Friday, December 17, 2010

Playlist Week Day 5 -- Neil Young

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

It's motherfuckin' Neil Young.

1. "The Loner" (1968) from Neil Young: The stuff about the guy being on the subway, sitting at the back, reminded me of me sitting at the back of the bus...

2. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" (1970) from After the Gold Rush: Man, is that title wrong or what? Or is it? The "I have a friend I never see..." predicted the internet age... if you take it literally.

3. "A Man Needs a Maid" (1972) from Harvest: I love the Live as Massey Hall version of this where the lyrics talk about being 'afraid' a bit more. But, there's something sad and loneyly about this song. Some think it's sexist, but it's really just about a guy who's so lonely that he may as well get a maid, because that's the only way to have a woman around his place these days. I love the overproduction.

4. "Revolution Blues" (1974) from On the Beach: Angry and darkly funny. Sure, it's about Charles Manson, but it's also about how shitty LA is. One of those songs that I can play over and over forever.

5. "Cortez the Killer" (1975) from Zuma: Killer guitar work. "Cotez, Cortez, what a killer, man." What? He was!

6. "Campaigner" (1977) from Decade: "Even Richard Nixon has got soul." Imagine singing a song with that in it? Young went where he wanted. And this song captures something about politics and wanting to be loved. A rare one that's worth tracking down.

7. "Powderfinger" (1979) from Rust Never Sleeps: A story song that has a good driving rhythm.

8. "Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero Part I)" (1989) from Freedom: Fuck, this song is so cynical and bitter. The stuff about producing a record is just mean. This song is about as bad an indictment of the Reagan years as anything else.

9. "Harvest Moon" (1992) from Harvest Moon: "When we were strangers, I watched you from afar / When we were lovers, I loved you with all my heart." I love that line. For some reason, I obsessively listened to this song one day in my third year of university. I had this poli-sci class of maybe 30 people. A seminar class and one of the students in the class died. Class was cancelled as a result and I looked around when we were told and I couldn't see anyone missing. That feels like it should mean something, but I've never been able to figure out what... except that I'm a dick.

10. "Ordinary People" (2007) from Chrome Dreams II: A loooooooooooooong song, but one that sums up Young's caring about the average guy. As much as a man like Neil Young can. This brings in his political stuff, his Farm Aid stuff, his electric car stuff... not explicitly, but it's all there.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Playlist Week Day 4 -- Ryan Adams

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

The only non-Canadian during this week of playlists, Adams quickly became one of my favourite musicians after I picked up his album lloR N kcoR on a whim. He works a variety of styles, willing to just dash off songs and work at a very quick pace. It's an attitude and work ethic that would have made him fit in with the music industry of the '60s/'70s, but he's seen as an oddity now -- someone who should slow down or simply bank his best material for ecclectic albums. Me, I prefer the less polished cohesive wholes he delivers. Then again, I'll take three very good albums in a year over one possibly better album once every three or four years... But, I digress. Ryan Adams!

1. "Come Pick Me Up" (2000) from Heartbreaker: Not many can write about fucked up relationships like Adams and this one helped kick off his solo career. What's worse: stealing someone's records or fucking their friends on his bed? I demand to know!

2. "The Bar is a Beautiful Place" (2001) from Gold (bonus 'side 4' track): Not a song a lot of people have heard necessarily since it was available on a bonus disc for Gold. This was one of my favourite songs of the summer of 2007. As a non-drinker, using this as my status on MSN had people wondering what was up with me... but it's just a sad song about self-destruction and a bad break-up. It's one of those songs that is so damn emotional.

3. "English Girls Approximately" (2003) from Love is Hell: The line "English girls can be so mean" may be about girls from England, but it will always make me think of girls in my English classes. Not that they were especially mean or anything... just pining over girls in classes and such. Also, the part where he goes "Just three words, my love: you meant everything" is fantastic. A double-meaning saying that she meant everything to him, but also she meant everything they did -- it meant something to her, too. That reminds me of something once...

4. "Note to Self: Don't Die" (2003) from lloR N kcoR: "Note to self: don't die for anyone / Note to self: don't die / Note to self: don't change for anyone / Don't change, just lie." Fuck, Ryan Adams can write some good lyrics that get at the heart of matters. Not that I necessarily advocate this approach. But, I always dug that.

5. "Rock and Roll" (2003) from lloR N kcoR: This song was really from the Love is Hell sessions and stands out on lloR N kcoR as this downbeat piano-driven song on an album of loud, brash rawk music. But, it's also a song that I can recite right now. Pretty simple. Sad. It's about being hung up on a girl. It's always about girls.

