Thursday, June 29, 2017

The iPhone Changed My Life

Ten years ago today, the Apple changed the game when they debuted the iPhone. At that time, everyone could not get one. You needed an AT&T service. However, when they allowed other carriers to have it, I remember a coworker saying, "now everyone will have iPhones."

In 2011,  my life changed. I was rocking a Blackberry by Boost Mobile then I moved to their Galaxy smart phone. It was my second year back in college and I was really getting into my journalism classes. The phone was very slow. In a business that's always moving, a slow phone was not an option. So as an early Christmas gift, the woman who would become my wife and mother of my children bought me the iPhone 4s. It's game time now. 

iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4s allowed me to store my music and it took great photos. In addition, I met Siri, my personal assistant. How cool was that. Plus, I could use all my apps very smoothly. This phone introduced me to Instagram, back then you needed an iPhone to have an account. I would have the iPhone 4s through college. 

iPhone 5S

I skipped the iPhone 5, you needed to have your phone for two years through Verizon in order to upgrade. However I waited until Christmas time and boom, I was able to land the 5 for free with a trade in special at Best Buy. And they had a gold one too! The best thing about this was that the screen was longer and you could not have the Touch ID to login your phone. This phone got me through a lot of nights at ESPN when I was working on the social media team. 

iPhone 6S Plus

I skipped the iPhone 6 for the same reason. This time it was time to go bigger. They introduced the iPhone 6 and the 6 plus. I remember when that happened wondering if it would be too big. Then my good friend Blake Thomas told me, "you will never see videos the same again, the plus is the way to go!" That's what I did. I grabbed the 6s plus, in black this time. I had a white phone for four years. Why not switch? The day I got this phone was also the same day I would be covering my first NBA game. It was also Kobe Bryant's FINAL game in Washington D.C.  That phone came through in the clutch. I was able to get great HD video and the battery life was amazing. Oh by the way, after two straight 16 GB phones, I was upgrading... 64 GB here I come. 

iPhone 7 Plus 

The iPhone 6s Plus was cool, but the battery started to wear quickly. Thanks to a new program by Verizon, I could switch phones yearly. This Thanksgiving, I was getting a new phone. The iPhone 7 Plus was calling my name in 128 GB. As my social media responsibilities continue to grow, I needed more space. This phone allows me to do that. I have all of the apps I need and the camera is amazing. I know everyone loves their Samsung phones but for me, the iPhone is all I need. If you check out my YouTube Channel, you will see there are some videos that I produced just using the iPhone. I can't wait to see what comes next. Here's to 10 more years of the iPhone 🍺

-Sent from my iPhone 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Blake Thomas, A Man with Powerful Lens behind a Powerful Pen

Blake Thomas with Taeler Hendrix

 Everyone who enters the world of professional wrestling has a unique journey. Some start in high school while others find themselves turning to it after another career choice may not have worked. For most of us, we begin as fans. Fans who grew up watching superstars talk trash and perform stunts that we are told not to try at home. Blake Thomas is no different, but his journey is unique. From a fan to a rapper, he is now transitioned to a man with a wealth of knowledge behind the camera with a pen in his hand.

Blake Thomas enters the Wrestling Business

Like many of us, Blake began as a fan. His older brother Dee Thomas used to watch wrestling with him and would take him when it came to town.” I noticed he started getting into more when he started collecting wrestling dolls, wrestling figures, and magazines. When I took Blake to an event, he brought a real wrestling belt that cost I think 150 or more, as well as some posters.” Dee remembers. Around the age of 10, Blake told Dee that he would one day work
in the professional wrestling business.

Blake broke into the wrestling business when he wrote the theme song for the popular stable BLK OUT. BLK OUT was one of Combat Zone Wrestling, also known as CZW most popular groups, featuring Ruckus, Robbie Mireno, Blk Jeez, Chrissy Rivera, Joker and Eddie Kingston. Rivera discusses being there from the beginning of the journey. “In the early years, he was professional, open minded and had such a talent for music. I enjoyed working with him then when I was a quiet little manager in CZW to present day as he has always been full of amazing ideas.”

Chrissy Rivera and Blake

Blake’s friend of 10 years, Ronald James says his greatest gift is his passion. “ When he couples that with anything that he does, it’s always good. It’s his quality control. 
That makes him different,”  says -James.

