Welcome, cats and kittens, to the only review blog that is the dream of a dead civilization’s dream about the original dream’s evil monster dad (Tidus had a rough life, man), Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat tonight, as WWE has gone all Goldfinger on us with WWE Night of Champions 2011! Every title in the company is on the line in one way or another, and there are actually feuds revolving around every single one for the first time in recorded history. Will Mark Henry achieve what has eluded him for longer than many of WWE’s fans have been alive? Will John Cena cut short the destiny of Alberto Del Rio? And perhaps most importantly in our main event, what will happen when Triple H puts his position as COO of WWE on the line to face CM Punk? If you can’t smell some shenanigans happening there then you probably think that macaroni and cheese smells like purple, but the question is WHAT shenanigans, and from whom? As always, there’s only one way to find out.
Cewsh: There are times when WWE displays that they really understand the potential of these 3 minute snippets at the beginning of their PPVs and there are times when it seems like they told a high school video production class to knock something together by lunch vaguely including the wrestlers on the show. But it always seems like as the shows become more interesting, the video production team responds in kind to help the show in their very unique way, and that’s what happens here. The first half of this video focuses solely on the two matches that need the most help coming into this show, the World Heavyweight and WWE Heavyweight title matches. They briefly show that Cena is mad at Del Rio and then get right into the meat of the Mark Henry/Randy Orton feud, which naturally serves the purpose of making it look so much more high profile than being the Smackdown title match would suggest. If I were a fan watching a PPV for the first time, I would think that Mark Henry were an unstoppable killing machine after watching this.
And that, boys and girls, is the point.
They also feature the Punk/Triple H match a bit, because it was the real draw here and they’ve got a packed house waiting to see it.
They don’t get into the intrigue around it much just yet, but there’ll be pleeeeenty of time for that I’m sure…
Cewsh: This is a Kofi Kingston match. I’m not made of stone here, guys, sometimes I’m absolutely entitled to not review matches featuring people that level of dull.
But in the interest of keeping you up to speed, let’s fast forward to the controversial part of the match. As Miz and Truth work over Kingston, keeping him from getting a tag in to Bourne, Bourne suddenly leaps up the the top rope, slaps his hands together and then jumps into the match. The ref, who had his back turned, assumed a tag was made and let Bourne in the match. Ordinarily this is heel tag work 101, but when its turned against them, Miz and Truth are immediately hostile towards the ref. Undaunted, though, Miz continues kicking their asses, until complaints from R-Trtuh draw the attention of the ref, who yells at Truth for a solid minute, during which, of course, Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale and has Evan Bourne pinned. When the ref comes back to the match at hand, Bourne kicks out at one and now the Miz is fuming so hard that smoke is coming out of his ears. He shoves the ref on his ass, getting them disqualified before a reasonable R-Truth tells him to relax and be cool.
Just as I begin to wonder exactly when R-Truth became reasonable and cool headed, the T man proceeds to help the ref up only to then immediately slap the ever loving special sauce out of him. Miz and Truth then loudly assert that they will no longer be victims of the conspiracy and will put a stop to it.
As a match, this was matchy with a side of moves. It was a nice formula tag match between two teams of relative overness. As a storyline, though, this really goes miles to propel Awesome Truth’s conspiracy storyline. It’s one thing to shout about how you’re being held down. It’s another to have a string of things happen so thoroughly coincidental that you wonder if they might not be right. With this, things take a big step from “Giving Miz and Truth something to do” to “Giving Miz and Truth a ticket back to the main event”. It’ll just take one more big push in the right direction…
68 out of 100.
Cewsh: Miz and R-Truth are backstage ranting and raving when Matt Striker asks them if they realize that they may be fined or suspended for what they did to the referee. R-Truth points that those rules don’t apply to this situation, because rather than an official, they man they assaulted was, in fact, one of Triple H’s wacky conspirators. Quid pro quo. When Striker asks what they’ll do when Triple H disagrees, Miz suggests that just maybe it’s a moot point since Triple H won’t be COO anymore by the end of the night.
