Alexa Bliss "cured" as she enters the Elimination Chamber

WWE Raw results, grades: Alexa Bliss 'cured' in therapy as she enters Elimination Chamber match, Brock Lesnar drops Austin Theory and more. (Author: Gardener)

WWE RawThe Women's Elimination Chamber match took center stage on WWE Raw this week when Alexa Bliss was confirmed as the final competitor. The former Champion of Women was in therapy for weeks in a series of vignettes when she appeared to be "healed" after being transformed by "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt and taking on many of his haunting qualities in the summer of 2020. The winner gets a Raw Women's Title host against Becky Lynch or Lita - more than below - and the other contenders then met in a long gauntlet match on Monday. Rhea Ripley looked like a star as she lasted about 45 minutes before eventually falling onto Bianca Belair, who will now be the last to enter the chamber. WWE's EST was her final challenge, and Ripley's long run in the match proved her undoing as Belair pinned her to put herself in a great position for Saturday's high-stakes match. The show kicked off with the usual revolving door promo as Bobby Lashley - flanked by MVP - previewed his Elimination Chamber defense as he clinched the WWE Title against Seth Rollins, Riddle (who was throwing a backstage toga party all night hosted) and jeopardized Austin Theory, AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar. Everyone staked their claim ahead of the big championship fight before Theory attempted to attack Lesnar only to be dropped with a German suplex and F-5 before the beast incarnate snapped a selfie with the rising star. In the first match of the night, Street Profits beat Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode in a short but entertaining match, although the main story here was NXT's Tommaso Ciampa as commentator. He distracted Ziggler - who made his presence felt on NXT 2.0 last week - and cost him the match, with a move that could only be slow to establish him as a regular star on Raw. Kevin Owens has demolished Indianapolis and Texas - the latter being the host city of this year's WrestleMania - and beefed up his own hometown of Montreal, in a move that certainly adds to rumors that "Stone Cold" Steve Austin could be destined for a sensational in-ring Return to Dallas. AJ Styles and Damian Priest faced off for the second straight week, this time for the US Championship, with the Archer of Infamy maintaining a strong fight but one that was too brief to match the highlights of last Monday's clash. Meanwhile, AJ's former tag team partner looked like an absolute beast as he demolished former Hurt Business duo Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin. Lita and Becky Lynch met in the ring for the signing before the Raw Women's Championship match at The Elimination Chamber while The Man attempted to sneak out of the match. A week after being placed in the friend zone, Reggie appeared to be tricking Dana Brooke as he pinned her backstage for the 24/7 title. Chad Gable and Otis appeared in the ring as the former ranted about Rey and Dominik Mysterio being "cheaters" before The Miz and Maryse came down as commentators to watch the tag match that followed. Alpha Academy defeated the father-son duo in a brilliant fight as everyone involved looked strong. Finally, in the main event, Seth Rollins beat Randy Orton after some fantastic action, including Otis and Gable coming back to try and engage. MORE : WWE's Bianca Belair invites Rihanna to join her in All-Star tag team after working with Fenty Beauty MORE : WWE SmackDown spoilers: Big title change next week as new champion is crowned


Alexa Bliss is "cured" on WWE Raw and enters the Women's Elimination Chamber Match

Alexa Bliss' final therapy segments aired on Monday Night Raw this week, culminating in her therapist telling her that as long as Lily stayed close to her, she was healed. Bliss had pretty much shed the demonic look she'd worn for the last year or so, then said [...] (Author: Gardener)

Alexa BlissAlexa Bliss' final therapy segments aired on Monday Night Raw this week, culminating in her therapist telling her that as long as Lily stayed close to her, she was healed. Bliss had all but shed the demonic look she'd sported for the past year or so, then said in a voiceover that she would be attending this Saturday's women's pay-per-view match by occupied the last place. This will be Bliss' first match since losing to Charlotte Flair at Extreme Rules last year, which saw Lily destroyed and The Goddess written off TV. Bianca Belair won a five-woman gauntlet match earlier in the night, earning the final seed for Saturday's match. Winner gets a shot at Becky Lynch's Raw Women's Championship match at WrestleMania 38. Anyone else have plans for Saturday???,” Bliss tweeted when WWE confirmed the announcement. Bray Wyatt, which was released last summer) has caused division among fans, she has repeatedly spoken out in interviews about how much she had. "I've been saying for the past few weeks that this was the most creative story I've ever been in and the most fun because right now there's no real limitations on what we can do. And between me, Bray and Randy, when I just throw all these ideas out, it's like nothing's off limits and that's what makes it so much fun," Bliss told ComicBook ahead of WrestleMania 37. "And the fact that a year ago , if you told me I was going to swing on a swing and threaten Randy Orton, I wouldn't have believed you. Or even having a match with Randy Orton, I wouldn't believe you, but it was so much fun and I'm just so happy with how it turned out because we don't know.


The Elimination Chamber contestants try to build momentum

Brock Lesnar was one of the few Elimination Chamber contestants to have a good night (Author: Gardener)

Brock LesnarOn the final edition of Raw before the WWE roster travels to Saudi Arabia for the Elimination Chamber event, building momentum was the name of the game. Lesnar opened the show with a display of physical dominance over fellow Elimination Chamber fellow Austin Theory. Riddle and AJ Styles suffered setbacks of various kinds before the night was over. However, Seth Rollins picked up a big in-ring win in the main event to approach the chamber with a more positive attitude. This would eventually produce Seth Rollins, Riddle, Austin Theory and AJ Styles. After the five men exchanged words, Brock Lesnar made his way to the ring. Things collapsed predictably quickly before Lesnar put an end to things with an F-5 on Theory. United States Championship – Damian Priest (c) def. AJ Styles via pinfall to retain title. Seth Rollins defeated. Randy Orton via pinfall after a stomp. Orton had skipped the RK broga party that Riddle threw - and ended up crashing by Alpha Academy - and instead focused on preparing for his match with Rollins. Orton had Rollins down after an RKO as the Alpha Academy music hit and Chad Gable and Otis started running to the ring. Orton exited the ring to help Riddle, who had been attacking Gable from behind, and returned to the ring only to slip into a stomp from Rollins on the finish. The Elimination Chamber contestants could probably have shone a bit more than they did on the last Raw leading up to the upcoming event. The theory was mishandled by Lesnar, which is understandable, but Styles ate a clean pin and Rollins was down and out were it not for Alpha Academy. Also, Riddle spent the night throwing a toga party, which was shown in small parts throughout the show before Gable and Otis performed it as well. Still, The Elimination Chamber is all about the chaos of the game and nobody believes that anyone but Lesnar is in the game to take the title from Lashley. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler via pinfall when Montez Ford hit Roode with a frog splash. The Hurt Business via pinfall with a chokebomb on Cedric Alexander, who easily wins the handicap match. * Lita and Becky Lynch signed their contract for Elimination Chamber. Looking disheveled and emotional, Lynch asked Lita not to sign the contract for her match for Lynch's Raw women's title. * Bianca Belair won a gauntlet match to determine the final competitor in the Elimination Chamber. Belair won the match by eliminating Rhea Ripley. * 24/7 Championship - Reggie defeated. Dana Brooke (c) via pinfall to win the title. After Reggie helped save, Brooke kissed his cheek and then said that one day he would make a woman happy. Reggie responded to the friend zone by rolling it to the center of the restaurant to win the title. * Defeated Alpha Academy. The Mysterios via pinfall as Chad Gable rolled through a Dominick Mysterio crossbody to get the pin. After the match, The Miz and Maryse, who were commentators, attacked The Mysterios. * Alexa Bliss became the final competitor in the women's Elimination Chamber match. Bliss was shown continuing her post-Lilly therapy sessions and announced at the end of the segment that she was the sixth woman in the match.


