Monday, January 31, 2011

MKO: Mortal Kombat on Blu-Ray - with Bonus DLC!

In 1995, Mortal Kombat was released to theatres worldwide, grossing a respectable $23 million dollars in it's opening weekend in the United States. An American launching pad for British director, Paul Anderson (Resident Evil, Event Horizon), the film was also a watershed moment for the licensing of video game properties in Hollywood, which to that point, had resulted in critical and financial failure in the box office.

The movie was the culmination of a licensing agreement between major players of the time, then MK-owners Midway Games, and production studio, Threshold Entertainment. The deal would go on to produce a film sequel; animated series, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm; live-action television show, Mortal Kombat: Conquest; and interactive live-action web series, Federation of Martial Arts.

In 2011, the original Mortal Kombat movie remains among the most popular and successful films to be based on video games. With the aquisition of the brand by Warner Brothers, both the original movie and it's 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, will get a new lease on life in the Blu-Ray format with a re-release targetted for April 19.

Full Article:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 01/30

#1 Alberto Del Rio [--] (6-2-0) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
As of today, Alberto Del Rio is going to Wrestlemania to challenge the Champion of his choosing... but you already knew that. I had my doubts, but Del Rio's 2011 push has carried him all the way to victory in the first ever forty-man Royal Rumble! As phenomenal an achievement as it is, it comes bittersweet for the rising star. His entry was late, number thirty-eight, with the final elimination being an utterly unconvincing Santino Marella (#60). While that finish might've been very weak, Del Rio did have the honor of eliminating title contender, Randy Orton (#6)!

Del Rio's Wrestlemania opponent remains to be seen, as does the likelihood of WWE honoring the tradition of Royal Rumble winners getting their shot in the biggest main event match of the calendar. The safe bet might be a bout with current World Champion, Edge (#2), who defeated Dolph Ziggler (#67) in a title defense at Royal Rumble. Keeping Del Rio on Smackdown would seem a benefit to his style as a wrestler, similarly to the strength of the show in Mexican markets, but you never know! Recent appearances on RAW may indicate more than an intent to promote Del Rio ahead of his Rumble win. Given that RAW's WWE Championship seems likely to be contended between a combination of current champ, The Miz (#30), John Cena (#86), and Randy Orton, a switch is long odds, though.

#2 [RE] Edge (5-1-0) (WWE) [World Heavyweight Champion]
#3 [-1] Robert Roode (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#4 [-1] James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [+1] Kofi Kingston (4-2-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#6 [-2] Randy Orton (4-2-0) (WWE)
#7 [+1] Jeff Jarrett (3-0-1) (TNA)
#8 [new] Frankie Kazarian (3-1-0) (TNA) [X-Division Champion]
#9 [-4] Chris Masters (3-1-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] Primo Colon (3-1-0) (WWE)

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [new] Zack Ryder & Primo Colon (2-0-0) (WWE)
#3 [-1] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#4 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Eve Torres (1-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [--] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [--] Angelina Love & Winter (1-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#8 [--] Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy (1-0-0) (TNA)
#9 [--] Chris Masters & JTG (1-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] Yoshi Tatsu & Primo Colon (1-0-0) (WWE)

Superstar Spotlight:
#80 Booker T
(0-1-0) (WWE)

Historically, the Royal Rumble is a match built on the excitement of the unknown. The potential for multiple would-be contenders to win, along with the random draw of wrestlers, is a certain draw, but there's something extra special about the potential for surprise entrants! In 2011, the biggest surprises came in the form of Booker T and Kevin Nash (#84) -- two WCW alumnists who'd left the company, joining opposition TV promotion, Total Non-Stop Action, since.

Booker T, having departed from TNA in 2008, seemed to be heading toward retirement, but with days to go, semi-confirmation of terms met between he and WWE created a new buzz about the first ever forty-man Royal Rumble. It put an end to speculation about TNA's plans for a resurrection of the Main Event Mafia stable, who were tipped to be the most likely party responsibe for "THEY" -- a second incarnation of a teased organization.

Booker (and Nash's) unavailability for the TNA angle appears to have given way to standing plans to return AJ Styles (#70) and members of Fortune to TNA favourite status, creating a silver lining of a situation that would only have been made worse by the return of tiring WCW/WWE retirees. That said, this is no slight to Booker T and Kevin Nash, as they head towards the possibility of a wrestling role in WWE.

Booker T remains a respectable talent, who never truly received the dues he earned in WWE. The prospect of his return garnering some sort of main event situation would be potentially quite joyous in WWE, where RAW remains bogged down in a mix of unworthy champions, aborted prospects, and the usual suspects (Orton, Cena). There's plenty of room for Booker to energize the top title divisions on RAW, or even Smackdown, where he would be forced to compete with Alberto Del Rio's momentum, but would be a pleasant change of pace as a challenger, as opposed to someone like Edge. On Smackdown, he would potentially arrive alongside Nash, who took a moment to stare down Big Show (#22) during the Rumble -- possible build for a feud, or a union against Wade Barrett (#91) and his Corre, who currently have beef with Big Show. Perhaps an opposing trio could form?

