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Trump's Election Day vaccine "miracle"

Welcome, dear readers, to my semi-regular coronavirus roundup.
Housekeeping:

EDIT: TRUMP ADMITTED TO KNOWING DANGER OF COVID WEEKS BEFORE ACTING

Bob Woodward's new book reveals that Trump was aware that the coronavirus was dangerous and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus" even as he publicly downplayed the threat and failed to act to save lives. (article now updated with audio of Trump's interview)
"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.
In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu.
Trump also admitted to intentionally downplaying the threat:
"I wanted to always play it down," Trump told Woodward on March 19, even as he had declared a national emergency over the virus days earlier. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

Election day vaccine

A group of nine leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies pledged on Tuesday to only seek approval for Covid-19 vaccines demonstrated to be safe and effective.
The pledge comes as Trump hypes the possibility of a vaccine before Election Day. His timeline has been pushed forward from “by the end of the year” to “before November 1st” and, most recently, “during the month of October.”
During his Labor Day press-briefing-turned-campaign-event, Trump said: "[It's] going to be done in a very short period of time -- could even have it during the month of October” (clip).
Trump went on to explicitly ties the vaccine to his re-election schedule: “We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about” (clip).
Despite saying the quiet part out loud himself, the president tried to cast Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the ones politicizing the vaccine process: “They’re going to make the vaccine into a negative… They’re saying ‘wow, Trump’s pulled this off, let’s disparage the vaccine.’ That’s so bad for this country, that’s so bad for the world to even say that and that’s what they’re saying” (clip). Unfortunately, many media outlets have portrayed the issue as a “both sides” argument.
Federal officials and health experts say Trump’s Election-oriented timeline is unlikely. NPR spoke with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the administration's vaccine development program, who said he expects to have "enough vaccine to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.”
Case in point, development on the vaccine Trump was rumored to be betting on, the AstraZeneca-Oxford project, was put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant.
But the point may not be to have a vaccine fully available to the public; Trump can simply claim the “deep state” is holding things up, blaming Biden/Harris for the pandemic under his watch. Furthermore, experts say there is no way our government and existing infrastructure will be ready to distribute, administer, and track doses by November. Health departments will also need an infusion of federal aid, a proposal that seems out of reach with a Republican-controlled Senate afraid to spend any more money during the pandemic.
...many health departments are so overwhelmed with the current costs of the pandemic — such as for testing and contact tracing — that they can’t reserve money for the vaccine work to come. Health departments will need to hire people to administer the vaccines and systems to track them, and pay for supplies such as protective medical masks, gowns and gloves, as well as warehouses and refrigerator space.

America alone

Meanwhile, the U.S. is backing down from the global fight against the pandemic, further enshrining Trump’s “America First” perspective into official policy. The Trump administration declined to join a global effort to develop, manufacture, and equitably distribute a coronavirus vaccine, in part because the World Health Organization is involved. U.S. allies including Japan, Germany, and the European Commission back the effort.
“The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China,” said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House.
  • Further reading: The Trump administration said it won't pay more than $60 million in dues it owes to the World Health Organization.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, in charge of distributing global assistance related to the pandemic, is shutting down its only pandemic-focused task force. Other agency bureaus and divisions will take on its functions.

Sturgis comes home

South Dakota (+120%), Iowa (+81%), and North Dakota (+66%) have seen the largest 2-week increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, compared to the two weeks before.
These three states were also the “epicenter” of the Sturgis motorcycle rally last month. The event packed nearly 500,000 people into a small town in South Dakota, with rallygoers attending from - and returning to - all around the country. Photos and reports from Sturgis documented a startling lack of face masks and social distancing precautions.
According to a new study, over 250,000 coronavirus cases can be contributed to the rally. Assuming a cost of $46,000/case, the authors estimated the rally cost $12.2 billion. “This is enough to have paid each of the estimated 462,182 rally attendees $26,553.64 not to attend,” they write.
SD, IA, and ND do not have statewide face mask mandates. In fact, the Dakotas are two of just five states that do not allow local officials to require masks (the others are ID, MO, and OK). Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has been told by the White House that the state’s outbreak is the steepest in the nation and urged officials to require mask-wearing statewide. Reynolds has yet to do so.

Alabama schools

Alabama has the fourth-most daily new cases per 100k people (after ND, SD, and IA) despite a statewide face mask order. The state has largely lifted all social distancing measures and has encouraged schools to reopen with in-person classes and sports. According to a NYT database, four-year universities in Alabama have over 4,000 coronavirus cases just weeks after opening.
The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa accounts for over 1,300 of the cases. Professors at the school were reportedly told by the administration not to talk about the outbreak - not even to inform students if someone in their class tests positive. The mayor of Tuscaloosa let bars near the university reopen on Tuesday.
  • Further reading: Alabama is starting to see a payoff from its mask mandate, in place since mid-July. New covid cases have been cut in half over the past month and coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals fell to the lowest level since June.
  • Remember the news articles praising Trump’s new “tone” on masks? During Monday’s press conference, Trump tried to bully a reporter into taking off his face mask when asking a question (clip). The reporter, Jeff Mason of Reuters, refused. Apparently, this annoyed Trump so much that he was still griping about it on Twitter Tuesday (clip).

Trump pushes for sports

After weeks of haranguing schools to bring back sports, Trump has reportedly offered Big Ten football teams access to the national government’s reserve of rapid COVID-19 tests.
The new, cheaper […] tests could be the key that unlocks the door back to the Horseshoe and stadiums around the conference. And the White House might be willing to assist in that effort by potentially designating part of its supply to the Big Ten after buying 150 million rapid tests last week from Abbott Laboratories.
The president is so attached to the idea of college football resuming that he is pushing the Big Ten conference to go ahead without the participation of three schools, blaming the governors of Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland for the conference’s vote to cancel.

Mitch plays games

The Republican-controlled Senate is planning on voting on a scaled-down coronavirus relief package as early as this week. The “skinny” bill is unlikely to become law as Democrats feel it does not adequately address the magnitude of the crisis the nation is facing. McConnell is hoping a Senate vote on coronavirus aid - any aid - will help vulnerable Republicans up for re-election.
The Republican bill is expected to include a federal unemployment benefit, another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, and more money for coronavirus testing and schools, as well as liability protections from lawsuits related to the virus. McConnell didn't release a price tag for the forthcoming bill, but it is expected to be at least $500 billion — half of the $1 trillion package Republicans previously unveiled in late July.
One of the reasons - perhaps the main reason - for the breakdown of relief bill negotiations may be new White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who served with Meadows on the Oversight Committee, told The Hill:
“Closing deals is not Mark Meadows’s strong suit. His whole track record is: blow it up… If you ask yourself what’s the difference between April and May, when we did reach big, broad bipartisan consensus, and today, the variable is Mark Meadows.”

Miscellaneous news

Lost in the Sauce was so long this week that I had to omit a couple of sections. I’ll include them here instead.
Immigration: Federal Judge Dolly Gee ordered DHS to cease using hotels as detention facilities for migrant children it seeks to expel from the border.
Gee said the use of hotels for detention purposes violates the Flores agreement because the locations lack sufficient oversight, state licenses to hold minors and standards for the care of young children. Minors have also faced a "woefully inadequate" process to seek the help of lawyers, who have been barred from entering the hotels, Gee added, citing declarations from attorneys who said they struggled to reach detained children.
  • Further reading: “Watchdog confirms botched family reunifications kept migrant children waiting in vans overnight,” NBC; “Trump nominee had role in removing prosecutor opposed to family separations,” Guardian
Immigration: The Trump administration has drafted a proposal that would dramatically expand the number of people required to provide biometrics for their immigration applications, while also increasing the personal information the government can demand, such as eye scans, voice prints, DNA, and photographs for facial recognition.
Immigration: The Border Patrol made a dramatized YouTube video depicting a Spanish-speaking attacker stabbing and killing a man in a dark alley after escaping from U.S. agents - “a clip apparently created to dramatize President Trump’s depiction of migrants as fearsome criminals.” The agency removed the video following backlash.
Environment: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration opened an inquiry earlier this year into whether Trump political appointees illegally weakened rules meant to protect whales from oil industry seismic airgun blasting. Then, just as quietly, it halted the probe.
Environment: The Trump administration proposed a rule change that would make it easier to permit oil and gas drilling operations in national forests. The move comes as a watchdog report reveals the oil and gas industry has been allowed to pay far less than usual to the government for the right to drill on public lands under a controversial Trump administration coronavirus relief policy. Furthermore, the administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic, including oil and gas drilling, hazardous fuel pipelines, wind farms, and highway projects in multiple states.
Environment: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal that would allow the government to deny habitat protections for endangered animals and plants in areas that would see greater economic benefits from being developed — a change critics said could open lands to more energy development and other activities.
World: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against two International Criminal Court officials -- the Trump administration's most aggressive move yet to try to deter an ICC investigation into possible war crimes by US military and intelligence officials.
World: How Donald Trump took down the Robert Mueller of Latin America: At the center of the story is an alleged quid pro quo between Donald Trump and Jimmy Morales, a former television comedian who was elected president of Guatemala.
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Jul/3/2020 News: (1) Anti-corruption reform (2) Polls (3) Stray dogs (4) Constitutional Court (5) Corruption trial (6) COVID news, Loan vacations, Grandma's phone (7) Real estate (8) Beeline ISP (9) This lake belongs to me (10) Soccer league LOL (11) Mayors busted (12) Yerevan's $10mln garden (13)..

Anti-corruption background checks begin for public officials

The govt passed a law to require judges and officials to undergo "background checks" before being hired.
 
Additionally, asset forfeiture law was passed to confiscate embezzled property. A new prosecutors' department was created to handle asset forfeiture.
These new prosecutors are also going through background checks before being hired.
 
The new anti-corruption institute tasked with doing these new background checks has audited 26 potential prosecutors: 2 failed, 11 barely passed, 13 passed.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191736

U.S. sends $1mln anti-corruption aid

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191739

New stray dog shelter and strategy to reduce numbers

In 2018, newly-elect Yerevan Mayor Marutyan vowed to end the practice of killing stray dogs. It wasn't just to be humane. City says mass-killings make the other dogs more aggressive, and research shows they breed faster. Not killing is a long-term strategy.
 
City took over the task of catching dogs from the private industry, which was mired in corruption.
They began neutering, tagging, and releasing the non-dangerous ones.
 
City's dog-department has just launched its new facility. It has a clinic, surgery, post-surgery rooms, more cages, and soon a disease lab.
They neuter 25 dogs per day. 1300 in 2020H1, twice more than last year. 4300 since 2019.
 
City says equally important is dog owners' behavior. They shouldn't dump pets on the streets.
The law requires pet owners to register their pets, but only 400 out of 20,000 have done so.
 
If they were registered, the owners would less likely dump them, and if they did, the pets' micro-chip would allow City to find and punish the owner.
 
To encourage more owners to register, City wants to eliminate the $10/year ownership fee.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/118973
Tags: #StrayDog

La casa de papel

It's a TV show that blew up in Armenia during the pandemic. One of the main actors is Lebanese-Spanish-Armenian Hovik Keuchkeryan. Today he visited Armenia.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191744

Parliament asks Constitutional Court to delay Kocharyan hearing...

... because Parliament wants time to discuss the opinions recently received from Venice Commission and ECHR on whether Kocharyan can be charged with the law he's charged with as part of March 1st case.
Parliament asked CC to translate and send them the documents.
 
Kocharyan earlier withdrew his case from CC but that doesn't mean CC won't discuss the topic, especially since another entity had also asked CC to discuss the topic.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191689

ex-CC judge's entrance is blocked

Hrant Nazaryan is one of the three CC judges who was recently fired. Today he tried to return to his office but the security blocked his entrance to the building, citing the law that fired him.
 
Another fired judged Gyulumyan hasn't visited CC for several days now because "she doesn't want to confront the police".
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191697 , https://web.archive.org/save/https://news.am/arm/news/589219.html

Polls: Pashinyan's rating refuses to drop

85% approve Pashinyan's job, 79% President, 68% Ministries, 55% Parliament, 23% opposition.
 
What is Pashinyan's weakest point?
16% not tough enough, 10% hires bad officials, 4% not drastic enough.
Gallup International. June 10-27. https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191701 , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020520.html

Poll: is Armenia on the right track? / Were your expectations met?

Did the revolution outcome satisfy your expectations? 79% fully/partially yes, 6% no.
 
69% says Armenia is on right/definitely-right direction. 2% definitely-wrong direction (15% in Georgia)
 
Will things improve in Armenia? 80% yes (69% in Georgia)
 
Is democracy better than other forms of govt? 63% yes (49% in Georgia)
 
"Most people are aware of CC crisis and support Constitutional reforms," said CRRC pollster.
CRRC pollster: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020509.html , https://factor.am/265768.html , https://factor.am/265779.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020508.html

Chamber of Lawyers files complaint against NSS

Lawyers complain that NSS violated the attorney-client privilege by wiretapping the suspect when he made a call to the attorney. "The content of the call was later used as evidence," said lawyers.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191750

Healthcare Minister testifies as a witness in bribery case

Months ago the deputy Healthcare Minister Armen Davtyan was charged with accepting bribes. He denies wrongdoing.
The person who gave bribes is Razmik Abrahamyan. He confessed.
 
A trial was held today. Minister Torosyan was called to testify as a witness.
He spoke about the anti-corruption fight within the system and how he routinely spoke with directors of various institutes to make sure they don't even try to offer bribes to Ministry officials "because the old way of doing things is gone".
 
P.S. The bribe giver is the same guy who is also a defendant in a separate case about the extortion and trafficking of dozens of newborn children. He's the director of the Republican Childbirth Clinic.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191691

COVID stats

+662 infected. +448 healed. +13 deaths.
118,102 tested. 11,211 active. 15,484 healed. 469 deaths.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191683

COVID donations

Kalashnikov began producing AM-103 rifles (up to 50k/year). Their Armenia-based partner donated $170,000 towards COVID.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191713
 
11 Lithuanian doctors have finished their 2-week campaign to help Armenia.
https://hetq.am/hy/article/119002

Banks and loan vacations during pandemic

As of June 1st, banks gave loan vacations to 550k people and 17.4k businesses to ease their COVID burden.
They reviewed $2.7 billion in loans.
 
Bank deposits shrank 1.1% but went back to pre-pandemic levels recently.
Interest rates are unlikely to increase, says the president of banks union.
 