Winners, grades, reactions and highlights from February 14th

Welcome to the Bleacher Report coverage and recap of WWE Raw on February 14th. It may have been Valentine's Day, but that doesn't mean the men and women of WWE didn't hit each other like any other day... (Author: Gardener)

February 14thBrock Lesnar and Lita both returned to Raw to discuss their upcoming matches at the Elimination Chamber event taking place on Saturday. Riddle throws himself, Randy Orton and a toga party to celebrate winning last week's quiz bowl, and AJ Styles challenged Damian Priest for the United States Championship. Let's take a look at everything that happened at WWE Raw. Bobby Lashley and MVP opened the show with a promo discussing the upcoming Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship. Riddle came out on his scooter wearing a toga and claimed he was going to win the Chamber Match. Austin Theory joined them to talk about the lessons he learned from Vince McMahon. AJ Styles came out next and said his piece before Lashley verbally destroyed everyone in the ring. Theory tried to jump on Lesnar's back and shoot over him, so The Beast sent him through the air with a German suplex before finishing him off with the F-5. Whenever WWE has a big match with multiple participants on a pay-per-view, we always get at least one segment with all the Superstars speaking in the ring, and that usually happens during the go-home show before the event. They trott people out at regular intervals to say a few sentences. Knocking out Lesnar Theory was fun, but that's about it. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins heated up today's lineup before heading to the ring to battle Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode in tag team action. Tommaso Ciampa was a commentator to break this down after what happened between him and Ziggler last Tuesday had happened to check. Ford would have scored the win almost immediately, but Roode broke the pin and helped his partner take control. The showoff had the upper hand until Ford caught a kick to the head. Both men made the day and Dawkins brought it to Roode with a series of impactful moves. Ziggler was distracted by Ciampa while the Profits finished off his partner for the win. This was a short match that seemed designed to advance Ziggler's feud with Ciampa more than anything else. Luckily we had some fun moments in the few minutes of action. Winning the profits while Roode took the loss for his team all made sense, especially when WWE wants Ford and Dawkins to be in the tag title scene after RK-Bro and Alpha Academy to end their feud. After going head-to-head last week, Priest and Styles reunited on Monday's show for a rematch with the US title at stake. They started by trading some stiff punches which resulted in Priest taking control for a few moments. Styles delivered a small punishment before The Archer of Infamy hit him with a backbreaker. The Phenomenal One picked up some steam and hit a running forearm. Styles hits the Pele Kick out of nowhere before sending Priest clotheslined over the top rope. Priest was smart enough to dodge the Phenomenal Forearm before rolling Styles to victory. Everything we saw in that match looked good, it just wasn't enough of it. Styles shaking Priest's hand after it was over was a nice touch, but having Styles lose so quickly just days before entering the Elimination Chamber seemed like an odd call. If Priest had won a long, grueling match, Styles would have had an excuse for going off his game in the chamber. Instead, Styles is likely to lose this match, although he'll be relatively fresh when it happens. Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin took on giant Omos in a handicap match that, despite the numerical advantage, still felt unfair to the duo. Omos initially pushed Alexander away easily, but Benjamin and Alexander attempted to take over with a double-team tactic. Omos caught Alexander on a springboard in the throat and hit the two-handed chokeslam for the win. Watching two talented dudes like Alexander and Benjamin like this will never be fun, but you have to admit it worked to make Omos look like a monster. WWE management clearly sees something in Omos, so we can expect to see him roll over more competitors before likely winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 38. Gauntlet Match for Last Place in Elimination ChamberRhea Ripley and Nikki ASH performed just before a commercial break, so the first couple of minutes took place in the picture-in-picture window. Ripley seemed to control the pace for most of the break while Nikki just tried to keep her distance and use her wits to outsmart the powerhouse. They messed up a spot but quickly recovered, allowing Ripley to hit the Riptide for the win. Liv Morgan was the next competitor to enter the match. They waited until after another break to get going, giving Ripley some time to recover. Morgan and Ripley had a competitive exchange, but Ripley was able to get the win using Riptide to advance in the Gauntlet. Ripley didn't go down when she was hit by a shoulder tackle, but she was able to trip Doudrop with one. The two powerhouses each landed some good shots before Ripley hit her finisher to take down a third opponent. Ripley looked exhausted when they finished for the first time. The EST was fresh and able to dominate the commercial break, but Ripley didn't go down without a fight. They have several minutes for their portion of the game. Ripley dodged the KOD and hit a rocket dropkick for a close two count. A few moments later, Belair successfully hit the KOD for the pin and the win. Pitting contestants in a Gauntlet Match to see who enters the Elimination Chamber last is a good idea in theory, but it still means some people have an unfair advantage if they enter the Chamber later than others Enter Gauntlet. Given that WWE had to endure five women, it was a little surprising that Nikki and Ripley got so much time. It was nice to see their feud highlighted, even if the storyline was a bit patchy qualitatively. Ripley looked great throughout her 44 minutes in this match. She has matured into a versatile competitor who can think quickly and make her opponents look good. This is a pairing WWE should revisit for a title feud across the board. All in all, this was a well-booked Gauntlet match that really showcased Ripley's talents. Chad Gable gave a lengthy promo on why the Mysterios are cheaters before he and Otis took on Rey and Dominik Mysterio in a tag team match. The Miz and Maryse joined the commentary team to review it. The match started during the commercial. We returned from a break to see Otis controlling Rey with his size and power advantage. Every time Rey tried to create some space, Gable or Otis would land him with a submission or a slam. Dom finally got the tag and he hit Gable with a series of quick moves to knock him off balance. Gable countered the third suplex and hit his own for a near fall. Rey returned and helped his son take out Otis before obliterating Gable with a suicide dive. Coming back from another break, we saw Gable hit Dom with belly-to-belly suplexes left and right. Rey tagged in and brought down Gable with a headscissor takedown. Rey and Dom drove Otis into the ring post before hitting Gable with the 619. Rey took out The Miz while Dom hit a crossbody, but Gable rolled him into a pin. Everyone looks good every time they step into the ring. The Miz's involvement was necessary to his feud with the Mysterios and did little to affect the quality of the match, so it all worked out in the end.


WWE Monday Night RAW Live scores, your feedback and a viewer party

Welcome to our Live WWE RAW Viewing Party. Tonight's show comes from the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. (Author: Gardener)

