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On September 7th in Harbin China, Middle Kingdom Wrestling held their first Kingdom Rumble event. Cam Ferguson came to the ring first and cut a heel promo in Chinese. His opponent was KC,  which made this a match between two big guys to start the event. When coming to the ring Cam had a large chain around his neck that he would later use to win the match.

Tag team action followed with Bamboo Crusher and Black Mamba against Bitman and Buffa, who came to the ring dancing and had a Big Boom box straight out of the 1980’s. Crusher and Black Mamba managed to be victorious over their much larger opponents.

Rocky Huynh out of Vietnam defended his SPWC title against Ash Silva, who was accompanied to the ring by fellow stable members Chairman Al and Lady Marie. This was a back and forth acrobatic match with action spilling out of the ring. Despite being in the Stable’s home turf and being outnumbered at ringside, Rocky managed to retain his title via a small package pin over Ash Silva.

Women’s tag team action followed with Zeda Chang and Japanese wrestler Asuka facing off against Ray Lynn, out of Pittsburgh USA, and  the “Queen of Philippine Wrestling,” Crystal. Asuka and Crystal both were high flyers that brought great acrobatics to the match. Zeda and Asuka were victorious.

The last standard match had MKW Champion “Masterclass” Michael Su against former champion and Stable member Big Sam. The former champ came off as a heel right away, giving the middle finger to a fan who wanted to take a selfie with him. Shortly afterwards the action began out of the ring as Michael Su dove between the ropes onto Big Sam. The two fought in the crowd for a while before bringing the fight into the ring. Lady Marie again was ringside and took a bump for her troubles, and soon Su retained.

The main event of the evening was the Kingdom Rumble match, which would start with two MKW superstars, with another entering every 90 seconds for a battle royal style match. Once all but two wrestlers are eliminated, the Kingdom Rumble becomes a traditional pinfall/submission match, the winner gaining a title shot at MKW’s Bash at the Bay event in December. Nine superstars were advertised for the Kingdom Rumble match, including “Pretty Professional Producer” Peter Avalon of AEW fame, and Ho Ho Lun and Zeda Chang, who both appeared in WWE/NXT. Their were also six unknown/surprise entrants.

The Kingdom Rumble Match can be viewed here, below the video the results are listed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order of entry                                  Order of Elimination

1: Ho Ho Lun                                    1: DC Chen

2: Zombie Dragon                             2: Lin DongXuan

3: Uncle Money                                 3: VR Nikk

4: DC Chen                                         4: Steve the ESL Teacher

5: Lin DongXuan                                5: Ho Ho Lun

6: Ash Silva                                         6: Uncle Money

7: VR Nikk                                           7: Ash Silva

8: Black Mamba                                  8: Chairman Al

9: Steve the ESL Teacher                    9: Black Mamba

10: Peter Avalon                                10: Tommy Combat

11: Jalapeno Lopez                            11: Bamboo Crusher

12: Tommy Combat                           12: Jalepeno Lopez

13: Zeda Chang                                  13: Zeda Chang (With interference from Ray Lyn

14: Chairman Al                                 14: Peter Avalon (via pinfall)

15: Bamboo Crusher

 

Winner of the Kingdom Rumble Match, Zombie Dragon, who will get a title shot at MKW’s Bash at the Bay in Shenzen this December.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday August 10th, Pennsylvania Premiere Wrestling (PPW) hosted Brawl at the Mall, at the Marketplace at Steamtown in Scranton Pennsylvania. There was a meet and greet at 5pm in which many of the wrestlers had merchandise tables and signed autographs. Wrestlers at the meet and greet included Holidead, local favorite Adena Steele, and WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware.

koko

The show opened with PPW TV Champion Johnny Moran issuing an open challenge, which was answered by both Michael Mint and Chubby Daddy. The boss of PPW, who sat at ringside as one of three commentators, agreed that a triple threat match would be on for tonight.

Following this was the first proper match of the evening, a tag team match between the Sons of Dogtown and the Mane Event, which was a tag team duo featuring a masked wrestler playing the part of the lion, and his partner playing the part of a trainer complete with a sparling gold hat. They had a lot of humorous bits, including the trainer holding a hoopla hoop that the lion would jump through and land on his opponent. The Son’s of Dogtown were skater punks managed by a blue haired punk girl named Delilah. They had a bit where one of them rode their skateboard in the ring launching an attack on their opponent. Never the less, Mane Event were victorious.