6. "Magnolia Mountain" (2005) from Cold Roses: "Lie to me like I lie to you" is another fantastic line. In my year as a Gazette Arts & Entertainment editor, this was my most played song. Just a beautiful, wonderful song that makes me want to sing along.

7. "The End" (2005) from Jacksonville City Nights: I love the way he crams in the line "The waitress tries to give me change but I say nah that's cool just keep it." It doesn't fit the metre or length of the line, but he gets it in there. A more romantic/nice flipside of "29" I'd argue.

8. "29" (2005) from 29: Driving beat, semi-autobiographic lyrics that make you not want to like Adams... it's a helluva way to kick off an album, but it's great at building as the song progresses. The chorus is fun to sing along to.

9. "Halloweenhead" (2007) from Easy Tiger: One morning, I thought my roommate Adam wasn't home, so I put this on loud and sang along to it a half dozen times or so. He was home and still hates me to this day for that. A stupidly absurd title and concept, but it's got great music and some killer lines like "I just watch, I don't go inside" or the shouting of "Guitar solo!" before the guitar solo. Shows off how catchy Adams can be...

10. "Magick" (2008) from Cardinology: But not as catchy as this song. Two minutes to accomplish what 99% of the shit on the radio takes five minutes to not accomplish. I could listen to this song forever. How this wasn't a #1 hit still baffles me. Michelle isn't really a Ryan Adams fan, but she loves this song. "So turn the radio on / So turn the radio up / So turn the radio up loud and get down / Let your body move / Let your body sway / Listen to the music play / It's magick, it's magick." Fuckin' a, man.

Tomorrow, we finish things up with Neil Young.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Playlist Week Day 3 -- The Barenaked Ladies

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

For a long time, the Barenaked Ladies were my favourite band. At some point, that stopped being true, but I never lost all interest. They're the ex-girlfriend that I'm still friends with. That good friend you get together with every few months and have a fantastic time with, but then don't see again for another six months. Just the way it is. They can do jokey, they can do smart, they can do emotional... they can do funky, they can do rock, they can do pop. I still haven't heard their latest album beyond the first single (money issues -- it's on my Christmas list) and I'm curious to know how the Steven Page-less band sounds. As this list shows, my tastes tended to run towards Page's contributions.

1. "Brian Wilson" (1992) from Gordon: I didn't know who Brian Wilson was before this song. I knew the Beach Boys, sure, but not the man. This is just a great song. The band was more famous for "If I Had $1000000" but this was always their true 'anthem' song for me.

2. "What a Good Boy" (1992) from Gordon: A song about the weird gender politics and the bullshit we dump on our kids. This song touched something in me when I was in high school and sometimes struggled with the expectations of being the 'smart kid.' Odds are, those expectations were more my doing than anyone else's, but everyone struggles with the labels placed upon them (whether by others or themselves).

3. "Life, in a Nutshell" (1994) from Maybe You Should Drive: This is my favourite BNL album. They made an effort in some ways to move away from the funnier, lighter side of Gordon and there's some real struggling with the early 20s here, I think. This song is upbeat and great and just about having a really solid relationship that's going well. It's probably the most 'mature' song on the album.

4. "The Old Apartment" (1996) from Born on a Pirate Ship: A 'you can't go home again' song... strong playing on the instruments and the odd funny line, this song hit me a new way when I moved away from home. Even going back to my parents' place is a different experience. I love my life now, but there's something sad about losing that old home.

5. "One Week" (1998) from Stunt: How can you ignore the song that made the band 'overnight' superstars in the US?

6. "Conventioneers" (2000) from Maroon: This a funky, almost loungey song... a song that sounds like it should be used to seduce a woman if the lyrics didn't send the exact opposite message by the end. But, the end of the song is great as it shows how a flirty, sexually-charged relationship can exist... until sex is actually had and then what? It was all just empty flirtation with nothing underneath. Never had that experience myself, but I imagine it could be very awkward.

7. "Shopping" (2003) from Everything to Everyone: "Everything will always be all right when we go shopping." A song that's just about mocking George Bush and the Republicans for that 'shopping to fight terrorism' bullshit, this song is also incredibly catchy. It's just plain fun to sing. I once wrote a comic script where the centrepiece of the issue was a giant musical dance number in a mall with this as the song that everyone sings.

