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events

EMP, Fashion, Gifts, Movies, Music, Special, TV

EMP Christmas Blogger Event

So its official – Christmas parties are in full swing. But at EMP we don’t do things normally… forget the polite conversation, terrible cracker jokes and dozing off at 8pm; bring on the green screen photo booth, bathtubs as chairs, rocking music, vegan cupcakes –  oh, and some of our favourite Disney, Gaming, Harry Potter, Alternative and Geek bloggers and influencers – then you’ve got yourself an EMP Christmas party! Here are the highlights of our Christmas Blogger event!

We ask some of our bloggers some Christmassy themed questions – check out the video below!

 

Roisin and Nick with our House Targaryen pillow!

 

Thank you to all our bloggers for coming! We hope you had a rocking (around the Christmas tree) time!

Ava Elizabeth

Candy Valentina

Charlotte Ruff

Emilina Love

Emily Simpson

Gregory Gaige

Hannah – Courange and Kindness

Hannah Cunningham

Haydy – Squibb Vicious

Hayley – Strangeness and Charm

Jojo Pearson – Lemonade Jar

Kariss – Shy Shrange Manic

Katie Erin

Kayla Hadlington

Kinga Kurek

Kitty Cowell

Leigh – Fox & Feather

Luisa Christie

The Geek of Steel

Nick – The West Wing

Rhian Westbury

Roisin – Disney Find

Sarah Louise Porter

Books for Shauna

Sophie Elizabeth

The Metal Tris

 

 

Movies, TV

The 10 Most Exciting Announcements from D23 and San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Well, it’s been a pretty big couple of weeks for film fans, with Disney’s D23 Expo and the San Diego Comic-Con showing us what we can expect from our favourite franchises over the next few years.

And, as expected, Disney, LucasFilm, Marvel and Pixar made a lot of big announcements, from new film projects and casting reveals to teaser trailers and theme park plans.

Here’s a round-up of the 10 most exciting things we saw from this year’s D23 Expo and ComicCon.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers Infinity War logoOf all the things we saw from D23 and ComicCon, this could be the one we’re most excited about.

Marvel fans were treated to a 4-minute teaser from the much-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War at the end of the D23 Expo.

The clip began with the Guardians of the Galaxy running into Thor against a backdrop of cosmic carnage. This was followed by snippets of what appeared to be an epic battle between the Avengers and Thanos.

Other important details to note? It looks like Captain America now has a beard and Black Widow has gone blonde.

Can’t wait for Avengers: Infinity War? Show your support for the team by checking out our Avengers merchandise as well as the individual ranges for Captain America, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Ant-Man. Did we forget anybody?

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

A Porg. ©Disney

Director Rian Johnson took the stage at D23 along with Star Wars cast members Daisy Ridley, Benicio Del Toro, Gwendoline Christie and Laura Dern to talk about the next instalment in the saga.

And although we didn’t get any new plot details, they did show a behind-the-scenes featurette that hinted at what may be in store, including a terrifying wolf-like creature and an adorable critter apparently known as a Porg. N’aww!

The footage ended with a clip of the late Carrie Fisher, who spoke movingly about what it meant to her to work on The Last Jedi. “(This film) is about family,” she said. “That’s what so powerful about it.”

 

 

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2

 

The full gamut of Disney princesses will be characters in the second Wreck-It Ralph. © Disney

We also got loads more details about the upcoming sequel to Wreck-It Ralph. In Ralph Breaks the Internet, the title character and his best friend, Vanellope, escape the arcade and enter the Internet to find a fix for the Sugar Rush game.

During their quest, they meet a few new characters, as well as familiar faces from LucasFilm and Marvel along with all of the Disney princesses. Yup, that’s right. All of them. And with many of the original actresses reprising their roles, we really can’t wait to see it.

Want to dress like a Disney princess? Then check out our full range of Disney merchandise, including stunning replica dresses from Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and more!

 

Live-action Aladdin

These guys will soon be getting a live-action makeover. © Disney

Following the success of Beauty and the Beast, Disney are following up with a live-action, Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin remake. And at D23, it was announced that Mena Massoud has been cast as the title role, while Naomi Scott has been chosen to play Jasmine.

Will Smith has been chosen to take on the iconic role of the Genie, which was of course played by the late Robin Williams in the original animated movie.

What would you ask the Genie for? How about an Aladdin’s Cave of Aladdin merchandise?

 

Kingdom Hearts 3

The Toy Story gang make their “Kingdom Hearts” debut in the franchise’s third instalment. © Disney

D23 also gave us a sneak peek at the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3. And from what we could tell, it will definitely be worth the wait.

Set for release sometime in 2018, the third major instalment in the Final Fantasy/Disney crossover will see Sora and pals Donald and Goofy team up with Toy Story favourites Buzz Lightyear and Woody.

With the long-awaited third instalment just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to grab some Kingdom Hearts merchandise!

 

Stranger Things Season 2

There’s something strange in the neighbourhood AGAIN in “Stranger Things” S2…© Netflix

The first series of Stranger Things was a smash, so expectations for the second are huge. Fortunately, the trailer dropped by Netflix during SDCC hit the spot and hinted at a host of new twists and turns.

