Despite the fact that Mr. Hicks says that you can go into this novel not having read any of the previous novels I have to sincerely disagree. Now, do you have to have read all of them? No. But I think having read In Her Name: Empire saved me from being completely confused. There are a lot of cultural references for the Kreela that if you have not read anything before might seem confusing, especially their almost brutal form of life in such an advanced race.
For me this hurt the book none at all. I’ve read something, I understood the culture, and therefore could foam at the mouth as I read further and further. Foaming in enjoyment. Okay, salivating.
The book mostly reads like a very well thought-out prequel. This is the first book in a new trilogy and it shows in an almost marvelous way. Instead of giving us a story and then writing about how it came to pass later, Hicks decides to give us how the story starts and then will move on from there.
To touch on the plot there is an evil queen, good warriors, good priests and acolytes, and a lot of mind-rape, another thing interesting about this society. In the end it comes down to protecting one child. There are a slew of characters, none who you get too much of a feel for other than Ayan-Dar, a bad-ass priest with one arm and an open attitude.
Excellently told to the point you may never guess this was written by an independent author if you did not already know, this story is captivating and keeps the interest of the reader from beginning to end. This is one of those novels that absolutely plot-driven as opposed to character driven. Here’s two things to know about me and my choices and why giving this 4-5 stars is amazing: I typically hate sci-fi, I typically prefer character-driven. While this is less sci-fi than Empire and more in the realm of fantasy, it still touches on it enough that normally I might have cringed. Instead, I’m celebrating, and thinking everyone who enjoys fantasy, sci-fi, or a well told story should read it.
Reasons to Read:
- Better blue aliens than Avatar
- Interesting culture
- Sci-fi/Fantasy fan
- You enjoy trilogies
- You enjoy good books
Reasons Not To Read:
- You can not enjoy a plot-driven novel
- You have not read a previous In Her Name novel
- You can not get in to sci-fi or fantasy on any level
“Roll it, Jumbotron!”
As 100th episodes of a show go this one decided to go all out. The very first match is a no DQ between Titus O’Neil and Darren Young that saw O’Neil turning heel. This does not make the top four though because, let’s face it, O’Neil is awful. The only thing he has going for him is his seal bark and he insists it’s a dog bark. The other match to not make the list was Heath Slater vs. Percy Watson. Slater has no moves that are really his own and while he’s not a bad wrestler he has nothing that makes him stand out. Watson has a few out of nowhere moves that do not seem to work for him. Solid workers that need different moves. That the Watson and Slater match also told no story keeps it off the list but does not make them people to simply be brushed aside.
4. Michael Cole
Michael Cole comes back to NXT for the 100th episode. While I lament the loss of William Regal on commentary, Michael Cole can make Josh Mathews shine. Mathews can make his snarky comments and be shot down by Cole’s overbearing attitude and they can be a highlight in commentary. Cole dismisses O’Neil and praises Curtis and even makes a MidCard Mafia reference. Cole may be the most hated man on commentary but he really does know what he’s doing out there. He proves it again that NXT is the place where Cole is best, because he can be crazy, goofy, or a complete jackass and it counts for naught because this is the place where you form your own opinions and the WWE is not forming them for you. Michael Cole’s overreactions to everything during The Wedding had me laughing so hard, the only man that had him beat this episode was Derrick Bateman.
3. Yoshi Tatsu & Trent Barreta vs. Tyler Reks & Curt Hawkins
Sure, we have seen this before, but they have a rivalry going on that works. This particular match has no build up ahead of time as most of the show goes to the Titus O’Neil drone promo and the wedding at the end, but that’s okay because the story has been progressing. The biggest plus on this match is that Reks gets the pin on Tatsu. I know, I am a bit biased, but honestly I love all four of these men. I am torn every time they step into the ring, but Reks needed the win more than Tatsu or Barreta did at this point and it made no one look weak. This is the most fun feud since Tyson Kidd and Yoshi Tatsu were fighting over an action figure!
