Julian’s Thoughts: Where are the tag teams?

Remember when the Dudleys were tag team champions in the WWE and were putting their opponents through tables each week?
Remember when the Hardys were jumping off of turnbuckles, ladders, stages, cages and probably other things to keep their tag titles? Remember when Edge and Christian were mocking their opponents and somehow found a way to keep the tag belts around their waists? Remember the Hart Foundation? The Outlaws? DX? Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection? (Many other great tag teams?) Don’t you miss when tag team matches/feuds used to be meaningful and entertaining? The tag team division has been in shambles for a while. There have been some decent teams lately but it seems like they don’t last. 

I bring this up because it seems like they are setting up for a fatal four way tag match for the titles at Summerslam. They always seem to do this at Summerslam and Wrestlemania now. They do this so everyone can be on the show. Some of those teams definitely shouldn’t be on the show though. Los Matadores haven’t been relevant in a while. The Lucha Dragons are promising but they haven’t been used that much in stories or on PPV’s. The Prime Time Players are champs and are decent. I like Titus. They haven’t been overly impressive since taking the belts, but they haven’t been bad either. The New Day is hot. They have made a major turnaround since their debut as a team. Really though, the match at Summerslam should be the Prime Time Players vs. New Day. Less is more sometimes. Let those two teams finish this feud. Adding more teams doesn’t make it more exciting at all, especially since two of the teams haven’t been pushed in a while. If the Usos were in the match instead of the Matadores, then that would be better…but who knows when they will be back… 

Wrestlemania 29 was the last time the tag belts weren’t defended in a fatal four way tag match at either Summerslam or Wrestlemania. (Or not defended at all) Now really, that’s only four PPV’s, but still that’s four PPV’s where WWE is just adding teams to try and make it more meaningful or to let people be on the show. If the crowd doesn’t react to them on a Monday Night Raw then why would they react to them at Summerslam or Wrestlemania? I didn’t really care about any of those matches. The teams in them are not teams that anyone cares about.

There have been decent teams since WM 29, but it seems like they never quite get a chance. Plus, once a team loses the titles it seems like they just get tossed aside. Team Hell No successfully defended their titles at Wrestlemania 29. They held the belts for 245 days. The Usos first reign was 202 days. Since the Usos had the belts, Goldust & Stardust had the titles for 63 days, Miz and Mizdow for 36 days, the Usos again, Kidd and Cesaro for 63 days, New Day for 49 days, and now the PTP. There’s no stability or dominant team at the moment. The Usos when healthy are the top team they have in the company. New Day is #2. PTP are currently third. As much as I like those three teams, it’s kind of sad that these are the top teams. They don’t stack up to top teams of the past and the depth of tag teams definitely doesn’t stack up to teams from previous years. 

When I watch old segments on the network, sometimes a tag team faces top guys in the company. The Hardys had segments with Triple H and Stone Cold (Who were also a team for a while). Sure, New Day beat Orton and Reigns a few months ago but that was a one night thing. The Hardys/ HHH & Stone Cold thing lasted more than a week. Sure, the tag titles used to change hands frequently in the past. (Specifically the Attitude Era) But look at the teams from that era who won them. The Outlaws, Hardys, APA, Under taker had the titles with different partners, so did Kane, The Rock and Mankind, Edge & Christian, The Dudleys…that’s only part of them. Some of these teams won multiple times too, the teams now seem to be one and done. 

So I guess it’s not official that there will be a fatal four way tag match at Summerslam, and hopefully there won’t be one. There’s not enough depth in the division to have one….plus…it has been done a lot lately. Don’t put teams on the show just because. If someone doesn’t get a reaction, then they probably shouldn’t be on the 2nd biggest show of the year. Tag team wrestling used to be a big deal but now it’s an afterthought. I almost wish WWE would bring back the Dudleys. It would be cool to see them again. It’s an upgrade from many teams that we’ve seen lately. New Day is the best on the show at the moment. The PTP are the champs so they should be at Summerslam, but those are the only two teams that should be on the card at Summerslam.

