Where else will you find discussion on newly implemented college basketball rules and regulations, analysis of Troma movies and a breakdown on tournaments in professional wrestling? Only at The Open Man Q&A!
Well, since it’s topical, early verdict on the NCAA’s latest announcements
— Tracy McDannald 📎 (@Tracy_McDannald) August 8, 2018
So, I have to admit up front I find any rule change made by the NCAA exhausting. There’s one camp that insists everything is fine while hinting any athlete who voices genuine concerns is a whiner who should just be happy with a scholarship, failing to account for the exponential growth in revenue between the top two sports over the past few decades or the diminishing of that scholarship’s value. Case in point: the North Carolina scandal.
The other side will lament changes don’t go far enough — and while I agree, too often the associated rhetoric neglects fundamental realities and challenges.
The best of the college basketball rules changes is allowing undrafted players to return to school. The game’s already seen a hugely positive effect from extending the draft deadline, with impact players like Buddy Hield having the opportunity to evaluate their stock and coming back with great seasons. Now add the caveat an undrafted player can return, that further replenishes the college basketball pool with talent.
This year’s Arizona team would welcome back Rawle Alkins, for example. And while NBA organizations love youth that can be molded, Hield’s a good example of a player using his draft evaluation to hone certain qualities of his game and work his way into better draft position. I don’t doubt a player like Alkins would similarly benefit, thus making it a win for everyone.
A friend put this tweet on my radar yesterday and noted how good the 2008-09 USC team would have been with Nick Young in the fold. An NCAA Tournament very well becomes a Final Four team.
I’m going back to USC …. they change the rule
— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) August 9, 2018
Testing the waters on allowing players to have agency representation points the NCAA in the right direction. It doesn’t go nearly far enough, and adds some confusing wrinkles. The Undergraduate Advisory Committee pinpointing “elite” players is wholly unnecessary, for example. Just let any damn player sign an agent at any point. I think that happens sooner than later, and it’s a huge domino falling toward implementing an Olympic model.
The summer camp and apparel company elements are the most head-scratching; it feels a bit like regulation for regulation’s sake, which smacks of the NCAA playing Don Fanucci.
Will you come where I live to have some beers with me so we can talk Troma and wrestling?
— Joseph Nardone (@JosephNardone) August 8, 2018
My door is always open! Beer, wrestling and (some) Troma movies are all things I enjoy. For the sake of Q&A, I’ll provide a Top 3 list for each. The three beers I have been enjoying most this summer:
3. Latitude 33 Blood Orange IPA
2. Pizza Port Grandview Golden Ale
1. Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA
My three favorite all-time Troma films:
3. The Class of Nuke ‘Em High
Fun fact: Class of Nuke ‘Em High was the first Troma film I ever saw in its entirety! I was in eighth grade — far too young to be watching this movie — when I stumbled upon a showing on Cinemax. Now, I know what you’re thinking reading this: Cinemax. Eighth grade. Fill in the blanks.
However, this aired on a Saturday morning, for some reason.
This movie left an impression on me that, for a while, was probably scarring. But as I got older and my fondness for both horror and well-done B movies grew, I came to enjoy this film on a deeper level. That’s not to imply it’s cinematic art; far from it. This is Troma trash through and through, but the special effects and cinematography are both well done for a film with a micro-budget.
2. The Toxic Avenger
The movie that ostensibly launched from Troma from reprinting previously banned trash, thus cultivating a loyal following that endures more than three decades later. The Toxic Avenger is landmark in all that it achieved.
As last week’s Q&A discussed, the film landscape is ripe for a Toxie reboot.
1. Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD
Though The Class of Nuke ‘Em was my first exposure to Troma, Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD put Troma as a studio on my radar. I was bored one Saturday night in college, opting to stay in to save some money. The channel exclusive to the dorms was showing this strange movie that, in the opening sequence, featured a Kabuki actor eating worms; a man in a blonde wig killing a couple with a katana; and a police detective who looked somewhat like a young Jim Carrey getting into a shootout at a theater.
All this occurs in the first five minutes of Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD, and the film never really lets off the gas peddle from there.
Despite the silly title, Kabukiman is easily the most mainstream Troma film as far as cinematography, budget and overall presentation. Though intended as a comedy — and succeeding in that regard — Kabukiman works as a straightforward superhero movie.
