Best Places To Live In Skyrim

(Originally Posted May 2018)

Over the past month or so there has been A LOT of wrestling, and as such, I haven’t had the time to write much gaming content, so I thought I’d get back into the groove of it by just writing a fun list based on a game I’ve been playing a hell of a lot of recently: Skyrim.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve not had access to my PC, so all of my gaming has been done on my Nintendo Switch. This was my first time playing it on the Nintendo Switch and more importantly, my first time in around 5 years  playing without mods; and I’ve got to say, this is probably the most fun I’ve had playing this game in a good few years.

But circling round to the topic at hand, as I’ve been traveling Skyrim, I always get very different vibes in each of the 9 cities in the game and it got me thinking, if I were a citizen of Skyrim, where would I most want to settle down? I’m not talking about the houses that are purchasable by the Dragonborn in-game, I just mean what city would I like to live in if I were a generic, nameless character in the world. So I’ve neatly ranked them all from worst to best for your reading pleasure.

9. Markarth

The beds….are made….of STONE. I have enough trouble sleeping as it is and you want me to rest my head on a bed made entirely of stone?! Not just the beds mind, but pretty much all of the furniture as well, it would be horrible. Not only that, but thanks to the Forsworn I’m at a high risk of being stabbed every time I leave the house and that’s not pleasant, trust me, I live in London. But that’s not all, with an extremely corrupt guard force, you could very well be arrested for no real reason and then be forced into slave labour in Cidhna Mine. So Markarth falls dead last.

8. Dawnstar

So at face value, Dawnstar seems like a pretty nice place. It’s got two mines and a port to help the local economy, a lovely climate for someone like me who hates the heat and even a museum, however, it does have a lot against it too. For example, every time I visit there in-game, without fail, a dragon will attack the city, and given that all of the houses are made from straw or wood, it’s not really a risk I’m willing to take. On top of that, everyone in the town suffers from constant nightmares thanks to a staff in the nearby tower, and as I said before, I have enough trouble sleeping as is.

7. Riften

Another city that seems quite pleasant at face value, but is quite the Skeever-hole upon further inspection. I complained a bit about corruption in my entry about Markarth, but that’s nothing in comparison to Riften. The entire city is essentially run by Maven Black-Briar, who bought her way to power, if you do anything to upset her then you lose everything, and I just know I would accidentally upset her somehow, considering I’m a klutz and she’s a rather uptight woman. Not only that but with the Thieves Guild running rampant, I’d never be able to go anywhere without being in constant fear of being mugged. If Markarth is London, then Riften is Birmingham, so no thank you.

6. Winterhold

Winterhold is a town of two faces, if you’re a mage, then it seems like it would be quite a nice place. You get a really nice looking hall to live in with your own bed and a place specifically designed for you to learn and hone your skills as a mage. If you’re not a mage however, then it’s just quite boring really. There’s a general store, an inn, and a single house, I just don’t know what I’d do with myself all day, not to mention half the city’s already collapsed once, how can I be sure it’s not going to happen again? Really just a boring place, that I would avoid if I could.

5. Morthal

Morthal is a weird one, I’ve put it towards the middle of the list because, while I don’t really have anything bad to say about it, there’s also nothing particularly great about it either. Admittedly, I’m quite a fan of natural water, I think it has a beauty to it, and Morthal is almost entirely on water which is nice, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough for me to really want to live there. Not really much else to say here, Morthal’s quite nice, but there’s not really much to it.

4. Windhelm

Much like Winterhold, Windhelm is a city with two sides and, sadly, it depends on your race. If you’re a Nord, then you’ll be welcomed with open arms, you’ll have a full market with a friendly community and be able to rub shoulders with the richest Nords in Skyrim; sure there’s a small problem with a serial killer, but I’m sure that’ll blow over. However, if you are any other race whatsoever, then you’ll be confined to the slums, being forced to work as basically a slave for no money; not to mention, if you’re a Khajit or Argonian you won’t even be allowed in the city at all. So if you’re a Nord, this may be the best place for you, anyone else though, probably best to keep looking.

3. Falkreath

The thing about Falkreath, is that I always completely forget about it. I only ever go there to do that one Daedra quest, and then I never come back; and that seems like exactly the kind of place I’d like to live. I’d love to live in a quiet little town where you’ve just got a load of space to yourself, and there’s plenty of forest around the place to wander, it generally seems like quite a nice place. However, the size could also be considered a negative, as it doesn’t provide the same level of protection or resources that the bigger cities have, so it gets knocked down a few points, but other than that, lovely.