"Unlike the financial crisis of 2008 and 2014, today's situation isn't due to changes in economic fundamentals. This makes managing the problem harder. The parts of the economy that serve as engines are heavily damaged. We hope the govt, businesses, and citizens will succeed in overcoming it."
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191536

Grandma's cellphone / Medical worker disciplined

Context: a grandma's body was lost because of bad handwriting that led to confusion. Then her body was picked up by the wrong people who misidentified her. Her body will be exhumed and returned to the correct family.
 
St. Gregory Illuminator hospital says they've identified a junior nurse who allegedly took the dead grandma's phone and stole cash from her account, before grandma's family came to pick up her stuff.
There is an investigation. He could be fired if confirmed.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191663

Oncology institute workers...

... are getting that sweet VIP deal. The institute will use "modern high-quality buses to transport employees for free". Two routes for now.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191687

Real estate prices & transactions

Earlier we learned how COVID affected housing purchase/rent market. All realtors recorded a drop in transactions.
 
One realtor saw a 3x decline in transaction numbers. While the prices remained stable at the beginning of the pandemic, in June it dropped by -5%.
 
Another realtor recorded a sharp drop in second-hand housing transactions, but no drop in the newly-built housing market.
A noticeable drop was recorded in non-residential property lease prices. "Many landlords gave discounts."
 
Across Yerevan, sales transactions +84% in May vs April, but -61% YoY.
New rent transactions +7.8x in May vs April.
More: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020466.html

Beeline workers are against TEAM merger

Context: UCOM's co-founder was fired. He formed a new TEAM ISP. TEAM wants to purchase the financially troubled Beeline.
 
300 Beeline workers asked Pashinyan to suspend any merger because they're afraid that TEAM will replace them with TEAM's own workers.
TEAM says they won't lay off anyone because they need the existing Beeline workers' experience. "It's a big company. We can't replace the workforce."
https://factor.am/265961.html

SU-30SM jets conduct first target practice

"All targets were hit struck accurately," bragged Pashinyan, who will brag about the jets for another 50 years.
https://youtu.be/bmfsO7PH0jo
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191733

A dude claims Akna Lake belongs to him

A local "heavy guy" claimed the iconic Akna Lake is his property, and he'll do fish-breeding in it.
The Nature Ministry had to respond with "now it's not yours" after environmentalists raised an alarm.
http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282613/ , https://newarmenia.am/ակնա-լճում-ձկնաբուծարան-լինելը-կուսո/

Azerbaijan's chief epidemiologist goes 404

"I'm not in Baku. I'm in rayon. Sitting in a village without internet or news. I don't know anything. Call the Ministry," said Abdullah Agaev when someone tried to contact him.
 
Meanwhile, Aliyev brought the military to help with the pandemic.
http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/282603/ , https://www.lragir.am/2020/07/03/561165/

update: Soccer tournament suspended over match-fixing

Last week we learned how Soccer Federation cooperated with INTERPOL, NSS, UEFA, sports betting agencies, and found that 5 teams were fixing the match results in the secondary league (not the main Premier League).
 
The entire secondary league is now suspended indefinitely. 45 people associated with those 5 teams are permanently banned. Another 13 are suspended.
 
Meanwhile, the Premier League continues its matches. Only 2 rounds left. 3 teams have a chance to win.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191706 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191716 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191724
Tag: #MatchFixing #Soccer

Former soccer federation chief's restaurant raided

ex-HHK MP and soccer boss Nemets Rubo is hiding in Russia. He's wanted for alleged kidnapping and torture, and financial crimes.
His restaurant Harsnaqar, where the alleged kidnapping victim was held, was raided today.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191723 , https://www.reddit.com/armenia/comments/go26nw/may212020_news_1_hhk_mp_charged_with_abduction/?

Journalists find "fishy" corruption / 2 mayors busted

In January, Hetq outlet published a report about fishy things going on around a fish business in Ararat province.
 
Prosecutors say: in 2004 a lease was signed for an 11ha land in Sis. In 2007 the company illegally built fish-breeding pools on 5ha.
Sis's former and current leaders knew about this but ignored it.
The former mayor cannot be charged due to statute of limitations, while the current mayor qualifies for Pashinyan's 2018's mass amnesty.
 
Sis was told to either destroy the facility or take it under public control. They chose the latter. The facility was recently sold for $230,000.
Free money: https://hetq.am/hy/article/118996

infrastructure and road upgrades

Norakert has a 7km water delivery network. A govt subsidy will repair 2.5km this year, with the rest being repaired last year. It'll also help 60 businesses to get regular water delivery.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191666
 
Sevan is having 5 of its roads leading to residential complexes repaired. A $316,000 infrastructure project. It'll also renovate the curbs and water drainage.
https://armtimes.com/hy/article/191665
 
Syunik province has 3.4x more infrastructure upgrades this year, worth $17.7mln. Apartment energy insulation, roads, etc.
https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191734

Top-5 documentary/biography books Yerevan residents read in May

5) Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. (about how other people will get rich but you won't)
4) D'une porte l'autre, by Charles Aznavour. (about why Marvel movies are nothing more than a theme park)
3) A subtle Art of Not Giving F, by Mark Manson. (about helping mark Manson to get richer)
2) Becoming, by Michael Obama. (about being black)
1) The monk who sold his Ferrari, by Robin Sharma. (about helping Robin Shirama to get richer)
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020395.html

this guy plants

Stepan Taroyan takes the dried out branches and wood and turns them into natural art. He works at Yerevan's Green Department.
Photos: https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/191160

$10mln Yerevan project for a new leisure center and park

Arabkir district's Komitas St. has a neglected park. It'll be renovated and a multi-functional center will be built.
The works have already begun, with 30 budkas being removed from the area to clear the way. The main construction begins in 2021.
 
5,000 plants will be installed to close the large gaps. They'll be joined by an amphitheater and a fountain. This will allow concerts and theatrical performances to be held.
 
The nearby 'Arabkir' shopping area will be brought under a roof and turned into a modern center with food, Armenian wine-tasting, international cuisine, an area for kid's entertainment, and handmade product sales.
The center's backside will be made out of glass and face the renovated garden.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1020467.html
 
You've read 1894 words.

Disclaimer & Terminology

1) The accused are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law, even if they sound guilty.
2) Currency in Armenian ֏ unless specified otherwise.
3) NSS/SIS/SOC = law enforcement agencies. QP = Civil Contract Party. LHK = Bright Armenia Party. BHK = Prosperous Armenia Party. HHK = Republican Party.
4) ARCHIVE of older posts by Idontknowmuch: PART 1 ; PART 2 ; PART 3 ; PART 4 ; PART 5.
4) ARCHIVE of older posts by Armeniapedia.
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I'm a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. There's darker things going on here than just the fights.

