Sunday, July 20, 2014

The WCCW Report: Episode 57: Enter the Yatsu

January 1983: We kick things off this week with the debut of another mysterious and deadly competitor from the Orient: The Great Yatsu, who’s decked out in a gi (of course) and brandishes a wooden samurai practice sword. Ever notice how there are never any modern Japanese men in the world of classic pro wrestling? They’re always historical martial arts enthusiasts. Thank god they can find work somewhere, even if it’s not their home country. No wonder they’re in such a bad mood all the time, though. I would be too, if my choice of lifestyle made it impossible for me to get a job in my own home country. Kind of makes you wonder if Japanese pro wrestling leagues are full of Americans who are into flagpole sitting and swing dancing.

And what better way to welcome Yatsu to America than by putting him up against the Samoan (from Samoa!), the least dangerous opponent he could possibly fight! Announcer Bill Mercer (and Yatsu’s manager, who claims he had to spend a lot of silver bars to even get the man into the country. Visa issues, we assume) keep referring to “the dreaded” Yatsu as “The Oriental Assassin” and talking up his nefarious deeds. But judging by Yatsu’s facial expressions, body language and general temperament, he’s clearly a good natured youth who’s having the time of his life in America. You should see the joy on his face after he gently puts the Samoan away with the Million Dollar Dream (or “sleep hold,” as the always loquacious Mercer describes it). Sure, he beats the crap out of the Samoan after the match, but only after the Samoan sneakily enters his blind spot. And Yatsu clearly apologizes afterwards.

Yatsu in his later, more stoic years
Next up is an interview with David von Erich, who has apparently been out of state for the last few weeks. I didn’t notice, because the lack of his gaping void of charisma created a double negative.

Our first competitive match of the night sees Freebird Michael Hayes--the crowd is really on board with hating him by now--vs. “brass knuckles champion” Jose Lothario (which sounds impressive until you realize that you’ve never seen a brass knuckles match ever), who Mercer calls a “young man.” I know this is before the HD era, but come on, Bill! You can see the wrinkles on his face! And his male pattern baldness! The match ends when the other Freebirds come to the ring and attack Lothario to the tune of a thunderous “Go Home Freebirds!” chant from the crowd. That’s a new one.

Next: Another interview with King Kong Bundy, this one appearing to take place in a classicly styled wooden sauna. He’s got more boring stuff to say about Devastation Inc., and it’s still unclear if he and “the man” are the same person, if “the man” and “the boss” are the same person, and what the hell the point of any of this is. Interestingly, Bundy gets the manboss on the phone and introduces himself as “Kong,” so apparently that’s what he thinks his own first name is. Kong also reveals that the boss is heavy into the oil and gas industry (so...maybe it’s Ross Perot?), and may be giving Kong his own refinery by this time next year. Wonder how that worked out.

Then Bundy heads to the ring for the main event: A tag team match with he and the Great Kabuki (almost every Japanese wrestler is great!) taking on Al Madril and Bugsy McGraw. Bugsy looks like every “fun,” creepy uncle everybody ever had. I’m hoping he’ll sustain a career-ending injury soon. Or give him a refinery, too, I don’t care! Just get him off my TV!

The match happens, I guess, but I’m more impressed with the dude in the crowd wearing a Cosby sweater and a trucker cap that says “Red Neck MOTHER.” Fan of the year, for sure. And when Bundy splashes Bugsy into oblivion, that puts the cherry on top, making this one of the best episodes of WCCW yet.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Murder She Wrote Recaps: S2E2: Joshua Peabody Died Here… Possibly


As is usually the case when a construction project is underway in Cabot Cove, a dead body is found on the site. This time it’s a fully intact skeleton, which makes identification difficult, although Sheriff Amos somehow thinks it belongs to an 18th century historical figure. Luckily, when another, more flesh-covered body is later found in the same spot, Jessica doesn’t have to resort to phrenology to solve the case.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 13: Raid on Las Vegas


General Warhawk has had enough of other people's plans. This time, he's scheming up a Warhawk original: He's going to blow up Hoover Dam, then, when all the cops of Las Vegas rush to help the victims, he and the rest of SAVAGE will steal all the money in Las Vegas!

Meanwhile, KAT is disguised as a Vegas showgirl and infiltrates the dressing room of Pandora, a woman who does a Vegas show consisting of panther stunts. Inside the room, she does that classic "shading the blank sheet of notepad paper with a pencil to reveal the indentations" trick and hits paydirt: "general Warhawk eight o' clock penthouse" is revealed!

Consider this: At this point, all General Warhawk has done is ride in a chopper with Sergeant Havoc and reveal his plan. There is absolutely no way that the Force of Freedom could have any idea what his scheme is, or even that he's anywhere near Las Vegas. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that KAT spends all her time in disguise, infiltrating people's private property and going through all their stuff in the vain hope that they have some kind of terrorist connection. KAT is basically the primitive form of the NSA.

Pandora arrives upon the scene and sics her panther on KAT, but KAT hits the cat in the face with a book and runs away, trying to hide in plain sight in the middle of a high-kicking chorus line. But she didn't count on the panther's finely tuned senses--he sniffs her out and Pandora ties her up with her whip.

