TTT- Top Ten Gameshows Which Need To Make A Return!

Big Break - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! It’s a strange time we find ourselves in, and the natural instinct is to withdraw into simpler times – when the skies were blue, when the music was better, when our only responsibility was deciding whether to roll out of bed at 10am or 11, and for some people, when you could be a racist dick and get away with it.

All your favourite distractions have been put on hold – movies have been pushed back due to Cinemas being shut down, and filming has stopped on even the most successful TV shows. Those shows lucky enough to have finished recording pre-Lockdown are being drip-fed to us in the UK, and one of these is Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow. It’s an hour long format which sees the annoying buck-toothed imp prance around and relay famous catchphrases from days of yore. Each week, Carr and his team bring back a classic ‘British’ gameshow which has been off our screens for years for a nice bit of nostalgia. It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened, and indeed many of the gameshows included have already seen multiple reboots over the decades, but each time it happens my wife always asks ‘why don’t they show gameshows like this anymore’ – to which I always reply ‘because you and all the other chumps killed them by watching Reality TV shite’. 

It’s something I’ve probably written about here before, and it’s definitely something I’ve misspent a lot of time thinking about – having my own TV channel and bringing back all of my favourite Game Shows. Game Shows were a big part of my youth – growing up in an era of four (count em) TV Channels where choice was extremely limited. While time has clearly moved on, and most Prime Time Game Shows now are an excuse to shove already famous people into nostalgic settings, the range of channels out there now surely allows for a few of these to be brought back. Sure, the prizes might not be as awe-inspiring as before due to limited audience figures but who knows, maybe the tide will turn and people will get sick of Reality TV shite such as I’m A Celebrity (No I’m Not), I’ll Sell My Own Baby To Be Famous, and Anal Island, and people will demand a return to 30 fun packed minutes of questions and games. If not, we can always dream. Here are ten Game Shows I’d love to see make a return (and there will be a part two coming soon).

Big Break

Big Break was a show which centered on the sport of Snooker, or as they call it in the USA, The Pointy Stick Coloured Orb Game. Like many Game Shows, our host was a trained stand-up Comedian, in this case Jim ‘I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this’ Davidson. He was the perfect man for the job, always ready with a quip, a pulled face, or a frantic grab at a contestant’s balls (snooker balls). Ably backed up by his sexy, glamourous assistant – John Virgo – sort of a less sexually threatening Paul Hollywood, Jim would invite three contestants each week to join up with a famous snooker player to compete for the top prize of… a holiday? Usually? I can’t remember.

The show was split into different rounds – the first finding the contestants answering questions so that their professional compatriot could try to pot as many balls as possible – each correct answer giving ten seconds at the table. Whoever scored lowest was booted off. Next up saw coloured ball co-ordinated questions – pink for sport, green for music etc. The player would attempt to pot as many balls as they could within a time limit (again), but if they missed a shot the contestant would have to answer a question on the missed ball’s colour and the player couldn’t continue until the contestant got the right answer. The winner would proceed to the final round where they had to answer five questions against the clock (90 seconds for the whole round) – each correct answer meant a red ball removed from the table, and once all questions are answered the player had to pot the remaining balls on the table within the remaining time. Each non-red ball corresponded to a prize, with the star prize coming only if the black was sunk.

Big Break seemed to drop at a time (it ran from 1991 to 2002) when Snooker was very popular and had a lot of famous personalities in the sport. It was always exciting to see which player the contestants would get – would you be lucky and hit a Stephen Hendry or Jimmy White, or fall on your arse and get a Willie Thorn? The show was spiced up by the humour and antics of Virgo and Davidson, with lots of prat falling and cheating if a player was struggling, and an addictive Virgo’s Trick Shot Round which saw the first contestant eliminated trying their hand at the table, and having to pot a Trick Shot – amusingly Virgo would explain the shot and sometimes miss himself, and Davidson would usually use his hands to pot the ball if it looked like the contestant was going to miss. Would the show work nowadays? Honestly, I don’t watch too much snooker anymore and don’t know a lot of the top names, but it’s a format which succeeded for over a decade and which always managed to keep me entertained. The unique format of having the contestant and player rely on each other was interesting – sometimes the professional would have an off day, or sometimes the contestant was an idiot -and I can imagine a variety of other sports which could follow the style of Big Break. I’m not sure if it would be much use now without a duo of Virgo and Davidson’s chemistry, but I’d love to see it return.

Theme Tune: ‘I’m gonna be snookering you tonight!’

Catchphrases: ‘Say Good Night JV/Good night JV’. ‘Pot as many balls as you can’.

Cyberzone

What the hell is Cyberzone you may ask. In truth, I barely remember it, and for years I wondered if it had been a dream, as no-one I explained it to ever seemed to think it existed. Once again though, I prove all you fools to be the fools you are, as Cyberzone did in fact exist outside of my barely functioning mind. Created by famed quiz creator dude Tim Child, Cyberzone was helmed by famed ‘always starring in weird futuristic shit dude’ Craig Charles and was one of the first examples of VR being used for TV entertainment. Naturally, this being the early 90s, the technology was terrible – yet still made an impact on little old me as I imagined a future of virtual exploration, adventure, and quite probably boobs.

The game featured two teams of contestants tackling virtual challenges by stamping on pads on the ground to walk, and shaking their arms to simulate shooting or completing some other challenge. Craig Charles dials it up to fifteen and brings much needed energy while he tries to explain computer speak for the ignorant masses while an all too white Colonial Cowboy Gamesmaster hybrid introduces the games, but unfortunately the games now look less early 90s Doom and more late 80s The Vindicator for Spectrum. Not heard of that one? Google it. Yes, the virtual world is blocky and barren, but again for a kid in an era of 2D sprites this was like chicken soup to a Measles sufferer, and I gobbled down every second, wishing I could take part.

VR has seen recent resurgences and it’s now sort of affordable to get much more innovative and immersive VR experiences in the comfort of your own’s momma’s basement. So why bother with a Virtual Gameshow? Well why not? A money rich studio could pump cash into this and make something which doesn’t hurt our tech-cultured 21st Century eyes, and games could be a lot more entertaining than ‘walk over there and pick that box up’. I’d recommend making this a kid centric show, upgrading the rather nifty set of the original, keeping the ludicrous hype of the original, but showcasing a technology that looks the part and doesn’t move at a single frame per second.

Theme Tune: I don’t remember the theme tune, so it must have been muck.

Catchphrases: Awooga! Cyber filth!

Fun House

Keeping things in the realm of Kids TV shows, for a moment, is there a more fondly related kids gameshow than Fun House? The show ran for ten years, was a staple of afterschool TV for multiple generations, and a source of wish fulfilment and escapism for people like me who wanted nothing more than to race down a slide into a coloured ball pit where a pair of gunge covered blonde twins waited to offer me their ‘prizes’

Pat ‘yes, this is a mullet’ Sharpe brought such much needed, barely veiled dry sarcasm to proceedings, proceedings which saw two teams (each made up of a boy and a girl) who represented a particular school tackling a variety of slimy, slippery games all for the opportunity to enter the Fun House and win some top top prizes. The games always led to people sliding on their arse and getting covered in foam, and eventually racing around in go-karts. I don’t know anyone who didn’t want to be in the show, and once similar giant indoor play parks started to pop up in Northern Ireland, we finally had the opportunity to recreate our fantasies.

There’s no good reason why Fun House wouldn’t work today – there have been several calls to bring it back and at the height of its popularity there was talk of an adult spin off. While that does sound fun, I don’t think it would work in practice – maybe the odd one-off special. One thing I didn’t like was the School representation – winning prizes for your School? Balls to that, you earn them, you keep them. A modern game would likely be watered down due to health and safety nonsense, but kids always want an opportunity to play in places like these – a new version with more entertaining games could be souped up to be more exciting than their local play park. My kids enjoy watching the original – no reason why they and others wouldn’t love a new one.

Theme Tune: ‘It’s wacky/it’s fun/it’s crazy/it’s outrageous’

Catchphrases: Lets re-run the fun.

Knightmare

Knightmare was a staple of my childhood after-school routine and, well, Nightmares. The show’s melding of mystery, puzzles, pantomime, mythology, real world contestants, and nifty special effects, all capped off by setting it in a swords’n’sandals world was perfect. I still watch any re-runs that are shown periodically. It was the show for nerds before nerdom became the all-encompassing bullshit it is now. You had to be intelligent, and lucky, to stand a chance on this gameshow, and if you weren’t the results were nasty.

This kids show featured a team of four friends entering a dungeon where they had to complete a quest, avoiding traps, monsters, giant spiders, wizards, witches, all to earn the lifelong respect of your peers and fellow humans. One poor sole donned a knapsack and helmet – blinding them – and set off into the dungeon, while the other three would sit hunched with notepads near a medieval fireplace under the watchful guidance of the Dungeon Master Treguard, and his cryptic clues.  I’ve talked about it before, you get the idea.

Kids TV, as mentioned, doesn’t have a lot of interesting gameshows like this anymore. In the Nineties there were a host of Virtual Reality themed gameshows with similar tasks, though none so atmospheric or brutal as Knightmare which could see contestants’ efforts spanning multiple episodes. With the improvements in Virtual Reality Technology, there’s no reason why something like this couldn’t be done again. The key would be to make it genuinely creepy, and difficult, and make those brave enough to step up to the challenge question their every decision.

Theme Tune: A classic

Catchphrases: Oooh, nasty.

Steal

I’m guessing none of you remember, or have heard of Steal. Like Catchphrase, Steal pits contestants against each other using a giant computerised board. Also like Catchphrase, it was hosted by a Walker – Mark Walker, son of Catchphrase legend Roy. It’s a show I loved at the time it was aired (1990-1992) and is one I spent years trying to find as I couldn’t remember its name. Thanks to various sites and the internet, I found it again. Now we should take the next step and bring it back to TV.

In truth, catching old episodes on Youtube reveals the show’s flaws. It was based on technology which didn’t really work even then, and was hampered by games which were a bit rubbish. Two teams would face off against each other to win both money and spot prizes by answering questions and then attempting to find a hidden symbol on the big TV board – Cash, Swag, or Jools (I used to think the show was called Swag). The 16 square grid would be shown to the contestants with the associated symbols, then hidden and rotated. The contestant would have to find the correct symbol by saying ‘top row, third from the left’, or ‘middle square’ etc. Its called Steal, because the other team can steal your squares/prizes if they get a Steal Square. The fun part was when they landed on the Jools square (the mascot of the show), and had to play a mini game. These were very basic computer games, played with a huge joystick, and involved digging up prizes or avoiding a dog etc. That’s where modern technology could come in, and spice the action up. Hell, you could even do some official game tie-ins and use the biggest blockbuster games challenges and make the whole format a mixture of Gamesmaster and prize-winning competition. It wasn’t the most exciting show looking back, but as a youngster into gaming at the time, it was fun tea-time viewing and made me want to play along.