The Exhibition. Where it all began.
There is more than one terrifying NFC Champion.Where we left off.
-
“That was Abaddon. The NFC Abyss Champion. And he’s coming for me.”
She stared at the spot where he’d once stood, beads of sweat running down her forehead before blinking and smiling, trying to put the situation to the back of her mind as she took my arm and lead me towards the bustling mess hall.
“Well, cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’ve got a meeting for you to attend.”
With that, she pushed open the doors to the semifinalists eagerly chowing down on food. Rex Chugg was downing a 40oz with glee, Eustace De Kolta sat in the far corner throwing food into his satchel and eating some soft bread. To the back lay Wendy, nursing her leg while listening to some music, a blood bag IV attached to her through a thin tube. Miroslav was undoubtedly still busy eating outside and neither Nelle nor Landry could be seen.
“Huh, they must still be training. Ah well, good to see ya Nora!” A large bearded man in his 40’s sauntered over, his black apron sporting the cheesy line “Saturday is a day for Dads.” Across the front, a greasy dishrag hastily tucked into his pocket as he opened his arms for a hug which Nora eagerly gave. He smiled, but didn’t make eye contact and when she let go, offered a gargantuan palm, blinking rapidly. Which I grabbed, fear of bones being crushed immediately set aside by the warmth in which he held it.
“Nice to meet ya, I’m Zunkle the head chef, but you can call me Zunk! You the new guy? You must be hungry, don’t worry! I got a Stromboli with your name on it! Oh and lemme know if I’m too loud, I got ASD and I don’t always know if I’m coming on TOO much!” He chuckled nervously, Nora patting his back.
“You’re fine, Zunk. We’ll let ya know if you become larger than life, I promise. Sal, you wanna eat right? The Stromboli is to die for! Plus, I can send the fighters over when you’re ready, sound good?”
“Yeah, sure. Where are you off to?” I asked as she stretched out her arms.
“I gotta train, I’ll catch up with you before the interval is over, kay? You can ask me what you need to know then. Promise.” Her hazel eyes shimmered in the light, I didn’t know how to respond.
Instead, I nodded sheepishly and she hurried off. Zunk put his arm around me and funnelled me past the fighters to get me seated. He nodded and excused himself, rummaging in the back room as he prepared the meal.
“Do you remember why they let you out, Sal?”
The voice is low, guttural and fills my ears. Looking up from the table, I saw the lights flickering and rapidly going out around me. One by one the surrounding tables were plunged into darkness, leaving only mine still dimly lit.
“Do you remember what put you there in the first place, Sal?”
My body is frozen in place, like sleep paralysis, but with some limited movement of my head. The air is fetid, cold, and something is shifting in the dark, but I’m unable to see it.
Whatever it is, it wants to keep its distance.
But as the eyes fixed on me, I felt a surge of memories run through my mind as if a tape was on fast forward. Scattered moments of birthdays past and happy mornings spent with loved ones, years stripped away in an instant before my head hung forward, a cold sweat dripping onto the table while the remainder of my body remained still. Clammy, cold hands run their fingers through my hair and down my face. I feel sick, like I’m this person’s plaything. The eyes across from me stay fixated on me, the same guttural voice growling out as I feel the hands gently push my head to look at the table.
“A card. A bottle. A choice.” Sure enough, a face down tarot card to the left, a piece of paper to the right and in the centre sat a bottle in the shape of a black human heart, ventricles and veins perfectly placed, letting the dark fluid rush around in its centre and creating a slight steam as it bubbled from the top ventricle. The label read: “The Society Of The Sunless Gives Unto You: The Kingmaker. With consumption, he ascended to his endless throne.”
“A beast. A bar. A voice.” The higher voice chimed behind me, rife with excitement. “The cycle repeats, the threat retreats and for now, rejoice.”
They kept repeating it as the drink bubbled over, the black liquid congealing on the table before thick smoke billowed out, the card burning at the edges and the letter unfolding to show my invitation from the NFC.
My head swirled, the hands gripped harder, and I felt the higher-pitched voice come up to my ear, dragging its tongue along the nape of my neck and into my ear as I shivered.
“This time, it will be different. We promise.”
The hands eased off and my body fell to the table, jumping up to fend them off, I was face to face with Zunk, carrying a piping hot tray with Stromboli and looking perplexed.
“You okay, Sal? I got your Stromboli, it’s a speciality of mine.”
“Ah, yeah, I’m good Zunk. Thanks. It’s actually nice to have someone who works here show hospitality.” He blinked and looked down at my shoes as he spoke.
“It’s no trouble, having been here a while and with a bloodied past, I know what it’s like to want to start again.. Oh, did Nelle tell you?” “Tell me what? Is the Stromboli not paid for?” I quipped, he laughed heartily.
“No, no. I’m your co-commentator until Nelle either wins or is booted from the wildcard! I’ve been here a while and I know my stuff, I promise!” He tapped his fingers nervously. “I don’t want you thinking I’m just a glory hog.”“Nah, if Nelle recommended you then it’s all good for me.” I noticed that Rex was staring at me as he belched the last of his drink. Had he seen something?
“AY! Lemme split that with you!” He bellowed, rushing over. I sighed, of course he hadn’t seen. If it wasn’t a fight or something to satisfy him, I doubt he’d see much else. He was an imposing mass of muscle and brawn that on most folks would scream intimidating. Especially considering what he did during his quarterfinal match. But now, he almost seemed chummy.
“A pair of warriors should always try to dine together!” He cried, slamming his fists down as Zunk awkwardly split it.
“At least it’s not an odd number…” He mumbled, smiling to me and heading back to the kitchen. Rex stared at him as he disappeared, calling out to someone called Sancho to take over for the evening shift as the big door swung back and forth for a moment.
“Y’know he’s The Jersey Devil, right? Dude has a sick history. And I do mean SICK.” Rex smirked as he bit down into the Stromboli. The look of pain on his face when he felt the burning sensation run through his mouth was priceless. “Fuck, that’s hot! Ain’t nothing I can’t handle, though.”
We chatted for a while and to my surprise, Rex was pleasant. He had a prickly personality and was, to a degree, hotheaded, but he was passionate and dedicated to his gym. His reason for being here? He wouldn’t say, but promised me it was worth all the broken bones he could muster.
After that, I spoke to Zanaya and Eustace, neither of which giving me much info on their motivations or techniques. Zanaya slurred his words, probably from the drinking and declaring “state secret” with a wavy hand before he moved me on. Eustace on the other hand repeatedly asked me if I wanted to “join the order” so that I could learn his secrets. I didn’t.
Walking to Wendy, she sighed and bandaged her leg tighter.
“Anything I wanted to say has already been said, come back to me when I’m in the finals and I’ll give you the interview of a fuckin’ lifetime, kay? I got shit to prepare for.” She was frustrated, that much was obvious. But the more she stared at Eustace, the more I worried she was overlooking the talent within her own bracket. In any case, I didn’t want to be a bother, and I excused myself to look for the others.
No Nelle or Landry in sight, and the remainder of the competitors were unknown, so I cut my losses and made a beeline for the upper ring again. It took some confusing turns and repeatedly bumping into fans before I realised how lost I was. Everyone passed me by without so much as an acknowledgment, the announcement rang out that I had 30 minutes to get to my seat and do my usual prep. To put it simply; I was mildly freaking out.
“Hey, buddy. You look like you could use a drink.”
I turned and saw that same small bar from earlier right opposite me, the doors open and a young man in his late 20’s washing a cup in the doorway. He grinned as a Bernese mountain dog stood by his side, trying to get out and greet me, drool flecks already across his cheeks as he pants with joy.
“Not yet, buddy. Not the right time.” He said before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small bottle wrapped in a thick black cloth. “You’re gonna need this, don’t open it until you’re sat down. But when you do, read the instructions and keep it close. You’ll thank me when the time comes.”
I couldn’t even say anything, staring incredulously as tired but wild eyes stared back at me from beneath thick circular black glasses. He whistled and the dog, eager as he was to see me, turned back to follow him. He leaned his head back to call to me one last time before the doors closed.“Oh and.. it’s good to see you again, Sal.”
With that, the bar was shut, and I threw caution to the wind, running up the stairs and trying to retrace my steps with Nora as best I could. Thankfully, I made it with some time to spare. No Nelle sat beside me, but her book was propped up on the chair and I knew she wanted me to protect it.
The lights dimmed and Alduin resumed her spot in the centre of the pit with a swell of pride bubbling within her, the mic expertly in hand as the screen descended.
“Twisted freaks of nature, I welcome you back for the NFC OpenWeight semifinals and the remainder of The NFC Wildcard opening round! Before we kick things off, I’ll be listing the competitors for The Wildcard. I hope you’re ready!”
The crowd shows their approval as the screen starts filling in the blank boxes underneath Wendy and a now faded out JJ Watson.
“She’s a bonafide killer from a bygone age; she finds tracks and eliminates crypts without prejudice! One half of our commentary team and a burning desire to fight one special member of our roster… The Huntress Madame Nelle Lockwood!”
Nelle took a bow and kept her expression neutral. She was focused and determined.
“Next up is someone we just HAD to give a chance to after we reviewed his “unique” case. He’s our fight interviewer and a true warrior of his clan, Landry Eavy!”
Landry sheepishly waved as he adjusted his shorts, stretching out his calf muscles.
“Now it wouldn’t be the NFC without some surprises, folks. Our first is a surprise even to me, but during the break I gave an audience to two unexpected individuals. One who’s come back from the dead and another who… well… you’ll see. First up, he’s somehow returned from the depths of hell itself and achieved a true Nirvana state; Qwong Xiao!” Sure enough, a scarred and paler Qwong walks from the dugout and bows deeply. The veins on his muscles are black and his skin is almost translucent. But he radiated strength.
“Last, but by no means least, is an individual who made a point of entering when I informed him that he could not simply get into the main tournament, even with HIS credentials. Ladies and gentleman, he is the NFC Abyss Champion; Abaddon!”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The champion of nightmares, the same fucking thing that had came inches to my face and threatened to take out Nora when he saw fit, was now involving himself in this? The sounds of those locusts tore at my eardrums even from this distance as he walked into the pit and took off his broken, blackened belt to hold high for all to see. Alduin was beside herself with joy and bloodlust. The notion of Champ vs Champ must have been like ambrosia to her and to the crowd.
With that, The Wildcard roster was set, and we were due to get a match from each to kick things back off. Zunk came and took a seat next to me, his extremely large frame actually putting me at ease from any more potential would-be threats.
“You ready to do this, partner?” He looked nervous, eyes darting all around and breathing heavily, but he nodded as I pushed record. Alduin took to the mic right on cue;
“Let’s not waste anymore time then, bring out the next competitors!”
Qwong stayed in his spot and stared down the elevator, whirring and coming to a stop. What rushes out is horrifying to behold; the golden beak, beady little black eyes, wiry bowl hair with a bald spot on the front and long thick claws on each digit; A kappa.
NFC WILDCARD OPENING MATCH: QWONG XIAO VS THE KAPPA
It didn’t wait for Alduin to finish her announcement or to get out of the way, it simply rushed forward with the absolute desire to eviscerate in mind.
“I suffered the greatest shame and pain to get back here. I was devoured by the great beast, humiliated by the Whore of Babylon. All my teachings amounting to nothing. I climbed the tower and followed the thread. I am here now because of my perseverance.” Qwong spoke with such calm elegance, his stance remaining neutral; a hand behind his back and standing upright. The Kappa did not stop charging, it passed Qwong and in that instant, fell to the floor. Its head being dragged by the momentum before it slammed into the opposite wall and coated it in a thick green fluid.
It turned, furious and charged again. Qwong adjusted his stance and outstretched a fist towards the beast, furrowing his brow.
“Come into my range and you’ll return to dust.”
But The Kappa persisted and the moment it was within a couple of feet, one large shot rang out that was so fierce, a small gust of wind blew up and threatened to knock my papers.
When the dust cleared, The Kappa lay in a heap with its entire skull concave. Twitching on the ground as Qwong prayed for a moment before returning to the dugout, unphased.
“MY GOD! HE JUST WRECKED HIM!” Zunk shouted, realising his volume was a little too loud and sitting back from the mic. “Man, Sal! You gotta admire the growth of this guy!”
“That’s right, Zunk. From complete shut-out against the NFC Openweight pet “Gashadokuro” to decimating his enemy with one dodge and one incredible punch, I’d say Qwong Xiao has done more than enough to redeem himself in the eyes of the NFC and fight for his spot in the Openweight tourney!
Alduin, perched on the fence after the Kappa’s charge, followed Qwong with her gaze as he sat down. He’d definitely piqued her curiosity. She leapt down and leaned back as she shouted at the top of her lungs;
“Qwong Xiao advances in our second Wildcard match! On with the violence!”
This time, it was Miroslav Zanaya taking point. He looked, for lack of a better word, wasted as all hell. Stumbling around and lackadaisical, it was very out of character for the usually stoic Dagestani. Still, he went into his usual position and seemed to have composure as Alduin announced his opponent emerging from the elevator.
“Our first semifinalist is The Dagestani Supersoldier; Miroslav Zanaya! But his opponent will certainly be a test for him not physically… but mentally. The Kikimora!”
What emerged stood on thick red chicken legs, a basic dress, white shirt and babushka hood covering the long black hair as two horns protruded from the base of the skull. Its skin was burnt, charred and blackened, the eyelids completely stripped away and leaving bulging, milky white eyes in its wake. The lips were pink and cut, rows of white pillar teeth hiding just behind it. The lower jaw sporting three large bulbous sacks that pulsated. It moved as if it was a flickering image, hard to keep focus on the more clarity the lights gave it. It felt wrong to stare at it for too long, despite it being my job.
NFC OPENWEIGHT SEMIFINALS: MIROSLAV ZANAYA VS THE KIKIMORA
“BEGIN!” The Kikimora flickered closer to Zanaya and something immediately felt wrong. Zanaya had his head bowed in the exact same way he’d done his previous fight, but I could see no motion or movement from him. The closer The Kikimora got, the more my anxiety and fear grew. This thing was going to rip him to pieces.
Grabbing the compendium, I flicked through until I fell upon the entry detailing what The Kikimora did. It was definitely a Russian demon that invaded dreams, but it had to physically TOUCH you in order to enact its abilities. So why was Zanaya not taking advantage?
Then I remembered seeing him at the bar earlier, his slurred responses during the interview. I wondered…
“Hey, Zunk. Do people sabotage fighters or fights here often?” He scoffed “Do I make a damn good Stromboli? Yes, yes they do. It’s sometimes outside interests looking to make a bet, an old grudge or…” “Or what?” I pressed, he looked uncomfortable as he pulled at his sleeve, a grimace forming on his face.
“Or they want their spot in the tourney, by any means necessary.”
The Kikimora wrapped its hands around Zanaya’s arms and the nails dug deep into his flesh, pulling him up. I was expecting him to headbutt, fight back, or maybe even go into that unusual rage state he’d displayed for us before.
But instead, my worst fears were confirmed.
He was paralysed, his body a mere puppet for this horrific creature to play with. I watched in horror as The Kikimora’s eyes grew wider and the lips parted to open the jaw. It pulled at his skin until a separation was made; what looked like a wisp of smoke emerged and The Kikimora eagerly grabbed it with a free hand and devoured it, dropping Zanaya to the floor and screeching as the crowd cheered.
“Well, would you look at that, folks! Our first Semifinalist eliminated, and it wasn’t even a fight! What the hell happened to that super soldier power?!” Alduin seemed bemused, laughing as The Kikimora went back to the elevator and descended, licking its lips. Zanaya lay on the ground, eyes white and no movement.
“Why didn’t it finish him? Was it feeling generous?” Zunk asked, leaning forward to look down at him, I trembled in my seat and closed the book, taking a sip of water with shaking hands and the fear of what this tournament and its alumni could do if they wanted.
“It did finish him. The Kikimora eats souls, not bodies. Someone wanted Zanaya vulnerable and they got it.” As the next two competitors took to the pit, I remembered the bottle I had in my possession and I unfolded the cloth, realising just how much I may need this in the other bouts;
It was a silver bottle with a chain around it... ice cold to the touch with a combination lock over the cap and a code written on the inside of the cloth, a small note just beneath it;
“Professor Ambrose Ashton-Smith’s Silver Tear Potion; Your cycle shall not end so long as you keep this close. One glass for injury, two for death.”
“You’ll know when the time is right. Good luck… and protect them. - Krauss.”
-
NEXT: Sometimes it comes down to pure luck.
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I Can Make You Hot!: The Supermodel Diet (by Kelly Killoren Bensimon) -- Part One

NOTE: Although I was originally planning on posting this whole review at once, I was about a third of the way through the book when I realized that I was already quickly approaching the full length of my previous posts. So, in the interest of making this a pleasant experience for us all, I'm sharing the first half now, and will follow up with the second half in a few days. And honestly, KKB's writing reminds me of Inception in that it's almost certainly hazardous to spend too much time immersed in any single sitting. So fasten your seatbelts, and enjoy the ride!
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So, a lot of you guys have been asking about Kelly Killoren Bensimon's I Can Make You Hot! (wow, is this what it feels like to be an influencer?), and I am thrilled to report that my adventure through this book's 264 pages was even more confounding than I could have possibly anticipated. I have a feeling that I'll need every ounce of my strength if I want to have any shot at conveying to you all exactly how bonkers this purported self-help book is, so -- without further ado -- let's begin.
I Can Make You Hot!, subtitled The Supermodel Diet, has a fairly straightforward premise. Kelly, who "has done it all when it comes to nutrition and her body," will share her hard-earned wisdom with us, her humble readers. Or, as she says in her own words on the back cover:
In I Can Make You Hot! I'm going to clue you in to all the tricks I've learned from a variety of experts and that I now use to live my own life. I want you to be the best you -- happy, attractive, shapely, interested, interesting, and most of all, smokin' HOT!
The blurb promises that the experience of reading this book will be "like rooming with a supermodel and going on a diet together." Truly, only someone with Kelly Bensimon's tenuous grasp on reality would say this as if it were something exciting, rather than a scenario taken directly out of the third circle of hell.
But before we can truly learn what it means to be HOT!, we're treated to a foreword by none other than Russell Simmons. As he shares with us:
Kelly is a great mother and is constantly instilling strong principals [sic] in her daughters. In my opinion, that's the essence of being HOT. Kelly is smokin'.
And just like that, I Can Make You Hot! is knocked out of the running for First-Book-I've-Read-By-A-Bravolebrity-That-Is-Also-Free-From-Glaring-Typographical-Errors. Better luck next time, champ!
In case you were at all hesitant about Kelly's suitability for the job of helping the less fortunate among us reach their maximum potential, Russell clarifies:
Her beauty truly comes from within, and her clear internal compass and well-balanced lifestyle is what makes her an arbiter for what's hot. She has always had her own individual road map and is one of those people who beats to their own drum. Many are amazed by her leaps of faith and courage, which are products of her sustainable soul. And back to that energy! I used to think: If we could only package it. And now Kelly has!
I would kill to be a fly on the wall during a conversation between Russell Simmons and Kelly Bensimon. But all of these endorsements are making me impatient to dig into Kelly's advice, so I skim over the next few pages and arrive at the introduction: "What's HOT and What's Not." Almost immediately, Kelly reassures us that she was not always the gorgeous, talented socialite she is today -- "No. Let's just say that I was never one of those tiny, cute blonde girls who guys named their hamsters after." Excuse you what? I literally just walked away from my laptop to go talk to my boyfriend and make sure I'm not just ignorant of some otherwise well-known traditional male courtship ritual in which young men adopt rodents and christen them after the women they love. That doesn't seem to be the case, although please reach out if you can shed any additional light on this situation.
Reasonably enough, before we can learn how to be hot, we have to know what hot is. Fortunately, Kelly wastes no time in getting us up to speed:
When I was trying to come up with a title for this book, I kept asking myself how I would define what I love. "HOT" is the word that best describes what I love, and it's not a word I throw around lightly. "HOT" is attractive, unique, and first-rate -- never mediocre. Avril Lavigne made a video called "HOT." There are "HOT" issues of all my favorite magazines. Hotmail.com was given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service, and www.urbandictionary.com, whose definitions are created by their readers, defines "hot" as (among other things) attractive, the best, and someone who makes you wish you had a pause button when they walk by because you don't want that moment to end. (I want you to feel like that "someone.") Health, wellness, and fitness are always hot topics. "HOT" may be a buzzword but it's also how I describe the best there is and the best you can be. I've used the words "smokin' hot" for everything from a killer chicken wing red sauce to a coveted couture gown.
There is…a lot to unpack here. My leading hypothesis is that Kelly must have accidentally exposed her internal circuitry to water and started shorting out while writing this passage, causing her to string together a rambling parade of incoherent sentences with no relationship to one another, save a tangential association with the amorphous concept of hotness. Also, it's factually inaccurate. A cursory Google search reveals that Hotmail.com was not "given that name to indicate that it was the best e-mail service." Rather, the service's name was selected as a reference to the use of HTML to create webpages, as is more apparent from the original stylization, HoTMaiL. I know from her savvy allusion to "www.urbandictionary.com" that Kelly is capable of navigating the Internet, so I'm disappointed that she's made such a careless oversight within the first three pages of the book proper.
Kelly next takes us through a few scenes from her past to illustrate how she has come to understand the true meaning of "HOT." Here are just a few of the assorted pearls of wisdom that Kelly is gracious enough to share with us:
Is skinny hot? Naturally skinny is hot. Starving yourself in order to change your natural body type in order to get skinny is not hot.

For me, the ultimate HOT girl is the nineteenth-century Gibson girl.

…Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack and didn’t let it stop her from pursuing a sport she loves. She's smokin' HOT.

pregnancy is smokin' HOT
I'm distracted from my diligent note-taking by a line that truly makes me laugh out loud.
I don't want to pretend that I'm "just like you." To do that would be disingenuous, and you wouldn't believe me anyway. But I may be more like you than you think. My hair may be ready for Victoria's Secret, but my values are still Midwestern.
I appreciate the honesty! As I continue reading, I am pleased to learn that I am, in fact, already consuming this piece of literature in the appropriate way. As Kelly says:
I urge you to make notes as you go along, either in the book itself or, if writing in a book is anathema to you, in a little notebook to use as your own personal guide. Jotting down ideas as they pop into your head is the best way to process them and be sure that they don't leave again before you've had a chance to commit them to long-term memory. Then, if you've made a mistake, when you go back and see it there on paper, you'll remind yourself not to do it again. Or, as I like to say, you'll avoid getting bitten by the same food dog twice!
Bitten…by the same….food...dog? Never change, KKB. (As an aside, what's the oveunder on Kelly having even the slightest idea what the word 'anathema' means?) If I'm being totally honest, this book is making me feel a little superfluous. What more can I add when the source material is so impenetrable to begin with? How does one parse the unparseable? Newly humbled, I suppose I'll have to be content with just gaping in confusion alongside the rest of you. And now that I think about it, what better book to build me up from these insecurities and encourage me to be my best? In the words of Kelly herself:
After all, why wouldn't you want to be HOT? What's the alternative? Being "not so hot"?
The book is organized into seven chapters, one for each day of the week, focusing on seven distinct facets of hotness. We start our journey on "Monday: Make a List -- Plan and Prepare!" and are immediately blessed with another one of Kelly's philosophical ramblings:
To me, living well is the only option. What, after all, is the only alternative? Living badly? Who aspires to live badly? I want you to live well, and that's going to take some planning.
Eager to improve myself, I read on:
What are your goals for yourself? If you're going to make changes in your life, you need to have a plan, you need to prepare, and you need to take the time to get it right -- so that you don't wind up wasting your time. This is my plan, and from now on it's going to be yours. Monday is going to be the day you make a HOT plan and prepare for the rest of your week. Let's get started together!
I can't help but feel like this is one of those answers that beauty pageant contestants give when they don't actually know how to respond to a question. Or like a motivational speech written by a rudimentary AI. I can't quite articulate exactly what it is that makes Kelly's writing seem so utterly devoid of logical coherence, but it truly falls into the literary equivalent of the Uncanny Valley.
Reminding us that "this isn't just about budgeting your food; it's about budgeting your life," Kelly peppers us with even more helpful tips -- "You don't want to be that person who is snacking while you're shopping. That's not hot -- period." and shares a stream-of-consciousness-style list of "Staples I keep in my house." Which may possibly be some kind of freeform postmodern poetry. Judge for yourself.
Kelly advises the reader to "get out your calendar or PDA" to get a sense of your schedule. "Then use your PDA to find the closest well-stocked market and go there. Making life easy for yourself is what it's all about." Now is as good a time as any to clarify that this book was published in 2012. I'd be lying if I said reading so many consecutive Housewives memoirs hasn't made my grasp on sanity a bit shaky, but I am fairly positive that 2012 was not a banner year for the Personal Digital Assistant.
Kelly has taken the time to pluck out a few particularly incisive pearls of wisdom throughout the book to highlight as "Kelly's Cardinal Rules." I would love to help clarify exactly what this one means, but I'm afraid I'm utterly clueless. One thing I do know for certain, however, as the chapter comes to a close, is that "human contact is HOT; texting is not!"
The week continues with "Tuesday: A Little Ohm and a Little Oh Yeah! -- It's All About Balance." It is imperative that you work out, says Kelly, adding, "I've never met a smokin' hot couch potato and I bet you haven't either." Her personal exercise routine, as she shares, combines aerobics and yoga "because life is all about balance." As she quips, "I'm sure even Gandhi cracked a smile from time to time." A panel titled "HOT Tip" admonishes the reader: "Don't call it working out because exercise shouldn't be work!"
If you'd like to spend a morning in the style of Kelly Bensimon, it's as easy as eating "a couple of oranges" and drinking coffee -- "I love coffee; I would probably marry coffee if it proposed." She also lets us in on some of her secret, highly advanced workout routines designed to maximize your time in the gym and propel you towards your full potential. Such as the "Happy Twenty," in which you run for 18 minutes and then do 2 minutes of squats.
We get further instruction on the hottest ways to run on the following page, where a two-page spread advertises "a few of my HOT tips for having a fun run." To ensure that you're able to start your journey to HOT as quickly as possible, I've taken the liberty of transcribing one of her most valuable nuggets below:
Run in the street instead of on the sidewalk. I took a lot of flack for this when they filmed me on Season 2 of the Real Housewives of New York City. The thing is, I think that people walking down the street while texting are a lot more dangerous than a car. Drivers will go out of their way to avoid you (accidents are too much paperwork, and they really mess up a day), but strolling texters will walk right into you without even seeing you. You could also get smacked by a shopping bag, a stroller, or even an oversized purse. Sidewalks are really obstacle courses. Beware!
Kelly shares some standout tracks from her workout playlist ("It's much more fun exercising to music!"), including the perennial pump-up-the-jam classic, "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver. With no regard for thematic continuity or overarching structure, the next page is dominated by the header "Get Leggier Legs."
An April 10, 2009, article about me in Harper's Bazaar captioned one of the photos "She's got legs." I was born blessed with long lean legs, but I work very hard to keep them looking the way they do. I'm tall, but I could just as easily have long, large legs. And long and large is not hot. Unfortunately I can't give you my legs. But I can help you to be the best you can be.
Truly inspirational. I think.
We continue on with Kelly's advice for "how to avoid the 'freshman fifteen," accompanied by a list of what she refers to as "Kelly rules." These run the gamut from near-sinister
Get rid of any negative thoughts. Negative-town isn't Fun-town.
to nonsensical
For every cheeseburger and fries, you owe me 12 cartwheels on the quad with your friends.
to bizarrely specific and also racially insensitive.
If you starve yourself for a day because you want to lose weight for Homecoming, you owe me 5 minutes of sitting Indian style in a corner and meditating on why you thought that was a good option.
Upon further reflection, I think I would actually be extremely motivated to stick to a diet if the alternative was being reprimanded by Kelly and forced to think about my poor life choices.
As a scientist myself, I was ecstatic to see that Kelly has drawn from a diverse array of scientific disciplines to develop her HOT tips and tricks. Physics, for example:
From Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion
A body in motion stays in motion. The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. So if you want to step up your exercise routine, try running in sand instead of on the pavement, or bike through gravel. That way your body will have to work harder in order to stay in motion.
Even biology has something to teach us about how to be HOT:
You are a living organism; life is an organic process. You need to be up and active, ready to enjoy the process. Be open and available and ready to do fun stuff. Participating in what you love is HOT.
I'm truly impressed by Kelly Bensimon's unparalleled ability to reframe the most basic common sense as divinely inspired wisdom. We see this in lines like
If you're feeling a bit frazzled and you need to calm down, you might want to take a yoga class.
or, as we read in another "HOT Tip" panel
Don't be afraid to drink water while working out.
I refuse to believe that this is a problem any person has ever faced. Even Aviva Drescher is not afraid of drinking water while working out (although, for the record, she is afraid of aluminum foil). Kelly closes out this chapter by encouraging the reader to "do one thing every day that takes you out of your comfort zone." If you find yourself lacking inspiration, she provides helpful suggestions, such as "try a fruit you've never eaten" and "try tap dancing." As she asserts, "there's nothing more foolish than sitting on your butt when you could be moving your body and having fun."
I turn the page, and the clock rolls over to Wednesday -- "Diet = 'DIE with a T.'" Cute. I bet Kelly would find that Tumblr post that's like "she believed" to be unbearably clever. She wastes no time in letting us know:
I don't believe in diets; diets are for people who want to get skinny. I want you to be happy. If you feel good about yourself, you'll make good choices. If you starve yourself to be skinny, you'll be undermining your sense of self-worth and you'll be unhappy every day. Eating well -- a variety of high-quality, fresh, unprocessed foods -- is for people who want to be happy -- and if you're not happy you won't be hot! Happy is always better than skinny.
This is starting to feel like some sort of word problem from Algebra II. If happy is better than skinny, but hot is equal to happy, diet = die + t??? Kelly tells us that all women fall into two categories: overachievers and underachievers. Being an overachiever is good, and being an underachiever is bad. Here are some things you can do to become an overachiever:
Make good choices.

When in doubt, have fun.

Keep smiling.
Kelly's motivational-phrasebook app apparently starts to glitch out right about here, but she continues on:
Stay positive and move forward. This is your last try at today. Yesterday may not have been great, but, today is better -- you just need to see it that way. The choice is up to you.
The idea of someone being in such a dark psychological place that they are able to find inspiration in those words is so deeply sad to me that I can hardly bear to consider it. Thankfully, Kelly has already taken a hard left turn into what I think is some sort of extended metaphor:
I've already said that you need to treat your body like a Ferrari, but maybe you prefer a Maserati, an Aston Martin, a Corvette, or even a Bentley. Whatever your luxury car of choice, if you treat it well, it will increase in value; if you treat it like a bargain rental car, it's just going to wear out -- and being worn out is not hot!
Ah, yes, I'd momentarily forgotten that cars almost always increase in value after they're purchased, and don't have a culturally ubiquitous reputation for losing most of their resale value immediately. Solid analogy. Apropos of nothing, we get a "HOT Tip" list of "model diet secrets that DON'T work." I'm extremely glad that Kelly encouraged us to take notes while reading -- I'd be devastated if any of these pointers had escaped my attention.
Eating Kleenex to make yourself feel full does not work.

The Graham cracker diet does not work.

Drugs do not work.
Well, I suppose this clears up some Scary Island confusion. Had Kelly indeed been doing meth (as the reported cat-pee smell might suggest), she would be fully aware that many drugs are, in fact, extremely effective ways to lose weight. But lest you start to lose faith in the expertise of our fearless leader, read on: "when it comes to food choices, I've probably made every mistake in the book." By which she means that she ate Chinese chicken soup before giving birth to her first daughter and it made her sick, so she ate a turkey sandwich before giving birth to her second daughter and she didn’t get sick. To be perfectly honest, I'm struggling to find a way to apply this wisdom to my own life, but I'm sure it will become clear in no time!
Kelly is relatable for the first time so far in the following passage:
When I was accused of being a "bitch" on national television, I was really upset. My response was to find comfort in Mexican food and margaritas for lunch and dinner three days straight.
But we promptly return to form on the next page as she recounts her daily diet of "2 green juices," "a KKBfit lunch," and "a KKBfit dinner." I'd like to take a moment to appreciate how generous it is of Kelly to share her wisdom -- earned through a lifetime of catastrophic missteps -- so freely. It certainly didn’t come without a cost, as the following anecdote illustrates:
On the last day of my juice fast, I took my older daughter to a Yankees game where we gorged on sushi. (Yes, they have sushi at Yankee Stadium) As a result, I was stuffed and blinded by carbs when A-Rod came up to bat and hit a home run. Was I able to savor that A-Rod moment with my daughter? Absolutely not. I was in a food coma. Will I ever let myself be thrown into a food frenzy again? No! Lesson learned: I made another stupid food choice, and because of that choice I missed that home run moment with my daughter. From now on, when I go to a Yankees game I'll have a small hot dog instead….I want you to do the same.
Verily! Heed her words of wisdom, lest ye not also lose the precious chance for thine own A-Rod moment.
But don’t think this caution means that you have to get caught up in the minutia of your day-to-day. On the contrary, appropriate planning means "you can stop obsessing about your carrot intake and concentrate on what it is that's going to make you a great person in life." To help illustrate this point, Kelly introduces us to the "Kelly pie." Otherwise known as a pie chart. This is a helpful way to really visualize how much time you'll have now that you can cut that pesky carrot-pondering out of your day! Kelly even offers some thoughtful "hints" to divide your pie:
  1. Celebrate your own health. We take health for granted.
  2. Get up in the morning and say, "I'm so grateful to be where I am and look the way I do," no matter what your size is.
  3. Tell yourself you look HOT, because you do.
  4. Believe in your ability to make good choices today and every day.
  5. Be mindful of what you eat. If I have to be mindful of what I eat, so do you. We're in this together.
Ooh, sorry Brad, I won't be able to make it to this afternoon's meeting -- it actually conflicts with my daily session of believing in my ability to make good choices today and every day. No, I understand how that could seem like an abstract sentiment rather than something that actually takes up time within your daily schedule, but if Kelly has to do it, so do I! And to be honest, my day is packed enough as it is -- it takes at least a second or two for me to tell myself I look HOT (because I do!), and I'm just worried that if I try to squeeze anything else in, it will cut into my mid-morning health celebration. Wish I could help!
In a strangely threatening aside, Kelly commands: "Write down what you ate for the last two days. Don't lie. We can start fresh tomorrow, one bite at a time."
In a section titled, "What I Eat Every Day," Kelly enumerates her "three go-to breakfasts": "two oranges or a plate of mixed berries if I'm not going to be very active, all-bran cereal or some other high-fiber cereal with almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk if I'm going on a long run, riding, or doing something else that requires extra energy, and on weekends, I love making pancakes to eat with my girls." As should be apparent, this is far more than three breakfasts. I am irrationally angry, in the same way I was when a Bachelor contestant said their favorite food was a charcuterie platter. That's cheating. (And yes, I do strongly identify with my Virgo moon, thanks for asking.)
Kelly inexplicably (apologies if I've used that word for the zillionth time already) tells us that "a plastic cup that says 'Forced Family Fun' from www.themonogramshops.com makes the smoothie go down with a giggle." Also, "sitting alone in front of the TV eating ice cream is not hot!" We are then introduced to one of Kelly's more advanced strategies, which she calls "Energy Economics." This means that you might need to eat more on days when you are busy and/or exercising, and less on days when you're relaxing. So many innovative ideas, this book has really packed a punch for its < $5 price tag!
Another ingenious idea? "Stuff cabbage, sweet peppers, tomatoes, or even onions with ground meat, chicken or turkey seasoned with salt and pepper. Bake until the meat is cooked through and the vegetable is softened." Granted, I have been a pescatarian for almost a decade at this point. But disemboweling an onion, jamming it full of hamburger meat, and cooking it for some indeterminate amount of time at an unspecified temperature seems…wrong.
Circling back to her theory of Energy Economics, Kelly explains,
If I don't eat [well], I'm violating my own laws of energy economics and my body goes either into inflation mode (too much energy when I don't need it) or recession mode (not enough energy in the bank for me to draw from). The key is to create economic equilibrium: eating well so that I feel good, which allows me to be happy.
I am begging someone to start a GoFundMe where we raise money to pay Kelly to explain how the economy works. The next page introduces us to "The KKB 3-Day Supermodel Diet," which is less of a diet and more a random assortment of miscellaneous health-related sentiments that reek of the 2009 pro-ana tumblrsphere:
Chew your food 8 times instead of 3 or 4.