2. Solitude

Rather ironic that the most populated city in the whole of Skyrim is named “Solitude” isn’t it? Aside from that, Solitude generally seems like it’s quite a pleasant city, I’ve talked about security and protection a lot throughout this because in the lands of Skyrim, Dragon attacks and bandit raids seem rather frequent, and if I were living there I’d like to know I was safe, and where better than Solitude? It’s got city walls taller than the buildings, most of the buildings are made of stone, without having everything inside of it be stone as well. Not to mention it’s the home of the Imperial Legion and Castle Dour, so if we’re looking at safety alone, Solitude is the place to be.

The main downside to it, is that it seems you have to be quite rich in order to settle down there. Out of the purchasable houses in-game, Solitude’s Proudspire Manor is by far the most expensive, and I can only imagine the rest of the city has a rather similar economy, so while I’d love to live in Solitude, I’m not sure it would be a place I’d be able to make a decent living.

1. Whiterun

There’s just so much life to this city, you’ve got the Plains District, where there’s almost anything you could want to buy for life in the city, and it’s always bustling with a (mostly) friendly community. Then there’s the Wind District where most of the citizens of Whiterun live, along with the Gildergreen and a lovely plaza to take a seat and chat with the locals; and then of course there’s Jorrvaskr, home to the Companions, who would be willing to take care of any problems you had for a bit of gold. Finally there’s the Cloud District (which you don’t get to very often) that houses Dragonsreach, the Jarl’s palace, and while I can’t see why I’d have much reason to go up there as a regular citizen, it makes for quite the impressive view as you leave your house each morning.

As great as Whiterun is though, it’s not without its negatives, since it’s pretty much slap-bang in the middle of Skyrim, it’s a key city in the civil war, and both sides want very much to control it. However, regardless of who’s running it, the city itself remains largely unchanged, so I can’t see how it would affect me in my day-to-day life.

So overall, Whiterun just seems like the most pleasant and most affordable place to live in Skyrim, and that is where I would try to set myself up, where I a citizen of Skyrim.

Well there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this fun style of list, I’m going to try to do more articles like this in the future, but make sure to check back soon as I’m working on a new type of article to write for the blog!

As always please share this around, and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo, and I’ll see you soon!

 

WWE Backlash 2018 Predictions

(Originally Posted May 2018)

Well, we got a whole 9 days rest, but it’s time for another WWE Pay-Per-View. Thanks to the single week of proper build, this doesn’t feel like that important of a show, but looking at the card it could have some pretty good matches; however that doesn’t stop it feeling like it’s mostly setup for Money in the Bank next month.

Still, let’s arbitrarily speculate over what we think is going to happen at the show.

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

The problem with meaningless matches like this on PPV’s is that it’s always so difficult to predict a winner, because ultimately it doesn’t matter. We make up a scenario that justifies whatever pick we make, but in actuality the exact opposite is just as likely to happen.

As such I’ve gone back on forth on this one a lot. On it’s surface it seems like a no-brainer, but Owens & Zayn are new arrivals on Raw and they’ve been getting their arses kicked week after week on TV. So I think Owens & Zayn are going to pick up a win here, there’s no way it’ll be clean, my money’s on a count-out of some description, but somehow, they’ll walk away with the victory.

Jeff Hardy(c) vs Randy Orton
(United States Championship)

This has gotta be Hardy right? No-one wants to see Orton hold that title again, not even Orton because he’d have to be on TV every week. You’ve got Shelton Benjamin waiting in the wings to pounce the winner anyway, and Hardy vs Benjamin should be a great match – if a little 2007 for my tastes. I don’t really have much else to say here, any feud where Randy Orton is the focal point isn’t really worth talking about, so Hardy wins and onto the next one.

Nia Jax(c) vs Alexa Bliss
(Raw Women’s Championship)

This match is really nothing more than a formality, they’re having this rematch because that’s what logic dictates they do. I don’t really see anything interesting coming out of this and there’s no way Nia Jax is losing that title this soon. Maybe we’ll see her next challenger appear at the end of the match but I doubt it, we just need to get this out of the way so we can see what’s next.

Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass

I like how this entire feud is about Bryan being small, yet on that graphic, they’ve made him seem taller than Cass. Bad Photoshopping aside, I really don’t see Cass winning this one, this is Bryan’s first single feud since returning and Cass already got his ‘win’ over Bryan be eliminating him from the Greatest Royal Rumble match. I think Bryan will probably go on to be in Money in the Bank, and Cass will go on to beat up someone lower down the card, maybe even stick his head in the US title scene. Either way, I’m picking Daniel Bryan to win this one.

Carmella(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This is an interesting case, because I think we all know how it’s going to go down, yet I still think it has the potential to be interesting. As for what is definitely going to happen, Carmella is going to retain, and it’s going to be via some form of dirty finish, probably involving The Iconics.

However, I don’t really know what the match up until that point is going to be like, Carmella is by no means one of the best women’s wrestlers, but she’s certainly not bad, and Charlotte can easily work with her to make the match a fun watch. I just think it’s more down to how heavily they want to go in on Carmella having to use cheap tactics to win. But, be it a win, or cheap loss, Carmella is leaving Backlash with that title.

Seth Rollins(c) vs The Miz
(Intercontinental Championship)

Another formality that it just feels like we need to get out of the way here. There’s no way that IC title is going over to Smackdown, so as a result I’m entirely confident Seth Rollins is winning the match. I think Miz is going to go back to how he was wrestling about a year ago in this one, wrestling safe and taking a few choice shots here and there to try and pick up the win, and when you combine that with Seth’s fast paced, babyface offense we could see a really entertaining match come out of it.

We also have to consider what the Miztourage are going to do here, because they’ve been trying to buddy up to Seth and Finn these past few weeks, but they might still try to help Miz. What I think would be quite funny is if they try to help Seth, but keep screwing it up and Seth ends up having to work around their incompetence. Regardless, Seth is walking away with that title still over his shoulder.

Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe

This one is quite a tricky one to call in my mind, because both men really need to win here. Reigns has just come off losing to Lesnar twice (even if he didn’t technically lose the second one) and needs to start picking up some wins before they face off again; while Joe inserted himself into Smackdown’s main event scene on Tuesday and needs to win here and legitimize his claim.

It’s so weird what Reigns losing at Mania has done isn’t it? If Reigns had won at Mania, this would be a no-brainer, and yet he lost and it’s cast doubt on every big match he’s had since. Ultimately, I think Joe can lose here and still insert himself in the main event for Money in the Bank, and Reigns can’t afford to start losing to everyone, so I’m going to say Roman Reigns picks up the win here.

AJ Styles(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
(No Disqualification, WWE Championship)

In my review of the Greatest Royal Rumble, I talked about how each match these two have will to build on the last, until we get that 5 star match we’ve all been hoping for, however just a week later, I’m not so sure that is the case. This doesn’t feel like the blow off to their feud, but at the same time, I don’t think we’re going to get another singles match between them for at least a few months. As such, I’m starting to feel like it’s time to shit or get off the pot with these two, and while I think this’ll be the best match of the three, I don’t think it’ll be the big one we all want.

As for who’s going to win, they can’t just keep handing Nakamura losses can they? If he loses here, he sorta loses all claim at staying number 1 contender, so I think this’ll be the one where Shinsuke Nakamura finally picks up the title from Styles, leading to a triple threat at Money in the Bank, which includes Samoa Joe.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be good, but I’m not entirely hopeful.

And that’s everything! This show really could go either way in terms of quality, and I like to remain optimistic, but we’ll see. Either way, make sure you come back on Monday for my review of the show!

Please make sure you share this around and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo as I’ll probably be live tweeting the event! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

 

WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Review

(Originally Posted Apr 2018)

What an evening! This was quite the mixed bag of a show, and there’s a whole lot to unpack, so let’s not waste any time! Here is my match-by-match review of the Greatest Royal Rumble:

John Cena vs Triple H

This was a great match to open the show with if you ask me, as it really set the tone going forward; That tone being, a show more focused on having fun, than on progressing stories, and I think, for the most part, it was much better for it. If you imagine in your head what a modern Cena vs Triple H match would be, that’s exactly what this match was, nicely paced spots to get the crowd going followed by a whole bunch of finishers and kickouts, for John Cena to eventually get the win with two consecutive AA’s. Nice, simple, fun match to get things going.