WWEWelcome to our Live WWE RAW Viewing Party. - WWE RAW's Elimination Chamber Go-Home Edition opens live on Syfy when Jimmy Smith welcomes us to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. – We go straight to the ring and out comes WWE Champion Bobby Lashley with MVP. Lashley enters the ring as the announcers cheer tonight's show and Sunday's Elimination Chamber event. Lashley poses in the corner as the pyro goes off. Lashley talks about winning the Elimination Chamber before coming to WrestleMania 38 as a champion. MVP continues to discuss Lashley's chances of staying on Saturday until the music stops and Seth Rollins comes out. Rollins says Lashley looks good right now, but not as good as him. Rollins says Lashley won't be champion for long. Rollins doesn't think anyone in the chamber can beat Lashley, but he does know Seth "Freakin'" Rollins can. MVP interrupts and says if Rollins keeps mouthing like that, he won't make it to the Elimination Chamber. The music stops and out comes Riddle. Riddle comes out in his toga. Fans chant "Toga!" as Riddle enters the ring. Riddle does his promo saying it would be pretty cool if he became a double champion by winning the WWE Title and then getting the RAW Tag Team Titles back with Randy Orton. He says it would be even cooler if they came to his toga party. Riddle comments on Rollin's suit and says he needs to prepare to face Orton tonight. Riddle says Lashley doesn't have a match and should be wearing a toga. Riddle tries to get a chant working for the fans to encourage Lashley to wear a toga. The music stops and Austin Theory comes on. The theory continues about how he can't let down WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon as his protégé. AJ Styles next interrupts and comments that Theory has planted his lips on Vince's butt for so long it doesn't make any sense. AJ enters the ring and says that no one, including Lashley, will stop him from having a defining WrestleMania moment. AJ is also looking forward to becoming the WWE United States Champion tonight. Riddle invites him to the toga party. Lashley says it's ridiculous, he's the only one here to win a chamber match. He says Theory is too wet behind the ears to wait, Rollins needs to realize there's no way he's going to run this against Lashley, and Riddle needs to get off his cloud if he really thinks he's going to be WWE Champion, and AJ just isn't. He won't have the WrestleMania dream he's hoping for. Lashley says as far as Brock Lesnar goes, this is as close as he will come to the title because Lashley plans to beat Lesnar throughout the chamber and enter WrestleMania as the champion. The music stops and a big bang comes from Lesnar. The Pyro starts as Lesnar now marches to the ring. Lashley now takes off his jacket as Lesnar confronts him. MVP stops Lashley from doing it while Rollins talks some trash. Theory jumps on Lesnar's back, but Lesnar starts it off with a big German, then another. MVP and Lashley leave the ring, as do the others. Lesnar laughs at Lashley, then scoops Theory into the center of the ring for a big F5. Lashley lifts the WWE Ringside Championship as Lesnar's music resumes. Lesnar then takes Theory's phone, picks him up off the mat and holds him up for a selfie. Lesnar continues to stare at Lashley to end the segment. – The Street Profits are backstage hype for RAW tonight and the ad-free first hour. We go back to the ring and out comes The Street Profits - Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins. The Dirty Dawgs are next - Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. We're getting a replay of Ziggler's appearance on WWE NXT last week. The bell rings and Ziggler tries Ford, but Ford drops him for a 2 count as Roode makes the save. He drops Ford for a 2 count when Dawkins finishes him. Ziggler grounds Ford and rubs his face. Ford counters a back suplex and drops it with a kick to the head. Roode is being rocked and then clotheslined as Dawkins walks in. Dawkins gets Roode up and then throws Ziggler on his head as he runs in. Roode counters and nails a big spinebuster in the middle of the ring for a 2 count. Ciampa rises from commentary to applaud Ziggler from ringside. Ziggler pretends to kick Ciampa. Ciampa splashes water on his face and Ziggler goes down. Taking advantage of the ringside distraction, Ford hit a huge top-rope splash in the ring for Roode, who then covered the pin to win. – After the match, The Profits stand tall as Ziggler superkicks Ciampa at ringside. Ford rolls Ziggler back into Dawkins, but he rolls back to the floor and Roode gets him to ringside safety. Ciampa recovers at ringside while The Profits stand tall in the ring and The Dirty Dawgs watch from the ramp. We see Commander Azeez, Apollo Crews, WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Queen Zelina Vega and Carmella, and others. Riddle gets a "Broga!" chant after arguing with Vega about this not being her party. Orton says he's not really the Broga type and he needs to prepare for a match with Seth Rollins. He goes on to give Rollins some props and says he'll be hit by WWE's three most dangerous letters - the RKO. - The announcers send us to a Black History Month video about WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson. We go back to the ring and out comes AJ Styles for his title shot. He's aware he won't be competing in the Elimination Chamber right now, which means he probably won't be in WrestleMania 38, which is good because he doesn't have to wrestle in Texas. Owens goes on to say how much he hates Texas and everything related to it, just as much as he hates Indianapolis people. Next up is WWE United States Champion Damian Priest. They act offensively and Priest nails some arm drags then grounds AJ. Priests with big punches and kicks, then a discus forearm. AJ fights back with kicks and a backfist, dropping Priest. Priest drops AJ and bets the inverted DDT for a close 2 count. AJ comes back with a Pele Kick but they're both down now. AJ is sent onto the apron but he keeps fighting. AJ lands shoulder first on the apron. Priest returns to the ring and AJ fights off the apron with a right hand. AJ calls for the phenomenal forearm, but Priest rocks it with a roundhouse kick. AJ still flies into the ring but Priest dodges him and he rolls through. They get tangled on the mat and out of nowhere Priest rolls AJ up to hold him down. - After the match, Priest stands tall and takes the title while his music plays. Priest goes out of the ring. Bliss says for the first time in a while, life is amazing. Bliss starts to have some internal issues with seeing parts of Lilly, but she puts it together and smiles. The therapist holds up a Lilly doll and says he has an idea. We go back to the ring and out comes Omos. Next up is the team of Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin for this handicap match. Cedric lunges at Omos as the bell rings, but Omos grabs him in one hand and controls his face. Omos throws Cedric in the corner while Shelton watches from the apron. Cedric retreats to the ground while Shelton talks some trash from the apron. Cedric grabs Omos' leg off the ground and allows Shelton to come in with his right hand. Omos blocks her and slams Shelton into the turnbuckles but misses a splash. Shelton comes back with a step up knee. Omos now defends against a double team. Cedric jumps up but Omos catches him, knocking Shelton down on the attack and hitting Cedric with a big chokeslam. - After the game, Omos stands upright while the music plays. - We see WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke kiss Reggie but put him in the friend zone last week. - Back from an NXT promo and Riddle's toga party is still going on. - We're going back to the ring and Adam Pearce is on his way to host a contract signing for WWE Hall of Famer Lita against RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch at the WWE Elimination Chamber. We see what happened between Lita and Lynch in RAW last week as Lita makes her way outside. Next, Pearce introduces Lynch and she comes out looking not happy at all. Lynch says she hasn't slept all week because all she can think about is how her teenage idol got so close to WrestleMania. Lynch goes on to say she'll let it slide if Lita doesn't sign. Lynch says they don't want to fight each other, the only ones who want to see them fight are these insane people who go out of their way to ruin people's lives. Lynch says she and Lita don't have to play those games. She goes on to say that she's not just in for one match, she's got a whole run left in her and a championship run at that. Lita says Lynch saw last week that she has what it takes to beat her and may or may not like it, but the match is happening. Lynch cooks and says Lita pushes her to a point she can't come back from. Lynch says Lita doesn't know what she will do to keep the title on her shoulder. Lynch has studied Lita's career and Lita will make her go at each other. Lynch threatens Lita even more, but signs the contract. Lita brings up how Lynch just said that without Lita there would be no Becky and she says if she was involved in the creation of Lynch then it's up to her to end it. She goes on to claim the title on Saturday and Lynch tossed her the contract. Lynch takes her title, keeps her head low and makes her exit. Lita stands and plays to the crowd as her music begins. We go back to the ring and Rhea Ripley comes out first for this Gauntlet match. The winner finishes the Women's Elimination Chamber last on Saturday. We get recorded video with Ripley saying she's back