Enter the Upside Down world of our Stranger Things merchandise, featuring Funko Pop! figures of all of your favourite characters!

 

Mary Poppins Returns


We literally could not be more excited about next year’s sequel to the 1964 classic. And judging by the exclusive clip shown at D23, it promises to be all we’ve hoped for and more.

The teaser showed Emily Blunt as the title character flying in with her umbrella. We also saw kite-flying, character shots and Dick Van Dyke dancing on a table. It really does look practically perfect in the most delightful way.

 

Star Wars Land – coming to Walt Disney World

Concept art for the “Galaxy’s Edge” theme park. © Disney

It’s no secret that a new Star Wars-themed land is coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2019. But, we found out much more about it at D23.

The new area is going to be called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and will be set on a remote planet during the war between the First Order and the Resistance. Attractions will include a trip in the Millennium Falcon and a ride that will put you right at the centre of a huge battle between the two sides.

Galaxy’s Edge is said to be a “fully immersive” experience, and apparently, the decisions you make there will affect you elsewhere in the park.

And as if this wasn’t cool enough, Disney also announced plans for a Star Wars hotel, where each guest will apparently experience a completely unique story during their stay. You’ll get to dress up in Star Wars clothing and explore the alien-filled hotel, which will look like a starship. And when you look out the window? Instead of seeing Florida sunshine, you’ll see outer-space.

Planning a visit to Galaxy’s Edge? You’ll need to stock up on Star Wars merchandise!

 

<h2Captain Marvel

Guys, it’s happening!!!! #captainmarvel #sdcc2017

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Although Captain Marvel hasn’t even begun filming yet, we did manage to get a couple of very important details from SDCC – including our first look at Brie Larson as the titular Captain in costume (above).

Director Kevin Feige confirmed that the film will be set in the 1990s. Samuel L Jackson will be returning as Nick Fury, although the film is set before he lost his eye – so we’ll get to see Fury sans eyepatch.

 

Doctor Who Christmas Special

First and Twelfth Doctors

Twelve meets One before becoming Thirteen in the “Doctor Who” Christmas special, which we now know is titled “Twice Upon A Time”. © BBC

Emotions were high as Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat, Michelle Gomez and Pearl Mackie manned the stage for their final SDCC panel as the current torch-bearers for Doctor Who.

They treated us to our first trailer for the upcoming Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, which will see David Bradley play the original Doctor in place of the late William Hartnell – and the physical and vocal resemblance is uncanny.

Say goodbye to Doctor Twelve with something from our range of Doctor Who merchandise!

 

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for big announcements and entertainment expos. The next to come up is London Film & Comic Con, where you can meet the EMP crew! Come check out the EMP stall where we’ll be selling merch and giving away awesome prizes and freebies!

 

Written by Catherine Hiley.

Music

What Have Been the Best Rock Performances of Summer 2017 So Far?

Let’s be honest, the last few UK summers have been somewhat lacking in iconic rock performances. But, like buses, you wait ages for one great gig, then several come along at once, and this summer we’ve been so thoroughly spoilt for live music that it may even make up for the last few years of Adele, Kanye West and *shudders* Take That.

But while the likes of Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and Coldplay have all given memorable performances, three bands I was lucky enough to see this summer have stood head and shoulders above the rest. Who? Read on to find out…

 

‪Two nights were better than one…‬ ‪Thank you London!‬ ‪#GnFnR #NotInThisLifetime Tour 2017‬

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Guns N’ Roses – London Stadium – June 16 & 17

No one ever really thought this would happen, least of all the band themselves. When he was asked in 2012, frontman Axl Rose said “not in this lifetime”.

Not to be cynical, but if you can sell a million tickets in under a minute, each one costing a minimum of £120, it’s not so hard to see why Axl and his former bandmates managed to put their differences aside in the name of rock n’ roll and a truckload of cash.

But, scepticism aside, I was as excited as anyone about the ironically-named Not in this Lifetime… tour. Still, there was an element of doubt. What if they don’t have what it takes anymore? What if they show up late or storm off after 20 minutes? Or what if Axl just doesn’t turn up at all?

The eye-watering ticket prices and average age of the audience initially give the crowd a bit of an Oldchella vibe. The care-free Guns fans of the 90s have now got grown-up jobs, grey hairs and mortgages. I overhear one guy near me bragging that he’d bought his pristine GNR t-shirt from Next. Yup, that’s right: Next. The home of the middle-aged and the middle-class. This is hardly the “Paradise City” I’d been hoping for.

To be fair, I’d been pretty annoyed that security had banned me from taking my M&S picnic into the stadium. I mean really, what kind of damage and I going to do with a packet of pastries and a bag of Percy Pigs? Still, let’s face it, I’m probably no more hardcore than all the Waitrose regulars around me.

Luckily, none of this matters come showtime. The second Axl storms on stage to deafening applause, we’re all reckless teenagers again. We jump, we sing, we scream. Thousands of carpal tunnel hands form devil horns in the sky as we forget that most of us type for a living.

Slash looks as effortlessly cool as ever. Axl is older, chubbier and bang on time. Is it even him? He starts to sing and I’m convinced. His voice is just as distinctive and powerful as it was on Appetite for Destruction 30 years ago.