Brush your teeth and chew mint gum as soon as you finished eating. When your mouth is fresh and minty, you'll be less tempted to eat again.
The final tip ("nurture yourself") includes a reminder to "blush your checks [sic]." Which may be a typo, but could also very well just be some strange Kelly saying that no one else has ever used in the history of the English language. On the next page, we're introduced to "Kelly's Food Plate." Which other, less sophisticated people typically refer to as the food pyramid. Kelly also takes a brief aside (in a feature box labeled "hot button issue") to expound upon her favorite delicacy, the humble jelly bean:
If you're a fan of the Real Housewives of New York City you probably remember that on Season 3 I took a lot of flack for eating jelly beans and talking about processed and unprocessed foods. I was actually making light of that food snob moment. Who stops at a gas station and asks for carrots? Did you bring your organic food cooler with you on this road trip? The important part is not to be a food snob; but when in doubt choose the best option. Sometimes it's better to be happy than it is to be right. Was I able to make my point? Clearly it wasn’t in the cards at that moment.
This is a truly stunning synthesis of her experience. Underestimate Kelly at your own peril -- this girl has been playing 4D chess for longer than we know.
The chapter continues with some tips from Kelly on how to make the most of your meal planning and shopping experience. And no -- you have no excuses:
There's absolutely no reason why you, wherever you live, can't eat "colorful" foods. All over the country there are "gi-normous" supermarkets where fruit and vegetable aisles are bursting with every color of the rainbow.
I am starting to get a "gi-normous" headache trying to make sense of this chaos. Kelly's advice that we can "mix and match what's there to make a FrenAsian or an ItaloGreek meal" is not helping. We also get some tips for how to grocery shop responsibly:
  1. Always go with a list and never buy more than two items you planned on taking home.
This is incoherent, right? I know I need to wrap up Part 1 of this write-up pretty soon, because I've read this sentence at least two dozen times trying to make some sense of it, and am still at an utter loss. I assume she's left out a negative somewhere, but at this point, I realize I've already thought about this tip for approximately ten times longer than Kelly ever has, so I'll move on.
For the third or fourth time so far this book, Kelly segues into a literal grocery list. To be fair, this is a very effective strategy to take up several pages with minimal text. And what could be more compelling than
Shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs

Dog treats

Lavender pepper
Truly the voice of a generation! Decades from now, English teachers will be teaching their students about a fabled wordsmith who once uttered those eternal words, "shitake/oyster mushroom combination packs." Because this book has absolutely no respect for logical cohesion, we are hurled immediately into a diatribe about how expensive it can be to buy organic -- "I recently walked out of an organic market having paid $400 for just three bags of groceries." As I read on, however, it becomes quickly apparent that Kelly has no idea what the concept of 'organic' even means:
"Organic," in any case, seems like something of a misnomer to me. I know the Food and Drug Administration has regulations for certifying foods organic, but to me, for foods to be truly and totally organic, they would have to be grown in a test tube or a greenhouse with no exposure to the natural elements.
Well, sure Kelly. If that's what you would like to use the word "organic" to mean, be my guest. She tosses us another crumb of helpful guidance, but it only serves to make me feel exceptionally sorry for Kelly's daughters and everything they have to endure:
Plate your food as if it were being served to you in a fine restaurant. Use a fancy foreign accent as you invite everyone to come to the table. Or try saying it in French. My girls love it when I announce, "Le dîner est servi!"
We learn in yet another "HOT tip" that "fast food doesn't have to be fat food," and Kelly tells us for the eighth time that she eats two oranges every morning. In what has already become a recurring theme for me in this book, the following passage makes me desperately curious to know how Kelly thinks science works:
One question people frequently ask me is whether I believe in taking vitamins or supplements, and the answer is "yes, I do," because, even though I know my diet is healthy, I can't be sure that I'm getting all the nutrients I need. All the vitamins and minerals we need can be found naturally in foods, but how do we know, even if we're eating a healthy diet, that we're getting everything we need?
I flip back two pages to confirm that Kelly told us quite recently how important it is to read nutrition labels to know what is in the food we eat (to make sure we avoid foods "whose labels are full of words you can't pronounce"). Exactly how she is reading these nutrition labels yet still manages to have no inkling how anyone could possibly begin to assess their vitamin and mineral intake eludes me. She continues:
I don't want to take that chance. I think of the food I eat as fuel and vitamins as my oil -- my body's engine needs both. Vitamins and supplements are not food replacements, but we're exposed to so many environmental toxins on a daily basis that I believe we need to supplement our diets to counteract all the harm those substances can cause.
I can certainly think of something that is causing harm to my psychological stability at this particular moment, which I should probably take as a sign to wrap things up for today and go read some incredibly dense Victorian prose or something to remind myself what a properly constructed sentence looks like. Promise I won't leave you waiting for long!!
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Self-promotion of my novel

I would like to promote my story in my Webnovel and need help for improvement. if you like the story or not, review it if it's worth your time and interest comment if there's an error or misinterpreted thoughts. don't give a shallow review, just read the novel if you're interested.
Title: Retired Player's Devotion Genre: Realism, Video Games Word count: 27.71K words (ongoing novel) Type of feedback: General feedback as a reader Link: https://www.webnovel.com/book/retired-player's-devotion_17772220405819905 1st Chapter:
Episode 0 – aftermath (1) 20XX, Philippines The emerging of game capsules took the world by storm and gaming companies taking opportunities to the games related to capsules to make profits and tune in the world of cyber reality to make scientific research which why also many scientists studying it. Right now in the Philippines, many rental capsule establishments are taking place so who didn't have enough money to buy capsule can experience and play these virtual reality games. In the era of capsule gaming, there is one game that a lot of players waiting for its official release and still playing it even it is in beta for 2 decades. GAIA, a capsule MMORPG by Tri-Gon, will be going for a Launching of the official game despite being disregarded for years by the company ------------------------------------------------- -"Tri-Gon, proudly saying that they will release their very first and might be possible the last release game of the company, GAIA in the public. Despite 2 decades in Beta, many games in their belt and the success of the first company made the gaming capsule. The company didn't give on the game they just experimented in their early years. The company president Dr. Rita Furukawa's statement shook the world by this unexpected revelation to the public. The company's official press conference is not yet determined as of this moment but some speculation said that the official release Da—"-
All of the newspapers, television, and the internet are shocked by the company's movement. It's questionable that they are releasing their last game as a gaming company since they are smashing the gaming industry and also they are not in some sort of crisis.
And here I am, sitting in front of the TV resting for minutes when I see the news. Heavily breathing exhausted and drench of sweat in my forehead, this is so pain in the ass doing rehabilitation exercises.
"Jon, 10 mins is over. We need to continue." She said
"' Insan, can we just stop. The exercises are so painful, I don't know why I need to this kind of rehabilitation even I can recover my feet by just walking."
"Gago, you need this! This much better and faster way to recover your feet by the accident, by walking only the body will make all the muscles functioning properly so that it will recover completely and enhance functionality. Come on, don't make this hard for me, this is for your own good too. "
"Okay okay I'll do it, but can I rest more? This is too new for me."
"Alright, 5 mins Jon. 5mins only."
"Yeah, Thanks Ate Kyle."
She leaves me alone for a moment while tending to the other patients, it's not I'm the only one doing rehab this kind of day. Its Monday, 3 months have passed since my accident, and still miserable of what happened to my life has gone through this past month. All my plans in the future have been cut off to me and slipping to my very own hands.
Based on what the police said in the investigation, the accident is intentional and the suspect confesses to it. I don't know who the guy was and why he did it to me but they said that he loses a ton of money to the Playoff last week in the Pacific Championship Series, the money he lost was the money he earned from drugs has gone through the bet and it is taking the frustration out on me. Since we won the game by the crucial winning gameplays made by me, he is so mad on how the comeback was gone through the series that's why he intentionally wait for me and rammed using his car while influenced highly on drugs then rammed to another Jeepney crossing affecting my head. All my family was shocked by what happened, they want to sue the suspect but his father was a politician from the senate in the Philippines so that's why the media is controlled and no one is reporting it on the news.
Someone come to the hospital when I was in a comatose state, the father of the suspect namely Senator Francisco Dimayuga, threatening to keep this quiet and give compensation money. The family retaliates that my lost future cannot be paid by some petty money they gave to us, but he said that I'm just an Old E-sport professional athlete and my time as a player is fading that's why accept by how much he is willing to give which I can earn only in 3 years being a Pro – Athlete. All things escalated in the court even though it's an uphill battle but the media explodes of what happened and the public enraged of what is the decision of the court. The result was HOUSE ARREST for 3 years, one of the punishments together with drug rehab by the government by the party defending the son, John Alexander Dimayuga. He is free even though they are fined with the expense must be paid to the winning party and also full hospital expense with rehab fees. He is still living comfortably in THEIR vacation house in Batangas, there is nothing we can do since they have the power of the law with them.
Two and half months have passed that I woke up that my family celebrates it, but I can't move or speak that I was crying. For all, I thought that I was paralyzed for the rest of my life, but they operate my spine to save me for paralyzation with the immediate consent of my parents, and grateful that I can play professionally. In one week that has passed, I can speak and ask what happened. They tell me that I was in a coma for months and my team goes to the worlds as wildcard participants then got lost in the semifinals of the tournament. My team was going to visit me when they got back to the Philippines.
"5 mins is up Jon."
"Coming to you, Ate." As I stand up slowly feeling the pain especially my back, patiently taking my time to walk to start the remaining exercises. Time has passed through the day and I finish the session at 3 pm since it is a 3-hour session. I commute from home to the hospital for about 1-2 hours every day, it is not that hassle since I just go 2 transportation to the hospital, UV going to Alabang then pedicab from Alabang on route to the hospital. The southeast Asian hospital is one of the best hospitals in the Philippines due to early response to diseases and improving healthcare through updated technology and advancements.
The Physical Rehab center is kind of big for a common rehab center; it has a complete set of equipment that is up to standard since this is the newest department from the hospital. The exercises are not that extraneous as I thought would be but those specific exercises give pain to the chosen muscle that Ate Kyle wants to aim to recover so it will be tiresome after the session. Kyle Villasanta, my cousin who is specializing in physical therapy and rehab is one of the staff here in their newest clinic. She's not that tall, long-haired chubby woman in her late 20s, she is about to graduate as a doctor major in physical rehabilitation together with her being a nutritionist. Her dream is to be a fitness expert that I saw on TV for diets and shit, I'm proud of her of all the milestones she went through studying.
"Is that the guy on the news lately? The Victim of the suspect intentionally rammed?" "Yes, he is. Despite the accident, he is still fine though."
"I pity for the guy, he is an E-sport professional. He misses the important tournament; I wish he can come back though."
"Some say that he should retire since he got to a coma which some of his brain processes are slower now."
"That's why he is here, to get back in shape as fast as possible."
They talk behind my back silently and I can still hear them talking about me, I just ignored it since it will not produce a positive impression about me and also I'm a professional, I need to deal this since my face and name is in the public which is a normal occurrence of being an E-sport Pro. I just finished the session and got back home. I said bye to my cousin and talk to her to come to my house sometime in Lavida Dasmarinas, she said 'next time on the next weekend' then I go out to the hospital.
Soon as I go back home. The interior of the house is empty except the room and the kitchen, the living room is a literal space of the bungalow house which is kinda bummer. The only thing there was is my High – end PC which I go to practice my games online with my teammates. It's hard to live alone since my parents got divorced and have different families now; we're okay in me but to each other, not so much. They call me time to time, just annoying nowadays since I got to an accident. They worry about me since I'm basically cannot work and I got shorthanded to play in the worldwide tournament which was held twice a year.
I didn't know when I come back to play to PCS since the result of my test in my neurologist is coming by tomorrow at the same hospital in the afternoon after the rehab.
My teammates con-call me on my phone to check up on me, but we are just bantering to each other of what happened to the tournament last 3 months ago. Diego, Kit, Ren, Jha, and Cha are the names of my teammates that I playing with representing Team Bonfire sponsored by Genius telecommunication company.
Despite what happened, Charice was forced to play the jungle to cover up the team. It was a disaster since the social media flaming to put a woman on a major role that the team specializes on but they got silenced when she is smashing the jungle most of the time but got shorthanded in the semis, it is no small feat for a team that losses a crucial teammate on the team but still we didn't win which our aim to be since I'm in my retiring age of 28. Being an E-sport professional of 28 years old, you're 45 in a standard sport. That how high is the turnover this kind of sport has, since this accident happened there is a high chance that I retire which that I didn't achieve what I want as to win the Worlds. What can I do? It's just circumstances; at least I gave myself a heads up of what will happen in the future.
I'm staring down in my PC, tempted to play League but shrug it out of my mind since I will not be satisfied with how I play the game. Instead, I crack some eggs, chop scallions and carrots then mix it up to cook some egg rolls together with instant soup noodles for dinner tonight like some broke Asian college student. As I eat alone sighing, a home so empty that the sound of wind makes it unbearable. I'm so used to it but sometimes what it feels like to have someone to be with you when you come home and greet you every time, this is one of those times wishing to have someone in this house. Then I take a shower, preparing to sleep early to end this fucking day.
I just want to play professionally, please give me good results tomorrow so I can play for the next season. Crying myself in agony wishing to play longer until my last breath; this is all I have, don't let this accident affect my career. I fell asleep with struggling thoughts in my mind.
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A Comprehensive PvP Analysis on the GBL Season 3 Move Rebalance

Hello again, fellow travelers! It's that PvP article guy (LXP and Community Day/Elite TM analysis), back with a look at the seemingly regular move shakeup we just got with the kickoff of GO Battle League's third season. It's not the seismic shift we've had during other past rebalances, but there IS still plenty to discuss!
A disclaimer: I am examining these strictly from a PvP usability standpoint. Yes, there ARE some impacts in terms of raids and PVE damage rankings and all, but there are a myriad of other folks that already look into all that. I am a PvP analyst, so that's what I'll be focusing on here. One more note: while I usually try and bring in at least some information on shieldless and 2v2 shielding scenarios, I chose to stick with just the standard 1v1 shielding matchups in the sims below, partly because it still tells the story fine on its own and represents the pros and cons of the changes well, and also partly to spare you from this dragging on any longer than it already does! 😅
So without further ado, let's dive in, starting with the fast moves and working our way down. Buckle up!

SNOWBALL FIGHT!!