8. "Sound of Your Voice" (2006) from Barenaked Ladies are Me: Some rockin' guitars kick this one off and it's weird to know that this is a Kevin Hearn song that he passed along to Page to sing. This song has hit that personal spot with me where the chorus makes me think of the days Michelle is out of town or I'm out of town or whatever. Sure, it's a song about a guy who fucked up and screwed up his relationship... but, for me, it's just about missing that person you love. Missing them being around. You get oddly used to them. I also like the line "This little song is about second chances."

9. "I Can I Will I Do" (2007) from Barenaked Ladies are Men: A similar vibe to "Conventioneers," I love the way Page sings the title line.

10. "You Run Away" (2010) from All in Good Time: Is this the "Cannonball" of BNL? I do like how they made the first single about Page's leaving the band. It's a decent song and the underlying emotion carries it.

Tomorrow: Ryan Adams

Playlist Week Day 2 -- The Tragically Hip

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

Today, it's the Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock band that's developed the status of the Canadian rock band. Every album of theirs since their first album has been #2 or #1 on the charts (more likely to be #1 with only three failing to hit that mark, while their first LP only reached #13). It's just some good rock music. My list is skewed towards their early albums a bit and I don't subscribe to the idea that they began to suck around the time of Phantom Power, but it's hard to deny the quality of their early material. Their later material isn't as catchy always, isn't as easy to get into... isn't as memorable at times. And listeners of the Splash Page Podcast will know the lead singer of the band, Gord Downie, for the bit of his song "We're Hardcore" that we use to kick the show off.

1. "Blow at High Dough" (1989) from Up to Here: The first song on the first Tragically Hip LP and it's about shooting a porn flick in a small town. It's a rocking song that starts off slow, but gives a great first impression of the band's sound. When you figure out/learn what the song is about, it's hard not to laugh at times. I do like the drumming.

2. "Long Time Running" (1991) from Road Apples: A quiet, moody song. When I hear this song, I picture Gord Downie or someone slowly walking down a dark street, wearing a suit with the tie undone, bottle of beer in his hand... it's that kind of song.

3. "At the Hundredth Meridian" (1992) from Fully Completely: A cool rock song. I love the line "I seem to remember every single fucking thing I know." Just a song that hits on that leve you dig. You know?

4. "Wheat Kings" (1992) from Fully Completely: A song, at least partly, about David Milgaard and his wrongful conviction for rape and murder. A slow, quiet song that has some great singing. Maybe it's the Canadian in me, but the line "Late-breaking story on the CBC..." appeals to me.

5. "Nautical Disaster" (1994) from Day for Night: Actually, I'd probably recommended the live version off Live Between Us with Downie prefacing the song with talk of a movie adaptation that's kind of funny. This is an odd song about a dream of a life as a lighthouse keeper. There's a nice build. The Hip does good slow builds that turn into big drums and lots of rawk.

6. "Ahead by a Century" (1996) from Trouble at the Henhouse: Probably my favourite Hip song. A mellow sort of song with a rock edge. "Disappointing you's getting me down" became my personal shame of a mantra for the past couple of years.

7. "Bobcaygeon" (1998) from Phantom Power: A story song. The video for this song is a completely literal interpretation of the lyrics and works really well. The way the verses repeat themselves is good.

8. "Fireworks" (1998) from Phantom Power: Another song with a line that stands out: "You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey / Well I never saw someone say that before." So Canadian and can't help but make me laugh. And I'm not a big hockey fan. I just know what a line like that means. The song is about not knowing what marriage and relationships are really about; spending too much time together and things turning into a weird cold war.

9. "It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken" (2002) from In Violet Light: The interplay of the music and Downie's vocals is startling. There's a real orchestral vibe to the way the instruments are played, while Downie just gives it his all. Downie is underrated at times, I think, as a singer. He's very good at emotion and mood.

10. "Now the Struggle Has a Name" (2009) from We are the Same: The title of the album comes from a line in this song. It seems like a song that sums up where the Hip are. Their album after In Violet Light was called In Between Evolution, suggesting that they thought they were on the brink of change, but, here, they seem to be reconciling themselves with the fact that no matter how much they try to grow, there's a core identity to band that holds them back. But, it's also that the name of the struggle is 'We are the Same.' How does a band that's been around for 20 years and seen massive success change and grow without causing their fans to turn on them? Oddly, this is all my reading of the song since none of that is in here. But, the song brings out those ideas.