It's impossible not to speculate about the these returning WCW alumnists without mentioning 2011's Hall of Fame inductions, which will coincide with Wrestlemania's arrival in Atlanta -- the home of the now defunct WCW. Booker and Nash could easily have been brought in with a view to induct them into the HOF as representing WCW/WWE stars. Speculation persists that Sting might also join them, despite "The Icon's" long history of refusing offers from the company. Diamond Dallas Page has to be considered another outsider prospect, with Bill Goldberg always on the WCW-noted periphery. Also on a Wrestlemania note is the potential for wrestling The Undertaker in his famed Wrestlemania slot, but there's plenty of time for that...

Special Note: This week's Countdown includes results from the WWE: Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event (Jan. 30). On the show, Eve Torres (#14) defeated Natalya Neidhart (#18) to win the Divas Championship in a fatal four-way match also involving Layla (#48) and Michelle McCool (#23).

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

MKO: Mortal Kombat Action Figures Coming Soon

Since assuming ownership of Midway's intellectual properties in July of 2010 [full story], Warner Brothers have shown clear intent to capitalize on the Mortal Kombat brand in all of it's potential licensing and merchandising mediums.

To accompany the release of the upcoming game in April, a series of licensing deals have already been formed by WB and it's subsidiaries, to produce: an Official Strategy Guide with Prima Games; a custom game stick by PDP [Performance Designed Products]; an as yet untitled digitally released live-action series; and a concept music album with Teenage Riot Records, Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired by the Warriors.

In Spring, their massive merchandising line-up will be joined by a series of new action figures released by Jazwares. The deal is a return of the MK license to the toy manufacturer, who created three series of action figures inspired by Mortal Kombat: Deception and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, from 2005 to 2007.

Full Article:

Friday, January 28, 2011

MKO: Liu Kang Confirmed by Official Website!

He made a surprise appearance in yesterday's IGN Inside the X-Ray behind-the-scenes featurette [full story], but today, it's official: Liu Kang is back!

Described on the Official Mortal Kombat website as "The Returning Champion" -- MK's iconic four-time big hero is a surprisingly late entrant into the new game. He's looking much healthier, though, after suffering a lethal broken neck in the opening scene from Deadly Alliance, before being resurrected as a zombie for Deception and Armageddon.

The time travel premise of Mortal Kombat means Liu Kang is, theoretically, in his element, enjoying the success that comes from entering and winning the Mortal Kombat tournament. There can be no guarantees, however, that Liu is still the chosen champion to represent the Shaolin order and all of humanity. A recently revealed blurb from the Official Mortal Kombat Strategy Guide gave us a strong indication that the existing canon could possibly expect some lasting changes.

Fortunately, much like his spinal column, Liu Kang's history remains in tact. The Official website offers a brief blurb alluding to his extensive training as a Shaolin fighting monk, including recognition from Raiden and his special training with Bo' Rai Cho.

Full Article:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

MKO: IGN: Inside the X-Ray Special Feature!

IGN have launched a special featurette taking players inside the practical and stylistic development of Mortal Kombat's exciting new special feature, X-Ray attacks!

The featurette includes sitdown talking heads from inside NetherRealm Studios, with first-hand discussion about the inspiration and intent behind the new attacks from Lead Designer, John Edwards; Director of Art, Steve Beran; and Art Designer, Carlos Pesina. They take us inside the development process, from conceptual stages, to the practicalities of CG model building, motion capture, animation, and the finished product.

Amongst the bone breaking, internal organ bursting mayhem are glimpses of various characters confirmed, but yet to be seen: CG resources reveal skeletal components for Baraka and Goro, the latter seen administering his X-Ray special along with previous confirmation, Ermac, in a previously unseen stage. Also seen for the first time in 2011 form, Mortal Kombat's traditional champion, Liu Kang. Appearing as a victim in some sequences, MK3 alumnist, Stryker. Also glimpsed by eagle-eyed viewers, Jade!

Full Article:

MKO: Official UK Xbox Magazine Preview and Pictures

January 26, 2011 -- The Official UK Xbox Magazine has a brand new Mortal Kombat preview online, featuring six unseen screenshots that show-off both fighters' dynamic move stances, as well as the material repercussions delt to their state of dress!

