Overlooked Wrestling Superstar Paul Orndorff Gone At 71

Mr. Wonderful may be gone. His accomplishments will not be forgotten. Rest in peace. 

Even people who were not big wrestling fans in the 1980s can probably name a number of popular wrestlers from that era. Hulk Hogan usually tops the list. Guys like “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Andre The Giant. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Ultimate Warrior. Jake “The Snake” Roberts. George “The Animal” Steele. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. I could go on for quite some time. One name that seems to slip through the cracks too often is Paul Orndorff. Monday he passed away at 71 years old. It is safe to say that “Mr. Wonderful” had an extremely underrated WWF run. Although Orndorff’s wrestling career was much more than just his time in WWF, Paul was absolutely one of the company’s top stars between his arrival in late 1983 and his final WWF rivalry in 1987 (against Ravishing Rick Rude). Records indicate that Orndorff battled Rude one final time in early 1988 before departing the company. 

There were so many epic moments featuring Orndorff. Let’s start with 1984. Hogan won the title in January at Madison Square Garden. That ushered in what many people consider to be the golden age of wrestling. Hulk’s first challenger at MSG a month later? You guessed it. None other than Orndorff. He challenged Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title in March. Basically whoever held that belt was considered second in the company. April held a special place in my heart. Orndorff was part of a card held approximately one block from my house at a high school gym. In fact, he participated in the main event and was on the winning team. There were more clashes with Hogan and Santana throughout 1984, and Tito squared off against Orndorff at MSG again in May. Orndorff prevailed. Since Santana was counted out, the title did not change hands. He also claimed wins against Hogan, but with Hulk getting counted out or disqualified. 

By 1985, Orndorff had really taken off. Perhaps people forget that he competed in the main event at WrestleMania. Back when it didn’t have a number, as Roddy Piper once said. The original. Eventually he would become a good guy. Fans were cheering him. Orndorff became wildly popular. His action figure was one of the early ones made by LJN. Orndorff began taking on former manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He also tangled with Piper, who was a former manager of Orndorff himself. They had also teamed up in the big WrestleMania main event. 

1986 was the peak of Orndorff’s WWF career. He was teamed up with Hogan in a match against King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. Following the bout, Orndorff turned on Hogan. He surprised him with a clothesline before delivering a piledriver that left the Hulkster in a heap. This generated incredible heat, and resulted in an epic feud. Orndorff even stole Hogan’s music and tried to claim it as his own. The two battled across North America, including an outdoor show at Toronto’s CNE Stadium. Approximately 70,000 fans gathered to see the event, which set a new World Wrestling Federation record at the time. With 1986 coming to a close, Orndorff and Hogan would collide in steel cage matches throughout the United States. Their cage match in Hartford was aired on NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. Despite being taped in December, that air date was January 3, 1987. It actually aired hours after one of the worst playoff losses ever suffered by my New York Jets. This memorable clash was billed as the first steel cage match in network television history, and helped ease my pain.

A huge crowd saw Hogan battle Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III in March of 1987. About 90,000 fans were in attendance. Another record. Orndorff was suspiciously left off the card. There was talk of Orndorff being held out as a possible substitute because Andre’s health was a serious question mark. However, Paul had his own issues to deal with. He had injured his arm during a weightlifting accident. Instead of taking time off, Orndorff continued to wrestle Hogan in front of large crowds. Finally, he stepped away after the profitable program had concluded. Shortly after his return, Paul once again fired Bobby Heenan. He turned face, or good, once more. The first annual Survivor Series took place in November of 1987. Yet again, Orndorff found himself in the main event. He was part of Hulk’s team in the big showdown on Thanksgiving night. 

Another legend has left us. Maybe you hadn’t heard of him, or perhaps this terrific career was somehow lost among the greats. It truly is amazing that he was somehow overshadowed by the other giants of 1980s wrestling. He deserves his flowers. The guy stacked up with everybody. He had the look. A body of work. Put fannies in seats. Had memorable interviews. He did everything you could have possibly imagined. Mr. Wonderful may be gone. His accomplishments will not be forgotten. Rest in peace. 