on track and focused and ready to tear up any woman in her path to becoming the RAW Women's Champion at WrestleMania. Next up is Nikki A. We're now getting recorded video of Nikki saying she can't wait to claim victory on Saturday and inspire everyone around the world to be the superhero they have to admire. Ripley and Nikki assess each other as we head to a picture-in-picture commercial. Back from the break, Ripley tried to push Nikki off the apron with a big boot, but she missed. Nikki traps Ripley in the apron cover and works on her. Nikki brings it back and attacks Ripley for a 2 count. Nikki now brings Ripley to the floor in the middle of the ring. Ripley eventually fights his way free but runs into a kick in the corner. Nikki keeps slamming Ripley's face against the turnbuckles while the referee warns her. Nikki keeps kicking Ripley around. Ripley struggles off the mat, but Nikki kicks her knee again. Nikki with more kicks on Ripley's knees to keep her down. Ripley attempts a slam but gets blocked. Ripley equalized Nikki with clotheslines, then Riptide fell face first to the mat. Ripley goes for another Riptide but gets blocked. Nikki slaps Ripley on her neck. Nikki goes to the ropes and fights Ripley again. Nikki crossbody jumps off the second rope, but Ripley catches her in mid-air. Nikki blocks a slam but Ripley comes back with another riptide for the pin to eliminate Nikki. The music is coming and next is Liv Morgan. We get a pre-taped promo where Liv talks about how brutal the steel feels. She says that to beat her, the other women have to destroy her on Saturday, but she will survive because she always does. Liv and Ripley stare at each other as we head to the commercial. Back from the break and they go to work with tight pin attempts. Liv with a big knee on Ripley's jaw in the corner. Liv is grounding Ripley now. Ripley fights back and gives Liv a close 2 count. Liv ducks, but Ripley kicks her in the chest. Liv goes for a hurricanrana, but Ripley tries a powerbomb. Liv keeps trying and slams Ripley face first for a close 2 count. Ripley tries to win the Prism Trap Submission, but Liv breaks it and sends it into the turnbuckles. They move on and Ripley superkicks, then riptide for the pin to eliminate Liv. The music comes and next comes Doudrop. Ripley tries to recover in the ring while Doudrop goes downstairs. Back from the break and here we go. They meet in the middle of the ring and talk some trash after a brawl. They collide and Doudrop taunts Ripley after she stays up. Ripley lines up Doudrop with a huge shoulder. Doudrop with a big suplex and a senton for a close 2 count. Doudrop starts with a bigger offense, but she misses when aiming for a leg drop. Ripley with a dropkick to the face. Fans are hailing Ripley for making a comeback now. Ripley with big clotheslines but Doudrop grabs them and headbutts her. Ripley with another, but Doudrop fights back with clotheslines of his own. They trade clotheslines in the middle of the ring but still stand. Ripley ducks after a shot and nails a dropkick for another close 2 count. Doudrop fights off Riptide and drops Ripley with another headbutt. Ripley slides off Doudrop's shoulders but is unable to pick her up. Doudrop elbows her but runs into a kick. Ripley finally hits the Riptide for a big bang and pin to eliminate Doudrop. Doudrop screams in frustration as Ripley sits up and tries to recover. The music meets and now Bianca Belair comes out. We're getting a pre-taped promo with Belair about making WrestleMania history twice this year. Back from the break, Belair drops Ripley out of the corner. Belair maintains control and relies on tighter pin attempts. Ripley sends Belair in the corner but runs into a back elbow. Belair with a big suplex. Ripley blocks the follow-up suplex. They trade counters and Belair eventually brings Ripley up for a suplex. Ripley emerges just in time. Belair now with an abdominal stretch in the middle of the ring. Ripley avoids a hip toss and eventually sends Belair into the turnbuckles. They tangle and Ripley knees Belair in the face, then brings her to the ground but misses a basement dropkick. Belair with the handspring moonsault for a close 2 count. They both fall to the ground, but Ripley rolls to the ground to recover. In the end, Belair follows, but Ripley executes her at ringside. Back off the break, Belair hit Ripley for a close 2 count. Ripley kicks Belair but Riptide gets blocked. Ripley goes upstairs and hits Belair from above. Ripley yells at her to bring it. They trade big strikes and slaps, Ripley on top and Belair on the mat. Belair jumps up with a kick to stun Ripley on the top turnbuckle. Belair with a big slam to bring Ripley to the mat. Belair with another handspring moonsault but Ripley brings her knees back up. They move on and Ripley nails a big rocket dropkick for another tight 2 count. Belair goes ahead and hits the KOD for the pin to gain the Elimination Chamber advantage by coming in last. - After the match, Belair stands upright while her music plays. Belair and Ripley hug while the announcers cheer Elimination Chamber. - We're going back to the toga party and now Riddle is going to sing a song. RAW Tag Team Champions Alpha Academy attack and beat up Riddle. Chad Gable is sick of this and says the party's over, bro. We go back to the ring and out come The Mysterios - Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio. Back from a break, we see R-Truth, disguised as a waiter, approach Reggie and WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke at their table in the restaurant. They end up tripping over each other and Dana escapes them. They run away and Dana comes back to Reggie and thanks her friend with a kiss for saving her again. Reggie says they can be friends but suddenly he curls up on Dana and wins the WWE 24/7 Championship. Holding up the title, he says friendship has its perks. Truth, Tozawa, and Tamina run back, taunting Dana, and then chasing Reggie as Dana is presented with the dinner bill. We go back to the ring and out comes RAW Tag Team Champions Alpha Academy for this non-title match - Otis and Chad Gable. Gable goes on to say that he's never had to cheat to get anywhere. Gable continues to rant about scammers, RK-Bro and The Mysterios. He's eventually interrupted by The Miz and Maryse coming out to join the announcers as we return to a commercial break. Back off the break and the match is underway as Otis gets into Rey. The It Couple comments. Otis controls Rey and poses for boos. Otis puts Rey in the turnbuckles and he goes back downstairs. Otis runs the ropes and hits a big splash for a 2 count. Gable comes in and sends Rey in the corner for a shoulder jab. Gable picks Rey up and gutbusters him over his knee. Rey exits at 2. Rey struggles up and down. Gable catches him on the shoulder, but Rey escapes and sends Gable face first into the turnbuckle. Otis tags in and keeps Rey on the floor. Dominik and Gable switch in at the same time. Dominik interrupts Gable and hits a suplex. He keeps it locked for the second suplex, but Gable blocks the third. Gable with a German suplex for a bridge, but Dominik gets out just in time. Dominik kicks Gable and throws him to the ground. Rey runs in and pushes Otis off the apron. Rey kicks Otis into the barrier while Dominik sends Gable into the barrier on the other side of the ring. Rey then keeps the ropes open so Dominik can walk the ring and do a big suicide dive, sending Otis into the barrier again. Rey follows with a sliding Sunset Flip Powerbomb to the ground. The Mysterios stand upright when we return to the courtship. Back off the break and Dominik kicks out of Gable's pin attempt. Gable flips Dominik around and hits a belly-to-belly suplex for a close call. Gable returns to the top as fans boo. Gable misses the moonsault and Dominik rolls it up for 2. They get even more tangled up and Rey comes over to dump on Gable. Rey pushes Otis off the apron. Gable covers Rey and rolls him, but Rey kicks Gable in the face for 2. Rey taunts The Miz and gets back to work on Gable when Miz gets up at the announce booth. Gable catches Rey with a big German suplex for 2. Rey now fights off Gable's shoulders and then drops Gable face first. Otis breaks Rey's pin-up. Mysterios doubles team Otis now sends him into the ring post and out to the floor. Rey positions Gable for 619 as fans bang. Rey and Dominik hit Gable with a double 619. They go up, but Miz hits the apron and shoves Dominik to make him lose his footing. Rey stops climbing and knocks Miz to the ground. Dominik climbs up for a crossbody, but Gable catches it and rolls through to win the pin. - After the match, Gable and Otis go to the ramp and party while the music plays. Maryse enters the ring and distracts the Mysterios while they recover. Miz comes from behind sending Dominik down and dropping Rey with a skull crushing finale. Miz and Maryse celebrate and kiss while their music starts. The doctor says Bliss is cured, at least cured as she will be. He says she's fine as long as Lilly is by her side. Bliss says Lilly is gone and she doesn't have her anymore, but he informs her that the real Lilly stuffing is in that replica he gave her. He says as long as Lilly is around, Bliss will be healed and can live a happy life. Bliss is about to leave but stops and tells Lilly that she appears to be cured. She laughs and says she's going to the Elimination Chamber match on Saturday. Announcers and a graphic confirm Bliss as the last participant in the Elimination Chamber. We go back to the ring and first Seth Rollins comes out.