Arguably the biggest winner of all in this shakeup is a Pokémon that has long been the butt of jokes: Abomasnow. It has an intriguing Grass/Ice typing combination that seems like it should be good (resistances to Electric, Grass, Ground, and Water), but in the end is much more curse than blessing (vulnerable to seemingly everything under the sun: Bug, Fighting, Flying, Poison, Rock, Steel, and of course doubly weak to Fire). Add to that the fact that the best charge moves it could muster were Energy Ball (which isn't bad) and the slow Outrage or Blizzard, and not even a good energy generating move like POWDER SNOW could get there fast enough to overcome its many Achilles' heels, relegating it to typically being a clumsy Razor Leafer.
But Aboma just got a DOUBLE shot in the arm. First of all, Powder Snow got a straight buff in this update, going from the 2.0 Damage Per Turn and 4.0 Energy Per Turn it generated before to now 2.5 DPT and the same 4.0 EPT, making it a clone of the awesome Vine Whip and trailing just behind top notch moves Shadow Claw and Volt Switch with their 4.0 EPT and 3.0 DPT. No other move generates as much energy as Powder Snow while dealing any higher than 2.0 DPT, putting the new and improved Powder Snow in pretty elite company. Shoutout to fellow analyst u/ytxpikachu25 for pointing out that this buff means Aboma's Powder Snows each deal one more damage than before to Galarian Stunfisk, Bastiodon, Steelix, Cherrim, Escavalier, and Shiftry, among others.
The other good news for Abomasnow is that it also recieved a new charge move in this update, and it's just what it needed most: an inexpensive move to pair with Energy Ball. Say hello to the only non-Castform recipient of Ice WEATHER BALL. Put that together with the improved Powder Snow and the steady Energy Ball from before, and what do you get? A genuine contender. That's an improvement of 20% to its previously best win total, specifically eight new wins--Cresselia, Dewgong, AS Tropius, Venusaur, Shiftry, Cherrim, Galvantula, and HaunteGengar--while still beating everything pre-buff "Obama" already could. Snowbama has finally arrived to occupy a chunk of the Great League stage.
But Weather Ball is also a boon to Razor Leaf Abomasnow, improving on its previous best by adding several notable new wins like Cresselia, Probopass, Razor Leaf Tropius, and big bad Meganium, as well as greatly improving on wins versus Haunter and Sableye (30 and 50 more HP, respectively, after beating them with IWB). Ice Weather Ball immediately becomes one of the best moves in the game to pair with Razor Leaf, being spammy enough for even slow-charging Razor Leaf to get there--often even in multiples!--and offering very good coverage and giving RL Obama some good versatility.
And there's more... there is also Shadow Abomasnow to consider, which seems to be all the rage so far in this early GBL season. It's both a little better and a little worse than regular Aboma. Sticking with Razor Leaf Abomashadow for the moment, new wins appear against Froslass, Ferrothorn, and Galvantula, though at the cost of giving up wins against Haunter and Hypno that non-Shadow Aboma gets. Digging a little deeper, while both regular and Shadow win against Cresselia, Mantine, Probopass, Tropius and others, regular Abomasnow gets out with more HP, often 20+ more, while Abomashadow doesn't escape with more remaining HP often at all, and even when it does, rarely for more than 5 or so more HP.
And likewise with Powder Snow. Here, you can see right away that the case for Abomashadow is a little shakier, as it shows one less win than normal PS Aboma, but once again there's more to see when you peel back the layers. Shadow gets unique wins over Lapras, Toxicroak, and Galarian Stunfisk, all big names to be sure. But it also loses to Dewgong, Hypno, Cherrim, and Mew, all of which non-Shadow Aboma can take out.
Personally, I still give the (slight) edge to non-Shadow Aboma in Great League, so don't fret if you don't have a good Abomashadow!
But there is STILL more. Because while Abomasnow tops out below 2400 CP, it is now even a potential option in Ultra League, beating most notable Grasses, Charmers, Dragons (Dragonite AND potentially both Giratinas), Ghosts (Gengar and suddenly relevant Drifblim), and of course Waters like Swampert, Empoleon, Blastoise, and Feraligatr thanks to Energy Ball. Not bad! Maxing an Abomashadow would be painful, but it is worth noting that doing so could net you Cresselia and Snorlax (but you give up Granbull and Empoleon). I'm not saying a maxed Aboma is something I would outright recommend for Ultra League, but there are many worse ideas.
So what's the verdict?
In Great League, while it has been a laughing stock many times over, Abomasnow may now get the last laugh. With either fast move, Energy Ball and the new Ice Weather Ball have taken Aboma from plodding and unintimindating to spammy and terrifying overnight. You have probably run into at least one in this young GBL season already. It won't be the last. Abomasnow is now here to stay. Good news if you haven't invested yet: you can run with a cheaper, non-Shadow one and still be just fine, IMO. Check the slight differences above, but either snow white or dirty snow Aboma work well.
Other Benefactors?
While only Abomasnow recieved Ice Weather Ball, there are many Pokémon that have Powder Snow and stand to benefit.

THROW A HEX ON THE WHOLE FAMILY

Yes, this 40-year-old white boy is throwing out a Puff Daddy (and The Notorious B.I.G. and Lil' Kim) lyrical reference... what of it? 😎
Powder Snow got buffed, but it's not the only fast move that did. Two moves recieved a straight buff to their energy generation, from 3.67 EPT to a simpler 4.0 EPT, and one of those, as you likely surmised by now, is long-forgotten Ghost move HEX. While still strictly inferior to well-known Ghost move Shadow Claw (which has the same energy generation but deals 50% more damage--3.0 rather than Hex's 2.0--per turn), this improvement at least makes Hex usable, now sporting the same stats as Fury Cutter and Spark. Not the greatest of moves, fair enough, but viable for anything that has Hex but cannot use Shadow Claw instead.
And even this small tweak is a boon to several Pokémon, propelling them up the ranks. Probably the biggest beneficiary is Drifblim. A standout star early in the now-ending Silph Arena Season 2, back then Blim relied on big Shadow Balls baited out with a still-useful-then Ominous Wind. Its non-Ghost move, Icy Wind, was buffed in another move update in December, but still mostly ignored until Ominous Wind was itself nerfed in yet ANOTHER move rebalancing in April. (Yeah, Niantic has been pretty rebalance-happy the last few months. 😓) Anyway, all that to say that despite the goings-on with its charge moves, Drifblim never really broke out fully. Hex was (and still is) its only viable fast move, and frankly, that held it back, with it losing several close matchups, just not quite being able to get over the hump and dying before it could let loose with its own winning charge moves.
No longer. With Hex now generating a bit more energy more quickly, Drifblim is rising again. As you would probably expect, it handles Psychics and Fighters and even other Ghosts (not named Haunter) quite capably, though that wasn't always the case... it used to lose to Jirachi and Alolan Marowak with the old Hex stats, but now beats both, and convincingly. It also adds Registeel (granted, the nerf Regi faces don't help, but still), Azumarill, and Ferrothorn to the win column. And again, all that with just a 0.33 boost in energy generation per turn. And Blim still handles Grasses and Swampert and even traditional Flying killer Melmetal as it did before, with each win obviously coming a bit easier (read as: with more remaining HP afterwards) than it did before. And it gets even better, as with very good PvP IVs, Drifblim can even emerge victorious over Skarmory, Galarian Stunfisk, Mantine, and Altaria.
The difference in Ultra League (yes, viable there too!) is a bit more subtle, as the only new win it really picks up against the core meta is Charizard, but as in Great League, it has more HP remaining in its wins, including about 50 more against Ferrothorn and as much as 90 more HP remaining against Cresselia.
So what's the verdict?
Drifblim was arguably better than people gave it credit for already, but the buff to Hex can lead to some HUGE new wins (especially Azu, Regi, and potentially even Altaria) in Great League and more consistency overall. Give it another look... Blim may surprise you, and at least early in the GBL season, your opponent as well!
Other Benefactors?
Not everything that has Hex stands to benefit, as most still have better fast moves, but there are a few dark horses....

AND UH... INFESTATION

Yeah, not even a catchy title for this one, because honestly, the ripples from the buff to INFESTATION are rather small. It got the same treatment as Hex (going from 3.67 EPT to 4.0 EPT, with the same 2.0 DPT), but there just aren't any particularly interesting Pokémon that actually want it, even in its improved state. The top ones that can even HAVE Infestation are Beedrill (wants Poison Jab), Tangrowth (definitely wants Vine Whip, which is strictly better), Cradily and Jumpluff (not since Bullet Seed was buffed!), and then you're into things like Muk and Drapion which I can't see ever choosing Infestation over their other fast moves. This is mostly just a boon to fringe options like Weezing and Garbodor and Swalot. At least that last one has SOME potential... wins over Fighters and Grasses and Darks and Charmers and tanky Psychics and even Azumarill all make you at least go "hmmmm". But truthfully, the buff to Infestation, while certainly welcome, isn't dragging new stuff to the top of the meta anytime soon.

LAND OF THE DEE (BUFF), HOME OF THE BRAVE (BIRDS)

And now probably the move that will cause the most ongoing debate, because while BRAVE BIRD got a huge damage buff (formerly 55 energy for 90 damage, and now 55 for a whopping 130), there is a steep penalty: a drop of three stages (nearly 50%) of the user's Defense stat. I talked about this some recently with the only other move to carry a -3 drop in the game so far: Victini's V-Create. If you can charge two and fire them in close succession, you can drastically mitigate at least the initial pain of so drastically crushing your Pokémon's bulk. But V-Create costs 40 energy... and Brave Bird costs 55, so that's going to be much harder to pull off.
Fortunately, there are a couple birds with fast moves that get there quickly. Honchkrow has Snarl, one of the fastest charging fast moves in the game. And perhaps even better, Honch also has the mighty Sky Attack, which can be sprung a bit earlier to hopefully bait a shield and leave you 10 energy closer to a Brave Bird than double charging BB allows. Sky Attack also obviously has no drawbacks as far as debuffing goes, so you can rely on it more fully and save BB for big moments. There was no reason to ever use Brave Bird before, and so Honchkrow instead relied on Dark Pulse for its second move, which was okay-ish but left Honch as a very fringey option. Now, though, it has the potential to fly quite high with double Flying moves. You might expect Honch to lose a matchup or two by shedding its one and only Dark charge move, but amazingly that's not the case at all... it actually holds or improves upon every win it got with Dark Pulse (meaning has the same HP or more left over at the end), and tacks on wins versus Whiscash, Ferrothorn, Umbreon, Zweilous, Tropius, Toxicroak, and Altaria. That's mighty impressive, and I feel very confident calling Brave Bird--even just the threat of Brave Bird--a clear improvement for Honchkrow in Great League.
And the improvement is even more striking in Ultra League, with Honchkrow again holding the (shaky) line established with Dark Pulse and just adding to it, with Poliwrath, Swampert, Typhlosion, Scizor, Escavalier, Feraligatr, Charizard, and Dragonite all now falling to Honch.
So what's the verdict?
Honchkrow just become meta before our eyes. It may take people a little while to catch on in Great League, but expect to see it start to emerge here and there and possibly be more common by the time Ultra rolls around. It's an expensive investment for Ultra, needing to be leveled into the upper 30s, but it's not a crazy idea to do so.
Other Benefactors?
Part of the reason Brave Bird works so well for Honch is that it has that second, threatening charge move (Sky Attack) that it can mostly rely on and reserve Brave Bird for the most opportune moment. Not all Pokémon have that option, so how does this affect them?
There is one more big bird that gets Brave Bird, but I want to break it down separately... right now!

BRAVIARY IN ACTION

I looked into Braviary shortly after Rufflet arrived in the game, but with pre-tweaked Brave Bird and slow charging Heat Wave as the only moves to go alongside the all-but-necessary Rock Slide, it just didn't do enough to deserve a full writeup. But now it gets CLOSE COMBAT, which makes it at least a little more intriguing should it ever arrive in small enough form to fit in Great League, gaining new wins over Galarian Stunfisk, Swampert, Munchlax, and potentially even Registeel.
But in Ultra League, it makes a few more inroads, with Close Combat bringing home new wins over Empoleon, Obstagoon, and Alolan Muk. Or you can bring the reworked BRAVE BIRD into the mix and reach for Altered Giratina, Typhlosion, and fellow buffed Pokémon Drifblim, while still holding on to Obstagoon and Empoleon (though A-Muk may slip away).
And while Braviary crosses the 3000 CP threshold and can do some work in Master League (and a bit more in ML Premier Cup), now preferring Rock Slide again, it has a rather niche role.
So what's the verdict?
Eh, I like the potential of Braviary in Great League and Master League more than the actual win/loss columns. A Flyer with moves that cover many of its toughest counters (Close Combat for Rocks and Ices) and counter fellow Flyers (Rock Slide, which doubles up on Ices and provides other good coverage) is going to matter at some point, just perhaps more in The Silph Arena than in GBL.
But in Ultra League, there may be something to it, especially in the projected Ultra League Premier Cup. Consider prepping one now to get ahead of the curve. Put those GBL Rufflet candies to good use!