As Elvis, the man who would preside over the wedding, stepped out I felt my jaw drop. No, it could not be, yes, it was! Matt Striker! “I know Elvis is supposed to be taller, but thank you very much. I’d like to thank Carrot Top, he ordained me, thank you, thank you very much.” “Are you all ready to see the lovely bride? Giggity giggity!” If that’s not your sense of humor, I apologize, but… seriously… words can not express how much I loved this.
1. The Wedding
Let us face it, there was never a doubt that this wedding was not going to happen, but damn did they do a great job capturing the hilarity of Johnny Curtis, Maxine, and of course Derrick Bateman. First Maxine can not understand who it is standing with Curtis, “This is Chad! Chris, Chris, this is Chris. He’s my best man!” Then Striker breaks character to exclaim, “Hang on a second, there is no one here that objects to this wedding?” Of course, there was someone who wanted to interrupt this wedding. “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIT! This must end!” This all culminates into a brawl between Bateman and Curtis with Maxine joining in and fish hooking Curtis. This has been my favorite episode of NXT yet, and anyone who knows me does know that I have been a fan of NXT since day one.
Anyone who talks to me knows that I am a huge fan of the commentating in WWE. Why? Because the commentating can make or break a match. Cole often breaks them. Stanford often makes them. No one ever agrees on their dream teams so I figured a few of my usual smattering would discuss who they want to see.
I pride myself being of a short-term memory, so I will stick within the company of current commentators. This gives me the option of Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Matt Striker, Josh Mathews, Jack Korpela, Booker T, William Regal, and Scott Stanford.
Well we know number one is Scott Stanford. Second would be Matt Striker. If I can pick a third I think I would sprinkle in William Regal. And all of them would commentate for Raw.
I choose Raw as their seat of power for one reason: these three men are the ones who put the superstars over. They tell the audience what is great, or faulty, with the superstars in the ring. Regal and his barbs are biting yet said in such a hushed tone that instead of sounding angry as he insults the superstar for the fifty-third time in an episode he just says a few words that are enough. If a few words and a hushed tone is all it takes to sell that the wrestler in the ring is a heel and deserves to be booed, why go over the top?
Matt Striker, to me, is a commentator who makes excellent calls of what is going on in the ring, I know because I have learned more from Striker over the years than most other commentators calling a move. He also is the best at transitioning between heel and face and advertisement. Striker will talk about the match then announce the next PPV in the same breath and no one really notices that he’s stopped talking about the match.
Of course saving the best for last is Scott Stanford. While Scott Stanford has proven he can talk to the audience about anyone and they pay attention, here he has his time to really shine. His goofy comments about a face will fit in perfectly and it would make him the loudest man at the commentary table, and he does it without screaming.
The Raw show needs three commentators who will make the wrestlers look better because despite being their main show and the one people watch it has the poorest structure for matches. If a superstar has three minutes to put on a match they deserve to have someone who will call this match like it should be called and give the superstars the attention they deserve.
My dream commentary team would be:
Matt Striker – I don’t care what people think of him, I think he’s ace. He actually talks about the match, puts over the wrestlers and doesn’t take himself too seriously.
CM Punk – Who can say they didn’t enjoy his commentary stint at the start of the year? It was absolutely hilarious!
As for the third, it’s a bit harder…
I enjoyed JBL on commentary, he just heeled on the wrestlers he didn’t like in real life and bigged up the ones he did. Mick Foley was good on commentary even if he didn’t particularly enjoy it. Wade Barrett is amazing on the mic and great in commentary on the odd occasion he joins the table, he also commentated for FCW when injured and I thought he was amazing. Kelly Kelly because I’m a male. No need for a microphone, she can just sit there.
(I also put into debate Scott Stanford) I’m not entirely sure what it is about Scott Stanford that makes me like him so much but he just has this kind of way of doing things, he always brings a smile to your face, whether it’s his jokes or his one-liners. He also actually commentates on the match and it’s always interesting listening to him. The ‘I was talking to X earlier’ stuff is always a joy to hear because it shows he actually cares and has thought about it enough to make up the fact that he was talking to X earlier! Although the things he says X said are often what they probably would say!
