Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only review blog where the pen is mighty than the sword, and our cats eat all the pens, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we completely cast off our normal structure for a one night engagement with the Comparison Fairy, and pit the past two WWE shows against one another in a 6 hour mish mash battle royal. Why are we doing this, you might ask? Simple. Because we have entered that special time in the WWE year that we charmingly refer to as the Summerslog. That winsome phrase refers to the generally dull and listless shows that crop up between Wrestlemania and Summerslam every year, and as we stand here flush in the middle of it, all we can do is slog through the muddy sameness until we reach the dry land of Summerslam. But this isn’t just an exercise in complaining, dag nabbit. We’re here to compare these two shows to see if anything of worth managed to come out of these two months, and most especially to see if things are for better or for worse going into Money in the Bank. And frankly, also to see if these two shows are the exact same matches shuffled up and shown twice as I have darkly suspected. If nothing else, we can pretend like it’s a big fight between two shows that really have no other significance whatsoever, and maybe that way we can all feel better about having watched them. So kick back, put on your Snuggie, and get ready, because we’re about to compare and contrast all over your faces.
(Cewsh Note: Blue is Over the Limit and red is No Way Out.)
Cewsh: Well actually it would be hard to call it a true blue double opening video fever, since only one of these things actually opens the show. Yes, where No Way Out employs the industry standard of using a cleverly edited together hype video to open the show and immediately put the main event in your mind, Over the Limit has the more artsy design of having the first thing you see after shelling out $50 for this show be Darren Young’s fluorescent ass and the battle royal around it. Eventually, though, we get a stirring tribute to John Laurenitus and are regaled with the benefits of People Power in the most awesomely bad corporate Powerpoint presentation style you could possibly imagine. That’s pitch perfect for the Cena/Ace storyline, but on the other hand the No Way Out video featuring the Big Show cutting a swath of destruction through the entirety of WWE, (or at least the part of it that contains good guys.)
So we’re down to a subjective choice between the two to decide our first victor of the night. And if you’re making me choose just one, I’m going to have to go with the Johnny Ace video, because while it wasn’t as chock full of story goodness like I like it, at least it isn’t pretty much the exact same video we get to see every time Show turns heel.
WWE Divas Championship – Layla © vs. Beth Phoenix
Cewsh: Well if the goal of this exercise was to prove that these weren’t both the same show, we’re not off to a great start.
We’re talking about two matches where any genuine description of one would sound exactly like the other. Beth comes in supremely overconfident, Layla has a counter for all of her big moves and shocks everyone by being miles ahead of what she used to be in terms of ring savvy, Layla hits her great looking neckbreaker and picks up the surprising clean victory. There’s certainly nothing WRONG with this, as its a formula that clearly works, and it resulted in two good matches that have raised Layla’s stock as a performer very quickly. But since my job here is to actually decide which show is better THEY’RE GIVING ME NOTHING TO WORK WITH HERE.
Ultimately, this one is just going to have to be a draw. For all I could say that the second match built on the first, I could equally say that the first had a more unpredictable outcome. 6 on one hand and a half dozen on the other. So while these matches were good, if they deliver a third carbon copy of this, words will be had. Words will BE HAD.
70 out of 100
70 out of 100
WWE Intercontinental Championship – Christian © vs. Cody Rhodes
Cewsh: It’s entirely possible, at this point, that the entire writing staff was just replaced by one of those bobbing bird toys bashing into “CTRL+C” and “CTRL+V” every few seconds.
At the risk of being, well, repetitive, these two matches were pretty much the same deal with the added caveat of Rhodes becoming more and more frustrated with things not going his way in the second match after having unexpectedly lost the title in the first one. The constant berating of Christian, leading directly to his downfall, is really what sets the two matches apart. And while it would be easy to chalk that up to simple storyline progression from one match to another, it’s important to realize that that is far from a guarantee in matches like this. Or do I need to direct your attention back to the ladies for a moment?
Now the interesting thing about these matches, and the storyline as a whole, is that it doesn’t seem to be useful in any real way for moving someone up the card. Neither Christian, (a former World champion,) or Cody, (Dr. Losealot,) is going to come out of these Intercontinental title matches with a ton of momentum and flair, and considering the Smackdown main event is currently being held down by Sheamus, 2 paperclips and an old copy of Reader’s Digest, its more than a little surprising that they’ve not only kept these two from stepping forward into that role, but have positively barred them from it. Very strange indeed. But if these two matches are any indication, this feud isn’t nearly over yet, so maybe we’ll get even more goodness out of it. In a land this barren, beggars can’t be choosers.
