Pokémon has been celebrating its 20th anniversary in style all year long. New fan or old, casual trainer or competitive, gamer or trading card player, there has been something for everyone to enjoy with #Pokemon20. We’ve seen the launch of Pokémon GO, monthly in-game Pokémon downloads, a new ad campaign, themed TCG sets, the rerelease of Red, Blue and Yellow on 3DS, Pokémon Sun and Moon coming out later this month, and more. One of the best surprises of #Pokemon20, however, has been the short animé series, Pokémon Generations.
Generations was first announced on September 13, fairly late into the year. It was produced by OLM, the studio behind the main series. A total of 18 episodes will air on the official Pokémon YouTube channel each Friday from September 16 to December 23. Episodes are 3-5 minutes long, and focus on memorable scenes from the main Pokémon games. A total of 11 episodes have aired thus far, and have spanned the first four generations.
The announcement sparked the excitement of many fans. The official Pokémon animé has been running since September 1998, and has primarily followed the adventures of Ash Ketchum. While the series has been enjoyed by thousands, many fans, especially older ones, are tired of Ash, and want a Pokémon animé with different main characters. We have occasionally seen spinoff miniseries doing exactly that, such as Pokémon Chronicles focusing on a variety of characters, the Mega Evolution Specials featuring Alain, and Pokémon Origins starring Red. Although short, these series are generally well-regarded by fans for their interesting characters, exciting battles, and colourful additions to the Pokémon lore.
Generations faces a real time constraint, having only a few minutes compared to the half-hour episodes of the other series. As a result, each episode focuses on specific characters during particular events. These vignettes were chosen not only based on their significant to the overall storyline, but also for how memorable they are to fans. Others yet added new elements into the lore entirely, such as Looker’s involvement in stopping Team Rocket in episodes 2 and 5.
Episodes use their time wisely, knowing just the right amount of story to tell while also making their characters compelling. Each episode throws us right into the action, allowing the audience to quickly bond with characters and experience the visceral emotions of the events as they do.
The animation here is clearly high-quality. While the main animé’s production value has improved over the years, Generations clearly has a higher budget due to its smaller number of episodes and significantly shorter run-time. This is most evident in scenes involving Pokémon, especially Pokémon battles.
The Pokémon feel most alive and active while engaged in combat. Their designs are wonderfully detailed and their attacks are beautifully rendered. Battles are, after all, the lifeblood of the franchise. Episode 9 featured the longest and probably most detailed battle thus far, and it even managed to showcase Deoxys’ transformations into its different forms.
That said, unlike in the main animé, Pokémon don’t always take central stage. Generations is about its human characters and their feelings, their goals, and their dreams as they deal with different situations. As a result, sometimes Pokémon are seen more as background elements. While this can feel jarring, as a Pokémon animé without Pokémon seems pointless, it often makes Pokémon feel like a more organic part of the world. Still, it would be nice to see more Pokémon, especially considering that, for example, episode 5 didn’t feature a single one.
A particular aspect that makes the miniseries feel more mature is that unlike the main series, the Pokémon in Generations don’t say their names. Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori revealed in a recent interview that Pokémon were likely originally designed to say their names in the animé to help viewers remember the different Pokémon. Thankfully, the Pokémon here grunt and roar the way real animals do, giving them a more realistic feel.
Another nice addition is that some dialogue is lifted directly from the video games. This was especially prominent in the Elite Four battles in episode 3, where each character would say some of their lines from Pokémon Red and Blue. While this was a little unnatural at times, it was a lovely touch that only a select few viewers would pick up on.
One weakness of Generations, however, is the cheesy script and delivery. Generations certainly showcased epic moments deserving of grandiosity, but without the right tone, the impact of those moments is lost. Pokémon animé has never been known for its subtlety, but some of the dubbing is far too unnatural, and the delivery too overblown. The best examples of this include the Elite Four’s discussion at the beginning of episode 3, and the admins of Teams Magma and Aqua interacting with their bosses in episodes 7 and 8, which all feature stilted, unnatural dialogue that is completely over-acted. The effect of this is that instead of feeling dramatic and intense, these moments come across as cheesy and overly cartoonish.
The lack of battles has also been disappointing. We have mostly seen small snippets of clashes between Pokémon rather than full battles. Part of this is simply that battles require more resources to render, with the amount of action and detail resulting in greater cost. This fact, along with the short run-times, explains why battling was cut down.
Another weakness is the series’ female characters. The Pokémon world has a colourful cast of characters, however, thus far episodes have mostly focused on male characters. Since the second generation of Pokémon games, players have had a choice between playing as a male or female protagonist. Unfortunately, of the three game protagonists we have seen, all of which were non-speaking roles where the character’s face was not shown, none were women. Even background characters have mostly been male, with few speaking lines going to women. Thus far, four episodes did not include a single female character voice. Female representation only began to pick up at episode 7, and even this had its own issues.