Theme Tune: A fairly typical, jangly muzak type theme tune, nothing memorable.

Catchphrases: Take a bow, Jules. Our Feline Felon. Lets fill up the board. Remember what you saw and where you saw it.

Pets Win Prizes

As a kid, I spent a lot of my Summers at my a Caravan Park nestled between the sea and the mountains. Days were spent playing football, going on bike rides through country roads, evenings were spent wooing young ladies and eating gravy chips, and nights were spent camping and watching TV shows we probably wouldn’t normally watch given we were all sandwiched in the same space. Pets Win Prizes was one of these shows, always seeming to be on during those Summer Saturday Nights when I was filling my face with fart fuel (gravy chips). Obviously there’s nostalgia talking, but everyone still loves cute, furry pets, right? Look at recent Britain’s Got Talents, and look at all the rescue dog shows which are always on TV. Crufts still gets a huge audience, and it’s awful. A gameshow which sees talented pets, and their embarrassing owners being ridiculed by a quick witted host for the sake of some prizes should be simple TV gold. The series back then was hosted by Dale Winton, and before him Danny Baker, and saw pets being put through some often bizarre agility and skill based games, while their owners answered animal trivia questions. It wasn’t high art, but I’d say there’s still life in the old dog. So sorry. For anyone wondering why the hell I enjoyed this – I think I just enjoy anything with obstacle courses.

Theme Tune: Hardly a classic, but jaunty enough to be memorable. I was certain someone sang ‘Pets Win Prizes’ over the top of the music, but turns out that didn’t happen, and must have been my adding the words and singing myself.

Catchphrases: A succession of terrible animal based puns to go along with the badly behaved cats and dogs.

Takeshi’s Castle

There’s a solid argument to be made for Takeshi’s Castle being the greatest TV show of all time. The problem with it is… you have to be very careful with how it is presented and portrayed. For example – the original Japanese show is hilarious and bizarre, and the British Craig Charles presented clip type format is even better. HOWEVER, once the yanks got their hands on it and converted it to MXC or Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, it became almost unbearable due to a couple of dickhead co-presenters delivering the most hatefully unfunny commentary and complaining draining the show of its natural humour. Likewise, when the UK crafted Rebooted and brought in the normally amusing Dick and Dom instead of Craig Charles, it just wasn’t the same. Sure, the best clips had already been used, but the commentary and format simply wasn’t as strong.

So what is Takeshi’s Castle? It’s a Japanese show, the brainchild of the legendary Takeshi Kitano who wanted to make a live action Super Mario level. This quickly morphed into a gameshow/sketch show which saw Kitano and pals playing a range of strange characters who defended a Castle from intruders – the contestants. To storm the castle and defeat Takeshi for a fat cash prize, roughly 100 contestants had to complete a range of physical challenges which tested their limbs and skills, with dozens being eliminated each round until only a few survived. The final round, always a bit of an anti-climax, was a bumper car type water pistol battle. The best thing of course, aside from the characters and the contestants and their costumes, were the games – and the ever present chance of people being seriously injured.

I could list all my favourite games and moments, but I’d be here all day, but there was such a variety of challenges, even before factoring in the ‘Special Episodes’ that you always had something new balanced alongside personal favourites. Given the runaway success of, the frankly rubbish, WipeOut, and the vastly inferior modern versions of Ninja Warrior there is absolutely zero excuse to not bring back Takeshi’s Castle. It was a show which focused much less on the physical skill of the individual and instead highlighted to mayhem and creativity of the games and the mixture of luck and skill, as well as being one huge insane pantomime. Crucially, in today’s overly safety conscious world, shows like Ninja Warrior or The Floor Is Lava or Beastmaster – all those shows which copied Takeshi’s Castle – contain zero life or death threat. People gently flop into water with not even a scratched knee, while in the original potential snapped necks, twisted ankles, and new ribs were expected. For any new version to truly succeed, you’d need to leave yourselves open to potential law suits, health and safety concerns, leave shin guards and helmets aside, and just get stuck in.

In truth, I see a couple of formats for a true revival of the show. Much of the sketch side of things could be dispensed with but you could still have a cast of wacky characters following the general plot of ‘try to make it to the end without dying’. An hour long show could perhaps give a quick glimpse of every contestant and highlight the more quirky, more successful ones so that audiences can follow along with their endeavours, while a follow-up thirty minute show would be more like the Craig Charles version and feature just the best bits and smashes along with hilarious commentary. Naturally, you need to have Craig Charles doing it. Now that I think about it – think about the money pumped into shitty reality shows like Big Brother, X-Factor and the ilk, and the sheer amount of TV hours they take up, from auditions to live shows to backstage shows after each main show. I say have your main Takeshi show, follow it up with panel discussion and hidden clips with contestants and Takeshi guards as guests, then have your weekly 30 minute format too. If I was boss of the world, this would be top of my list. I could write an entire blog based on bringing back Takeshi’s Castle, so I’ll stop.

Theme Tune: The Craig Charles version is a beast.

Catchphrases: Too many to mention, again from the Craig Charles version.

Bullseye

A staple of Sunday night TV since the early 1980s, Bullseye always seemed old fashioned and a bit odd to my childhood eyes, yet there was something addictive about it. In fact, it was one of those rare TV shows which managed to break the Sunday curse of my childhood – 99% of TV shows which were shown on Sundays in my youth, I associate with how much I hated Sundays and therefore almost never like those shows. Nowadays, it’s all about making fun of the either naff, or strange top prizes – like speedboats, caravans, or a Mini Micro and they ignore how much fun the game was. Hosted for decades by the late Jim Bowen, it has been brought back a couple of times – in the aforementioned Alan Carr thing, and by Dave Spikey in the Noughties, as well as various celebrity one-off specials – it’s a simple gameshow based around darts. Three pairs of contestants, three rounds, darts and questions. It sounds rubbish, but it somehow works, and I see no reason why it couldn’t slot neatly in to regular Sunday night rotation in the Autumn or Winter when there’s feck all else on worth watching.

The great thing about the format is that you don’t need to change anything – you have your contestant pairs – one a darts player, the other there to answer questions – and at the end of each round the lowest scoring team is knocked out. In round one, each player tries to hit a category requested by the other player on the dartboard – they get bonus money for hitting the correct category and getting the question right. If they get it wrong, another contestant can buzz in for money. In Round 2, it was a case of each player getting three darts and the team with the highest score got to answer a question for more money. There would then be a charity round where a pro tried to earn as much money with 9 darts as possible, before moving into the final round where the winner tackled Bully’s Prize Board with the chance to win up to 9 prizes with 9 throws – both players in the team taking turns. Once their prizes were won, they could decide to go home with what they had, or gamble on the top prize – either winning or losing it all. This was a nice twist, because often the winning team would turn down the chance at the top prize, meaning the second, and then third place teams would be offered the same choice. If one of the teams did decide to go for it, they had to score more than 101 points with six throws – three for the darts dude, and three for the quiz person. More often than not, people would fail.

With this simple format, you could easily bring the show back – prizes need not be bank breakers, and you just need an affable host to run the show. Darts as a sport I feel has rarely been more popular, and surely a show like this would increase popularity and drive revenue towards some of the Sports Channels who host Darts Championships. There are plenty of near household name Darts players out there, at least for UK audiences, and of course you can still have your fancy pants celeb specials to grab more attention. I’m sure there are plenty of famous faces out there who grew up with the show and would want a chance to play on it while earning cash for charity.

Theme Tune: A nostalgic favourite, wouldn’t need much, if any updating.

Catchphrases: One hundred and eighty! It’s a bullseye! Keep out of the black and in the red – there’s nothing in this game for two in a bed’.

Full Swing

Keeping with the Sports theme, this was another one of those Summer time Caravan TV shows of my youth. Ostensibly a cash-in on Big Break, it never had anywhere near the same level of success and didn’t last long. Maybe it’s because my Caravan Park was opposite a Pitch’n’Putt and Driving Range which we played on at least once a week, maybe it was because Golf also always seemed to be on TV during the Summer hols, but I enjoyed Full Swing at the time.

Affable Scouse golf fan Jimmy Tarbuck hosted the show, often entering in a golf cart and telling his usual brand of family friendly jokes before introducing the guests. Like Big Break, three contestants would be paired with a celebrity – though typically not a golfer. Now, golf is a little more difficult to play within an enclosed space than snooker, meaning computer technology needed to be employed. Players would have to whack a real ball, which would translate to a virtual reality shot (think Wii Golf), and then contestants would answer questions for further shots. The second round saw contestant and celeb playing on a indoor mini golf course, complete with bunkers and water hazards, aiming to get as close to the hole as possible, with the final round being a beat the clock putting game. Again, like Big Break there was a consolation game for the first contestant to be knocked out, which involved a Mouse Trap esque Crazy Golf trick shot. This was probably my favourite part, because I used to love those Rube Goldberg type contraptions. And of course, it was a type of obstacle course.

This is one of the more unlikely shows to ever see a return, given how bad its ratings were. Honestly, I don’t think it was a bad attempt at porting the Big Break formula to sport which didn’t naturally suit it. Golf is still a highly popular sport and there are zero golf gameshows out there, so with a bit of tinkering a remake of this could be a minor hit. Once more, technology has improved to as to make the virtual golf better, more realistic, or alternatively you cold film the whole thing on location at a genuine golf course. I would maybe change up the first and second rounds, or even shake the whole thing up and have the whole thing (or one round) based around an indoor Crazy Golf course rather than the miniature pitch n putt style round. There’s plenty here to work with, and the fact that you would have celeb guests in each episode would keep things interesting for people not really invested in the sport. Perhaps a co-host or lively voiceover would improve entertainment and humour value.

Theme Tune: I remembered nothing of this and had to check Youtube to remind myself. It’s not great.

Catchphrases: More a host of Tarbuck specials and golf puns.

Small Talk

I loved Small Talk. It seemed like the perfect mixture of mirth, irreverent humour, and quiz fun and Ronnie Corbett was the perfect host. I believe the US had their own version too. Once more, three contestants faced off against each other, this time contending with a giant board filled with children. Yes. There were 9 squares, each with one child inside (though sometimes there would be a pair), and the kids had pre-recorded answers to questions which the contestants would be asked – the twist being that the contestants had to correctly guess if the particular child (or the majority) knew the correct answer. The children were amusing little characters themselves, often giving hilarious incorrect answers to the questions and nonsensical asides spurred on by Corbett. The final round would see Contestants trying to reach a score of 500 by picking five kids (each kids holding a particular points card from 50 to 500), and then guessing whether the kid would get a question correct or not. If the contestant and kid were in sync, the points were theirs. Sometimes things could be ruthless, with contestants not having a lot of faith in a particular child and expecting them to get everything wrong, but it was all done with the best intentions and was always light-hearted fun. One of my school teachers featured in an episode once – he didn’t win. I wonder if any of the kids are famous now. I bet one of them is Pixie Lott or some shite.