Mane Event

Another tag team match had Issak Ruhl and Lamar Hawkins vs Antonio Rivera and Drew Adams. Drew was a skinny wrestler who avoided action the whole match and drew a lot of heat from the crowd, especially as his partner was defeated. Other tag team action on the card included the Diamond City War Machines vs the Sambo Show.

Koko B. Ware was in a six man tag partnering with Matt Turner and John Wes. Their opponents were Alexander Bateman, RJS, and a mystery partner which turned out to be James Ellsworth of more recent WWE fame. The two ex WWE stars hassled each other on the mic, with Koko referring to Ellsworth as Vince McMahon’s gopher. During the match Koko brawled outside the ring with Ellsworth while one of his teammates gained a submission victory.

After the match Koko called the kids in the audience to come into the ring. There they did his famous bird dance and he talked to him about the importance of doing well in the upcoming school year.

Koko ring

Singles action included Clutch Adams vs Mantequilla, Charles Mason vs Breaux Keller, the PPA Champion Evander James retaining against Façade, and Scranton’s own Adena Steele won in front of her hometown crowd against Ultra Violette.

Adena

Women’s champion Christina Marie defended against Holidead,  monster like character who crawled on the mat during her ring entrance and had a painted face. Holidead was a face however, to the heel champion, who retained after hitting her opponent with the belt after a ref bump.

The final match of the night was the triple threat match for the PPW TV championship. Johnny Moran retained his title to close out Brawl at the Mall. PPW’s next show will be on September 21rst in Hazelton PA and will feature Rhyno of former WWE and ECW fame, and MMA star Frank Mir.

PPW

 

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For the last 11 years the wrestler currently known as Zombie Dragon has been making his way across the independent pro wrestling circuit. Currently serving as a trainer and roster member of Middle Kingdom Wrestling out of Harbin China, Zombie Dragon took some time to discuss his unique wrestling career.

What are your earliest memories of wrestling?

My earliest memories of pro wrestling were the old WCW and WWF video games like WCW Revenge and WWF Wrestlemania 2000. I used to think as a child, that wrestling was fictional characters only in the gaming world. Until one day I decided to flip through channels and I ended up finding WCW and seeing guys like Psicosis, Raven, and a plethora of other characters that I had previously thought were unreal! From that day I was not only hooked, but decided that wrestling is what I’m going to do.

Do you remember which wrestling show this was?

It was a Monday Nitro. I didn’t recognize anyone until I saw Raven and matched his clothes with the game and I felt a sense of rush if that makes sense.

Was there anything else on the program that really stood out?

Billy Kidman took off Psicosis’ mask is what I can remember.

What made you decide to become a pro wrestler?

Seeing that wrestling can be done, and the overall art of the spectacle were the biggest deciding factors in becoming a pro wrestler. Over the years I discovered more and more wrestling, which drew me in closer and closer to my dream. 

Once you decided to be a wrestler where did you train?

I trained a few places actually. I started with the WWA4 (World Wrestling Alliance 4, out of Atlanta GA) in 2008 right after high school. Then got a few bookings here and there, where I learned on the road, before eventually enrolling in the PCW (Platinum Championship Wrestling, also in Atlanta) academy, where I really learned to hone my craft.

What gimmicks did you wrestle under before Zombie Dragon?

I had a few gimmicks, Curry Kidd being the most notable. Curry Kid was an Indian character with Curry on his head. I was also Rocky Hughes, a rip on Curtis Hughes and Rocky King. Curtis Hughes was my original trainer at WWA4. Rocky King is somewhat of a legend. He used to wrestle in the WWF a long time ago and he has a school in Atlanta. He’s another good friend of mine.

Other gimmicks include 187, who was a thuggish partner for the wrestler Murder One. There was Campus Strike Force, which was like Power Rangers but they were jobbers. I was the yellow one. TMZ, Paper, a rip on the paper rock scissors game, and a few more.

What are the origins of the Zombie Dragon character?

The origins of Zombie Dragon are somewhat remarkable. Pro South Wrestling, in Piedmont, Alabama, let me run absolute wild with this character. For around 6 months Curry Kidd was tied up to the ring post by the Left Hand Path, until they decided to sacrifice him, burn his mask, initiate a ritual, stab him and leave him for dead. This was all done in front of a live audience and was widely accepted as most people have forgotten that Curry and Zombie are the same person. A truly redefined image.

How did you end up coming to China?

Funny story, I trained Uncle Money for his first wrestling match (against my TMZ gimmick) A few months later he moved to China where he found Middle Kingdom Wrestling. After about a year MKW decided to open a training facility where they were open to hiring a trainer from the States, and Uncle Money recommended me, and the rest is history.