Episode 7 focused on Courtney, a Team Magma admin with real conviction and loyalty. She clearly has her leader’s respect and is a force to be reckoned with, but she also has an unhealthy obsession with Maxie, she becomes mesmerized by flashing lights, and we don’t even see her battle. Additionally, after having her catastrophic vision, instead of having even a moment of introspection or character development, she becomes irrationally excited about battling. She acts like a stereotype of the “crazy girl” out of nowhere. It felt like she was written just to seem edgy.
Fortunately, this picked up afterwards, as episodes 8, 9 and 11 feature interesting and proactive female characters. Episode 10 even features a female protagonist, but she spends the entire episode looking completely helpless at the hands of the ghost haunting the Old Chateau (not to mention she was drawn to appear far more innocent and feminine compared to other female characters). Even Cynthia, a fan-favourite and one of the most powerful female trainers in the series, doesn’t do anything except show up in episode 11.
With seven episodes left of the miniseries, we can’t wait to see what stories will be told next. Thus far, each region in the Pokémon world has been featured in two or three episodes. While it is unlikely that any episodes will be dedicated to a side game, at least one episode will probably feature the new Alola region from Pokémon Sun and Moon.
Generations has been a fun treat for Pokémon fans, especially for those who want more from the main animé. Like Pokémon Origins, Generations feels like it was made for older fans, but anyone can enjoy its interesting characters, exciting battles, and wonderful stories. Here’s hoping we see more like it in the future!
Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Another Truly Great PPV
Worlds Collide as a brand has been subtly growing within WWE over the past year. The first edition happened on Royal Rumble weekend in 2019. It featured a 15 man tournament with stars from NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. The next round happened in New York over the 2019 WrestleMania weekend with matches pitting stars from all WWE shows against each other.
What happened on Saturday was the first Worlds Collide branded pay-per-view event. If you missed it, you missed out. It was amazing.
Build up started at NXT UK TakeOver: BlackPool II, when the Undisputed Era appeared and attacked Imperium as the show went off the air. Since then, matches have been booked that pitted some of the best talents both brands have against each other.
Kay Lee Ray vs Mia Yim
This match went down on the Worlds Collide pre-show but it was at main event quality.
NXT UK Women’s Champion faced off in a singles match against Yim, an incredible start to the rookie pay-per-view. Kay Lee Ray has proven herself to be an excellent heel champ while Yim is over with the fans.
While Yim lost, she looked great doing it. Ray cemented herself as a main event player in this match, as she always does. Yim is ready for the main event so it’s time to put her in the mix.
Finn Bálor vs Ilja Dragunov
For a lot of fans in the arena, Worlds Collide was their first introduction to Ilja Dragunov and they weren’t sure how to feel about him. Unless you watch NXT UK a lot, you’re not going to know him. The crowd didn’t really respond when he came out.
They sure knew Finn Bálor, though.
Despite the fact that Bálor has gone full heel, fans have not given up cheering for him. They were firmly behind Bálor for the bulk of the match. But as it went on, they got a better look at Dragunov and starter showing him some love.
It was a solid opening match, but not a super memorable one. Dragunov was an odd choice to face Bálor given the depth of talent on NXT UK. Watching him face Joe Coffey would have been better. The crowd really only came alive when Bálor headed for the top rope and finished Dragunov off.
Fatal 4-Way For The NXT Cruiserweight Championship
Bringing the Cruiserweight Division closer to the overall NXT brand is a great decision. Showcasing this title match on Worlds Collide was an even better one. Jordan Devlin, Travis Banks, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott were all chasing Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
This was an absolutely incredible match featuring talent from all over the world. While everyone looked great, Travis Banks, in particular, showed why he belongs in the main event picture. That’s regardless of the brand he’s performing on.
Similarly, Swerve continues to build his personal brand. A championship run is inevitably in his future as every match he has is better than the last.
Ultimately, Jordan Devlin picked up the surprise, but well deserved, win and became the new champion. It was a surprise simply because Garza won the belt less than two months ago. Plus, no one expected the belt to go to the UK on Worlds Collide.
Still, Devlin will make a great champion. It will be interesting to see how that belt moving across an ocean will play out in the long term.
#DIY vs Moustache Mountain
There was no championship on the line. There was no bad blood between them. This was just two truly great tag teams going at it in a match that stole the show on Worlds Collide.
Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven and Tyler Bate are mainstays of the NXT UK. On NXT, the reunited members of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are core to the brand. Having these two teams face off was an incredibly meaningful moment.
The match was lighthearted at times, filled with moments that were genuinely funny. Once the match got rolling, each of the four superstars got to show why they are as respected as they are in the industry. They are truly four of the best in the business, in any company.