On August 2nd, 2009 at RCW August Assault, wrestling fans got to witness Blake’s passion when he and his friends Taron and Dominic performed three different songs including BLK OUT’s theme song, Always Bet on BLK. Taron says it was a moment he will never forget. “He was so animated and into it and I noticed the crowd really banging with him. He stepped in the ring and lit up the was sooo dope.”  This was one of the few times fans got to see Blake in the forefront.
Ruckus, Blake and Blk Jeez

Blake loves creating art. Whether he is making music, taking pictures or booking a match, his loves expressing his creativity. Dee says he has always had computer skills, so being a photographer in wrestling only made sense. Ronald says Blake made an effortless transition into photography.  Ronald explains, “From the beginning, there was a confidence about what he does. When he’s in it, he’s in it. He’s always finding new methods to better his craft. I admire that."
Understanding his subjects, he learned their characters better than some of the booking team. During this time, he started pitching ideas to Ruckus for the characters of RCW.  “Ruckus told me, the ball is in your court, what is your vision.” Blake recognized the great responsibility of booking and it helped him learn a lot about the professional wrestling business. Blake eventually joined the booking team with Adam Flash.
Top - Frank Lawson, Ryan McBride Middle - Aki Kambayashi, Sarah Bridges, Mia Yim 
Bottom - Blake

As time moved on, Frank Lawson, one of Blake’s biggest mentors, joined the booking team. Lawson continues to shower Blake with praise years later, “Anybody that can book a wrestling show, photograph all the wrestler and help set up promos for the next shows has to have one of the best work ethics. Blake Thomas never stopped working until we knew the show was right and if something was going wrong he was the first to jump in and fix the problems.” Blake would become the leader and he would get the wrestlers perspective of Robbie Mireno and Derek Frazier. He is grateful to have met a lot of people from his experience. Blake studies a lot of TV and a lot of art, and this is one of the reasons that many people reach out to him for ideas.

Blake Thomas goes to WSU

WSU's 10th Anniversary[/caption]
Photo Credit @HasMat3Photos

You will not find too many people who love and appreciate women’s wrestling more than Blake. During his time in RCW, Blake made sure that the women not only had a match but also had a story. In 2013 he starting working with Combat Zone Wrestling and Women’s Superstars Uncensored as their photographer for promotional shots. His passion for telling great stories in women's wrestling led him to speak with DJ Hyde about ideas for WSU as well as talent to bring in. In February 2016, DJ officially welcomed Blake to be a member of the booking and producing teams in addition to photography. With WSU being one of the longest running all women's wrestling promotions, a lot more women were exposed to his brilliance and creativity.
Allie, Mia Yim, and Blake

For years, Blake has put countless hours in studying women's wrestling. From
 their backstage promos to their in-ring work, he generally cares about what they can do in the ring. CZW Superstar Greg Excellent says he has never met anyone with more passion that's exclusive for women's wrestling. Greg, who watches Blake who backstage, knows he isn't one to play favorites. Excellent says “The person in the opening match is just as important as the headliner in his eyes.  He wants EVERYONE to shine and that creates a great working environment.”
Greg Excellent

During his time at WSU, Blake has had the opportunity to work with many women across the globe. KC Spinelli, who is based out of Canada, says she has known about his work for a long time. In 2016, she and her tag partner Xandra Bale brought their tag team, Bale Spin to WSU. Blake impressed Spinelli with the way he ran a locker room. “I think Blake has a good understanding of the angles and visions he wants which makes it easy to communicate to the workers.”  Former WSU World Champion Allie says they are all fortunate to work with him. “He is such a genuinely warm person, and all of the girls will agree that he is so supportive. He wants us all to shine.” Faye Jackson has yet to work at WSU, but she has been backstage. “Blake really cares about this business and it shows in how he books WSU. He respects women's wrestling and the product shows.”

Top - Veda Scott, Solo Darling, Tessa Blanchard 2nd Row - Kay Lee Ray, Shanna, Leva Bates 3rd Row- Ivelisse Velez, Hania, Cherry Bomb (Allie) Bottom- KC Spinelli

WSU is something that is very close to Blake’s heart. Not only does he hold the almighty pen, but he is still behind the almighty lens. “He's ran pretty thin at shows handling bookings, themed photoshoots, and vignettes but the work he produces clearly doesn't suffer and also does not go unnoticed,” Spinelli explains.  