However I think I’ll plump for William Regal is also amazing on commentary, unbelievably hilarious and very relevant.
Between Striker, Punk and Regal you’ve got 3 guys who have been there and done it at various levels and various degrees of notoriety. Striker’s career essentially went nowhere, even though I thought he was a solid wrestler and played his heel gimmick well. Regal has to be near the top, or top, of anyone’s list of greatest wrestlers never to be World Champ. I’d put Perfect, Owen Hart and Ultimo Dragon up there with him (off the top of my head). CM Punk’s career has been a mixture of the previous two and then super-stardom.
Also you’ve got 3 guys who are funny, keep it relevant and don’t pretend they weren’t one of the dirtiest heels in the business (I like King, but he was 100x better as a heel IMO).
As for which show I’d put them on, I’m not sure. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even care all that much because they’d make whatever show they were on better IMO… So I’ll go for the BBC News!
There are only four commentators in the WWE I believe even try to actually put over talent these days. If someone is unwilling or unable to promote the actual talent in a positive way, I don’t want that person doing commentary. Therefore, the four people under any sort of consideration are William Regal, Matt Striker, Booker T, and Scott Stanford. I listed Scott last in order to build tension. Technically, there would be five, but I’m going to exclude JR who may or may not return to doing commentary at some point. Either way, I have a lot of respect for JR, but I don’t want to see him on Raw every week, so there’s no way he’s making my Dream Commentary Team.
I don’t have a strong opinion about which show the DCT should handle, but for the sake of argument, I’ll say Raw. I tend to prefer Smackdown, but Raw is the “flagship” show. In a world where I get to decide on who does commentary, I am confident that I could fix the other issues I have with Raw. If we’re going with a two man team, give me Stanford and Regal. Stanford’s one of two commentators the WWE has who manages to sound consistently excited about what his happening. Having someone who will be consistently upbeat makes everything more watchable. Besides, Stanford is better spoken and has a better voice than pretty much every other option here. His partner would be William Regal. This is a no brainer, since Regal is brilliant in every way. The only thing that could make me consider going with my next choice (Matt Striker) would be the possibility of giving Regal one last push as an actual in ring competitor. A Stanford/Striker team would be quite glorious in its own right, but I have to give the edge to Regal.
I’d be tempted to toss Booker T into the group as the third man, just for the hilarious Booker-isms that he pulls out so often. He’s also the other guy who is always excited, which is a plus. If I needed a three man team, I couldn’t go wrong with Stanford/Regal/Booker or Stanford/Striker/Booker. Stanford/Regal/Striker might work, but I have the feeling that someone would get lost in the shuffle.
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon. On any show. Of course, that’s impossible. But that’s my perfect commentary. And since perfection can’t be achieved, I’ll simply deal with what they give us, although I’d love to put a dry cleaning bag over Jerry Lawler’s head with the instructions to “inhale deeply”, because his commentary makes me homicidal. While I like Booker as a performer and can respect him in-ring, I have commented on Twitter, jokingly, but offline, cringe when I turn closed captioning on. (I’m not deaf, lol. I sometimes use it so I don’t turn the TV up too loud so my son can sleep). Some of what Booker says does not translate kindly to CCTV, which makes me wonder exactly wtf the deaf viewers think. Example: Why would an Irishman have a “Bro Kick”? It’s brogue. I know a lot of fault will lie with those transcribing, but sometimes it is difficult to understand his commentary (beyond the quacking and things that just don’t..seem to fit into broadcasting schematics. But maybe it’s me. Again, idk.) I don’t hate Cole as much as I “should”, although I hate that they’ve put him in the ring. With as much talent as the rosters hold, you really don’t need him, nor JR, mixing it up in the ring. So..yeah. Gorilla and The Brain for me. Oh, let me just add one thing on Scott Stanford. Until he’s incorporated into a show and used *properly* on a routine basis, I think that WWE does a disservice to themselves. You’re paying a guy who’s won Emmys. Who the tri-state area knows from NBC. To quote the Y U NO guy:
WWE! Y U NO USE STANFORD RIGHT?
Last night’s RAW was a disappointment to most who watched it. Perhaps not everyone thought it was awful but the majority of the people I had spoken to were unhappy with Monday Night Raw.
While the show did have a couple of good highlights, there was a couple of interesting matches that were overshadowed by everything going on. Even John Morrison did not lose in three minutes and put on an entertaining match with Wade Barrett.
Instead of doing four reasons to watch Raw, though, I’m going to tell you the four things that should have chased people away:
4. Michael Cole vs. JR
There was not a match in itself last night but Michael Cole did issue JR a challenge. JR was not there to accept or refuse. Cole told JR if JR beats him in the Cole Challenge than Cole will quit. I have always been a supporter of Cole. While not thinking he was the best commentator he does what he does well, which is mostly get the audience to root for or boo a man. Even if you do not realize it’s happening, he’s swaying your decisions, just like he does on whether you like him or not. However this is a wrestling show. If you want the commentators to do something it should be a plotline revolving around a Superstar, not around the commentators. For example, Matt Striker coming out as Tyson Kidd’s manager on Superstars a few months back. That worked. Striker has the personality and it was still more about Kidd than it was Striker. John Cena and JR vs. Alberto Del Rio and Cole was about Cole and JR, not the Superstars.
Many of you will ask if I would feel differently if it was Scott Stanford issuing a challenge to Jack Korpela. Nope. These men are good at speaking. They are not wrestlers. They announce matches and put over the Superstars. That is what they are supposed to do. Not promote themselves.
3. CM Punk
I loved CM Punk a few months ago when he was ready to quit. Now CM Punk sounds angry for the sake of being angry and I can not get back behind him. I was bored enough during Punk’s speaking I got up and left the room to go play with one of the cats for awhile.
2. John Cena announcing his tag partner as The Rock
Unfortunately this was the most anticlimactic moment in awhile. WWE had announced this back in September and so when it came time for Cena to actually make it official I could not bring myself to care. I am excited to see The Rock do something, but The Rock has already “come back” and has not made a lot of appearances since. I’m a big Rock fan and still I am not excited to see him in Survivor Series. There should have been more build or at least a lack of spilling this match at the pay-per-view. WWE holds on to its spoilers so hard, why did this one have to leak?
1. Does He Have a Pulse/Recap
Just two days ago I complained that the Pre Show was one large Raw recap show, when Raw has enough recaps. In case you missed it, here’s where Raw recaps: NXT, Superstars, Smackdown, Pre Shows, and Bottom Line. To name a few. To be honest I do not watch After Burn but I’m guessing it does much of the same thing.
Raw became it’s own recap show last night. Triple H, who we all knew was injured from when Kevin Nash threw him to the ring Sunday night, decided he has too much pride to let that take him out. So he had to be assaulted with a sledgehammer and proceed to have a seizure. Then be assaulted again as he was being lifted into the ambulance. Triple H does not go down easily.
After the first half an hour of this, and then a commercial break, we come back to, you guessed it, a recap. A recap of what just happened not ten minutes ago! Then the show does something later that I can not believe it didn’t think better of. It recapped this again.
I hate recaps. I want them to go away. Or at least not take up nearly a half an hour of a two hours show. But this did not repulse me nearly as much as the line, “Does he have a pulse?” Don’t you think you are pushing it a bit, Triple H? You can’t admit you were injured so we have to go so far as to try to believe you might have died from these attacks?
These bits were enough in the show to make me lose a lot of faith, and it only took one episode. I won’t stop watching because I still love WWE. But why is it my least favorite show but out by them is the main one?
When asked to name one thing people liked least about last night’s RAW here are a few of the smatterings of replies I received:
TheSupremeForce: Raw being a recap show for itself just to ensure that every person on the planet saw the stupid opening segment.
BizarroDoom: No Daniel Bryan. Again. And, if he HAD been on, he would’ve lost. Again.
StanfordArmy: CM Punk and his long promos. They were interesting once. No longer.