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Julian’s Thoughts: WWE’s Rusev

Rusev was at Wrestlemania this year wrestling the company’s top star. He had Lana by his side and was seemingly unstoppable. His character was built up all year. Rusev seemed like a super power. He was a Russian super power. Though he didn’t really have a victory/feud that overly impressed me, the WWE was persistent in trying to prove that he is something. 


He was built up all year. Before Wrestlemania, you knew Rusev wasn’t going to lose. It just wasn’t going to happen. He beat Zack Ryder a lot. He beat Big E. He beat Swagger. He almost won the Rumble. He won the U.S. Title. The point is, he was on quite a roll. Now here we are. The poor guy was treated as a big deal, and now seems less than that. Three losses to Cena? That seems like bullying. You have a younger guy who is on a big run and you make him lose three times in a row to Cena? Couldn’t have made it two losses? Sure Rusev won at Fastlane but that PPV is weak. We knew that Cena was going to win the feud, but by Payback it seemed like overkill. It didn’t help that the first three matches were boring. The last match probably shouldn’t have happened. I guess it added to the tension with Lana, but the losses may have taken away something as well.


His girl even was taken from him. Now we all are sort of jealous of Rusev because he is actually in a relationship with Lana, but we all know of stories where this has happened to other wrestlers. There are reports that they(Vince) are actually trying to break the couple up outside of the ring. Now I don’t know how true that is. If that is true, then that’s messed up. On-screen, it could work out. Lana with Dolph makes no sense for Dolph’s character. It makes sense for Rusev to want to destroy Dolph for being with Lana. I really don’t have a problem with it. Rusev probably has a problem with the split…the poor guy. 

When he started he was the Bulgarian Brute. Then he became the Russian super athlete. He became the “Hero of the Russian Federation.” That added heat for sure, but after losing to Cena three times he showed up on Raw with a Bulgarian flag? Why all of a sudden just turn back to the Bulgarian Brute gimmick or stop with the Russian angle? Then on Smackdown he hurt his foot and is out of action. 

He came back this Monday on crutches which seemingly keeps his “feud” with Dolph alive, but when he returns what will Rusev be? His career seemingly nosedived. All these things happened in a short amount of time. It seems like bad luck, and maybe even poor booking. The Lana stuff seems sketchy because I don’t want to believe that Vince would want to intentionally break up an actual couple, but I guess you never know. 

This guy is still young and can be one of the most hated people in the business. Hopefully he’ll bounce back after this injury. I like his theme song too, so I hope they don’t change that. Right now in the WWE there are so many heels that get cheered. (Which they probably should because they’re awesome). Seth Rollins usually gets booed, but there are also some cheers. He’s so good that sometimes it’s difficult to boo him. I cheer him. I went to a Live event a month ago and was one of the few people not booing Seth. Kevin Owens is another guy. His character has done some awful things but because of his history and how good he is, he often gets cheered. Rusev is supposed to be booed, and always does. I’m not saying he sucks. I’m just saying that it’s nice sometimes having the bad guy get booed. His character can’t really be cheered. It’s sort of refreshing. 

Rusev is a big guy who can draw heat. After having a good run he’s had a rough couple of months. Injuries are unfortunate, but losing to Cena three times and losing your girl may be worse. (Okay losing Lana is definitely worse). When he comes back I would expect to see him become dominant again, even at the expense of Dolph Ziggler or whoever else he faces. It really is amazing how far he seems to have fallen since Wrestlemania though. 

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My thoughts: Daniel Bryan should NOT win the 2015 Royal Rumble

I’ve got a slightly different take on Daniel Bryan’s return and just how WWE might view him in the plans moving forward. I say “might” simply because I believe WWE will make the best business call based on the data they have, which they don’t share with us. I just don’t put any stock in the reactions of the TV arena crowds because if they were truly indicative of WWE’s larger business there’s no way Cena is the runaway money generator he’s been the last decade and surely others with better responses from these crowds would have long since surpassed him if the Raw/PPV crowd translated to money.