#DIY won but that almost didn’t matter. To borrow an apt cliche, those who watched were the true winners. After the match, the two teams shared an honest moment of sportsmanship, something fans rarely get to see in a wrestling ring.
Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm
Worlds Collide was the first challenge for the new NXT Champion, Rhea Ripley. She was the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion but lost the title to Toni Storm. Ripley never had a rematch before moving to NXT.
During her NXT UK tenure, Ripley only lost two singles matches, one of which cost her a championship. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to redeem that by successfully defending her new championship from Storm, which she did.
The match was well executed but not particularly engaging. Storm got the title shot by asking for it, and without having to earn it through competition. There wasn’t really enough build-up to it to hook the audience in fully.
Fortunately, both wrestlers are great enough at what they do to sell anything in the ring.
Undisputed Era vs Imperium
NXT and NXT UK both have dominant four-man factions who have devastated the competition. It only makes sense to have them face off on Worlds Collide.
While the Walter-led Imperium is always looking to rule the ring, Undisputed Era was hungrier for the win. Keith Lee broke the UE prophecy when he took Roderick Strong’s North American Championship in an epic match the Wednesday before the pay-per-view.
But early in the match, Imperium found themselves a man down when Alexander Wolfe was legit knocked out. He took a rough shot from Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. The ref stopped the match and the doctors took him to the back. Wolfe never returned to the match.
This left Imperium with a four to three disadvantage, which made their win even more impressive. Everyone looked great, but Walter stole the match as always. He brutalized everyone he was in the ring with and fans were firmly behind him. WWE would be well advised to make good use of him going forward. The man is a star!
After the pay-per-view was over, Triple H confirmed Wolfe’s injury but not the severity of it. Wolfe tweeted that he was fine, thanking the ref and medical staff for taking care of him. Hopefully, it’s nothing that will keep him down for long.
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches
One Versus All
WrestleMania may be regarded as the Super Bowl of the WWE but of the other three major pay-per-view events, The Royal Rumble has often given us better matches over the years. Yes, the Survivor Series and King of the Ring have had their fair share of moments, but the Royal Rumble is without a doubt the second-biggest wrestling PPV on the planet.
What makes the Royal Rumble so exciting is how it sets up the most prominent storylines on the programming for the remainder of the year. The Royal Rumble is simply put, the start of playoff season and a steppingstone for WWE superstars to prepare for their big moment at WrestleMania. It really is a seminal event on the WWE calendar and has often launched the wrestlers to superstar’s status.
A Brief History of the Royal Rumble
Credit for the Royal Rumble can be given to Pat Patterson who came up with the original idea when brainstorming an event that would be bigger and better than the Battle Royale. The concept was simple really; unlike the Battle Royale which begins with all twenty participants in the ring, the Royal Rumble would instead start with only two superstars and have the remaining participants join the match every two minutes thereafter. And to up the ante, instead of having only twenty wrestlers, the Royal Rumble includes thirty superstars who battle it out for a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania (except for in 1992, when Ric Flair won the WWE Championship by winning the titular match ).
If you had to choose just one reason as to why the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events, it would be because you never really know what to expect. Aside from anticipating who’ll come out next during the main event— and guessing who will eliminate who— we’re also left wondering who’ll make a long-overdue comeback after being away from the WWE for months – sometimes years.
We’ve seen big men like Kane eliminate eleven opponents in a row, and a superstar like Shawn Michaels become the first wrestler to win the Rumble after entering first. We watched Undertaker get locked in a casket and set on fire and we witnessed The Rock and Mankind battle it out in an “I Quit” match that temporarily led to a power failure and left the entire arena in the dark. There’s just no shortage of over the top moments at the Royal Rumble such as Kofi Kingston’s creative ways to avoid elimination or the surprise entrance by AJ Styles. The Royal Rumble is where dreams are made, careers are ended, and over the years, fans have witnessed some of the most intense rivalries take shape at the event.
The Royal Rumble is without question, an important PPV and has been a part of a tradition dating all the way back to 1988. We’ve seen many of the most iconic wrestlers win the multi-man brawl, including Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Ric Flair (1992), Bret Hart (1994), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996) Steve Austin (1997, 1998, 2001), The Rock (2000), Triple H (2002), The Undertaker (2007), and John Cena (2008), to name a few. And we’ve seen plenty more superstars come close, but ultimately getting eliminated at the very last minute. Yes, it’s a simple concept but the Royal Rumble is also incredibly exciting to watch.
Apart from the titular main event, WWE’s annual January extravaganza has also given us some incredible matches in the undercard. From surprising sleeper hits to fast-paced tag team action to hardcore matches and strange gimmick matches— the Royal Rumble has time and time again, blessed wrestling fans with the perfect blend of great storytelling and in-ring action. As such, the event has given fans some classic matches over the years and many have stood the test of time.