Another celebrity's stans aim at a misguided target

It all started with Goodreads. (Author: Gardener)

GoodreadsThere's no other story in hip-hop like that of Malcolm McCormick, aka Mac Miller. A wealthy white boy from Pennsylvania with a passion for music and some freestyle skills starts releasing mixtapes on the internet while still in high school. He uses various social media platforms to promote his music, build a following, and connect with artists in Pittsburgh and across the country. But his music is as much reviled by critics as it is popular, and Mac swings from youthful anthems about life is good to much darker explorations of his tormented inner psyche. This new material polarizes the fan base but is better celebrated, and it has been co-signed by many highly respected rap artists; He's also learning how to make beats and uses that skill to help other aspiring musicians advance their platforms. Within a few years, Mac signs a multi-million dollar major label deal, dates one of the world's most popular pop stars, and dies at the age of 26 of a drug overdose. Mac's family and friends keep his legacy alive by re-issuing his mixtapes and producing documentaries. Whatever one may have thought of Mac's work, it is undeniable that in his all-too-short life he had an enormous impact that deserves proper recognition. As I've written before, we've seen a staggering rate of rap deaths in recent years. As the hip-hop media ossifies and its history is lost or misremembered, it is all the more important to ensure that the lives and careers of these dead rappers are properly documented using every means at our disposal. For this reason, in late December, I was delighted to receive an early copy of a new biography by Mac Miller, of whom I was a fan myself. Written by longtime music journalist Paul Cantor, Most Dope: The Extraordinary Life of Mac Miller claims to be the first full journalistic account of Mac's life, covering trips to Pittsburgh as well as interviews with Mac's close friends, former managers, critics, and fans to sketch a complete outline of Mac Miller the human and creative. However, when I checked the book into my Goodreads account, I noticed something odd: a string of 1-star reviews from Most Dope dated May 7, 2021, well ahead of the release date. Meyers wrote that Most Dope was unauthorized and that Cantor "was made aware early in the process of writing this book that Malcolm's family and friends felt uncomfortable about his writing the biography." She also explained that the book's January 18, 2022 release date — the day before Mac's 30th birthday — made the project seem "exploitative." The only book authorized by Mac's estate, according to Meyers, was The Book of Mac: Remembering Mac Miller by music journalist Donna-Claire Chesman. This all followed a 2019 post in which Meyers hinted at Cantor's upcoming book. “There is an author writing a Mac Miller biography that some of you have been or are being approached about. In response, Cantor told Page Six that the family "were made aware of the book from the start with the best of intentions" and "choose not to participate — which I respected." Cantor also stated that he himself did not announce the publication of Most Dope, his first book, "out of respect for the family." ... The only people who have ever spoken about my book are you." Despite the massive Mac fan backlash that followed Meyer's post on social media platforms, Cantor insisted, "My heart goes out to [Macs] Family. Such wrangling over celebrity legacy and history, whether it's family liking or unauthorized biographies or fan anger or attempts to stop journalistic inquiries or all of the above, isn't exactly unheard of. But the muddle here also points to something deeper: the existential and material connections Mac had to his fans - unique even for an Internet native - and the unique position he holds in rap history. His earliest mixtapes, like The High Life, embodied an ethos of harmless youthful amusement that staved off boredom by hanging out with your friends, celebrating your community, and kicking some incredibly cool shit. Later projects like Faces laid out Mac's thoughts of death and his most desperate desires in a chillingly honest way ("Guess I live in paradise, so I'd have to worry about/deal with these demons, feel the pressure, find the perfect style"). Many of those who had rejected Blue Slide Park's more party-oriented music were drawn to the rending honesty and plaintive vibes of Watching Movies With the Sound Off Despite the stark contrast between these two eras, there was a steadfast hope of something greater than what life intended for you ("Go fight for food, start a new life / You're too smart to be in a bunch of mediocrity") What Mac Miller highlighted most was his Confidence: He never pretended to be someone he wasn't, rather he was open about being a white guy who loved rap music very much and knew he had the talent and i.e he had the work ethic to make it in the game.* That's why artists from very different backgrounds than him, like Juicy J and Chief Keef wanted to work with him. Plus, it wasn't just that Mac could connect with both those who loved and hated him - he did it, too. They told me things I probably wouldn't share with close friends, let alone a random journalist. "He's saved my life countless times," Allison Byrd wrote to me on Twitter, "[like] when I was 15 and hearing 'Clarity': when Mac said, 'Sending my love for girls who have a few cuts on their wrists have suffered.' Cody Lee, who helps manage Mac Miller Memoir's social media accounts, told me he gets regular messages about how much Mac's music means to the lives of his fans. "More than anything, I felt like Mac Miller," music journalist Caleb Catlin wrote last year. "He was communicating feelings that I didn't quite understand, but I understood emotionally where he was coming from." For many, this wasn't simply a parasocial relationship: Mac himself personally maintained close ties with his listeners. "He interacted daily with his fans" through his social media, Byrd wrote; it was “a big part of how close we felt to him. My parents didn't have the ability to tweet their favorite artists or message them through an app." Mac Miller Memoir's Marc-André Lauzon confirmed this: "His relationship with his fan base was incredible." Mac always made time to do that makes his fans feel comfortable and welcome.” It's heartwarming to hear directly from fans about the personal connection they have had with Mac Miller and the community it has formed together. Lee told me that the Machead community "has to be one of the most inclusive, loving, and genuine fanbases in music," and it's clear that those fans' bond with Mac has extended to his entire family, most notably his mother. Some molested Mac's ex-girlfriend Ariana Grande after his death and even blamed her; There are Mac Miller memorial groups on Facebook with strict rules not to post anything about Grande. Something like this happened even before Mac's death: when old-school rapper Lord Finesse sued him in 2012 for sampling "Hip 2 the Game," Mac took to Twitter to tell his fans, "Don't be disrespectful." Such incidents are of course not isolated cases. But it's worrying when they repeat themselves like they did against Paul Cantor last year. For all its anger, Most Dope hardly reads like a money heist. Named for Mac's close-knit hometown crew, the book offers a comprehensive overview of the rapper's life, with Cantor recounting everything from the history of the Point Breeze neighborhood where Mac grew up to his involvements with adoring fans and harsh critics to the grim details of his tragic death.* In comparison, October's The Book of Mac runs through Miller's discography album by album, with Donna-Claire Chesman providing personal commentary alongside stories from the rapper's many friends and associates. It's certainly interesting reading, getting to the heart of Mac's appeal - the personal connection - but it's difficult to see as the definitive work on Mac's life. But The Book of Mac was the work officially announced by the family estate, something that every Mac fanatic I spoke to reminded me of. ("I will never buy a copy of this book," Allison Byrd said.) If what you valued about Mac's music was his honesty, then why resist a biography that attempts to present an honest, reported story about the artists to tell themselves ? Cantor spoke to many of Mac's close circles for Most Dope—Benjy Grinberg, Arthur Pitt, and others. If you look at the book's Goodreads page after it was actually published, you'll find some higher ratings alongside the 1-star bombshells. "I was skeptical, but's exactly what I was looking for in a biography of a star so beloved," wrote one reviewer last month. "I'm one of the biggest Mac Miller fans on the planet. I have three Mac tattoos," reads another review. Then I read it and I think no, this is not at all what I had in mind, its high key is amazing. A November thread on Mac Miller's subreddit about The Book of Mac, meanwhile, featured some readers who were "disappointed" with the original poster reading: "This isn't a frigging book about Mac. It's a book about a fan and their thoughts and feelings about Mac.” As a Mac fan, I just feel uncomfortable about how the worthy goal of documenting the man's life has evolved. One of the most striking stories from Cantor's book tells how Mac Miller dealt with a harsh reviewer: When Jordan Sargent gave Blue Slide Park a scathing review on Pitchfork, Mac took it to heart and decided to improve his music. He approached Sargent for insight into the process for his follow-up album, Watching Movies With the Sound Off. Sargent was reportedly charmed by Mac's friendliness and drive to improve, and later gave Watching Movies a more positive review. Most Dope can't be described as anything like this Blue Slide Park review — it's an in-depth look that also dives into the uglier side of Mac's life, from heavy drug use to his dating problems to his misdeeds as a youngster , all things Mac has been outspoken in his music and interviews. My feeling is that Mac himself wanted to engage with anyone who has written a book about his life, whether it's a personal reflection like Chesman's or a broader perspective like Cantor's. I hope other fans can start to feel the same way.