That being said I do think they were a factor in the road to Mania last year, just not for the same reasons as many express. I don’t think WWE was worried about their booing, I think WWE was counting on them to be the subscriber base of the WWE network and wanted to make sure to grab them up in hopes they’d be a big enough number all on their own to take the network into the black. Call it the “low hanging fruit” strategy. When you pick apples from a tree, you grab everything on the low branches (hardcore fans) before you start climbing higher to get the more difficult to reach apples (casual fans). Just look how reliant WWE was on their library during the roll out, rather than original programming, tailor-made for the older hardcore fan who longs for the “good old” days and still sticks around hoping for a return. WWE network going hard with the library, then the Monday Night Wars series in the fall was designed for them to sigh up so they could go back and watch again…not the casuals who live in the now and aren’t watching out of nostalgia.

Which brings us to Batista. I imagine WWE thought they had found a perfect scenario. The old star Batista triumphantly returns to WWE, bringing with him the memories and nostalgia a network subscriber could now revisit. But possibly even bigger than that, Batista had the big summer blockbuster on deck, which meant he would be taking the WWE title everywhere and likely garnering enough free advertising/product placement that he could justify his money on that alone, while reaching even more lapsed fans, all of which would build to the SummerSlam blockbuster versus the other WWE “mainstream” star Brock Lesnar.

I’m sure WWE was also cognizant that their hardcore fanbase might also be concerned with what Batista’s return would mean for their favorites, which is why I think they booked so much heat for that audience’s current darling, Daniel Bryan. I imagine they hoped that Bryan getting revenge would be a big enough story to satiate the audience demand. So you put Sheamus in the spot Rollins would get later and pair him with Bryan, Punk would come to Bryan’s aid and pair off with HHH. After Mania you could add Batista/Orton for 6-man, then transition The Authority to The Shield, which is where WWE sees future money. But then the hardcore fans revolted and depending on your viewpoint if you’re in WWE’s inner circle, Vince either smartly changed plans on the fly…or he panicked and blew a potentially big deal on a plan with a much lower probability for huge success…all with the goal of getting every hardcore fan signed up for the network by the day after Mania.

So let’s play devil’s advocate and say I was one of the anti-Bryan/pro-Batista voices who said hardcore fans had already decided whether they would subscribe and those who planned to were just like the audience at the average Raw. They might not like much of what they see or the wrestlers we push, but they’re going to show up as long as WWE is on the marquee. Let’s say I argued that I wasn’t even confident that the PAYING hardcore audience was big enough to get the network to a million subscribers, but either way WWE already had the low hanging fruit, and they needed to be focused on the success of the larger task, growing the casual audience. I was firm the network would be carried by WWE’s success in getting new/lapsed customers. Now here we are at the start of 2015, Bryan is back, and the pro-Bryan voices are arguing that Bryan should win the Rumble and headline Mania. Here’s what I would argue:

1) We capitulated completely to the demand of our devoted fans…and the result was the network limping out of the gate, which means that audience is not enough to make the network profitable…so we’ve given them NXT along with the still growing library, while we focus on casuals…and we can’t go back to that well again because it failed last year.

2) The free media and attention WWE and the network would have received from Batista as champ this summer would have more than paid his salary…and who knows how much bigger a Guardians Batista versus Brock for the title would have been for the network. Had we gone with Batista, WWE still would have gotten every single one of our current subscribers because they’re WWE fans first and foremost…and maybe even more subscribers from the lapsed fan made aware of WWE again and all the kids who find out Drax was a wrestler and they can see him and all his old stuff on the network, not too mention the shirts and toys we lost out on.

3) Bryan as underdog was popular…and when we had him beat 3 top stars at the same time, we killed that underdog and as proof I’d cite the tepid response Bryan received afterward because if he was still hot, he should have been able to carry anything we gave him or at least have the insight to demand a change that he wanted, but he’s too laid back and not a business partner we can trust.

4) We built Bryan up starting in the summer of 2013 (if not sooner) as a top guy, then fed him 3 top stars along with the title…a massive investment…and then he got hurt and was out for the rest of the year with an injury we have no reason to think won’t recur with more pounding in the ring. How on earth can we be thinking about giving him Brock- who we’ve invested HUGE in for the last year- the title, and the focal point of Mania, when it’s just as likely we get to May and the nerve compression is back, but this time he needs the fusion surgery that will end his WWE career.