Rather than toying with the crowd, they go straight for their big hits. By the time “Welcome to the Jungle” comes on four songs in, I have no voice left and I’m hugging total strangers. It’s almost spiritual.

There is such a universal acceptance that this night is something special that even the famously egotistical Axl Rose tells the crowd “you’re too kind” as we all scream 24 years’ worth of love for one of the most iconic rock bands of all time.

Not in this lifetime? Mercenary or not, we’re so glad they changed their minds.

Check out our full range of Guns N’ Roses merchandise – with over a hundred products including tons of exclusive items unavailable anywhere else in Europe, you needn’t fear going to your next GNR gig looking like you’ve been dressed by your mum.

 

Thank you! 📸 @samonrajabnik

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Foo Fighters – Glastonbury – June 24

Glastonbury-goers had to wait a long time to see the Foo Fighters on the Pyramid Stage. The band were set to headline in 2015, but Dave Grohl was forced to cancel when he broke his leg and subsequently the hearts of all UK rock fans.

“I’m about two years late, I’m sorry,” Grohl says as he finally takes to the stage. “Traffic was a bitch.”

No problem, Dave. You’re worth the wait.

Grohl hinted earlier in the week that he had “something special” planned for Glastonbury. With other bands, “something special” could mean a laser show, special guests or even light-up wristbands for the audience (thanks for that, Coldplay).

But the Foo Fighters’ idea of ‘something special’, it would seem, is walking out on stage and delivering an entirely gimmick-free performance. Which, to be honest, is exactly what we were hoping for.

The atmosphere is always incredible at Glastonbury. But there’s something about Dave Grohl that lifts the crowd to the next level. Perhaps it’s his natural charisma, powerful voice or the fact that he was in Nirvana. Whatever it is, he has us all in the palm of his hand for the entire set.

And what a set it is. After a brief intro in which he paid tribute to Florence Welch, who stepped in for him in 2015, the band launches straight into “Times Like These”. Then it’s “All My Life” and “Learn to Fly”. It’s easy to forget just how many mega-hits the Foo Fighters have.

Grohl intersperses his heavy rock set with a few slower tracks so we can catch our breath, as well as a couple of Queen covers for good measure. This is Britain after all.

The band also plays a few tracks from its upcoming album, Concrete and Gold, which is due out in September – pre-order the CD, vinyl, CD and t-shirt pack or vinyl and t-shirt pack today – and these new songs have all the raw power we’ve come to expect from the Foos, without any of the Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace we got from them in 2007.

Towards the end of the show, Dave Grohl pauses. The crowd, fearful that he might be planning an early exit, start chanting “10 more songs”. Because why would you ever ask the Foos for less than that?

While Grohl doesn’t quite make it to the extra 10 we asked for, the band carries on right up to the curfew, finishing with Everlong. Which felt pretty appropriate, as it felt like we had waited here for him for a really long time.

And with a new album out, we hopefully won’t have to wait quite so long until they come back again.

In the mood for Foos? Check out our range of Foo Fighters merchandise.

 

LONDON for days. ❤️#greenday #revradtour #britishsummer #hydepark

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Green Day – Hyde Park – July 1

I’ll be honest, going to this gig was a bit of a last-minute decision. Tickets don’t come cheap after all, and I’ve seen Green Day live a few times before. But the car got through its MOT so I used the money I would have spent making it road-worthy on Green Day tickets. Because why wouldn’t you?

And it turned out to be an excellent decision.

Nothing puts you in the mood for a night of moshing quite like a full day of sunshine and knockout punk-rock performances from the likes of Rancid, the Hives, the Damned and the Stranglers.

After a mass singalong to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool run onto the stage. They lap up the adulation of 60,000 screaming fans and, without a word, they launch straight into “Do You Know Your Enemy”.

“Jump jump jump jump jump”, Billie Joe commands. And that’s exactly what we do for almost the next three hours.

They hit us with a couple of songs from Revolution Radio. I’ve got to say, while I didn’t instantly love the studio versions of some of those songs (with the obvious exception of “Still Breathing” of course) the live versions are fantastic, particularly the title track and “Bang Bang”.

I’m converted. Green Day rule supreme. At this point, I might even be willing to give ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! another go.

But it’s not all new stuff. They play hit after hit, clearly feeding off the incredible atmosphere.

“I swear to God, I fucking love this country so much”, Billie Joe tells us and it’s clear the feeling’s mutual.

The frontman can’t resist making a couple of jibes about Donald Trump, as well as Justin Bieber, who’s headlining at Hyde Park the day after. He can tell he’s preaching to the choir as we all cheer and punch our fists in the air.

After two and a half hours of non-stop rocking, they finish with “American Idiot” and “Jesus of Suburbia”. Then Billie Joe comes back on to do a second encore without the rest of the band. It’s just him and his guitar and us. It feels strangely intimate despite the crowds as we all sing along to 21 Guns.

The gig closes with Green Day’s trademark final song, “Good Riddance (Time of your Life)”.

“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your lives.”

We really did.

Don’t want to be an American Idiot? Check out our range of Green Day merchandise.

