WWE Monday Night RAW 04/27/15 Results and Review

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Sunday night, WWE presented their Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. There were a lot of twists and turns, and even some surprises. On RAW, fans will see the fallout from the Pay-Per-View event. Which feuds will continue? Which feuds will end? What awaits us in the coming weeks?

Once again, it is time to get RAW.

WWE RAW

The show started off with a video package highlighting clips from past King of the Ring tournaments. It seems that the tournament is making a grand return, which will be exciting to watch in the coming week.

The announcers confirmed the return of the King of the Ring tournament and a graphic was posted highlighting the participants. It’s a great concept, and will generate more interest in the WWE’s product.

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins came out to the ring accompanied by J&J Security and Kane. Photos from the previous night’s Extreme Rules event highlighting the main event match between Rollins and Randy Orton were shown.

“You cannot outsmart Seth Rollins,” Rollins said.

Seth Rollins

He cut a promo and described how he was the architect of wrestling group The Shield before he destroyed it and beat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 31. Rollins received massive boos from the crowd as he claimed that he singlehandedly defeated Orton at the Extreme Rules event.

Rollins showed the photo of him RKO-ing Orton at Extreme Rules and thanked Kane for his help as the “Crypt Keeper.” Rollins sarcastically apologized for the pop culture reference, and claimed it was an honest mistake. Kane accepted the apology and said that if it wasn’t for his actions as gatekeeper, Orton would be the champion.

Kane said he would rather be the WWE’s crypt keeper than WWE’s version of Justin Bieber. They went back and forth with insults as Orton’s music hit and Orton stood on the stage.

Orton said that since Kane is admitting that Rollins cheated, that he deserves a rematch. Kane said that Orton has a point before he is cut off by Reigns’ theme music. Reigns walked through the crowd and made his way to the ring.

Rollins started to complain asking why Reigns is there.

“I’ll tell you why I’m out here if you shut the hell up,” Reigns said.

Reigns stood on the broadcast table and said that Orton had his shot . He said if anyone deserves a title match it’s Reigns. The crowd started chanting Justin Bieber at Rollins.

Rollins said that they both lost matches against him, so neither of them deserve a title opportunity. Kane interrupted them, and said that they both make compelling arguments. Kane set up a tag team match featuring himself and Rollins against Reigns and Orton. Kane then said that he will let the fans decide who faces Rollins at Payback.

It was a good opening segment, I sense that there will be either a triple threat match with both Reigns and Orton or a fatal four way with Kane involved at Payback. I can’t see Rollins losing before Lesnar returns, however, this could be a good finale for the Rollins/Orton feud and elevate Reigns while adding to the Rollins/Kane feud that is slowly building.

The first match of the King of the Ring tournament featured Bad News Barrett against Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler made his entrance first to a good ovation, followed by Barrett. A video package showed a previously recorded interview where he said there will be “payback for Sheamus.” It looks like Ziggler will likely face Sheamus again at Payback.

The match began with Ziggler throwing punches but Barrett regained control of the match. There was a lot of fast paced action as Barrett hit Ziggler with elbows and kicks. Ziggler countered Barrett with a kick to the face followed by a dropkick as Barrett rolled out of the ring as the show went to commercial.

This is a great matchup so far, but it is hard to keep up with the action. In the wrestling world, that isn’t always a bad thing. With Ziggler teasing a rematch with Sheamus I see them either facing each other in a later round of the tournament, or them losing their spots and facing off in a regular match.

The match came back on as Barrett had Ziggler in a headlock, after some back and forth Barrett tried to shoulder him in the corner and missed. Ziggler and Barrett fought back and forth before hitting a clothesline. Barrett went for his Wasteland finisher but Ziggler countered with a DDT for a two-count. Ziggler went for a kick but Barrett countered and slingshot him into the corner. Barrett hit Wasteland but only got a two-count.

Barrett went for a Bullhammer elbow but Ziggler dodged and hit a kick. Sheamus came out and distracted Ziggler as Barrett hit his Bullhammer elbow for the win.

It was a competitive match, not a match of the year candidate but still good. The distraction from Sheamus was predictable, but it will be interesting to see what will happen with their feud. After their traditional matchup at Extreme Rules, I hope there will be some type of stipulation added at Payback.

RAW came back from commercial as new WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day came out. Although New Day member Xavier Woods didn’t win the title at Extreme Rules, he was wearing the belt. New Day is using the Freebird Rule, where all of the members of the group are considered champions. Woods tried to start a “New Day Rocks” chant but they kept chanting “New Day Sucks.”

The New Day

Tyson Kidd came out accompanied by his wife Natalya and his tag team partner Cesaro for a match against New Day member Big E. Kidd dominated the match early on, and seemed to be angry about losing the tag team titles at Extreme Rules. Out of nowhere, Big E hit a clothesline as Xavier Woods held Kidd’s ankle down preventing him from kicking out of the pin attempt before the three-count.

It was a good way to keep the fans irate at The New Day, however, the match felt a bit rushed. There will likely be a rematch at Payback, but I am not sure whether Kidd and Cesaro are still classified as villains or if they are transitioning into heroes. They are in that grey area right now along with The Bella Twins as characters who aren’t established as heroes or villains.

Ryback came out next for a matchup as the show went to commercial. Ryback is often compared to former WCW star Goldberg because they both essentially have the same gimmick. They are intense, well-built bodybuilder types that show ruthless aggression in the ring. As generic as the gimmick sounds, it is something that fans can always get behind. Ryback has been building momentum since his failed run as a villain two years ago, hopefully WWE doesn’t drop the ball with this character again.

Ryback usually competes in short matches, but I hope that he is in a feud with a well established star by the Payback Pay-Per-View. While he is fun to watch when he dominates short matches, he can also compete in longer matches and further developing his character will only get the fans behind him more.

As the show came back from commercial, Bo Dallas came out for the match with Ryback. Dallas said that Ryback’s actions at Extreme Rules were reprehensible and said he would be the bigger man and give Ryback the chance to walk away. Ryback refused as the match started. Ryback immediately started attacking Dallas. Dallas fought back and dropped Ryback down. He went for a pin but Ryback kicked out at one. Another pin attempt but Ryback kicked out at one again. Dallas put Ryback in a headlock but Ryback picked up Dallas and slammed him on the mat. Dallas tried to jump off the turnbuckle onto Ryback but he countered with a spinebuster. Ryback hit his meathook clothesline signature move and shellshocked finisher for the win.

Although I’d like to see them further develop Ryback’s character, I will never get sick of seeing him beat up guys for two to three minutes.

The screen went black after the match and when the lights came back on Bray Wyatt appeared behind Ryback and hit him with his Sister Abagail finisher. Wyatt posed as Ryback laid on the mat.

Ryback Wyatt

There were rumors for a couple of weeks that this feud would happen, but I don’t like to incorporate hearsay into my reviews. Now that it is confirmed, I can say that I am happy to see this feud as Wyatt is a big star who has fought the likes of John Cena and The Undertaker and that this will be a big challenge for both men. It doesn’t matter who wins and who loses in this feud, as both men will come out better once it ends.

Following the commercial, WWE United States Champion John Cena came out for his Championship Invitational.

“The Champ is here,” said Cena.

Cena said he respects Rusev for refusing to quit, but that at Payback they will face off in an “I Quit” match. He said that he will not say “I Quit” while defending his US Championship on American soil. He said he will never surrender as the crowd started a loud “USA” chant. He announced that Payback is the final chapter between Rusev and John Cena.

Cena said he is providing opportunity and invites someone to come out and face him for the championship. Heath Slater came out to answer the challenge. Slater declared that he will become the United States champion, and will create his own variation of the discount double check. Rusev attacked Slater and had a staredown with John Cena.

Rusev said that the audience is full of quitters—that all of the fans in the audience gave up on their dreams. He said that at Payback, Cena will quit too. He taunted Cena as his music hit and the Russian flag dropped down from the ceiling to end the segment.

Cena Rusev

It added some much needed build-up to Cena/Rusev IV, which is hard to do when two people face off at four consecutive Pay-Per-Views. I also missed Slater’s comedy act.

Rollins and Kane were talking backstage as Rollins seemed to complain about the fans having the ability to choose an opponent. Kane said that since Rollins doesn’t seem to enjoy having the fans pick either Orton or Reigns for the title match at Payback he will now be adding the option of Rollins facing both of them in a triple threat match. Kane said that fans can vote exclusively on the WWE App, and that the results of the poll will be shown after their tag team match.

It appears that the triple threat match at Payback is the most likely option. With WWE teasing Kane as the next person to break away from The Authority super group, I am curious to see if he will be involved in the matchup at Payback. What is more interesting is that in a traditional triple threat match there are no disqualifications, which would allow for the possibility of outside interference in the matchup. I only hope that Big Show doesn’t show up for another feud with Reigns.

R-Truth and Stardust came out next for another King of the Ring Tournament match. Both of them are unique characters, which will make for an interesting match. Stardust dominated the match early, as he repeatedly attacked Truth. Stardust had Truth in a headlock, but Truth fought out. Stardust regained control with a series of kicks. He tried to pin Truth again but Truth kicked out. Stardust with another headlock, and then he raked Truth in the eyes. Stardust repeatedly used a headlock variation, but Truth tried to fight Stardust off again. Stardust punched Truth and did a cartwheel before attacking Truth again. Truth regained some offense with a series of clotheslines before going for a scissors kick. Both competitors were back and forth with roll ups. Truth hit his Lie Detector finisher out of nowhere for the win.

I was shocked to see Truth win, as Truth hasn’t had much exposure on WWE television in recent years. The last time he was featured on a main show was in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at Wrestlemania 31, but he was just there. Truth is a talented individual, but he has been used mostly as an enhancement talent to make the other wrestlers look good in recent years. It will be interesting to see if this could lead to Truth getting more TV time on RAW in the future.

Fandango came out for a matchup against Adam Rose, who was already in the ring. They locked up as Rose gained control with a headlock. There was fast paced action with some back and forth. Rose soon gained control and was choking Fandango against the ropes. Fandango regained control with some chops to Rose’s chest and then clotheslined Rose over the roped. Fandango then jumped over the ropes and took out Rose. Fandango’s ex girlfriend Rosa Mendes then danced outside of the ring to distract Fandango. Rose took advantage of the distraction to hit his Party Foul finisher and win the match.

“I can’t believe you chose them (the fans) over me,” Mendes said.

Mendes then started making out with Rose as Fandango looked on in disgust.

Interviewer Renee Young was backstage with Daniel Bryan’s real-life wife Brie Bella. Young asked Brie about Bryan’s health. She explained how Bryan loves WWE so much and the injury is killing him because of how bad he wants to compete. She said he loves the fans and he loves wrestling as Naomi knocked Brie down.

“No one cares about you or your husband,” she said as she walked off.

For storytelling purposes, I can understand interviewing Brie and even incorporating the story into the Naomi/Bellas feud. However, I think it would’ve been better if the announcers simply gave the health update. I paid close attention because I am curious about the condition of one of my favorite wrestlers, and I don’t know any more information than I knew prior to Brie’s interview. If there was any sort of medical update, they didn’t do well in conveying that to the fans. If someone like me, who watched closely, didn’t catch it I can’t see a casual fan catching it either.

RAW came back from commercial, with Brie Bella already in the ring and her sister Nikki at ringside. Naomi made her entrance next.

The match started with a catfight, as both divas started attacking each other. The referee pulled Brie off of Naomi as Naomi got in a cheap shot on Brie. Naomi hit a bulldog variation with Brie’s head hitting the turnbuckle.

Why isn’t that her finisher?! That move was way more impressive than that “Rear View” nonsense.

Naomi was in control and hit a legdrop for a two count. She started pulling Brie’s hair as Brie tried to fight her way out. She managed to escape and started getting in some offense. Brie hit a clothesline and a dropkick before hitting another dropkick off of the top turnbuckle for a close two-count. Naomi hit Brie with a kick and a roll up for the win.

Those who have read my previous reviews know that I am not high on the Divas division at the moment, however, I was impressed by that bulldog variation. In a world where everything has been done before, I have never seen a bulldog done like that. Naomi’s current Rear View finisher isn’t believable in any sense, but that finisher is one that could win over the crowd.

Dean Ambrose came out next for another King of the Ring tournament matchup as the show went to commercial. When the show comes back, photos were shown highlighting the Chicago Street fight from Extreme Rules. Sheamus made his way to the ring next.

The matchup started as both men locked up. There was a lot of grappling between both men, as the action went back and forth. I like that this match has more of a technical aspect, interesting to see between two men who as known as brawlers. Ambrose started to stretch Sheamus as the referee broke it up. Sheamus hit Ambrose with a right hand and took control. More grappling and then Ambrose made a comeback with some chops. Ambrose went for a bulldog but Sheamus countered, Sheamus went for a clothesline but Ambrose knocked him out of the ring. Ambrose was about to dive out of the ring but stopped himself as Sheamus ran away before the commercial break.