Has your family been supportive of your decision to wrestle?

They’ve been super supportive of this entire transition which is surprising. One time I lost my match in Korea against Adam Mayhem in PWS (Pro Wrestling Society) and my Grandma found out so when I called her she was broken down in tears like it was a Championship match! She told me her and the church goers decided to have a special prayer for me not to lose future matches and stay in good health.

Have you experienced any racial prejudice in the business?

The racial prejudice I’ve experienced has been rather odd to say the least. Often times people didn’t realize I was black because under a mask, people only see the character. The times I did deal with any prejudice antics, it usually came from people the same shade of skin as mine, which cuts even deeper.

Along that topic what’s your reaction to Kofi Kingston winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania?

I loved every minute of it! Here’s a guy who’s been consistently putting out good work, never in trouble, and capitalized off an opportunity to shatter the glass ceiling. I’m extremely proud of him!

In closing do you have a website or anything you’d like to plug?

Sure thing! I’m on: Twitter @Th3zombiedragon

Facebook: Zombie Dragon or Alberto Del Curry

Instagram: The zombiedragon

And wechat/weibo as zombiedragon

 

Thor Ragnarok is the third Thor solo outing, the subtitle being Viking mythology’s word for the apocalypse. In this entry Hela, the Goddess of death, has returned from banishment to conquer Asgard, with sites on the rest of the universe.

Ragnarok’s basic plot is pretty simple, but the strength of the movie is it’s humor and offbeat feel. Even the titular character himself cracks jokes adding to a vibe of almost parodying the often serious tone of the fantasy genre. It also continues the trilogy’s theme of family, exploring the relationships between Thor, his half brother Loki, and their father Odin.

At this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe it certainly helps to be caught up on most of the movies. The last Thor ended with Loki impersonating Odin and therefore being the counterfeit ruler of Asgard. Ragnarok does attempt to bring the audience up to speed with Thor’s opening monologue (as opposed to Odin’s like the first two films), as well as a hilarious play which Loki/false Odin has commissioned, showing Asgardians a glorified version of his death from the last movie. It’s amusing that no one seemed to notice Odin acting completely different. Thor, who’d been away from Asgard for a time, immediately realizes what’s up.

A large chunk of the narrative involves Thor and Loki getting accidentally sent to the world of Sakaar, where Thor is captured, his hair cut, and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena. It’s too bad the Hulk’s inclusion was advertised, because if you can watch this movie and pretend not to know Hulk is in it, the identity of the gladiatorial champion is built up quite nicely.

Sakaar and its gladiator games are run by actor Jeff Goldblum, who seems to channel an amped up version of himself to play the character the Grandmaster. On Sakaar, Loki has warmed himself up to the Grandmaster, while Thor rots in the gladiator pits. One complaint I had is it was a lot to believe that the Grandmaster never caught on that Loki and Thor know each other, especially after the two brothers are seen talking right in front of him.

Visually, Sakaar and its inhabitants look great, and are a clear homage to legendary comic artist Jack Kirby. There’s also the usual Easter eggs to various things from comics, like when Thor was once a frog. Another Avenger makes a brief appearance, and there is one scene with Dr. Strange that is humorous but felt tacked on. The Infinity Gauntlet’s brief appearance in the first Thor movie is also explained in a way that’s pretty funny.

Aside from the humor what I liked best about this movie is that, more than any other MCU movie to date, it has real consequences to it. Things on the Thor end of this universe are changed unequivocally. Supporting characters have met permanent deaths, Thor himself has gone through a significant transformation, and the status quo for these characters has changed for good and will not be going back.

 

 

 

 

Leatherface is a prequel to the 1974 classic horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and focuses on the origin story of the franchise’s chainsaw wielding lead character. For whatever reason, Leatherface was given only a limited theatrical release and was then sent straight to Video On Demand services.

The majority of this film takes place in 1965, the premise being that years prior local law enforcement took the Sawyer children into protective custody. Now, nearing adulthood, they have spent several years in an insane asylum. One night there is a riot, and four inmates escape along with a kidnapped nurse.

Surprisingly this entry takes the feel of a horror road trip movie, akin to The Devil’s Rejects or Natural Born Killers, with some scenes reminding me of Hannibal and the more recent Revenant. The majority of this prequel focuses on the inmates being on the run from the police, one of which is shown to be pretty crazy in his own right. I suppose this is an attempt to make Leatherface more sympathetic.

There’s also the issue of which of these inmates turns out to be Leatherface, which adds a hint of mystery to it. However, maybe because of this, the cannibalistic nature of the Sawyer family is downplayed until the end, and once Leatherface’s identity is revealed, it was unclear to me what ever made him think to make his first skin mask.

Clarice, one of the escapees, was to me the most intriguing character of the film. Given she was a supporting character, I suppose that counts as a weakness. The scene taking place in a diner was the highlight of the film. If you pay attention to character names, you’ll catch few nods to the first second, and previous chainsaw films. Until the end there is limited onscreen violence, but if you recall the same was the case for the original. It does have a modern polished look to it, and it could have used more of the grit of the first movie.

Leatherface is not a great movie, but it is not terrible either. It is better its previous entry Texas Chainsaw 3D from a few years ago. If you’re a fan of the series I would recommend it.

Annabelle Creation is a prequel to the Conjuring spinoff featuring the evil creepy doll. This fourth entry in the Conjuring shared movie universe shows the making of the actual doll and how it came to be a supernatural object.

Mostly set in the 50s, Annabelle Creation focuses on an older couple, Samuel and Esther Mullins, who have opened there home to a Sister Charlotte and several orphan girls. It was unclear to me what happened to their orphanage or why they had no where else to go, but that’s the story.  We know from the opening scene, and the orphans soon learn, that 12 years prior the Mullins tragically lost their daughter Annabelle. Samuel interacts with the children and Sister Charlotte, but Esther rests in her room, and has been bed ridden for some time, but not for the reason you may think. When she is seen she wears a porcelain mask over half of her face, reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera.

Soon the doll turns up and uncanny events ensue. While nothing is absolutely jump out of your seat scary, there is a consistent sense of dread throughout the film. On the writing side it has connection to all three preceding movies set in this world, including an unexpected tie to the previous Annabelle film.

Annabelle Creation is an improvement over its predecessor, and has expanded the world of the Conjuring films. In this age of shared cinematic universes, the Conjuring is looking to be right behind Marvel as one of the top shared movie worlds we have.

The Mummy is Universal’s quasi remake of their own 1932 Boris Karloff film. It is the first entry in what they call the Dark Universe, a planned series of interconnected monster films, set to include Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Mummy in fact opens with a new Dark Universe logo.

The plot is similar to the original. An Egyptian tomb is (accidentally) found, and the titular Mummy awakes and is on a quest to bring back her ancient lover. In the original the Mummy was male but had a mostly similar scheme.

There’s a little more to the plot than that, but basically Tom Cruise is the host for the Mummy’s lover, and the film has him being chased around by the Mummy in various action scenes.

While it attempts to retain its horror roots, the tone of this movie goes all over the place. Tom Cruise’s intro is an action comedy scene. More humor follows, including scenes where a dead friend of his that only he can see keeps pestering him. I doubt anyone came to the Mummy for laughs.

More of a sense of mystery is lost as we get the Mummy’s backstory almost right away via narration by Russel Crowe. It would have worked better for the audience to learn said backstory along with the main character.

Russel Crowe is the link to the wider Dark Universe that this film tries to prepare us for. He is the shady leader of a secret organization that fights monsters throughout the world. Basically it’s to the Dark Universe what SHIELD is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Crowe filling in as this world’s Nick Fury. At headquarters of said secret organization we get our Easter Eggs/nods to other monsters. We see skulls with vampire teeth, an encased hand from the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and many other items in the background. Also, I don’t know if this was meant as a joke or not, but a book that appeared in Brandon Fraser’s 1999 Mummy film is shown.

Also regarding Crowe, they tease it at first, but after not very long he is revealed to be Dr. Jekyll, who of course has the sinister alter ego of Mr. Hyde, which does play a minor point in the plot.

We’re in an interesting time in Hollywood now, as studios are trying to copy the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Brothers has finally established a DC Universe while also doing the Monsterverse with King Kong and Godzilla. Hasbro is also working on a shared film universe with various toy properties they have. It’s a wonder why Marvel thought of this first. This Dark Universe in particular could have been done years ago. They did in fact, cross over their monsters in the 1940s, with Frankenstein meets the Wolfman, House of Frankenstein, and House of Dracula. However those movies were made after ten plus years of making separate monster movies, that whole world was not planned from the ground up.

It is notable that the Dark Universe takes place in the present, where many of the original Universal Monster movies took place in the past. However, due to the aforementioned Easter Eggs, it is evident that monstrous events have taken place already in this world. Should they choose to do so, some of the other upcoming Dark Universe pictures, such as Creature, could take place before Mummy. The timeline could be spread out a bit.

I’m still curious to see other Dark Universe films, but they need to get really good really fast if this universe is to be sustained.