If I’m Vince these are some very compelling arguments and unless the data overwhelmingly supports Bryan’s popularity is widespread and translates to big money, significantly bigger than any other candidate to beat Brock, there’s absolutely no way I can invest in him with a Rumble win/Mania headliner/WWE champ. I’d still want to use in in a high profile spot, but he’s not sniffing the top spot until he shows me at least a year of great health.

Now as a fan, WWE can book anybody they want in any role and if it’s good I’m entertained. I don’t fantasy book who should be champ or pretend to know which stars are box office or pretend to know best because I have ZERO hard facts, so whether WWE puts Bryan or Reigns or Cena or anybody versus Brock, I really don’t care…but as somebody in business who tries to appreciate and understand WWE’s business, I would be stunned if Bryan win the Rumble if for no other reason than that I can’t imagine WWE looks at 2014’s business and hopes for a repeat in 2015 and going all in on Bryan would increase the likelihood of that by at least 50%…in other words, a very bad bet.

What do you think?

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Why the casual fans stopped watching wrestling

I think it’s safe to say that when you look at the history of professional wrestling, there are two periods that stand-out when it comes to mass success within the industry–the early WrestleMania Era (I-III) and, of course, The Attitude Era. Although The New Generation Era (1992-1997) and the Ruthless Aggression Era (2002-2008) were my favorite periods of watching, Those are the only quite defined moments in history when the entire world was watching the WWE. Yes, you can argue that there were some other spikes over that period of time, but none nearly as significant as those two occasions when EVERYBODY was talking about wrestling around the water cooler.

When the wrestling business is down, it’s clearly attributed to the mass audience, or casual viewers of professional wrestling, no longer watching the product. For a number of reasons they have tuned into something else. The audience that you see watching RAW today, is the “core” wrestling audience, or the “wrestling fan base”. They are die-hard fans who eat, sleep and breathe professional wrestling, and will watch it for three hours every Monday night regardless of how good . . . or, bad it is. I always say this when it comes to the “hardcore” wrestling fans—if the word WRESTLING is somewhere in the title of the show—they’re watching it—PERIOD.

In my case, I am NO DOUBT a casual wrestling fan. Throughout my lifetime I have watched wrestling when I am throughly entertained by it—and shut it off when I’m not. If not for my responsibilities to this website . . . I WOULD NOT be watching wrestling today (12/8/2014) but I will this Friday.

So, as a casual wrestling fan, the type of fan that the industry NEEDS in order to one day thrive again, what exactly is it that turns us off to the product? Well, the truth is . . . there are a number of things and I will explain the main issue.

So here’s the first disconnect:


When a casual wrestling fan turns on a wrestling show, they expect to see actual WRESTLERS. And, to the masses, the definition of a WRESTLER is much different from that of the “die-hard” fan, or “core” wrestling audience. You see, to a casual fan, the draw of a wrestler has little to actually do with the way he “wrestles”. To us, a wrestling match is a wrestling match. Yes, some are better than others, and some are worse, but—we’re not tuning in for the “match” per say. If that were the case then we’d be tuning in every week because we would indeed be “wrestling” fans.

When it comes to casual wrestling fans, we like the wrestlers who are “larger than life”. The guys with the big frames, or impressive physiques that we all wish we had, but don’t, so we live vicariously through them. Now there are exceptions to that rule, for instance take a Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, but those guys have very distinctive characters which made up for their “lack of” physical presence. Casual wrestling fans are drawn to the wrestlers that we grew up watching, maybe the business was a bit more selective back then who knows, but whatever the case—all those guys just LOOKED like wrestlers. They didn’t look like you and me, regular guys, they looked “different”, “special”, they just stood out in the crowd. There was no one like a “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, or a King Kong Bundy, Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley, the “Rock” or, of course “Stone Cold”. No one looked like someone you would run into on the street. And, if they did, then they would be road kill much like your Barry Horowitz’s. In the mind of a casual fan, when you tune into a wrestling show—WRESTLERS need to look like WRESTLERS.