Madden is FINALLY Upgrading Franchise Mode (Sort Of, and Also It Might Take Years)

We worked so hard for this moment. All it took was weeks, months, years of publicly slandering Madden and EA for the way that they comprehensively and systematically ruined Franchise Mode. Specifically, I’m not sure that they did anything actively to kill the mode (I have not bought a Madden since 2012, as the first signs of a reckoning were upon us), but rather ignored Franchise Mode in it’s entirety all while promoting “brand new features” and “up to date, ultra realistic graphics” that were essentially just a more in-depth sweat generators and increased fatigue on long runs.

Franchise mode is beloved by die-hard Madden fans, many of whom grew up without online play and wanted a break from exhibition games against the AI. For years, this portion of the game has laid stagnant all while EA promotes Ultimate Team in search of those sweet, sweet in game purchases. Trading was never fixed (seriously, it was impossible to trade whenever I’d snag a game at my buddy’s house), the in game physics are constantly broken, and it just was not that fun. Years of mismanaging this mode in favor of Ultimate Team and the quest for a more functional spin move have festered frustration in fans of the game for years.

That frustration came to a head about a month ago, when fans of the game (including several players) came forward in a campaign to get EA to #FixFranchiseMode. After years of pent up frustrations came to the fore, Madden finally issued a statement on the matter.

It was a sincere effort at letting people know they were heard, and appreciated. But words meant so much, only actions would truly mean anything. Today, just over a month on, EA announced upgrades and updates to Franchise Mode for today and Madden 2022.

The reason that they are focusing a lot on 2022 is naturally that the latest iteration of the game is due to drop soon and it’s simply too late to scrap it and update everything. So, they let us know their plans moving forward; what are the notable changes possibly coming over the next couple of years?

-Fixing trading logic

-Engine enhancements (heard this one before)

-Team chemistry

-Increased content such as management, relocating, new uniforms, scouting, and coaching improvements

What does this mean exactly? Well, it might lead to a deeper Franchise Mode, which would be excellent given that the mode has been heavily criticized for being very surface level. It might make the game make more sense, which, sure. Overall, I’m not sure there are a ton of improvements coming. What can not get overlooked is that this was possible because they finally listened to the people and are open to criticism. That’s a tough first step to make and an important one. It kind of reminds me of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, where fan backlash made the film re-animate entirely. The effort is there and that’s a big step. I don’t think this is a groundbreaking change to the game and I’m not sure that it’s enough to get a lot of people back into Madden, especially with minimal changes coming this year. But a brighter future *might* just lie ahead for Madden, one where they have a deeper, more meaningful gaming experience.

It’s not much, for now, but it’s a start. FIFA, we’re coming for your broken ass Manager Career Mode next.

Viceland’s ‘Dark Side of the Ring’ Wrestles With WWF’s Greatest Controversy: ‘The Montreal Screwjob’

The new documentary series about professional wrestling produced by Viceland has been terrific. Dark Side of the Ring has aired two episodes so far, and they were great. Although I enjoyed their first episode about “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth, there wasn’t a whole lot to review. I know the story. It has been told before. Both of them died years ago. Still, it was good to take a trip down memory lane. I heard from someone who is too young to have seen the matches from 30 years ago, and he praised the episode.

My main complaint would be the incorrect information that was posted for some of the events. I don’t understand why they repeatedly get things wrong when you can look up dates and locations so easily. Even their second episode had an obvious mistake about where and when a match took place. However, episode two was very well done.

For years I have suspected that Bret Hart was in on what took place back in 1997. The Montreal Screwjob is without a doubt the most famous event in wrestling history. Questions were not answered in this episode. Actually, I am even more confused. It didn’t end there, either. After the episode, referee Earl Hebner said that he believes Bret Hart knew what would happen. My research has had me going in circles. Writer Dave Meltzer has stated that Bruce Prichard (who was described as Vince McMahon’s right-hand man) did not know about the finish.

However, he has also claimed that Prichard knew on another occasion. Former wrestlers have given their opinions that it was a work. George ‘The Animal” Steele had said that this was his belief in a video, and Scott Hall also thought that the incident was planned. Hall pointed out how the camera zooms in on Vince after Hart spat on him. However, I soon learned that the live broadcast had ended. In fairness, I had lost interest in the business years earlier and was not watching at that time.