The preview, free to read at, makes cultural note of some of the proportionate peculiarities of of MK's fighting femme fatales, but is mostly generous in it's assessment of the series' latest installment. Of particular interest, the specials bar that controls players' access to upgraded special moves, combo breakers, and the already trademark X-Ray attacks, which show more complexity than a mere brute force body blow.

More interesting is what happens at the second stage. Hit the trigger at that point while you're being wailed on and you'll be able to stop any offensive combination dead. Given that the combo system is more accessible and flexible than it was in previous games, this is likely to come in handy.

Finally, once it's topped up, you get access to those miniature fatalities that are the X-Ray moves. While they won't finish your opponent off, they're satisfying, showstopper attacks that look like they cause genuine, medically accurate harm.

They're by no means an instant win button, though. X-Ray moves come in different flavours. Some must be pulled off while in close proximity to your opponent while others, such as Sektor's rocket attack, are projectiles that can connect from a distance.

Full Article:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MKO: Official Mortal Kombat Strategy Guide Pre-Order Details

As reported in a previous story; gaming retailer GameStop have updated their listings to include the upcoming April 1st release of the Official Mortal Kombat Strategy Guide.

Available in two editions, the guide is published by Prima Games, a division of Random House known for the quality of their work on thousands of well known strategy books, including guides for many of the majority of previous MK titles.

You can currently pre-order standard and collector's editions of the guide through GameStop's online store, at a price of $19.99 and $29.99, respectively. Details about the contents of the guide, and what separates the two versions, remains largely unspecified. Descriptions for the game, however, do make interesting references to the nature of Mortal Kombat and it's plot, implying the canon of the games may be in store for some changes.

Full Article:

Monday, January 24, 2011

MKO: Mortal Kombat Digital Series Officially Announced

Warner Premiere has today issued an official press release to announce their upcoming ten episode, live-action digital series based on Mortal Kombat. A formality to confirm what was already widely reported January 15th; the release reiterates Kevin Tancharoen's role as director of the shorts, with filming set to start in Vancouver this February.

In reference to Tancharoen's work on the well known Mortal Kombat: Rebirth viral video [full story], the press release makes deliberate note of it's status as an "unofficial fan short." The ten episodes are also described as revealing unseen history regarding the characters fans "know and love", suggesting the digital series may have much closer ties to the video game canon than the urbanized versions seen in Rebirth.

Full Article:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 01/23

#1 Alberto Del Rio [+1] (4-1-0)
(WWE: Smackdown)

Last week, a gaffe in the system meant Alberto Del Rio was, at first, wrongly credited as the #1 ranking star. With no losses to weigh him down, Kofi Kingston was in actual fact our top ranking wrestler for Jan. 16! After suffering defeat at the hands of a Jack Swagger "amateur wrestling" challenge, however, the IC champ has made way for the only four-time victor in 2011! His name is Alberto Del Rio, but... you already knew that.

Del Rio continues to make a lot of noise about his intentions to win the Royal Rumble, which surely means he won't. It does seem all together too premature to expect an accolade of this statue -- which carries with it a main event championship match at Wrestlemania -- to be carried by a wrestler as new to WWE as Del Rio. That certainly won't diminish my enjoyment of his attempts to win, none the less. I would fully expect at least a final four berth in the Rumble, if nothing else. No mean feat when you consider that this will be the first time forty men contest the match!

#2 [+2] Robert Roode (3-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#3 [+2] James Storm (3-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#4 [+2] Randy Orton (3-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [+3] Chris Masters (3-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [-5] Kofi Kingston (3-1-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#7 [+2] Yoshi Tatsu (3-1-0) (WWE)
#8 [-5] Jeff Jarrett (2-0-1) (TNA)
#9 [-2] Matt Hardy (2-0-0) (TNA)
#10 [new] Natalya Neidhart (2-0-0) (WWE) [Divas Champion]

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (3-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [--] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#3 [--] Madison Rayne & Sarita (1-0-0) (TNA)
#4 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Eve Torres (1-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [--] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [--] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [--] Angelina Love & Winter (1-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#8 [--] Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy (1-0-0) (TNA)
#9 [--] Chris Masters & JTG (1-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [--] Yoshi Tatsu & David Hart Smith (1-0-0) (WWE)

Superstar Spotlight:
#NR Mason Ryan
(0-0-0) (WWE) [FCW Heavyweight Champion]

Standing 6'6" and weighing in at a billed 298lbs, you'd be forgiven for mistaking Mason Ryan for another well built 6'6" wrestler in the 290 weight class. There's no escaping that Mason Ryan bares an uncanny resemblance to the freakishly built Dave Batista, but there are a few key differences setting the two apart... Okay, there's one: he's Welsh.