Tomorrow: the Barenaked Ladies.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Playlist Week Day 1 -- Hawksley Workman

[This weekend, I got the new issue of Rolling Stone, which included a bunch of specific playlists like Bono's David Bowie playlist or Ozzy Osbourne's Beatles playlist. So, for this week, I'll be doing five playlists of ten songs per artist/band each day with some brief comments on the song. All songs in chronological order.]

I'm beginning with Hawksley Workman, a Canadian singer/songerwriter/rock and roller/whatever else you call a guy like that. He's eclectic, energetic, funky, sad, fantastic, and other adjectives. I've seen him twice in concert and enjoyed both times quite a bit.

1. "Tarantulove" (1999) from For Him and the Girls: I love the slow, drum-heavy pace of this song. He almost seems to be slurring his words without actual slurring them. A very offbeat, weird feeling in this song. "Well, I'm no doctor, baby, but I know what's good for me" is a great line.

2. "Safe and Sound" (1999) from For Him and the Girls: A sweet, soft song. One of the sweetest and softest I know. This is a song that I didn't really get until my current relationship with Michelle. It's about love and assuring the person you're with that they can trust you completely and just feel safe... and damned if that isn't a great feeling.

3. "Striptease" (2001) from (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves: Funky and loud and rude and crude... this is my favourite song to get dressed to, ironically. If I were a stripper, this would be the song I stripped to. It's not exactly a strip club song, but whatever. Hawksley doing pure rock and roll.

4. "Anger as Beauty" (2003) from lover/fighter: This song has one of my favourite lines of all time: "Fighter soul alive in a whiskey-fueled rage." I wrote a comic script about that line once. This was the single that made me pick up lover/fighter and get into Workman's music.

5. "Autumn's Here" (2003) from lover/fighter: A song I play every year in the fall. Just Workman and a piano (a trumpet comes in later) totally describing the feeling of a windy, cloudly, chilly autumn day. He captures the feeling of the season so well. It's sad and melancholy. There's a line where he says "It's okay if you want to cry" and I remember waiting for the bus in the fall one day in my second year of university and being damn near tears for no good reason as this song played. A moment of beauty and sadness... So, this gets played every year in the fall.

6. "God Decides" (2004) from My Little Toothless Beauties: From one of his 'lost' albums, this song begins and ends My Little Toothless Beauties. This album is Workman's Tonight's the Night or 29 for me. This song is epic as Workman with a thumping death march of a beat and a piano runs down what 'god decides.' It's a nihilistic, angry song.

7. "You Are Too Beautiful" (2006) from Treeful of Starling: Another soft, sweet song. The chorus of "You are too beautiful to be in bed with me" always hit something in me. Because every guy worth a damn knows it's true about the woman he loves. Especially when he follows that line up with "If you could see the thoughts I see, if you could see my thoughts, baby, you'd agree." Sweet and lovely, but also hinting at the horribly perverted and fucked up shit guys think about. I like the subtle humour. Plus, Workman nails a wicked high note.

8. "It's a Drug" (2008) from Los Manlicious: A big heavy guitar begins this one. I'm a sucker for songs about how great music is and this song is just such a thing.

9. "Prettier Face" (2008) from Los Manlicious: Los Manlicious was the second album Workman released in 2008, paired with Between the Beautifuls and this song was on both. I prefer this version as it comes closer to capturing the stunning live performance of it that I saw at the second Workman show I attended. A depressing song of self-loathing that descends into the repetition of "And I can't hide these uncried tears no more" after some good lines like "Drinking just to empty the cup" and "Oh, baby, I've had enough." The live version was positively apocalyptic when he got to the repetition. One of the best live performances I've ever seen.

10. "You Don’t Just Want to Break Me" (2010) from Meat: Another song that descends into repetition with a similar tone, but I think he captures the empty sadness better here. This one has a little funkier of a beat and isn't as obviously self-loathing. This is more angry and accusatory than "Prettier Face." The repeating lines of "You don't just want to break me, you want to tear me apart" come after a shift in the music... it's almost like two songs smashed together after a slowing drum beat that suddenly switches. The repetition starts calmly but gains emotion as it progresses. I played this song over and over on the CBC Radio 3 website before the album was out.

Tomorrow: The Tragically Hip

Monday, December 6, 2010

Smarkass Reviews -- Full Impact Pro: The Usual Suspects

I got this at Zellers for five bucks along with the first Shimmer show for the same price. They even had a Glow DVD, a hardcore reunion special, and the first two seasons of XPW, all for five bucks each, but none of them seem like something I'd want for free, so they get left in the store. Last night, Michelle and I watched Full Impact Pro's The Usual Suspects and it was an interesting experience. There's the fun of seeing some people you recognise back when they were younger. Full Impact Pro is a smaller indie promotion, partnered with Ring of Honor until 2009 when it switched to Dragon Gate USA. I've seen a few FIP matches on the 'bonus' discs of Dragon Gate USA DVDs. When people talk about companies that run shows in gyms, this is a perfect example.