Cedric Alexander vs Kalisto

This match followed pretty much the same formula as the previous one, only with a very different style of wrestling. My main problem with the cruiserweights, is on Pay-Per-Views, they don’t let them so cruiserweight matches, they just let them do cruiserweight spots. You watch any singles match on 205 Live in the past couple months and compare it to the PPV matches and you’ll see a whole world of difference between the style of matches. There was no reason for Cedric to spend 5 minutes working a hold to ground Kalisto, when Cedric is very much a high-flyer himself.

That said, there was also a lot to enjoy about this match, the cruiserweight spots they did are always fun, and when Kalisto has a good opponent to work he shines, the Spanish Fly from the top rope was especially fun, even if Kalisto did decide to do an extra flip once he landed. The finish was also great fun as Cedric Alexander countered the Salida-Del-Sol into the Lumbar Check to retain his title.

Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs The Bar

This match is a weird one for me, because I remember watching it, and enjoying it while it was going on, but thinking back to it now, I can’t remember a single thing that happened during it. Since rewatching it however, I’ve seen it was more of what we’ve come to expect from both these teams. The Bar are fantastically talented, and they’re going to thrive in the tag scene on Smackdown, but I’m mostly interested to see how this Matt & Bray thing reaches its final form, so to speak.

While I’ve been having fun watching it, there still feels like there’s a lack of cohesion between the two, Bray feels like he needs to adopt more of Matt’s tendencies in order to fit this gimmick; This is inherently a silly storyline and Bray still feels like he’s trying to be too serious. That said, now these two have the titles, they’re going to likely be getting a lot more development over the coming months and I look forward to seeing where this goes next.

Jeff Hardy vs Jinder Mahal

I mentioned in my predictions that, when Jinder is forced to work a faster pace, he can put on a decent match, and I think we saw that here. Jeff Hardy could easily wrestle circles around Jinder, but he did a very good job of keeping up to make a very enjoyable, if inconsequential, match.

It wasn’t all good however, the weirdest botch of the night in my opinion happened in this match when:

– Jeff goes to the top rope for Whisper in the Wind

– Jinder, with no sense of urgency, gets up and walks off

– Jeff pauses, looks back, sees that Jinder isn’t there anymore

– Does the flip onto nothing anyway

– At which point Jinder walks up to Jeff AND JUST FALLS OVER

I honestly can’t even work out what they were trying to achieve, but I can safely say that, unless it was an attempt to confuse me, they very much failed at it. Luckily the match picked up again after that, for Jeff Hardy to win the match with a Swanton Bomb.

The Bludgeon Brothers vs The Usos

I think we all went into this not expecting much. As much as the build has been fantastic, the match at Wrestlemania was certainly nothing to shout about, and I was certainly expecting another glorified squash here. But to my surprise, these two teams put on a competitive and fast-paced match that was thoroughly enjoyable. The Usos were able to keep that feel that they were fighting against two horror movie villains, just desperately trying everything they could to keep them down, throwing out Superkicks and Splashes like they were nothing. It was all to no avail however, as The Bludgeon Brothers continue their dominance, and retain their titles.

Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz vs Samoa Joe

This match proved something quite crucial I feel, which is that ladder matches don’t just have to be about ladder spots. I mean don’t get me wrong there were plenty of ladder spots in this match, but it was all laced together with a healthy dose of pure wrestling and good story-telling aswell. The main story of this match being that Finn Balor just cannot catch a break.

There were so many points in the match were he had his fingertips on the title only for someone to knock him down, and make him start all over again. This was typified by the finish, in which Seth Rollins performed his second best heist of the century, leaping out of nowhere onto the ladder, yanking the title pretty much straight out of Balor’s hands and dropping to the floor, winning the match.

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura

So I, along with many others, was rather disappointed by the match these two put on earlier in the month at Wrestlemania, but after watching the past month of Smackdown and this match, I’m starting to understand the thought process behind it. This feud is one that is going to slowly build to its cresiendo over the course of several months, they’re going to have many matches, and each one is going to build on the last; and that is exactly what we saw the start of here.

Like I mentioned in my predictions, the change in dynamic really helped out this match, because this match felt a lot more like a fight than a wrestling contest. You can tell that AJ is – rightfully so – tired of Nakamura hitting him in the balls every week, and his anger was let out during this match, there were a lot of stiff shots and hard-hitting offense. While a double count-out finish is never the most exciting outcome, in this scenario it helped build this story, you saw it in AJ’s face, he doesn’t care about winning this match properly anymore, he just wants retribution for what Nakamura did to him. This thing is just going to keep building over the coming months, and when it finally blows off with that 6 star match we all know they can put on, every single step of this will all seem worth it.