Almost as if he were sure about that…
Cewsh: Oh Teddy. What happened to you?
There was a time, not so long ago now, when many people viewed Ted Dibiase as one of the most can’t miss prospects in wrestling history. The son of the Million Dollar Man, the star of a whole stable full of wrestling brothers, trained by Harley Race with extensive experience in Japan, and with a look that makes promoters froth at the mouth, the man had everything you could possibly want. For a shining period in Legacy with Cody Rhodes, especially while feuding with DX, he even looked just on the cusp of fulfilling that potential. So how to explain his stature now as a Superstars mainstay and flunky to the man he was supposed to overshadow? Hard to say really, or rather, hard to narrow it down to just one reason. But here, with Cody, he seems to have been given a last chance of sorts to revitalize his career, this time as a vengeful babyface. If he can get the crowd behind him then maybe, just maybe, he can recapture some of that lost glory and potential. If he can come through and steal the show then maybe he can earn some respect and credibility back. Hell, if he could just be interesting at some point here, then maybe he can use that spark to do SOMETHING.
Unfortunately, this match is dead in the water. The fans don’t care, the match is nothing special, and Ted, for all that I wish it weren’t true, is just not interesting at any point. Cody tries his best to rile the crowd, and they give Ted all the hope spots in the world, but the crowd never goes for it one single time. macavityIt’s like a movie crowd after Mufasa dies in there, and that’s as well as career suicide for Ted. He seems to know it too, as he does dropkicks, spinebusters, lariats and even KENTA’s running knee kick trying to get a reaction. He doesn’t get it.
Maybe he should have tried tap dancing?
We wish you well in your future endeavors, Teddy.
62 out of 100.
Cewsh: I’m pretty sure that’s how people would react were you to invite them to your super secret backyard laser tag party in the middle of the afternoon. Shit Rey, get a big room, fill that fucker with a blacklight and some obstacles. Have you ever even PLAYED laser tag? And I mean, look at these guys he got to play with him.
Those two kids have the expressions of people who are being forced to do something awful against their will. They’re both subconsciously pointing their guns at Rey’s face, as if to say “If only these were real lasers, we could kill this weird mask guy and go play Call of Duty.”
Now look at this guy.
Would you willingly engage in ANY activity with that dude? He looks like he’s waiting for the game to end so he can invite you to bible camp with his weird uncle who smells like shame, cigarettes, and French Onion dip. Am I being too specific? Moving on!
Now see here, this is what happens. You join the guy in the gimp mask in his backyard for some harmless fake laser fights in broad daylight and then the douchebags descend upon your party like yuppies on a shrimp cocktail. I think these guys actually spring fully formed out of the box when you open it, and wont leave until you throw some gold chains and a Pitbull album out into the street. And really, who needs the hassle?
Cewsh: Christian comes out to have a little chat with us, and he wants us to support him in his endeavor to get one more title shot against whoever wins the title match here tonight. The crowd doesn’t seem overly supportive about this (though they do chant “One More Match” when promoted because, hey, chanting is fun), and even less supportive is Sheamus who comes out to crash the party and ruin Christian’s fun. Christian, do you have some way that you’d like to express how you feel about this?
Sheamus then calms things down by asking Christian that if he (meaning Sheamus) helps Christian get his title match, then Christian has to give him the first title shot if he wins. Seems simple enough, and more unlikely alliances have been formed under this very pretense. Christian certainly seems to feel good about it as he and Sheamus march around chanting “One More Match” before Sheamus suddenly decides a title match sounds lame and instead boots Christian directly in the face, grins, and goes home.
Once a meany face, always a meany face.
Cewsh: Ah, so here is Raw’s midcard laid out neatly before us. In one corner you have our champion, Dolph Ziggler. Great look, great skills, great act with Vickie, great everything. Then there’s Jack Swagger. Oodles of potential, capable of being carried to something very good, competitor with Dolph for Vickie Guerrero’s attentions. Then you have the flippy guy and that guy that Miz used to be friends with. Their names aren’t important, because they wont be winning. Not even a little. Not even moral victories.