"Havana syndrome" in a small group is most likely caused by directed energy, says the US intelligence panel

The "Havana Syndrome" brain injuries suffered by a small group of US diplomats and spies were most likely caused by microwave energy, a panel of experts says. (Author: Gardener)

USThe mysterious and sudden brain injuries suffered by a small group of American diplomats and spies abroad were most likely caused by pulsed electromagnetic energy delivered by an external device, a panel of scientific experts working for U, consistent with a long-standing Intelligence officials hypothesis – that a foreign adversary, most likely Russia, is responsible for at least some of the symptoms suffered by those who become victims of what is commonly known as Havana Syndrome. The panel's conclusions are also consistent with a recent CIA interim assessment, which found that most of the 1,000 people who came forward with possible injuries have symptoms that can be explained by other factors. The CIA assessment, released last month, also ruled out what it called an ongoing global campaign by a hostile foreign power to hurt Americans. But it found two dozen cases in which it couldn't rule out a hostile cause, and those seem to be the cases the panel of experts focused on. Many of these individuals belong to the original group of diplomats and spies who first showed symptoms at the US in 2016. Intelligence officials familiar with the panel's work told NBC News that it had not considered who might be responsible for the injuries -- only what the medical and technical evidence said about possible causes. Russia has denied any connection to the symptoms of Havana Syndrome. The panel's scientific conclusions are likely to shed new light on the theory that at least some Americans serving abroad were injured by an outside force, a notion many felt disproved by the CIA assessment. S. diplomats and spies who had reported suspected incidents had expressed dismay at the CIA's report, which the public widely threw at cold water on the belief that Americans had been attacked. The panel's findings expanded on a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which also found that pulsed electromagnetic energy, also known as microwave energy, was the most plausible culprit. This report noted that Russia has a long history of studying and developing technology. Intelligence officials told NBC News that the panel included a group of scientists and technical experts both inside and outside the government who reviewed more than a thousand classified documents and conducted the most comprehensive study to date of the possible causes of Havana syndrome. The panel focused on cases where victims reported hearing a sound coming from a certain direction or felt pressure in one ear and then experienced dizziness. The panel found that "pulsed electromagnetic energy plausibly explains the core cases," "although information gaps exist." "It's more than theory — we've been able to get some level of evidence," said an official. Officials said the experts also couldn't rule out high-powered ultrasound beams as a possible cause, but concluded that microwave energy tended to be easily concealed, weak and able to penetrate walls. This conclusion was remarkable as some victims of Havana syndrome reported feeling like they were being hit by an invisible explosion or blast while inside their apartments or houses. Some experts have questioned whether a microwave device that could remotely cause such symptoms might have a portable power source - one suggested the power source would need to be the size of a small car. However, the panel of experts concluded that the power demand would not be high. Also of note was the panel's conclusion that they could not relate the core symptoms of what they call "anomalous health incidents," or AHIs, to any known medical condition — or any type of psychological syndrome. "Although some signs and symptoms of AHIs are common in known disorders, the combination of the four major features is distinctly unusual and not reported elsewhere in the medical literature and has not previously been associated with a specific neurological abnormality," the panel concluded in a summary. It added: "No known psychosocial factors explain the core features, and the incidents exhibiting these features do not fit most criteria used to distinguish mass sociogenic illness." The panel noted that some of the symptoms reported by Intelligence officials and diplomats "could be due to over-vigilance and normal human responses to stress and ambiguity, particularly in a workforce that is attuned to their environment and trained to think about security." Some incidents involved a number of people in the same room and some victims were found to have suffered "cellular nervous system injuries". Officials said the panel interviewed researchers working with commercial microwave devices - and ultrasound devices - who described suffering similar symptoms from accidental exposures. S. Diplomats and spies serving in Cuba began reporting bizarre sounds and sensations, followed by unexplained illnesses and symptoms, including hearing and vision loss, memory and balance problems, headaches and nausea. S. officers have come forward and reported suspected incidents in more than a dozen countries, NBC News reported. NBC News reported in 2018 that US intelligence officials considered Russia a prime suspect, in what some considered deliberate attacks on diplomats and CIA officials abroad. But in the three years since then, spy agencies have not uncovered enough evidence to determine the cause or culprit of the health incidents. Going forward, the panel recommends that intelligence agencies seek to identify "biomarkers" — changes in blood, tissue, or brain function — associated with the health incidents so they can better identify them in the event of a recurrence. The panel also recommended that the authorities collect more data on the possible incidents and "develop a coordinated communications strategy to inform and educate the US on the needs of the intelligence community and the broader U. They also welcomed the Biden administration's recent announcement, a senior White House official to serve as the AHI Interagency Coordinator. In a statement accompanying a public summary of the panel's work, Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, and William Burns, the CIA director, said it "will help improve the work of the IC and the US government as a whole." to sharpen when we focus on possible causes. dr Eric Lander, director of the Biden administration's office for science and technology policy, said in a statement that the administration has convened panels in the past to study the possible causes of the syndrome, "but this is the first time that a The panel has had such extensive access to intelligence reports and patient data, and has worked directly with affected individuals. Also on Wednesday, a separate report released by the JASON Advisory Group, a collection of outside experts who advise the government through Miter Corp. advises making its own assessment of Havana Syndrome, noting that “it is not currently possible to conclude that the events ….are the result of intentional attacks causing bodily harm. Mechanisms that do not cause physical harm, but which constitute a nuisance and can lead to health and functional disorders, such as unpleasant noises or feelings of pressure, cannot be ruled out either." The report added: "In view of this and in the interest of protecting the Embassy staff and their families would be wise to be vigilant against tactics designed to create fear and trauma with the intention of either disrupting operations and/or causing long-term harm. The S. government could minimize the impact of such tactics, if any, through open communication, education, and appropriate prompt medical response to developing conditions.”


Stephen Curry reacts to Sixers' trade brother Seth Curry on Nets

By now, everyone knows about the deal the Philadelphia 76ers made to acquire James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets. It was a deal that rocked the league as the Sixers and Nets made the big move. (Author: Gardener)

Stephen CurryBy now, everyone knows about the deal the Philadelphia 76ers made to acquire James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets. It was a deal that rocked the league as the Sixers and Nets made the big move. While the Sixers got the man they wanted at Harden while also moving away from the Ben Simmons saga, they had to give up a key shooter in the form of Seth Curry. He averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 40% from deep for Philadelphia, but when it comes to a guy like Harden, the move had to be made. Curry's brother, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, had one reaction to the Sixers moving Seth to the Nets as part of the deal: I had to change my favorite team on my phone to get the notifications from Philly to Brooklyn. It's obviously a big step, a big stir. I know he kinda got caught in the Philly crossfire for making a move like that because he loved it there. He loved playing there and they played well, but of course you have to take that step. “I had to change my favorite teams in my phone” Steph on his brother Seth Curry traded from Philadelphia to Brooklyn ⤵️ – Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 13, 2022 Seth Curry took over Instagram after trade official to post his goodbyes from the Sixers. As Stephen mentioned, Seth loved playing in Philadelphia, but unfortunately he got caught by that mega move with Harden and Simmons. The Sixers had to make this move as they continue to build a legitimate contender around Joel Embiid. Sixers star Joel Embiid had circled a matchup with Cavs on his calendar


The Batman: Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves confirm exclusive new details about the film

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves reveal the secret origins of The Batman and how to bring the Dark Knight fresh to the big screen after all this time. (Author: Gardener)