The Undertaker vs Rusev

Well, this was certainly more of a match than I was expecting it to be. There was never any question as to the winner of this match, especially when you realise that the casket was actually too short to fit The Undertaker in it, but that’s beside the point. What was a surprise was just how much offence Rusev was able to get in on Taker, to actually make it seem like more of a balanced match. It did eventually end in the quick-fire greatest hits, and Aiden English fully bouncing on his head off of a Tombstone Piledriver, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what everyone wants from an Undertaker match.

Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns

Honestly, who gives a fuck at this point?

This match, was exactly what you were expecting it to be, and that’s it. There was no wrestling at all, both men just spammed their signature moves until it ended, and none of it had any drama or made any sense. We know that neither man is getting pinned 5 minutes into this match, no matter how many F-5’s or Spears they’ve taken. And then there was the finish…Jesus Christ, I’ll admit, the visual of Roman spearing Brock through the cage wall looked cool, but it made no sense.

They always make such a point of saying BOTH FEET have to hit the floor to win, but despite the fact, that no part of Brock’s body hit the floor, and Reigns rolled straight onto it Brock Lesnar was declared the winner. I understand them not wanting Roman to win the title in such an underwhelming fashion, but surely they could’ve come up with a way to do it that actually made some modicum of sense within this non-sensical universe of pro-wrestling. I guess we gotta wait till Summerslam now…

50 Man Royal Rumble

So this match was a hell of a lot of fun, but it was also very long, so I’m not discussing it beat by beat like I did in January, I’m just going to talk about some of my personal highlights.

First up is Daniel Bryan, I had a hunch he might start the match off and he did, alongside Dolph Ziggler, and Jeez did he work his ass off, I did get scared ona couple occasions, like when he didn’t quite flip out of Kurt Angle’s suplex properly and nearly landed on his head; and also when he was anywhere near The Great Khali. However he also had a whole bunch of great spots, his chop battle with Roderick Strong was great, and left his chest looking like a tiger cub had just had a go at him, and near the end where he almost single handed eliminated Braun Strowman, only to unfortunately thrown out by Cass, but man, 1:16:05 is a hell of a long time to do anything, it’s amazing to think two months ago we all thought he would never wrestle again.

One thing that disappointed me, is that there weren’t as many big surprises as I would’ve liked, they unfortunately spoiled some of their big surprises, like Mysterio, Khali & Jericho by announcing them ahead of time; but there were still some good ones in there. I hate Hornswoggle, but it’s nice to see him I guess, and it looks like he’s somehow gotten even shorter than the last time we saw him, but other than that there was nothing really big, with the exception of Strong, the NXT entrants were quite underwhelming, it sorta needed someone like Velveteen Dream or even Aleister Black to make a big impact.

Back to the highlights….Titus O’Niel, I am so sorry, but you’ve just secured your legacy for all the wrong reasons. For anyone who somehow didn’t see it, first of all, watch it, as Titus runs down to the ring, he trips, falls and slides almost entirely underneath the ring. The commentary team lose it and just can’t stop laughing, and neither could I, and from how many times they played it, I think Vince loved it too, who else would show 4 replays from 2 different angles in slow motion? This is the man who says pushing someone into a pool is the funniest thing in the world to him after all.

Finally is of course Braun Strowman, this was the big win he’s deserved for over a year now. I don’t really know what they’re going to do with him after this – my guess would be a feud with Lashley – but this gave back all the momentum he’d lost since Elimination Chamber. Not only that, but he did it in spectacular fashion, eliminating a record 13 men on path to his victory.

Overall, this was a show that, I don’t think will be remembered for much in the long run, but I certainly had a lot of fun while I was watching it, and thinking back to it now, I have pretty positive feelings, so overall that’s a win for WWE.

That’s all for now! Backlash is painfully, only 8 days away now, and I will probably be doing predictions and a review for that too, so keep an eye on this space! Or follow me on Twitter for updates, @10ryawoo. Thank you very much for reading, and I’ll see you again soon.