We'll try not to hold that against him, however, as he embarks on a long anticipated career in WWE, called up from the FCW (Florida Championship Wrestling) developmental territory to become the newest member of CM Punk's (#30) "New Nexus" on this week's episode of RAW. Ryan -- who toured with Smackdown during their time in the UK and has appeared in dark matches -- made his debut in fine fashion, leaping from the crowd to dominate John Cena (#67) before receiving an armband from the new Nexus leader. He fills the void of departing members Justin Gabriel (#31) and Heath Slater (#NR), who've joined Smackdown as part of Wade Barrett's (#75) off-shoot group, The Corre.

With a physique that seems readily comparable to the recently departed Batista, it seems likely that Mason Ryan will have a similarly bright future ahead of him. While it's a shame to think that the Nexus now has only one original member, David Otunga (#NR), it's pleasing to see WWE be so active in their pursuit of new talent. Mason Ryan may have a while to go before he breaks off as a solo star, or has the legitimate skills to have reason to, but his arrival is part of an on-going refreshment that makes 2011 seem very promising.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

MKO: Mileena Gameplay Trailer

NetherRealm Studios have released the next in their line of official character gameplay montages, this time featuring the malicious moves of man-eater, Mileena!

To download the videos yourself, you can use these links:

Mileena's trademark sai weapons play a prominent role as a classic projectile, along with other favourite moves from previous appearances, her telerport kick, rolling thunder, and a smoothly integrated leaping bite, among the highlights. The video shows off the improved fluidity of Mortal Kombat's new fighting engine, boasting seamless tag team assists, as well as bone crushing X-Ray specials!

Also included: dialogue between Mileena and an unseen character, whose voice was previously attributed to MK3 alumnist, Stryker, in a series of leaked audio files. It remains unclear if this is part of a seemingly interactive pre-fight intro sequence, or a brief snippet of the games confirmed story mode, which will operate similarly to the mode seen in 2008's Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe.

More intriguing, perhaps, is the appearance of a new background character. Over the course of previews, Shao Kahn's Coliseum has played host to a small handful of chained women in reference to the Mortal Kombat II appearance of Sonya and Kano.

Full Article:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wrestling: Matt Hardy New 2011 Theme?!

... Because self-aggrandizing announcements about the silliest things just aren't helping. It's not fair, I can sympathize, but geez... Time to put up and shut up!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 01/16

#2 Alberto Del Rio [+3] (3-1-0)
(WWE: Smackdown)

I fully expected to have to defend the presence of Jeff Jarrett at the top of the Kayfabe Countdown rankings for at least a few weeks. He started the year with a triple threat week of matches, appearing twice on the first Impact of the year, and again on Pay-Per-View in a no contest pseudo-MMA encounter with Kurt Angle. Fortunately, I hadn't counted on WWE flexing the muscles of their vast network of programming hours to show a proper investment in Spanish Smackdown up-and-comer, Alberto Del Rio.

A legacy luchadore better known to Mexican fans as Dos Caras Jr; the now unmasked star was in the Kayfabe Countdown spotlight in 2010 [December 19]. Just a few weeks later, he's topping the countdown, fresh off an encounter on RAW with soon-to-be WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels. The sweet chin music finisher might have put a retiree on higher ground than a fresh face, but the honor of interrupting the Heartbreak Kid in his big moment is already being universally praised as the ultimate rub for a could-be future legend.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing for Del Rio. Plans for a feud with Christian were abruptly ended by a wrist injury, and last week on Smackdown, Del Rio's prolonged feud with babyface lucha, Rey Mysterio, was given 'final battle' billing despite a dubious countout victory in the third of a Best of Three falls. Not a terribly convincing way to end a feud, but I guess it's still a good win for a 2010 recruit some are billing as a legitimate contender for the upcoming Royal Rumble.

#1 [+2] Kofi Kingston (3-0-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#3 [-2] Jeff Jarrett (2-0-1) (TNA)
#4 [+2] Robert Roode (2-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [+2] James Storm (2-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#6 [+2] Randy Orton (2-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [new] Matt Hardy (2-0-0) (TNA)
#8 [new] Chris Masters (2-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [new] Yoshi Tatsu (2-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [-8] Ken Anderson (2-1-0) (TNA) [World Heavyweight Champion]

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (2-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [+1] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#3 [+1] Madison Rayne & Sarita (1-0-0) (TNA)
#4 [+1] Natalya Neidhart & Eve Torres (1-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [+1] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [new] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [new] Angelina Love & Winter (1-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#8 [new] Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy (1-0-0) (TNA)
#9 [new] Chris Masters & JTG (1-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] Yoshi Tatsu & David Hart Smith (1-0-0) (WWE)

Superstar Spotlight:
#67 Wade Barrett
(0-2-0) (WWE)

NXT Season One raised a lot of questions about the WWE's newest TV project; some good, some bad. It might have been argued that Bryan Danielson (#37) (WWE packaged as Daniel Bryan) was given the short end of the stick, but when you consider the explosive impact of the entire cast's assault on RAW, including the decimation of John Cena and the very ring he had occupied, I guess everyone came up trumps for at least a night.

