After they lost access to Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida, AEW had moved production to Georgia. But the future of that situation was precarious, especially now that Georgia has joined the list of states with stay-at-home orders. Before shutting down production, AEW was reportedly able to film material for multiple weeks of Dynamite, including matches in the tournament for the TNT Championship, its new men’s secondary title.
The first AEW TNT Champion is supposed to be crowned at Double Or Nothing (II) in Las Vegas on May 23. Though the coronavirus pandemic and how it impacts pro wrestling continues to evolve, the future of DON, at least as a normal wrestling show, feels up in the air, especially since Nevada has a stay-at-home order through April 30 and the MGM Grand, where the pay-per-view was scheduled to take place, is currently shut down.
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced everyone into their homes for social distancing and, for those that have come into contact with the virus, actual quarantining, and as such it has disrupted nearly every aspect of life.
One of the few bright spots in the otherwise catastrophic pandemic has been the creativity we’ve seen from the entertainment world to continue trying to engage with fans and bring a little joy to people. Nothing has been as successful at doing this as the Instagram Live producer battles that have been set up by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, who were the first to go head-to-head under the #VERZUZ tag, playing 20 hits back-to-back in a highly entertaining battle.
Since then, the battles have continued with Swizz and Timbo serving as the Don King and Bob Arum of the producer battle game on social media, pairing up producers for battles and promoting them across various platforms. It’s been highly entertaining to watch, and seeing how many big stars are watching along with fans and commenting on the battle in the live comments has been great. Recently, the Brands have begun to join in on the fun, and the results have been mixed, from the typical try-hard comments to some legitimately funny reactions — Lil Jon and T-Pain both freaked out upon realizing that the Netflix account was watching them in a very meta moment.
The star for many, however, has been the Sacramento Kings account which has popped up a few times, first in the Mannie Fresh-Scott Storch battle to weigh in on how the two were doing. Then, on Saturday night during T-Pain and Lil Jon’s highly entertaining battle, when Lil Jon threw on “Lovers & Friends” by Usher, the Kings account got, well, a bit personal.
There is something hysterical about a team account saying their ex broke up with them to this song. When you think of a team account you don’t think of the social media manager running it, but the team as a whole or even a specific player that represents that team, so it’s very funny to imagine, like, Buddy Hield being transported back to a lost love while Usher croons during an Instagram Live battle. Some have thought the Kings social media person has simply forgotten to log off the company account, but given that the Kings account always operates on the edge and isn’t afraid of doing something weird or wild in the effort to be funny (and often is, it’s one of the best team accounts out there) this is surely purposeful.
If the effort is keeping people engaged with you and thinking about your account, then this approach is surely working. Mostly, I hope that the Kings social media person is doing alright and is no longer dwelling on that ex that left them at what I have to imagine was a homecoming dance while everyone else was grinding to Usher, Ludacris, and Lil Jon.
The third race of the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series took drivers to Bristol Motor Speedway for the biggest challenge yet in virtual racing. Homestead and Texas had both proved tricky enough, as drivers struggled with the lack of feel, but short-track racing figured to bring a lot of yellow flags and cause tempers to flare and, sure enough, it delivered
The first wreck of the day came on lap 2 and that set the tone for a sloppy, choppy race in which Bubba Wallace rage quit 15 laps in, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson were black flagged and ejected for trying to wreck each other (the second straight week this has happened to Suarez), and, eventually, pole winner William Byron took home the victory in a fairly dominant showing in which he lived near the front of the field throughout.
The Larson-Suarez incident saw the two trying to take each other out a few times, including well after the yellow flag had been waived, with Suarez offering his thoughts on what happened afterwards on Twitter.
I was waiting for @iRacing to get him disqualified like i was last weekend in 5 seconds, but they never did… and by the way our “racing incident” was him pushing me to the apron… if this was real life my amigo would get his but kicked https://t.co/2Lyj7Xf53j
There were well over a dozen incidents throughout the race as it was rare to get a long stretch of green flag racing (not all that dissimilar to actual Bristol events, but still more yellows than usual given the short 150 lap race). Byron was able to avoid all of those and cruise to a win, taking off on restarts by taking advantage of iRacing allowing the leader to get going as soon as the pace car pulls off the track, and putting forth simply a dominating performance that, aside from a few times where guys didn’t pit, he ran out front much of the day.
