Wrestling Review: Dragon Gate USA – Mercury Rising

Dragon Gate USA is a relatively new wrestling promotion that is the American branch of a popular Japanese wrestling company. This is not a company with people pretending to be rising from the dead or that they are better “entertainer” than the other, it’s high flying and fast paced professional wrestling on its best. Last night they moved away from doing iPPV (Internet Pay-Per-View) with GoFightLive.TV and produced it in-house on a newly opened WWNLive.com. How was the show, and how was the quality of the PPV? Read on to find out.

Let me preface by saying that I am a huge fan of Dragon Gate USA. I have watched DVDs from Japan, ordered the cable PPVs, and even gone to a few live shows (including their very first live iPPV). I do my best to keep up with it and make myself familiar with all the wrestlers, but I make no claims to be an expert and know every little thing. I say this so that you know that I am familiar with the product but if I make a mistake or do not know something, I am only human… anyway, onto the show.

After ordering multiple iPPVs from GoFightLive.TV I was worried about how this would go in terms of glitches and other technical issues since those were always riddled with them. My concern was that they had issues with a company that did that as their business and had experience before, how well would they do doing it on their own for the first time. When 8 PM rolled around and nothing was on my screen I was worried and sure enough the show started late. It was almost 10 minutes before the show started right in the middle of the first match. With that said, after that little hiccup the rest of the experience was pretty smooth, I would dare say even better than the GoFightLive.TV shows.

The image was only 4×3 which is understandable since that is how even Ring of Honor still shoots their stuff, but I would like for a nice upgrade sometime in the near future. I know they aren’t working with the biggest budgets and it is expensive to get new equipment, but it is still kind of annoying that in 2011 we are still dealing with new 4×3 content and not widescreen. Those of you that know me know that I am not one of those to try and stretch the image or any of the other horrible ways people try to make 4×3 fit on their TV so it’s not a case of me feeling like my TV has “wasted space” but merely the fact that since it is a live event I know that there is more I could be seeing of the action going on. The picture quality was not great either but better than the 2 ROH iPPVs that were also on this weekend. It was below DVD quality, but definitely passable and better than something that would be found on Justin.TV or Ustream. The sound was what you would expect too, which is that it was usually hard to hear things being said and levels were constantly off, but this is typical of these iPPVs. Overall not an ideal experience, but I am aware they are working on a lower budget and I was still able to support them legally and see the event live when I was not able to make a trip to Atlanta. For the $14.95 price tag I will not complain considering Wrestlemania this weekend is $55. Another side note is that they actually had some videos during intermission. Whenever it was on GoFightLive.TV (even this weekend’s ROH shows) they just put up the GoFightLive logo during the 15 minute intermission without any indication of when it will be coming back so you just have to sit and wait. It was nice that Dragon Gate played some videos even if they were just the YouTube videos that they posted weeks ago.

NOTE: This is not from the iPPV but from something someone uploaded on YouTube

The first thing I noticed was that the place they had the show had a very low ceiling which reminded me of the NYC show I was at where it was the same issue. When you have a lot of wrestlers known for high flying it is a bit of a bummer to see that they are constantly touching the ceiling when on the top rope and checking their head making sure they are going to have enough clearance. The top rope moves were definitely kept at a minimum. I also noticed that the crowd was quiet at times but I am not sure if this was a technical issue or the crowd itself. It looked like the place was packed, but it was not a big place, maybe 200 people.

Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon – missed the beginning due to the technical issues of it starting. Not a fan of Moxley but Cannon can do some entertaining stuff when working with the right people. An ok opener, nothing special that stood out. Moxley won and then Reby Sky came out afterward and was laid out

Elimination match – Stalker vs. AR Fox vs. Silas Young vs. Jon Davis vs. Brodie Lee vs. Jimmie Jacobs. Stalker was the comedy gimmick wrestler of the match, he is dress like a devil/demon and had some comedy spots. When he was eliminated first the people booed. I love that this was elimination style since I am not a fan of triple threat, fatal four way, etc. matches that are first finish gets the win. It was your usual multi-person Dragon Gate match with some flashy moves and spots to keep you entertained but little in terms of psychology. I had never seen AR Fox either but everyone here commented that his jeans were WAY too tight and there were lots of talk of “male camel toe” which was something I was hoping I’d never hear. With that said, he did well in the match and with some ring gear change I may keep an eye on his future. In the end it was no surprise that Brodie Lee was the last one standing.