 

WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Predictions

(Originally Posted Apr 2018)

Well, here we are again, another WWE Pay-Per-View has come around and we must arbitrarily predict who will win, and who won’t. I make it sound like a bore, but I actually have a lot of fun with these, and this is kind of a strange one; On the one hand it feels like an over-glorified house show, but on the other it feels like it could be an even more important PPV than Wrestlemania. So here are my predictions for the Greatest Royal Rumble:

Cedric Alexander(c) vs Kalisto               (Cruiserweight Championship)

This one is very much the least important match on the card, as much as I hate to say it. While I think story-wise it would’ve been more interesting for them to have Cedric vs Drew Gulak, I can understand why for this show, they’d much rather just have a showcase match with their top talents. So overall I think this match will be a very fun one to watch, but I don’t see any other outcome other than Cedric Alexander retaining his championship.

The Bludgeon Brothers(c) vs The Usos (Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

The build for this one has been excellent, the Bludgeon Brothers have been treated like horror movie monsters over the past month and watching the Usos play off them has been fantastic. Ultimately I hope this feud just builds and builds, I want the New Day and The Bar to get involved as the dynamic between all of them could make for extremely entertaining television. As for this match though, I think there’s no question The Bludgeon Brothers retain, they’ve done such a fantastic job building them up, there’s no way they’re going to tear that down now.

The Bar vs Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt                            (Raw Tag Team Championships)

Well this one feels very much like a formality doesn’t it? While I thought the whole Braun & Nicholas thing was super fun, it did kind of throw everything out of whack a bit. So now we’ve got another match were the outcome is pretty obvious, since I don’t see The Bar going back to Raw with the titles. However, I am very interested to see what Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt will do with the titles, so far there’s not been a whole lot other than Bray adopting Matt’s catchphrases, but I remain hopeful that once they have the titles, this could blossom and grow in all kinds of interesting directions.

Jeff Hardy(c) vs Jinder Mahal                                       (United States Championship)

Again, this is a match that just feels like another formality. Admittedly, I did consider for a while the possibility that Jinder could win back his belt, for either Joe or Miz to take the IC belt and the brands swap mid-card titles once again, but in the end I just decided that was artificially adding layers of complexity to something that doesn’t really need it. However, I still hold out hope that this will be a good match, Jinder can have entertaining matches when his opponent forces him to work a faster pace, and I think Jeff Hardy could get a lot of out Jinder, and ultimately retain his US Title.

Seth Rollins(c) vs Finn Balor vs The Miz vs Samoa Joe                                                                                           (Ladder Match, Intercontinental Championship)

Could no-one be bothered to badly Photoshop the belt onto Seth’s shoulders like they usually do? Seems kinda strange, but I digress. The problem with having Backlash be literally 9 days after this, is that they sometimes book themselves into a corner. So Seth vs Miz is already booked for Backlash so it really means that only one of them will win this match, and while it makes the most sense for Seth to hold onto the belt, they’re really trying to make Miz the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, and tieing the record for holding the belt with 9 would be a good way to achieve that. However, I’m going to go with the logic on this one and say Seth Rollins retains.

The Undertaker vs Rusev                                                   (Casket Match)

Undertaker.

Next.

John Cena vs Triple H

Oh hello 2006, I didn’t see you there.

I really have no idea what to make on this match, it exists purely to sell tickets and means nothing to anyone in the grand scheme of things and really…I think that’s a good thing. If this was bogged down by a story I think it would be really boring, but as it is, it’ll probably just be a really fun, house show style match. Ultimately I think John Cena will win, just because it’s the crowd pleasing option, and that is really what this show seems to be about.

AJ Styles(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura                               (WWE Championship)

So, I was rather underwhelmed by their Wrestlemania match, it felt like a pretty bog standard WWE style world title match; but now, I have a lot more faith in them to put on the match we were all hoping for at Mania. Heel Nakamura has been an absolute gem to watch and his new entrance theme is boss as fuck, and I’m hoping this shift in dynamic is exactly what’s needed to make this match something worth talking about. As for the result, I’m finding that one a bit tricky to call, because part of me says that they’re going to pull the trigger on the title change, but another part of me says, there’s gonna be a wonky finish only for the title to actually change hands at Backlash. However, I think I’m going to go with my first instance and say Shinsuke Nakamura finally picks up, his first world championship in the WWE.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Roman Reigns                                  (Steel Cage, Universal Championship)

In a move that no-one saw coming (and if you did see it coming, you’re a liar), Brock retained the Universal Championship at Wrestlemania, and at first it was very confusing. Then one night later, this match was announced and suddenly it all made sense, they were saving Roman’s coronation for this big event, at a crowd that’s much more likely to cheer him. So yes, I do think Roman Reigns, is going to pick up the title here. I’m not sure what kind of match we’ll get, as we’ve seen both great and horrible from them; and I don’t know if the steel cage will help or hinder the match, as it’s done both in the past. I also don’t know what’s gonna happen with Brock after this, some sources claim he’s out the door, other sources claim those reports are false, so it’s all up in the air. Which, who knows, might make for an interesting time….probably not though.