We’d like to hear from you: who else from the world of rock and metal has killed it on stage this summer? Let us know in the comments below or on the EMP Facebook page!

Fashion

8(ish) Easy Cosplay Ideas Available from EMP

Comic Cons are happening up and down the country this summer – and that means cosplay! Have you got your costume ready yet?

If you’ve ever been to an event like Comic Con, you’ll know the surreal feeling of walking around surrounded by a menagerie of characters from movies, TV, comic books and gaming, all represented by fans in stunning detail. The commitment of these uber-fans is to be lauded – fair play, guys – but what if you want to jump on board the Comic Con cosplay vibe train with minimal effort involved? Or you’re keen to join in the fun but can’t pick a character? Or you’re worried your efforts are going to look like a dodgy Blue Peter make? Don’t worry – as Europe’s #1 retailer for officially-licensed entertainment merchandise, we’re here to help!

ASSASSIN’S CREED – ASSASSIN COSPLAY OUTFIT

Assassin’s Creed is one of my favourite video games; in my dreams I’m climbing around London like Evie Frye (the view from St. Paul’s sure is something else!). If, like me, you’re fan of the saga and you want to bring some honour Assassin-style to your Comic Con, you can put together an authentic outfit in just a few clicks.

Make yourself instantly recognisable in an EMP-exclusive Assassin’s Creed wrap coat (A) or a Lancaster loop scarf (C) on top of a black top and jeans. Then add the crucial details – grab a black (D) or silver Assassins insignia necklace (B) and either this imitation leather Assassin’s Creed wrist armour (E) or a silver (F) or black Assassins crest bracelet (G) to complete the look – or check out our Assassin’s Creed merchandise section to add more!

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA – LINK COSPLAY OUTFIT (FEMALE)

Maybe thanks to Breath of the Wild’s storming success, you want to show your love for this legendary (pun intended) franchise with a Link costume? We’ve got all you need.

So how can you get the Link look? Start with the top half: either combine a Legend of Zelda Link t-shirt (B) or dress (C) with this Link replica hat (A) or grab this super-detailed women’s Link cosplay hoodie (H). Now, grab the replica Hylia shield (D) and Master Sword (E) to ensure you can easily repel any evildoers at your convention, accessorise with a belt pouch (G), vambrance bracelet (F) and Hyrule Triforce necklace (I) and you’re good to go and save the princess!

Guys: there’s plenty of Zelda cosplay options for you too! Check out our The Legend of Zelda merchandise page.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS – JACK & SALLY COUPLE’S COSPLAY OUTFITS

 

Summer may be approaching, but there’s never a bad time for some The Nightmare Before Christmas cosplay!

EMP have made it super-easy for any couples who are budding TNBC cosplayers. Guys: grab this Jack Skellington morphsuit (B), and ladies, pick up the EMP-exclusive Sally cosplay dress (C), and – uh, that’s it!

Of course, there’s plenty more available from our Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise selection – the girls can become Jack with this Jack Skellington cosplay dress (A) and Jack hat (D), which both go beautifully with this Jack and Sally handbag (E).

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – BELLE AND BEAST COUPLE’S COSPLAY OUTFITS

I, like little girls worldwide, always dreamed of dressing up as Belle one day – and the new live-action Beauty and the Beast movie ensures that a whole new generation will do the same! Thanks to EMP, that doesn’t have to be a dream any more – and what’s more, you can have your own Beast too!

Our Beauty and the Beast merchandise section has tons of EMP exclusives that you won’t find anywhere else – so your Belle and Beast outfits are sure to turn heads. Choose either Belle’s ball gown (B) or Belle’s everyday ruffle dress (C) – the former should be complemented by this Disney Couture Beauty and the Beast tree necklace (A), while the latter’s outfit will be completed by a Disney Couture rose choker (E) and Belle hair bow (D) – and, of course, a stack of library books. Guys – become the Beast for a day with this stunning embroidered Beast blazer (F). You’ll be the most beautiful couple at the convention – assuming you get a post-transformation Beast, of course!

ALICE IN WONDERLAND – ALICE, QUEEN OF HEARTS, RED QUEEN, CHESHIRE CAT AND MAD HATTER COSPLAY OUTFITS

The wacky world of Alice in Wonderland is ripe for cosplay inspiration – and with more than 100 products in stock, our Alice in Wonderland merchandise section has plenty to help you put the perfect outfit together.

There are several suitable dresses for Alices, but my personal favourite is the EMP-exclusive Alice Through the Looking Glass blue dress (A), which is perfect to match with these cute “curiouser and curiouser” earrings (G).

There are a couple of options if you have a dark side and want to become Alice’s tormentor: the Queen of Hearts classic dress with attached cloth crown (B) or the amazingly detailed Through the Looking Glass Red Queen dress (C).

Complete the outfit with the “Off With Their Heads” earrings from this Alice in Wonderland earrings set (F).

Looking for something more fun? How about this Cheshire Cat onesie (D)? Or what about the Mad Hatter’s hat (E)? In the end we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.