The Nexus has been plagued with problems for the majority of it's duration. Danielson was briefly let go for an obscure no-choke rule on the soft core PG show, Skip Sheffield took an injury, and the group was booked weak before their time when push came to shove. If nothing else looked sure to come out of Nexus in the longterm, Wade Barrett was it.

As some cynics might've predicted back at the beginning, John Cena got the better of his rookie-turned-revolutionary nemesis, devastating him before the end of 2010 in a chair match Barrett won't want to remember any time soon. A legitimate injury suffered by John Cena during a cage match at a houseshow was ultimately a blessing for Barrett, offering some unlikely, but much needed credibility, even if it's slim pickings as an untelevised victory. However, desperately searching for a way forward, The Nexus have been given a lifeline in new management, CM Punk stepping in to the role after an unflattering week of absence from the decimated Barrett. Worse still; rather than tackle the situation head-on, it now seems Barrett has been shipped off to the internally perceived "B-Show," where he'll be invited to do it all over again with the aid of Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, and Ezekiel Jackson, on Smackdown.

Giving Barrett the chance to shine on a wrestling centric show has the potential to be another blessing in disguise, if it doesn't claim too many of the other stars on the show, ie; Countdown #1, Alberto Del Rio. Even so, I hope against hope that WWE are able to overcome their stubborn opposition to the idea of heels fighting heels, giving Barrett the chance to at least respond to CM Punk's subordination and his teammates' treason. It just doesn't seem fair to a character who put so much into the angle, carrying it at times with a charisma quite unlike his fellows'. Personally, I think it would make a fantastic Wrestlemania showdown, but before we start looking that far ahead, there's a Royal Rumble to consider. Neutral territory for opposing Nexus' to planet the seeds of a bigger feud in March? Fingers crossed!

Special Note: Last week's Kayfabe Countdown [January 9] required a correction to account for's failure to list a rematch between newly crowned Intercontinental Champion, Kofi Kingston (#2), and losing champ, Dolph Ziggler (#48). The double result is counted in last week's edited Countdown, and this week as well.

Additional: Last week's Kofi Kingston error has trickled into this week, creating another false result. Kofi Kingston is actually #1, Alberto Del Rio a close #2.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

MKO: Mortal Kombat Reborn as Ten Episode Web Series!

June last year, seven minutes and forty-nine seconds of video had the entire gaming internet and MK fan kommunity buzzing [full story]. Mortal Kombat: Rebirth was ultimately the work of Kevin Tancharoen: a director looking to develop a radical reimagining of the Mortal Kombat universe and its characters. To accompany this twisted new vision, noteworthy actors Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight, Black Dynamite, Spawn), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager, Boston Public, Shark), and Ian Anthoy Dale (The Event, Tekken) lent their time and talents to a modest cast of extras, in what was otherwise a very well produced, high budget demo reel for online consumption. Or so it seemed... is reporting that the video, witnessed by millions upon its release online, has earned Tancharoen the opportunity to produce an official series of ten short webisodes for Warner Brothers; current proprietors of the Mortal Kombat license and trademarks.

Full Article:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wrestling: WWE Needs New Stars

During the declining years of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock -- approximately the turn of the century -- an awareness was being reached by fans who recognised the inevitable need for new talent to fill the void of two of wrestling's biggest stars. This preoccupation turned into an obsession over the course of the decade, operating under the assumption that unsung old horses, like Undertaker and Kane, would not last long enough to fill the void of their late nineties superstar contemporaries.

The longevity of names like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and those already mentioned, has only fuelled the belief that WWE is in perpetual need of new stars. As the company enters into a record run based on title matches featuring either John Cena or Randy Orton, you can certainly make an argument against the tried and true model of holding one or two top stars on a pedestal. Then again, when you consider the relative youth of those two enduring names, it also becomes apparent that WWE has been creating plenty of new names to reign over it's roster.

As a general rule of thumb, superstars recruited into World Wrestling Entertainment generally have some experience in another company, or medium. In wrestling terms, they've "created" their fair share of new stars, even though many have gained noteriety before reaching WWE.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this is Kurt Angle, a wrestler who debuted in 1999, and quickly captured his first WWF Heavyweight Championship in October, 2000. Angle's star continued to rise after this, seeing him headline several Wrestlemanias in the canonization of one of the biggest names to develop in the post-Austin and Rock reign. He was, of course, already a noteworthy individual for winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 for greco-roman wrestling. He now wrestles for Total Non-Stop Action wrestling.