PECK TO THE SIDES, TO THE FRONT, TO THE BACK

🎼 Well, look at old Jim, he's pecking on his back!
Peckin' to me is a lot of fun,
Well, you peck one, and I'll peck one, well, we'll all peck one!
You peck to the east, and then you peck to the west,
🎶 Then you peck, peck, peck 'til you've pecked your best.
Well, then okay, well, a-hey, hey,
We'll peck up, we'll peck up, we'll peck up the floor, Yeah!
Apologies to Cab Calloway, but you knew I'd have to have ONE butchered song in here!
Anyway, let's talk DRILL PECK. It's a very rare move, available on only two viable Pokémon in PvP: Zapdos, and as of the start of Season 3, Empoleon.
Zapdos first. I already wrote about Thunder Shock Zapdos to kick off my early review of Elite TM targets, so rather than rehashing all that, would encourage you to go read that again. I'll wait.
...
...
...you back? Okay, good. Because with Drill Peck now dealing five more damage (65 now, 60 previously) for the same low 40 energy cost, Zapdos is even a little bit better now. Shadow Zapdos in Great League picks up a new win against Medicham (the little bit of extra damage from Drill Peck finishing Cham off before it can reach a second Ice Punch). I didn't see any significant new wins in Ultra or Master (though feel free to point them out if you know of any!), but it does give Zapdos a little more elbow room in some of its wins. I wouldn't say this tweak is now the reason to suddenly start using Zapdos (the fact that you could get Thunder Shock in any league was that reason), but if you already planned to, the improvements to Drill Peck make Zappy a hair better overall.
The bigger story is perhaps Empoleon, you FINALLY gets a coverage move against the Fighters and Grasses that plague it. The best thing it had to combine with Hydro Cannon before was Flash Cannon, which just got nerfed a bit. Drill Peck gives it a new win over Aboma(powder)snow and brings Azumarill to well within the margin of error, though without Flash Cannon you DO lose out on Altaria. in Ultra League, Empie with Drill Peck maintains its current roles and adds wins against Dragonite and now Shadow Abomasnow, while in Master League, Empoleon basically stays where it was, since it usually only needs Hydro Cannon anyway. (Though the hard-to-sim coverage against Fighters is nice to have, so I'd still call this a gain.) Nothing awe-inspiring, but overall, this makes Empoleon a mostly better version of itself.
So what's the verdict?
This isn't a huge change, and that shows in the minutia in the win/loss changes. But it IS a straight upgrade for Zapdos, and gives Empoleon the best move it has had yet to pair with Hydro Cannon. While the loss to Altaria in GL is unfortunate, I think I still give it a thumbs up as the second move to roll with on Empoleon moving forward.
Other Benefactors?
Honestly, not really. Murkrow and Dodrio get Drill Peck, but they still don't really have any play. Zapdos and now Empoleon are the beginning and end of the Drill Peck book.

GOODNESS, GRACIOUS, GREAT BALLS OF... WATER?

So with stats (~125 Attack, 127 Defense, 113 HP) basically the same as Togekiss and overall comparable to things like Venusaur and Cherrim, it's not that Pelipper doesn't have what it takes to hang in there in Great League. The problem has always been the complete lack of any charge moves cheaper than Hurricane and its 65 energy requirement. Sure, Hydro Pump and Blizzard are awesome when they hit, and Wing Attack (3.5 Energy Per Turn) in particular generates energy fast enough to get there at some point, but Pump and Blizzard both cost 75 energy. What Pelipper has so desperately needed is a bait/spam move, and now it finally has it with Water WEATHER BALL. So while Pelipper has been quite pathetic to this point, with WWB, suddenly it doesn't look too shabby. With just Wing Attack and WWB alone (so no baits), it can eliminate Registeel, Mud Boys Swampert and Whiscash, Galarian Stunfisk, Shiftry, A-Wak, Haunter, and basically anything Fighting, a very good start. Bringing in Hurricane (still the best bet as the second move) you can add on things like Azumarill, Lapras, Tropius, and Cherrim, plus Mantine with good bulk IVs. Not the greatest Flying Water type ever--I'd still say, in Great League, that that title rests with Mantine itself)--but Pelipper is legit close to that... and Mantine doesn't usually get Registeel.
You also have the option of Water Gun rather than Wing Attack, losing 0.5 EPT but gaining 0.5 DPT and a steadier dose of Water-type damage, which is worse overall BUT does gain things like Probopass and a better showing against A-Marowak and Registeel while giving up Grasses, Lapras, and Azumarill. Like I said, it's worse, but it IS an option and may be better in certain limited formats like future Silph Arena Cups. For now, just something to keep in mind... towards the back.
So what's the verdict?
Wing Attack/Water Weather Ball/Hurricane Pelipper has some legit play, with some very good wins under its belt, uh, beak, from Mud Boys to Fighters to Ghosts to G-Fisk to Registeel and even some of the biggest of big name Grasses. It's sort of a mini-Mantine, one that may even be better on certain teams and/or in certain more-restricted-than-GBL formats. Recommend looking for a good Wingull and making a Pelipper out of it when you're able.

...AND ALL THE REST

TL;DR

Yes, as it says in the title, this is a comprehensive (read as: LONG) analysis article, but I know some people just want to skip to the end and get a summary. So before you ask, this is for you:
And that's a wrap, folks! I did quite a bit of analysis on all this over the last two days, and while this is an informed opinion, it is still just that: my opinion. Hopefully it helps, but take that for what it's worth!
Alright, I'll bow out now and let you get back to your day and your GBL matches. Thanks for sticking with me through this and other long articles I have written. I appreciate your time and attention, and sincerely hope this assists you in navigating these new GBL waters.
For more PvP tidbits, you can find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon and its tie-in exclusive Discord servesecret lair. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I'll try to get back to you!
Stay safe out there, Pokéfriends. Thanks again for reading, and catch you next time!
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The biggest scam site I have run across in 25 years. Heritage Sports

