This was a much better episode of NXT than the previous ones. Perhaps not because of who was on the episode but because this was a better flow before storyline and matches. Instead of cramming six debut matches down our throat we have three matches, two which were given a considerable amount of time. If there was anything in this episode I would complain about it would be the commentating. Regal seemed more disinterested than usual and JR seems to get lost easily. Saxton was the one trying to keep up. Otherwise, this show was great, but there can only be 4.
4. Aiden English vs. Bray Wyatt
I usually try to give the nod to matches before storylines, but today one of the matches ends up at 4. This was the debut for Bray Wyatt. What are they going to do with these “debuts” when the men forced to lose to them have their chance? “Debut” them again? A couple of mentions of Wyatt’s lineage, which makes no sense to me if they are trying to establish him as a separate character. However, despite that, Wyatt is fun to watch in the ring and while you knew English was going to lose they managed to tell a story of Wyatt’s insanity. It was the better of the “debuts” so far for NXT.
There are two interviews in this match. One Matt Striker conducts with Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater. Gabriel does a good job of sounding like a good guy who is ready for a match while Slater does his best at being comically odd, “What kind of statement are you going to make? That you got hair like a peacock?” The second interview is Briley Pierce interviewing Richie Steamboat with Leo Kruger interrupting. Ah, Leo Kruger, the King of Africa. Both did a good job at establishing storylines, even if some have been repeats, it’s better than just random matches thrown together, and that’s why the interviews made the list. Animosity and reasons for them are excellent tools to use.
2. The Usos vs. The Prime Time Players
The first thing I said when this match started was, “I am not looking forward to this.” Both teams are better paired with opponents that can help carry the match. Usually when you have a setup like this you are setting it up to fail. Who’d have thought that it wouldn’t? Darren at one point had to run to Titus’s arms and get a hug after a move from an Uso, which was hilarious, and after that the match stayed steady. Yes, more of this from these men.
1. Tyson Kidd vs. Camacho
This. Incredible. Camacho’s sure decided to step up his game in the ring, though it’s hard to have a bad match against Tyson Kidd. Hunico does a good job of being there and slowly making Kidd paranoid he’s going to interfere, which seems to be the reason Hunico is thrown out. Hunico puts up a fit but Camacho holds him back, telling him he’s got it, he can do this. He can, but there is interference, and it’s not from Hunico. Great, long match, that tells a story in the ring and with those who interfere.
As usual with most books I read I didn’t actually know what to expect going in. I usually have forgotten how the back cover read by the time I started the novel. The book was a mixture of Norse Mythology and Norse Gods, most who people will not even know the name of because there are only a select few most tend to know, with a pinch of those destined for Valhalla. If you barely remember your Norse mythology from school, have no fear. What you need to know is explained flawlessly and if it’s not important it is just left out completely.
This book gets points for not basing itself around Thor or Loki. Both make appearances, but it’s minor. The story is about the end of the world, Ragnarok, and has its major players as Hermod, one of Odin’s sons, Mist, a Valkyrie, and Grimnir, a warrior of Valhalla. What the book gets the most credit for is that is entirely self-contained. In less than 300 pages man-kind faces the end of the world and the book has a conclusion that works for it. Any other author would have written the same story and taken three books to do it, and maybe their story would not have been bad, but that he could do it in one was amazing.
Now because it’s a short story there are some parts where it seems to suffer. Things happen at an amazing pace and there were one or two points where I sort of sat there and went, “Uh, how did this happen?” While that might have dropped it to 4 stars normally the prose of the novel and the need to read and finish bumped it back up to 5. Excellently told story with a focus on myth and Midgard.
Reasons to Read:
- The Gods as they truly are, not a prettied up version
- Easy and quick read
- Interesting story about the end of the world
Reasons not to Read:
- The Gods as they truly are, some of the most self-serving gods in history
- No interest in Norse mythology
- Very quick so some of the characters suffer as a result
Yeah, just hopping right into this one!