50 Man Royal Rumble

And now, for this entire show’s namesake, the “Greatest Royal Rumble” which in reality is just the longest Royal Rumble, where the winner gets….a trophy? I mean I can almost guarantee you that the winner will claim a world title shot anyway, but it’s really not been made clear what the point of it all is. Either way, I think there are two men who have a shot at winning this thing, and here they are:

First up is Braun Strowman, everyone (myself included) loves Braun, and they can’t keep him down from the world title forever, not only would this be a huge thing for him to hang his hat on, I also think rekindling his program with Reigns would be a great way to kick off Reigns’ title run. Other than that, I just think it would get a huge crowd reaction, but not as big as…

Daniel Bryan, this is the man my money’s on to win this thing. I’ll admit, from a story perspective, there’s not really a whole lot of reasoning to it, but if you’re looking for the biggest crowd reaction to the winner of this match, then Daniel Bryan is your man, the place would explode if he won it. Plus, look me in the eyes and tell me you would want to see a Bryan vs Nakamura feud.

So that’s it! That is all of the matches predicted! In a weird way, I’m really looking forward to this show, even though I don’t think it’ll be super memorable in the long run, but hey, who doesn’t love a Royal Rumble.

Be sure to share this around wherever you can, and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo, where I’m likely to be live tweeting the show! I’ll see you later in the week for my recap of the show!

 

The Best Sonic the Hedgehog Zones

(Originally Posted Apr 2018)

So sometimes I get a craving to go back and play through games again. I tend to play through at least one of the old Assassin’s Creed games once a year, and Skyrim is a game I will always go back to. Anyway, the most recent of these cravings was Sonic the Hedgehog, so I went back and played through all of the original 3 followed by Mania, and it got me thinking, what do I consider to be the best zones in Sonic the Hedgehog? Here were the eight I came up with:

Studiopolis Zone (Sonic Mania)

So, Sonic Mania is perhaps my favourite Sonic game, all of the redesigns of the old levels were fantastically done, but I think the originally designed levels are where the game really shines and Studiopolis Zone is where this is most prominent. Everything about it just screams innovation, you will constantly be coming across new mechanics and gimmicks all the way through the level, and they really managed to capture the feel of what I imagine a Hollywood style studio would be like on Mobius.

From the music counting down to “action”, the giant popcorn and bingo machines, the whole zone feels like the set of some elaborate game show set up by Dr Robotnik. This stage really nailed the feeling of what a “modern-classic” Sonic level should be and if the team that made Sonic Mania went on to make their own fully original game, this is what I’d want to see more of.

Rooftop Run (Sonic Unleashed)

THIS is what a good 3D Sonic level should be. The entire level is a non-stop blitz across the rooftops of Spagonia and it is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a 3D Sonic level in a long time. It has just enough to think about so you don’t feel like you’re just holding the run button and waiting, but also doesn’t try to be so complex as to slow down the pace of the level, and it communicates all that to the player. With the narrow streets and the upbeat music, you know you’re in for a rollercoaster when you start this one up.

The rest of Sonic Unleashed may be a flaming pile of trash, but this shows the true potential of what a 3D Sonic Game can be.

Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)

What would a list of the best Sonic zones be without the original? This zone is one of the reasons Sonic became so popular, it captures exactly the essence of what the Sonic the Hedgehog gameplay is all about, momentum. All of the dips and loops at every point in the level are there to teach the player right from the outset how the core mechanics work and its able to do it all seamlessly to make a zone that’s still fast paced and great fun to run through; While it still keeps you on your toes with enemies and secrets hidden throughout.

This level is the basis for the design of every 2D level that came after it, and for that, it is truly one of the greats.