For whatever reason, I know of a few, that has changed over the years. For starters, the majority of the wrestlers of today are not as “jacked-up” as years passed, largely due to the decrease in steroids over the years. You read how in the past even though a wrestler was never “directly” told to go on the juice, it was implied that if they did . . . they would find themselves higher up on the card. And, let’s face it, many did it on their own accord because it was a “business decision” as they thought it would help their stock in the long run–regardless of what the consequences may be later on in life.

Today, with drug testing in place, the importance of being a physical specimen, has been replaced with the idea of being a “great worker”. One that can actually “wrestle”. Now, where that is a must to the “core” wrestling fan, it’s not as important to the “casual” fan. Again, remember, we don’t watch every week because we’re NOT necessarily fans of the wrestling. I’ve always said this when it comes to casual wrestling fans, when there is a guy on a wrestling show on TV that —regardles of his acrobatic performance in the ring—you actually BELIEVE YOU CAN TAKE—then you have a problem on your hands.

Look at current history. The guys that the “core” wrestling fans see as over are guys like; CM Punk, Daniel Bryan , Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Now again, even though the audiences who pay to see them are reacting to them, that doesn’t mean that the world is, or even the “casual” wrestling fan. All great wrestlers, and tremendous talents in their own right, but to casual wrestling fans these guys just look like “regular guys” when you stand them up next to a Brock Lesnar, or a John Cena, or a Roman Reigns even. Now granted, the WWE brain trust haven’t exactly stepped up to the plate in supplying these guys with defined characters that could help make up for some of their lack off physical prowess, but still, at the end of the day if I ran into any one of them on the street—they wouldn’t scare me. There is nothing “different”, or “unique” about them—they just look like ordinary guys (with the exception of Daniel Bryan, of course). That’s why the WWE never really pushed CM Punk, and were hesitant to push Bryan Daniel, not because of their wrestling ability, but because these guys may not necessarily appeal to the MASSES. And, that’s just fact, not opinion. Go back and look at your numbers when these guys were on top. No question that both Rollins and Ambrose are the two best “workers” on the WWE roster right now, NO DOUBT, but, when it comes to business . . . where are they getting the WWE? Look at the numbers . . . the casual fans are not watching.

The majority of the people reading this post are going to kill me with their comments, and you know why? The Internet Wrestling Community is made up of DIE-HARD wrestling fans! Casual wrestling fans don’t go to sites to find out about the insiders of the business. they don’t even know that they exist. To them, its real simple—WRESTLERS NEED TO LOOK LIKE WRESTLERS! They need to look different, stand-out, be unique and posses a LARGER THEN LIFE presence. That’s what we grew up on, that’s what we want! It’s just part of the wrestling business, and always has been. Without even knowing the card, go look at the WrestleMania I roster. Just look at what those guys looked like PHYSICALLY! Hogan, Piper, Bundy, Orndorf, JYD, Big John Studd, Andre the Giant (OK, an exception to the rule), Jimmy Snuka, Iron Shiek, Nikolai Volkoff, ALL THESE GUYS LOOKED LIKE WRESTLERS!!! Can you say the same about today’s crop? Now, face it, much of that also has to do with lack of character development, and I’ll get into that tomorrow, but out of all those guys listed—do you think you could actually take one of them? They all just had a “presence”, and the physical aspect played a huge part. Casual fans want super heroes—we always have . . . we always will.

But, at some point, the wrestling business actually started listening to the internet fans. Somewhere along the line “work rate” became more important than “physical presence”. And, again, when the vast majority of the casual fans could give two HURRICANRANAS about how good a wrestling match is, or a wrestling match at all—you’ve lost them. And, the WWE continues to go down that road. Just watching NXT last week I saw first hand how they are getting further and further away from what the MASSES want. Yeah, I saw some UNBELIVABLE wrestlers on that show, BUT—are they going to appeal to the masses—or, do they just look like regular guys?

I guess all that is a part of STAR POWER, and unfortunately, physical appearance has something to do with that in the majority of the cases.

Hey man, don’t hate the player . . . hate the game.