The match goes down, and it’s the usual sort of clusterfuck that these matches tend to dissolve into. Everybody gets their spots in and gets to look like they may win (even Riley got in on that fun unexpectedly), but ultimately after Swagger Gutwrench Powerbombs Morrison, Ziggler shoves him out of the way long enough to grab the three and retain his title while his 3 mediocre opponents look on in shocked disappointment.
Nothing wrong with this match. Nothing particularly right either. I hate to sound like a broken record (do kids today even know what that sounds like?) but that’s been pretty much the story of the show thus far.
74 out of 100.
Cewsh: Quick, think of the last truly dominating and intimidating heel the WWE had. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Doop doop doop. All done and ready to answer? Alright, let’s see what you came up with. Batista? Nah, he wasn’t dominant when he was a heel, and he wasn’t a heel when he was dominant. Khali? No thank you. Show? Kane? Come on, its not 1999 anymore. By my reckoning, you’d have to truck all the way back through the history books to 2002 and the debut of Mr. Brock Lesnar in order to find a guy who could believably dominate and destroy his opponents and make them quake in fear simply to see him coming. That’s 9 years without anyone to strike fear in the hearts of all things walking. 9 years since anyone made you really think that the top guys had something to worry about. 9 years, since WWE unleashed a wrecking machine. The unstoppable monster is one of the most enduring and defining tropes throughout wrestling history, and while we’ve had pretty boy babyfaces stuck to the top of the card with glue, no true threat has come along to knock them off of their pedestal and make them fight against actual odds. For 9 years I’ve been waiting for someone to step up and fill the void that Brock Lesnar left after his first face turn derailed everything that made him great. But now, finally, the wait is over.
In this match, which I sincerely hope will be a defining moment that we refer back to in the future, Mark Henry became something special. The story of the match itself was simply and perfectly carried out. Henry went after Orton’s leg so he couldn’t do the RKO or the Punt, and Orton fought back as best as he could, like he has a million times before. As time wore on, Orton’s leg was so badly damaged that he had an incredible amount of trouble just standing up, but as always he had one trick left up his sleeve. Ever since the man first came into his own as a main eventer, he has perfected the shocking comeback. Usually, he’ll have been beaten to within an inch of his life, he’ll play possum to draw his opponent in, and then one last ditch RKO to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s Orton all over. Take the beating, play the trick, win the match. It’s been repeated so often that its damn near part of the rule book. But somebody didn’t show Mark Henry any rule book, and the big guy is not fond of comebacks.
This leads directly to one of the greatest moments in wrestling that you will see anywhere this year. As Randy Orton slowly crawls to Henry, dragging himself up the man, with Henry asking him what he thinks he’s going to do, Orton goes for his desperation RKO. The one that has bailed him out of every crisis, the one that has beaten countless people who didn’t learn from the mistakes of others, the last bullet in his proverbial gun. But this time, THIS TIME, Mark Henry casually tosses him off like a fly. The look of shock and horror on Orton’s face before he lands is perfect before he stumbles back up, walks into a World’s Strongest Slam and is promptly dethroned.
The degree to which this plays on Orton’s prior matches is fantastic, and even better is the way they handled Mark Henry’s victory. There was no overbooking here. He didn’t cheat to win. He didn’t win out of nowhere or by roll up. He systematically destroyed Randy Orton, and then he took his last weapon away before finally ending him. This is as total and complete a victory as there has ever been or ever will be, and in doing this in this fashion, they have transformed Mark Henry from a guy breaking out of the midcard with a hot run that may not go anywhere, to a clear and present danger to every single wrestler in the WWE. If Henry can so casually break one of the top stars in WWE history in his prime, what does that mean for everyone else?
The hoss is boss, kids. And when we look back on this match years from now, I sincerely think we’ll point to it and say “Fuck dude, remember that? That’s where it started. And things have been great ever since.”