This show is from April 22, 2005 and is the introduction of tag team titles to FIP. Instead of having a tournament, the whole thing is set up with no rules. Somehow, we're told, a team will win the belts before the show is over. No idea how, but it will happen. In this respect, one of the announcers, Dave Prazak (who is also a manager) is amusing throughout the show, especially in the beginning, by just trashing the lack of a plan. At first, he seemed like the model for the Cole/Matthews team on NXT...

Match #1: The Heartbreak Express vs. The Carnage Crew
No idea who any of these guys are, but one of them is a fat guy whose character, as far as I can tell, is 'gay Dusty Rhodes.' I swear to god. He rips off Rhodes so much, but throws in extra camp behaviour that I can only surmise that, when coming up with what a big white fat guy could do, someone said "Just rip off Dusty Rhodes!" and someone else laughed and said, "Nah, that would be too blatant. Better play it safe and make it gay Dusty!" The match itself was very sloppy. The Heartbreak Express cheated a lot and there was a bit surrounding Gay Dusty Rhodes hurting his ass -- and one of his opponents smacking him on the ass, oddly. In the end, the Carnage Crew won, so... they won?
Winners: The Carnage Crew [*]

Match #2: The Carnage Crew vs. The Ring Crew Express
Almost immediately, Dunn & Marcos, the Ring Crew Express were out to challenge the Carnage Crew. This match was short and incredibly spotty. Spotty in that way where Dunn & Marcos would go for a tandem move and their target would stand there, waiting for them to execute it. They're a fun, cruiserweight tag team with a 'rock n roll' attitude, but you can see why they haven't really gone anywhere, not even a big run in ROH (though, they were there for a period).
Winners: The Ring Crew Express [1/2*]

Match #3: The Ring Crew Express vs. DP Associates
Prazak introduced the tag team he manages, DP Associates (Jimmy Rave and "Fast" Eddie Vegas) as if they would fight the Ring Crew Express. But, Prazak backed out of the match, saying he wanted to find the right opponents for his boys that night.

Match #3: Roderick Strong & Jerrelle Clark vs. Homicide & Vordell Walker
The first match of the night to really feature anyone I know with Roderick Strong and Homicide. This match was actually the best of the night. Strong and Homicide began things, and had some nice back and forth until things broke out into this frantic brawl/grappling section that reminded me of amateur wrestling quite a bit. After they broke it, Homicide staggered around, blaming 'too much weed' for why he couldn't keep it up too long. Walker wrestled a power game well, while Clark played on the agility and speed. Eventually, it broke into a free-for-all where terms like 'legal man' meant jackshit and Strong and Clark won only when Homicide was kept to the outside. No, I was impressed with the work in this match. Definitely the stand-out of the show -- and, oddly, like many tournaments, it had you wishing that this first-round (if you could say there are rounds in this show) match was the finals.
Winners: Roderick Strong & Jerrelle Clark [***1/2]

Match #4: Spanky & Sal Rinauro vs. Steve Madison & James Gibson
Michelle is infinitely amused that Brian Kendrick began his career as 'Spanky' (apparently named after his means of staying awake on long road trips... ew). I think that's the only reason she wanted to watch this one before the Shimmer DVD (she basically said as much). This match was a little disappointing. I don't think things ever really cohered. Gibson and Madison were decent, while Rinauro was unimpressive. Kendrick was somewhere between. Madison was the biggest of the group and he stuck out for that reason, never getting into a groove with the other three. I know others are high on Gibson (Jamie Noble), but he's never really impressed me. Maybe I haven't seen the right matches. His work in the WWE was fine and, here, he was a little better than the average FIP guy, but not by much. After the match, Madison turned on Gibson, blaming him for the loss (despite him being the one that was pinned).
Winners: Spanky & Sal Rinauro [**]

Interlude #1: CM Punk!
CM Punk finally arrived, FIP World Heavyweight Championship belt in his possession. He'd apparently stolen the belt from Homicide, the true champ. Punk was good on the mic. He put over his faction, the New Dawn, and his wanting all of the rejects, because he can turn them into the best. His example was Don Juan, a guy who thinks he's king shit, and is just kind of a joke. This continued until Homicide chased Punk around the ring and to the back. Punk was good on the mic, basically doing a less developed version of what he does now. I was happy.