This match has captured my interest with all of the grappling. I am used to seeing these two wrestlers in all out brawls, so seeing something like this is completely different. Grappling types of matches are hard to pull off, as it typically slows down the action and can lose fan interest but this match has been a good combination of grapples with punches and chops thrown in the mix to help keep the pace.

RAW came back from commercial as Sheamus had Ambrose in a headlock. Sheamus took control of the match as he showboated to the fans. The fans booed Sheamus as he started to kick Ambrose around. Sheamus hit a series of punches. Ambrose made a comeback with a clothesline.

Ambrose and Sheamus sped the match up as they started brawling. Ambrose ran towards Sheamus but Sheamus countered with a slam. Sheamus started to signal for his Brogue Kick finisher, but Ambrose sidestepped it and rolled Sheamus up for a two-count. Sheamus tried to shoulder Ambrose into the corner, but Ambrose sidestepped it. He dove out of the ring onto Sheamus before bringing it back into the ring. There was more back and forth action as both men traded blows. Sheamus put Ambrose in a Cloverleaf submission hold, and Ambrose crawled to the ropes to force the referee to break the hold.

Ambrose hit Sheamus with a series of elbows and hit him with a diving elbow from the top rope for the two-count. Sheamus stepped out of the ring and Ambrose chased him but Sheamus threw Ambrose into the announce table. Ambrose tried to throw Sheamus into the post but Sheamus countered with a brogue kick.

Ziggler came out and started attacking Sheamus as the referee rang the bell and ended the matchup. Sheamus officially won the match by disqualification, and advances to the next round in the tournament. Ambrose heard the announcement and was frustrated as he had nothing to do with it.

That match was easily the match of the night so far. There was a great combination of traditional on-the-mat wrestling as well as unorthodox brawling that the fans have grown to love in the past two decades. I am questioning the idea of having Sheamus advance in the tournament while he is feuding with Ziggler, but with some of the semifinal matches taking place on Main Event it is possible that the tournament could be finished within a week or two. Sheamus was known as King Sheamus when he won his first King of the Ring tournament a few years ago, and it could be interesting to see WWE explore that character change once again.

A video recap showed Damien Sandow losing to Miz last week, losing the rights to Miz’s music and gimmick.

Sandow was in the ring and explained how when he first came to WWE, he was told that he wasn’t entertaining enough. He said that some people may have thought he lost his mind, but he was on a quest to entertain. He showed some photos of some of his old gimmicks he did in the past year.

Sandow explained that he lost the respect of a lot of his peers while he was Mizdow, but that he gained the respect of the fans. He explained that without the fans, he wouldn’t be a WWE superstar right now. The fans thanked Sandow as he said “You’re Welcome”, an homage to one of his previous gimmicks. Before being interrupted by Curtis Axel.

Sandow Axel

Axel said that nothing bothers him more than a guy that tries to be someone else, so he asked Sandow “whatcha gonna do-“ as Sandow began to mimic Axel’s dialogue and movements. Axel told Sandow to get out but Sandow continued to mock him.

Sandow began to emulate Hulk Hogan’s taunt much like Axel before he hit an elbow on Axel. Sandow showboated for the fans as they cheered him.

Bray Wyatt appeared on screen for another cryptic promo. He said that what happened tonight is only the beginning. Everything that comes out of Wyatt’s mouth is gold, even though its difficult to explain through text. It is truly something that must be seen on live TV or through YouTube clips to be understood.

RAW returned from commercial as the announcers showed some audition tapes for Tough Enough.

Neville made his way to the ring for the final King of the Ring first round matchup. The winner of this match will face Sheamus in the next round. Harper made his way to the ring next.

The match started as Harper picked up Neville but Neville escaped. Neville hit Harper with a hurricanrana that knocked Harper out of the ring. He hit another one outside of the ring. The action went back into the ring and Harper regained control. The match went to commercial as the action continued.

The match is unique, as Harper is taller, stronger, and has been on the main roster longer than Neville. However, Neville is quick and can pull off maneuvers that Harper cannot. I like this clash of styles, and I truly don’t know who will win this match. Neville looks to be making an impact, which is a good thing as most wrestlers seem to be in a sink or swim situation when they make their main roster debuts. With Neville competing in some matches against high-profile superstars since his main roster debut after Wrestlemania, the future looks bright for the young star.

The match came back from commercial with Neville in a headlock. I feel like that is always the situation when a match comes back from commercial. Neville regained control and jumped off the ropes to dropkick Harper. Neville hit a standing moonsault on Harper in the ring for a two-count. Neville charged at Harper but Harper countered with a kick. Harper attempted to pin Neville, but only got a two-count.

Harper called for a powerbomb as Neville escaped and suplexed Harper. Neville hit another dropkick that put Harper on his knees. He charged at Harper but Harper countered with a powerbomb for a two-count.

The crowd started to chant “This Is Awesome” ad the match continued. Neville began to make a comeback and then Harper regained control. Harper set up Neville on the top turnbuckle for a suplex. Neville started hitting Harper as Harper knocked him off the turnbuckle. Neville hit a kick before powerbombing Harper off the turnbuckle. Instead of pinning Harper, Neville hit his Red Arrow finisher off of the top turnbuckle for the win.

This match was exciting to watch, and has surpassed Ambrose/Sheamus as match of the night. Neville is a representative of the NXT developmental system under Triple H, and shows great promise for future WWE superstars to come.

With the popularity of superstars like Neville, Seth Rollins, and Daniel Bryan and NXT focusing on more athletic individuals, I think that the days of larger WWE superstars may be over in favor of smaller athletes with a larger variety of moves in their repertoires.

Roman Reigns made his way out to the ring next for the main event of RAW as the show went to commercial. The show came back from commercial and the announcers hyped that fans can still vote for Rollins opponent at WWE Payback. The choices are Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, or Both. Orton made his way to the ring next, followed by Kane and WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. J&J Security accompanied Rollins to the ring. Rollins and Kane shook hands before walking to the ring.

The bell rang as the fans chanted Justin Bieber at Rollins. Rollins and Reigns started off the match. Rollins wrapped Reigns around in a series of grapples. Reigns countered as Rollins rolled out of the ring for a short breather. Rollins slowly made his way back into the ring and locked up with Reigns before kicking him in the chest. Rollins charged at Reigns but Reigns countered with a slam. Reigns threw Rollins into the turnbuckle before tagging in Orton.

Orton hit a series of offensive maneuvers, including stomps to the chest. Orton hit a series of uppercuts and tagged in Reigns.

Reigns picked up Rollins but Rollins escaped and slid out of the ring. Rollins slid back into the ring and then tagged in Kane.

Kane wrapped Reigns in a headlock but Reigns picked him up and slammed him before Reigns tagged in Orton. Orton started kicking Kane and hitting uppercuts on him in the corner. Orton charged at Kane but Kane hit a big boot on Orton. Kane hit a series of punches on Orton in the corner before tagging in Rollins. Rollins kicked Orton in the corner before throwing him out of the ring as RAW went to commercial.

This is a traditional tag team match, and has been an average match so far. It’s not extraordinary, but it is not bad either. Perhaps it is because the main event of RAW has been a tag team match in most episodes lately. I don’t love the match, but I don’t hate it either. For the purpose of storytelling, it does the job of helping sell the idea of Reigns and Orton competing against Rollins, and can perhaps fuel the inevitable feud between Kane and Rollins.

The match came back from commercial and Orton was in a headlock. Orton fought out of it as Rollins took Orton down and attempted a pin. Orton kicked out as Rollins got in more offense.   Rollins hit Orton with a clothesline before showboating to a chorus of boos. Orton managed to get in some offense as he crawled to Roman Reigns and tagged him in as Rollins tagged in Kane. Reigns started dominating Kane in the ring, getting in a large variety of offense. Rollins ran in for an assist but Reigns hit him with a Samoan drop before knocking him out of the ring. Reigns threw Kane out of the ring and attempted to dive out of the ring but J&J Security grabbed his leg.

Kane took advantage and slammed Reigns into the ring post. Kane brought the action back into the ring before kicking Reigns on the ground. Kane threw Reigns into the corner before kicking him again and tagging in Rollins.

Rollins hit a series of kicks on a downed Reigns, but as Reigns stood up he started exchanging blows with Rollins. Rollins managed to hit a kick to the head of Reigns before tagging in Kane. Kane started to dominate Reigns again before putting Reigns in a bear hug as Reigns screamed in pain.

Reigns started to fight his way out of the bear hug and started to make a comeback before Kane hit a big clothesline for a two-count. Rollins tagged himself into the match and continued to stomp the back of Reigns. Rollins tagged in Kane and Kane and Reigns started to exchange punches back and forth.

Kane quickly took control and tried to suplex Reigns, however Reigns countered with a suplex of his own. Reigns began to crawl towards Orton but Kane tagged in Rollins who stopped Reigns. After some back and forth action Reigns managed to slam Rollins down and tag in Orton.

Orton started punching Rollins and hit a series of clotheslines. He went for a powerslam but Rollins avoided it. Rollins jumped off of the roped but was caught in a powerslam. He went for a pin but Kane stopped it. Reigns went into the ring to save Orton. Kane tried to chokeslam Reigns but he blocked it. Reigns hit J&J Security with a superman punch as Rollins threw Reigns out of the ring.

Orton came back into the ring amid the chaos and tried to hit an RKO, however Rollins reversed it into the roll up for a two count. Rollins tried to dive out of the ring onto Orton but Orton sidestepped and Rollins accidentally grazed Kane. Kane started to lose his temper as he hit J&J Security followed by Rollins. Reigns and Orton took advantage as Reigns hit his superman punch on Rollins followed by an RKO by Orton for the win.

Kane announces that it is time to se who Rollins defends his title against at Payback, and the result is that 78% of the fans want a triple threat match featuring Orton, Reigns, and Rollins.

Reigns hit a spear on Rollins to end the show.

Notes

  • I still think Reigns should spend more time feuding with other wrestlers before he is put into another title match, however, I don’t see him winning the title so I’m not going to complain about it too much.
  • Randy Orton does a good job as an antihero. He hasn’t changed anything about his character since coming back, he simply fights the bad guys now—and that’s not a bad thing.
  • Out of all the nonwrestling segments, Sandow’s segment was the most fun to watch. There was a level of realness in his promo, you can tell he wants to be there. I hope WWE can find a way to make Sandow a top star because he has taken so many bad gimmicks in the past year and turned them into gold.
  • Where are Triple H and Stephanie McMahon? RAW isn’t the same without the two main faces of The Authority. I miss seeing them on RAW.
  • I am excited for the King of the Ring tournament’s return, but I wish there would’ve been some hype for it. They could’ve easily promoted it in a 30 second video package last Monday, or even during the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View.
  • I plan on doing coverage and reviews for all future RAW episodes and WWE Pay-Per-Views. If my schedule permits it, I may expand upon this over time and include recaps and reviews of NXT, Smackdown, or even WWE Network Specials. However, I will have to play those ones by ear.

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Extreme Rules Results and Review

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

Extreme Rules Poster

Extreme Rules started with their traditional kickoff show, which is their show before the show. It was announced on RAW last week that The New Day would face off against Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. In addition, it has been announced that Daniel Bryan has been pulled from the match card. Instead, Bad News Barrett will face off against Neville. Neville was the longest reigning NXT champion in WWE’s developmental territory, and has been making waves since his debut on the roster. While I’m disappointed in Bryan’s absence, I am pleased to see an up and coming superstar face Bad News Barrett in what I consider a bonus match in the preshow.

Barrett made his way to the ring. He took the mic and announced he has some bad news. Daniel Bryan is not medically cleared to compete at Extreme Rules against Barrett and it’s all because of him. Barrett said Bryan isn’t man enough to face him and is terrified of losing his Intercontinental Championship. Barrett proceeded to call out Neville and Neville came out to a great ovation.

The bell rang and Barrett went for a headlock as fans chanted for Neville. Neville countered and rolled up Barrett for a two-count. Barrett sent Neville to the corner of the ring and stomped into him. Neville flipped across the ring and attempted to pin Barrett for another two-count. Barrett was sent to the floor and Neville kicked him off of the ring apron. Neville walked towards the apron as Barrett countered. He tossed Neville into the barrier as the preshow went to a commercial.

I am enjoying this pre-show bonus match, however I am not a fan of the commercials. I suppose this is the price we pay for having bonus matches.

The show came back from commercial and Barrett had Neville in the ring. Barrett blocked a counter attempt from Neville with a kick to the gut for a two-count. Barrett laid Neville on the turnbuckles in the corner and hit him repeatedly. After a series of two-counts by Barrett, he hit Neville with a backbreaker for another pin attempt. Neville started to make a comeback with kicks. Barrett went back out to the floor and Neville jumped out of the ring onto him. Neville brought Barrett back into the ring and used a suplex pin on Barrett for a two-count.

