Friday, March 10, 2017

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 181

The beginning of my favorite episode of Sunny ever
Screen Grab via Recap Guide
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 140 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

Protected user @adamsgroove asks:
I need your recommendation for the best episode from each season (of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
SEASON 1: "The Gang Finds a Dead Guy" - Some have postulated that the show didn't really start getting good until Danny DeVito's Frank Reynolds showed up, which I don't completely agree with. The first season has a lot of gems and holds up better than the first seasons of some other beloved shows like Seinfeld or The Simpsons. This episode, where Mac and Charlie discover Dennis' and Dee's grandfather to be a Nazi and use it against Dennis as a mic drop when he brags that he had sex with the comely lass whose father died in their bar, is the one that got me hooked on the series.

SEASON 2: "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare" - Season 2 had a lot of really good episodes, including "The Gang Gives Back," but the visual tiebreaker for me is the very end, when Frank has some poignant words for his kids.

SEASON 3: "The Gang Gets Invincible" - Tying together the city's obsession with football, the Gang's proclivity for drug use, the appearance of Green Man, and the inclusion of the McPoyles and Artemis, this episode maintains a pretty steady high throughout. It's hard not to have a laughing fit with Frank standing in the trashcan at the end, stoned out of his mind.

SEASON 4: "Who Pooped the Bed?" - This is a controversial choice, because Season 4 also contains "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis," "Mac and Charlie Die, Parts 1 and 2," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and "The Nightman Cometh." Also a lot of people I know hate this episode for whatever reason, but I think it combines so many of the things that make it great. It has an asinine premise, the best of Charlie's innocent idiocy, and Artemis hamming it up.

SEASON 5: "The Waitress Is Getting Married" - Honestly, Season 5 is my favorite, and it may just be the best season of comedic television ever created, along with the sweet spot of seasons 4-9 of The Simpsons. Anyway, this episode combines some classic gags (milk steak), Artemis hamming things up, and the sweetly yet strangely heartwarming moment of Charlie sticking up for the Waitress after she's been spurned. This episode is my favorite in the series.

SEASON 6: "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods" - I don't count "A Very Sunny Christmas" because that was a straight-to-DVD special that was tacked on after the finale, but if I did, it would be here. Season 6 was a relative letdown after the prior slate, but it's still got some great moments and episodes. This episode stands out for its portrayal of Mac, Dee, and Frank haplessly trying to survive in the woods.

SEASON 7: "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore" - My second favorite episode hits a lot of the same notes that the top one does. It's not afraid to venture into shock territory either with the bums fucking or the intense robbery scene at the end where one of the tweakers gets shot. Most people love it for RUM HAM, but the Charlie/Waitress subplot is just so heartbreaking, it takes it over the top.

SEASON 8: "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre" - Just a bonkers half-hour of drug abuse follies, inbred antics, Blair Witch parodying, and a guest appearance from Guillermo del Toro as the patriarch of the weird-as-fuck McPoyle family. This episode is Sunny at its most out-there, and it works.

SEASON 9: "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs" - Yeah, the Lethal Weapon 6 episode was great, but it felt like it was trying a bit too hard to recreate the magic from the first time they did an unauthorized sequel. The finale was a great weaving together of all the side characters the Gang has wronged, ending again with Rickety Cricket getting maimed, which is always a good time.

SEASON 10: "Frank Retires" - Honestly, a lot of the episode's hilarity hinges on Frank losing massive amounts of blood and the different conveyances the Gang uses to carry it. It's gross-out humor, but it works.

SEASON 11: "The Gang Hits the Slopes" - The Gang ends up parodying bad '80s scrappy underdog movies to a tee. As it turns out, gratuitous Charlie sex is even funnier than gratuitous Frank sex!

SEASON 12: "The Gang Tends Bar" - Season 12 was the best one since the classic fifth frame, and a lot of episodes could be here. But "The Gang Tends Bar" has not only the belly laugh moments wrapped around each character relishing in their selfishness ("I bought poop off the Dark Web") while trying to figure out what's bothering Dennis, but it has a genuinely heartwarming ending. So what if it's based around an illegally purchased black market rocket launcher? The fact that it's DENNIS who's at the center of it all makes it even more confusing yet gratifying.

I don't think either one of them are overrated contextually in history. I hate using the term overrated anyway. Either way, the Bulldogs were kind of shorter lived as an entity, but Dynamite Kid was more influential in the ring. Then again, Sabre might end up being part of the new guard that can make a decent living outside of WWE's tentacles and provide a blueprint for others to do the same. So I guess I'll go with Sabre now because he hasn't really hit the heights the Bulldogs have.

I'm not nearly as versed in joshi as I'd like, so this might trip a few alarms. But here goes:

  • Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, NXT Takeover: Brooklyn - Watching this without all the story leading up to it might be cheating, but for my money, it's still the best women's match WWE has ever produced. Even if you go in cold, they do such an incredible job conveying the tension and emotion through the course of the match.
  • Sara del Rey vs. Claudio Castagnoli, Chikarasaurus Rex 2011: Night 2 - I was there live for this match so maybe I'm skewed a bit towards it, but it's also the match that sold me for good on dissolving all gender barriers in wrestling ever.
  • Rachel Summerlyn vs. Jazz, Anarchy Championship Wrestling Queen of Queens 2012 - They hit hard and fast. It's a textbook case of "workrate" combined with snugness with easy to follow beats that establishes a good story with very little context to back it up.

If you're talking emotional catharsis, the answer is easily WrestleMania XXX. The completion of Daniel Bryan's accidental rise to the top, replete with celebration with his terminally ill fan Conor the Crusher, was as good resolution to a story, and unfortunately, a career as one can get. If you want all-killer, no-filler, it's a tossup between In Your House: Canadian Stampede and Extreme Rules '12. The former was only two hours or so, but it was jam packed with killer matches, including a gnarly brawl between Mankind and Triple H in what may be the best double countout ever, a super slick Japanese junior heavy-style match between Great Sasuke and TAKA Michinoku, and of course, the RED HOT 12 man tag main event. To call Extreme Rules all-killer, no-filler is a bit of a misnomer, because it DID have some filler in it. However, the four showcase matches - Randy Orton vs. Kane, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus, and John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar - comprised the best four match pay-per-view slate EVER. Honestly, I could flip a coin and go with either one.

Would you believe it's this guy?

That question is subjective as heck, because WWE taking wrestlers from any smaller company, especially one like ROH that has (inter)national presence is going to feel like a raid. Taking Roderick Strong after doing a prolonged farewell tour doesn't feel as much like a raid because of the circumstances. Taking Kyle O'Reilly right after he won the belt at Final Battle? Yeah, that has a scuzzy feeling to it, even if ROH was more in the wrong with how it handled and continues to handle the situation. But if you're looking for a concrete time, well, if Michael Elgin or ACH, for instance, get signed to WWE after PROLONGED indie tours, no matter how many EVOLVE dates are in there, then I'd say the raid feeling gets minimized. O'Reilly, Donovan Dijak, Ray Rowe, and others on WWE radar who get poached within like weeks of their last ROH matches, or who don't go on tour at all and either sit out or just do really small, off the radar shows, will feel like they've been raided.

The simple answer is that Brandin Cooks probably cost too much. The Eagles have a young quarterback and a lot of holes around him. Would you rather get a flashy new wide receiver when the first round pick it cost to get him could have gotten a monster pass rusher, a shiny new tackle, a potentially elite cornerback, or a wide receiver of comparable value now or in a few years that would cost a lot less money? The longer answer is that maybe the Eagles didn't get the wrong one. Even if the team only gets 12 games tops out of Alshon Jeffery, it's still a vast improvement over 16 of Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham. Torrey Smith, as unsexy a name that is, is another upgrade who brings deep threat speed at a fraction of the monetary cost and none of the cost of player or pick. Of course, this being the Eagles, both transactions come with a healthy dose of fatalism. However, on paper, they're just as good pickups as Cooks would've been.