Robert PattinsonThe Batman: Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves Confirm Exclusive New Movie Details The Batman: Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves Confirm Exclusive New Movie Details Exclusive: Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves reveal the secret origin of The Batman and how to recreate the Dark Knight all this time fresh on the big screen. You know the scene: The Batman stands in front of a gang of skull-faced idiots who think this madman in a costume is a joke. "Who the hell are you supposed to be?" asks their leader, who is about to find out, beat after beat, that Robert Pattinson's crazy, hyper-violent Dark Knight is no laughing matter. "Initially it was staged with the guy saying, 'Who are you?' and Batman saying, 'I'm revenge,' and then they beat everyone up," reveals a much friendlier Pattinson, who breaks down while explaining how he's doing it Tweaking helped the scene to make it even more terrifying. "I said to Rob [Alonzo, Second Unit Director and Supervising Stunt Coordinator], 'I really want to put it in that guy's face when he's basically dead.' ] mythology,” Pattinson told Den of Geek over the phone on a cold, gloomy day in January. "It's not theatrical," he says of the Dark Knight's approach to the "Revenge" scene. Before Pattinson signed on to play World's Greatest Detective, Ben Affleck was set to direct and star in a very different Batman solo film. Cloverfield and Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves was recruited to helm a new version of the project, but he faced the same conundrum as his predecessor: After so many iterations of the character on the big screen, what could Reeves do to make his setting to achieve fresh? A lifelong Batman fan, Reeves found the answer in comics chronicling the character's early days, including Year One, as well as in classic noir films like Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and The French Connection. The director envisioned The Batman as a noir detective story set outside of DCEU continuity, and it would not star Affleck's veteran, graying Dark Knight, but a vigilante entering the second year of his crime-fighting career , someone who has left their origin story behind and is still figuring things out. "I didn't want the storyline to be, 'He becomes Batman and faces this particular Rogue Gallery character,'" explains Reeves. "I wanted you to see an imperfect Batman, driven to do what he does in a way that's almost like a drug. He's addicted to being Batman because it's really an attempt to come to terms with the things in the past that we don't see. I thought it was really funny to see a version of him that definitely hadn't mastered itself, that was definitely in the making.” To prepare for the role, Pattinson read nothing but Batman comics for months, even while filming Christopher Nolan's Tenet. Still, a fan of Christian Bale and Michael Keaton's portrayals of the character, Pattinson planned to explore something new with his version. He found his way through stories that delved deep into Bruce Wayne's psychology and the toll Batman took on his mental state. "The films always portrayed Batman as pretty practical and factual in the reasons he became Batman, but in the comics a lot of them deal with quite esoteric subjects," says Pattinson. “Many of them he hallucinates and completely dissociates. Gus Van Sant's Last Days was a key inspiration for this version of Bruce Wayne, with Reeves comparing the fictionalized version of tragic '90s rock star Kurt Cobain to his Dark Knight. But there was an even bigger comic influence: the trippy, supernatural ego of the late Darwyn Cooke, which explores the deep rift within Bruce and the identity crisis he constantly faces due to his Batman persona. In The Batman, Bruce has yet to learn how to reconcile his true self with the mask he is meant to wear as a billionaire playboy. "The Bruce part in this movie is probably the most diverse because he's a maniac both as Bruce and as Batman," says Pattinson, who plays Wayne as a cold, slightly scruffy recluse. "He's fully committed to being Batman and he just doesn't get seen by the town at all... He doesn't feel like being Bruce in it and he just wants to throw it away. He thinks that's how he saves himself by living in that kind of zen state as Batman where it's just pure instinct and no emotional baggage.” This Bruce isn't at all interested in keeping up appearances during the day , as long as he can exact revenge at night. "Every single person he fights is the person who killed his parents," says Pattinson of the motivation behind Bruce's nocturnal activities. But he also thinks there's a part of Bruce that just enjoys the violence. Pattinson's Batman is indeed a thug, and that meant the actor not only had to get into incredible shape, but also had to learn how to actually perform the brutal moves used by the Dark Knight in the film. He spent a great deal of time working with Alonzo to master the long series of combos required for the film's many combat sequences. "We built everything around [an] Indonesian style of fighting where you have these two sticks, and everything was based around moves with weapons, and then you take the weapons away after that," says Pattinson. But to actually perform those stunts, Pattinson needed a costume that offered more maneuverability and flexibility than previous iterations of the Batsuit, like the nightmarish, "scalding hot" Batman Forever costume he had to wear for his screen test. The Batman suit is a big improvement in comparison, according to the actor. "I think I just started doing somersaults in it just because you could," Pattinson says of the first time he put on a prototype of his costume. The actor was particularly fortunate to be able to move his neck in the suit, a problem that has plagued previous actors in the role. Since Pattinson's Bruce doesn't have a team to help him build all of his tech, his Batsuit had to look like something Bruce could make himself in the Batcave. "[The costume designers] were really looking at Vietnam War stuff, military tactical stuff that a guy could put together and allow him to fight better," says producer Dylan Clark, who previously worked with Reeves on the Planet of the Apes films has. With the Dark Knight in appearance and arc, it was now time to move on to the other central part of any Batman story: the villains. "It's funny because I had Rob in mind while writing it," says Reeves, who co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig (The Town). He also had Paul Dano in mind when creating his version of the Riddler. He brought so much to the role," Reeves says of Dano, who is best known for playing misfits or characters whose realities are a little lopsided. "He and I are kind of similar in a way that our process is to go on a quest." For Reeves, that quest began with Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's The Long Halloween, in which a serial killer terrorizes Gotham and a mob -Starts a war that even Batman's deadliest villains cannot escape. "When you looked at the Zodiac killer leaving all these ciphers and riddles and taunting the police and the newspapers, I thought, 'That sounds like the Riddler!'" says Reeves. "[Zodiac] made a costume that's honestly not that different from Batman. And I thought, well, maybe there's an iteration of the Riddler that does that." Like the Zodiac, Dano's Riddler leaves not only mysteries at his crime scenes, but also a pile of dead bodies, including that of former Mayor Don Mitchell (Rupert Penry- Jones). But the villain, whose real name in the film is Edward Nashton, isn't just playing games with the bat; He's on a gruesome quest to uncover a dark secret about Gotham City itself. "The crimes that the Riddler commits are all meant to describe the history of [Gotham]," Reeves explains, hinting that other members of the city's elite are also on the Riddler's list. "After each of these murders, he leaves information about these supposedly legitimate characters and shows you how illegitimate they are and how corrupt they are. And that story of corruption goes way back and actually becomes something that touches on Bruce's past and becomes very personal." According to Reeves, the Riddler digs up things about the history of the Wayne family that "bring Bruce an awakening" and "break him to the core shock Mark". Batman and Riddler aren't the only masked figures roaming the streets of Gotham. There's also Selina Kyle, played by Zoë Kravitz. As in the comics, Kravitz's Catwoman is a master thief who blurs the line between villain and anti-hero. "[Bruce] is so committed to Batman and this kind of really binary worldview," says Pattinson of the inner conflict Wayne feels when confronted with this new, morally gray ally. He keeps trying to pigeonhole her as a criminal. He just has this pretty simplistic worldview about everything, and meeting Selina is the first crack in everything to fall apart.” Pakula's neo-noir Klute, according to Pattinson and Reeves, greatly influenced Bruce's relationship with Selina. This 1971 picture follows a straight-laced private investigator, played by Donald Sutherland, who falls in love with a call girl (Jane Fonda) implicated in the murder he's investigating. Reeves saw clear similarities between Sutherland and Fonda's dark, dangerous love affair and Bruce and Selina's own dynamic: "Klute is such a straight arrow and he seems so naïve. I think he judges her and he assumes she's a certain type of person because of the world she's in. In the latest comics, after decades of romantic tug-of-war, Bruce and Selina are now married and even have a child together. Pattinson and Kravitz aren't quite there yet, but there could be a future for them. "There's this raw tension between them because they're not aligned, but they care about each other," says Clark. But even three major villains aren't enough for The Batman. John Turturro plays Carmine Falcone, who runs Gotham's largest criminal empire. In The Batman, Oz isn't quite the penguin we know and love yet. "You have these great thugs that would be in The Godfather or Goodfellas," Clark says of the film's more traditional criminal element. Oswald is played by an unrecognizable Colin Farrell, who dived straight into the role. "His demeanor and personality changed once the prosthetics were put on," says Clark, who is absolutely thrilled with what Farrell's Oz has brought to the film. He's the most entertaining. He's scary. So you think, Jesus Christ, that's a whole meal with one character.” In one scene, we watch Batman wade through the chest-deep water that blankets the city's streets, a bright red flare in hand to dodge the darkness to break through his apocalyptic environment. It's a moment inspired by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Zero Year, Reeves confirms. There are also references to other excellent Batman stories, including ones dating back to the Dark Knight's debut in the 1930s. "I looked at the Bob Kane/Bill Finger comics because I really wanted the movie to be very noir," says Reeves. Coincidentally, when asked which villains he would like to fight next in a possible sequel, Pattinson mentions another Snyder and Capullo storyline: "I'd love to do something like Court of Owls," referring to the DC horror story 2011 comics about a hidden society, Gotham secretly ruled from an underground lair for centuries. Suddenly, Batman doesn't know his city as well as he thinks he does. It goes with something Pattinson says about his own Bruce, words that might predict where this Batman storyline might go next: "He thinks it's his town in a weird way. He thinks he kind of built it.” But Pattinson knows that's an illusion. "You have the money and the castle, but you have absolutely no control or power over anything in town." In The Batman, Bruce has to learn this the hard way. Movies The Batman feels like picking up where The Dark Knight left off Movies The Batman: Matt Reeves cites Chinatown and other 1970s noirs as influences Too Little Too Late