The Evolution of Bliz Photography

AJ Styles

While working in wrestling, Blake launched his company, Bliz Photography. Former Shine Wrestling and Impact Knockouts Champion, Jade (also known as Mia Yim) was there from the beginning. The two developed a really close friendship. As Jade’s career in the ring grew, so did Blake’s career behind the lens. “Everything he is learning, he is turning into perfection, It’s nice to see both us grow together and being there to help each other,” says the former Knockouts Champion. In October 2016, the two would work together again, this time for Impact Wrestling’s television tapings. From RCW to Ring of Honor to Shine Wrestling to WSU to Impact Wrestling, the duo of Blake and Jade continue to shine like Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Blake and Jade

Whether you are a man or a woman, Blake does his best to help you reach your full potential and feel confident in your work. Former CZW World Champion Blk Jeez calls him family. “When you are doing a shoot with him, it's so fun it never feels like work. Greg Excellent has always admired Blake’s ability to use photography to wipe away wrestlers insecurities, making them more of a special act than they can be on their own. Excellent continues by saying, “To see what the finished product is really, makes you feel invisible.”

Blk Jeez and Blake

Blake remembers, “The person that really made Bliz Photography into something requested was Veda Scott. I remember when it was time to shoot her and she didn’t have any poses at Ring of Honor.” She reached out to him for a personal shoot. Blake continues, "she went online and promoted it like a business and that let me know that this is a business.” Scott says prior to working with Blake, she hated taking photos.  “He is the first photographers that I felt comfortable with and is the first that I actually reached out to do a full photo shoot with,” says Scott. She continued by saying that he takes her ideas and expands upon them.

Veda Scott

The greatest thing a male photographer can do when working with females is to make them feel comfortable. Former Impact Knockouts Champion Allie has been working with him for over 5 years. “Whether it’s in a bikini or wrestler gear, he really helps you feel comfortable.” Leva Bates says he is really great to bounce ideas off of, but he is not afraid to tell you when you are wrong. “He tells you when you are not doing things right, Leva CHIN UP!” says Bates If anyone knows Blake, they know they he is never one to bite his tongue.

Blake and Leva Bates

There is never a rush job with Bliz Photography. Bates explains how he spends hours in the editing lab. “He always gives 110% when it comes to shooting and editing. He will spend hours adding a new background, fixing makeup, or color balancing.” Blake and Bates have worked on many themes including wrestling promos, headshots, cosplay and much more. “You’re getting the total package. He will take the extra mile to make sure your shoot and everything you are getting is top quality. Lawson adds, “Even when you look at his photos you can tell he doesn't quit until the job is perfect. He is the hardest working "behind the scenes" guy out there.”

Yolanda the Designer, Niya, and Blake

When it comes to photography overall, Blake takes his craft very serious. You will not find him taking a photo and uploading it without ensuring that it is the best that it can be. Blake passionately expresses, “I look at what The Rock says, he’s up 4:30 in the morning to motivate himself, and if he can do that, why can’t I take the equipment that I have and use it to make people look the best they can.” Each time Blake takes a photo, he wants to make sure that his subjects are 
pleased with the final product.

As big as the business of Bliz Photography has grown, Blake wants everyone he works with to understand that they are a business as well. Spinelli says, “I think it's fair to say regarding Blake's Photography Myself included, a whole heck ton of Indy men and women wrestlers have received photos captured by Blake to promote themselves on social media, in magazines, and in promo pictures.” If you go to a lot of wrestling shows, chances are you have seen the Bliz Photography logo on the merchandise table. From rapper to photographer to booker, Blake Thomas is always sure to give it his all and everyone who works with him come away feeling better than they did before. Rivera has seen his evolution better than anyone. “Knowing Blake for many years I have watched him evolve from talented creative rapper to talented creative photographer."

Blake’s work has been featured in Pro Wrestling Illustrated and Fighting Spirit Magazine as well as other various publications. He will be in Orlando WrestleMania, so if are you looking for a photoshoot or ideas for your characters, reach out to him on Twitter @ItsBliz. Stay tuned for the upcoming documentary on the Story of Bliz Photography.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Naomi Is A Champion We Can Be Proud Of


When she won the title at Elimination Chamber, fans thought it was too soon, though they were excited. But then she got injured and was forced to vacate the title. That set back was a set up for a huge comeback. Her comeback, her hometown of Orlando when she won the WWE Smackdown Live Women's Championship at WrestleMania. 


Recently, Smackdown Live introduced the Women's Money in the Bank match. Naomi stated that she wished she could participate because of the anticipation. However , she is the champion. She didn't think she would have an opponent until Lana, who was denied the Money in the Bank match attacked Naomi during a match. This led to Naomi wanting a match with Lana. 


Their first match at Money in the Bank, Lana gave Naomi her best shot, but she came up short. If one beating wasn't enough, Lana requested and was granted a rematch. During the rematch, Lana gave Naomi a cheap shot. But once she recovered, she mad quick work of the Ravishing Rushing. 