I see no reason why this wouldn’t work today. Sure, there would be some child safety protection bullshit going on, but kids will never not be funny. Look at all the memes and internet challenges which do the rounds each year – parents will know these – things like filming your child answering 20 random questions and then sharing their results, or leaving them alone with a chocolate biscuit for 1 minute and filming them to see if they can resist eating them – that was a big one in 2020. It’s the same idea, but less perverse. Who wouldn’t want to see their own kid on a show like this, and which mums and dads would not relate to the often bizarre responses to simple general knowledge questions? It’s the perfect show for early evening mid-week TV.

Theme Tune: A classic

Catchphrases: Oooh, nasty.

There you are – some random bloke’s list of TV shows he used to like and would like to see make a return. There is literally nothing omre important happening in the world right now. If you would like to see these make a comeback – please send me money and I’ll see what I can do.

Ranking The Manics Songs – Resistance Is Futile

This is more like it. The last album was a step beyond the one before, and this one takes things further again, delivering the melodies I’ve come to expect from the band that just keeps coming back. The band delivers a whopping six singles, though these mostly download only and therefore came with no B-Sides. Still, a few extras appeared due to the different editions of albums and singles though the higher overall quality of the album tracks mean it’s harder for me to switch anything out.

  1. Hold Me Like A Heaven
  2. People Give In
  3. Distant Colours
  4. In Eternity
  5. Liverpool Revisited
  6. International Blue
  7. Sequels Of Forgotten Wars
  8. Broken Algorithms
  9. A Song For The Sadness
  10. Vivian
  11. The Left Behind
  12. Dylan And Caitlin

There are a couple of very good extra songs which would have been superb if squeezed into a single whole – one has a fantastic verse, the other a great chorus. As they stand, I’d add those in and take out my bottom two:

  1. People Give In
  2. International Blue
  3. Distant Colours
  4. Vivian
  5. Holding Patterns
  6. Liverpool Revisited
  7. Sequels Of Forgotten Wars
  8. Hold Me Like A Heaven
  9. In Eternity
  10. Broken Algorithms
  11. A Song For The Sadness
  12. Mirror Gaze

And that’s us up to date. Will there be another Manics album? I sure hope so – the idea of a world without The Manic Street Preachers is almost unimaginable, especially as so many other greats have fallen by the wayside. Let us know your rankings in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Futurology

Futurology continued the band’s latter day acclaimed run, with the album also racking up their best sales in a decade. It has more consistent highs for me than Rewind The Film, but its low points are very low. What is the most depressing thing to me is the reliance on other vocalists, as James continues to tire of singing. It’s a shame as Bradfield is one of the finest singers Britain has ever produced and the guests here are almost always terrible. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the singers were good… they’re just not. Replace the singers and I’d like the songs a lot more. Again, there isn’t a huge list of B-Sides to choose from, but some are good in spite of Nicky’s vocals. The difference is that the B-Sides have grown on me while the album tracks I’d replace them with have slipped in my estimation. Ranking time:

  1. Black Square
  2. Misguided Missile
  3. Futurology
  4. The View From Stow Hill
  5. Let’s Go To War
  6. Europa Geht Durch Mich
  7. Walk Me To The Bridge
  8. The Next Jet To Leave Moscow
  9. Mayakovsky
  10. Divine Youth
  11. Dreaming A City
  12. Sex Power Love And Money
  13. Between The Clock And The Bed

Really those bottom five songs I would happily cut. Mayakovsky is far from their worst instrumental, Divine Youth and Between would be marginally better with a different guest singer. Sex Power Love And Money is ill-advised all around and needed a different vocal approach from James.  The good thing about the B-Sides is that they all fit neat and sweet with the sound and tone of the album. Antisocialmanifesto is quite lovely in spite of Nicky’s lead and it takes a sharp left turn midway through into a bizarre funk breakdown which somehow works. Blistered Mirrors is a clattering jumble with a touch of The Beatles while Empty Motorcade starts out like the techno theme-tune to a creepy kids TV show – it may be the best of the bunch. The Last Time I Saw Paris has a mystery female vocalist – is it Nina Hoss again? It has a rambling verse but a decent chorus, while Caldey has a great chorus and decent verse.

  1. Futurology
  2. Walk Me To The Bridge
  3. Let’s Go To War
  4. The Next Jet To Leave Moscow
  5. Europa Geht Durch Mich
  6. Blistered Mirrors
  7. Empty Motorcade
  8. Caldey
  9. Black Square
  10. The Last Time I Saw Paris
  11. Misguided Missile
  12. The View From Stow Hill
  13. Mayakovsky

That was a tricky one, mainly because while I enjoy some of the B-Sides I get the feeling that I’d be less keen on them over time. Let us know in the comments how you would rank the songs and any you would replace with a particular B-Side!

TTT – The Shock Waves 100!

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Greetings, Glancers! It’s time for another overlong list – yay! I’ve been listening to the Shock Waves podcast for a while now – for a anyone who doesn’t know it features four horror fans (who also work in the industry) chatting about their love of horror, which movies they have seen recently, and then in the second half they bring in a guest – typically a horror legend/actor/director/effects guy/distributor etc. It’s a great listen. Anyway, I recently listened to their 100th episode (which is actually a couple of years old now), which sees the team of four picking 100 movies which they all agree upon, that they feel every horror fan, and every film fan, needs to see. Naturally, I wanted to give my thoughts, which absolutely no-one asked for.

So below I’m going to list the films below and give a couple of one-liners on each. I’ll give some semblance of form by splitting each movie into three parts – have I seen it, is it in my top movies of the release year, and a brief sentence explaining my high level thoughts. As always, stick your thoughts in the comments!

28 Days Later

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Brought the zombie genre running and screaming into the new Millennium.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y (Favourite Horror Movie Of All Time)

My Thoughts: Yes, it’s my favourite Horror Movies Of All Time. That about covers it.

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: One of the earliest and still finest examples of merging Horror and Comedy, and a great gateway film for younger viewers to be introduced to the world of Monsters.

Alien

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the critical pick for best Sci-Fi horror. It’s deceptively simple – unstoppable killer in space stalks ill prepared crew. It’s basically another Slasher movie, but with one of Cinema’s best Monsters doing the killing.

Angel Heart

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A stylish mix of noir and horror and boobs. It’s good, though I don’t love it as much as the Shockers.

Angst

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

An American Werewolf In London

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I’d agree it’s the best example of horror comedy out there. It’s also a fairly downbeat movie, even with the laughs. Jenny Agutter is gorgeous, the creature work is superb, and it has some classic jump-scares.

Asylum

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: For the longest time it has been my favourite anthology (outside of Creepshow). The wraparound actually makes sense, and each of the stories is strong. I saw this one young, probably why it has stayed with me.

Audition

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Classy, confusing, creepy.  Stylish, scary, soul-scarring.

Basket Case

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like the first one, but my more or less dislike of the series brings down my enjoyment of the first – something about the creature effects and camp sounds in the later movies once I saw them took away from how I view the first.

The Battery

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Beyond

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s Fulci doing what Fulci does, but dialled up to 69, with just enough Lovecraft to nudge the WTFery into the next realm.

Black Christmas

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A fine slasher, but one I came to later than most so it had a lesser impact.

Black Sabbath

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Blob

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s better than the original and it has some yummy 80s effects. I must revisit it as it’s been too long.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I loved this when it was first released, a big budget sumptuous, serious vampire movie with a legitimate cast and director – and that rare example of such a thing being done correctly.

The Bride Of Frankenstein

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A (But probably)

My Thoughts: Probably James Whale’s best movie. He has a few classics.

The Brood

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Mehhh, I always classed it as a lesser Cronenberg movie, but it’s been probably 20 years since I’ve seen it so I suppose I should go back again.

Cabin In The Woods

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s basically a Whedon movie with lots of Buffy related shenanigans, so of course I was going to love it. It’s also very funny and clever too.

Candyman

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s funny how life imitates art. Or is it the other way around. The film itself became something of an Urban Legend when I was young, when it was released. Older siblings would explain the Bloody Mary-esque plot to creep out the younger kids, and I was somewhere in the middle, intrigued by the vision of a hooked man hunting down, well, anyone.

Cannibal Holocaust

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:

My Thoughts: It’s not for the faint of heart, not really because it’s overly bloody or obscene, but because of how grimy and docu-real it feels. It’s cheap and nasty like an Abel Ferrara movie, and it gets under your skin. Plus there’s the animal torture stuff. Plus an all time great main theme.

Carrie

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: King’s first book and King’s first movie – it does come across as dated and cheesy now, but it still features two great lead performances and De Palma sense of style brings the most out of the shocks.

Cat People

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year:  N/A (but probably)

My Thoughts:

Cemetery Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One in a long line of bizarre zombie movies which tries to do its own thing, this one blends comedy, horror, romance (of sorts) and introspection as one man’s malaise deepens.

The Changling

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s another I came to late – I saw it in pieces when I was young – but it never had the effect on me that it seems to have on everyone else. It’s certainly moody and downbeat, but others love it a lot more than I do.

Child’s Play

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some good performances and effects, and the whole series is entertaining, but at the end of the day – it’s still a fucking doll; punt that shit.

Christine

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lesser Carpenter, and lesser King for me, this tale of obsession has some good performances, some great effects, but the soundtrack and the scares aren’t as impressive as most of Carpenter’s work and it’s one I rarely revisit.

Creepshow

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s probably my most loved anthology – Romero, King, ideas, comic, gore, laughs – what else do you want?

The Conjuring

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: Of all the modern series, The Conjuring manages to be the best melding of classic scares and atmosphere, newer sensibilities and fresh ideas, and a good cast attempting to make something legitimate.

Dawn Of The Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s the greatest Zombie movie ever made. It’s one of the best horror movies ever made. It passes from being merely a great movie, to an all time movie, to one which is rarely far from my thoughts.

Braindead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s a top 5 all time horror comedy for me, one of the bloodiest movies you’ll ever see, and one which will unquestionably make you laugh your ass off.

Deathdream

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Demon Knight

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a long time since I saw this – I think I’ve only seen it once, in my early teens. I remember enjoying it well enough at the time.

Demons

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a fun time in its own right, but I truly do think this one would benefit from a remake – or maybe the time it would have had a decent remake has since passed. It’s the premise I love more than the execution.

The Descent

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I must say I didn’t care about, or remotely think about, the fact the cast is all women/any feminist issues, until several watches later. All I cared about was that it was a kick-ass movie. It’s not as flawless as some – I think too many of the characters are similar and similar looking, but as far as claustrophobic horror goes, there aren’t many better/

Don’t Look Now

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s heartbreaking, stylish, unique, haunting. I know a lot of people won’t appreciate the approach but it’s a lyrical, layered movie.

Drag Me To Hell

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: From lyrical and layered, to cats, gypsies, and saliva. This is pure entertainment which delivers precisely what it promises – scares, laughs, and fun.

Event Horizon

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve personally found it overrated, but I’m not going to moan at the people who love it. I think there’s a better movie in here than what we got, but it’s still okay.