Of a similar pedigree is another one of WWE's most prominent alumnists, Brock Lesnar. Like Angle, he was a greco-roman "amateur" wrestler, with a similar pedigree to Angle, including a reign as NCAA Champion. Lesnar debuted in March of 2002, part of a manufactured creation process that led him to become the then-youngest WWE Champion in August of 2002, after defeating The Rock at Summerslam. Lesnar's fast-tracked rise through the ranks has seemingly left a legacy apparent in the elevation of wrestlers who've followed, but none can claim to have had Lesnar's impact. Before winning the belt, he entered into a submission victory over Hulk Hogan on Smackdown, defending his King of the Ring-won #1 contender status in what was billed as a match that would finally retire Hogan. This ultimately proved untrue, but painted a vivid picture, which included Lesnar's subsequent decimation of a 90s star, The Rock, after his brutalizing decimation of the 80s' biggest star. Lesnar is now a household name for his time with Ultimate Fighting Championship, where, until recently, he was the Heavyweight Champion.

John Cena and Randy Orton have remained fixtures of the WWE main event since their elevation to headlining status. Cena debuted in June of 2002, earning his first championship in 2005, after some close calls in '03. Orton debuted in April, 2002, and claimed his first WWE Championship in 2007, also after an extended association with big names. Mixed opinions about the legitimacy of their rise and reign at the top of WWE cards has ironically contributed to the perception that WWE continues to need to develop new stars. For all intents and purposes, they have been overlooked as being exactly that, even if by 2010, they have enjoyed a similar duration of success to Stone Cold Steve Austin, who gained noteriety in 1997, established himself a year later in 1998, and was ultimately phased out by 2003.

Sheamus reached the pinnacle of a relatively long career in the UK and Ireland, debuting on WWE's ECW show in June, 2009. He won the WWE Championship in December, marking the most recent rapid rise in the WWE ranks. He has been superceded as champ by The Miz, Mike Mizanin, a wrestler who gained exposure in 2001 as part of The Real World reality series, and subsequent shows. In 2004, Miz was a runner-up in the WWE Tough Enough talent search reality show, and returned to TV in 2006 as a full fledged member of the roster. He captured the WWE Championship in November, 2010, as a winner of the Money in the Bank shot.

Since 2000, WWE has also made a conceited effort to elevate stars of various statures into main event, title holding status. Chris Jericho led the way, earning the first ever Undisputed Championship at the end of 2001, lasting until the main event of 2002's Wrestlemania. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit are of a similar vintage, having earned dedicated followings for their World Championship Wrestling work, despite mixed recognition from the defunct company. Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Rey Mysterio are other names assimilated during the WCW/ECW buy-out, which were elevated to championship holding status over time. John Bradshaw Layfield, Jeff Hardy, Umaga, Hardcore Holly, and Mark Henry were among the internally elevated stars who previously occupied positions lower on the card. Edge was brought up the card and has won an absurd number of championships in a short span of time, solidifying himself as a headlining fixture.

Bobby Lashley, The Great Khali, Jack Swagger, and Batista are more names who were established in WWE over the last few years. Batista began his WWE career in 2002 as henchman to Reverand Devon Dudley, but went on to enjoy a successful career as a multi-time champion before his departure in 2010. CM Punk had gained noteriety in Ring of Honor, but joined WWE to soon earn two reigns as a champion, benefitting from the Money in the Bank gimmick.

Ultimately, what all of these names exhibit is the fact that WWE have made an effort to create, elevate, and recruit new stars. John Morrison, Wade Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio are among the current names sitting on the fringe of big things. Ultimately, what they and others suggest is that the complaint of many fans isn't about the creation of stars, but rather, the management of them. Names like Edge, John Cena, and Randy Orton have been elevated quickly and without the credibility of the predecessors, only to be rammed down the throats of fans who may or may not have accepted them. Conversely, names like Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Jeff Hardy, who solidifed a successful period earlier in the decade, have all been taken from the company due to one circumstance, or another.

MKO: Kitana and Mileena Renders and Music!

Introduced as pallette swaps in Mortal Kombat II, they've gone on to remain two of the most enduring female figures in the MK canon. Hot on the heels of the release of a character vignette and feature artwork, NetherRealm Studios have delivered yet another special treat for fans keen to get a closer look at Shao Kahn's sibling assassins, Mileena and Kitana!

The images, previously exclusive to magazine publications, reveal the new designs for each character in intimate detail. They reference earlier generations of the basic swimsuit, redesigned for this retelling of the story with a greater reflection of individuality in both. Fashionably fitting, given the fierce rivalry the two are famously known to have.

Kitana and Mileena will also have to fight over their dead pool playlist when WaterTower Music and Teenage Riot Records team-up to release, Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired by the Warriors!