Shortly after, Barrett used his Winds of Change signature slam but Neville kicked out at two. Barrett attempted his Wasteland finisher but Neville managed to escape. The match started going back and forth as Barrett caught Neville with Wasteland for another two-count. Barrett signaled for his Bullhammer elbow finisher but Neville ducked and hit Barrett with an enziguri. Neville went to the turnbuckle for the Red Arrow finisher but Barrett countered. Barrett missed another Bullhammer attempt. Neville kicked Barrett in the head and went back to the turnbuckle and hit his Red Arrow finisher for the win.

It was a great bonus match by both competitors. Neville has a bright career ahead of him, and I hope Barrett is giving more promotion in the future as he is one of the most underrated and underutilized talents on the roster.

After some video recaps and match previews for the Pay-Per-View event, WWE’s announce team welcomed viewers to the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. It appears that with the absence of Bryan, The New Day’s match has been moved to the main show. Not a bad move, and this showed why wrestling promotions write “card subject to change” when they promote live events.

The 2015 WWE Extreme Rules PPV opens up with Lilian Garcia informing us that the Chicago Street Fight will open the show. We shoot to the announcers, who welcome us to the show.

Dean Ambrose made his way out to the ring for the Chicago Street Fight. Luke Harper came out next and within seconds, Ambrose started to attack him. The referee tried to stop the fighting and then rang the bell.

The match was a fast paced hardcore brawl featuring plenty of chair shots and kendo stick hits.

Harper Ambrose

Ambrose went for a tornado DDT, but Harper pushed him off and shoved him face-first into a steel chair that was placed between the bottom and middle ropes.

The fans let their voices be heard, as they chanted loudly supporting Ambrose.

Sidenote: I love Chicago crowds.

The brawl made its way into the backstage area, with both Ambrose and Harper using a plethora of weapons at their disposal. They continue to fight until the fight is taken off-screen.

The camera cut to a backstage segment featuring Kane and Seth Rollins as the Chicago fans chant “CM Punk” at the top of their lungs. Is it safe to assume the Harper/Ambrose match was a no contest?

Also, I really love Chicago crowds.

Triple H basically told Kane and Rollins that Rollins is making his first defense as WWE World Heavyweight Champion and he wants to make sure Kane doesn’t mess it up. Kane assures Triple H that he will do what is best for business tonight as Chicago starts a “boring” chant.

Oh, Chicago.

After the segment, Ziggler’s music hit as he made his way out to the ring for the “Kiss My Arse” match. Sheamus came out next to a chorus of boos. The bell rang as Sheamus started to dominate the match. Sheamus went outside of the ring with Ziggler telling him that he’s gonna kiss his “arse” tonight.

The match has been completely one-sided, as Sheamus continued to inflict pain on Ziggler. Ziggler has spent the entire match defending himself.

Ziggler teased a comeback, but Sheamus quickly took back control.

Sheamus went for his finisher, the Brogue Kick but Ziggler avoided it. He tried to roll Sheamus up for a pin, but Sheamus kicked out at two. Ziggler rolled him up again for a pin, and won the match as Sheamus looked on in shock.

Sheamus tried to run away, dreading the idea of having to kiss Ziggler’s “arse.” He hit Ziggler out with a low blow and then Brogue Kicked him. With Ziggler unconscious, Sheamus grabbed him and put his face in his on the “arse” section of his trunks.

Although Ziggler being forced to “kiss arse” was predictable, it was nice to see Ziggler win the match. It was a great, shocking conclusion that caught the Chicago fans off guard. Also, it was interesting to see WWE keep it PG despite the stipulation. In the days before WWE went PG, we would’ve seen Ziggler’s face rubbed all over Sheamus’ bare buttocks. Sometimes, change is good.

The New Day members Kofi Kingston and Big E made their way to the ring next for their WWE Tag Team Championship match, accompanied by their teammate Xavier Woods. The crowd booed the group at the top of their lungs. As soon as WWE Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro’s theme hits, the crowd’s boos change to cheers as they make their way to the ring.

Love them or hate them, Chicago is not afraid to let WWE know what they love and what they hate.

Official title match introductions were done as the match started. Kingston and Kidd started off with some back and forth action.

Cesaro and Big E tagged into the match. Big E started to get the advantage until Cesaro caught Big E with a slam that made the crowd and announcers cheer unanimously.

Big E and Kingston get in some offense, but the referee lost control of the match as an all out brawl ensued. During the pandemonium, Kingston managed to score a pinfall with a roll up.

I am disappointed to see Kidd and Cesaro lose their titles. Although they haven’t made much of an impact since winning the titles, I feel that it is mostly because of the lack of screen time and promotion that was given to the former tag team champions. Maybe this could see New Day grow into a more villainous group, and see Kidd and Cesaro transition into antiheroes. If not, maybe this could lead to a feud with the Lucha Dragons. Whatever happens, I hope this gives a shot of adrenaline to the tag team division.

The camera switched backstage to Renee Young, who asked The New Day about them winning the titles, as a car pulled in and Harper flew out of the door.

Apparently this street fight is still going on. This is interesting, I can’t remember the last time I saw something quite like this. Maybe back when the Hardcore Championship was actively defended 24/7?

Ambrose stood on the roof of the car. He flew off but Harper moved out of the way. Ambrose took out The New Day as Harper escaped into the arena.

Harper stood at the entrance as Ambrose came out. They brawled their way back to the ring.

Harper gained control and tried to put away Ambrose with a series of chairs, but Ambrose refused to quit. Ambrose started to make a comeback as he nailed Harper with his Dirty Deeds finisher on a chair to win the match.

It was definitely interesting to see the Street Fight split into two segments. Although the days of falling off of a Hell in a Cell cage and chairshots to the head are over, matches like these prove that even with PG restrictions it is possible to put on a classic hardcore match.

A video package aired for the “Russian Chain Match” between John Cena and Rusev for Cena’s WWE United States Championship. Rusev came out with a big chain across his chest, accompanied by his manager Lana. United States Champion John Cena came out next, getting unanimously booed by the Chicago crowd.

Chicago doesn’t care if you’re a good guy or a bad guy, if they don’t like you they’ll let you know.

The match started with a tug-of-war over the chain. Rusev sent Cena to the corner hit him with a splash. The green light comes on as the first corner was touched. Rusev touched the second corner but Cena took him out. Cena hit three turnbuckles but it was in vain as Rusev stopped his momentum.

Russian Chain Match

Rusev tagged two turnbuckles but Cena stopped him. Rusev sent Cena over the top rope and used the chain to pull Cena up by his arm. Rusev hit Cena with a kick to the ribs.

Rusev suplexed Cena into the ring and tagged a turnbuckle, but Cena hit him with the chain. Rusev blocked Cena’s Attitude Adjustment finisher and beat Cena down.

Cena went under the bottom rope to the floor and pulled Rusev into the ring post twice. Cena went back in the ring and Rusev appeared to be out. Cena hit the first two turnbuckles but couldn’t move Rusev to get to the third. Rusev held onto the chain and Cena went back to wear him down. Rusev hit a big heel kick off the ropes and then hit Cena with a chain shot to the gut. Rusev whipped Cena over the back with the chain.

Rusev hit three corners but Cena rolled to the floor to stop him from hitting the fourth. As Rusev reached for it, Cena pulled him back. They met in the middle of the ring and fought back and forth. Rusev kicked Cena in the ribs and Cena fell to his knees as Rusev continued his assault with a series of punches. Rusev went to the top but was yanked back down by Cena.

Cena wrapped the chain and hit Rusev with a clotheslin. Cena hit a shoulder tackle. And went for another but Rusev caught him for a slam. Fans chanted for Lana and she got on the apron as the crowd went insane, which upset Rusev.

He sent her to the back, which drew the ire of the fans. Cena ducked a chain shot and slammed Rusev. Cena hit his five-knuckle shuffle and went for the Attitude Adjustment again but Rusev blocked it.

Rusev caught Cena with an Alabama Slam and stomped Cena in the back. Rusev went for his Accolade submission finisher but Cena countered with the STF submission. Cena tagged three corners but Rusev went to the floor to stop the fourth. Cena brought him back in and went for another Attitude Adjustment but Rusev slid out and hit him with a kick before stomping Cena in the spine. He locked in The Accolade.

Cena stood up and walked with Rusev still on his back with The Accolade. Cena tags the corners, but Rusev gets credit for them. Realizing Rusev is about to win, he hits the Attitude Adjustment. This clears all of the lights off of the turnbuckles. Rusev and Cena both tagged one corner each. Cena tagged another as did Rusev, and they both hit a third. They faced off as Rusev went for a corner but Cena pulled him in with the chain and hit another Attitude Adjustment. Cena hit all four corners for the win and retains his United States Championship.

Although he fans don’t care for Cena, I don’t mind him being shuffled into the middle of the match cards. He brings attention to the U.S. championship, and other guys get attention in the main event so it is a win-win in my book.

I am concerned for Rusev though, as undefeated guys are always put in a sink or swim situation once they are finally defeated. With Rusev losing twice to Cena, I am afraid of what the future holds once Rusev finished this feud. I am not sure if this is the final match in their feud, or if Cena/Rusev IV will take place at next month’s Payback event.

The Bella Twins came out to cheers next as Nikki Bella prepared to defend her Divas Championship against Naomi. Are they good guys now, or are they still villains? It’s frustrating when WWE doesn’t cement characters in hero or villain roles.

Naomi came out next and the match started with Nikki putting Naomi in an armbar. Naomi got out of it and knocked Nikki down for a two-count. Nikki got a two-count out of the blue as her sister Brie cheered her on from ringside. Naomi grabbed Nikki by her hair and bulldogged her into the turnbuckle for a two-count.

Nikki blocked Naomi’s Rear View finisher, but Naomi knocked Nikki down. Nikki ended up on the floor while Brie checked on her. Naomi came out and kicked Brie then took Nikki back into the ring. As Naomi entered the ring, Nikki kicked her and then hit her with clotheslines and a dropkick. Nikki hit a clothesline in the corner and an Alabama Slam for a two-count. Naomi blocked a forearm strike dropped Nikki for a two count. Nikki dodged a split-legged moonsault and knocked Naomi down with a knee for a two-count. Nikki went for her Rack Attack finisher but Naomi fought out and hit her Rear View finisher for a two-count. After more back and forth action, Nikki hit a springboard kick to the face for another close near fall.

As the referee was distracted, Brie hit a kick to Naomi’s face, and Nikki picked Naomi up and hit her Rack Attack finisher, 1-2-3.

I still don’t know whether the Bellas are heroes or villains. They were cheered and acted good, but two weeks ago they were bad guys. Nikki also won the match because of interference, which is a typical villain tactic. In addition, there was no major event to trigger such a change. I am a believer that you shouldn’t change someone from bad to good or vice versa without some type of story attached to it.

As for this match, the divas division still needs a lot of work. The finisher names are also a bit sexist in my opinion, and The Rear View finisher is one that isn’t quite believable. With the NXT divas hungry for a top spot, and Eva Marie training with Brian Kendrick, it is time to take the divas division to a place it hasn’t been in almost a decade.

I never thought I’d say this, but save us Eva Marie!

Roman Reigns and Big Show made their way out next for their Last Man Standing match to boos and jeers from the crowd. They started to fight and Big Show took control early on. Fans chanted “you sold out” at him because of his alignment to The Authority. Reigns fought back and clotheslined Show to the floor.

Reigns brought a table from under the ring and fans cheered. Show stopped him and put the table back under the ring. Reigns shoved Show into the ring post and hit a dropkick. The referee started his count on Big Show as Reigns brought the table back from under the ring. Show got up at the count of five and sent Reigns into the barricade. Show broke the table in half to foil Reigns’ plan.

Big Show Reigns

Reigns grabbed a kendo stick and hit Show with it until Show shoved him into the ring post. Reigns stood up at the count of six and Show pushed him in the ring. Show broke the kendo stick in half and yelled at fans. Reigns fought back and beat down Show in the corner.

Reigns came off the second rope and Show knocked him out of the air. Reigns got to his feet and rolled to the floor. Show pulled Reigns up with one hand but Reigns hit him.

Reigns grabbed a steel chair and brought it in the ring, hitting Show with it repeatedly. The referee counts as Show makes it back up. Reigns brought a table from under the ring; he brought another table in but walked right into a knockout punch from Big Show. The referee started counting.

Reigns made it back up as Show set a table up. Show went for a chokeslam but Reigns blocked it and slams Show’s face into the table. Reigns put Show through the table with a Samoan Drop and they were both out as the referee counted.