Plenty of Troma filmmaking tropes remain despite plenty of sleazier elements being toned down. It makes for a much more accessible movie than Toxic Avenger, and is really just a ton of fun. Rick Gianasi is so good in the lead role, I’m a bit surprised he never appeared in anything more mainstream afterward.
lots of Phish talk on the tl. Do you like them? Who’s your favorite jam bad?
— 4 QAnon Blondes (@miggiesmalls) August 9, 2018
I can honestly say I only know of one Phish song. It’s actually not bad!
Heavy Things feels like Phish’s “Touch of Grey,” in that both are commercially successful tracks from jam bands, which I know are both hugely popular, but that have followings that are almost exclusively hardcores. I have never met anyone who would label themselves casual Grateful Dead or Phish fans. To that end, I don’t have a “favorite” jam band, in that it strikes me as perhaps the most all-or-nothing genre.
My first year out of college, my then-girlfriend-nowwife and I went to a Dave Matthews Band concert with a couple who were both really into DMB. Now, given DMB had numerous commercial hits, I assumed casual Dave Matthews fans existed. I’m embarrassed to admit I considered myself a casual DMB fan before seeing them live. The experience was so horrible, I quite literally cannot listen to a DMB song.
Almost immediately, I felt like I was attending a cult ceremony. People sing along at any concert, but this was different. The audience participation had a ritualistic quality that struck me as … well …
The show went way too long, the audience members surrounding me were annoying — especially the guy who went roughly 6-foot-7 and 375 pounds, who managed to spill almost a half-cup of beer on my girlfriend. Awful experience.
How much confidence would you have in the WWE implementing a G1-style event?
— ozz (@ozzdotnet) August 9, 2018
At the completion of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors, I gushed about tournaments in wrestling. I absolutely love them. While I have come to favor the formatting of NJPW’s G1 Climax and BOSJ, a style common in other Japanese promotions — this year’s Champion Carnival was my entry point into All Japan Pro Wrestling — I still love the one-and-done format.
The Cruiserweight Classic, for example, was one of the most entertaining programs WWE has run in recent memory. Likewise, this past winter’s tournament to crown a new Cruiserweight Champion reinvigorated 205 Live as the program tread water.
Tournaments are great, because they place focus on the in-ring product while still developing rivalries and angles. WWE also has the perfect format for its own take on G1 Climax, with the two main shows, RAW and SmackDown, each representing one of the blocks.
That said, I have zero faith in WWE executing such a tournament properly, so long as Vince McMahon remains the ultimate decider on everything the company presents.
Even with WWE boasting the best collection of pure wrestling talent ever in company history, the main product fails to hold my attention. The former pay-per-views are hit-or-miss, and more often miss. A 4-hour card with as many standout performers as WWE has on its roster should never be boring. This past spring’s Backlash was miserable.
All roads come back to Vince McMahon. McMahon’s forte as a promoter was never showcasing wrestling. In the 1980s, as the World Wrestling Federation expanded nationally, it was known as the more kid-friendly show, while Jim Crockett Promotions, Mid-South and World Class emphasized a product more comparable to a sporting event.
The boom of the late 1990s came with a Real World meets Jerry Springer vibe. Vince has always emphasized theater over athleticism; and when it works, it really works. The end of the Attitude Era featured The Rock, Steve Austin, Triple H Chris Jericho, the tag team trio of the Hardyz, Dudley Boyz and Edge/Christian, so there’s an abundance of great matches from that era we remember fondly.
But no one waxes nostalgic about the late ’80s because of the stellar in-ring product. The theatrical elements were just so well done, by-and-large, that it proved captivating.
My problem with WWE main-roster programming — aside from the nauseating plethora of camera cuts during matches — is that it’s the vision of modern entertainment from a 72-year-old man with few outside interests.
McMahon’s interview with Steve Austin fascinates me, between McMahon’s annoyance over Wrestling vs. Sports Entertainment and Austin confronting Vince on being possibly out-of-touch with mainstream culture. And this was more than three years ago.
So while I love the idea of a WWE answer to G1 Climax, I don’t trust it to be well-executed.