Evil Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Evil Dead – no brainer.

Evil Dead 2

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above

The Exorcist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: See above – but adding that it’s one of a very short list of horror movies which garnered critical acclaim from those outside the horror community.

The Exorcist III

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, but it’s a fun movie which is better than it has any right to be, and tops it off with some impressive, memorable scares.

Eyes Without A Face

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of those foreign horror movies which horror fans quickly find when they start branching out. It’s best to see this early in your Odyssey, but it’s still shocking and surprising after all these years.

The Fly

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Possibly Cronenberg’s most accessible and well-known body horror movie, it made stars of Goldblum and Davies, and features some of the best make-up and effects ever put on screen.

The Fog

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s one of the great ghost movies and one which doesn’t get as much praise as some of Carpenter’s works. It’s an exercise in atmosphere which every budding filmmaker should see.

Friday The 13th 4

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Lets be clear; in terms of the great trilogy of horror franchises, Friday The 13th is dead last in terms of quality. The original is clearly the best, but it’s barely on terms with the mid tier Elm Street and Halloween sequels. Part 2 is okay, three is a laugh-fest, Part 4 is the Corey Feldman one, 5 is trash, 6 is marginally better… you get the idea.

Fright Night

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I like it, I saw it young, it just didn’t have the profound impact on me of say, The Lost Boys. It’s one I revisit less than others so it’s probably due another watch.

The Funhouse

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’m not sure what this is doing on the list, beyond the fact that it’s Tobe Hooper. It’s fun, but it never feels more than just another 80s Slasher. Again, it’s the premise I love more than the film we got.

Get Out

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: I like it. Is it the greatest horror movie ever, or of the year it was released – no. But credit for making people who don’t usually watch or care about our dirty little movies sit up and take notice.

Habit

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Halloween

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Nuff said.

The Haunting

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Any number of films on this list I can call out as being must sees for aspiring film-makers, but The Haunting should be one of the first. Atmosphere, tension, sound, and how to make a terrifying film without a lick of gore or obvious scares.

Hellraiser

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: There’s something seductive about Hellraiser, which is apt. It’s bloody, grim, imaginative, and has a style which I don’t believe has been coined yet – neo-gothic? Gothic Noir? Post-gore? Sado-masochistic appreciation?

The Hitcher

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: I don’t remember when I first saw The Hitcher. I was pre-teen in any case. It blew my mind. It still does.

House Of The Devil

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: It’s a great love-letter, like several Ti West movies are, but it’s more than that as he seeks to and successfully makes a film which is more than a series of nods and winks.

Insidious

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A dry run for The Conjuring, but it’s more twisted cousin. The first one is great, the rest are increasingly silly and convoluted, but this one has scares never seen before.

Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A film with an idea and a twist so good that I used to tell school friends and kids about it, have them hanging on every word, and have them shocked by my retelling of it. Which, looking back now kind of spoiled the movie for them, but still made them all go off and watch it.

Jacob’s Ladder

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s a very odd movie, there isn’t a lot like it, and it make me question why there aren’t more war/PTSD related horror movies. With lizards and chiropractors.

Jaws

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Perhaps the greatest gateway horror movie of them all.

Just Before Dawn

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Some of the make-up is cool, but it’s a very silly film. It’s impressive thatit ever got made, with its premise, with how amateurish it all is, and it’s definitely worth seeing, but I wouldn’t have it anywhere near any sort of Top 100 list.

Let The Right One In

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe the first of the new wave of classy horror (as opposed to elevated horror), it’s a chilling, thought-provoking, beautifully shot and acted film with doses of grisly action.

Lets Scare Jessica To Death

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A disturbing, atmospheric film which builds upon Repulsion and The Haunting, but is more visceral.

The Lost Boys

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A rites of passage classic – one which remains fresh even though it’s deeply entrenched in the 80s.

Malevolence

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Martin

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Romero proving he wasn’t just a zombie, gore guy.

Martyrs

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of the French Extremism New Wave, brutal and unforgettable.

Messiah Of Evil

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

The Monster Squad

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Another one of those movies with a poster which drew me in as a kid on the video store, but one which actually live up to the promise of the poster.

Near Dark

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Maybe my favourite Vampire movie.

Night Breed

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I need to see it again, it always felt messy when I was young, and a let down after Hellraiser. 

Night Of The Creeps

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun. Funny. Never impacted me as much as it did others.

Night Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A near flawless exercise and example of how to do low budget horror.

The Omen

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Great kills, iconic scenes, wonderful score, stellar cast.

Peeping Tom

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Pushed under the rug after Psycho, but just as notable.

Pet Sematary

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: King’s scariest book goes heavy on the shlock, but still packs a few potent punches.

Phantasm

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I never grew up with these movies like others did, but the first is fun and innovative.

Pieces

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Poltergeist

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another rites of passage movie for when kids are getting into horror.

Possession

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Psycho

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It’s Hitchcock, and the daddy (Mummy?) of modern horror.

Pumpkinhead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: I’ve only seen it once, can’t remember a whole lot about it.

Re-Animator

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Gory 80s fun, the likes of which you don’t see anymore.

REC

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of hand-held horror.

Return Of The Living Dead

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: One of the premier mixtures of horror and comedy.

Rosemary’s Baby

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: While dated, and while it relies a little too heavily now on the ending, it’s a masterclass of paranoia with some great performances.

Scream

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Another Wes Craven classic which remains clever and funny decades on.

The Shining

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Kubrick. King. Nicholson. Overlook. Saggy bewbs.

Slumber Party Massacre

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Society

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: A front runner for title of goriest movie ever, it’s a funny, often John Waters-esque satire, with added fisting.

Sole Survivor

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Suspiria

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: Argento’s best, and one of the most visually stunning horror movies you’ll ever see, with a typically bewildering plot, inventive kills, and terrific score.

Tenebrae

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: Argento again, maybe the finest Giallo movie with plenty of up close and nasty violence and memorable moments.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: A clear contender for best of all time, while it’s rough around the edges in places, their’s no doubting the emotional, visceral, and cinematic impact.

The Thing

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: When it comes to best Sci-Fi Horror film of all time – it’s this or Alien, right? Aliens is more all out action. The Thing is my favourite of the two, and it’s a Top 5 all time favourite Horror movie for me.

The Tingler

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N

My Thoughts: It’s fun – we need more interactivity in our Cinemas.

Tourist Trap

Have I Seen It: N

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: N/A

My Thoughts: N/A

Trick R Treat

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: It still hasn’t really found an audience outside of dedicated horror fans – if TV channels would show this every Halloween like they do with Christmas movies in December, this would be much bigger – it deserves it.

The Wicker Man

Have I Seen It: Y

Is It In My Top Movies Of The Year: Y

My Thoughts: The pinnacle of folk horror, British horror, and not a bee or bear suit in sight.

There you have it – The Shock Waves approved 100! Which films have you seen, which ones are you yet to see, and which films would make your list. Remember, this isn’t necessarily the best 100, or your favourite 100, more of a ‘100 we can all agree should be seen by horror fans’. Let us know down below!

TTT – Top Thirty Wrestlers

Greetings, Glancers! Wrestling is not something I talk about much on my blog – mainly because I can’t be arsed writing about it as keeping up with the 100 hours a week content is a big enough pain, and because there are plenty of bloggers out there who are much more dedicated and knowledgeable than I am. Still, it has been something which has been in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. As I sit here with nothing else to write about in September, I realised that I’m quite far behind on my Wrestling viewing. Summerslam has come and gone yet I’m only just finished watching the Raw and Smackdown after Wrestlemania. And I’m at least 7 weeks behind on Impact. Avoiding spoilers is one thing; catching up is another. So I thought I’d make a little Wrestling list.

In Primary School in the late 80s and early 90s – the early years of the explosion of the WWE (then WWF) thanks to main events like Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble, many of my friends were wrestling fans and those who weren’t still got swept along by the marketing and associated toys. If I had a dubious blue style plastic ring complete with announce table and Heavyweight Belt, another friend had an even more souped up model with walkway or Titantron. Actually – here’s the one I had (I still have it):

acf3b8d6c8ac105f05c2576ee3dbc8ec.jpg
I also have three of the four wrestlers pictured

I went away from it for a while, coming back as the Attitude era was picking up and going toe to toe with WCW. This was my second golden era as a new batch of characters reflecting the writing and tone of the time and yet they were still fighting alongside and against many of the household names from my childhood. Those large than life, yet real-life superheroes were performing entertaining feats of strength and agility that had long since been removed from much of the action movies I had also grown up on, and while the storylines rarely changed, they remained silly and pantomime enough for me to shout at the TV like a yahoo.

Wrestling has always worked in peaks and troughs. A few years after WCW collapsed and most of their talent joined Vince and Co, the Wresting world began to recess from my view – many of the new stars didn’t interest me, plots and gimmicks became too stale, and a lot of the humour and violence was lost. Now in my twenties, I had my own life to live, but as nature and life can sometimes be cyclical it wasn’t long before I started watching again, first with TNA and then back to WWE. A new and enthusiastic batch of younger, fitter, more self-aware and savvy performers had burst onto the scene and my wife (a fan from the 80s too) and kids started watching too. The speed was often increased, there was a focus on Woman’s Wrestling (particularly outside of WWE), and there was more content than every before, including Mexico and Japan’s offerings, Ring Of Honor, and now AEW and Shine/Shimmer.  It was not surprise to me that many of the surviving heroes from my younger days were still hanging around, that plenty of the Attitude Era guys were getting major airtime, and that it was as fun and over the top as ever. There’s simply something comforting knowing that these people are still out there selling it every night, and with each generation a new set of heroes is born and drawn to those bright lights and four corners.

And so, in a momentary spin-off from my usual Movie and Music based lists I present my, in no way exhaustive, list of favourite Wrestlers of all time. These are my personal picks based on a mixture of character, performance, ability, and just what they’ve meant to me over the years. It is not supposed to be a best-of, and indeed many of those listed will not be the usual picks. Most though will hardly be surprising to the hardcore. I’ve tried to limit this – believe me there are many many others I would love to mention, but hardly anyone will read this anyway and those who do will likely be bored by the time they reach this sentence. I’m doing this off the top of my head too, so I guarantee that within five minutes of publishing it I’ll remember one of my absolute favourites that I’ve somehow missed. So lets just get on with it. In alphabetical order:

APA

Made of of Faarooq and Bradshaw, also known as The Acolytes, The APA were a no nonsense, tough as nails tag team who would just as quickly take your money in a game of poker as beat you in the ring. Faarooq (Ron Simmons) had been a successful solo wrestler, winning the WCW Heavyweight Championship, but it wasn’t until he paired with Bradshaw as part of The Undertaker’s Acolytes group that both men’s career’s took off. After splitting off from The Dead Man, they continued as the APA – a shady, money focused business racket and would go on to win their third Tag Team Championship, in between acting as bodyguards for whoever needed (could pay for) them.