Cewsh: Alberto Del Rio and Johnny Ace are walking backstage, and Alberto is complaining in that same way that all heel champions seem to. Ace wishes him luck, and also wishes luck to CM Punk who is standing nearby. Punk wants to know if it’s the kind of “luck” Ace wishes when he wishes you luck in your future endeavors, to which Ace just smiles and stay holly and jolly until Punk walks away. He then immediately pulls out his phone and starts feverishly pounding on it like at the final boss in Ninja Gaiden ison there. Now seeing as how any time someone uses a phone in WWE, it always seems to be to call a member of the Clique (I don’t know why this is) it stands to reason that we can expect a visit from someone big and cuddly here tonight.
Fingers crossed for Justin Credible!
Cewsh: The backstory to this feud shakes down like this. Kelly Kelly is the champion and that pisses off Beth Phoenix and Natalya something fierce. See, they feel like there are too many pretty, talentless models turned wrestlers as it is, and they’ll be damned if they get saddled with a literal Barbie as their champion. So their mission is to get the title away from Kelly at all costs, while Kelly’s mission to keep beating these self righteous (and, frankly, Barbie-like) women until they come to their senses or leave her alone.
Working against Kelly in this match, aside from the rather distinct height and weight difference, is the totally hostile Buffalo crowd which is firmly in support of their hometown girl Beth Phoenix. Kelly seems unfazed, though and takes it right to Beth coming out of the gate, giving her half her moveset in the opening moments looking for the quick surprise victory, knowing that a shock victory is her best bet for victory. As time goes on, though, she wears out and gives Phoenix a chance to take over, and that’s exactly what she does, bossing Kelly around mercilessly all over the place, including hitting a huge superplex in a very unusual occurrence for a women’s match in WWE. Unfortunately for Buffalo, Beth goes to lift Kelly up for a powerbomb, only to have it deftly turned into a sunset flip by Kelly for a shockingly sudden victory that leaves Natalya ranting and Beth wondering where she went wrong again.
For the second month in a row, this match up has produced the best matches that the Divas division has seen in year. Whether the dynamic is what makes it good, or the improvement of Kelly Kelly, or the leadership or Beth Phoenix, or magical “Good Times” rays beamed from a satellite on Rob Van Dam’s house, it doesn’t really matter. A good match is a good match, and I’m beginning to think that these two could have good matches until the sun dries up.
78 out of 100.
Cewsh: John Cena won.
70 out of 100.
Cewsh: You could certainly be forgiven for not being up to date on all of the various twists and turns that the saga of CM Punk has taken in recent months. First he rebelled against the WWE structure, and in doing so (and specifically winning the WWE title and quitting WWE with it) turned the company on its head. Vince McMahon got fired for letting the inmates run the asylum, Triple H took his place, and promptly all hell broke loose. Triple H brought Punk back, and made a rematch between Punk and Cena to determine an undisputed champion, which resulted in utter controversy when Kevin Nash showed up to the surprise of everyone and beat the piss out of Punk, claiming that Triple H asked him to. It then came out that Kevin Nash sent the text to HIMSELF and acted all on his own (or possibly with someone unrevealed whose last name is a suit in a deck of cards). Meanwhile, Johnny Ace has been bucking for power, CM Punk has been stirring the pot at every opportunity, and the stress of the position has caused Triple H to lose control of his temper and not only book the match for tonight, but outright fire Kevin Nash before doing so.
Everybody got that? Close enough? Alright.
Now its important to realize that this match isn’t some kind of feud blow off or anything. This is just one more step in the continuing storyline encircling the power struggle and conspiracy at the top of WWE. As such the actual MATCH here is almost inconsequential in nature. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, because it’s a very enjoyable little brawl, that’s just explaining why these great performers aren’t exactly swinging for the fences in this match trying to have an epic epicfest. They show real aggression in this grudge match (rare in wrestling) and really sell the bad blood between them, from Triple H picking Punk apart, to Punk channeling Shane McMahon and Randy Savage with a picture perfect top rope Macho man elbow to the announce tables far below.