Sami Callihan vs. Masato Yoshino – I am a big fan of Yoshino’s but have never been a fan of Callihan since seeing him a couple years ago in ROH. Callihan got a lot of offense in during the match which I didn’t care about, but once Yoshino had the upper hand it was entertaining. This is not “oh he’s the bad guy I hate him” kind of dislike, but genuinely does not entertain me and I don’t even care about seeing him get beat up, it’s just Yoshino is great to watch. Luckily Yoshino got the win but that lead to Callihan getting on the mic and cursing afterwards which just was blah. It screamed desperation like since he was swearing that would get him noticed. On a related note there were promos throughout the show as well but I barely heard them since my friends and I were too busy talking to really hear, but we don’t watch Dragon Gate for promos, we watch for great in-ring action.

PAC vs. Akira Tozawa – This was one of the matches I was looking forward to the most. PAC has impressed me with what little I have seen of him and Tozawa was the same. I have only seen a handful of matches with each, but they both stuck out. At one DGUSA show I was at Tozawa was in a tag match and whenever he wasn’t wrestling he did a great job of jawing with the crowd that always got me to crack up. It was not as high flying as I expected from PAC but they also had the low ceiling to deal with. I noticed him do a move or two from the 2nd rope instead of the top, but that didn’t take away from the match at all. PAC ended up getting the win and I was entertained the whole time and highly recommend people at the very least checking this match out if they get a chance.
Danny Steel & Charade vs. Sin City Saints – This was a “who?” kind of match for me and I also wondered why guys billed from Boston were “Sin City” Saints, but whatever. It ended up not mattering as these guys were just fodder for Callihan (ugh) to come out again and suplex the Sin City Saints which lead to Arik Cannon coming out again and yelling at Callihan. He then suplexed the other team for whatever reason and they brawled into the back. This was deemed a no contest and was just a waste of time after coming back from intermission.

Yamato vs. Austin Aries – This was the other match I was really looking forward to since it was for the Open Freedom Gate Challenge and Aries has been a favorite since my first ROH show when he was champion the first time around (it was the show he defended against Colt Cabana) . The stipulation was that if Aries lost he would leave Dragon Gate USA and sadly I had a feeling that pretty much sealed the deal and I was right. He did not win but the two of them put on one hell of a match that did not disappoint me. It is sad to see Aries go especially after he just left ROH but hopefully he will pop up again somewhere else (although word is that he was one that tried out for Tough Enough and didn’t make it).

Ronin vs. Blood Warriors – Ronin formed at the first iPPV which I was at and they were big heels, but now they constantly play to the crowd and try to get them to yell “Ronin BABY!” as they come out. I only wonder if this was done since they are the only stable that doesn’t have a Japanese member. Either way, these are 3 young guys with lots of potential. They may not be “great” yet but they have plenty of time ahead of them to just get better and they are still entertaining. This was a great main event with plenty of great spots that showcased all those involved well. Ricochet seemed to have messed up his spot a bit at the end and I later read that he hurt his ankle and was pulled from the next night’s show, but it wasn’t anything too horrible to say it ruined the match or end.

4/5 Stars – This was a great show with the replay being highly recommended to order (or the eventual DVD release). While not the best DGUSA show I have seen, it was still very good and made to look even better after 2 disappointing ROH iPPVs that same weekend (one even being mere hours before). Check out WWNLive.com for more info and DGUSA.TV to find out when the other shows will be. If you want something different than the same old boring stuff in WWE and TNA, DGUSA is where I think you will find it.

Android Review: Bonsai Blast

Do you have an Android based phone?  Do you like Zuma?  Do you not want to pay anything for a game?  Have we got the game for you!