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SENYCC: WWE Superstar Batista Interview

WWE Superstar “The Animal” Batista was at the Special Edition of New York Comic Con last weekend and I with a few others had the opportunity to interview him. He is also co-starring in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” as he plays as Drax the Destroyer. The film will be released on August 1, 2014



“Well not much has changed really except for the new hungry kids from NXT I have seen for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Guys like Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, The Ascension and many more young guys who want to come up to the main roster, NXT is the future of this business and just like guys like me, John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, we went through the system in OVW. But to end the question, the locker room has been great to me.”


“(Laughs) well the first one would be against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 23 because we stole the show on that night. When his music hits and he made his entrance, I was a bit nervous. But I was happy that we tore the house down and he trusted me. Undertaker is a good friend of mines and we have that chemistry that some others have in the ring. I would also say that my feud with him that year was one of my personal favorites as well. My second favorite is the match against Triple H at WrestleMania 21. He was the teacher and I was the student. I felt the buildup was great and the match was great. We both beat each other up in that classic match. People can say what they want about Triple H but he is the true ring general and he wants to see the younger talent go up to the level that he was.”


“Evolution to me was great. I can tell you that it was also an learning experience too. You have Ric Flair who is one of the greatest champions of all time and Triple H who is (at that point) becoming the greatest of all time and beginning to submit his legacy, and me and Randy Orton being groomed to becoming the next faces of the WWE. Most factions like DX or NWO Didn’t have the younger stars setting out to be ready for the main event scene with the exception of Triple H. This is what is missing with factions these days. But look at The Shield. Those 3 guys ( Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns) can work their butts off and I love working with the 3 of them. Those 3 will have a great future.”


“I have been a fan of Marvel Comics and playing Drax has been a great experience. Originally it was going to be either Isaiah Mustafa, Patrick Wade or Jason Momoa but I was selected. The movie has ties to The Avengers and will connect to other Marvel movies in the future. Drax is a human resurrected as a green warrior for the sole purpose of killing Thanos (the villain in the final-scene tease of Avengers). His powers include flight, super-strength and energy blasts and when the movie premiers in the United States, everyone will see how I will pull the character off. but it was very fun and Chris Pratt was a great guy to work with as well. The makeup took very long to put on though. I believe it was about 4 hours and after we were finished shooting, and then it took nearly 90 minutes to take it all off of me.”


“The WWE Network is great, I have waited a long time for it to finally launch. For Fans who have never seen what the days of the WWE or WCW was like in the 1980’s or early 1990’s, you need to check the stuff out. It is not only great stuff and matches, but it also educates the fans of the superstars of yesterday who were big such as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, Paul Orndorff, The British Bulldogs, Andre’ The Giant and many more. There is a lot of variety for the fans to watch and the Network can change the way we all watch TV very soon. Even a lot of my matches are on the WWE Network right now as we speak.”


“That is a great question. Well I would not get into the whole details but I would have more in ring wrestling, less segments and little comedy. I think the fans would want that too so that way it can balance everything in a good flow. I left a few years ago due to me not agreeing with the direction with the company that it was going too. But now I am happy to be back.”


“When I came back earlier this year, it was one of the best moments of my career. I went into the Rumble match and won it and I got booed out the arena. The names such as “Bluetista” or “Bootista” does not bother me. If the fans were in my shoes getting that kind of reception, they would either take it as it is or let that distract them. Whether the fans cheer or boo, I do not care at all as long as I am getting an reaction. It is better than no reaction at all because if you were in the ring with dead silence from the crowd, then that is a problem. Some fans take the sport too seriously with them attacking other fans and wrestlers on twitter and I can say that it has gotten out of hand, but the fans can say whatever they want.”

TO END THE INTERVIEW, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO GET INTO WRESTLING? “Yes I do. if this is for you, go for it. What we do in that ring, we do it for about 300 days a year. You have to have the passion to succeed and to be happy wrestling. Don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot do it because if you believe that you can do it, you will make it. When I was training in the WCW Power Plant, some of the trainers thought I would not make it. but I proved them wrong once I got trained more in WWE. There are other promotions out there but the WWE is the MLB of wrestling. Every night feels like the World Series and WrestleMania is the one major show you would want to make it too. Dreams come true if you stick to what you are planning and what you want to get out of it.”

Follow me on twitter @julianexcalibur

send me email to: Julian@alternativemindz.com