Executive produced by JFK of MSTRKRFT; the album will feature tracks inspired by the characters of Mortal Kombat, including the theme performed by Tokimonsta in Mileena's vignette. The album is officially released in April around the same time as the game, but you can get an early taste of the action by visiting iTunes or Amazon to purchase Mileena's theme.

Mortal Kombat is the first release for NetherRealm Studios since the sale of Midway, and will be available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in standard and special editions.

Full Article:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Infinite Wars: Hulk vs Silver Surfer

Planet Hulk: Exile Part IV (Marvel)
The Incredible Hulk #95 When: July 2006
Why: Greg Pak How: Carlo Pagulayan

The Story So Far...
Approached by SHIELD to undertake a mission in space against a rogue satellite; Bruce Banner, as he so often has, attempted to turn his burdened curse into a force for good. As his alter-ego, Hulk, the conflicted hero learned of a plot to rid the Earth of his existence, hatched by Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, and Black Bolt -- members of the secret cabal of heroes known as The Illuminati. Having grappled with internal rogue elements as dangerous as the reality altering Scarlet Witch, they no longer saw a tennable solution for the Hulk's unpredictable and devastating rampages.

Ejected into outer space; Hulk attempted to free himself from The Illuminati's vessel with brute force. The assault knocked his ship from it's course to a remote, habital planet, instead sending the green goliath through a wormhole, which deployed him to a distant, savage planet called Sakaar.

Weakened by his intergalactic journey, Hulk is quickly sold into slavery on Sakaar, powerless to prevent his admission into the Empire's gladiatorial system held in the Great Arena. Inadvertently thrust into a group of surviving warriors, Hulk's powers begin to grow anew, posing a threat to the Emperor's rule as he aids his fellows in their battles. A win away from freedom, with the Emperor's blood on his mighty green hand, "The Green Scar" and his Warbound must now face the ultimate challenge. A warrior captured from the stars and forced to fight. A master of the power cosmic. A former ally to the Hulk himself -- The Silver Savage!

Full Article:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1UP: The Actual Decade Ends and I Give A Crap!

[Roughly] this time last year, I capped off a busy blogging epoch with thoughts about the then immediate gaming past, present, and future.

This somewhat incorrectly labelled "Decade-Ending Review to a Kill" was an informal discussion based on the topics and obssessions that fuelled much of my time on 1UP to that point. It was underscored by a general sense of skepticism that accompanied the assumptions of the current console generation. Having spent significantly less time blogging in the last six months, I don't have as many thematic throughlines as I did at the beginning of 2010, but I don't expect that will have changed my feelings a great deal...

One of the biggest differences between then and now is that I'm knee deep in relatively contemporary gaming. I've learned to stop worrying and love owning a current console myself, and it is good. Owning a console myself hasn't miraculously changed my perspective on gaming and life, but the timing for me was right. For the most part, I still like the same types of things, and still have the same prejudices, but at least now I can loathe the latest first-person shooter making waves, with a wireless control in my hand, and an active internet connection.

Full Article:

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Kayfabe Countdown - 01/09

#1 Jeff Jarrett [new]
(2-0-1) (TNA)

Jeff Jarrett was on to a pretty good thing in the last few months of 2010. I was fond enough of his shonky MMA master gimmick to make it the spotlight in a previous Countdown [November 28], but nothing kills a comedy gimmick about an incompetent heel, like this, than a premature burst of success.

Jarrett's place at the top of the Kayfabe Countdown comes thanks in no small part due to timing, but is no less insulting when you consider that his recent wins include a PPV job for Samoa Joe, and this weekend, a no contest against a Kurt Angle who should've been the one to avenge Joe's loss, if not for the logic of the feud and gimmick.

Needless to say, Jeff Jarrett is not a master of holds, or an MMA convert champion in waiting. He's just a guy who probably should've had the sense to go down on his back with this amusing heel run, rather than take a win from one of the hottest young guns in professional wrestling, or one of it's most accomplished. I'm disappointed by the course [TNA]'s taken, but for the time being, and perhaps a couple of weeks beyond, Jeff Jarrett is statistically the most successful wrestler of 2011. Which is all the Kayfabe Countdown is designed to acknowledge.