4. Primo vs. Titus O’Neil
That hurt to type. My fingers begged me not to type. The voices screamed, “But Kofi is better than O’Neil, go with Kofi!” And I could not. Because for some asinine reason instead of using one of the man men they have that does not get used, ever, they put Kofi Kingston up against Rob Cabildo. Who? You got me! That means, on principle, I had to go with Primo and Titus, despite the fact that without the guidance of the NXT writers and, you know, any coaching at all really, Titus is back to being completely awful! And then AW, don’t get me started on his having a microphone so I get to listen him telling Titus about getting wood on him when I would rather be listening to Mathews (yeah, I said it). Number 4 this week is almost arbitrary. Kofi and Rob put on a better match, but how dare they use someone else when others are fighting for a spot on television? ARGH! At least there was Primo. At least.
3. Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
We’ve seen this match up recently, and frankly the other match was better. This wasn’t bad, it was a solid match, but considering I’m comparing it to the last one it falls short. Ryder’s still at his plateau, Swagger is aching to do more, and it makes a good match. Apparently Ryder’s charisma beat out Swagger’s mat technique, though (Striker…) as Ryder won the match with a Rough Ryder.
2. Antonio Cesaro vs. Alex Riley
Yup, this was the better match of all four. Riley wants it. Riley’s come around. Stop putting him in dark matches and give the crowd what they keep screaming for, and oh do they keep screaming when Riley comes out. Cesaro, while I don’t think he can cut a promo, was just about wrestling in this episode and that was perfect. Cesaro and Riley were a great match up and it’s something I haven’t seen before, so good for them!
1. Scott Stanford
Come on, do I have to keep telling you why every week? Besides the fact that he’s not Mathews or Striker, and Striker when he’s not trying is almost as incoherent as JR was on this week’s episode of NXT. So, instead of telling you, again, how incredible the man is, how he calls the match and tells the stories, and that he pays attention to what is going on, enthusiastic, and…
Oh, here are his top lines of the week:
“Oh that Bob Barker, always one of my favorites.”
“Now back here on #Superstars, the action already fast and furious.”
“This guy only knows one speed. Full speed ahead for Alex Riley.”
“And you get the extra bonus of Aksana bouncing around.”
“Both guys just itching for a win.”
“That’s his Lil’ Jimmy, you can’t take that away from him.”
“Swagger lands on the kiester.”
There was very little in character development this week, however the matches raised in quality. The top 4 matches were amazing and sadly it meant someone had to be left off, which meant Mike Dalton and Kassius Ohno didn’t make the list. Dalton is an incredible wrestler, but he once again was only used to make someone else look good this week. If I could add him to the list…
5. Mike Dalton’s Pants
4. Corey Graves and Jake Carter vs. CJ Parker and Nick Rogers
I haven’t seen Rogers in awhile, but it’s good to see him again. He and Parker get a better showing than the clear losers did from the previous two weeks, which I think helped make Graves and Carter look even better in this match. Graves and Carter play the part of men who will steal your girlfriend, and while their looks differ, there are women out there who will at least lust for one of them, and it works. In the ring these men will dominate and prove their techniques in this match. They use a tag team finish we’ve all seen before but they do it well enough that you can’t complain.
3. Seth Rollins vs. Camacho
Despite the fact that the commentators made this sound like a Hunico match when he accompanied Camacho to the ring, this was all Camacho’s. This was one of the better Rollins or Camacho matches I had seen so far. Rollins wins only for Hunico to rush in and start beating him up and then Bo Dallas runs in and scares Hunico and Camacho off. (Really?)
2. Derrick Bateman vs. Jinder Mahal
Despite a lot of hate for Mahal, he and Bateman put on a great show in the short amount of time they have to do so. Bateman takes Mahal down at one point that if it had been a little to Mahal’s left he might have been a bit injured. Instead it looked like Bateman pulled something. Pulled it enough he lost this match up, which made me whine for five minutes, but it doesn’t take away from the entertainment that he gives while in the ring. Why Mahal had to go after him again with a Camel Clutch when the bell had already rung, though, grrr….
1. Tyson Kidd, Seth Rollins, and Bo Dallas vs. Michael McGillicutty, Hunico, and Camacho
I thought Derrick had this one in the bag for being #1 and then this match happened. Kidd and Hunico do something in the ring I can’t remember ever seeing before and it’s worth watching just for that pair off alone, but everyone gets a chance to show off their skills and Dallas doesn’t do a spear which earns him extra points. The star of this match, despite the Kidd/Hunico thing, is McGillicutty. He proves he’s not just all about the “ground and pound” and dominates to pin Kidd. More matches like this on NXT, less squash, get some character development, and the show could take off.
The episode was actually filled with matches and promos, unfortunately not all of them were up to snuff in quality. Someone, and I won’t mention names, gave a promo and looked as confused by what he was saying as I felt hearing it. However, there were also some great points in this episode, like Summer Rae and Paige and a bit of Richie Steamboat. Oh, and the Top 4.
4. Adam Mercer vs. Eric Rowan
This one sort of slides into 4th place but could almost have been easily replaceable. I was looking forward to watching Mercer because after a few hype videos, then a disappearance, and now finally a match I was looking forward to seeing him wrestle. However, Eric Rowan is also on a roll and it lead to a slightly underwhelming match. But I look forward to getting to know these men more.
3. Brad Maddox vs. Conor O’Brian
This is another match-up that is more about a certain aspect than the wrestling, and while I love storytelling there were two matches too good to let even the Ascension get ahead of. Brad Maddox comes out to the ring to be overshadowed by the powerful Conor O’Brian who is accompanied to the ring with Kenneth Cameron. The entrance alone could have given them a spot on this episode but then they continued to be incredible. Maddox for his part does a great job of fearing the dark demons while Cameron sneaks up behind him without even needing to try and O’Brian does his job of being large and menacing. Oh, more please.
2. Big E Langston vs. Jason Jordan
It’s no secret I like both of these men so it should be no secret that as they were grappling I was holding my breath a lot. This was a hard to predict match because both men have been getting a push from the company. Jordan and Langston have grappling down and it’s always a pleasure to be able to see Langston show off his moves. This match had the perfect length, a great ending, great antics. So why didn’t it make number one?
1. Jiro vs. Rick Victor
I know, Jiro’s no longer with the company. I know, this match was shorter. But these are the types of matches I look forward to more than any other match. While Langston and Jordan put on an incredible grapple, Victor and Jiro refused to slow down. It’s a shame Jiro is gone because this was the match that proved the sort of wrestler he could be but instead the spot goes to Victor, who kept up, surpassed, and makes everyone realize that there is more to him than the little we’ve seen on NXT.
An interesting concept for a shoujo romance story. A young girl who was scarred for life by an adult video she watched when young shuns the attentions of older men or men her own age, much preferring men that are younger. Meeting a seemingly young boy and nearly instantly falling in love with him her foster father throws a wrench in her plans by introducing to her three men who are each her fiancé. She has to choose which man she will marry.
Unfortunately, the story itself falls apart. There is almost no reason for her to have a raging crush on young boys only, Takagi could have done this differently and still had him cursed. Instead, during the first novel the main heroine is crazed and needy for young boys and in the second she has an almost level head and while still showing signs of craziness does things almost selflessly and becomes a compassionate person.
Telling a story in only two novels is hard and will inevitably feel rushed, as this did. There is some resolution in the end, enough that the two short books aren’t left simply floundering, but there are still unanswered questions. If Takagi had not felt the restrictions of a two novel series she might have been able to tell her full story. It’s a shame she could not and instead we are left with a sort of mess.
The entire series grade: C
I received an ARC of this book from Gualtieri and I was absolutely prepared to be brutal when he said he could take it. I LOVE being brutal, it’s one of my favorite things to do. You know, don’t ask for my opinion if you can’t handle it. Imagine my disappointment when I dove into this novel and it was excellent! It went by quickly and did not linger on anything too long so that the comedic timing fell short or the gory action (and there was) seemed misplaced. Everything worked off of the next thing and the last thing.
The third book in the series it takes a huge step and stops foreshadowing things to come and sort of, well, brings it! While one reveal is a bit obvious the other blew me away. That Gualtieri can still surprise me in a series that is mostly comedy and action and seems like it should not be full of creative genius proves that he actually is a creative genius. The plot is well thought out through the three novels and this one only left me waiting for the next one.
Flaws with the story? None.
Reasons to Read:
- You read the first two and loved them, you’ll love this one
- Great style, comedy, storytelling
Reasons Not to Read:
- There isn’t one.
Ayla, of the Lightworld, is half-faery, half-human. Malachai is from the Darkworld and once was a Death Angel. A happenstance meeting has their lives intertwined and a love that is destined for greater things.
Sounds like an awful premise, to be honest, but Armintrout does a beautiful job with the story. This is not a simple love story, this is a story of obsession, of need, of different backgrounds, and of slightly different characters. Both Ayla and Malachai are twisted in thoughts and actions, She’s an Assassin he was an angel straight from God who has fallen, because of her. I do not want to give away too much of the plot because I was pleasantly surprised by most of it and would like any readers to have the same ride.
My complaints about this book, because we know I always have a complaint, is that it’s really a short novel that seems to be thickened up with pretty descriptions that are wholly unnecessary. The plot is basic, while the characters are not, but the description seems to come in at such odd times as if it is just filler. I found if I wanted I could easily skip much of the description and only read the conversation and not have missed a thing. I never recommend this, because you might miss something, but in this case it was possible.
Still, the Lightworld/Darkworld, or two separate Fae kingdoms, are given such a different outlook, darker, without really romanticizing the struggles of the Fae, that this novel captured me and made me want to read more. For once I do not regret buying an entire trilogy at once. Granted, this was only book one, but if she keeps up the pace for the next two I might turn out to be a happy reader.
Reasons to Read:
- Deep Characters
- Interesting Looks at Betrayal
- A Darker look at the Fae World than most Romance novels offer
- A contained story in book 1
Reasons Not to Read:
- Too much needless descriptions during conversations
- Not a romantic love story
Three matches, all commentated by Josh Mathews, one with Matt Striker, two with Scott Stanford. I guess I should put “commentated” in quotes with the whole Mathews thing since he spent a lot of time staring in the blankness. Wow.
4. Yoshi Tatsu vs. Hunico
I know little kids like Yoshi, but it surprises me when he’s out there and wrestling how much the crowd gets behind him. This is another moment where Yoshi gets the cheers and Hunico gets the boos, but Yoshi’s are much louder and clearer. Everyone accuses WWE of piping in sound, but it’s rarely done on NXT or Superstars. Of course I think people want to go straight to “piped in sound” when they don’t want to believe someone they like or dislike is truly getting pops or boos. Anyway, Yoshi was over and the crowd loved him, but you knew this match was about Hunico, who is an incredible wrestler. Unfortunately they decided to saddle him with a stereotype gimmick, and we know what happens to those with a stereotype gimmick. Obscurity. No matter if they are incredible, or not-so-incredible.
3. Alex Riley vs. Jinder Mahal
Riley needs to stop with the grenades. Those aren’t “A-Bombs”. Other than that, though, Riley comes out and gets the crowd ready to scream his name. He’s one of those guys that the internet laughs at but a crowd goes wild for. He has the looks, he finally has the moves, and they put him up against Jinder Mahal. I complain constantly Mahal always wins with the Camel Clutch (as he does here as well) but to be honest Mahal has come along way since his over-push a year ago. And while Mahal always wins with a Camel Clutch he doesn’t gloat over his enemy as they have fallen and pose before going for it. Riley was down and Mahal went straight in to the submission. Sometimes there is no time for gloating.
2. Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger
Wow. SWAGGER WON!!! Swagger won, Swagger won, Swagger won! I literally jumped off of the couch and cheered. Swagger is an excellent wrestler and deserves to beat down someone for once. I honestly did not see his win coming. He was dominant through most of it, which usually means the face needs to superman up and take the win. I like Ryder, so this isn’t a dig on him, but Ryder gains nothing from the win over Swagger other than the loud cheers that accompany him already to the ring. Instead this match was able to show off the Swagger Skills which people blatantly ignore. Excellent match.
1. Scott Stanford
Revving up his engines and ready to go right out of the dock Scott puts on a cap of enthusiasm and embraces the matches in front of him. Managing to sound excited for every match up and like he’s never seen anything as incredible as this match in his life he makes you believe each of these men are stars worthy of the main event on Raw. Yes, he tells stories, like how Jinder Mahal had once dated Aishwarya Rai, one of these most famous Bollywood actresses who might be one of the most beautiful women in the world, but he adds to the character of the wrestler that does not get developed on screen in matches. He paints a picture of Mahal that no one else sees and you can now look at Mahal, or Swagger, or even Ryder with a new light. Scott may appear random at times but you come away with something that you didn’t have going in and you’ll remember it later.
Usually transitional books are one of my least favorite things. What I mean by a transitional book is that it is in place to set up the rest. Many story lines that will feature bigger later are introduced without a lot of resolution. The reason I typically despise these types of novels is because it feels like a setup the entire time. You know there will be a sequel so you see the first sign of continued storylines and you begin to cringe.
Didn’t happen once in this novel, and I saw myself being setup early. When I was 42% of this novel wondering where the heck it was going, but enjoying the ride so much it took me getting that far before I considered what had happened, I knew I was in for a Hell of a ride. Gualtieri again takes his humor to another level and I spent most of this book laughing.
Now, I can handle crude humor and the constant references to sex, blood and gore, a lack of humanity, and a general lack of maturity from Bill’s friends. I’m perverse, this stuff is amazingly insane and fluid and I want more of it. Do I admit not everyone I know would enjoy this novel? Absolutely. This novel, the sequel to Bill The Vampire, is written for nerd boys, or geeks, who wish they were getting laid and hope for something better. This novel is written for those who understand the argument between which sword in Lord of the Rings was better. This novel is written for those who get the reference about Japanese culture and a hint at tentacles making an appearance. If you understand these references, or it makes you chuckle just thinking about it, this absolutely is the novel for you. Bill is still a nerd, he’s still falling on his ass when it comes to women, but hey, at least he’s a vampire. Right?
Sally, Bill’s vampire “assistant” grows on me much more in this novel and even he felt less of a reason to call her a bitch. Ed grows as a character and Sheila and James both return in interesting capacities. This novel also introduces Gan, who I’m rooting for in so many ways. I won’t explain too much about Gan because it really would be a spoiler, but I sure hope to see more of her later.
Reasons to Read:
- You’re a nerd/geek
- You like a lot of talk about sex
- It’s by Rick Gualtieri
- I like vampires
Reasons Not to Read:
- Most of this blog sounded like gibberish to you. You’re not a nerd. You don’t get it.
- You have no sense of humor
- You’re a prude
- You have a personal vendetta with Gualtieri from 20 years ago and you have vowed revenge and you are secretly trying to sabotage his publication experience by telling people not to buy his novels and thus taking away his livelihood all while you laugh from the sidelines and publish your similar novel that somehow is even geekier but no one is buying because you are just another evil mastermind in a world of evil mastermind’s and you would have been better off taking a totally different approach because this is all pretty contrived and I can’t believe you are still reading this.