Show got to his feet at eight, and knocked Reigns back down after a big spear. Reigns got up at eight and Show started hitting him again. Show hit a splash in the corner and the referee started counting. Reigns got up as Show went to the top. Reigns knocked Show down, as his groin area hit the turnbuckle hard. Show screamed out in pain as the fans laughed.

Sidenote: I’m not sure how often WWE takes their shows to the Chicago area, but they need to travel there more often.

Reigns brought two more tables from under the ring, and set both of them up side by side on the floor. He climbed to where Show is still sitting, and Show shoved him to the mat. Show climbed up but Reigns caught him and threw him to the mat. The referee started counting again.

They both got up and Reigns hit his Superman Punch signature move on Show. Reigns hit a second one but Show was still standing. He went for a third one punch but Show blocked it. Show grabbed Reigns by the throat and chokeslammed him from the ring to the two tables that were set up on the floor.

Reigns made it to his feet right before the ten count and Big Show looked on in disbelief. Show went to the floor and grabbed the pieces of the steel steps. He put the steps in between the barrier and commentator Jerry Lawler’s end of the announce table. Show took apart the announce table, and the announcers scattered. Reigns crawled up in the ring as the fans chanted for commentator JBL.

Show entered the ring and mocked Reigns. Show went for a spear but Reigns moved and Show crashed. They were both down as the referee began a count.

They both got up and Reigns hit a spear. Show rolled to his feet on the floor. Reigns ran around the ring and speared Show through the barricade to a huge ovation from the crowd. It doesn’t matter what crowd it is, a spear through a barricade can win over anybody.

The referee counted as both men were down, and both of them got up at seven. Show stumbled around the debris as Reigns stepped up on the announce table. Show grabbed him by the throat and climbed up with him. Reigns hit elbows on Show but Show sent him off the announce table and into the apron. Reigns ran back up the steel steps that were put there earlier and speared Show from the announce table through the Spanish announce table.

The crowd was impressed as a “holy shit” chant broke out. As both men got up, Show fell back down and Reigns tipped the announce table over on top of him. Show was trapped under the announce table as the referee counted. Reigns stood on top of Show and the flipped table and counted with the crowd as he won the match.

Although I wasn’t looking forward to this one, I have to admit it exceeded expectations. It is hard to be excited for a match you’ve seen many times, but the Last Man Standing aspect really changed things up. Many fans were upset and irate at WWE thrusting Reigns into the main event picture so soon, but now he seems to be on a more natural path. Hopefully, this performance and other performances can help to win the crowds over and give him a more organic rise to the top of the WWE.

I only hope that we can see Reigns wrestle someone else now.

Randy Orton and Kane walked up to each other backstage. Orton reminded Kane that they used to wrestle one another and says Kane traded his mask in for a suit. Orton said he knows who the real Kane is and walks off.

This was a good short segment that is building on the idea that Kane will soon transform from the corporate stooge gimmick back into the monster that he once was. Whether this means he will go back to wearing the mask, or reinventing himself remains to be seen. But it looks like the days of Kane fighting in suit pants and a wifebeater are coming to an end.

The camera goes back to the announcers and they have to stand for the rest of the show because of the destruction caused by the previous match. They hyped the return of Tough Enough and some of the audition videos are shown.

Bo Dallas made an appearance and started to berate the city of Chicago. This led to Ryback coming out to silence Dallas. Dallas tried to cut Ryback off but ended up taking a Meathook clothesline and Shellshocked finisher as the crowd cheered.

That was another great segment, Dallas continues to irritate fans as Ryback is still promoted as an unstoppable force. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

In a backstage interview, Lana reveals that the Rusev vs. John Cena feud will end at WWE Payback in an “I Quit” match. It will be a great way to end the feud, but I only hope they have some sort of direction for Rusev to go in once the feud ends. These brute monsters always seem to get lost in the shuffle once they start losing matches.

The main event was next as WWE announcer Eden reminded fans that the RKO is banned in this match. Kane made his entrance first for his role as “gatekeeper” of the cage.

Orton came out next to cheers, followed by WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. Rollins came out without J&J Security. Rollins entered the cage as Kane locked the door and Eden gave formal ring introductions for the main event.

As the match began, Rollins immediately tried to climb the cage but Orton brings him down and started on the attack. Rollins blocked a shot into the cage wall and hit Orton back with strikes. Rollins beat Orton in the corner. Then Orton came out of another corner with a clothesline.

Rollins tried to escape again but Orton grabbed his leg and pulled him to the mat. Rollins is the so good at being the cowardly villain at times. Orton hit Rollins with a series of uppercuts. Orton kept control as the crowd is split on who to cheer for. Orton and Kane stared each other down as Orton went back to stomping on Rollins. Orton catapulted Rollins into the cage but Rollins hung onto the cage and tried to escape. Orton stopped him again.

Rollins made a comeback and went for a pin on Orton. Rollins told Kane to open the door and as he tried to walk out, Orton hit him from behind. Rollins countered and sent Orton face first into the cage wall, he went for a pin but only got a two-count.

Rollins hit Orton with stomps in the corner now, he sent Orton into the cage again. Orton made a comeback with an uppercut but Rollins countered again for another two count. Rollins hit a splash in the corner on Orton. Orton side-stepped Rollins and sent him face first into the cage.

Rollins made another comeback and climbed the cage as Orton followed. Rollins had one leg over the cage but Orton brought him back down to the top rope. They traded punches and Rollins knocked Orton to the mat. Rollins hit a flying knee to Orton’s face for a two count. Rollins climbed the cage again and made it to the top before Orton made it to his feet. Orton stopped him and climbed up. They both sat on top of the cage and fought back and forth. They went back down to the top rope. Rollins knocked Orton to the mat. Rollins leapt off the top rope but Orton caught him in mid-air with a powerslam for a 2 count. Orton moved Rollins to the rope for a DDT but Rollins countered. Rollins hit a superkick on Orton for a two count. Rollins climbed up to the top of the cage with Orton following close behind.

Rollins tried to drop to the floor but Orton grabbed his hair. J&J Security came down to help Rollins but Orton pulled Rollins back over the top of the cage and hit a superplex for a two count.

J&J told Kane to let them in the cage but he yelled at them to get away from the cage door. Orton tossed Rollins across the ring. Rollins countered Orton and pins him between the ropes and the cage. Rollins climbed the cage but Orton pulled him onto the top rope and Rollins lands hard on his groin.

Orton walked to the cage door but went back to Rollins and hit the top rope draping DDT. Orton did his usual taunts that he does before an RKO finisher, as the commentators stressed that his RKO maneuver was banned. Orton instead hits WWE COO Triple H’s finisher the Pedigree for a two count. I hoped that Orton would use that maneuver, but I started to doubt that it would happen. It is always exciting when something you hope for comes to life on the television screen.

Orton argued with the referee as the fans started a big “yes!” chant. Orton attempted to hit his punt kick maneuver on Rollins right in front of Kane and the cage door. However, Rollins dodged it and hit Orton with a kick. Kane unlocked the door as Rollins crawled to it. Orton pulled Rollins back for a backbreaker. Orton walked over to the cage door, but Kane shut the door. Rollins attacked from behind but accidentally knocked Kane back into the barricade.

Rollins tried to crawl out of the cage door but Orton grabbed his leg. Kane got up and slammed the cage door into both Rollins and Orton. Kane took off his jacket and tie while screaming in anger. J&J Security yelled at him but he went inside the cage. Kane hit J&J Security with a double chokeslam. Kane teased going after Rollins but he grabbed Orton by the throat instead and chokeslammed him. Rollins went toward the cage door but Kane pulled him back and chokeslamed him also. Kane placed Rollins on top of Orton but Orton kicked out at two.

Kane grew frustrated and tried to hit a Tombstone on Orton but Orton countered. Orton hit Kane with a RKO. Rollins snuck up on Orton and hit an RKO on him. Rollins then crawled out of the cage for the win.

Seth Rollins Retains

After the match, the announcers argued about whether the RKO was banned for just Orton or for both of them. They also argued if Orton broke the rules of the match when he hit his RKO on Kane, who wasn’t an official competitor in the match. Extreme Rules went off the air with Rollins holding his title in the air.

Notes

The main event was exciting as the finish with Rollins using the RKO was unexpected. Also, Kane beginning his slow transition back into a monster while remaining with The Authority will make for great TV. He will likely continue to harm Rollins, while helping him to retain his championship. With this fragile relationship, fans will await the day Kane completely snaps and attacks every member of The Authority.

Also, Rollins is an excellent villain. He reminds me of Chris Jericho and Edge in the way that he can be strong and cocky when he needs to be, but can also change into a coward or a wimp in a heartbeat. It is crazy to think that he went from wrestling at AIW here in Cleveland to winning the main event of Wrestlemania.

Cena and Rusev’s feud continuing at Payback will also be interesting to see, as an “I Quit” match guarantees another all out brawl between the two. Although I am scared about Rusev’s future following that matchup, I am looking forward to seeing the two in one last clash.

I am disappointed to see that Daniel Bryan has missed the Pay-Per-View event, however his health always comes first. One positive of the current WWE product is that they’re very health conscious whereas in the past they would’ve sent him out there injured and hoped for the best.

I am disappointed that Miz vs. Mizdow ended so abruptly on last week’s RAW. They could’ve easily had a matchup in their feud on this Pay-Per-View, or even the pre-show. I recall a feud 10 years ago between former WWE wrestlers Kurt Angle and Eugene where Eugene won Angle’s gold medal and Angle was on a mission to win them back. Imagine if Mizdow would have won last Monday and Miz was forbidden from using his one name, gimmick, and mannerisms. Miz would have been going insane, and would’ve done anything and everything to win his name back. This could’ve led to a series of good matches and given Mizdow some much-needed direction since he became a heroic character at Wrestlemania. There are rumors that Miz is leaving for a while to film a movie, but I think WWE could have easily postponed what will likely be another straight-to-DVD release in favor of a feud that fans anticipated for months.

Monday April 27, I will be providing results and a review for the next episode of RAW. This episode will cover the fallout from this Pay-Per-View, as well as setting up feuds for the upcoming Payback Pay-Per-View.

Enyx Studios – behind the scenes with Unholy

A couple of weeks ago, i shared some news about Enyx Studios, a video game development company created by Don Hileman and Andrew Pavlick. With an office at the eCenter @ LindenPointe, a technology incubator in Hermitage, Pennsylvania – not too far from me – the entrepreneurial pair of software startuppers invited me to visit. Don and Andrew are naturally very excited about their planned launch title “Unholy.” The game, which they’ve been hard at work on for the last couple of months, is aimed for multi-platform release in about four months, according to Don, and will be available on PC, Xbox, PS4 and Steam.

Concept cover art for Enyx Studios "Unholy" game

Concept cover art for Enyx Studios “Unholy” game

Unholy is a horror survival game that starts with some of the staples of the genre – creepy atmosphere the blends haunting sounds and moody lighting to cast familiar surroundings in a dark, decayed and formidable manner. But there are a few things that lend a unique identity to this property.

The most prominent aspect of Unholy that should intrigue gamers is Enyx’s build for the game that utilizes Oculus Rift VR. Gamers without the rapidly-proliferating Oculus Rift headsets will still be able to enjoy Unholy, but the gameplay experience will certainly be enhanced through the immersion offered by virtual reality.

“We’re going  to push the boundaries of the genre,” Don explained during my visit to Enyx Studios. “The whole point is to scare people and make them jump.”

Don let me try out the game using one of the studio’s headsets, and although the demo environment consisted of just a walled-in courtyard with a greenhouse in the center, it was definitely an experience (it was my first time using a VR headset). Viewing the game on a screen, the graphics are very clean and crisp thanks to Andrew who Don endorses as the best artist he’s ever worked with. Translated into the VR version, those graphics take on a deeper quality, with the lighting effects in particular heightening the tension. Although there were no other characters in the demo environment i tried out, the feeling of immersion was intensified and i can definitely understand how jumpy this sort of game could be. Back when the first Resident Evil game came out, we used to play at night with the lights off, and that used to make us jump from our chairs so i can only imagine what it would be like with the game world inhabiting your whole range of vision.

The in-game story of Unholy is another pillar providing strong support for the product. Both Don and Andrew take the narrative of their game very seriously, having worked hard to develop a thorough mythology to provide a framework for their vision. Likewise, they continue to bounce ideas off of each other throughout the process, coming up with new twists and turns to move the property forward.

Without giving too much away, since Don graciously shared some of the game’s critical details, the story centers around a protagonist who is invited via postcard to Whells Town. The invitation comes from the characters estranged mother, and the town has become something of an urban legend due to some unusual events that took place there. Of course, things don’t go smoothly and the visit turns into a struggle for survival.