Bonsai Blast on the Android mobile platform is a major rip-off of Zuma and the many games like it, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Unlike a lot of the casual games out there that have a tendency to just barebones it all, this one actually is very well made and the fact that it is free (there are ads that run on menu and load screens) is just the icing on the cake.  I guess you could just stop reading now knowing it’s free and good, but if you want to know more (or just are bored and putting off doing work) read on.

f-1-9ae56aa07758671d8cfc9dbd1d9315c3a33b816b For the few of you not familiar with Zuma (for those suffering from nerd rage right now, yes I know that Puzz Loop/Ballistic/Magnetica was first, but Zuma is what most people will know thanks to PopCap ruling the world) the concept is that you have colored marbles starting at one point and slowly heading towards a hole.  To prevent the marbles from getting to the hole (just 1 and you’re done) you shoot colored marbles yourself and if you can match 3 of the same color they disappear and can even lead to combos.  There are also power ups to collect either by destroying certain marbles or directly shooting at them.  At first the levels are simple with one line of marbles with basic ways of travel, but as you get further they add more lines and the lines get more complicated and may even be blocked.  As with other PopCap games it is quite addictive so Glu was very smart to make a game of that nature to get onto some Android phones.  There are two modes of play: Adventure mode has you progress through a series of levels and Survival mode has you play a level and try to get the highest score possible before losing.  While not a plethora of options it is still something that will definitely keep you busy for hours and you can always go back and try to beat your high scores.

bonsai-blast-fireSo what makes Bonsai Blast different than Zuma?  One of the major differences is that you are not always stuck in the middle of the level, you will have various starting points in different levels that will affect strategy.  There may also be walls that can be used to bank shots or block your way and therefore you will have to move.  That’s right, some levels even include the ability to touch another section of it and you can move where you shoot from.  There are some powerups that vary from those found in Zuma including one that has your shooter all covered in smoke and you have to literally shake your phone to “get the smoke off.”  All these things are minor but make for a slightly different experience when Glu could have just gone straight clone and still done well for themselves.

81A-hHCzrGLThe game is obviously all touch controls that work rather well for the most part.  You just tap on the screen where you would like to shoot and then it does.  No aiming and then shooting, just tap and that’s it.  It’s quick, easy, and intuitive.  I mentioned before that you could tap where you wanted to move to as well and that works great.  The only hitch I ran into is when you want to change which color marble you want to shoot and you have to tap your shooter in the back.  There were many times that I wanted to do that and I ended up just shooting 180 degrees from where my shooter was originally facing.  This is a minor gripe though and not one that really affected my enjoyment of the game much.

The graphics are basically what you would expect from a game like this.  It is nice and colorful with a good amount of detail, but nothing that will wow anyone.  They are all you need for a game like this so I won’t fault it for it (and it’s far from ugly).  The sounds and music are the same story as well.  We aren’t playing for these, but they are nothing to scoff at.

This game is also available on the iPhone but I do not have one so I could not compare.  Facebook has the game available to play.  Click here to play and get more online game hacks here.

4.5/5 Stars – How can you go wrong with a free Zuma clone?  Maybe if it was poorly done or had some other major flaws, but none are to be found in Bonsai Blast.  This is something that will keep you busy for a long time and a great fit for the mobile environment of maybe only be able to play for a few minutes here and there.  Highly recommended, there is no reason not to download this right now.

Demo Impressions: Fight Night Champion (Xbox 360)

Fight Night Round 3 was an innovated and graphically impressive game in the early stages of the Xbox 360’s lifecycle and was also the first game that I got all the achievements for.  Sadly, by the time Round 4 came out I had grown tired of the game and not much had changed plus a UFC game had come out.  EA knew that they had to mix things up a bit so instead of just going with “Round 5” in comes Fight Night Champion.  Is this M rated boxing game what they needed?

maxresdefault Again, this is a demo so I can’t say for sure, but as it stands right now, I do not think that this will win people over who are like myself and jaded with the series.  You’re greeted right away by some hip-hop music with swearing that basically made it scream “This is M, we mean it!” You can choose to “Fight Now” which lets you pick from 4 different boxers (more on that later), Xbox Live which as usual will use EA’s servers so make sure to have an account if you care to try it, and then videos for the Champion Mode, What’s New, FSPC, and Legacy Mode.


Fight-Night-Champion-615So what is new?  According to the video there is an expanded Roster, realistic damage, “full spectrum punch control,” new blocking which includes timing blocks now, as well as mentioning creating an online “gym” which is like a clan – you can do team fights against other teams/gyms online or fight within just your friends.  Sadly the demo does not really give you the opportunity to see the “Realistic damage” they hype as you only get 3 rounds to fight and obviously nothing will carry over from fight to fight.  This is an aspect that I really wanted to see and you would think they would do something outside of just a video to let you know what it could do and mean for the gameplay.  I also did not feel that despite their hyping it as “more brutal than ever before” that the blows seems all that devastating. In Round 3 you could see the ripple and the blood splurt from their mouth in slow motion during the replays, and the replays in this seemed weak in comparison.  Sure, during the fights you could see the rippling in real time but it was hard to really notice.  To sum it up, I didn’t get that wincing factor that I had with Round 3 and even my fiancée who hated watching me play Round 3 could stomach watching FNC.