ANIME COSPLAY COSTUMES

Something from the world of anime more up your alley? Be a modern Sailor Moon by combining this adorable pink Sailor Moon varsity jacket (A) with the replica Moon Stick (B), add some manga-inspired make-up and copy Bunny’s hairstyle and you’re good to go!

What about joining Goku in the constant fight to protect Earth and the universe from the bad guys? Simply pick up this Dragon Ball Z Turtle School and Kaio insignia t-shirt (C) or this black and orange Turtle School tee (E). Girls, grab a Kame dress (D) similarly inspired by Goku’s training gear.

Love One Piece? Become King of the Pirates! Get Luffy’s straw hat (G) and wear it with a red t-shirt, or even better, with the One Piece Straw Hat Crew varsity jacket (F).

MARVEL COSPLAY – WOLVERINE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SPIDER-MAN, DEADPOOL AND IRON MAN COSTUMES AND OUTFITS

Fancy yourself as one of the X-Men? Prove it with this Wolverine cosplay hoodie (A) or the Wolverine chest t-shirt (B).

Or are you more of an anti-hero type? Combine this Deadpool costume t-shirt (C) and Deadpool beanie (D), make sure you’re never too far from some chimichanga and you’re basically the “Merc with a Mouth” himself!

A Captain America-inspired outfit is easy to create thanks to the Captain America costume t-shirt (E) and the cork shield logo cap (F) (for the guys) or the Captain America sprayed logo t-shirt (G) with shield hairslide (H) (for the girls).

If your Spidey sense is tingling for a Spider-Man outfit, no problem, the Spider-Man logo hoodie (I) and 3D Spider-Man cap with mesh eyes (L) should do the trick. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility!

Or if you fancy inhabiting the skin of a genius superhero billionaire philanthropist playboy (and don’t we all?) this Iron Man zip-up hoodie (M) is all you need to become Tony Stark himself.

There’s plenty more Marvel-inspired clothing in our Marvel Comics merchandise section – or perhaps you want to switch sides and cosplay as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn? Check out our DC Comics merchandise section!

STAR WARS COSPLAY OUTFITS – R2-D2, STORMTROOPER, YODA, CHEWBACCA AND EWOK OUTFITS

We’re stocking some incredible EMP exclusives in our Star Wars merchandise section, including hoodies that leave you a zip away from being being R2-D2 (A), a Stormtrooper (B), Yoda (C) or an Ewok (E)!

Or how about transforming into everybody’s favourite Wookiee with this Chewbacca onesie (G)? Staying in character all day will be easy; respond to anything with a WUUAAAAAHHHHHH and you’re set!

If you just want to jazz up an everyday outfit with a few Star Wars-themed items to make you feel 100% Comic Con ready, no problem – we’ve got hundreds of Star Wars accessories, including this Yoda beanie (D), an adorable Ewok handbag (F) this Chewbecca furry cap (H) and more!

What are you cosplaying as at an upcoming Comic Con? Which Comic Cons and other conventions are you heading to this summer? Let us know – and if you’re heading to the MCM London Comic Con (May 26-28), come say hi to the EMP crew! Our interactive stand will be at booth 4732 in the North Hall – we’ll be meeting customers, handing out catalogues and freebies, selling some of our hottest merch, and more – see you there!

Salva

TV

EMP’s “WrestleMania 33” Predictions

Who’s walking out of Orlando with gold? Who’s having a “WrestleMania moment”? EMP’s predictions are right this way…

It’s that time of year again! WWE’s annual celebration of all things rasslin’ has arrived, as around 70,000 rabid fans are predicted to pack the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida for WrestleMania 33. Anybody with the slightest interest is sure to find something to enjoy – there won’t be a dry eye amongst old-school fans as Kurt Angle finally takes his rightful place in the Hall of Fame after having to endure years of wrestling in a theme park. NXT TakeOver will showcase the company’s future stars, having arguably topped its big brother last year. Aaaand of course, there’s the granddaddy of them all, WrestleMania itself, an epic five hour (seven if you count the pre-show)-long extravaganza showcasing every major star in the company in thirteen epic battles. A lot’s at stake – championship gold in some cases, pride in others, and in one case, a big gold André the Giant. Who’s winning? Here’s what we think…

wrestlemania-33-ambrose-corbin-emp

Show your support for the Lunatic Fringe by picking up a Dean Ambrose coffee mug or one of TWO EMP-exclusive Dean Ambrose t-shirts! Choose from a grey tee with the “DA” logo or this double-sided black tee! Image © WWE

Intercontinental Championship: Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (champion)
These two need to pay off a buildup which has featured an above-average amount of forklift action by having a wild vehicular hardcore brawl. Baron’s the future, and I’m picking him to put Dean down.

Image © WWE

Image © WWE

SmackDown Women’s Championship: Naomi vs. Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Alexa Bliss (champion)
Who’s got the edge? I think we’re due a surprise due to WWE’s insistence on billing this match as “Alexa defending against every available woman” – Asuka? Eva Marie? Paige? Beth Phoenix? Regardless, I’m going with the mighty Carmella – she’s formed a cracking double act with 2016’s least likely breakout star, James Ellsworth, who’s going to throw everything he’s got (which doesn’t amount to a lot, admittedly) at making sure his “friend who’s a girl” walks out with the strap. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.