As to the game’s antagonists, i did not learn what form they will take. Perhaps monsters of a supernatural variety or simply crazed humans i’m not sure. But as the pair of developers explained, they want their game to be less about the player’s character doing battle with enemies and more about the business of getting to safety. What i imagine is a sort of puzzle atmosphere, perhaps like Myst but with a huge leap forward in game design thanks to the technology available. This sounds pretty cool to me, and we talked about how a normal, real-world person might not immediately make the leap to becoming some sort of slayer of evil in the face of danger – at least not at first.

Which leads me to what i feel is the most innovative aspect of Unholy’s game design philosophy. The game is somewhat modeled in the same way as a great television series, planned to be released episodically over time. This design choice is actually practical for Don and Andrew as well, enabling them to put content out much quicker than if they built an entire full-length game for launch. Since at this time it’s just the two of them, building a game meant for 20/30/40 hours of gameplay would be Herculean to say the least. Working in smaller chunks, or episodes, affords them the opportunity to get a product out every few months, and then build upon that foundation.

We talked quite a bit about how the episodic facet to Unholy has several benefits, for both them as designers and the gamers who enjoy their product. For one thing, a single episode of the game is planned for pricing in the $5-10 range. For a startup company, this means gamers should be more willing to take a chance on their game without having to shell out $50 for a full-length game.

Another practical point to the model is that the developers can react to new technologies as they continue to emerge, and therefore include different features and new techniques in later builds and episodes. Based on our conversation, and the many different story ideas Don and Andrew have, this could mean that future episodes feature different kinds of gameplay perhaps. For example, there could be an episode that features more fighting, or different kinds of puzzles. In a full-length game, that might seem clunky if the gameplay style changed throughout the playthrough, but taken as a single episode it would fit.

What i think is coolest about the episodic model, though, is that it cleaves closely to what we’re seeing these days in terms of televised (or streaming) programs. Well-received programming is often praised for being more like 12-hour movies, and something like Unholy should have that same effect. Each episode, while self-contained, is paced well and leaves you satisfied through a mix of action and story development, while at the same time teasing just enough to bring you back for more. It will be interesting to see Unholy once there is a complete “season” released, and gamers can play through the whole story. Perhaps, like televised programs, gamers who took in each episode can go back and binge through the whole season for a different kind of experience.

To create Unholy, Don and Andrew are using the award-winning Unity engine, a cross-platform game design engine. Unity 5.0, which was just released in March, is a complete engine available to developers for free that includes all features except source code and support. For the graphics, Andrew uses Blender, another free and open-source software product. Blender is 3-D graphics software used for animation, modeling and visual effects. He also uses Autodesk Maya, or just Maya for short, another 3-D graphics application.

On the personal side of Enyx Studios, both Don and Andrew feel that one of the most important parts of game design is building a community.

“There is a major business side to it,” Don said, but explained further that for them, one of the most important things is “reaching out to followers and letting them see what we do.”

To that end, Enyx Studios is very open to giving gamers a peek behind the scenes as they continue to develop Unholy. More than just creating a great game, Don and Andrew hope fans connect with them along the ride and grow right alongside them. Trade shows and conventions like PAX East and E3 notwithstanding – which of course offer huge opportunities for developers to connect with fans – the guys at Enyx plan to share things like developer logs as they work, giving gamers an inside peek at how indie studios get the job done.

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to accomplish something you passionately believe in, Don explained. Both he and Andrew went all-in for this project, foregoing the regular jobs they had to pour their energy and attention – and bank accounts! – into creating something they both believe adds something unique to a gamer’s library. While they certainly hope to grow and expand Enyx Studios with additional titles and personnel, right now they’re just two guys putting it on the line for their dreams.

“There’s no such thing as an overnight success,” Don said. Instead, there are people who go the distance to meet their goals, and that’s a takeaway anyone can believe in.

Enyx Studios

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Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!

Please follow/like/share this if you enjoyed it or any of the other content you find here, and keep an eye on Enyx Studios for more news about Unholy. Don and Andrew may also share developer notes right here at The Long Shot, which would definitely be awesome. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

Thanks to both Don and Andrew for inviting me to Enyx Studios and letting me in on some exclusive stuff like Unholy’s plot and some of the surprises they have in store. Meeting with and talking to people like these guys, doing things on their own the way they want to, is just as much an inspiration for me to keep plugging away here myself!

Thanks also, once again, to Bob Sopko from CWRU’s Blackstone Launchpad, who connected Enyx Studios with me. Bob is a tireless voice in technology in the area, helping all sorts of people share their work and words to help drive technology forward..

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors recently attended Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest.

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

Yuri’s Night @ The Great Lakes Science Center

By Long Shot Contributor Brett Bennett, with photos by Morgan Bennett

In late February, I received an email from Doug that read “Possible opportunity for you if interested.” For those of you who don’t know, he has never been someone who is short on words especially when in written form so my interest was definitely enticed by this unusual brevity of his. Upon meeting up with him later, he explained that there was this event going on down at the Great Lakes Science Center to commemorate Yuri Gagarin as the first human in outer space. There was some mention of some food and drinks involved but he thought it sounded like something I would enjoy covering for the Long Shot. I thought to myself, why not? I try to stay somewhat in the know by following tidbits of info on my newsfeeds with regard to ongoing space exploration and discoveries so I happily agreed to head down to this Yuri’s Night event to listen to some NASA science experts discuss the past accomplishments and future prospects of space exploration. Having some food and drinks around wasn’t such a bad thing either.

Yuri Night

Now please allow me to momentarily deviate here because for those of you who know what Yuri’s Night actually entails then you are probably scratching your noggin asking, “What event was this guy attending?” For those of you who don’t, allow me to expound on the matter. Yuri’s Night is not just a group of geeks and nerds getting together in that stereotypical boring convention panel setting to listen to those previously mentioned NASA peeps talk about space. It’s a party! Like a PARTY party!!

Some facts and history…

The first Yuri’s Night was held on April 12, 2001, the 40th anniversary of Colonel Gagarin’s 108 minute long monumental journey into space, as an effort to increase public interest in space exploration and to inspire a new generation of explorers. Over the years, the phenomenon spread to other cities throughout the U.S. eventually reaching Cleveland’s shores in 2009 with the help of the NASA Glenn Developing Professionals Club. It has continued to cultivate and has gathered followings both in Cleveland and around the world. This year the event was celebrated at nearly 200 locations in 39 different countries across all seven continents. Yes, all seven! There was even a party held at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station in Antarctica. Science folks apparently don’t mess around when its time to get down!

Great Lakes Science Center, where Yuri's Night Space Party 2015 was held in Cleveland

Great Lakes Science Center, where Yuri’s Night Space Party 2015 was held in Cleveland

Lift off…

At 7 p.m., the doors of the center opened for those who smartly obtained VIP passes. I had been prearranged to meet up with Dr. Kirsten Ellenbogen, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Science Center to get a chance for short interview to discuss the event. Upstairs, in the VIP area, introductions between us were made and we got to talking. There was a whole evening of programming planned… everything you would normally expect from the science center: hands-on exhibits, interactive group experiments, crafty projects you could take home with you as small souvenirs and a crew of knowledgeable staff that was always obliged to answer any questions you had to throw at them.

Long Shot writer Brett sporting custom T-shirt (his idea) and GLSC President

Long Shot writer Brett sporting custom T-shirt (his idea) and GLSC President and CEO Dr. Kirsten Ellenbogen

The things that really set this night apart from your normal visit to the GLSC, aside from the later-than-normal hours of operation, were the local bands playing throughout the complex all night, a series of trivia and costume contests, an amazing selection of examples from local restaurants and bakeries and a DJ-fueled dance party with a midnight balloon drop. All of this done with drink (or drinks for you double-fisters out there) in hand. Free beer, wine and hard cider was available in many different areas albeit with a bit of a slow-moving line to get your beverage, but I took that as an opportunity to really take in the sights and the appreciate all of the effort everyone had put into making the event.

yuri lobby

Aside from the obvious decorations for the party, the first thing that hit me was the music already going when I walked through the door. Upstairs in the VIP lounge, Michael McFarland was already jamming out private concert-style for those guests. With tunes something akin to my alternative rock roots The Wallflowers & Tonic, I happily took the opportunity later to catch Michael playing a second time downstairs for the general admission folks. Sadly, I totally neglected to hear Indira & Guppy Jo but they were playing somewhere earlier in the night too. The band that you could absolutely not miss was Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean. First off, there’s a trombonist in the group so that is an instant winner in my books but they would’ve have won me over with any brass to be honest. These guys were loud, interactive with the crowd and really knew how to spice up the party. Had I a decent place to sit down, I would have stuck around for longer than I did. And finally, what great party doesn’t have a DJ? Well, for Yuri’s Night that honor was held by DJ Justin Nyce and what a way to ride out the rest of the evening than listening to EDM while the dance floor is littered with geeks in space costumes.

Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean

Abby Normal and the Detroit Lean

Michael McFarland

Michael McFarland

And speaking of costumes… I was ecstatic to hear that Star Wars cosplayers from the 501st Legion and their “rebel scum” counterparts, the Rebel Legion were going to be in attendance. My personal favorite for the night though was the iconic astromech droid we all know and love, R2-D2. While not a costume, he was definitely an amazing robotic work of art created by Scott Kern. I had great side conversation with Scott about his hobby while I watched him mesmerize the other party goers with R2’s intereactions with them. With costumes in abundance there of course was a contest.

Scott Kern's astromech droid and Darth Vader. Check out Scott's blog for his astromeching adventures (link above)

Scott Kern’s astromech droid and Darth Vader. Check out Scott’s blog for his astromeching adventures (link above)

Thirty-three attendees entered but there were way more in house for sure. That group was combed through and eventually narrowed down to a preliminary set of fifteen. I had the honor of being a guest judge alongside Dr. Ellenbogen to decide between us who the final five would be before we made the grueling decision of who would be awarded first and second place. Some standouts were Jedi from Star Wars, two separate groups representing the classic spoof Space Balls, one of those blue things from James Cameron’s Avatar, Leeloo from Fifth Element, and that B-movie loving guy from Mystery Science Theatre 3K. First place eventually went to a creative pair that was dressed up as Disney’s Epcot Center and its iconic monorail train. Runner up was Miss Piggy from the Muppets’ “Pigs In Space” skit. Next year, I will seriously consider possibly going as a Gundam since I didn’t see anyone representing the anime space geeks.

Yuri's Night Space Party costume contest winners: Disney World's Monorail and Epcot Center

Yuri’s Night Space Party costume contest winners: Disney World’s Monorail and Epcot Center

yuri brett imps

Long Shot’s Brett and members of the 501st Legion, Star Wars cosplayers. Good to see the Imps represented!

Yuri costume

Seth works at GLSC and stayed in character as Yuri Gagarin throughout the night

yuri rainbow dash

For all the bronies out there, here’s Rainbow Dash

yuri silver costume

Classic sci-fi silver costume. i love it!

yuri trekkers

There had to be some Trekkies. Red shirt though? Go for the blue (or command gold). Yes, i’m TOS all the way

 

Walking around the exhibits and gazing at all the awesome costumes in the crowd can really make you hungry. The GLSC had that covered though. Aside from the bar food type appetizers that were available to the general admission guest, there was also a special VIP lounge area with an abundance of tasty treats provided by various local culinary artisans. Some of this year’s selection included BBQ pulled pork sandwiches by The Blazing Bistro, a small selection of sushi hand rolled on the spot by Sushi 86 and some yummy nachos by ABC the Tavern. If sweets were your weakness then there were also mini donuts offered by Peace, Love, & Little Donuts of Westpark or the assortment of chocolate delights put out by Sweet Designs Chocolatier. Both of those two were hard displays to walk away from empty handed!

Yuri cupcakes

A selection of the sweet side of treats on Yuri’s Night

yuri moon pastry

i think this was some sort of cake. Or maybe a ball of green cheese?!

yuri pork sandwich

Pulled pork from The Blazing Bistro

 

For those who think that geeks don’t know how to party, your opinion would be drastically altered after experiencing this fantastic event organized by the staff of the Great Lakes Science Center. If you missed out on attending Yuri’s Night, fret not, there is also something called “Science After Dark” which is not on the regular schedule of events for GLSC but it does come up on occasion and is similar in fashion to the Yuri’s event so keep your eyes peeled. You won’t regret it.

*     *     *     *     *

Huge thanks to Brett for attending Yuri’s Night in Cleveland and sharing his observations from the evening. Also big thanks to his wife Morgan, whose terrific photos are seen here as well as through The News-Herald media gallery and in print.

Brett has been one of my closest friends for many, many years so it was awesome that he was able to attend, and they even asked him to be a guest judge for the costume contest. On top of everything else, it was a great night out for them, which doesn’t happen too often since they have a family of four kids.

Thanks also to Great Lakes Science Center, who graciously provided press passes for Brett and Morgan to this awesome event!