Whether it’s the rumble itself or a high-tempo singles match, the list of great matches that took place during the Royal Rumble is rather long. Below is a list of the greatest Royal Rumble matches to date, with links to the full review of each match.
Simply click on the links below to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time.
- Ricky D
The 10 Greatest Royal Rumble Matches
1) Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
2) Royal Rumble 1992: The Royal Rumble Match
3) Royal Rumble 2000: The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)
4) Royal Rumble 2000: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight
5) Royal Rumble 2001: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Ladder Match)
6) Royal Rumble 1998: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (Casket Match)
7) Royal Rumble 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart
8) Royal Rumble 2004: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
9) Royal Rumble 1999: The Rock vs.Mankind (“I Quit” Match)
10) Royal Rumble 1994: Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match)
Royal Rumble 2007: The Royal Rumble Match
Royal Rumble 2015: Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins
Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge
Royal Rumble 1991: Sgt. Slaughter vs. the Ultimate Warrior
Royal Rumble 1991: The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Diesel vs. Bret Hart
Royal Rumble 1995
“Big Daddy Cool” Diesel vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
World Wrestling Federation Championship
The 1995 Royal Rumble was the eighth installment of the annual pay-per-view. It took place on January 22, in the USF Sun Dome located in Tampa, Florida and is remembered most for two things: Pamela Anderson’s one and only appearance in the WWE ring and Shawn Michaels becoming the first wrestler to win the Royal Rumble after entering first. But aside from that the iconic, game-changing ending in which Shawn Michaels dangled on the ropes, barely hanging on, before pulling himself over and eliminating the British Bulldog— there was another great match that is often overlooked.
It was the first WWE Championship defense of Diesel and it came against the face of the company, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart.
The storyline behind the WWF World Heavyweight Championship match began in 1994, when Bob Backlund with the help of Owen Hart, beat Bret Hart for the championship at Survivor Series. Three days later, Bob Backlund was scheduled to defend the title against Bret Hart at Madison Square Garden only on the eleventh-hour, Hart was replaced by Diesel. Despite spending most of the evening protesting the last-minute change in the card, Backlund was forced to square off against Big Daddy Cool who defeated Backlund in a nine-second match to win the World Title.
With Bret Hart looking to recapture the title, a match with Diesel was then scheduled at the Royal Rumble. It was a rare instance of two babyfaces assigned to compete against each other with the audience having to choose sides.
Unfortunately, the match ended in controversial fashion, but not without its share of drama and plenty of highlights.
Diesel’s match with Bret Hart was a pivotal moment in his career. Not only was it the first time he had to defend the WWE Title on a PPV, but for someone who was often criticized as being over-rated, this match proved that with the right competition, Diesel could put on a great match while also telling a great story.
It was a face vs. face, but Hart played the de facto heel for much of the match, going so far as slamming a chair on Diesel’s back and taking advantage of his injured knee by applying the figure-four leglock twice. The match itself lasted a good 28 minutes with plenty of finishers including Diesel’s Jackknife powerbomb and of course, Bret Hart’s signature Sharpshooter. It was physical; it was exciting, and it was an example of great storytelling thanks to the ongoing interference.
First, Shawn Michaels came out and attacked Diesel. After being thrown out of the ring, fans anticipated the referee would disqualify Bret Hart and end the match — only instead, the ref ordered it to continue. After a back and forth brawl, Hart hit the Sharpshooter on Diesel’s injured leg but before Big Daddy Cool could tap out, Owen Hart ran in and attacked Bret from behind. And just like before, the referee cleared Owen out of the ring and ordered that the match continue, causing the fans in the arena to explode in cheers.
While the match isn’t as notable as the Survivor Series fight between Diesel and Bret Hart, it’s still a genuine classic and one of the best matches of Kevin Nash’s career. With the help of Bret Hart, Kevin Nash had risen again and delivered a performance for the ages.
The match, however, would end in disappointing fashion. After the referee was knocked unconscious, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, The Roadie, Owen Hart and Bob Backlund all came out to attack Bret Hart and Diesel. Realizing he had lost full control of the match and could no longer officiate due to the constant interference; the referee officially ended the match and rang the bell. In the end, it was ruled a draw and Diesel retained his championship.
Despite the interference, the match itself lasted a good half hour and featured two stellar performances by Bret Hart and yes, Kevin Nash. It was just another example of how with the right opponent, Kevin Nash could really work the ring and whatever mistakes and turmoil led Kevin Nash to the WCW, whatever demons that plagued him – you can’t forget that at one point in time, the man was at the top of the WWE.
All in all, the Championship match was well choreographed; perfectly scripted and packed with non-stop action from beginning to end.
- Ricky D
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