AJ Styles

AJ Styles was known for his hybrid style wrestling during his tenure with TNA and became one of their most valuable assets. As the Company’s fortunes began to sour, he jumped ship like many others. His final piece of characterization on TNA hinted heavily that the real AJ was not happy – growing his hair, beard, and becoming a loose cannon biker type. There was still some interesting stuff as he refused to get involved in the Aces & Eights war (for my money the most interesting stable of the last decade) and then suffering through a dubious title split thanks to Dixie Carter. After losing his match against Magnus to ‘reunify’ the two heavyweight title (don’t ask), AJ left the Company.

AJ’s earliest matches in TNA in the various X Division battles are the stuff of legend – pitted against similar high-flyers like Christopher Daniels, Petey Williams, and Chris Sabin, as well as great feuds with Kurt Angle, Abyss, and Samoa Joe, AJ was one of the most consistent and successful names on the books. That success has only grown since moving to WWE as he quickly became Smackdown Champion and held the title for a year. Recently he has been drifting between characters to see what sticks, currently as some sort of heel after a decent feud with Randy Orton. AJ has one of the most varied move sets in WWE at the moment and consistently looks fresh when viewed alongside many of the other big hitters with a much more limited series of moves, and is equally comfortable on the mat and in the air.

Austin Aries

Austin Aries is arguably my favourite wrestler of my own third generation of viewing (generations based on my intro post). His gimmicks have changed over the years and he remains a highly divisive figure among fans and promotions. Nevertheless, the one thing which both fans and detractors call out year upon year is his ego – no matter whether good guy, bad guy, or somewhere in between, it’s his ego which stands out. From The Belt Collector to The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, A Double has provided many of my favourite moments in Wrestling in the last ten years, not least his creation of ‘Option Three’, beating Bobby Roode, and his stint fighting Aces & Eights. A six time X Division Champion, Aries – likes Styles – has a varied collection of moves and ways to antagonize his opponent which never fail to get a laugh out of me.

Aries moved to WWE with a hefty amount of heat behind him, but it always seemed like NXT and WWE didn’t really know what to do with him. I’m not sure of what happened behind the scenes but the two never seemed to click even though on the surface he’s exactly the sort of character – Heel or Face – that the company desperately needs. A promising start led to an injury which pushed him into commentary for a while, before an unsuccessful run at the Cruiserweight 205 Live belt seemed to sour things. Aries returned to Impact again, destroying Eli Drake in what I hoped signalled a return to success for the Company. While the Company’s fortunes seem to be turning, slowly, Aries didn’t last long and left after losing his Heavyweight title in the now infamous Bound For Glory headliner. That particular feud was one of the strangest I’ve ever witnessed with multiple reports conflating and conflicting what was real or planned or scripted and where lines blurred. In any case, Aries is no longer part of Impact or WWE, and the wrestling world is poorer for it, though he’s still lurking in the Indies and MLW. Any chance AEW? (Note, Aries has since given his turn of events in a recent interview with Killer Kross which makes for great reading).

Beer Money

Tag Teams can be hit and miss for me, usually built on some silly gimmick which instantly annoys me or sours quickly. Beer Money was one of the exceptions – an extension of what the APA stood for and acting like a couple of Stone Colds – beer drinking, hard hitting badasses who consistently got the job done. Made up of Bobby Roode and James Storm, the long-haired coupling who had worked against each other before in Team Canada (with Petey Williams and Eric Young) and America’s Most Wanted (with Gail Kim and Chris Harris). The pairing always felt natural and a combination sass and power, with the no fucks given attitude of Austin. Feuds with the Motor City Machine Guns, Team 3D, and the Main Event Mafia consolidated their prowess and influence but it was with Ric Flair’s revamped Four Horsemen – Fortune, that the group took off for me.

From there the group turned Heel to Face and then began branching out as dedicated solo performers. This in turn led to one of my favorite sequences in TNA as both Roode and Storm competed in Bound For Glory for the Heavyweight Championship. Roode was cheated out of victory by Kurt Angle, but Storm was then given a shot and won the title. Being best mates, Storm gave Roode a title shot only for Roode to turn heel and smash a beer bottle over Storm to win the championship. That was essentially the end. Both competitors went one to become personal favourites on their own, with Roode moving to WWE to glorious success and Storm remaining at Impact for a while, selling the likes of EC3 before moving to the newly reformed NWA.

The Boogeyman

What’s not to love about The Boogeyman? A horrendous and misguided misrepresentation of Lord knows what, he was the latest in a long line of GABBO-esque viral advertising, built up with creepy surprise promos for weeks until he was finally unleashed. And he was… what? Some Baron Samedi-looking ogre with a penchant for live worms and alien voodoo, yet for all the hype and shrieking he never truly amounted to anything or achieved much. He has hyped as the next super-freak, and then faded away to randomly appear in Raw Reunions for larfs. Imagine of Bray Wayatt’s latest incarnation had had a single match after all of those Sesame Street skits we saw, then was never seen again – that’s kind of like what happened to The Boogeyman. What a waste.

Chad Gable

This is going to be the most surprising inclusion in my list, but I genuinely think Chad Gable is the best all round athlete on WWE at the moment. While they persist in pushing gimmick based tag teams (New Day/Viking Raiders), completely bland tag teams (The Revival), and the more showy high fliers (Ricochet/Aleister Black), Chad Gable seems to be consistently sidelined. They haven’t quite figured out what to do with him – to me he’s the next natural Kurt Angle and just needs that one-liner or character change to truly break out. He had a decent run alongside Bobby Roode but they weren’t given any interesting storylines or teams to feud with – the same can be said for his stint with Jason Jordan (remember him?) Gable’s skills can’t be argued against – he is a former Olympian and is one of only two people to hold the NXT, Smackdown, and Raw Tag belts. He has seen a recent upturn by almost going all the way in the revamped King Of The Ring tournament (apparently – I still haven’t caught up to that point yet at time of writing). I’m not sure the whole Shorty G thing is going to work – it’s about time he got taken seriously as a hero figure instead of the constant drifting between Roman and Seth. He does need extra skills on the mike, but that only comes with extra time in the spotlight.

Diamond Dallas Page

A hero and inspiration to many, DDP’s exploits are far reaching and famous. Already clearly a good guy and well thought of within the business, his work with helping to rehabilitate wrestlers, athletes, soldiers, and anyone else was highlighted in the excellent Jake The Snake movie. In the ring, he was one of the major draws in the latter days of WCW, only starting to wrestle at the ripe old age of 35. It was a few years after he started that he began to make waves on television, feuding with Eddie Guerrero, NWO, and the Macho Man before truly ‘making it’. After winning several titles he made the move to WWE where he won another two championships. His Diamond Cutter probably remains my favourite cutter in the business.

DJZ

Where Gable is my pick for ‘should be much bigger than he is’, DJZ was my pick a few years ago for the next big thing. Along with a number of newer high-fliers from Impact such as Andrew Everett, DJZ has all the tools to be huge. A series of injuries has hit him, almost killed him, but he keeps coming back. A clear risk taker, he pulls out moves you’ve never seen before and does the classics with style, as well as being great on the mike. He has the pretty boy snarl to be a popular heel, and has the comic chops to be a cult face. He has had numerous successful runs on Impact, from his early days as Zima Ion eventually picking up the X Division Belt then a funny turn as part of the Bro Mans with Jessie Godderz, Robbie E, and Robbie T when he adopted the DJZ persona. If you’ve never seen an Ultimate X match, or an X division match in general with DJZ, you don’t know what you’re missing. Since leaving Impact, he has moved to NXT and will hopefully make a push onto one of the main brands – they need more interesting heels than Corbin.

The Dudleys

Out of all the tag-teams borne out of the Attitude Era, there were really only two who mattered to me – The Hardyz and these guys. They feuded on and off for years, along with Edge and Christian, in their infamous tables, ladders, and chairs matches – the very matches which really sucked me in during my second phase of viewing. Happy to be ‘the bad guys’ up against the pretty and heroic Hardy Brothers, Devon and Bubba were bruisers, adorned in snow camo-trousers, and always ready to smash you through a table or headbutt you in the groin. The team also transitioned over to TNA but it was Bubba (who became Bully Ray) who had the most single competitor success. He would be one of the front running heels for a few years in TNA – his story with Aces & Eights, Brooke Hogan, and Dixie Carter reaching melodramatic, can’t miss Soap Opera issues. As a team they were very fluid – they never looked like high fliers but would frequently be seen hanging off a ladder or leaping off the top rope just like their biggest rivals, and they had the shoot snark to go along with their in ring talents.

Eddie Guerrero

It’s difficult to think of a more popular villain in all of wrestling – maybe Triple H? Ric Flair of course? Guerrero transcended the Heel role, becoming more of a scoundrel or loveable rogue through his ‘lying, cheating, and stealing’ and finally becoming an outright icon for good. When in WCW, along with Benoit, Perry Saturn, and Dean Malenko as The Radicalz they took their long standing relationships and became a successful stable. The group left WCW shortly before the company collapsed and all four men went on to varying degrees of success with Vince and Co. It was Eddie who stood out as the pantomime character – his Lucha Libre stylings were mostly unique in the company and he had a knack for pre-memes, thanks to ‘mamacita’, ‘Latino Heat’, and other terms which caught on. It was rare that he ever got a clean win, forcing numerous disqualifications by tricking the officials and becoming romantically involved with the likes of Chyna and Vicky. His womanizing persona won over the crowd, leading to multiple titles, but his physical ability earned his respect, with many fans and fellow wrestlers calling him one of the best of all time. With at least 10 WWE championships, two from WCW, and multiple from other promotions, it’s difficult to argue against that fact.

Chris Benoit

As mentioned in some of my other entries, Benoit was one of the most successful performers to transition between WCW and WWE, his Air Canada and Crippler Crossface particularly devastating, and his alignment with Perry, Dean, and Eddie a long-lasting winning partnership. Of course every wrestling fan knows that it all ended in tragedy and horror, and I get the impression that there is a lot more about this story and the general physical and mental strain which the Business can cause that will come out in the future. When he was alive, Benoit was one of the best in-ring performers in the world. He may not have been the most electrifying on the mic but his dedication and skills always paid off, leading to one of the most emotional WWE World Heavyweight wins I’ve ever seen. In his time in the two main promotions, he was a two time WCW tag champion, 1 time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, 3 time TV champ, 2 time US Champ, 4 time WWE Tag champ, 4 time Intercontinental champ, 3 time WWE US Champ, and 1 time Royal Rumble Winner.