Image © WWE

Image © WWE

Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championship: Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (champions)
Enzo’s already got his WrestleMania moment sewn up – hearing the best part of 100,000 fans chanting along to his pre-match schtick is going to be unlike anything witnessed before at the event. But is that going to be enough to carry them to the titles? I’m going with yes.

wrestlemania-33-cena-bella-miz-maryse-emp

Are you a member of the Cenation? Do you believe in Hustle, Loyalty and Respect? Then why not grab a John Cena Funko Pop! figure – available in big match John’s green– and blue-capped attires. If you’re more a member of the Teanation, pick up a John Cena mug! Image © WWE

John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
It’s down to some sterling work from all involved that this doesn’t feel small-time in comparison to the Cena/Undertaker match we were rumoured to be getting. Miz is approaching godly status on the microphone and, by virtue of actually getting booed consistently, is probably the top bad guy on the roster. That’s why he and Maryse are taking the win via some rule-breaking shenanigans.

Image © WWE

Image © WWE

Fatal Four-Way Elimination Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (champion)
If we don’t get fifty 100ft tall wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men, then it’s an absolute travesty. As for the match itself, it’s a tough call – but because it’s WrestleMania, home of the feel-good wrestling moment, my money’s on Bayley.

wrestlemania-33-undertaker-reigns-emp

If you’re a fan of the Deadman, why not grab an Undertaker Hell’s Gate t-shirt or hoodie or an Undertaker logo t-shirt? If you think it’s Roman’s yard now, check out his tee. All of these items are exclusive to EMP – you can believe that! Image © WWE

Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
Whether you’re vocally anti-Reigns, or you think a lot of the boo-boys in the crowd are joyless basement-dwellers who would’ve turned on Hulk Hogan in the ‘80s and Steve Austin in the ‘90s if today’s internet had been around then, there’s no denying that last year’s sight of Reigns lifting the WWE Championship amid glorious victory fireworks, rabid announcer praise and 100,000 people loudly booing wasn’t the ideal end to the biggest show of the year. Which makes the E’s choice to go with Roman as Undi’s opponent this year rather than the more obvious John Cena a puzzling one. Roman wins, he gets booed out of the building; Undi wins, and the young buck set to carry the company for the next decade has just gone down to a bloke in his 50s. But there is a third way (and perhaps I’m going with heart over head over this): unconscious ref – low blow – Roman thwacks Undi with a chair – new ref – 1, 2, 3, EVIL REIGNS STANDS TALL, LAPPING UP THE BOOS. Make it happen.

Image © WWE

Image © WWE

United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (champion)
Jeri-KO’s bromance gone bad comes to a head here, and though I would consider myself a “friend of Jericho” and think Y2J’s renaissance has been great viewing, the logical conclusion is for the dastardly KO to put his former best friend down here.

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Want to see something phenomenal? How about this EMP-exclusive AJ Styles t-shirt? Image © WWE

AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
Shane takes a beating like nobody else and after the year he’s had, there’s no way AJ isn’t a) walking out the victor and b) having the match of the night. Strap yourselves in, this one’s going to be phenomenal.

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Show your love for Seth during his recovery with this EMP-exclusive Seth Rollins “Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim” t-shirt and hoodie! Image © WWE

Non-Sanctioned Match: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
You’ve got to admire Seth’s gumption for showing up, but – come on, mate. Hunter’s going to tear that gammy leg off and beat you around the head with it. And if Samoa Joe shows up to give daddy a hand…well, it was nice knowing you, Rollins.

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Which of these monsters of the mat are you picking to walk out as champion? Pick a side with a Goldberg or Brock Lesnar t-shirt! Image © WWE

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (champion)
Goldberg was the biggest star in the company from the moment he walked out on the October 17 episode of Raw, and that’s broadly who a show’s top belt should always be on, regardless of whether they show up every week to trade near-falls with Cesaro. But he’s had his comeback story now, and though every second of it has been wonderful, it’s time for Brock to wrestle top spot back from his old rival.

Image © WWE

Image © WWE

WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (champion)
Six months ago, I assumed we were in for another four weeks of Bray bothering another fan favourite, talking vaguely mystically about how “it was always meant to be this way” or some other gubbins before staring at the lights for said fan favourite on a secondary pay-per-view. But no, the six-month build to get here has been perfect sports-entertainment, and proof that storylines are what’s needed to create a buzz, rather than endless 45-minute technical clinics between two men in pants who respect each other but want to find out who the better man is (as some dark corners of the internet would have you believe). Hopefully Bray takes the victory here – Randy doesn’t need it – and the end-of-Mania fireworks budget goes on some weird festival of darkness where he uses his new magic powers to bring on a thunderstorm and hundreds of sheep-masked extras dance and sacrifice a viper. Hopefully.

Are you looking forward to WrestleMania? Who’s walking out with a victory, and who’s not walking out at all? Will there be any surprises? Let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page, and check out our WWE merchandise page to score some kick-ass wrestling merch! See you Sunday!

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Music

Reviewed: Gojira @ London Kentish Town Forum, 12/3/2017

Last Sunday, French death metallers Gojira kicked off their Magma Tour UK at the Kentish Town Forum in London. What did we think?