One of the most intriguing parts of this episode was the commentary by Jim Cornette. He was on the booking committee, and claimed to have come up with a finish where Bret Hart is screwed. Vince Russo became head writer for the WWF in 1997. During this episode, Russo declared that the finish was his idea. Recently, Russo tweeted that he would be willing to take a lie detector test and thinks that they should be required during interviews for the series. Cornette, who hates Russo, has promised to urinate on his grave. This has evolved into one of our country’s great mysteries. Even if it did take place in Canada. Just go with me here. I say the whole thing belongs to McMahon and his company, which has headquarters in Connecticut.

i (3)

There are so many different comments and perspectives. I can’t endorse this show enough. The uncertainty of whether or not Bret Hart was a part of this plan has fueled the fascination with what happened. That’s why I’ve thought that it could be a work. It seems like there has been an unimaginable amount of money to be made. DVDs and books have been sold. This documentary is covering the subject 22 years later, and the topic is still white hot.

bret-hart-shawn-michaels.jpg

Upcoming episodes look very interesting. The next one will focus on Bruiser Brody’s murder. Catch up, and come along for the ride moving forward. All three episodes can be seen Wednesday night, when the latest episode debuts.

Michael B. Jordan Being Considered To Replace Henry Cavill As Superman

Deadline – This has been in the wind for some time, but Henry Cavill will not be reprising his role as Superman in Warner Bros.’ DC films as others from Justice League such as Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa move forward on their respective superhero features Wonder Woman 1984 and Aquaman. The word has been out that Warner Bros. has been mulling a completely different direction with its Superman canon for some time, even considering casting Michael B. Jordan in the role down the road. 

Big news from the DC Universe. After the success of Mission Impossible: Fallout, you could see this one coming once Henry Cavill signed onto a new Netflix series. Henry Cavill is reportedly out as Superman. With no plans for a sequel to Man of Steel in the near future, I don’t blame Cavill for wanting to leave. There’s no point in waiting around for a movie that might never come and after the disappointing box office performance from Justice League, the future of the DCEU is in limbo. Despite mixed reviews, I enjoyed Man of Steel and would argue that it’s the second best DCEU film behind Wonder Woman. I hated how Superman did not get a true sequel. If DCEU had to do it again, I bet they would’ve scraped Batman from Batman v Superman and made a Man of Steel sequel that leads into Justice League.

Back to the news. Although Superman is not a priority as of now, Michael B. Jordan is reportedly being targeted to wear the red cape in the future. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I LOVE Michael B. Jordan as an actor. If given the right director to work with (looking at you, Ryan Coogler), Jordan is a superstar in every sense of the word. Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther are all examples of Jordan at his best. I would even throw Chronicle and That Awkward Moment (guilty pleasure) into the underrated category. However, Jordan has had some misses in the superhero genre before with Fantastic Four. Jordan has already played two characters in the superhero universe. Would he be willing to play another superhero, which happens to be one of the most recognizable heroes of all-time?

It all comes down to the script and director. If I’m Jordan, I would want to be in the decision-making process when it comes to the director just like Daniel Craig has a say in the directors for the James Bond franchise. The DCEU has had quite a few misses. If they reboot Superman, the studio cannot have another setback. Bring in a director with a proven track record that Jordan wants to work with. That is the only way I see Jordan considering the role of Superman.

Until then, at least we can look forward to Wonder Woman 1984. 

A Star Is Born Is The Greatest Movie Of All-Time (And It Hasn’t Even Come Out Yet)

Do you want to know when I knew A Star Is Born was going to be a hit? It happened the second Lady Gaga grabbed the mic in the trailer and let out a “haaaaaa ah ah ah ahhhhhhhh.”

I tweeted this out over a week ago and after reading reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival, the sentiment remains the same. The hype for A Star Is Born is meteoric.

A Star Is Born has been on the radar of many film enthusiasts since the official announcement in 2016. The notion that Bradley Cooper would make his directorial debut with Lady Gaga is major news because of the possibilities it presents. Cooper has never stepped behind the camera and Gaga has never starred in a film of this nature. How will these two coexist on screen? Will the chemistry seem real? Will Bradley Cooper be able to sing onscreen and will his voice be able to compliment Lady Gaga’s? You could make a movie solely on the anticipation and question marks around this film.

Then, the trailer dropped and people FLIPPED OUT. (I did too, by the way.)

If trailers could win Oscars, A Star is Born would sweep every major category. Before its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, stories began to surface about the filmmaking procedures. There was the time Cooper wiped off Gaga’s makeup because he wanted her to be “completely open.” There was the story about how Cooper convinced Lorne Michaels to let him use the SNL stage for a performance in the film. Finally, after the premiere in Venice, the initial reviews swept the Internet by storm.