Now everyone wants to see Naomi be a defending champion. Rightfully so, but that would not make sense with the Money in the Bank picture looming. Lana, is the perfect opponent to help Naomi gain successful title defenses on her record. Naomi did this for Nikki Bella and now her dues are paying off. She has been champion for two months and my prediction is she will walk into Summerslam as champion. If this was Monday Night Raw during the fall season, she may have been a five time champion by now. But with the women getting more time and having Naomi as the female face of Smackdown Live there is nothing to be discouraged.  

Time is Ticking for Dre

He wants Ghost to respect him, while he is slowly putting the knife in his back. Dre is working with Kanan right now to screw Ghost and Tommy and eventually get them killed. But he is sloppy. There is no way he will last. Tommy has the tendency to be a hot head sometimes but his instincts are usually right.

Dre has asked for more power,
more trust, he wants to be Ghost but he always wants help Kanan take him down. Kanan has proved he has no remorse. The man killed his own son. Who is Dre to him? Exactly. Dre convinced Kanan to let Tariq go back to his parents. He also was given instructions to steal money from Tommy. While he carried out those instructions, Kanan still has one eye open because he did not just do what he asked. 

Let's look at Tariq. No I don't think Tariq will kill him, but eventually he will crack. And when he tells his parents or his uncle Tommy that it was Dre who knew exactly where he was, there is no way they will let him live. Perhaps Tasha could be the one to pull the trigger. 

So when it comes down to it, Dre's days are numbered. If I had to make a bet, I would set it at 5 episodes. What do you think? Tweet me @BrianHWaters 

LaVar Ball and WWE become Gold on Monday Night

Well well well. In six months, LaVar Ball went from a regular guy to be on WWE television. Whether or not the segment was good, that's your opinion, but as a WWE and Lakers fan, I couldn't be happier that he was on there.

Now when you give the Ball family a live microphone, anything can happen. That is how we got here in the first place. LaVar said his son, Lonzo was better than Steph Curry. That moment he became a household name. If that was not enough, he said that he could beat Michael Jordan in his prime. On Raw, LaMelo Ball, the youngest brother of the Ball family got caught up in the moment so much, he screamed a racial slur. See the video to hear what was said. During the Raw Fallout, you could tell they had a great time. One thing you do not do is give a 15-year-old a live microphone. LaVar Ball, on the other hand, has finally been where he should be, in a WWE ring. Of course, I think he believes everything he is saying, but at the same time, he has positioned himself as a perfect heel from day one and last night, we saw him in the ring with one of the best heels in the business.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Don't Be Surprised if Ghost Forgives Angela


She was his first love. She was the woman that caused him to turn his back on his family. She was the woman that saw that he wanted a life full of riches. Riches that did not include being a kingpin. A life she knew nothing about. But now, Angela is the reason that Ghost is sitting in jail for the murder of Agent Knox. She is convinced that he is guilty. When she finds out he is innocent, will he forgive her?
Ghost and Angela go back to their teenage years. Jamie, as she addresses him, was supposed to be her husband. The two believed that it was fate that brought them back together. But Angela sees a different side of Jamie. Now she is not sure what he is capable of. Everyone says Ghost would not kill a cop, but we know that he is not exempt from killing anyone, especially if they cross him. 
When Angela finds out that Ghost is innocent, more than likely she will beg for his forgiveness. But will he forgive her? I think he will. We cannot forget the fact that Ghost left Tasha. The right thing would be for him to stick with Tasha. She held him down, had his kids, and even when he removed the money from the account without telling her, she was right there trying to bail him out of jail. All that being said, Angela is the forbidden fruit and Ghost will once again fall because of the forbidden fruit. 

Tariq Needs an Old Fashioned Butt Whupping

At the end of Season 3 of Power, Ghost is arrested does not know that there his son Tariq is missing. Tasha tries to reach him when she receives a photo of her son sleep in Kanan's arms (she doesn't know it's Kanan). Eventually he returns home unharmed but lies to his mother about his where abouts. Now Twitter is ready to see Tariq get killed for lying. Hmmm that's extreme you think?

If you have kept up with Power from Season 1, you know that there have been two people that everyone wanted to see die, Holly and Angela. Holly is dead. But Angela? Not so much. Now they want to put Tariq in that category too. Not so fast. 