How was your Yuri’s Night? Please comment below if you honored this worldwide celebration and let us know about your Space Party. If you have photos or would like to share your experience here at The Long Shot, please let me know and i’ll be happy to post your observations.

Please follow/like/share if you enjoyed this coverage of Yuri’s Night Space Party or any of the other content here at The Long Shot.

Thanks for reading!

WWE Extreme Rules 2015: Matches and Predictions

How do you think WWE Extreme Rules will turn out? Share your own predictions or thoughts on Tim’s in the comments below, and be sure to follow/share/like The Long Shot.

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

This Sunday, April 26 at 8 p.m. EST, WWE will be presenting their annual Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View event. The event is unique in the fact that it allows for a variety of “extreme” stipulations, effectively bending the rules of traditional matches in favor of more hardcore rules.

With the match card for the Pay-Per-View finalized and the event taking place this Sunday, I am going to break down each match on the card and provide my own predictions for the event.

Extreme_Rules_poster

First, the WWE Tag Team Champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will take on New Day members Kofi Kingston and Big E in the preshow of the event. This match was set this past Monday, as The New Day defeated the Lucha Dragons in a number one contender’s match to earn their title match at Extreme Rules.

What is unique about this match is that the two teams consist of villainous characters, better known in the wrestling world as heels. Despite their positive vibes, The New Day showed their villainous traits on RAW when they cheated in order to win the number one contender’s match. Another anomaly is the fact that while Tyson Kidd and Cesaro are also villains, the WWE crowd cheers for them.

Extreme Rules takes place in Rosemont, Illinois—just north west of Chicago. Any wrestling fan knows that Chicago is arguably the most passionate professional wrestling crowd in the United States. I fully expect Kidd and Cesaro to get a loud ovation, while The New Day will likely hear “New Day Sucks” chants that are even louder than they were on this past week’s episode of RAW.

The speed and power combinations of both teams will make for a very interesting match-up, and the match itself will be a great way to awaken the crowd. I see Kidd and Cesaro retaining their titles, with a future feud between them and the Lucha Dragons down the line.

The Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett match for the Intercontinental Championship has been up in the air the past few days, as WWE awaits the results of medical tests to find out if Bryan will be fit to compete. Since returning from a career-threatening injury in January at the Royal Rumble, there has been much concern concerning the health of Daniel Bryan. For now, it looks like the match is still going to take place Sunday.

If the match does indeed happen, I see Daniel Bryan retaining. Bad News Barrett is a talented wrestler, but his character hasn’t been developed well as of late. With Bryan bringing prominence to the Intercontinental Championship and restoring it to the prestige it once had, I can’t see him losing the title anytime soon. If Bryan can’t compete, then I see the match being postponed until a future episode of RAW or the next WWE Pay-Per-View, Payback.

Bryan’s medical issues are a source of concern, as he has gone on the record saying that his recovery from injury and surgery has been a long process. WWE will likely try to keep the title on him if they can, much like they kept the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on him a year ago when he was injured. However, if he is out of action for too long they may have to vacate the championship and crown a new champion. At the end of the day, Bryan has to do what is best for his health and we will have to simply wait and see to find out what happens.

Dolph Ziggler is facing Sheamus in a Kiss Me Arse match. With the brawling style of Sheamus and the athletic style of Ziggler colliding, I see an instant classic that will keep the fans on their feet. Of course, with Sheamus recently reinventing himself and WWE promoting him as a monster bent on destruction, he will dominate the contest. However, with Ziggler—who has been compared to a young Shawn Michaels as of late—we will likely see him get in some good offense and help create some moments that we will remember in the months ahead. Sheamus will win this one with a brogue kick, and fans will have to cringe at the sight of a down-and-out Ziggler being forced to kiss Sheamus’ buttocks.

Amid much speculation, it has been revealed on wwe.com that Naomi will take Paige’s place in the Divas Championship match this coming Sunday. With her recent villainous turn, it appears that WWE is trying to change the Bella Twins back into heroic characters overnight. When there’s no clear and defining change of heart conveyed on WWE television, it is always hard to decide if they are still the bad guys or if they are supposed to be the good guys now.

In the match with Nikki Bella defending her championship against Naomi, I see Naomi winning the championship. With AJ Lee retired and Paige “injured,” Naomi is the closest thing WWE has on the main roster to a top diva.

While I am not a fan of the current divas division, with top diva AJ Lee retired and her close second Paige out of action this is the perfect opportunity for Naomi to prove herself as a top contender. In recent months, Naomi was heavily featured with her real life husband and her real life brother-in-law The Usos, who are heroic characters. With her brother-in-law Jey out of action for six months with an injury, and her husband Jimmy Uso likely being kept off of TV until Jey returns, this is the perfect time for Naomi to separate herself from the pack and establish her own identity.

Luke Harper and Dean Ambrose will face off in a Chicago Street Fight. This rivalry began when they faced off in the seven-man Intercontinental Championship ladder match at Wrestlemania. On Smackdown one week later, Harper threw Ambrose through a table during their match leading to a no contest result. Over subsequent weeks, the men would attack each other, and would have another match leading to another no contest result. Because of this, it was announced that there would be no disqualifications and their match this Sunday would be a Chicago Street fight.

This match will be an all out brawl, and will likely steal the show at the Pay-Per-View. Both competitors have honed their crafts at various independent promotions before arriving to WWE, and have a hardcore fanbase. The Illinois crowd will be absolutely electric during this one. What makes this match exciting is that it can go either way. With WWE being a PG-rated program and chairshots to the head being banned since the Chris Benoit double-murder-suicide, don’t expect to see anything as grotesque as an old school ECW match. However, this match will feature some amazing maneuvers and innovative uses of various weapons. The crowd will be chanting “This Is Awesome” by the end of the match. I predict that Harper will win the match, as he begins to step out of the shadow of former mentor Bray Wyatt.

Roman Reigns will face Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. I can see this match getting many jeers from the crowd, as Reigns is not well-liked by the Chicago crowd despite being depicted as a hero character. In addition, this is a match that has taken place many times before but with a different stipulation. Reigns will win the match, and further his slow climb back into the championship picture.

John Cena has helped elevate the United States Championship since winning it from Rusev at Wrestlemania 31, creating a level of excitement when he defends his title in his weekly open invitational. Although we knew that he wouldn’t lose the title before this Pay-Per-View match, there was a certain level of excitement in watching the match and wondering “what if?” The Russian Chain Match between Cena and Rusev is an interesting concept, and I’m curious just how much the chain will play into the equation. They say that nothing is guaranteed in this world, but Cena is definitely going to retain in this match. Between him bringing some much-needed prestige back to the championship, the John Cena “The Champ is Here” T-shirts featuring the United States Championship and rumors that he is having a new title belt designed, it looks like Cena is going to hold onto his championship for a while.

The final match of the night will be the WWE World Heavyweight Championship cage match between Seth Rollins and Randy Orton, with Orton’s RKO finisher being banned and Kane being the “gatekeeper” of the cage. What makes this match interesting is that just one month ago, Orton beat Rollins in a one-on-one match at Wrestlemania 31. The key factor in this, however, is that Orton won that match at Wrestlemania using his RKO. With the RKO being banned, I am curious to see what kind of moves Orton can pull out of his repertoire. Will he break out moves from his former mentors? A figure four, perhaps? Will he use WWE COO Triple H’s own pedigree to put down his new protégé?

It is definitely a match that has to be watched. With rumors that Rollins curb stomp will only be used for special occasions, I am curious to see if Rollins will continue to use the DDT finisher he used on RAW, or perhaps the Phoenix splash that he used at the Royal Rumble a few months ago. I definitely see Rollins retaining in any circumstance, but I think Orton will have the last laugh with an RKO following the match.

WWE Extreme Rules takes place this Sunday, April 26 at 8 p.m. EST, and is available on Pay-Per-View and the WWE Network. For new subscribers, the WWE Network — including this Pay-Per-View event — is free for the remainder of April.

WWE Monday Night RAW 04-20-15 Results and Review

WWE Monday Night RAW Results and Review 04/20/2015

By Long Shot contributor Tim Simko

As a lifelong avid wrestling fan, I have always loved watching Monday Night RAW. I have watched RAW frequently for years, rarely missing an episode. I read the dirt sheets, I follow the characters’ storylines and I anticipate each upcoming episode. Professional wrestling has always been a part of my life — from the times that I watched the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock during the Attitude Era, up until now watching future legends such as Daniel Bryan.

With that being said, it is time to break down the current episode, time to analyze the segments and time to get RAW.

WWE RAW

The show started out with a video recap highlighting the events of last week’s episode. The villainous WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and antihero Randy Orton won their respective matches last week, allowing them to choose stipulations for their world title match this Sunday at their upcoming Pay-Per-View event Extreme Rules. Orton decided that he wants the match in a steel cage to prevent any interference from Rollins’ personal security team, J&J Security. Meanwhile, for his stipulation choice Rollins decided to ban Orton’s signature RKO maneuver.

The opening recap summed up the events of last week’s RAW very well, allowing even those who haven’t tuned in to the show in a while to follow along the story.

The steel cage surrounded the ring as Orton headed to the ring to a massive ovation from the crowd. Orton stressed the fact that once he is alone with the champion Rollins without interference, he will beat Rollins down. Orton says that he will beat the champion senseless until every bone in his body is aching.

Rollins’ theme music hits as he comes out with J&J security. They taunted each other and the crowd ate it up. Rollins received massive boos from the crowd as he soaked it all in.

“I play this game of human chess better than anybody,” Rollins said.

raw april 20

He claimed to be the best, and the fact that he is champion legitimizes his claim. Orton is praised by Rollins as a legend, and a future hall of famer, but Rollins explained that he is simply better.

Orton cut Rollins off and said that he can ban the RKO finishing maneuver if he wants but Orton promised that he will RKO Rollins by the end of the night and anyone else he sees.

The segment between Rollins and Orton was great, and I am genuinely interested in this feud. What makes Orton so great is that he doesn’t act like a typical hero is portrayed in wrestling. He doesn’t smile 24/7, he gets mad, and when he loses his temper fans know it’s about to go down. In the modern era, fans prefer “real” characters rather than the cartoony larger-than-life gimmicks portrayed in the 1980s. Rollins is also a great bad guy – he is a guy you love to hate but at the same time he does his job so well that you can’t help but like him. I expect Rollins to hold his world championship for a long time. With the crowd reactions he receives and the crowd eating out of WWE’s hands, I see him holding onto the title and a feud with former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar in the future.

“The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose and backwoods character Luke Harper faced off next for a match that started to become chaotic. The competitors found their way out of the ring, throwing each other into the stairs and running into the crowd as they beat each other up. The competitors were dead even, throwing punch after punch as the referee ended the match in a no contest. Harper got the upper hand after throwing Ambrose into the video Titantron screen, and went for a powerbomb off the stage. Ambrose countered but was thrown to the side as Harper headed to the back.

This is another great feud that has a lot of potential, as Harper and Ambrose are both respected competitors who built hardcore fan bases in various independent wrestling organizations before starting their WWE careers. Both have reckless brawling styles that have melded together so well. I am not sure if they have announced a match at Extreme Rules yet, but if they do it could possibly steal the show. With “extreme” stipulations added to this upcoming Pay-Per-View, it will be interesting to see what kind of match these two will have. One thing is certain: it will be an all-out brawl.

Out next was a match to determine who will face the tag team champions Tyson Kidd and Cesaro at Extreme Rules for the WWE Tag Team Championship. This match was between “The Lucha Dragons” Sin Cara and Kalisto and upbeat New Day group members Kofi Kingston and Big E. As New Day member Xavier Woods clapped outside of the ring to rally support the crowd chanted “New Day Sucks” as they have done in recent weeks. In response, Kalisto rallied the crowd with “lucha” chants and has the crowd on their feet executing his luchador maneuvers on Big E. Kalisto tagged in Sin Cara and Big E tagged in Kingston. They stepped up the pace as Kingston had more of a fast-paced style than his partner Big E. Sin Cara and Kofi were back and forth with their athletic high-flying maneuvers, as Kingston got the advantage and stomped on Sin Cara in the corner. Big E and Kingston repeatedly teamed up on Sin Cara and kept him away from his partner Kalisto. The crowd chanted “New Day Sucks” at the top of their lungs as the live broadcast went to commercial.

The crowd was not into the New Day at all, however, they appear to be showing more of a villainous side as the weeks go on. They look legitimately angered at the chants, and have shown more aggression in their matches. Although determining whether they are heroes or villains is confusing right now, I can see them becoming full-fledged villains in the coming weeks.

The show came back from commercial with New Day in control. More frequent tags were being made between Big E and Kingston as they continued to isolate Sin Cara from Kalisto. Cara managed to escape and tag in Kalisto as he flew into the ring and hit many unique maneuvers at a very fast pace. Kalisto tagged in Cara and the crowd went nuts as they flew out of the ring and knocked their opponents down. Kingston made it back into the ring as Xavier Woods held Cara’s legs preventing him from coming back into the ring. Sin Cara couldn’t make it back into the ring and New Day won the match. New Day celebrated as Randy Orton came into the ring out of nowhere and hit his RKO out of nowhere on the New Day members.

I was shocked as I expected to see Lucha Dragons win, but watching the New Day win in this manner was something different. The Lucha Dragons have helped to revive the tag team division and will only continue to further their presence within WWE. It was also fun to see Orton come in completely out of the blue and take out everybody, fulfilling his promise of RKO-ing everybody.

orton april 20

The announcers plugged the match between WWE United States Champion John Cena and former United States Champion Rusev this Sunday at Extreme Rules. This match can be watched on the WWE Network, which is $9.99 but the month of April is free for new subscribers. As someone who recently became a member to take advantage of the free offer, I can say that this is worth every penny to wrestling fans. Members can watch every Pay-Per-View as part of the service but can also access exclusive content including documentaries and a video vault consisting of past Pay-Per-View events.

Video packages recapped the feud between The Big Show and Roman Reigns. It showed the back and forth banter between the two, and then showed footage of when Big Show picked up Reigns and slammed him on the roof of a car. Reigns and Big Show will face off in a Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules.

It is very hard to like this feud. I am happy to see Roman stepping down from the main event scene and getting more of an organic rise, but it is hard to enjoy a match I’ve seen roughly a dozen times in the last three months. I feel like I’ve seen the match too many times, and would rather see them face different opponents for a change.

Fandango came out next to his old theme song to the delight of the fans, as he prepared to face Curtis Axel. Fandango dominated Axel as he danced around the ring. Fandango hit a top rope legdrop on Axel within a few minutes for the win and he danced along with the fans.

It was a fun short match to watch, but I am disappointed that the American crowd this week isn’t as energetic and into it as the European crowd was in England last week. Part of the fun of watching a show is the crowd, and I wish that crowds would be loud during the broadcasts more often.

WWE COO Triple H came out next to make a significant announcement concerning their reality series Tough Enough. Triple H began by praising WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and calling him he future of the company.

“But now we have to find our next Seth Rollins,” Triple H said.

Triple H announced that Tough Enough is returning on June 23rd on the USA Network. The reality show will allow contestants the opportunity to compete for the chance to join the WWE. Triple H declared that being a WWE superstar is better than any dream you could ever have, and encouraged video submissions to WWE Tough Enough. The contest will consist of 10 men and 5 women, and there will be one male winner and one female winner who will each become a WWE superstar.

This is a great opportunity, as many athletes and independent professional wrestlers have competed in this show in the past. The last season of Tough Enough was in 2011, but the winner Andy Leavine’s career was a flop and he was released from the company within a year of winning Tough Enough.

WWE Director of Operations Kane came out and told Triple H that he is putting in his 2 weeks notice and resigning from his position of power because of all the disrespect given to him by The Authority. Rollins, a member of The Authority came out and praised Kane.

Kane and Rollins get into a shouting match where Kane essentially said that they hand-picked Rollins and that they could’ve made anyone champion. Triple H broke up the argument and announced that because of Kane’s loyalty to The Authority, at Extreme Rules Kane will be guarding the cage door during the main event cage match between Rollins and Randy Orton.

A backstage promo between Triple H, Kane and Rollins took place. Kane got frustrated and walked off. Triple H told Rollins that being champion doesn’t make him the best – going out every night and proving himself makes him the best. Triple H announced Dolph Ziggler would face Rollins tonight. Rollins said that he will prove himself and everyone will see.

You can see the fire in Rollins eyes when he gave that promo, and you can really tell he wants to prove that he deserves to be champion.

Brie Bella faced off against the recently-turned-villain Naomi. Since the retirements of WWE Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita in 2006, WWE has struggled to find suitable replacements to reignite their divas division. There was potential with young up and comer Paige and AJ Lee, who was the top WWE diva by leaps and bounds. With the sudden retirement of Lee, however, the women’s division is struggling to capture fan interest.

With all due respect to the women, the divas division isn’t what it used to be. In the past, WWE used to scout for women who had experience as wrestlers, and therefore their past divas division consisted of women that wrestled just as well as the men. The WWE’s modern system of hiring models with no experience, and then teaching them to wrestle isn’t working and it shows.

Naomi won the match and had a stare off with the Divas Champion.

I am not familiar with the developmental system WWE NXT, but I have heard that there are many divas with potential. If this is true, they need to bring some of them up quickly.

Wrestler Heath Slater was shown eating a salad backstage and Randy Orton RKO’d him out of nowhere. Randy Orton’s RKO’s out of nowhere have generated excitement throughout the night, the viciousness in the man billed as WWE’s “Apex Predator” is always exciting to watch.

Roman Reigns came to the ring and called out Big Show, but instead Bo Dallas came to the ring. Dallas rubbed in the fact that Reigns got chokeslammed through a car last week, and failed to win the WWE World Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania. Dallas said Reigns is a complete bust and is the Tim Tebow of the WWE. He said all Reigns has to do to recover is “Bo-lieve”. Reigns hit him with his signature Superman Punch and spear before telling Big Show that he will be the last man standing on Sunday and you can “bo-lieve” that.

Although I’m not excited about this particular feud, I am looking forward to Reigns feuds after this Pay-Per-View. It will be exciting to see him face new and fresh opponents following this Sunday, and without the pressure of WWE forcing him into the main event scene the fans are starting to get behind him organically. While the WWE can put anyone they want into the main event, it always has been the fans that truly make a star.

Sheamus was out next for a match with Zack Ryder. Sheamus hit Ryder with his brogue kick finisher and declared “that was easy.” Sheamus said he could pin Ryder and win the match but that would be too easy. Sheamus proceeded to beat up Ryder while taunting him on the microphone. This match was completely one-sided, as Sheamus proceeded to throw Ryder out of the ring. Sheamus hit another brogue kick outside of the ring and continued to taunt both Ryder and the crowd. He set up for another brogue kick as Dolph Ziggler came to the ring and hit his Zig Zag finisher on Sheamus.

The commentary team promoted his “Kiss Me Arse” match where the loser has to “kiss arse.” I am looking forward to the match and enjoy the feud, but not the stipulation. It’s not something I would expect from WWE after being a PG family-friendly product for the better part of seven years.

WWE United States Champion John Cena came out next for his weekly open challenge where he puts his title on the line. It has been fun to watch this open challenge every week since Wrestlemania, and it’s great to see Cena step back into the midcard while other stars shine in the main event. Cena promoted the Pay-Per-View Sunday and the “extreme stipulations.” This Sunday, he faces off against Rusev in a Russian Chain Match where the winner is the first person to touch all four corners of the ring consecutively. But in order to accomplish this, the opponent must be incapacitated.

Cena offered the opportunity for anyone to come out for his open challenge, and Kane came out. Kane immediately started brawling with Cena, taking control of the match. The crowd erupted in their typical “Let’s go Cena, Cena sucks” dueling chants, as Cena is one of the most controversial stars in WWE. Cena started to regain control as Kane took over and hit a sidewalk slam for a two-count. The commentators stressed that Kane is starting to show his “monster” side once again as he is ruthlessly attacking Cena. He threw Cena out of the ring and proceeded to throw Cena into a barricade. Kane continued to dominate as Cena winced in pain.

Kane shoulder tackled Cena, but Cena refused to give up. The crowd’s Cena chants got louder as Cena began to make a comeback. Cena attempted to tackle Kane but was knocked down. Kane threw Cena into the corner and tackled him. Cena was thrown into another corner but dodged Kane’s second tackle. Cena went for his signature five-knuckle shuffle but Kane reversed it into a chokeslam for a two-count. Kane signaled that he is about to attempt a tombstone piledriver but Cena countered the move into his signature Attitude Adjustment finisher and won the match. Cena is still the United States Champion.

Even though the ending was predictable with Cena’s upcoming match Sunday, it was a fun match to watch. Even though Kane’s character has been significantly watered down since he first came to WWE in 1997, this match showed that Kane can still wrestle in good matches when given the opportunity. I hope that in the coming months, WWE can either revert Kane back into his classic “monster” character or reinvent him as something other than a corporate executive.

The Miz was interviewed about his new Marine 4 movie but was cut off by an interview across the backstage area with John Cena. Miz was clearly mad as the camera cut to Cena and mid-way through his interview Rusev attacked him with a chain.

This segment was a great way to keep The Miz’s “A-lister” character on camera and relevant while helping to further the feud between Cena and Rusev. The greatest part of the Miz character is his ego, he genuinely believes that performing on a straight-to-DVD release makes him an “A Lister” and his cocky character is one that the fans can hate easily. The only thing missing from the segment was his former stunt double Damien Mizdow, who has been enjoying success after becoming a fan favorite and is currently feuding with The Miz.

I spoke too soon, as Miz and Damien Mizdow would wrestle for the right to the “Miz brand.” Mizdow came out to cheers accompanied by Summer Rae, who is The Miz’s co-star in the Marine 4 Movie. The Miz was out next as Mizdow waited in the ring. Clips from Tough Enough 2004 are shown to show that The Miz himself was once a Tough Enough contestant. They emphasize that there will be one man and one woman who will become WWE superstars by the end of the season.

The match started as both competitors fought toe to toe. Each of them kept trying to go for a quick pin. They fought move for move, as they both used the same repertoire of moves. Miz tried to grab the tights but it didn’t work. Summer Rae raked Mizdow’s eyes while the ref was turned and The Miz won the match. Mizdow lost his rights to The Miz name and Summer was revealed to be working with Miz.

Miz bragged about his win saying “I’m the Miz and I’m awe-“

Randy Orton came out and RKO’d Miz out of nowhere and showed the crowd that he’s RKO’d four people so far tonight. I am disappointed that The Miz won, as I think it would have been hilarious to see The Miz complaining that he can’t use his own name and gimmick. However, every single one of Randy’s RKO’s caught me off guard and made me laugh.

The announcers revealed the full card for Extreme Rules, it is as follows:

The New Day vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro for the Tag Team titles on the Kickoff Preshow

Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose in a Chicago street fight

Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton cage match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the RKO is banned

John Cena vs. Rusev Russian chain match for the United States championship

Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler “Kiss Me Arse Match”

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show Last Man Standing Match

Daniel Bryan vs. Bad News Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship

Paige vs. Nikki Bella was also scheduled for Extreme Rules, but with Naomi injuring Paige last week and no announcements being made I am unsure if the match is still on.

It looks like a great Pay-Per-View card, and it is even better when you consider that new subscribers to the WWE network can watch for free. Still, is the “kiss me arse” stipulation necessary?

Bray Wyatt was shown backstage for a cryptic promo. He mentioned how weights blind you, and how one day you’ll realize all your hard work is for nothing. He called himself the new face of fear as the screen turned to black. It was a great promo by Wyatt, truly a captivating character that can’t be described in words. No amount of descriptions that I can make will ever do the unique character justice.

Ryback came out for a match with Adam Rose as more footage from Tough Enough 2004 was shown, showing that Ryback is also Tough Enough Alumni. Ryback dominated the match for the most part and hit his meathook clothesline and shellshocked finisher within a few short minutes. Ryback is a simple character, who destroys anything in his way but it works. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Ryback chanted “feed me more” as the crowd chanted along.

Backstage, what was intended as a direct Twitter message from Rollins to J&J security insulting Kane was “accidentally” posted as a Tweet. Kane was frustrated and confronted Rollins, but Rollins apologized and said he will dedicate his match tonight to Kane. Orton was shown stalking Rollins in the shadows as the show cut to commercial.

The “accidental Tweet” was a bit much, but for the sake of storytelling, I’ll buy it. You can tell the show is going to culminate with an RKO to J&J security and Rollins, and I’m okay with that. Also, Ziggler and Rollins in a main event match will put butts in seats on any given night. They are two phenomenal performers who bring out the best in each other.

Rollins and Ziggler both came to the ring, Rollins was accompanied by J&J security. Rollins held his title up high as the commentary team emphasized that Rollins dedicated the match to Kane, the “gatekeeper” of the cage this Sunday.

Rollins and Ziggler fought back and forth, showing their athletic and innovative maneuvers. Rollins launched Ziggler outside of the ring as the J&J security observed from the outside as RAW goes to commercial.