A Star Is Born is not good. It’s great.

Plus, Lady Gaga made a spectacular entrance on a boat.

Fast forward to the other day when the film screened at TIFF. More critics have now seen the movie and more positive reviews have occurred. This movie is going to be special.

It seems like A Star Is Born is going to be the greatest movie of all-time.

Well, I know that’s not going to be the case, but if you had your doubts if the hype was real, think again. A Star Is Born is going to be a special film and I can’t wait to watch.

I Stand With LordTreeSap

How is everyone doing tonight? I hope you had a quiet and drama-free Wednesday. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my cofounder, friend, and brother, Mr. LordTreeSap.

First of all, I would like to spotlight this article that Mike wrote the other day about Nicki Minaj for the DMR. Please keep that in mind when reading the rest of this article.

Fast forward to today when Mike wrote this article for Billboard.

Read the piece when you get chance. It’s not like Mike was making this stuff up on his own. The North American leg of the tour was cancelled for 2018. It was rescheduled back to Spring 2019. Tour cancellations and postponements happen all the time. It’s part of the industry.

Don’t tell that to Nicki Minaj. Yes, that’s right, the real Nick Minaj took offense to Mike’s article. Yes, our Mike! LordTreeSap was the target of one of the biggest rappers of our generation.

Nicki wants LordTreeSap’s head on a spike like it’s Lord of the Flies. Mike is now in the running for #CockSuckaOfTheDay. I feel like I’m in bizarro world right now.

Let’s get serious for one second. I fully stand behind Mike. What did he do wrong? He reported the facts. It seems to me that there is a battle over the word “cancellation.” It seems as if Nicki would have rather had the word “postponed” or “delayed” in the headline. I’m not here to get into an argument over semantics. This is a classic case of “I read the headline, but didn’t read the article.” Read the very first paragraph of the article.

Looks like fair statement to me. I stand by LordTreeSap. The Barbz blowing up this article is actually helping to gain traction for the piece so in a way, they are doing the publication a favor with the comments, likes, shares, and traction.

Plus, if the Barbz are going after LordTreeSap for using the word “cancelled,” here are some more publications that used “cancelled” or “called off.”

Congrats, Mike! You made it, my guy. It’s not everyday you are called a #CockSuckaOfTheDay by a famous rapper. To steal a line from The Wolf of Wall Street…

There is no such thing as bad publicity, sweetheart.

Crazier Story: Kobe Bryant Playing In The Big 3 Or Bret Michaels’ Tweet To Post Malone?

This is supposed to be the dog days of summer, but today, August 21, there were two crazy stories that caught my eye for different reasons.

The first one involves Kobe Bryant and his so-called “retirement.” Kobe Bryant is returning to basketball, but it’s not with the Lakers. It’s not even in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, 5-time NBA Champion, is coming out of retirement to play in…

The Big3! There’s no chance this happens. Why would Kobe come back to play in the Big3? It doesn’t make any sense. Maybe Kobe Bryant will attend the event when it’s in Los Angeles and who knows, maybe he’ll suit up for one game. Technically, I guess that means the report is true if he plays in at least one game. That can happen, but play a whole season in the Big3? Doubt it.

It’s crazy, but is it crazier than Post Malone’s emergency landing at Stewart Airport in NY?

Thankfully, Post is alive and well after the scary situation. However, the crazier story (in my mind) was the tweet that Bret Michaels sent out in regards to the Post Malone situation.

I don’t even know where to begin. The first sentence is fine. There’s nothing wrong with sending condolences to someone in a scary situation. However, things went off the rails after that. The fact that he took a picture of himself in his private plane to send his Ts and Ps is a wild move. The fact that he put his Twitter handle in the picture is an OUTRAGEOUS move. The upset of the century is that Bret Michaels has a private plane. The Poison money is still good in 2018! Bret finishes the tweet off with an update on what the pilots must do to land safely. The tweet is all over the place and it reminds me of Madonna’s tribute to Aretha Franklin at last night’s VMAs. It’s a bananaland tweet that is so “out there” that I find myself respecting him even more.

So, what’s the crazier story, Kobe in the Big3 or the tweet from Bret Michaels?

That title belongs to Mr. Rock of Love.

Christopher Robin Review: My Heart Is Very Full At This Moment

I need to talk about Christopher Robin, for an abundance of reasons. The first being that this is the first time a movie or TV show has ever made me cry, and I did it twice (though I promise you this is not an Always Sunny Dennis situation with my feelings).

Another being because this is one of the better movies I’ve ever seen, but not in the way you think. It’s very much like eating at a restaurant. No, it’s not an STK or some 5-star blue ribbon place where you expect the best meal of your life. It’s more like when you’re looking for a place to casually eat on a Friday night, and you pass a place that looks good enough. So you sit down and eat and it blows away your expectations. It’s delicious, not because it’s the best meal ever, but because it’s a tiny burger and wing joint that very much knows what it is and is excellent at what they do.

Now, before I get to into spoilers (and also too hungry), I want to say my criticisms about the movie, because I did have some. The acting by every person not named Ewan McGregor was a bit much and over the top, I had some trouble understanding some characters (read: Tigger), and they spent a bit too much time on Christopher’s work life and dilemma as opposed to making this more about him and his friends, though I get it. The biggest problem with this movie is the plot. Outside of the existing plot of “Pooh needs to find his friends”, “Christopher needs to get closer to his family and to rediscover his childhood”, the basics of it is that Christopher needs to cut 20% of his company’s budget or else everyone is going to get laid off. He spends all of his time working on it and his personal life and family go by the wayside. After his expeditions with his old friends, he solves it by suggesting that (SPOILER) the company should do nothing at all and offer vacation to it’s employees(?). I’m still not sure but this honestly barely detracts from the enjoyment I got from the film, because I’m never trying to figure out how Christopher is going to save all of these jobs. I just want to see the old Hundred Acre Woods gang together again.

I have to talk about the emotional aspect of the movie, because it hit me like a freight train. The intro of the movie is incredibly sad. It starts off with Christopher Robin as a boy, about to be sent off to boarding school, so he has to say goodbye to all of his friends for the last time. After everybody eats too much at the dinner, Pooh and Christopher go for a walk, and they embrace one last time. At this point my eyes were dripping tears, because a lot came to me in that moment. I realized how much I missed being a child. How, at one point, my father picked me up and put me back down for the last time. How I stopped finding the enjoyment in the little things in life, and how fast life has moved when at one point, every moment seemed to inch past. The movie follows that gut punch with a montage of Pooh waiting outside the door to the Hundred Acre Woods to keep the memory of his friend, which was like Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson teaming up on you. Winnie at one point cannot find any of his furry friends, and the majority of the middle of the movie is Christopher and Pooh looking for them.

The middle of the movie is very enjoyable and is filled with plenty (if almost too many) classic Winnie The Pooh quotes and pieces of wisdom. There’s Heffalumps and Woozles (both of which I had totally forgotten about since my Pooh-watching days). There’s the beautiful moment where Christopher pretends to fight a Heffalump so his old friends will stop being afraid of him, cumulating with Eeyore (who’s dark sense of humor had me rolling in laughter the whole movie) recognizing him and saying, “It’s Christopher Robin…playing again!” And there’s the “Up Down Touch The Ground” song, which legitimately almost made me applaud. All of the friends eventually reunite and when Christopher Robin has to go home to get to his meeting, he forgets his very important papers (well, Tigger replaces them, but you get it). On his way home, a notably different Christopher starts playing Winnie’s game, Say What You See, on the train. On their way to return his papers, they all run into Christopher’s daughter and travel to London to bring him these papers, and when they eventually reunite, Christopher is a changed man who brings his family to the Hundred Acre Woods, has one last conversation with Pooh, and everyone lives happily ever after. A simple plot and yet it is it’s simplicity that makes it so perfectly Pooh.

One thing that crushed me emotionally is that it got me thinking about life and my friends. We have all lost a friend; maybe it was a disease or an accident, maybe it was simply to distance or time. But it has happened to everybody in one way or another. This movie made me miss people and times that I did not even realize or remember. It made me remember how much fun it was to be a kid, even for that hour and forty-five minutes. It reminded me that, before we filled our time with alcohol and responsibilities, there was once just our friends and our imaginations. I guess, what I’m saying, is that this movie just made me happy to see my old friends again. Score: 85/100

winnie-L