Back in 2018, Kevin Smith announced to his fans that he had just completed a “huge writing gig” on a “massive IP” that he couldn’t disclose at the time. Clearly, Smith was pumped about the secret project as seen in his tweet below.
Just finished a huge writing gig that I haven’t talked about publicly yet. It’s the most massive IP I’ve ever been allowed to play with and if the powers that be decide to move forward with the project, it would be the biggest budgeted anything I’ve ever done. Wish me luck…
The years went by, however, and not a word from Smith on this mysterious writing gig — until now. In a tweet debunking a recent report from Attractions Magazine, the Jay And Silent Bob writer and director revealed that the secret project was adapting the Kingdoms Keeper book series for Disney+. Unfortunately, he also revealed that his take on the franchise was canned by an exec who didn’t like how many characters Smith was using in the show.
That was a blast to write 2 years ago. It was planned as one of the first shows to launch on what would become @disneyplus. Then a new exec was put in charge of the app and he killed KK. Said we used too much @Disney IP in one project (every character in the park comes to life). https://t.co/8izGTsg10H
As Comic Book notes, the exec’s concerns are a bit odd considering the nature of the Kingdom Keepers book series, which is centered on featuring every character inside Disney parks.
For those not familiar, The Kingdom Keepers is a series of novels by Ridley Pearson that follows five teens who work as holographic hosts of the Disney Theme Parks by day, but by night, they do battle with Disney villains to stop them from taking over not just the Disney parks, but the entirety of the Disney corporation as well as the world. Given the huge number of characters that could appear in Disney parks — and we’re not talking just your standard Mickey and Minnie situation here, we’re talking potentially even Marvel and Star Wars characters if they really wanted to go there — a Kingdom Keepers series really could encompass a truly wild number of characters.
While his Twitter fans were quick to question the decision, Smith, as always, acted as the friendly mediator and said there are no hard feelings considering that same exec made some other decisions that Smith was very okay with, Namely greenlighting The Mandalorian and Wandavision.
Granted, Smith seems at peace with how things unfolded, but he is also not being bashful about signaling to Disney fans that they might have missed out on a series that would’ve captured their deep love for the House of Mouse.
Thanks, man! It was written with love by a kid who grew up watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” with his family every Sunday night. I renamed the main characters after the original team of Imagineers who worked w/ Walt. Felt like they overpaid me to write @Disney fan fiction! https://t.co/GpZypWuWYK
The NASCAR season is the only part of the major sports calendar still rolling along, albeit virtually, as they have televised the iRacing Pro Invitational Series for the last three weeks. It’s been fun to watch the pro drivers hop into virtual cars and run around tracks in what are pretty incredibly realistic simulations.
Sunday’s event in Bristol figured to be the biggest challenge for the drivers, who as Michael McDowell recently explained to us are all still figuring out how to drive without feel, as they would have to deal with short track racing virtually for the first time. At a track where contact is constant and cautions are at an abundance in real life, there figured to be some choppy racing in the virtual world where there have been many wrecks the first two weeks as drivers adjust to the virtual setup.
That, sure enough, took place early on at Bristol as cars were bumping and crashing all over. Each driver is given one free “reset” to get their car back to brand new in the iRacing world, a gesture of goodwill and understanding from NASCAR knowing wrecks are going to happen, and Bubba Wallace had to use his really early on Sunday at Bristol. Shortly after that, on lap 15, he got wrecked by Clint Bowyer who rode up from the low line and into Wallace on the high line, prompting something familiar to anyone that’s played video games before: a good old fashioned rage quit.
Wallace, without any resets left, realized his day was effectively done, and went ahead and shut it down for the day, cutting his stream and disconnecting from the race. When you wreck twice in 15 laps and can see how the day is going to go, it’s an understandable reaction. Still, it’s just another unique aspect of the iRacing world, where if its just not your day you can cut bait and do something else rather than putter around the track trying to pick up some owner points like in an actual event.
The story of Reginald Stonksman is one of failure. In a way, it was always meant to be.
When Dime was invited to play in the NBA 2K League Three for All Showdown, I thought it was a great opportunity for anyone on the staff that isn’t me to play some virtual basketball against some impressive competition. Basketball video games have always been a tough sell for me. Most of my sports sim experience ends a few generations ago — my favorite sports video games are NFL Quarterback Club 96, NHL 97 (Genesis), and NFL 2K2 (Dreamcast), in that order.
I write a lot about video games here these days, but for the most part my playing and reviewing excludes sports games. There just isn’t time to cover everything, and when you have a staff that’s willing to sim the Final Four with NCAA Basketball 10 you let them do their thing and edit lightly. The problem is, I have an XBox and many of them do not. As such, I was tasked with playing NBA 2K20 against professional athletes in the X Bracket along with my co-workers, Bill DiFilippo and Tony Xypteras. One problem: I had never actually played NBA 2K before.
Now this may seem like another instance in which an ignorant man assumes he could beat a female professional athlete simply on the superiority of his gender, but I promise you that is not the case here. We knew we were gonna get rinsed no matter how hard we tried. In a way, that was kind of the point. My job here would be to do the best I can and take the crash course of getting my digital ass kicked as a learning lesson of sorts.
In writing, you’re given a lot of chances to be wrong, pretty much all the time if you take them. Instead, the goal is learning how to avoid that as best you can and not put yourself in situations where you can look bad. This, unfortunately, was one of those situations where looking bad was the only option, and so I decided to have a bit of fun with it. Enter my created player, a vaguely Eastern European dandy named Reginald Stonksman, a 7’1 Paint Defender who obtained said title by working security at a Sherwin Williams.
Basically we needed a center and there’s something about a beefy boi lumbering up and down the court while a dope struggles to control them from a locked down apartment in downtown Boston. I did my best to max out my muse’s rebounding abilities and rim finishing skills and hit the courts to put a little work in to get used to, you know, the game I was about to play competitively in front of a streaming audience. Results, as they say, were mixed.
Bill, Tony, and I were scheduled to face Alexis Jones (Atlanta Dream), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), and Aerial Powers of the WNBA champion Washington Mystics. Suffice to say, they knew basketball and had some experience playing 2K. Our crew, meanwhile, didn’t have enough time to play more than a single Neighborhood matchup before assembling the squad and taking on Watch Us Work on Tuesday night. What we did have time to do, however, was coordinate outfits.
The broadcast made fun of us, but we noticed in playing our lone practice game that it was easier to pick out teammates if we wore similar colors. But the only thing we had that matched was the default brown shirt you start the game with, so we all made a very dumb-looking quick change before we took the court. It was basically the only thing that stood out about our games on the broadcast.
“Ryan is GoldenGoose, he’s in the orange shorts,” the official 2K stream said. “They look like the standard basketball shorts that you buy for a pickup game.”
This is, of course, exactly correct. And it delights me that this sentiment came across so clearly as it’s one of the few things I did well. Because the first game, to keep it short, did not go very well. On my first touch, I took three jerky steps in the lane, tried and failed to put up a shot, and then clanged one off the right side of the hoop. The ball went out of bounds. Our opponents immediately scored on the fastbreak, and the rout was on. We promptly got beaten like we stole something, 21-6, and things were looking bleak for Team Dime.
Some lessons were immediately learned: Reginald Stonksman was slow as hell and if I committed to rebounding like a 7’1 center should, we needed Tony or Bill to hang back and look for cherrypickers. Bill coached us up, recommended some changes, and we found a new court for a do-or-die Game 2. And this time, things actually did go better. We played better defense, moved the ball around a bit better and The Stonksman got some finishes inside. Tony and Bill hit shots on the outside. We were the ones pushing the tempo on turnovers and actually got to 10 first, but some of the same mistakes I had been making all game crept back up and, well, the better team won.
It was a predictable exit, but one that provided some valuable lessons. The first of which being that the default camera angle for Neighborhood games is difficult and I was too afraid to change it during play. It’s one of the many, many excuses I could break out to unsuccessfully cover for my own incompetence. But I will not do that. We got beat, I didn’t play particularly well, and I had a mess of fun.
If we had more time to play together things would certainly have gone better, but we showed improvement and, more importantly, everyone involved stayed inside and enjoyed interacting in a safe and reasonable way. And it actually sparked something inside me I hadn’t really anticipated. With a massive, visible failure already under my belt I actually want get better at 2K.
A few days later, once I changed the camera angle and switched out of the default brown shirt, I went back in. Bill and I took the court and kept getting worked by people who have put in far more hours than we had. But we endured, strategized a bit and the shots started to fall. After a few games, we found a third player that worked well with us and made some magic happen. I have to admit, finally getting that first win felt pretty good. And if we get another shot at things next year, we’ll be ready.
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