Weird screengrab, I know.
Smash cut to Rambo and Turbo flying in a plane. "SOMETHING'S HAPPENED TO KAT!" Rambo yells, apparently having developed psychic powers. Turbo tries to calm his nerves: "Maybe she got tied up, couldn't make it to the phone." Rambo sends him a "that's not funny" look, and once again I remind you that there's absolutely no way they can know anything that has happened.

When they get to Vegas, Rambo makes Turbo stay to do maintenance on the plane (naturally) and goes to visit Pandora's penthouse suite, using his classic grappling hook/free climbing technique instead of, you know, taking the stairs or something.

Even blurry vision won't stop Rambo from finding KAT.
Inside the room, General Warhawk is interrogating KAT: "Tell me Rambo's plans." YOU'RE the one with plans, Warhawk. YOU! Remember? The dam? The explosion? Those plans are yours. Not Rambo's. Rambo never has any plans! He'd be more than happy to hang out with animals in the forest all day if you weren't doing anything.

Rambo attempts a daring rooftop rescue, but Pandora's panther pushes him off and he has to grapple onto a balcony to save himself. (By the way, that evens the score between Rambo and black panthers, if you're keeping track at home.)

The bad guys escape and tie up KAT in a shack in the desert, where she is freed from her ropes by a friendly rat, then eavesdrops on a meeting between Warhawk and a new member of SAVAGE: Black Dragon!

Must still be working on his black belt.
Turns out that Dragon and his crew of ninjas are going to be responsible for taking out Hoover Dam. They climb up the side (that's a huge ascent!) and take out the guards. Warhawk shows up and it's the first time I've ever seen him happy about anything! "You can always count on Black Dragon," he smiles. You hear that, Gripper? You're about to be put on a performance improvement plan.

By the way, how many evil black ninjas does it take to set up a bomb in Hoover Dam? Four. Four evil black ninjas. But it only takes one John Rambo to lug it back up to the top of the dam in less than a minute and throw it into the lake just feet away from the dam, where it explodes harmlessly.

His intricate plan foiled, Warhawk just plain decides to attack Vegas with one tank and a bunch of jeeps. He goes after "the biggest casino first": a carnival-themed joint where the ninjas take pleasure in distracting the trapeze artists so that they fall during their routine.

Note the giant icy gorilla.
Unfortunately, that just frees up the trapeze ropes to be used by Rambo in a surprise attack. He then blocks a bunch of thrown ninja stars with a roulette wheel and gets his win back over the black panther by strangling it into submission underwater(!) while KAT throws Pandora into a pool. Mission complete.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's Rambo Doing on His Day Off? #7


A baby condor, too eager to learn how to fly, has fallen from its nest. John Rambo places it in his backpack and climbs a mountain using only a rope and grappling hook. His quest: to return the baby condor to its worried siblings.

As seen in Rambo: The Force of Freedom episode 12: Cult of the Cobra.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let's Talk About Rambo: Episode 12: Cult of the Cobra


SAVAGE sure has been outsourcing a lot of their evil schemes lately. Just two episodes ago, they played second fiddle to the great grandson of Dracula, and in this episode, they're following the lead of Rama, the leader of the of India's Cult of the Cobra.

Not this one.
Or this one. :(
Rama's plan:

1.) Hijack a train carrying foodstuffs to one of India's provinces. This is accomplished by having three or four cultists jump onto the train and release single cobras from their bags. The train's conductor and guards, despite being armed, are so terrified that they jump off, leaving it completely undefended.

It's possible that the hijacked train was the Darjeeling Ltd.
2.) Apparently just starving people isn't enough. The SAVAGE thugs and cultists (including one guy riding a really mean elephant!) start harassing the hungry people of a local village. At this point Rambo shows up, runs off all the bad guys, and tames the elephant, which becomes his vehicle of choice for the rest of the episode.

3.) Rama and General Warhawk believe the only remaining obstacle to becoming king of India (or something? Their motivations are frustratingly vague) is an underground Indian military base. Thankfully, they've devised a totally-not-completely-bonkers plan to get rid of it: They make a cobra swallow a live bomb and then release it into the base's ventilation system.

That's when Rambo appears on the scene, riding the elephant with a little girl who claimed to be able to shave hours off their pachyderm travel time.

I believe this special ability is commonly known as "owning a map."
Rambo dives into the ventilation shaft, grabs the snake, forces the bomb out like he's getting the last bit of toothpaste out of a tube, and throws it from below the surface of the earth high enough into the sky that nothing takes any damage from its explosion.

Finally, it's time to take the battle to the Cult of the Cobra's home turf! The little Indian girl suspects that a mountain temple topped by a giant stone cobra that she recently stumbled across just might have some connection to the cult. Rambo and crew travel there––John is so enamored with his elephant transport (it can run as fast as a car!) that he even lets Turbo drive the attack jeep. Bad move, Rambo––when faced with a rock slide, Turbo says something about taking "an alternate route," but what he really means is "I'm going to drive the attack jeep of the side of a cliff and land it on a tree, leaving Rambo to assault the base on his own."

Not that that's a problem. Rambo drives his elephant right to the front door of the temple, then somehow wins a 1-on-4 assault rifle fight in which no one takes a bullet and drives SAVAGE out of India forever. High on victory, he foolishly tells his comrades that it'd be easy to solve the problem of world hunger if only people cared to make the effort.