First off, Tariq is Ghost and Tasha's son. Wishing death on the main character's son that's extreme. What does need to happen though is that Tariq needs an old-fashioned James Evans (Good Times) butt whupping. He has lied to his mother about his whereabouts and he is hanging around his father and uncle Tommy's worse enemy. Clearly Tariq does not recognize how dangerous Kanan is because while his dad is out trying to build an empire, Kanan is playing the role of the cool big cousin that teaches you everything your parents and favorite uncle will not. He has already raised his hands to his mother which is a no-no in any black household. His mother has lost control. When Ghost gets out of jail, he and Tommy need to give an ultimate butt whupping to set Tariq straight or else he will be the one to put a bullet in Ghost at the orders of Kanan.  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Power Season 4 Episode 1 Review: When I Get Out

Bail is denied! Ghost is being charged with the murder of Federal Agent Knox and after a bail hearing, the judge ruled that there has to be a message sent to society to let everyone know that they cannot kill a federal agent. Season four has you already hooked to your seat in anticipation for the next episode.

Every Power fan is presented with this question, Are you, Team Angela or Team Tasha? I was always Team Angela. I felt that in the beginning of the series, she cared for James the person, while Tasha, even though she was his wife, loved Ghost and everything that came with James having that persona. While anyone can understand why Angela would send someone with the same evidence that Ghosts has to jail, she should know that he would not kill a cop.

Ghost finds himself in a very dangerous situation in jail. The guards believe he is a cop killer, therefore they are making his life a living hell. At the end of the episode, we saw him get beaten down by two of the guards. This something we are used to seeing Ghost do. It was always him in a warehouse with someone making them pay for their mistakes.

Angela sent Ghost to jail, but this case was still snatched away from her. She still has to fight for her position as she is the only woman in the office. She seemed so powerful when she authorized the search warrant at Tasha's house, but when she goes back to the office, she still cannot get the first chair.

Tasha watched her world turn upside down. While she does get her son back, her children's father is in jail and her house is being raided by the FBI. Tasha also finds out the money that she and Ghost had invested is gone. She has continued to show that she can withstand every obstacle that has been thrown her way, and now she is in danger of losing her children's father. She is also unaware that Kanan is still alive and influencing her son.

What the Twitter streets are saying 

The Twitter streets are excited that Keisha is back. There is some that suspect she will be romantically involved with Tommy. Personally, I think it is too soon to call. Twitter also wants Dre dead. Clearly, he is in too deep with Kanan, and he keeps lying to Tommy. I agree with Twitter, I do not think he will last through the entire season. 

Tweet me your thoughts

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lonzo Ball is the New Face of the Lakers

When you hear the name Lonzo Ball, usually the first thing you think of is his dad, LaVar Ball. You think about his dad saying that Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, or even that he himself could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one. But now Magic Johnson wants you to think of him as the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers. Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlin, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant are the legendary names that have preceded this young man. 

As a lifelong Lakers fan, the one thing I loved from Ball's post draft interview was that he was looking to make Brandon Ingram a star. To many, Magic Johnson is the greatest Laker of all-time, (For me its Kobe) and he has solidified him. Two years ago, the Lakers drafted D'Angelo Russell with the second pick of the draft. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Russell never became a leader. The point guard must be the floor general, and the Lakers have that in Lonzo Ball. Lets the era of the Big Baller Brand begin! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Should Carmella Drop James Ellsworth for Big Cass

Monday, June 19, 2017

Big Cass is The Future

Enzo and Cass was cool while it lasted but thank you, it is over. I always thought that they would win the WWE Raw Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 33, but when the Hardy Boyz music hit, it was over. Everyone in that stadium knew that there was no way Enzo and Cass was walking away from Mania victorious. 


On Monday Night Raw, the world found out the truth. It was Big Cass who attacked Enzo. When Cass admitted, he poured out all his emotion letting Enzo know that he was tired of carrying him, fighting for him and not winning championships with him. We see tag teams break up all of the time, but I believe Big Cass, who seems to have developed the mean streak Big Show called him out for, will be a major player in the next couple of years. 


Roman Reigns will Rise up in his Yard at SummerSlam


Monday Night Raw opened with Roman Reigns declaring himself as the number one contender at SummerSlam. At WrestleMania, he defeated the Undertaker and pretty much sent him home for good. Like Lesnar when he defeated the Undertaker, Roman needs a great match at SummerSlam. For Lesnar, he officially introduced the world to Suplex City after giving John Cena over a dozen suplexes in route to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

At Great Balls of Fire, we will see Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship. Now Joe reminded everyone that Reigns has never beaten him. Now I am not saying that he should, but a match with these two would be better than seeing Reigns vs Lesnar again. Only time will tell.