Android Review: Coin Pirates

One of the weirdest apps I have seen is a coin pusher app called Coin Pirates.  I never saw the appeal of the coin pushers in arcades and now here it is as an Android app without any of the appeal of the real deal.  How do you make something that is usually a way for people to get some money or prizes in return work as a phone app? I don’t know why it would exist.  So what did they do to get you to want to play (and maybe even pay money!)?

If you don’t know what I mean by coin pusher here is a video to help you:

If you still don’t know, you obviously have never been to an arcade, fair, or bowling alley.  These things are obvious scams that seem to work because they pop up at every one of them.  The basic idea is that you dump in money in hopes of more money coming out and as you can see in the posted video, it never works out that way.  It’s like a claw machine, but take away any possible skill and even less value for your winnings.

Coin Pirates 1

So the geniuses at Nubee decided that this should be an app for a phone.   So let me get this straight, something that is only appealing because you have a chance of winning money and therefore is not “fun” is now something I can do on my phone?  So you get up to 50 coins to dump in and try to get them in the holes to get the slot spinner to go which gives you… more coins.  If the coins are pushed off the front (not the sides) then you get them back, just to play them again.  Sometimes the spinner will give you special coins or “treasures” that you can collect (think like a Facebook game) which can then be redeemed for… you guessed it, more coins.  It is an infinite loop of just playing for the sake of level grinding.  Yes, you read that right, they felt that the way to make this more appealing was to add the RPG element of leveling up, much as you would in a Facebook game.  What does leveling up get you?  Wait for it…  more coins.  But these coins are in the form of an anchor dropping on the table and whatever it knocks into your possession you can play, so your level bonus can vary and other than that IT DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR YOU TO LEVEL UP.  Do not expect to be able to have more coins available to you than 50, do not expect the ability to drop more at once, do not expect to be able to get coins regenerated faster.  Leveling is just one small notch above pointless.

If you’re reading this and going “what do you mean by regenerating coins?”  then you are obviously caring too much, but what the hell, I’ll humor you anyway.  Since you aren’t actually putting any real money into your SD card slot (go ahead, try and jam a quarter in, see what happens… I’d love for you to take video of the resulting tech support at your local Verizon/AT&T/etc) you are given 50 coins to start and every 40 seconds you will be given one more coin.  You can still get coins back if the app is not running but it will take longer than 40 seconds a coin.  Now here is where shit gets really crazy, you can actually pay money if you want to actually get more coins.  Once again the Facebook game comparison comes in, but right now that means you’re just paying money for the privilege of tapping your screen some more to get more coins to play to tap your screen to get more coins to… oh man, sorry, my brain is frying just thinking about it.

Coin Pirates 2

Now, if there were any point to any of it, ie you won actual prizes or maybe even come up with some cross promotion and have it unlock items in other games, then maybe I could see why this exists.  But right now it is a game that is about leveling grinding by just tapping coins in a crazy Groundhog Day infinite loop with the idiot tax of paying for more coins, or even treasure (which, remember, is just to collect to get more coins… getting the point yet?).  When you click on the item area where you can redeem your coins and treasures there is a “coming soon” section that I really can’t even imagine what they would add to it.  I have wasted so much of my time trying to hit various level milestones and collections in the hopes that more would happen and that I would be find a point to be able to add to this review.  Sadly, none of this ever happened and I am not without that time back in my life.  Please, don’t let friends play Coin Pirates, if you see it on their phone, uninstall it for them, they will thank you.  If you take anything from this review (which in all honesty is WAY longer than it needed to be and way more press than this app deserved) just know to stay far away.  Maybe you can e-mail them and ask them what the point is, I’d be interested in what they’d say.

0.5/5 Stars – Hardly a “game.”  I only gave it the 0.5 since they at least attempted to give some of a reason by adding collections and leveling… but in the end it still is all pointless.  I’m surprised my brain is still functional enough to write this after playing it as much as I did.  Oh, and how the hell does it have a 4 star rating on the Android market?!?!