The rollover on a bonus of $10 is a total of $550 (which is the deposit made of $100 + the bonus of $10 multiplied by 5 which is the rollover amount on our 10% bonus) for the rollover completion we take into account the smallest amount between your risk and win amount every time you place a wager (please note that only sports betting counts for rollover casino action does not).
After reviewing your account we see that you have never gone down to zero balance between your deposits, this actually means that the rollover on each of your deposits is still active, if you had lost the deposit completely the rollover is reset, but in this case it does not apply, Having said that according to our records you have completed a total of $304.82 in rollover since your first deposit on 7/17/2020, the total amount of rollover on your account, which is coming from your 3 deposits with bonuses and the cash boost we provided for the return of major sports is $1855, which means that at the moment you have $1550.18 left to complete in rollover for your account.
THE ABOVE IS FROM AN EMAIL. I JOINED WHAT I THOUGHT WAS A REDUCED JUICE CASH-BACK SITE WITH NO ROLLOVER. THEY ADD A $10 BONUS, UNLESS YOU UNCHECK A BOX ON THE MAIN SITE, NOT THE MOBILE SITE. NOTE THAT DEPOSITS ALLOW CASINO AND SPORTS BOOK, BUT IN THE FINE PRINT, CASINO DOES NOT COUNT TOWARDS ROLLOVER. AT INTERTOPS, 2 SEPARATE ACCOUNTS ARE REQUIRED, AT BOVADA ACTION COUNTS IN A WEIGHTED WAY, DEFINED IN THE BONUS, NOT FINE PRINT. My deposits were roughly $100 each time (bitcoin deposits make it hard to be exact). So 3 deposits with $30 required $1855 in betting, a 60x rollover.
AVOID THIS SITE, NOTE FURTHER THAT UNLIKE BOVADA, ONE CAN NOT FORFEIT THE BONUS WHEN YOU ARE AT SAY $.14, or $.97 too small for a bet. So rollover keeps adding up, despite losing your stake.
I am a big boy and expect to lose, but never even having the slightest chance at making a Withdrawal is too much. You all know the big names, stray at your own detriment. I welcome feedback from anyone who has either positive or negative feedback.
Dorleans15
submitted by Dorleans15 to sportsbook [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 24, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
5-27-2002 6-3-2002 6-10-2002 6-17-2002
  • We open with a ton of details on Steve Austin walking out on WWE last week, and the story took a darker turn this week when Austin was accused of allegedly beating his wife Debra. Looks like Dave is just going to run through the whole last couple of weeks first though, before we get to all that. No wrestler in the history of the business has generated more money than Austin has in the past 5 years, leading the way for WWE to become listed on the New York Stock Exchange and valued at more than $1 billion. Hulk Hogan, Antonio Inoki, Gorgeous George, Jim Londos....no one in the history of wrestling, even adjusted for inflation, has been a bigger money-maker than Steve Austin. Throughout it all, he had a reputation as a pro's pro, always working hard and being unselfish in trying to help the company and his co-workers grow. But over the last few months, things had changed. The company is nose-diving, Austin had become paranoid and distrustful of the locker room, particularly when the NWO guys were brought in. He refused to work with Hogan at Wrestlemania and wasn't happy about working with Hall either, and insisted on decisively winning their match and blowing off the feud. He went home after Wrestlemania, no-showing Raw the night after, but things seemed to be patched up soon after. When he came back, he still wasn't happy and spoke out publicly against the brand extension and the overall creative direction of the company. A lot of people in the locker room supported Austin, feeling he was completely justified in his complaints because everyone realizes the wheels are falling off the company lately. The Sunday night before Raw last week, Austin was told by Jim Ross that the plan was for him to face Brock Lesnar, with the idea that Eddie Guerrero would cost him the match. Austin pointed out the obvious: him vs. Lesnar is a huge money match that should be built up for months on PPV. Lesnar should go through the whole locker room before he gets to Austin last. No first, on free TV, with no build-up. Austin hated the idea and said he wasn't coming if that was the plan. Ross told Vince, who called Austin and left a voicemail. He told Austin to call him back, no matter what time. Austin did call back, at 2am, and they discussed the plan. According to Vince, Austin had reluctantly agreed to it. Austin evidently felt otherwise, because he showed up to Raw that day, found out the Lesnar match was still booked, and decided, "fuck that", got on a plane and went home with Debra.
  • Raw that night was mostly built around the angle where Ric Flair would have to be Austin's personal assistant after he lost their match last week. Because much of the show was written around that, they had to re-write the whole show at the last minute in a panic, abruptly turning Flair babyface again and ending the huge dual-ownership angle with no build-up (it really sounds like Vince was determined to give away something huge on TV that week without building it up. "Ok, fine, Austin walked out. What else can we ruin this week and throw away a perfectly good PPV money opportunity?"). Meanwhile, Austin was ignoring all phone calls until he finally answered one from Jim Ross, who told Austin he was being unprofessional and to come try and talk it out with Vince. But Austin refused, saying he refused to work with McMahon anymore, and hung up.
  • So then came the burial. Vince McMahon and Jim Ross taped interviews for this week's episode of WWE Confidential in which they completely buried Austin, with Vince vowing to never bring him back. Basically everything you can imagine: Austin turned his back on the fans, he betrayed the little kids with Stone Cold shirts and all the fans who made him rich. WWE invested so much in Austin only for him to turn his back on them and so on and so forth. Jim Ross in particular dumped a lot of dirt on Austin's grave here, which Dave seems taken aback by. Austin saved Jim Ross' announcing career by insisting that JR be brought back for his Wrestlemania 15 match with Rock. At the time, Ross was still suffering from Bells palsy and Vince had no intention of ever bringing him back, but Austin insisted and the crowd reaction led to Ross being brought back permanently. So for Ross to be burying his good friend like this seems to rub Dave the wrong way (for what it's worth, it rubbed JR the wrong way too. He's gone on record a million times since then saying he wished he hadn't done it and he's apologized to Austin profusely for it). Ross talked openly about some of Austin's personal business, like his previous divorce or when his kids went to live in England, and hinted that Austin's issues were more than just professional burnout. At the time this was being filmed, nobody knew just how true that was.
WATCH: WWE Confidential: The Steve Austine episode
  • The night before WWE Confidential aired, at 4am, Austin's wife Debra called 911 to their home in San Antonio, claiming Austin had attacked her. Austin drove away in his yellow Corvette before the police arrived. When they showed up, they found Debra crying with a large welt on her face. She said Austin had hit her several times after an argument then left when she made the 911 call. She said she was worried about the call because of how famous Austin is and knowing word would get out. She also showed them several marks on her back where she said Austin hit her. Austin called the house twice while police were there and they spoke to him and advised him to come home. Austin was cordial to the officers on the phone but refused to come back home while they were there. Debra declined to press charges and because she refused to seek medical attention, under Texas law, the police pretty much consider it a dead issue unless she changes her mind. Austin later returned home after they left. The national news media didn't pick up on it until Monday, at which point it became a huge story. They even had a news helicopter following Austin driving around town (with an open beer in his Corvette), talking with his neighbors in his yard, and also showed him flipping off the news cameras (I can't find footage of any of this). Because Austin is a wrestler and play fighting is what they do, the media treated this very serious issue as if were almost a joke, which Dave seems disgusted by.
  • With Austin being all over the news that day, this led to the unannounced surprise return of The Rock on Raw, after they spent the whole show teasing that Austin would show up. Rock wasn't scheduled to return until next month, to build for a match at Summerslam, but knowing the company was in a tough situation, Rock agreed to come back early. The plan appears to be for Rock to challenge for the WWE title at Fully Loaded next month. There's also been talk about Rock winning the title and then dropping it to Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, which is a surefire way to create a new superstar (indeed, that's exactly what happens). Rock's return, since it came as a complete surprise, was a flop in the ratings. If they had built it up just one week, they could have made some money on it, but not building up anything seems to be the M.O. for WWE these days. Between the Shawn Michaels return, the FlaiVince blow-off, and now this, that's 3 Raws in a row where they gave away major moments that should/could have been built up for bigger ratings or PPV money. Dave calls WWE a junkie pawning its $2,500 ring for $500 just to get a quick fix. And that's not even getting into the smaller details, such as the fact that Rock is a Smackdown guy, so why the fuck is he returning on Raw anyway? But again, the wheels are totally off the WWE train here in 2002. It's clear to see in retrospect how WWE was falling from their peak and Vince was desperately clawing at any idea he could think of to stop the bleeding.
  • So back to Austin. Even after the story broke, Vince went on Raw and changed his tune, saying he hoped Austin would some day come back to WWE but time would tell and for now, he's gone. Dave says if you think this is going to end Austin's career, look at Mike Tyson, Jimmy Snuka, Invader I, and Chris Adams. All of whom did even more heinous things than Austin and their careers were just fine. Dave is pretty sure he'll be back. Rock came out on Raw, gave a big rah-rah speech in which he also pretty much buried Austin for "taking his ball and going home" and did the whole "get the F out" tagline. And that's it on the Austin saga for now.
  • It's officially super-duper extra official now: the World Wrestling Federation is dead. WWE lost its final appeal in the UK's highest court in their battle against the World Wildlife Fund. Vince McMahon had already thrown in the towel and the company has already been renamed to WWE, but the final appeal was never dropped and was still going through the system. In the highly unlikely event that they somehow won the case, they planned to revert back to the WWF initials. But of course, they didn't win. Just like every single lower court before them, the court handed the wrestling company its final defeat. So WWF is dead. WWE it is.
  • Motoko Baba officially announced that she will be retiring as AJPW president at the end of September. It's expected that Keiji Muto will take over the role, which has been heavily rumored ever since he jumped ship from NJPW.
  • A rookie named Trevor Rhodes, who was trained by Harley Race, will be working the upcoming tour for Pro Wrestling NOAH (this would be future WWE star Trevor Murdoch).
  • NJPW held its annual stockholders meeting and Antonio Inoki couldn't even be bothered to attend. Masa Chono and Tatsuo Kawamura were named to the board of directors, to replace Riki Choshu. Speaking of, Choshu was also there and sold all his stock in the company and left without speaking to reporters.
  • In a radio interview, Jesse Ventura announced that he will not be running for a second term as Minnesota's governor. Ventura didn't go into all the reasons why, but he did acknowledge a recent controversy as playing a part. There's been some news stories this week noting that Ventura's 22-year-old son used the governor's mansion for a late night weekend party awhile back. Cleaning crew members of the mansion went public saying that when their parents are gone, this kid basically throws wild parties there that they have to clean up after. Ventura shot back, basically claiming his son is being slandered and denied it, but said the attacks on his family made him not want to run again. The news stories talked about some of the alleged damage and Dave actually sides with Ventura here. The damage doesn't sound that bad (some empty beer cans, a broken pool cue, and some tables that were scuffed up. "Geez, that's my house whenever there is a fight night," Dave writes. Doesn't sound like that wild of a party. A 22-year old brings his friends over to watch sports and drink some beer. Dave doesn't think that should be a huge controversy or anything. Neighbors near the mansion have said there's been no issue with noise or disturbances.
  • Major League Wrestling had its debut show at the old ECW Arena and the MLW championship was won by Shane Douglas. They did an angle where they basically tried to re-create the famous Shane Douglas/NWA title incident, where Shane was gonna throw the belt down, but they did an angle where he was told he'd be fined and suspended for life from wrestling if he didn't defend the belt. Angle didn't get over at all and most people there hated it and it led to pretty mediocre reviews for the show overall. Bam Bam Bigelow was supposed to work the show, but when he arrived, he found out they wanted him to do a job to AJPW wrestler Taiyo Kea in the first round of the title tournament. Bam Bam said fuck that and bounced. Steve Corino also managed to get a "fuck Paul Heyman!" chant going, in the ECW Arena nonetheless, which is an interesting note.
  • Sandman will be doing a celebrity boxing match in Philly soon, going against Tony Luke, who owns a bunch of sandwich shops in the area and is known as "The King of Sandwiches" in Philadelphia. Sure, why not?
  • There was a recent news story about Sputnik Monroe from a reporter who was in Memphis for the Tyson/Lewis boxing match. The reporter went to the Memphis Rock 'n Soul museum and saw the big display they had there for Monroe, including his ring jacket, trunks, boots, etc. Dave recaps the history of Monroe, who is credited with desegregating wrestling in Memphis during the Jim Crow days of the 1950s. Monroe was a white wrestler who hung out in the black part of town and, as a result, became the black fans' favorite wrestler. He was a huge draw in Memphis at a time when black fans weren't allowed to sit in the main seats, only the nosebleeds in the balcony. Monroe's popularity was so big that one week, they turned away more than 1,000 black fans even though they had room in the arena. Just not in the "colored" section. So Monroe told the promoter he was quitting if they didn't let in his black fans. And since Monroe was such a huge draw, the promoter caved, and just like that, black fans were allowed to sit with white fans anywhere in the arena. It actually had a domino effect, because it was the first sporting event in Memphis to desegregate and it led to other sporting and entertainment events in the city following suit. In the 50s and 60s, Memphis was one of the only wrestling territories in America that was desegregated like this (fun fact: I used to live in Memphis and just went to that museum back in 2018. For starters, I highly recommend it if you're ever in town. In fact, I have a million recommendations for anyone who ever visits Memphis. That city is my heart and soul. Also, the Sputnik Monroe exhibit is still there).
  • The TNA debut show hasn't happened at press time, but Ken Shamrock is expected to win the NWA title in the battle royal gimmick. If he doesn't, it's because there was a last minute change, but as of now, it's absolutely going to be Shamrock.
  • Good news for TNA, the company reached an agreement with Dish Network, which adds another 7-8 million potential homes to their exposure. The only PPV provider in the U.S. not carrying them now is Cablevision.
  • The TNA cruiserweight title has been renamed the "X" title. The idea is that it's not necessarily going to be limited to just small guys and will act more as a secondary title to the NWA belt, not exclusively a cruiserweight thing.
  • Disco Inferno turned down an offer to join TNA because they wanted him to change his name to Ad Man and have a gimmick where people print/draw ads on his body, like they do in boxing sometimes. Or like a NASCAR. The idea is he would be covered in ads and every week, he'd lose a match and a "sponsor" would drop out and eventually, he'd have no sponsors left because he keeps losing. Gee, hard to see why he turned that gimmick down.
  • Random other TNA notes: Ed Ferrara is involved in writing the shows along with Jeff and Jerry Jarrett (and, let's be honest, Vince Russo, though that's still top secret. Shhhh, don't tell anybody). Jeff Jarrett was in the pits for the recent NASCAR Kroger 300 race with Hermie Sadler, who is scheduled to be at TNA's debut show. Former ECW manager Sinister Minister will be part of this company, using his real name James Mitchell. K-Krush (Ron Killings, aka R-Truth) is expected to be one of the main heels in the promotion.
  • Okay, fine. Let's talk Russo. Officially, he's still not involved, but he has submitted a bunch of ideas, many of which are expected to be implemented on the debut show. But "officially" he's not part of the company (he's still gotta have a quick cup of coffee in WWE before they kick him to the curb again, at which point he finally decides to join TNA for real).
  • The WWA promotion is in deep trouble. They have a show scheduled for Ireland soon and ticket sales for that show are pretty decent. But every other show on their books looks to be dying. They have 3 shows scheduled for Germany next month and all 3 shows have less than 500 tickets sold each. The German promoters are wanting to cancel the tour but WWA promoter Andrew McManus has a contract that will result in a lot of financial penalties for him if the shows are canceled, so he's fighting it. Lex Luger is booked for the tour, which would be his first time wrestling since WCW went down. They're also still promoting names like Jeff Jarrett and other TNA contracted talent, but with their new plan of running live every week, it's going to be hard for any of them to get overseas, work the tour, and still do the TNA tapings.
  • XWF is making one last grasp to survive. Even though they've been saying this for almost a year now, the promotion is claiming once again to be very close to getting a TV deal. If it goes through, the plan is to hold a press conference to announce it and then tape 5 weeks of TV to air in Sept. and Oct., with plans to air a PPV some time in late-October. Dave says this sounds like desperation to him and he's not buying that a TV deal is close. Especially since they lost all their top stars, like Hogan, Curt Hennig, and Jerry Lawler, all of whom were involved at the beginning but have all since returned to WWE (though Hennig has since been fired by WWE again, so he's available). But even if this miraculously happens, most of the marketable names left out there have already signed short-term deals with TNA that will last through October, so they wouldn't be available either. So XWF will be struggling to fill a roster with names anyone even cares about (obviously this never happens).
  • UFC will make its TV debut as part of a 30-minute segment on Fox Sports' "The Best Damn Sports Show Period." It will be hosted by Fear Factor host Joe Rogan, who is a huge UFC fan and has a lot of martial arts experience himself. The idea is to show one full fight in its entirety (Robbie Lawler vs. Steve Berger), with highlights of other fights to fill out the rest of the time. Dave criticizes them for not putting Chuck Liddell vs. Vitor Belfort on the show, or at least airing highlights, but that's not the plan as of press time. Obviously, that's a strong PPV draw and that's where the money is, but you only get one chance to make a good impression and Dave thinks it would be in UFC's best interest to give TV viewers a taste of their best foot forward and try to get somebody like Liddell over with a new, large audience.
  • Dave says the Bob Sapp fight in K-1 that was talked about last week, in which Sapp basically mauled his opponent in such a way that he got DQ'd, was at least partially a work. Had it not been, Sapp would have been immediately fired, not given a rematch with the same opponent 6 weeks later. There's a pretty good chance that his opponent didn't know and that the people who ran in to separate them after the fight didn't know either, but Dave seems pretty confident that Sapp was instructed by someone higher up in K-1 to do what he did.
  • Rock's next movie, "Helldorado" is expected to film between September until around Christmas. WWE is hopeful Rock can make some appearances on TV during the those months in between filming dates, but that's going to be difficult to pull off (indeed, he never shows up during this time).
  • Speaking of Rock, he worked the Honalulu, HI house show over the weekend, which drew an easy sellout crowd, the first sellout for a house show in a long time. Due to Rock being on the card, tickets sold out in 2 hours and scalpers were making a ton of money. In fact, the show was such a big deal that a local radio station was giving away tickets for the craziest stunt fans could pull and 2 fans walked through downtown Honolulu completely naked in order to score tickets. Rock beat Jericho in the main event in a great match. It was WWE's first time there in 8 years (Dave corrects himself from before, when he said 14 years in a previous issue and someone here on Reddit called him out on it haha). Rock got a reaction like Antonio Inoki in Japan, he was basically a god in this city. A lot of his friends and family were there as well and backstage, Rock told people that the show was bigger to him than even his 4 Wrestlemania main events and called it the biggest night of his career. When talking about his grandfather, Rock got emotional and began crying and talked about his history promoting in Hawaii. Bruce Willis, for whatever reason, was in attendance, and during the match, they did an angle where Rock held Jericho for Willis to punch him which got a huge pop. Genichiro Tenryu and Motoko Baba were there as well, meeting with John Laurinaitis (Johnny Ace, who spent much of his career in AJPW). They were there to discuss doing business with WWE as well as to get some photo ops for the magazines back in Japan so they can get that WWE-rub. (Sure enough, here's an article from just a couple months ago where Rock says once again, to this day, that the match with Jericho in Hawaii was the most meaningful match of his career. I can't find any footage of the damn thing though, which is a shame).
WATCH: The Rock, in 2020, talks about the Hawaii match with Jericho being his most meaningful match
  • Notes from Raw: X-Pac lost in a King of the Ring qualifier match to RVD and Dave says it's a good thing nobody in WWE pays attention to their own storylines because just a week or two ago, the story was that if anyone in the NWO loses a match going forward, they're out of the group. But of course, that wasn't even acknowledged or remembered here. Raven lost to Jeff Hardy in 3 minutes and Dave's not sure that Raven made the right move by giving up his safe commentary job because they sure don't seem to see much in him as a wrestler. The "Molly Holly is fat" storyline continued because fuck this company. Lawler even tried to get a "She's a fat ass" chant going. Backstage, X-Pac was shown crying after his loss, "sort of like real life," Dave jokes. They teased Austin showing up by playing his music and having Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit come out instead. They did a thing with Jackie Gayda teasing her being on the WWE Lingerie Special that airs next week and had Vince hitting on her backstage, making it very apparent why she was chosen to win Tough Enough over the obvious most deserving finalist, Kenny. And in the main event, Nash and Shawn Michaels were on commentary burying the match, making fun of Jim Ross, etc. And of course, the show closed with Rock doing his surprise return and promo where he pretty much buried Austin for leaving.
WATCH: The Rock makes surprise return to Raw to bury Austin
  • Coming out of Raw, a TON of fans still seemed to think the Austin thing was an angle. Vince's first promo, which was a total shoot about Austin being gone, didn't get over that way, with most fans in the arena expecting an angle and waiting for him to show up. There were constant "We want Austin!" chants and many people that Dave has heard from even thought the Confidential episode was all a work.
  • Notes from Smackdown: all the mentions of Austin on commentary weren't done live during the show, but were later dubbed in. Mostly it was just an effort to plug the Confidential episode about him, and it was such a last minute decision to do that episode that they had to edit the plugs in after the show was taped. The wall of security guards in the ring during the Triple H/Undertaker contract signing was copying the same thing they did before the Tyson/Lewis fight because it's a pretty cool visual. Nidia is doing a hillbilly gimmick now. Hurricane seems to be dropping his gimmick and going back to Gregory Helms. Word is most of the agents hated the Hurricane character for whatever dumb reason.
  • Dave talks about the upcoming Hogan vs. Kurt Angle match at King of the Ring and is curious to see how it goes. He thinks the most likely ending is Vince costing Hogan the match and Angle pinning him, but he's curious to see if Hogan is really going to try to put Angle over or is it gonna be another Kidman situation. That being said, WWE is protecting Angle and there's serious talk of giving Angle a run as the top guy, in the wake of Austin and Rock leaving and Undertaker and Triple H being so banged up. The idea is to put the belt on Angle and have him take on all comers, heel and face, like an old-school Lou Thesz-type champion. Either way, this Hogan match is going to be a test of how good Angle is because if he can't carry Hogan to a good match, then no one can. It's also going to be a test of whether Hogan is really the team player he claims to be now (yeah Dave's gonna be shocked at how this one ends I bet).
  • At the latest WWE tapings in Atlanta, Dusty Rhodes was backstage visiting and introducing his 16-year-old son Cody Runnels to everyone. Cody has been training with his father to be a wrestler. Good luck kid.
  • Former 50s-80s promoter Jim Barnett was also backstage at Raw and since it was his birthday, the McMahons got him a cake and orchestrated everyone singing happy birthday to him. Barnett was there because he was just hired as a consultant, which is curious timing. Barnett hadn't been officially hired by TNA or anything, but he had agreed to appear at their debut show as part of an angle with old NWA champions. So when WWE swooped in this past week and hired him, it got a lot of people talking but Dave says there's nothing to it. If Vince McMahon was trying to poach people from TNA, he wouldn't start by hiring a 78-year-old guy to be a consultant.
  • The local FOX station in Los Angeles, like everyone else, covered the Steve Austin/Debra story on the "Good Day L.A." morning newscast. The story was presented as a big joke, even using the headline "Smackdown At Home." Well, one of the anchors, Jillian Barberie, refused to play along, presenting the story as the serious issue it is and afterwards, criticized the station's writing team live on the air, calling them low class for making light of a woman being beaten by her husband.
  • Random WWE news and notes: Bubba Ray Dudley missed the UK PPV and TV this week due to the death of his mother. Edge and Chris Jericho have joined Kurt Angle as part of the Get Tough on Angina campaign that Angle has already been doing commercials for. A commercial for Summerslam was filmed this week with a bunch of guys chasing Trish Stratus in an ice cream truck.
WATCH: Trish Stratus Summerslam 2002 ice cream truck commercial
  • Rey Mysterio made his WWE debut at a house show in San Diego, beating Chavo Guerrero. Mysterio was wearing his mask again and was said to be more impressive than anyone else on the show. The mask actually did come off by accident at one point though. Mysterio also looked substantially bigger than he did in WCW because, well, he's coming to WWE and you know how that goes.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: Bret Hart injured in bicycle accident, WWE re-hires Vince Russo, King of the Ring fallout, and more coverage of TNA's debut than you could ever possibly want, and a ton more...
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