#Repost @peterageofficial ・・・ SOLD OUT The Forum in London, England! #gojira #tourlife

A post shared by Gojira Official (@gojiraofficial) on


It’s always kind of a shame when a gig is on a school night, as you end up rationing your drinks and keeping half an eye on the clock so you can catch the last Northern line train home. But it certainly didn’t stop the crowd getting into the moshpit spirit on Sunday night when Gojira took over the Kentish Town Forum.

The show was opened by New York mathcore thugs Car Bomb with an immediate blast of aggression that made it clear it was not going to be one of those quiet Sunday nights. Their discordant and extremely heavy style with a progressive edge is reminiscent of the godfathers of extreme djent (is that a genre? It should be!), Meshuggah. In fact, whilst I was musing on how much they obviously wanted to be Meshuggah, I noticed their guitarist wearing one of the Swedish band’s t-shirts. Case closed.

The punchy start was followed up in style by Code Orange – a Pittsburgh-based hardcore/metalcore troupe who came with a mission to destroy the venue. I hadn’t heard them before, but I can say for sure they picked up a legion of new fans throughout their tightly-coiled performance. A vein of serious groove ran through their set, despite the very hard edges to their sound. Whilst punk is ostensibly at the root of their sound, and shows in the rawness of the vocals, there’s something more sinister lying underneath the in-your-face punch of their aggressively bass-fuelled music. The aural assault was backed up by astounding energy on-stage, as their charismatic bassist high-kicked his way through proceedings. If other bands are metal, these guys were adamantium. One to watch.

It’s around my 4th time seeing Bayonne metallers Gojira, but it seems that in the time I’ve been following them they’ve exploded from being one of those great niche bands that opens the smaller stage at Sonisphere, to being genuine heavy-hitters in their own right – and rarely has a band deserved that as much as these guys. Fresh from releasing their latest LP, Magma, they’ve subtly evolved their sound in a direction that’s lost a tiny amount of the aggression, but gained a razor-sharp edge that’s bumped them up into the big-league of technical metallers. Whilst ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ was good, ‘Magma’ was truly great – a career-defining album that runs like a perfectly-oiled piece of machinery. Which is lucky really, as the band drew heavily on their new baby in their set, playing almost all of the 8 full-length tracks. ‘Only Pain’ kicked things off, but for me it was the arrival of the monumental ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ that really signaled the start of the evening. This aural juggernaut, one of my all-time favourites, is a guaranteed pit-starter, and the ensuing circle pit did not disappoint. Unless you were hoping to get out of there without having your feet stamped on and some guy’s elbow in your eye. In fact, there’s often a pit just a few rows back from the front, but here it expanded like an oil spill, engulfing the reticent along with the hardcore stompers. Which is quite a good explanation for how Gojira’s music works live – their maelstrom of rhythms pulls you in and turns the audience from a group of people into one unified organism.

The L’Enfant Sauvage and Magma hits-parade was popular, but for me it’s all about the classic behemoths from ‘From Mars to Sirius’ and the genre-defining ‘Way of All Flesh’. No Gojira show is complete without a hefty dose of space and whales, delivered with aplomb in the form of the musical leviathan, ‘Flying Whales’. Whilst other bands cling to the same old tired themes: love, death, drugs; Gojira have never shied away from writing a few songs about ocean-dwelling mammals. One of the many reasons I love them. ‘Backbone’ is always another guaranteed hit, with a riff that just calls for you to start throwing yourself into the nearest person. It’s these inherently moshable grooves that have allowed the band to carve their place as a festival legend, and the atmosphere carries over even in a smaller and stuffier indoor venue.

No evening would be complete, though, without a good ol’ drum solo. Sometimes bands throw these in as a bit of a filler, but in Gojira’s case, drummer Mario is approximately half of the band – his ear for unique syncopated rhythms is one of the undoubted cornerstones of their sound, and sometimes the ‘je ne sais quoi’ that elevates their best songs from great heavy metal to something almost stratospheric. No surprise then, that the crowd went wild to his playful 5 minutes of fame. It was also a clever way to segue into the tectonic ‘Toxic Garbage Island’, which opens with drums that speak for themselves. By the end, a whirlpool of sweaty humans was screaming together about the injustice of plastic bags in the sea. My kind of moment.

But all good things must come to an end. Although they’d saved some of the best for last, with a serious hard-hitter to close, in the form of ‘Vacuity’. They seem to play this live much less often than the other big tracks from ‘The Way of All Flesh’, although it’s a raw powerhouse of a song. Vacuity bottles the intensity of the human instinct to survive, and had me punching the air and screaming every word. Inspiring stuff.

Gojira fan? Check out EMP’s range of Gojira merchandise, CDs and vinyl today!

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TV

The WWE UKC Tournament and the Potential of WWE: UK

This weekend, WWE decide their first “United Kingdom Champion” via a 16-man single-elimination tournament broadcast on the WWE Network, which is likely to pave the way for a UK-based weekly TV show.

