a closer look into the Partition but also a look in who Kamala’s grandparents are as they’re played by Pakistani-film icons in Mehwish Hayat and Fawad Khan (that man is GORGEOUS) as well as how Kamala’s grandmother was able to be saved during the last train to Karachi. The season finale is one of the best in not just how the titular hero got her name but all of the things she had gotten for her costume that was ultimately made by her mother and named by her father.
This show really grabbed me in ways I didn’t expect as it not just giving me a history lesson and a look into a world that not many Western audiences know about but also in the sense that there is a community and a group of people who care about each other and just want to live peacefully. Even if they have to deal with a racist government agent who had the audacity to walk into a mosque while wearing shoes and to be dismissive of quotes that aren’t even from Qu’ran. I was moved by it at times but I was also enthralled as I really love the look and feel of it as well as the ensemble cast with Iman Vellani giving such a phenomenal performances. If this show doesn’t get any serious Emmy nominations including in the acting front, then the Emmys can go fuck themselves. The lone post-credit scene is definitely a joy to watch as it now has me even more excited for what is to come that is… The Marvels.
Wrestling Match of the Month: FTR vs. the Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Championship at Death Before Dishonor (Best 2 out of 3 falls) While Ring of Honor currently doesn’t have a TV/streaming deal at the moment, it is still thriving under its new ownership under the eye of Tony Khan despite some issues behind the scenes with the-now former ROH World Heavyweight Champion Jonathan Gresham before the Death Before Dishonor event that eventually saw Gresham drop the championship to Claudio Castignoli. It proved to be a great show that featured incredible matches including Wheeler Yuta vs. Daniel Garcia for the ROH Pure Championship and Mercedes Martinez vs. Serena Deeb for the ROH Women’s World Championship. Yet, the match of the night that could be another contender for the match of the year towards the end of the year is a rematch for the ROH World Tag Team Championship between current champions FTR and the Briscoes.
This match was tag team wrestling at its most pure in terms of not just the stakes but also in the sense of physicality. These are two teams that are definitely among the best working in professional wrestling as the Briscoes are long-time veterans of ROH and have often prove to be among one of the best tag teams ever. The two matches against FTR have proven that they will always be considered to be one of the best tag teams ever while FTR are continuously being the best tag team right now. How can anyone root against a couple of guys from North Carolina with one of them delivering a heartfelt promo about his own daughter who had a hole in her heart and then was able to fill that hole a few years later and say “I’m gonna fight like an 8-year old girl” get over with the people? While Swerve Strickland and Keith Lee are currently the AEW World Tag Team Champions, FTR should be next in line to have those tag titles to add to the belts they already have from ROH, AAA, and New Japan.
Top 10 Re-Watches
1. Citizen Kane 2. Coming to America 3. Mickey’s Trailer 4. Three Little Pigs 5. The Tortoise & the Hare 6. Hawaiian Holiday 7. Mickey’s Rival 8. The Grasshopper & the Ants 9. The Big Bad Wolf 10. Toby Tortoise Returns Well, that is all for July 2022 while let’s take a moment to pay respect to those who have passed such as Bill Russell, Nichelle Nichols, Pat Carroll, David Warner, Tony Dow, Mary Alice, Tony Sirico of The Sopranos, Paul Sorvino, Paul Ryder of the Happy Mondays, Monty Norman, L.Q. Jones, Lenny von Dohlen, and James Caan as they will all be missed. Especially Sirico, Sorvino, and Caan as with the passing of Ray Liotta back in May, God is already assembling one hell of a fucking crew. In August, I hope to watch Nope as whatever new release coming in theaters or in streaming services based on my different watch lists while I’m not sure what Blind Spot I will do next as there’s still a couple of them that I need to get that I wasn’t able to in this month’s Barnes & Noble Criterion sale. I hope to get those two films in the next flash sale as I’m just going to focus on what I have right now. Until then, this is thevoid99 signing off…
© thevoid99 2022