Match #5: DP Associates vs. Evan Starsmore & Aaron Epic
Finally, Dave Prazak found the right team for DP Associates to fight: two jobbers! And, yeah, jobbers by FIP standards... you can imagine what that's like. This match was brief, but oddly longer than you'd expect with two jobbers. Strange.
Winners: DP Associates [1/4*]

Match #6: DP Associates vs. The Ring Crew Express
Quickly, after the match was over, the Ring Crew Express hit the ring to have the match teased earlier. DP Associates got a chance to show what they can do a bit more. There was a funny moment where Vegas turned around and started wailing on Rave, who was being held by Dun (or Marcos) and didn't seem to notice it was his partner that he was hitting. Weird stuff. I liked Rave, but Vegas just rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know why. This match was fine and gave the DP Associates a second win for the night.
Winners: DP Associates [*1/2]

Match #7: CM Punk & Don Juan vs. Spanky & Sal Rinauro
Punk came out again to cut a promo, saying that he had Homicide arrested (but would not be pressing charges) and would fight him at the next night's show, because he's a fighting champion. Spanky and Rinauro then challenged the pair. Punk was a little more jokey here -- both in and out of the ring. There was a funny spot where he had had Juan work over the arm of Spanky (I believe) when the ref was distrated, Juan facing away from the ring and slamming the arm again and again over his shoulder. They did that a couple of times until Spanky stuck Punk's arm over Juan's shoulder and he didn't realise that it was Punk. Oh, dumb heels, will you ever learn? From there, the faces were in charge for much of the match, but the heels still won with a little cheating. Spanky and Rinauro looked better here, while Punk showed some flashes of brilliance. Juan was... there.
Winners: CM Punk & Don Juan [**1/2]

Match #8: Three Way Dance -- Antonio Banks vs. Rainman vs. Jared Steel
You'll know Antonio Banks as the now-former MVP. His opponents were two rather large guys that seemed to hate him more than one another and double-teamed him at first. Matches like this are hard to work, but the added elimination-style set-up should have made that easier since there wouldn't be the breaking up of pinfalls since one of your opponents eliminating the other one benefits you. Well, you'd think that until Banks was pinning Steel, Rainman knocked Banks off, hit a move, and eliminated Steel. Um, why? From there, Banks showed a couple of Benoit-esque moves that made me laugh because of the way Benoit put over MVP for the US Championship. Banks tried for the multiple German suplexes and won the match with the Crossface. There was also an appearance by the Drive-By kick to the head in the corner. You could see the future MVP in Banks here. It was a decent enough match, I guess. It didn't get good, though, until Steel was gone and it was a regular one-on-one match.
Winner: Antonio Banks [*3/4]

Match #9: Three Way Dance for the FIP Tag Team Championship -- DP Associates vs. Roderick Strong & Jerrelle Clark vs. CM Punk & Don Juan
While Prazak said on commentary that it should be DP Associates vs. the winner of the other two teams since they had both only won one match, while DP Associates had won two, he then suggested on the mic that it be a Three Way Dance. What happened? I imagine it was someone looking at the time and realising they needed to wrap things up. The two heel teams worked as one, for the most part, working over Roderick Strong for the first part of the match until Clark finally got in and eliminated Juan (and Punk). That left a fairly standard face/heel pairing with the ending coming in a pretty dominant fashion as Strong was on the outside, allowing Vegas and Rave to hit the Double Penetration (and it resembles one...) to become the FIP Tag Team Champions. Not a bad choice since, out of the established tag teams, they had the best gimmick and could draw some heat with Prazak as their manager.
Winners and NEW FIP Tag Team Champions: DP Associates [**1/4]

Overall, it was a mixed show. Only a few matches really rose above 'mediocre' (and, then, not by much) aside from the Strong & Clark/Homicide & Walker match, which was quite good. A more focused show with a better game plan would have been better. It ultimately became a single-elimination tournament with random pairings, which is fine... if they established it as that. It's not like planning out a tournament is that hard, even if it's a gauntlet-style one like this kind of was. I definitely think it was worth the five dollars I paid, but that's about the most I'd pay for it at the same time. As I said at the top, it was cool seeing some guys I know before I knew them. CM Punk in particular is great to see in his pre-WWE days. He's definitely a guy who found his character early and has perfected it, and seeing some of the early stages of that is interesting.

Show Rating: 5.0 (out of 10)