Sky Babylon Zone (Sonic Rush Adventure)

In my “Why am I a Gamer?” post, I talked very briefly about Sonic Rush Adventure on the Nintendo DS but I never talked much about why I liked it so much, and this level here I think is the best one to talk about why I like the game so much. When you think about it, a handheld console really seems like the perfect place for a 2D Sonic game, they have that kind of scale and innovation to them, and this level encapsulated exactly why they should’ve ran more with the DS in particular.

Unlike the other levels I’ve talked about so far, this one isn’t particularly fast paced, in fact it can be rather slow, but speed isn’t the point of this level, thinking is. If you rush in headstrong into Sky Babylon you’re going to get your arse handed to you and you’ll lose all your lives; you have to look before you leap. I’m usually not a big fan of Sonic games trying to buck the trend of the series (see Sonic ’06 and the night levels of Sonic Unleashed), but keeping it small-scale like this really helped it out, and with the release of the Nintendo Switch, I hope to see more levels like this in future Sonic games.

Ice Cap Zone (Sonic 3)

Ok so first thing’s first, listen to the soundtrack for this level, there are very credible rumours that Michael Jackson had a hand in creating Sonic 3’s soundtrack, and nowhere is that more obvious than here. Anyway, onto the actual level.

2D Sonic games tend to have two very different styles of levels. There are the fast paced sprinting levels (see Green Hill Zone) and then there are slower puzzley levels (see Labyrinth Zone), but this zone is able to blend both of those styles beautifully. It starts out with a fast snowboard ride down a snowy mountain before it throws you down into caves where careful platforming and interesting puzzle mechanics are the order of the day, before you escape into act 2 which is much faster paced and seemingly more free-flowing than the first.

The whole thing strings together beautifully to make one of the most overall well-formed zones in the history of the franchise.

City Escape (Sonic Adventure 2)

Sonic Adventure 2 is a game that hasn’t really aged very well if you ask me. I went back and played it recently, and it just felt so slow, and there are huge chunks of it which are just boring.

City Escape however, is none of those things. I can see why this was the opening level of the game as it leaves a great impression, with a deliciously early noughties soundtrack backing up this thrill ride through the streets of discount San Francisco.

Unlike most other levels it can be nicely split up into three distinct chunks, which are all enjoyable in their own way. First up is the skateboarding (sort of) down the streets of the city, this is a great way to open things up as it gets the pace going, it then reigns things in a bit with a more traditional platforming section before hitting you with That-Bit-With-The-Truck™ which is a great set-piece to end the opening level on that gets you amped up for the rest of the game.

Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2)

Whenever most people think of classic Sonic levels, this is one of the first ones that comes to mind, the level design throughout every section of this level is genius. It constantly changes up what kind of style you’re going to have to play, you could be running full speed down a slope one second before suddenly being thrown into a section of precise platforming and purple water of death.

This was the level that taught me to be cautious and not to trust the level I’m playing, this is very much a level where death is just one mistake away at all times, but I don’t feel like it’s unfair levels of difficulty, it’s just a bit contrarian. The entire franchise is built around going fast, but this level politely asks you to slow down for a change, then when you ignore it, it slams it’s fist down on the table and beats you down until you start to listen.

The redux of the level in Sonic Mania was even better and the use of the new mechanics was fantastic, it was able to recapture that feeling of always keeping me on my toes and fearing what’s just behind the loop as I barrel through it at the speed of sound. Also the music, good god that music is wonderful.

Flying Battery Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)

I adore this level so much. That feeling of being kept on your toes and not knowing what round the next corner (figuratively) really is at its peak here. The level feels like a maze, but you’re never lost or confused, you’re always able to keep moving forwards and make progress.

It’s such a deep level too, between Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic Mania I’ve played through this level many times, but as recently as my latest playthrough, I’ve found new sections in the level and new paths to take. It’s a level that I always have fun exploring, even when it’s parts of the level I’ve already been through.

The best Sonic levels for me are the ones that I’m always excited to play, and when the first note of this level’s soundtrack kicks off, I always get hyped up to play what is easily my favourite stage in all of Sonic the Hedgehog.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for reading, if you want more of my ramblings make sure to check out my other articles and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo. Also don’t forget to share this around as I’d love to get as many eyes on it as possible.

I’ll be posting a few more articles as we gear up into Wrestlemania season, and I have a couple more gaming articles in mind for the coming weeks, so watch this space! See you soon!