RAW came back and Rollins had Ziggler in a chokehold, Ziggler fought his way out and stood in the corner as Rollins charged at him. The crowd booed as Ziggler was on the ground and Rollins continued to kick him. Rollins began to taunt Ziggler, he has complete control of the match. Ziggler squirmed towards the ropes as Rollins grabbed him for a slam. Rollins punched and kicked Ziggler repeatedly. Dolph started to make a comeback and hit an impressive DDT but just as quick as the comeback came, Rollins took control again. There was back and forth action as the control of the match shifted back and forth between the two competitors. Sheamus came out and distracted Ziggler as Rollins took advantage with a DDT for the win.

Great match and the finish allowed for Rollins to win without hurting Dolph. Rollins bragged about the win as Triple H’s music hits. Triple H praised Rollins as the man, as Rollins said that he will beat Orton on Sunday at Extreme Rules and berated Kane.

Kane came out looking angry as J&J pleaded for Kane to stay back. Triple H went up the ramp to help stop the security team as the cage lowered on Rollins to protect him from Kane. Orton managed to slither into the cage and Rollins was trapped. As Rollins climbed up the cage, Orton pulled him down and struck with an RKO. Orton’s music hit and he held up Rollins’ title to end the show.

Overall, it was a perfectly executed segment. A great setup for this Sunday’s Pay-Per-View.

Sidenote: Justin LaBar of WrestleZone.com and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review broke a story earlier today that Rollins’ popular curb stomp finisher was banned and he did not use it at all tonight. While I found the story hard to believe, it appears that the story is true unfortunately.

The best segment of the night was when Randy Orton viciously RKO-ed everybody. It was disappointing to see the Miz and Damien Mizdow feud conclude on RAW, they could’ve easily squeezed that into the pre-show on Sunday. Overall, it was an above average RAW and generated interest in the upcoming Pay-Per-View event Extreme Rules.

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Thanks to Tim Simko for his first contributing article here at The Long Shot. Tim is a fellow CSU alumni from the journalism department, and i was excited when he contacted me to ask about sharing his work here. Back in the days of Attitude, i was a huge fan of prowrestling, along with my brother, and we both made a point to keep our Monday and Thursday evenings clear to soak up the ratings battle between the WWF and WCW. Tim’s recap of April 20’s RAW brought back a lot of memories, and i’m happy to read that Triple H is still around – he’s been a favorite of mine since his Terra Ryzing days.

i’m looking forward to more stuff from Tim, who’s also interested in crime stories and controversies in the news. Please comment below on what Tim had to say about the April 20 edition of RAW, or anything else for that matter.

If you’d like to contribute to The Long Shot, please click here and Take a Shot yourself!

Week in Geek 4.9.15

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday (okay maybe not each and every Friday, but pretty close).

Yeah, yeah, yeah i know – last week 4.3.15 was another bye week. But you’re here now, so let’s move on shall we? You’re even getting Week in Geek a day early!

Video game developer log coming soon

The Long Shot’s Take a Shot saw its first return-on-investment the other day! Don Hileman, a video game developer, contacted me about writing an article about game design, how his studio was formed and a behind-the-scenes look at what creating games.

Don’s email could not have come at a better time. Earlier that same day, i’d been feeling thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread, to borrow an analogy. Already working two jobs, plus keeping up as best i can here, another opportunity came along from my editor at The News-Herald to write human interest features on area businesses. It’s a terrific chance for more experience – and bylines – but i felt stretched for sure, like something had to give. The Long Shot here was on the table as one of those things.

Enyx Studios

Then, behold! Don sends me an email to inquire about sharing an article. Enyx Studios is a game development studio located here in Ohio, which instantly gave Don that Buckeye cred i love. The game they’re currently working on is horror-themed and is designed for play on PCs as well as XBox and Playstation. More than that, however, is the game’s integration with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift.

Don shared a link to the original prototype demo with me, so i had a chance to check out what they have in the works. The game world in the demo is essentially a first-person tour but without characters or triggered events.

“It is mainly environmental stuff,” Don said. “But it gives you an idea of what the final art direction will be for the episodes
we create.”

The graphics in the demo are clean and crisp. Movement around the environment was smooth, and i didn’t encounter any clipping or collision issues so i’d say they’re off to a great start. As they continue to develop their game, i’m excited to see how it evolves. There is some mood music in the demo as well, which was reminiscent of The Secret World, a supernatural-themed MMO set in the modern world.

i don’t want to give too much away about this project, though, because i’m very much looking forward to Don and his team have to share with you. We exchanged a few messages, and i’m thrilled about the prospects of perhaps a series of developer logs so you can follow this project.

In addition to Don, Enyx Studios other founder is Andrew Pavlick. The pair met at a meetup for game developers and the idea of forming their own studio emerged from their conversation. Both guys had been freelancing for several years, but shared a perspective and decided to form their own studio to do things their own way.

In developing their game, they are following a model of dividing the ambitious project into smaller, episodic chunks that they can release as different “seasons.” That way, their small team can offer better quality content over time in a more manageable way. The inclusion of VR is something they feel creates a unique platform for their game, but they are also designing it so that a VR headset is not required to play, for those who don’t have access to one.

A very special thanks needs to be given to Bob Sopko as well. Bob is the director of Blackstone LaunchPad, which helps students turn their ideas into viable businesses, at Case Western Reserve University. Tales of more than one terrific entrepreneur, innovator or technology advocate has crossed my desk thanks to Bob, who Don told me passed my name along to him.

While we await what Don has to share with you about Enyx Studios and their game in development, keep up with them on Facebook and follow @enyxstudios on Twitter.

Classic Adventures in DDO

A couple of weeks ago, the DDO team shared a preview on YouTube of the game’s latest release, Update 25. On April 6, U25 went live, giving players the opportunity to partake in the latest quest content modeled after the classic D&D adventure – The Temple of Elemental Evil!

U25  Reign of Elemental Evil   Dungeons and Dragons Online (3)

Since the release of this Update, i’ve stepped foot inside ToEE a couple of times now so i can share some first-hand experience of it.

The first thing to mention, which was a surprise for players that the DDO team kept under wraps and announced the day of the update, is the featured guest Dungeon Master for the quest – Wil Wheaton. Reactions to this news were, as expected, mixed. Game forums are chock full of complaints about aspects of games large and small, so it’s not surprising. It must be very difficult, i imagine, for developers to decipher community opinions about things since there will always be people who feel strongly about a thing to voice their feelings on the matter. In the case of Wil Wheaton’s contribution to the game, several people feel like the investment of time and money into his voice work could have been better spent elsewhere, fixing bugs or creating more content and the like.

Personally, i love it. The DM narration in DDO has long been one of my favorite parts of the game, one of the many details that speaks to the flavor of its origins as a tabletop social game – the pencil-and-paper or PnP days.

In addition to Wil’s DM narration, one of the optional objectives in ToEE is discovering the scattered audio clips sprinkled throughout the quest. Finding them all and clicking on them not only provides some bonus XP, but gives players some background information on Wil’s long connection to D&D. He speaks about his introduction to D&D, games he’s played over the years, what it means to him and so forth. Granted, in a full party with chat, i missed some of what he had to say but i’m sure i’ll get to listen to them all in time.

My first foray into the Temple was with my primarily solo main character Schir Gold, who recently TR’d into another pale master build. This time around, i’m trying something new by taking two artificer levels, instead of two rogue levels, to make a pale trapper. By skipping rogue, i’m giving up on evasion but taking advantage of what the artificer has to offer through frontloading the class. Medium armor proficiency gives me that sweet PRR, and like the rogue, the artificer uses intelligence for all those skill points including the coveted Open Lock and Disable Device. On top of that, i can squeeze out more spell points for that blue bar, get a free lever puller and have access to rune arms and repeating crossbows for backup. So far, so good.

Schir’s time in ToEE on Heroic Hard difficulty made it a level 8 quest (she’s currently level 9). Things proceeded fairly well as long as i took my time, but i will say this quest is absolutely enormous so it became apparent early on that completion was a daunting endeavor.

Nevertheless, i soldiered on. Spirits were dampened when, after close to an hour in the quest i came upon the entrance to Dungeon Level 2 and realized i was no where near finishing this beast. None of the objectives had been reached yet, which include obtaining keys from each of four elemental temples devoted to earth, air, fire and water. Even finding the entrances hadn’t even been accomplished yet!

Despite all that, i was still doing well, able to defeat the monstrous mobs and manage my resources okay. That was when i ran into the ballista.

Some temple guards have a room on lockdown, and the only way to reach it is across a narrow bridge over a pit of spikes. Except that the guards have a siege weapon aimed straight down the hallway that, on top of laying down some serious damage causes a slow effect. Pinned down like that, even the Mysterious Altar that granted me somewhere around 300 extra hit points only prolonged the inevitable destruction of Schir, and thus ended her adventure that day.

What is very cool about ToEE though, is that the design is a new direction for DDO that blends elements of the wilderness areas with an instanced quest. While in ToEE, players can rack up a slayer count for the mobs and earn significant amounts of XP while doing so, which offsets the quests overall length that requires a healthy investment of time.

Another aspect of ToEE that at first turned me off was that it includes a brand new crafting system that uses various types of mushrooms gathered in both Part 1 and Part 2 of the quest. i’m not going to lie – my initial reaction was not positive about this new system. But, to be fair, that was before i had much chance to explore the place, which i did throughout the week.

Recently, my secondary character – a pure fighter who followed the premade path – joined a new guild called The Unrepentant on Sarlona. This character, Experimenta, was created based on a very long forum discussion last year about how confusing DDO could be for a new player. My experiment showed me it is nothing of the sort, but that’s a topic for another day.

Experimenta has been having a heck of a great time in The Unrepentant, and we ran through ToEE on Epic Hard this week a couple of times. Through these playthroughs, i gained a much deeper appreciation for ToEE as a whole and also for the crafting system. Our party acquired several of the craftable weapons upgraded with the mushrooms on the Overgrown Workbench in the Part 1’s main chamber, and after completing Part 1 and 2, we headed back in a few times for exploration, material gathering and XP from the optionals. By the way, that end fight is amazing. Extremely difficult, yes, but for a nonraid quest it’s probably the most exciting end fight in the game right now.

Because of the unique design elements of ToEE, i think this takes DDO in a whole new direction. Because of the instanced nature of DDO quests, noncompletions are typically anathema to players. But ToEE, similar to the Shroud with it’s green steel crafting, gives players a reason to enter the quest without total completion being a make-or-break scenario. Although much of the ToEE crafting is unknown at this time, it looks fairly deep and i’m looking forward to seeing what sorts of gear we can wind up with. Since i’ve never been much into raiding (something i hope my time with The Unrepentant will change) this is one of the only opportunities i’ve had to explore a complex crafting system like this, and i’m pretty excited about that.

Although the forums are rife with threads right now about what people think is wrong about ToEE, i’m very optimistic and i hope it grows on the skeptical folks like a fungal infection. With versions of it both in the heroic levels and the high-end of epic, it should give players a lot to do.

The last thing i want to mention right now about ToEE is that it really offers something for all the different builds out there. Portions of the quest have random traps – which the monsters can trigger as well – so there’s opportunity for trapmonkeys as well as tactics. The variety of monsters could be a bit more diverse, and perhaps will evolve over time, but right now there’s a good mix of brutes, ranged enemies, and spellcasters. The types of monsters include humanoids as well as classic D&D critters like rust monsters and the undead.

And if you’re lucky (depending on how you look at it) you may even run into one of these titular beasts:

Experimenta and friends ran afoul of a red dragon in the bowels of the Temple of Elemental Evil

Experimenta and friends ran afoul of a red dragon in the bowels of the Temple of Elemental Evil

As i continue to explore this terrific new content in DDO, i’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with how it goes. If you have any tales from the Temple of Elemental Evil, drop me a line and let me know what you think. Or better, yet, write up your own analysis of this quest or any others!

DDO developers have stated that the response in general to their Classic Adventures, which includes ToEE and the well-liked Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, has been great and gave them a lot to think about going forward with content creation.

ToEE  as the 4th greatest Dungeons & Dragons adventure of all time by Dungeon magazine, behind Queen of the Spiders, Ravenloft, and Tomb of Horrors. If the current Classic Adventures in DDO are any indication, i’m super stoked to see what they adapt next. Expedition to the Barrier peaks ranked 5th, which i would definitely love to see in DDO.

Overall, ToEE looks to be a success for DDO. Getting someone like Wil Wheaton, an avid gamer and huge D&D advocate, to lend his talents to the game will hopefully help propel it forward and get some attention that equals a broader playerbase and more recognition.

See you in game!

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Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!  If you liked what you read please click Follow at the top of the page and share/Tweet/repost your favorite articles. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

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Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors will be going to Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest. So be sure to check back for coverage of that. If you are celebrating Yuri’s Night anywhere in the world (or off of it – looking at you International Space Station) please share your experiences and photos!

Stay alert for posts from a new contributor as well – Don Hileman from Enyx Studios plans to share some behind-the-scenes tales of video game development.

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

If you would like some further reading, about some science, technology and pop culture stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did: