The annual Kamen Rider team-up movie, where the current Rider has an adventure alongside the previous year's model, has become something of a tradition in Japan. The thing is, it's been going for so long that it has to be a pretty tough task to top what happened in the last one. There have been climactic wars between all the Riders, the return of the original "Legendary 7" from the foundation of the franchise, and even invasions from alternate dimensions where the bad guys won and turned all the good guys evil. Once you've done all that, you have to wonder where you can possibly go next.
Clearly, there's only one thing to do: Get New Japan Pro Wrestling star Hiroshi Tanahashi to play one of the villains in a movie that also stars five different Riders and Pac-Man. No, seriously. That's what's happening in the next one.
Writer/artist Jarrett Williams loves pro wrestling as much as anyone can. If you’ve read the first two volumes of his Super Pro K.O. graphic novel series, you can see his love for the sport on every page. The long-awaited third volume, Super Pro K.O.!: Gold for Glory, is finally out this week, so I sat down to talk with Jarrett about the book, the series, and of course our shared favorite topic, pro wrestling.
Lucha Underground is probably the single best superhero show on television. Seriously, I don't mean that in the usual "pro wrestling is like superheroes" sort of way where you talk about larger-than-life characters battling their way through morality plays. I mean that it's a pro wrestling promotion with a complex continuity that involves a dragon that has taken human form, an avatar of death fighting an avatar of life, and a long-running plot about Seven Ancient Aztec Medallions that will give you the power to rival the gods themselves. The season ends with someone turning into a spaceship to return to their home in the stars. It's not about superheroes in the way that Monday Night Raw is about "superheroes," it's about superheroes in the way that Legends of Tomorrow is about superheroes.
So while I'm definitely glad to see it happen, it's not entirely surprising that they're promoting the start of the second season by branching out into comics. What is surprising, though, is that you can read the entire full-length comic for free.
Should you ever doubt that Fujiko Fujio's Doraemon is truly ubiquitous in Japanese pop culture, consider this: Last night at Wrestle Kingdom 10, the biggest event of the year for New Japan Pro Wrestling, the action in the sold-out Tokyo Dome stopped for a few minutes so that everyone's favorite gadget cat from the future could take the stage dressed like a caveman to promote his new movie.
I don't think this is going to surprise anyone, but over the years, I've built up a pretty solid collection of comic books about superheroes fighting pro wrestlers. It's one of those things that I'll always go out of my way to read, because they're almost always pretty amazing, especially in the Silver Age. I mean, who could forget the time that the Caped Crusader took on a masked heel called the Hangman in order to settle the age-old question of whether or not Batman could beat a pro wrestler in his own element, and got his utility belt handed to him in the process?
But of all the superhero-versus-wrestler battles that I've seen in my time, I don't know if I've ever encountered one quite as weird as 1962's "The Downfall of Superman," which starts off strange and gets just gets more and more complicated as it goes on --- largely because it involves Superman actually taking on a real-life pro wrestler, and losing.
My friends, we are living in a beautiful Golden Age of comic books about pro wrestling, and if you need evidence of the fact, you need look no further than the upcoming Muscle Temple anthology, currently being funded on Kickstarter.
The project is spearheaded by Frank Gibson, best known for his collaborations with Becky Dreistadt (who is also contributing) on projects like Tiny Kitten Teeth and Capture Creatures, and it's set to bring together wrestling-themed comics from 17 creators from the world of comics and animation into a single 60-page volume that readers can snag in digital form for as little as five bucks.
If you've been paying attention to pro wrestling, the King of Sports, then you may already know that WWE has been teasing a feud between Stardust, also known as Cody Rhodes, and Stephen Amell, the star of TV's Arrow, for a while. Now, it looks like they're taking the next step: With only a few weeks left until SummerSlam, the second-biggest show of the year for WWE, a preview for tonight's episode of Monday Night Raw has announced that Amell will be showing up for a "face-to-face confrontation" with the wrestler who has become his arch-nemesis via social media.
If you watched WWE's Monday Night Raw this week, then you may have noticed an unexpected guest appearance from Stephen Amell, the star of TV's Arrow. That in itself isn't unusual --- Amell's a wrestling fan, and WWE loves very few things more than having celebrities in the front row for its shows --- but what is unusual is that he became a small part of the show, getting into a verbal altercation with former Tag Team Champion Stardust.
Stardust would go on to call Amell out in a "Backstage Fallout" segment, and now sources including the Wrestling Observer are reporting that this could all be leading up to a guest appearance for Amell at this year's SummerSlam, possibly actually stepping into the ring to wrestle Stardust.
Those of you who haven't been obsessively keeping track of which Archie Comics are available to buy at 3:00 AM might not be aware of this, but the publisher has been putting out pretty inexpensive digital collections for a while now that are all built around a certain theme. There's a bunch of them up, including one that features my beloved Elevenaire, but this week, they're topping them all with Archie & Friends: Wrestle Maniacs.
That's right, brother: A bunch of Archie comics about the King of Sports, professional wrestling. And, I suppose, that greco-roman stuff that they do in high schools and the Olympics, which, let's face it, is obviously the inferior version due to a lack of zombies, dragons, and steel chairs used as weapons.
The world of pro wrestling can be a beautiful thing. For proof, you need look no further than the recent developments in lucha libre, in which there are not one, not two, but three different groups of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed factions that have recently begun warring with each other. I can only assume this conflict was inevitable, but it came to a head when AULL's Tortiguillos Karatekas were taking on the IWRG's Tortugas Ninja in a four-on-four tag team match that was interrupted when a third faction, Las Tortugas Mutantes, ran in and started attacking everyone.
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