Yawsrko: Not enough John Laurinaitis and too much Hunter. And one line: “Does he have a pulse?”
Right2PlayGod: a lack of @scottstanford1 Honestly the tag match while good is what we’ve been seeing for weeks. Orton v Rhodes, sheamus v christian. Its over played. I think Orton Rhodes isn’t done just yet but .christian sheamus is killing me
meatredfish: Cole was annoying
Pichigo_Soul: Johnny Ace
Samalamalamalam: The one thing that really annoyed me tonight was Johnny Ace’s promo skills.
ImAMelFo: Didn’t like Cody losing for the 2nd night in a row. He’s ur IC champ, & he is being booked to lose clean which makes him weak.
mastersolace: the fact that John Laryngitis is @WWERawGM and he ain’t smart enough to pronounce Universe.
Shanicesaunt: that they kept replaying nash attacking the game
OWA_Sephiroth: Zack Ryder should’ve been in that main event. If there’s no follow up, then they absolutely blue-balled us.
Every week I come out with the top 4 reasons to watch the lesser known shows. Last week for Superstars I could only come up with three. This week I’m not even going to bother. This was the week where I was with the rest of the crowds understanding what is chasing people away from watching this show.
We start off the show with Jinder Mahal and Ted Dibiase. Even the piped in sounds don’t bother trying to be enthusiastic. Jack Korpela tries to save this match by showing his usual enthusiasm that only Korpela can muster every week. His enthusiasm might not be on par with my favorite commentator’s, but he tries every week to tell the story in the ring.
I can honestly say I’m not sure if Matt Striker is bored with the match in front of him or just told he has to mention the pay-per-view X amount of times during the match. Listening to Striker is a recap of Raw and a preview to the pay-per-view. While Striker is excellent when calling a match I don’t need the recap. The people who watch Superstars have watched Raw. And likely NXT. And will watch Smackdown. And the pay-per-view. These are the die-hard fans. Give them more of what they want.
After a match that I could not get motivated for we switch to the Raw portion of the evening which brings out Santino vs. Heath Slater. This match is to be Slater’s embarrassment before he is suspended because for some reason all of the wrestlers that are suspended need their embarrassment before going off screen. What better way to embarrass a man than letting him lose to Santino? Except Santino is incredibly popular, even if his new coif of hair is a little disturbing. This was probably my favorite match of the night and the one that our announcers for Raw (Scott Stanford and Josh Mathews) seemed to appreciate the most.
The last match of the evening is Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston in case you stopped watching WWE in the last few weeks) vs. Drew McIntyre and Michael McGuillicutty. You already know who is going to lose because, honestly, when was the last time Drew didn’t lose? This match could not hold my interest. I kept straining to hear the commentary in hopes that it would save the match and even Mathews and Stanford’s play at animosity could not save it. The two of them seemed as bored as I was feeling. This can’t possibly be a good sign.
Perhaps I am reading too much into it? I listen to Stanford’s commentary every week, three or four times. I pick out his best lines of the night. I make comments on the clothing he wears. I take screen caps of the man! So why did I feel like neither he nor Mathews wanted to be calling this last match?
WWE had future endeavored Superstars from wwe.com only to turn around and bring it back two weeks later. Once they brought it back they only seemed to make the show progressively worse. Once again they seem to be anti-themselves. They were going to show it on the WWE Network, we would get it then. Then they turn around and bring it back and make it a more sub-par imitation of itself. Is this supposed to be what whets our appetites and makes us salivate for more? They are lucky they have Stanford or I might decide I have something better to do Thursday nights.
Best part of the evening was this exchange between Mathews and Stanford:
“One too many chimichangas for me, but other than that I’ve been having a ball.” “I spent the week trying to avoid hanging out with you.” “I noticed, I called you a few times.” “My phone doesn’t work down here.” “Very convenient.”
Other memorable Stanford quotes this episode:
“By the way, I really love the word chimichanga so is it all right if I just throw it in a few times?”
“Senoritas and margaritas.”
“Santino, staying alive once again.”
“Hook of the leg, no! Still can’t get to three.”
About Slater: “It’s amazing that he hangs out with Axle Rose. I used to love Journey.” Josh’s snort in retaliation to this tickled me pink. “Nah, I’m kidding, you kidding? Guns N’ Roses one of my favorites. Don’t stop believing, my friend.”
“That’s gotta do it!”
By now everyone knows that Raw had the largest drop off from the first to second hour in ratings in over four years. That’s huge. And it happened for a good reason. Raw was too carried away with its own momentum and storylines. After last week’s episode I had to wonder if the storyline was good, or bad. I ultimately went with good because I was not sure where it was going.
This week I still, even over twenty-four hours later, can not seem to conclude that what they did with it on Monday night was actually good. None of it really surprised me, besides JR’s firing.
But it’s Raw. There had to be some good to it, right?
And here’s the list I compiled of the good things, in order of appearance.
- CM Punk
I think most of CM Punk‘s lines speak for themselves:
“You want me to do commentary?” “I want you to do commentary.” “Can I wear your blazer?” “You can even wear my blazer.” “I’m in!”
“Don’t screw it up they say, how nice of the fans. Don’t screw it up.”
“I’m like Bob Uecker.”
“Who’s gonna win?”
Now we knew it could not last long. Punk alone on commentary is entertaining, but he needs someone to play up to. Of course everyone who follows me on twitter knows my dream team would be reuniting CM Punk and Scott Stanford. However, this really is just going to focus on what was good about Raw.
- Teaming up the four heels of Swagger, Rhodes, Christian, and Ziggler.
These four work well off of one another. If I could have my way, Vickie would be taking Cody Rhodes and Christian under her wing as well just so I can see more of all of them together. It also showed something very important: bullying still exists at ringside. The exact thing some of the wrestlers were protesting happened in the very first match back. The men behaved but it still was striking a point that was actually subtle.
- Cody Rhodes bagging Randy Orton.
Cody Rhodes interrupted the match between Mark Henry and Randy Orton, mostly because there was no way Henry was getting a third win over Randy Orton, cleanly. At least not at this point. When Cody Rhodes had one of his lackeys run and grab a bag I honestly had turned to my boyfriend and said, “There’s no way Rhodes bags him.” And was giddy when I was wrong. I’m a huge mark for Randy Orton and I was still cheering for Cody Rhodes and his Guccis! Cody decided to have a maniacal moment as he lost control of his laughter and the moment was exquisite.
- Rosa Mendes
She may not be the best wrestler of the diva division, but screw it, she’s the best looking. Also when Kelly Kelly had her in the corner and seemed to be trying to put her butt in Rosa’s face Rosa said no to that and pushed her away.
- The return of The Miz and R-Truth
Oh, we all knew they were coming back sooner or later. It was not even that shocking. However I love watching R-Truth and The Miz telling the audience, “You suck,” as they enter. R-Truth enunciates better as a rapper as a heel and with The Miz accompanying him the crowd can not help but boo. Especially as Michael Cole nearly jumps for joy as he sees his favorite tag team together again.
Now for what I might consider the bad part of Raw. Am I reading too much into the Morrison angle, or is this something the WWE is doing to toy with the fans because they know there is a lot of internet speculation? They’ve done it before. But Triple H did “re-sign” John Morrison. In turn John Morrison was one of the superstars to walk out on Triple H. Will Laurinaitis take that as a reason to fire Morrison? Rumors are that his contract are nearly up and they have lost interest in him. Since he returned he no longer seems to be the same Morrison that made ladies’ hearts throb.
I used to love John Morrison. The bedazzled pants, the fur jackets, the wavy salon style hair. Now he’s become Job Morrison and it’s a bit heartbreaking, if I could bring myself to be that invested. Internet rumors do not help my level of interest, but it will be interesting to see where it goes.
What was your favorite moment of Raw? What was your least?
Cole: “Way to go JR, I actually had some respect for ya.” JR: “Well that’s unnecessary.”