#2 [new] Ken Anderson (2-0-0) (TNA) [World Heavyweight Champion]
#3 [-2] Kofi Kingston (2-0-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#4 [new] Madison Rayne (2-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Champion]
#5 [new] Alberto Del Rio (2-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [new] Robert Roode (1-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#7 [new] James Storm (1-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#8 [-5] Randy Orton (1-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [-2] The Miz (1-0-0) (WWE) [WWE Champion]
#10 [new] Edge (1-0-0) (WWE) [World Heavyweight Champion]

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (1-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [+9] Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso (1-0-0) (WWE)
#3 [new] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#4 [new] Madison Rayne & Sarita (1-0-0) (TNA)
#5 [new] Natalya Neidhart & Eve Torres (1-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [new] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [new] Tyson Kidd & Ted Dibiase Jr (1-0-0) (WWE)
#8 [-5] Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin (1-1-0) (TNA)
#9 [-5] Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (0-1-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champions]
#10 [new] AJ Styles & Frankie Kazarian (0-1-0) (TNA)

Superstar Spotlight:
#19 Matt Hardy
(1-0-0) (TNA)

There are a few things that have made me sympathetic to the Matt Hardy cause over the years. For the most part, there's an argument to made about Matt's technical ability as a wrestler and the cognisance of his approach, versus brother Jeff's high flying acrobatics and natural charisma. Another sticking point is his much publicized 2005 split from Lita, which turned into an on-screen feud involving third-man, Edge, but ultimately failed to benefit Hardy in as significant a way as the cheating Edge, who arguably built his main event career atop the social faux pas.

I wouldn't say Matt Hardy has a claim to being a twelve-time champion in five years -- no one should be able to do that! I am, however, just a little sympathetic toward a guy who has otherwise done a lot of things right, and come off third, or fourth best, with his intestines exploding through the wall of his gut as a crescendo of bad juju.

After making himself look like a fool of significant size in the lead-up to, and aftermath, of his split from WWE; Matt Hardy has returned to the spotlight in TNA, defeating Rob Van Dam at Genesis. As sympathetic as I might have ever been toward Matt Hardy, I can't help but be very critical of this move. Not only is it another second-hand recruitment that does no favours for the already diminished "TNA Originals," it's a move that I don't think benefits Matt Hardy.

During Twitter tirades presumably designed to provoke a release from WWE, Hardy referenced a return to Ring of Honor, before speculating about joining his brother in TNA. For my money, if Matt was serious about getting back in shape and reinvigorating his brand, ROH was the far better choice for himself. In TNA, he immediately and deliberately steps back into the shadow of brother Jeff, joining a company already bloated with competing names. In ROH, he had the potential to focus on mat work, and create a context that shines a different light on him.

Maybe things will go well for Matt Hardy in TNA, but I've got my doubts. Conspiracy theorists might consider the possibility that the move is as much for Jeff as it is for Matt, given claims about Jeff Hardy's recent drug problems. Maybe Matt is supposed to put pressure on the excesses the now former-TNA World Heavyweight Champion may or may not have been indulging in. Or, failing that, Matt Hardy has just made another bad decision for himself. Right after hyping a silly haircut, no less. Groan.

Special Note: This is the first Kayfabe Countdown for 2011. It includes results from the TNA: Genesis Pay-Per-View event from January 9th. Win/loss statistics revert back to zero, but for the first week of results, wrestlers who earned equal ranking were arranged to reflect their order in the previous year. Champions continue to take precedent. At Genesis, Ken Anderson defeated Jeff Hardy for the World Heavyweight title; Abyss defeated Douglas Williams for the Television Championship; and Robert Roode and James Storm (Beer Money Inc) defeated Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns) for the Tag Team titles. Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental title on the January 7 airing of Smackdown. Ziggler became #1 contender for the World Heavyweight title, late in the night.

Additional: A correction has been made to the ranking after it was clarified that Kofi Kingston defeated Dolph Ziggler twice, on Smackdown. First for the Intercontinental Championship, and a second time in a rematch immediately following, as ordered by acting GM, Vickie Guerrero.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Infinite Wars: Superman vs Batman

"Who Would Win?" (DC)
Superman/Batman #78
When: January 2011
Why: Joe Kelly & Jack Kelly How: Ed Benes

The Story So Far...
Violence. The will to fight for survival.
It is a trait manifested in nature across almost every level of dominating species. For those who possess it, it is a skill measurable in the darkest aspects of social heirarchy, and equally revered in sport and entertainment. For many creatures who exist within universes, and beyond them, power over the physical is an attraction whose lure attracts great fascination and mathematical speculation.

In a world where superhumans bare symbols and insignia, the lines of conflict and sport can blur. Beyond the multiverse exists a place known as The Comic Book Fight Club, where the struggles of everyday super-beings are watched and analysed. Within the universe itself, similar beings do much the same, dwelling on the powers of their greatest champions, whilst pondering their farthest limitations.

On a planet known to some as "New Earth", two beings, children, Gus and Skyler, indulge in such speculation. Representing the heroes known as Superman and Batman, they pit the two titans' tested combat repertoires againt each other in a battle of wits and wherewithal. No killing, no mind control, no Bat-Mite, no Mr. Mxyzptlik, no magic. A scenario of irreconcilable difference and the will to answer one simple question: "Who Would Win?!"

Full Article: