Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Winners And Losers Of 2021

Happy New Year, everyone.

Hey, what do you know? It's the end of another largely miserable year... but if there is one bright spot, it's that this year is not as bad as last year and for whatever it's worth, 2022 looks to kick off in greater spirits. That probably means nothing considering that 2021 also started off hopeful and things fell off the rails, but much like WWE's booking of Roman Reigns, THIS TIME FOR SURE...

So here's the deal, everybody. It's been no secret that posts on this blog has been slagging this past year. Most of it is video reviews and the occasional Dynamite musings. So in reviewing what's been posted and referencing old material, it was difficult to gauge what stood out this year... but we do have a list so I managed it somehow.

Let's get to it.


"Oh, my butt! OH! MY HOLE!"
The single, most noteworthy news item to come out of the WWE's Women Division is the above quote by Nia Jax after landing on her ass on the apron (the hardest part of the ring, you see) due to missing a legdrop. No matter how many 5+ star matches you see the women have going forward, no matter how many memorable moments WWE would rather you remember instead, it will never top poor Nia crying that her hole is in pain. Hell, Nia Jax's wHOLE WWE career (which sadly ended last month) will mean nothing compared to this one moment.. well, that and her hurting people because she sucks, but you've got something to work with... and of course, WWE does NOT run with it because they're embarrassed by it... just wait.

Metroid Dread
Yes, Nintendo finally made a Metroid 5. From the folks that brought you Samus Returns and various Lords Of Shadows of another franchise, the oft-rumored, long-awaited Metroid Dread proved to be worth the wait in what may very well be the best game in the series, surpassing Super Metroid in terms of gameplay and atmosphere. A very tall order, indeed.

Cruis'n Blast
The latest entry in the somehow long-running Cruis'n series graced Nintendo Switch and man, what a load of fun that was. Originally an arcade title in 2017, it took them five-ish years to bring us a home port and it really a fun racing game that I still play every now and then. Probably the best of the Cruis'n home ports, as far as I'm concerned.

No Time To Die
Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond has been subject to delays, controversies, nontroversies, and everything else in between... but so long as the film is good, right? Well, I'll admit that I had this pegged as a Loser because of all the behind the scenes stuff, but as it turned out, this ended up being a perfectly satisfying last hurrah for Daniel Craig's Bond, neatly tying up all the loose ends of the previous films, featuring some clever references to past Bond films without being too obnoxious about it (points at Die Another Day with utter disdain), and just being an all-around bloody good time despite the long running time. A very good film as far as I'm concerned.

Zack Snyder's Justice League
Well, they did it. They released the Snyder Cut... it was alright. I would say that it was a superior effort to the theatrical version of Justice League (which I actually enjoyed for what it was), but it really had to be for this to be worth a damn. And whatever you think of the final product and the guy who put it together or the circumstances that this was brought up in the first place, the fact that Warner Bros. gave the greenlight to a filmmaker to go back and finish the movie he was going to make before personal circumstances took priority is gratifying. So... hey, maybe David Ayer will get his chance to finish his Suicide Squad film as intended or something.

CM Punk
Made his return to mainstream professional wrestling by joining All Elite Wrestling and generally putting on some entertaining stuff. Some can argue that he needs meatier material to work with, but I've enjoyed the slow and steady approach, making the anticipation for eventual encounters with the major players worthwhile. His current feud with MJF as of this writing is going along quite nicely. But just the fact that CMP is back in wrestling and happy again is enough to earn him a winner's spot on this list.

Bryan Danielson
It is amazing what a change in environment will do for somebody. Witness Bryan Danielson's run in All Elite Wrestling, which has been the highlight of the promotion in the latter half of 2021, ranging from five-star classics with Kenny Omega to brutish brawls with Minoru Suzuki to his amazing 60-minute draw with Hangman Adam Page that pushed the new AEW World Champion to his limits. Oh and he main evented Wrestlemania early on, but let's forget that happened.

All Elite Wrestling
WWE diehards and Corny Cultists are rolling their eyes, I'm sure, at the inclusion of AEW onto the winners list for the third year in a row, but you know what? Fuck 'em, because if they can produce an entertaining and compelling wrestling show on a weekly basis, then that's more than enough for me to validate its inclusion. But this is also the year where AEW is slowly climbing its way to becoming a true rival to the WWE monopoly, with significant names such as CM Punk and Bryan Danielson joining the company as well as collaborating with the Owen Hart Foundation on a wrestling front among other things. It might not be hitting the big numbers that will get people raging, but it's enough to keep the key people happy and what makes me happy is a good wrestling show I can watch on a weekly basis.

Roman Reigns
After all these years, Roman Reigns has finally snagged a Winners spot on these lists and all it took was a long-overdue heel turn and a run steamrolling through all the geeks challenging for his title to get it done. For all my complaints about WWE creative - and that list continues to grow - Roman Reign's run has not been one of them. Some of his best work came from this run.

Star Trek: Lower Decks - Season 2
This one caught me by surprise because I had not been a fan of Lower Decks during its first season. I thought the humor was somewhat juvenile and the characters were rather unlikeable. Something strange happened with Season 2 - I actually liked it. I don't know why, but I felt there was a bit more of a likeable quality to this one over the first season. Maybe the humor was actually funny, the characters are a little more endearing, and the stories are getting better. I don't know, but I'll say this much. Lower Decks turned a new leaf with its second season and I'm actually looking forward to the next, which is more than what I can say for another Trek series.

Dune - Part I
Denis Villeneuve's take on Dune is probably the most faithful take on the original Frank Herbert-penned tome you could get, with a lot of exposition and lore buiilding on the forefront. It also helps that it was a wonderfully-made movie, with spectacular setpieces, fantastic performances from an exceptional cast, and a perfectly balanced pace that never feels too slow or too rushed. I'm happy to hear that the movie did well and I look forward to Part 2.


Twitter is the Devil's Tit. Now that we got that out of the way... let's move on.

The video service that hosts my videos is on the Losers' list due to a video review getting blocked for content ID issues and yet this system has no problem letting other people upload full episodes of TV shows onto their channels. It's not even about the block itself, but rather the rather generic message that doesn't explain why said video was blocked. Even Youtube's perceived draconian Content ID system will tell you what segment is the offending bit; Dailymotion doesn't give you that much. This, along with various other mild complaints regarding Dailymotion's set-up in general, means that it gets a place on the list of Losers. I'm extremely disappointed at this development.

The WWE Zombies (and no, I'm not talking about the diehards who enjoy this stuff)
Miz and Damien Priest have a match at Backlash this year and there's zombies... zombies eat John Morrison... and they eat the Miz... and they go away from the rest of the show... The amount of consideration as to whether this deserved a spot on the list lasted minus five seconds. This was the most retarded thing I've seen in all my life and that covers a lot of ground.

Whatever The Fuck They Did With Alexa Bliss
I thought the Fiend stuff was bad and when WWE had released Bray Wyatt, I thought that stuff would be gone for good. Instead, we carried that shit over to Alexa Bliss, who not only continues the Fiend gimmick, but also has a cursed doll gimmick that is supposed to be scary, but is lamer than a discount Chucky doll you'd get from a flea market. People apparently like this stuff because it's creative and... it's not. Nor is it good, either.

WWE Releases
WWE needs to cut talent in order for budgetary reasons... even though they're making shitloads of money. And so a good 30+ wrestlers have been released, from major players such as Braun Strowman, Nia Jax, and such to no-names such as Hit Row and whoever else. This Nick Khan fellow is a canny individual, indeed.

Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack
For $49.99 USD, you can not only play a limited number of NES and SNES games on your Nintendo Switch, but also a paltry library of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games... oh and there's some Animal Crossing DLC you can rent for this fee as well. Needless to say that this was not well received, but going further than that, the fact that the NES and SNES services rarely get new games - oftentime being games that aren't all that great - and now you're going to add two new libraries that is also likely to rarely get updated? Absolutely wretched.

Grand Theft Auto Trilogy: The "Definitive" Edition
Not normally within my wheelhouse, but the supposedly remastered GTA trilogy for modern consoles was such a disaster that it deserves a spot on the Losers list. I enjoy watching the various glitch videos and such, but man... when your definitive editions of old games are such a disaster that your old games are still where it's at, we've got problems.

What If...?
Here was potential for a good series of alternate storylines within the Marvel movie universe and what they ended up giving us wasn't quite up to snuff. Probably the only one I liked was the Dr. Strange one; everything was either just lame or outright bad. A bit of a shame because I've always enjoyed What If in comic form and such derivatives in other mediums, and to see this show turn out so poorly... well, actually, doesn't surprise me.

Star Trek: Discovery - Season 4
It's the 32nd century, there's a spacial anomaly, and it's up to Discovery to figure out what's going on. That means more pseudo-science technobabble that makes the show seem smarter than it actually is, more crying and hugging, more contemporary language snuck in by hack writers who don't know how to be creative, and more long shots of background extras we're supposed to care about because they're different colored people or whatever. I've not been as harsh on Discovery as others have been, but the shine has dulled long ago and I simply can't get into what Discovery is selling.

The Toronto Maple Leafs
The best team in the Canadian division of the NHL in a specially formatted season due to Corona Beer ends up losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Finals. Everyone was apparently shocked by this development because they had forgotten that as good as the team was during the season, the one thing that this hockey franchise excels at more than anything is choking the big one. And folks, they choked HARD. If Brodie Lee were still among us, he'd be treating the entire team like the Dark Order; cannon fodder to whack with rolls of paper.


The Power Rangers Youtube Channel
Earlier in the year, Netflix dropped most of Power Rangers from its line up, with only Mighty Morphin and the last couple seasons worth remaining up there. The only vague mention of where the rest of the series would end up is "on Youtube." Turns out that is going to be the case, as seasons have been slowly but surely uploaded onto Youtube to be viewed by anyone, which is a swell deal. It hasn't been smooth sailing, however, as the channel itself is a goddamn mess. Sometimes, you'll find random full episodes, but for the most part, you have hour long montages of a bunch of random clips, none of which is related to the title of the video. It's hard to explain, but if you wanted to watch a specific clip, you'd have to wade through a whole bunch of poorly named clips to find the thing you were looking. Good on Hasbro to sticking to their word and getting the shows on the channel for all to see because if it weren't for that, the channel would've been a definite loser entry. They need to do a better job of managing this stuff.

Big E
It's rather sad that someone winning the WWE Championship for the first time in their career - especially a guy like Big E Langston who probably should've gotten it much earlier than he did - is landing him in the Middle-Grounders, but that shouldn't take away from that accomplishment. Talented guy, great talker, great personality, prominent member of a popular tandem, among other things. I rarely say good things about WWE these days, but Big E as WWE Champion is long overdue and I hope he gets a chance to shine, because so far his run has been less than inspired. And the fault lies in bad creative.

And that's it. Happy 2022, everybody... unless we get a Sigma variant that turns all artificial intelligence against us and we all die from a robot rebellion.

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