Eli Drake

Eli Drake came to the forefront just as TNA/Impact was on ‘the turn’. It was losing money, viewers, and performers left, right, and centre and Eli Drake quickly bcame noticed as the best mike performer thanks to his early Dummy button gimmick. His catchphrases quickly caught on with the crowd and he became a fan favourite. In many ways I would say Drake is the best mike man since The Rock, someone who has clearly influenced his persona and energy. Drake is not always the most elegant in the ring, but his connection to the crowd and series of devasting moves ensured his matches are always entertaining. He was certainly a major part of keeping the promotion alive during a number of transitory periods, earning several championships and teaming with a variety of stars from Drew Galloway, Scott Steiner, and Jessie Godderz and feuding with Grado, The Broken Hardeyz, and El Patron. Just as he was struggling to find a new outlet and form in his final months in Impact, he parted ways during some controversy surrounding his feelings about intergender wrestling, with Sami Callahan picking up the mantle. Drake is now with NWA, but would be another great fit for AEW or WWE thanks to his hilarious skills in front of the camera. I get the feeling, like EC3 and many others, that WWE wouldn’t know what to do with him.

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Gail Kim

For my money, Gail is the greatest female wrestler of all time. At the very least she is my favourite. Great on the mat, in the air, on the mike, and with a flexible move-set, she was part of the first true explosion in woman’s wrestling. Always creative in her matches, her long-running feuds with the likes of Awesome Kong, The Beautiful People, and Taryn Terrell remain some of the most electrifying matches you’ll ever see. Even though she won the Woman’s Championship in her first match in WWE, her time with them was not the most fruitful with Kim accusing the company of not knowing what to do with female talent, and specifically Asian talent. Equally alluring a performer as Heel or Hero, Kim relished both positions but as time went on the crowd were less convinced to see her as a bad guy, such was the respect they had for her. She bowed out of competition this year as a seven time TNA Knockouts Champion, selling Tess Blanchard as the next generation. It’s unfortunate now given how Women’s Wrestling has gone from strength to strength that so few wrestling fans, blinded by the glitz of WWE, know who Gail Kim is and that so few of today’s performers would be where they are without he accomplishments. Gail now works backstage on Impact, popping up every so often in front of the camera.

Goldberg

There were a couple of major draws for me when WCW came to Channel 5 in the UK in the late 90s. I knew the big names who had been around the block for the company and of course those convinced to join from the WWE. Goldberg I knew nothing about, until I saw him on Channel 5, learned about the undefeated strike, and watched him in action myself. The guy was simply unstoppable. A powerhouse who would regularly shred opponents to pieces thanks to his Jackhammer and the best Spear in the game. Unfortunately this was around the time he kept being hit by injuries, and within a couple of years the company folded. Goldberg would eventually move over to WWE, the 1 wrestler I most wanted to see make the move, and he continued from where he left off, feuding with the best and going on another streak. His most ntoable feud was against Triple H and pals as he successfully won the World Heavyweight Championship and defended it against all manner of usual HHH shenanigans. I’m still bitter Kane didn’t win the title, but HHH gets what HHH wants. After losing the belt, Goldberg had a brief feud with Brock Lesnar before leaving the company – a feud which would be picked up again years later. There have been few performers as explosive as Goldberg – it’s a shame injuries prevented him from making a longer-lasting impact.

The Hardy Boyz

The Attitude Era was all about 90s cool, but it wasn’t always the easiest task making the ‘roided up, beefcakes of the 80s seem all that appealing to the post-grunge, post-meta 90s landscape. Enter The Hardy Boyz, sleeve tats, punk ethos, dyed hair, piercings, and they didn’t look like superheroes. They almost looked like, with a little bit of training, you or I could match up to them. Crucially, they brought a rarely before seen high-flying, daredevil style to wrestling which took the business to a new level; it wasn’t just muscle bound freaks you could lift a limo with one hand while choking out a rhino with the other. It was guys like you or me who could run, climb, flip, and dive of twenty foot ladders through cunningly placed tables like no-one’s business. I credit WWE’s continued success at the tale end of the century and into the next, to these guys and The Rock, for changing the game like no others. You knew every match was going to be an event, a spectacle, and you knew you were going to see violence the likes of which was usually reserved for Hong Kong movies. Matt and Jeff would continue across multiple promotions, both as a team and as solo competitors, trying new personas such as Jeff’s Willow and Matt’s Broken Hardy, culminating in such madness as lawnmower jaunts in the grounds of the Hardy complex, and sentient drones.

Hulk Hogan

He’s still the most famous of them all, right? Even though his fame has been tinted by a lot of awful personal stuff and stories which have come to light, nobody quite embodies the unique pantomime/gladiator lore as Hulk Hogan.

Jake The Snake

If Hulk was generally known for standing up for all that was good, right, and American, then Jake The Snake was known for, well, having a giant ass snake in a sack. Jake never was able to translate one of the most unique gimmicks into Championship success, but he remained one of the most popular and visible stars of wrestling throughout the 80s and into a less decisive 90s. He was the first WWE figure I wanted to buy – in those days that particular toy range each had a special move – a button to make them kick or slam etc. Jake’s was a fist you could pull back on a spring and release. I chipped my tooth thanks to this fist, within days of purchase. His Resurrection documentary is a great watch, a fantastic insight into the man and the business, and his appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast is a must listen for any Wrestling fan.

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Kane

My all time favourite Wrestler. People love The Undertaker – I love The Undertake, but The Dead Man’s brother appealed to the adolescent underling in me and ticked all the right boxes. He was a towering behemoth, a horror movie villain, a mute and seemingly indestructible powerhouse with a move-set which mimicked his brother’s, with a few twists of its own. Plus he could conjure fire. I don’t think The Company ever gave Kane his due, and still don’t. At minimum they should be wheeling him out each Royal Rumble as an opportunity for him to eliminate a few people and act as an opportunity for one of the up and comers to take him out and make a name for themselves. Too often, Kane has been used specifically to sell someone the company wanted to push and too often has he been used purely to make someone else look good, without allowing him to shine himself. No, his ten plus tag team championships and two time Heavyweight belts aren’t enough. He still holds PPV appearance and Royal Rumble Elimination records, but like a certain Austrian bodybuilder before him, a life in politics has taken him away from his true calling – beating the shit out of people for my entertainment. He still has a couple of good runs in him.

Lita

As The Hardy Boys made waves for their high-flying antics in and out of the ring, a young woman by the name of Lita came to prominence by helping out Essa Rios, a new Lucha fighter. He was okay, but she caught the eye thanks to her gritty punk style, good looks, and her top rope moonsault. It seemed inevitable that she would become the anti-poster girl for WWE, feuding with the more traditional upstarts like Torrie Wilson and Trish Stratus. Lita and Trish’s bouts were the first authentic female matches the brand had, and while they still had their fair share of underwear related matches (no complaints from me at the time), it was clear than Lita was spearheading a new movement and proving women could be just as good, and just as much of a legitimate draw, as the men.

The Undertaker

I mentioned Kane as my all time favourite, but it’s Undertaker who understandably gets the headlines. He’s been seemingly around forever, he changed the game when it comes to entrances, gimmicks, back story, and he managed to evolve with the business numerous times to remain one of the biggest draws in the business. A character of effortless cool, who doesn’t get a chill down their spine when that bell first tolls, or when you wait in anticipation for the dead man to rise, sit up after being hit with a finisher only to deliver a hellish chokeslam and tombstone of his own? Sure he’s retired about 12 times now, and is last few one off matches haven’t exactly inspired confidence, but when all is said and done he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.

Sting

Speaking of all time greats, Sting was the man who kept both WCW and TNA afloat for decades, the one man WWE wanted but couldn’t get. From his bleach blond roots to his conversion to his Crow persona he was a mainstay on ‘the other wrestling promotion’ and a source of respect to everyone in the business. It should have been big news when Sting finally made the jump to WWE, except he suffered a career ending injury in basically his first match, and that was that. When I watched WCW in the early 90s, Sting was to WCW what Hogan was to WWE – bigger than life, heroic, and with a series of moves which been adopted by others while keeping the name he gave them – The Stinger Splash, the Scorpion Death Lock etc. His move to The Crow look, and the related storylines, is one of the best character changes in Wrestling history. Whether as part of NWO, as a heroic face, or in his TNA days, Sting was number one and picked up 6 WCW Heavyweight Belts, 3 WCW tag titles, 2 WCW USA championships, 5 TNA World Titles, and become a two time Hall Of Famer.

The Ultimate Warrior

If I’m honest, I was always more partial to The Ultimate Warrior than Hulk when I was younger. He looks ridiculous in retrospect, but in the 80s and early 90s, The Ultimate Warrior was essentially a real life He-Man. How could anyone have that much manic energy and have so many muscles? The combination of colour and ability made him an obvious stand-out performer. Since his death, a whole lot of rumours and stories and true accounts have come out about the man behind the war paint which have certainly soured his legacy, but as in in-ring performer and a major foil for Hulkamania, there have been few better.

Mike Foley

One of the first images I ever remember seeing on a Wrestling Magazine was of Foley, as Cactus Jack, face bloodied and head wrapped in barbed wire. As an already devout action movie and horror fan, I needed this in my life. I already knew Cactus Jack, but only through the heavily censored footage I had seen – they were the matches that were ‘too violent for TV’ or they ‘used REAL violence’ as opposed to what I already knew was fake in the industry. It wasn’t until Foley moved to WWE, initially as Mankind,that I got to see his brutal matches without cut always or censorship. Chair shots, trashcan lids, staples, bats, and everything else were employed in the early days as Mankind started pissing off The Undertaker, kick-starting one of the all-time great feuds. That of course culminated with Paul Bearer dropping Taker, a number of first-time matches (Buried Alive, Boiler Room) and of course the infamous Hell In A Cell encounter – frequently highlighted as the greatest match of all time. No matter what persona Foley adopted, his characters were always quirky and filled with repeatable one-liners. There have been few equal to Foley’s mic skills and knack for getting the crowd on board, and there aren’t many true innovators of violence more influential than him.

The Rock

We go from one of the best mic-talkers, to the best there has ever been. You go back and watch old promos from the best in the business, to the 80s, and they are almost all ridiculous. Cheesy, hammed up, and amusing, charming, and dated in their ways. You shake your head and wonder how you enjoyed the stuff at the time. Then you watch The Rock and he just continues to blow everyone else away. His lightning fast speeches, his hilarious interruptions, his timeless one-liners and whip-smart humour – he single-handedly destroyed the old guard promos and challenged every other wrestler on the planet to just bring it with even half the skill and style he did. No-one has met the challenge yet. Of course, that would be nowt without in-ring ability.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

As much as I love Kane’s booming intro, there are two pieces of music/sounds which sit at the top of the pile as perfect heralds for incoming mayham. The Undertaker’s doom coloured death knell chime, and the explosion of glass which signals Stone Cold’s manic march to the ring. These two pieces are as perfect as you can get – both symbolizing the character, both instantly recognizable. In this day and age of symbols and memes and endless sharing, the impact that a single sound can have around the planet has never been higher and even now, years after Stone Cold has retired, that crash sends audiences into a frenzy as he heads down to burst open a few cold ones and stun whichever poor sod happens to be in the ring at the time. An all round bad-ass, a good talker, and with one of the most sudden and devastating finishers in the business, while Austin was injured and forced out before his time, he still notched up 14 championships in WWE as well as three Royal Rumble wins and is of course a Hall Of Famer – he picked up a few in WCW too.

Too Cool

As far as, for lack of a more respectful term, joke teams go Too Cool dropped at the right team. While the Attitude era has a little more saucy, a little more hardcore, there was also a lot of room for fun and nonsense. Too Cool exemplified this, with their wide-eyed gazes, dances, Rikishi love, and worms. Everybody enjoyed mimicking their moves and they were popular enough to win the tag championship twice. Today’s most popular teams such as The New Day have a lot to thank Too Cool for.

nWo

Maybe the greatest of all factions – New World Order went through various incarnations and saw the likes of Sting, The Big Show, The Million Dollar Man, Bischoff, The Macho Man, Konan, Jeff Jarrett, Bret Hart and many others involved, but it was the mainstays and instigators – Hogan, Hall, and Nash – who created and solidified their legacy. Coming in like a group of thugs, seeing Hogan turning Heel and wanting to take over the business. They were the team, and the main reason, most people tuned in to Nitro over Raw in the 90s and remain one of the most influential groups in Wrestling history.

Samoa Joe

One of the first ‘big men’ who was a complete all rounder – grappler, bruiser, high-flyer, as adapt off the ropes as he was lethal with submissions, Joe was one of TNA’s finest villains. Since moving to WWE he hasn’t managed the same level of impact, usually reduced to more heel plots where he tends to ‘get personal’ with friends and family members but is still clearly a fan favourite in the company. His feuds with Angle, AJ, Magnus, and a good guy turn versus Aces & Eights saw him as one of TNA’s most respected and successful performers, picking up nine championships before earning another four in WWE.

Mr Anderson/Kennedy

A man whose entire character seemed to be based on a single gimmick – a ridiculous one – somehow manager to build on that to become one of the most entertaining talkers in both WWE and Impact. That gimmick? Quite simply, he would announce himself when he had a match, hurling out his name (similar to ‘Best In The World Shane McMahon’), then pause for a couple of seconds, then repeat his surname. That’s it – Mr Kennedy….. Kennedy. It was nonsense, but somehow it worked. I used to head out to bars on a Saturday night – metal bars mostly – and after a drink too many I would mimic his shout. Without fail, some other drunken loon would repeat ‘Kennedy’ before I could. He’s infamously the only person to lose the Money In The Bank briefcase before cashing in, but he did become USA Champ and Two Time Heavyweight Champ in TNA.

Kurt Angle

Frequently called out as the best all round Wrestler of all time, it wasn’t always plain sailing for Angle. He had a rough time in his early days in WWE, not coming across well to fans, but thanks to feuds with Eddie Guerrero and honing in on his comedy skills, he eventually won the universe over, then allowing his obvious in ring talent to shine. For someone who won an Olympic Gold Medal with a broken freaking neck, his success was inevitable. In many ways his most thrilling matches were with TNA, where he decided to go for more daredevil moves and being part of some of the best solo and group feuds in the company’s history. He has of course returned to, and retired from WWE due to many legitimate neck injuries, but he leaves behind a career which saw him pick up 6 TNA Heavyweight Championships, 1 X Division Title, 2 TNA Tag Titles, 2 WCW belts, two Hall Of Fame medals, and for WWE – 5 Heavyweight, 1 Tag Title, 1 Euro Champ belt, 1 Hardcore Belt, and 1 Intercontinental Champ. Presumably he’ll pick up the 24/7 belt at some point.

There you go – my favourite wrestlers ever, from the top of my head. I know I’ve missed some of the most famous and plenty of the current stars – but let me know in the comments who would be on your list!

 

 

Ranking The Manics – Rewind The Film

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If there’s one thing in common with the three albums which the band has made since Postcards, it’s the lack of good extra songs and the difficulty I have in ranking the album tracks. While each album is unique in their own way, I just don’t feel the same way about them as I do their first 10 albums. Maybe it’s their age, maybe it’s mine, but I find myself increasingly drawn to everything else than these. These three albums still have many high moments, but I struggle to differentiate between them and if someone on the street asked my to hum a random song from one of them, I’d struggle. Whereas if the same random weirdo asked me to hum something from their first 10 albums and assorted rarities, I’d be able to recreate each note from each instrument, every word, glitch, and vocal inflection flawlessly. In other words, I just don’t know these ones as well. Here’s my ranking for the first of those three:

  1. Show Me The Wonder
  2. This Sullen Welsh Heart
  3. 30 Year War
  4. I Miss The Tokyo Skyline
  5. Three Ways To See Despair
  6. Anthem For A Lost Cause
  7. Running Out Of Fantasy
  8. 4 Lonely Roads
  9. As Holy As The Soil That Buries Your Skin
  10. Builder Of Routines
  11. Rewind The Film
  12. Manorbier

There isn’t a lot to choose from with the B-Sides – they’re all as equally average to me as much of what appears on the album, with a few sprinkled gems. Regardless, here’s my alternative tracklist:

  1. This Sullen Welsh Heart
  2. Show Me The Wonder
  3. TE Lawrence On A Bike
  4. 4 Lonely Roads
  5. Melancholyme
  6. I Miss The Tokyo Skyline
  7. Anthem For A Lost Cause
  8. As Holy As The Soil
  9. 3 Ways To See Despair
  10. Running Out Of Fantasy
  11. Whatever Happened To The Blue Generation
  12. 30 Year War

Let us know your ranking and alternatives in the comments!

Nightman Reacts To The Greatest Artists Of All Time (According To Rolling Stone)! Top 20

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Part Four of my reaction to Rolling Stone’s Greatest 100 Musical Acts Of All Time. Click here for part one, part two, and part third. Otherwise….

20. Bo Diddly

Aside from having a hilarious name, Diddly remains one of the great Blues voices and guitarists. Another man whose influence on others outshone his own work, his own work is still out there to discover – and it’s great.

19. Velvet Underground

I’m middling on The Velvet Underground. Influential, all sorts of fucked up, poetic and mischievous, their name has too long been synonymous with a certain culture rather than the music. That’s when you knew you’ve succeeded as an artist but failed as a musician. That’s what society has forced upon the group, not something the group necessarily did themselves, though they certainly set the groundwork. Their music isn’t the sort of thing I listen to often, and in truth I find their songs more enjoyable when covered by others.  Still, they did their thing and did it better than most.

18. Marvin Gaye

Great voice, could write a tune, could deliver a message which was more than simply promoting dancing or fucking. Yet those same songs invariably made you want to dance, fuck, and maybe change the world. I’m not the biggest fan as I do find much of his stuff quite samey, but when he’s good, he’s good.

17. Muddy Waters

Muddy, BB, Bo, all these guys played the same sort of music with their own unique spin, and each one would influence the entirety of Sixties and Seventies rock. Muddy was maybe the first, and the things he did with his voice, guitar, and presence, and the songs he wrote or played would be torn apart, abused, and reconfigured by the likes of Led Zep, The Stones, Hendrix, and anybody else who picked up a guitar in those decades.

16. Sam Cooke

You see a lot of crossover with R’n’B, soul, Gospel, in these rock lists. Sometimes it’s not entirely accurate, sometimes it’s like the publication is trying to lump these other genres in with rock to make them more appealing to people who don’t listen to rock. Listening to Sam Cooke, the musical comparisons to rock aren’t obvious. He was always more of a pop vocalist, too smooth and calming and not raw enough. to truly fall into the rock category. But then, many rock singers don’t have a growl or yell or roughness, but the attitude or the writing. Cooke had sex appeal and some decent tunes, but rock?

15. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder I’ll give you – a voice of unyielding soul, the energy of his most funk-driven numbers is enough to carry him into rock spheres. Of course he has worked with some of Rock’s finest and has written plenty a rockin’ song himself. He’s going to pop up more on my other series as most of the songs I know by him are the big hitting singles.

14. Led Zeppelin

Maybe the prime example of what a rock band could or should be. Maybe the prime example of taking what had come before and transforming into something else, or taking it to the next level. The Stones, for me, always kept things simple – they took an old school Blues song and played it straight, maybe with a little more venom. Zep would take an old school Blues song, turn it inside out, chew it, swallow it, and vomit it back up along with whatever else they had been absorbing at the time. They were the perfect four piece – one of the great vocalists of all time, maybe the greatest guitarist, probably the best drummer, and easily one of the most talented multi-musicians ever. They good write some of the sexiest, heaviest music on the planet, they could be as soft as a fawning hippy, and they had all of the best stories and legends swirling around them. You’re not a music fan if you don’t get the Led out.

13. Buddy Holly

One of the first white boys of rock, merging his Country and Gospel upbringing with  R’n’B sounds, he cemented rock’s beginnings. With a sizable number of songs and hits before he died at the ridiculously young age of 22, it’s not clear what he could have gone on to achieve or create. It’s true that he was only getting started before he was stopped.

12. The Beach Boys

Well of course. From glossy Beach pop/rock to the more experimental stuff I haven’t heard yet, they have enough hits to make any such list.

11. Bob Marley

I’m not a huge fan of Reggae. I always assumed I would be, and Marley was one of those icons that younger me looked forward to being able to hear when I was young. I find his music, and the whole genre’s very samey. Some stand-out songs. When your the only guy famous for the genre, of course you get a spot on the list.

10. Ray Charles

The other blind dude with a piano.

9. Aretha Franklin

Beast mode vocals activated. You’d be hard pressed to find a more powerful voice anywhere, one capable of stopping you in your tracks thanks to its authority and sensuality. She wrote the odd songs too, and her biggest hits are timeless.

8. Little Richard

I always say ‘Fuck Elvis’ when I hear people saying he did everything first. Little Richard did it better, faster, and sexier than Elvis before there was an Elvis. I don’t know much about the guy but his songs are just ballistic. Reading this self-penned piece is pretty depressing, how he never made any money from his music. The guy did it all, and while I’m sure he has plenty to show for it, it’s true that everyone who came after him took his work and his spotlight, even if they did take his groundwork and build upon it.

7. James Brown

The sweaty sex machine himself. Brown is that rare example of taking Gospel music and heritage and making something good out of it, of making R’n’B music which genuinely rocks. A sublime and tireless performer with vocals to match. I know his biggest and best and each one of those makes you want to jump around just as much as any metal song you can name.

6. Jimi Hendrix

Everyone’s favourite guitarist, he did things no-one else had or could. A showman and a player and a writer, the Hendrix songs sometimes work for me, other times they don’t. Maybe it’s the vocals which keep me from being a full blown fan or maybe it’s that many of the songs have a similar melodic style. The songs aren’t samey, but they can feel that way. I take the handle of songs I love and ignore the rest.

5. Chuck Berry

There’s a line zig-zagging through the 1950s which touches upon a number of artists who had a small number of hits and then circles around the big names – that line probably circles around Chuck Berry several times before shooting off in a thousand directions. There isn’t a single recording person in rock today that the line doesn’t connect to from Chuck. Tracing that line back, those early hits – and quite a few later ones -still rock, that youthful expression crossing every generational gap.

4. The Rolling Stones

As you’ll have seen if you read my other posts – I listened to a bunch of Stones Albums many years ago and dismissed them. I’m listening to them all again now to see if i feel any differently. It’s up in the air, but it looks like they’re more of a ‘I like 1-2 songs from each album band’ for me, though obviously millions of people have adored them and been influenced by them through time.

3. Elvis Presley

I have difficulty really loving someone if they don’t write their own material. They need something special if they don’t – a unique voice or talent elsewhere. Elvis had a unique voice and presence and stardom and aura around him. He could play, he could sing, but out of the massive number of songs he recorded, I only enjoy a relatively small number. Still, it’s Elvis.

2. Bob Dylan

Although I’ve probably heard more, I only feel like I’ve heard less than 10 Bob Dylan originals – his original versions of his own songs. He’s another artist I’ve known my whole life, but more due to other bands and singers covering his stuff. At some point I’m going to have to go through his albums one by one, but I already know I don’t like his vocals – what I’ve heard of them. The nasal quality and the delivery. I do love lyrics though, and almost everyone would rate Dylan as one of the best lyricists in the game. I’m not surprised he’s here – it’s the same with every list, but I don’t know enough to give my personal judgement.

  1. The Beatles

The obvious number one. They did it all, they reinvented themselves and reshaped the musical world numerous times, and left behind maybe the largest body of great songs than any other band has. Never trust anyone who doesn’t like The Beatles or at the very least acknowledge their importance.

Let me know what you think of this Top Twenty, of Rolling Stone’s list as a whole, and of the bands and artists, involved!

 

Ranking The Manics Songs – Postcards From A Young Man

Golden Postcards

Ten albums – not many bands make it that far these days, and certainly not with the same level of consistent success and quality. And this album is now ten years old and the band is still going. That’s one of the many reasons to love them. This album, described as their ‘last shot at mass communication’, has many moments of pop goodness and embraces some choice and unusual influences (Gospel and Motown) while not relinquishing their central roots. Sadly, this was one of the main instances of the band simply picking the wrong songs to be singles – but luckily there were still three and therefore a bunch of alternatives to ponder over. Here is my ranking:

  1. I Think I’ve Found It
  2. All We Make Is Entertainment
  3. Golden Platitudes
  4. Don’t Be Evil
  5. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  6. Hazelton Avenue
  7. It’s Not War
  8. The Descent
  9. Auto-Intoxication
  10. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  11. Postcards From A Young Man
  12. Some Kind Of Nothingness

My main issue with a lot of the B-Sides around this time and till today, is the reliance on uninspired instrumentals and Nicky vocals. I managed to replace one song with a B-Side for my fantasy tracklist:

  1. It’s Not War
  2. Postcards From A Young Man
  3. Broken Up Again
  4. The Descent
  5. Hazelton Avenue
  6. Auto-Intoxication
  7. Golden Platitudes
  8. I Think I’ve Found It
  9. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  10. All We Make Is Entertainment
  11. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  12. Don’t Be Evil

I toyed with adding I’m Leaving You For Solitude or Midnight Sun, but they don’t really fit the grandiose nature of the album. This seems like a respectable album. Let us know what your ranking would be!

Nightman Reacts To The Greatest Artists Of All Time (According To Rolling Stone)! 40-21

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Part Two of my reaction to Rolling Stone’s Greatest 100 Musical Acts Of All Time. Click here for part one and part two Otherwise….

40. Simon And Garfunkel

As mentioned in post one, I haven’t discussed the ordering of this thing at all. I’ve no idea what their ordering criteria is but at the moment it doesn’t seem like there is one at all. Until we get to the top five of course and see Elvis, The Stones, and The Beatles. I always assumed I would like Simon And Garfunkel. Then I listened and posted about one album – the first of theirs I’d heard – and it wasn’t great. I’ve since listened to another album which was better. The jury’s still out on how I feel about them, but I know most people are fans.

39. David Bowie

Speaking of the Jury still being out… I understand and appreciate how much Bowie brought to music and how many artists he inspired and how he did his own thing for decades. I’m annoyed I don’t like him more – the glam stuff does nothing but irritate me and I’m generally not moved by his vocals. There are plenty of songs I love and plenty I like, but maybe the time for me to truly love him has passed.

38. John Lennon

His work with The Beatles would be enough to top any list. Then he did ten years of solo work, most of which I haven’t heard. It’s probably not as good as The Beatles, but probably not far behind.

37. Roy Orbison

When I was young I took one look at Orbison and said ‘naw’. But then you hear him sing, and you hear him play, and you get it. He wasn’t some knock off Elvis, he was his own thing and I much prefer his voice to The King’s. His songs have lasted too.

36. Madonna

Bitch, she’s Madonna. Mad as a bottle of snakes and might just pour them over you, but show me another artist who’s had her longevity and success and hits. You can’t. You can tear apart her vocals or her politics or certain creative or musical choices, but when you look at the best hits of her vast body of work, you can’t help but be in awe.

35. Michael Jackson

Probably the greatest voice in all of music, probably the greatest entertainer of all time. In the beginning it was all about his voice and style – how cute he looked, how he danced, how he sang. Then he branched out from his brothers and more success. Then he branched out on his own and became the biggest thing in the world. All through that time he was writing his own stuff and honing his perfectionist style. There has never been anyone like Michael, and there likely never will be again.

34. Neil Young

I’m still waiting for that thing to make me like Neil Young music. It must be there.

33. Everly Brothers

Fair enough.

32. Smokey Robinson And The Miracles

Smokey is such an underrated writer, but with The Miracles he was able to get his best work across. I still find it amazing that Smokey was around before Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and The Beatles, and he’s still going.

31. Johnny Cash

Everybody loves Johnny Cash. Me? Not so much. It’s another example of appreciation rather than enjoying the music. It may be dark, on occasion, but it’s still Country. And Gospel too, which is worse. A unique figure though.

30. Nirvana

Everything I wanted and needed in a band when I was young; everything the music industry needs now. Nirvana wasn’t just grunge, rock, metal, punk, pop, whatever – it was a rare concoction of fury, intelligence, wit, integrity – you listen to any interview with them at the time, you watch any performance – no matter how fucked up they were they played with more intensity and feeling and passion than anyone else. I don’t care if you were Metallica or The Beatles or Yngwie Malmsteen or Pavarotti, Nirvana were going to blow you off the stage and make you look like amateurs. Then they’d destroy the stage and fuck off. A complete nobody came from nothing and changed the lives of millions. There have been few greater losses to the musical world than when Kurt ended his life.

29. The Who

On stage in their prime there was nobody like The Who. Complete maniacs. Off stage too. Luckily they had the chops and prowess to pull it off. They had the balls to make shit like Tommy and Quadrophenia, grand sweeping stories which had great songs in the mix. And they would throw out amazing anthems like My Generation and Baba O’Reilly too.

28. The Clash

One of the first punk bands I got into, but my relationship with punk has almost always been surface – I’ll dip in and out when I need quick blast on how powerful music can be. It’s not just about the notes, it’s about the raw passion, the need to express yourself, or tell a story, or connect with an audience. The Clash could connect while also writing simple, catchy songs. They went and experimented with a tonne of other styles – most of which was not to my taste – but all the while they remained true to their vision of self.

27. Prince

I get he’s a good writer and a multi-talented musician. The music does little to nothing for me. I don’t find it sexy, it doesn’t make me want to dance, it doesn’t inspire me to listen or create or procreate. Hands up once more – I still haven’t heard much from him outside of some of his hits. He apparently has a million songs. Some of them are bound to pop up in my other series.

26. The Ramones

I’ve always found The Ramones to be on the silly side of punk. That’s not to say they’re not authentic, just that it’s hard to take a lot of their stuff seriously. They still play with fury but more often than not it’s the fury of a kitten trying to attack my hand – charming, fun, entertaining to be part of, but ultimately harmless.

25. Fats Domino

I mean, it’s Fats Domino. He was good, influential, but there’s a cultural and historic divide which will likely never be bridged to make me truly align with most of his stuff. I’ll listen, but I won’t think about it much.

24. Jerry Lee Lewis 

I’ll take him over Elton any day.

23. Bruce Springsteen

The nicest man in rock, or maybe the most genuine (assuming Dave Grohl went out for a walk). Again outside of the Born In The USA album and a few songs, I’m not too knowledgeable about his actual songs but there are so many singers who have come after him who try to mimic or embody his spirit – the voice, the style, the workmanship, and the message.

22. U2

Chris Martin in the article, opening his mouth and embarrassing himself as always, says some of the most stupid things. I get he’s trying to compliment the band, but when he says U2 is the only band whose entire back catalogue he knows by heart, what I take from that is that Chris Martin is not a music fan and should be kept far away from any recording studio. God, he then goes on to say ‘they may be the only good anthemic rock band ever’. Why is Chris Martin a thing? Can anyone explain it? Does he realise by simply existing in the same time and space as U2, he’s making them look worse? He then closes his love-fest with a sermon, of course, where he unironically states (when mentioning musician’s abilities to discuss a wider political or cultural issue) ‘every time I try, I feel like an idiot’ Yeah, mate, that’s because you are. I like U2 – some of their songs. I’m not some superfan. Bono’s a bit of a twat and they stopped making decent music about fifty years ago, but for a while they were good. Coldplay though – I liked that ‘beautiful world’ song, for five minutes before self-exorcising.

21. Otis Redding

Another great story with a tragic ending. Redding had his hits and his fame and likely would have had more. It wasn’t to be, yet most of his stuff feels as good today as I imagine it did in the 60s.

Next time, we complete our rundown with the Top 20! Let us know in the comments how you feel about any of the artists above and their position within the list!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Journal For Plague Lovers

Journal For Plague Lovers

Maybe it was the simple act of using Richey’s lyrics again, but the music of Journal For Plague Lovers is fucking glorious. It isn’t simply a matter of the fury, the feeling, and the riffs returning but something about embracing those past ghosts and genius entirely revitalized every aspect of their outlook and output. The result is one of their best albums, and arguably the best album of 2009. If I have any real criticism, it’s that too many of the songs end in an abrupt way – a sudden or stilted stop instead of a more thought out conclusion. That’s just me though. More than any of their albums, almost every track is on an even level so my ranking is more pointless than usual. Here it is:

  1. Virginia State Epileptic Colony
  2. Peeled Apples
  3. Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
  4. All Is Vanity
  5. Me And Stephen Hawking
  6. Doors Closing Slowly
  7. This Joke Sport Severed
  8. Facing Page: Top Left
  9. She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach
  10. Marlon JD
  11. Bag Lady
  12. Pretension Repulsion
  13. William’s Last Words

No bad songs here at all, and Number 13 could just as easily be in the top five. No ideal version here – most of the bonus tracks released around this time are instrumental or not exciting – no singles were released for the album so there isn’t the usual collection of B-Sides to rip through. Let us know your ranking in the comments!