This is all icing on the cake, though, because the real story begins when The Miz and R-Truth run down out of nowhere and start beating the shit out of both men. They beat everyone down and then drape Punk over Triple H to cost Trips the match and his job, just as they said they would. Against all odds though, Triple H kicks out prompting these reactions.
The Miz immediately blames referee Scott Armstrong and tries to bully him. But Scott is the son of Bullet fucking Armstrong and he couldn’t give a fuckbiscuit about what the Miz thinks. Miz goes to hit him, only to get leveled by a punch straight out of the Bullet’s playbook, before Truth and Miz overwhelm him and beat him down.
As Johnny Ace shuffles on down to check on Scott Armstrong. This bought Punk and Triple H valuable time to recover and throw those punkasses out of the ring, though, and they do so which then allows Triple H to bury CM Punk into the mat with a Pedigree. A ref comes running from the back to count the pin…only for him to be intercepted by Johnny Ace and perhaps suspiciously told to check on Armstrong. Good intentions or not, when Triple H sees this he goes nuts yelling at Johnny and turns right into a Go 2 Sleep of his very own. Then, in the least sense making thing of the entire night, R-Truth promptly breaks up the count, stopping CM Punk from winning, which was exactly what he wanted 5 minutes ago. This earns him a nap courtesy of the Cookie Monster. Now fucking mad as hell at all the shenanigans, he goes to springboard clothesline Triple H and eats ANOTHER Pedigree for his trouble. 1….2…NO. CM Punk just kicked out of the motherfucking Pedigree, a distinction shared by a list of people you could probably fit on one hand, and this is after already having taken one. The arena EXPLODES at this point, knowing full well how crazy and unexpected this is. And it’s at this point Ace whips out his phone and orders a party pooper.
Nash rolls in and demolishes everyone and their aged grandmother until Triple H finds Sledgy and introduces him to his old buddy. One Pedigree on a severely injured Punk later and here comes the new boss, same as the old boss.
You may remember that recently I made a distinction between good overbooking, where a variety of elements are introduced to a match adding to its excitement and storytelling ability, and bad overbooking, where a bunch of shit happens that doesn’t mean anything and could have easily been left out. Frankly, this match had a bit of both, as the storyline was put first and catered to properly, but contained SO MANY run ins that the significance of them diminished with each new one that came. This probably could have been cleaned up, but hey, they wanted to create chaos and they did it. Slightly lost in all of this is the fact that this match put CM Punk over more in losing then he has ever been put over in winning in his entire career (except maybe at Money in the Bank). Toughing it out through 3 beatdowns, two pedigrees and having to be in a room with Johnny Ace made him look like a supreme badass who really belonged with Triple H. Which is a thing that would have been absolutely unthinkable 6 months ago.
This match was good, but not great. The story is intriguing but not incredible. And I’m eager to see more, but not eager to pay to see it.
But not ruling it out, either.
Cewsh: I’ve lauded WWE recently for putting on cards that were consistently good from top to bottom. This isn’t one of those cards. It had definite weak points and only one true peak, with some good stuff in between. But nonetheless, I come away from this show feeling generally positive. Every title has a feud around it that means something and all of the top guys are involved in things that are fresh and different for them (with the exception of John Cena). I think we can expect to have ourselves a very happy holiday season with the Dub, and they’ve got their hooks in me more than they have in years.
In the words of Vice: Giddy up.
Well that’ll do it for us this time boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed a champion evening with me, and we hope that you’ll join us for a delightful repast next week for Dramatic Dream Team’s Peter Pan 2011. An appetizer of a man shooting fireworks out of his ass, an entree of children wrestling, and a desert of something called “Gay Rules”. You know how our Japanese reviews are either super epic or unfathomably weird? Yeah, this is going to be one of those latter ones. So until then, as always, be sure to keep reading and be good to one another.