School registration down in Louisiana, Orleans Parish

Headmasters say classroom attendance is recovering after a dip during the Omicron Rise. (Author: Gardener)

LouisianaNOLA Public Schools enrollment fell from 45,022 students last spring to 43,982 students in the state's most recent official enrollment census, counted in October and recently released. Those 1,040 students represent a 2.3 percent decrease in enrollment overall from last school year after enrollment fell 3.3 percent the year before. The trend in declining enrollment has prompted the school district to reassess its operational capacity -- a complicated undertaking in the unique all-charter district where independent charter schools operate on a contract basis and the district has limited control to overhaul the system by closing to downsize schools quickly. County officials are working with charter school principals on a “right sizing” plan to ensure under-resourced schools are not a financial drain on the system. NOLA Public Schools officials say 3,000 spots in district charter schools remain unfilled and that number could rise in the coming years. Four of the city's 80 or so schools are scheduled to close at the end of the school year -- two because of underachievement and two because of declining enrollments. Singleton Charter School and Arise Academy were announced last fall. In early January, IDEA Public Schools announced they would be closing their only city campus IDEA Oscar Dunn in May, and FirstLine Schools announced they would be closing their Live Oak Academy by the end of this school year. An upcoming report on city demographics and enrollment trends is expected to shed more light on possible changes the borough may implement in the coming year. It will be presented at the Orleans Parish School Board meeting this week. The declining enrollment is not unique to the city. Louisiana's child population has declined slightly over the past decade, according to census data, and data from the state Department of Education shows enrollment in public schools is declining. Enrollment also fell statewide, from 697,337 public school students in spring 2021 to 690,092 students in the state's Oct. 1 enrollment census. And it's down nearly 5 percent from 2016, when the state had 723,554 public school students. The Louisiana Department of Education did not respond to multiple requests for historical enrollment data. Three of the area's Catholic schools -- St. Mary Magdalen, St. Rita and St. Rosalie -- operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans will close their campuses at the end of this school year, the archdiocese announced last month. NOLA Public School District officials said they had also seen a drop in private school enrollments, although archdiocese spokeswoman Sarah McDonald said that was not the case. "Despite the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and problems resulting from Hurricane Ida, enrollment in Catholic schools in the area has remained stable and even increased slightly this school year," McDonald said. "When enrollment drops below a certain level, there is concern that the school may not be able to provide the full Catholic school experience that families expect," she said. “At this point, we are working with community and school leaders to determine next steps that may result in school mergers or closures, and we are working directly with families to support them in enrolling in another Catholic school that meets the needs of each family.” Some neighboring communities have seen a decline in enrollment over the past five years. In 2016, Jefferson Parish had an enrollment of 49,076 students. North St Tammany Parish had 38,681 enrollments in 2016. However, in the parish of St. Bernard, the school system has seen slight growth over the past five years, from 7,582 students in 2016 to 7,795 students last fall. In addition to declining enrollments, schools have struggled with the presence of enrolled students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — sickness, quarantines, the unpredictable shifts between virtual and in-person classes, and staffing shortages. Last school year, as of mid-January, about 9,000 NOLA Public Schools students were reported as chronically absent - meaning they had missed 10 or more days of school. This comes from centralized attendance data collected by NOLA Public Schools from their charters. That reporting was prompted by the pandemic, but the district halted those efforts in March 2021 because attendance was improving, officials said. In the 2017-18 school year, the last unaffected by the pandemic, the Orleans Ward had an overall attendance rate of 93.9 percent. In the 2019/20 school year, this figure slipped to 92 percent, slightly below the national average for that year of 93.9 percent. And in the 2020-21 school year, it fell even further to 87.7 percent, below the state average of 91.7 percent. With students as young as 5 now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, which has reduced or in some cases eliminated the need for quarantines, school officials are hoping attendance rates will improve this school year. But with expanded testing and the brunt of the delta and omicron waves falling during the school year, potential attendance rates could fall further. Last month, FirstLine Schools CEO Sabrina Pence said attendance at the five schools' network had declined amid the Omicron surge. "We definitely saw a drop in January," Pence wrote in an email. Pence said she believes the drop was due to a number of factors, including higher case numbers and resulting quarantines in the omicron surge and some parents being "cautious" about sending their children to school amid high case numbers. A lack of access to broadband internet can also lead to attendance problems when students are sent home to school due to exposure. Visitor numbers have continued to rise as the city emerges from the Omicron rise, Chief Operations Officer Rebekah Cain wrote in an email Monday morning. “We had three schools last week that hit the 90% for daily attendance. KIPP New Orleans Schools, the city's largest charter group -- which enrolls nearly 14 percent of the district's students -- saw similar attendance issues during the Omicron surge. "In the weeks leading up to the holidays, our network averaged about 85%," CEO Rhonda Kalifey-Aluise wrote in a January email. Rooted School CEO Johnathan Johnson agreed, noting that enrollment was about 76 percent in mid-January. "I don't know if we associate it with the surge, but we've had fewer visitors since Covid." Johnson also said the school's standard of being considered "attendant" may be more demanding than other schools. "We require our students to log in when we're virtual... They have to log in to every class. The district has developed an "early warning system" to track various metrics, including student attendance, lesson points, and other data that can indicate if a student is on track for graduation. Such a system would alert students to the risk of not graduating on time and help schools know when to intervene to get them back on track. “The team at NOLA-PS Data Systems & Solutions is creating a custom data infrastructure solution that offers new opportunities to support schools across the district with student attendance, credit transfer and data quality initiatives that are currently not possible with data access lags of six given the current behind traditional provider systems by months to a year,” wrote district spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo. Although the district collected attendance data from its charter schools during the 2020-2021 school year, it suspended that collection in March 2021, Alfonzo said. (The district had never previously collected attendance data from its independent charter schools.) "Because immunizations were well advanced this past spring and there was a proven track record of not spreading COVID-19 to schools, the district decided to begin collecting the biweekly Attendance suspended reports at the end of March 2021," she wrote. "At this point, we reverted to our standard process of schools reporting attendance data directly to the state annually." "The attendance monitoring and intervention tools will be piloted in spring 2022, and further phases of development are expected to continue thereafter," she wrote.