Wrestling to me has always been a wholly American thing (I was born a little too late for the legendary British institution World of Sport, though I did get a kick out of its gaudy New Year’s Eve reboot a couple of weeks back), mostly conducted (until recent times) by North American wrestlers for North American audiences, quite understandably. This tournament and the potential series that is likely to follow, however, are a totally different proposition, giving Network subscribers in the UK localised content with exposure and financial backing not seen since the days of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. And that’s very exciting.

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Irish-born Sheamus batters Roman Reigns. The UKC tournament won’t have quite this crowd – perhaps if they follow the template outlined in this post, one day they will…

Though British grapplers like William Regal and Finlay have all had great runs as big-ish players in WWE in recent ties, they mostly represented their country via an early 2000s Nickelodeon movie kind of Britishness. Regal was a snooty, tea-drinking toff; Finlay a Northern Irish pub brawler who was accompanied to the ring by his leprechaun son and used to bonk people over the head with a shillelagh. Even in 2017, Mancunian Jack Gallagher’s current run has come about due to his character “The Extraordinary Gentleman”, a sophisticated, urbane sort of fellow who challenges rivals to gentlemen’s duels and requests one-on-one meetings “in parlay”.

This is not a slight on WWE, fashionable as that may be. No, I’m of the school of thought that believes it’s all about character, and that you need to get maximum mileage out of whatever makes you different from the next guy along; if that’s toff-toffington Englishness or an association with folklore fairies, then so be it. Two recent examples of English talent whose nationality was incidental rather than central to their character that prove the rule are Wade Barrett, a generic baddie who progressed through about seven indistinct characters and seventeen entrance themes, shouted “BOOM” a lot and left the company last year after treading water for half a decade, and Neville, who was immediately dealt a dud hand by being made to share a name with one of the least capable students in Gryffindor’s history and is only just emerging from the wilderness after barely being featured on TV for months.

The point I’m making is that when you’re putting Brits in a ring to tell a story of good vs evil in front of 10,000 baying Americans every night, there isn’t a lot of room for nuance. But what a UK WWE brand gives us is an opportunity to enjoy more characters that are exaggerated versions of the stereotypes of people we in the UK are familiar with; rather than having to go out in front of a US audience and play “British {insert British-ish gimmick here}” in a way that allows a global audience to immediately understand who they are, the new recruits can just play “{insert gimmick here}” in a way that a UK audience can immediately recognise and get on board with.

Some of the tournament competitors look like they’ve already nailed this; Tyson T-Bone wants to declare himself “King of the Travelers” and uses a finisher called the “Gypsy’s Kiss”, while Tyler Bate’s twirly moustache and use of the “Gotch-Style Tombstone” suggest he might play some form of wrestling Shoreditch hipster. Others’ WWE.com profiles suggest little more than “nice man who wrestles” and “nasty man who wrestles”.

What I want from this potential new brand is more of the former and less of the latter. Think a stable of The Apprentice contestants who walk down to the ring to Prokofiev music in mid-range Debenhams suits, cut promos in illegible business jargon and have a different member take on the role of ‘project manager’ every week, resulting in each match being wrestled in an entirely different style every time, followed by an inevitable defeat and post-mortem in a greasy spoon. Or an obnoxious public schoolboy who wrestles with a style influenced by the tribes he met on his gap year, accelerated to an improbably high position on the card despite being only six months out of university due to his dad being in a position of power, who makes his prone opponent do a beer bong after defeating them with his finisher, the “D.I.O.”. Or an old-school saaaahf-east Laaahndan boxer sort accompanied by a dastardly flat-capped, chain-smoking “promoter” who bonks people over the head when the ref’s not looking with a spit bucket or corner stool. Or, if you want to get really base with this, a builder whose tights don’t quite cover up the entirety of his posterior. Just think of the storytelling opportunities!

These lads can wrestle to a very high standard – but so can every talent WWE features on TV. This is why to differentiate itself, the UK operation has to be British through and through; I want brawls to look like they’re taking place in a pub car park and technical matches to carry on using the slow, methodical style introduced to American audiences by Zack Sabre Jr. and Jack Gallagher in last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic. I want Michael Cole’s stint on commentary this weekend to be a one-off before he’s replaced with a gravelly-voiced Brit yanked from an obscure subscription channel’s coverage of regional MMA. Also, fingers crossed we get a rowdy crowd seven or eight pints in by the time the first bell rings and who cheer and boo who they’re supposed to, rather than the sort that chant “this is wrestling!” at the first chinlock of the match.

Who’s gonna win the thing? My head says Trent Seven, based purely on the fact that he’s at the front of the pack in most of the promotional images that I’ve seen and is one of the few guys I’ve heard of with my limited exposure to non-WWE wrestling. But my heart wants Danny Burch, for precisely the reasons I’ve outlined above: though he’s not the biggest guy, he looks like he’s got a bod honed not by months of careful dieting and gym work, but years of backbreaking manual labour and Saturday afternoon post-football tear-ups, knows all of the staff in Wetherspoons by name and would glass anybody who got in between him and the fruit machine. Come on Danny.

Wrestling fan? Check out EMP’s range of WWE merchandise here, and stay tuned to our blog for more WWE coverage as well as thought and opinion on rock, metal, movies, TV, gaming and everything else EMP!

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