71 out of 100
73 out of 100
Cewsh: To be honest, I’m not sure that there is anybody in this motley collection of people who I haven’t been distinctly critical of for some time, barring perhaps Dolph Ziggler. One match features two popular, but bland, babyfaces randomly teamed together, against two stale heels with a stale manager. The other match features a bunch of guys seemingly coughed up out of Superstars and shoved into a big fuck off match to determine the number one contenders to a title that is lucky to be defended once a month. On paper, this isn’t exactly giving me the adrenaline shakes.
But the funny thing is that both of these matches FAR exceeded any possible expectations I may have had going in. In the four way, all four of the teams blended beautifully into a really fun to watch train wreck of fun which reminded me rather a lot of a multiman X-Division match in TNA. The Primetime Players showed me that they, (and by “they” I mean Darren Young and not even a little bit Titus O’Neil,) might be on to something, Tyson Kidd stole the show like he has done so often lately, and I even began to see glimmers of the progress that people keep telling me the Usos are making. All in all it was a treat to see hungry, young guys given 12 minutes to put on a show, and it raised all of their profiles in one go, especially with the amusingly done twist of Abraham Washington screwing over Primo and Epico to throw him lot in with the Player. Though I can’t even begin to imagine what it would look like if Washington starts dressing like the Primetime Players. The world is not yet ready for neon green suits.
But despite how much I was impressed by the 8 young ‘uns, this match up is going straight to the OTL match and handily at that. It would be impossible for me to praise this match properly without first mentioning that I’ve started to come around on Kofi Kingston of late, as he’s really stepped up his game, and found his ideal niche as a tag team wrestler. Considering that Kofi has been a punching bag around the Cewsh Reviews offices exceeded only by Rhino and Ian Rotten, you can guess what kind of progress he’s had to have made to get him even just that tiny nugget of praise out of me. But all four of these guys earned every point here, as they put on a great classic style tag match that the crowd exploded out of their seats for in a way that almost seemed to surprise even the wrestlers in the ring. A hot crowd can add immeasurably to a match, and if Kofi and Truth can keep soliciting reactions like that with their work, then I think I’m going to have to find someone new to make fun of.
Say, what’s Mark Jindrak doing these days?
77 out of 100
73 out of 100
Cewsh: Ah, now here we are confronted with one of the great divides in wrestling philosophy. Is a better to have a better match with less drawing power or a worse one with more? There are certainly arguments to be made for both sides, what with Sheamus getting a chance to beat more credible people and potentially draw more buys for the show on one hand, and better match quality causing people to think more highly of the performers and feel like they got their money’s worth on the other. For really as long as there have been smarks this argument has existed in various forms time and time again, and I’m not going to presume to tell you what the answer is in this humble review, (both, now give it a rest already,) but it isn’t too hard to tell you which is likely to get the better rating here as a match.
But even with that said, Sheamus vs. Ziggler is one of an increasing number of matches of its kind in WWE recently, where young new prospective main eventers go out and just absolutely steal the show with a match that exceeds expectations and grabs ahold of the crowd in a very big way. Bryan/Sheamus was another like this, as was Ziggler/Ryder and, for that matter, Ziggler or Bryan/anybody on PPV. Its an incredibly exciting thing to see young talent really come into their own and build rivalries and tremendous matches on their own backs instead of having to group them in with the old, familiar names for a change, and you can feel the electricity in the air when it happens. At No Way Out, Sheamus and Ziggler absolutely stole the show, not just because Ziggler is great, but because when he’s paired with the right performer, Sheamus can tap into something that can make his matches truly special. I compared him to Kenta Kobashi in a past review, and while that’s obviously an impossible standard, the role they play in matches is comparable. Sheamus just is not going to stop coming for you. You can hit him, and damage him, and he’ll SELL THE INJURIES, but all the same, the man is still coming after you. One leg, no arms, just a rolling beard in a wheelchair, it doesn’t matter, and when he catches people, he smashes them into pulp believably and satisfyingly. It’s a tremendous quality for a wrestler to have and it’s even more tremendously rare. Sheamus is going to be something special, even more so than he is now.
But this is a comparison, and my gushing about the Ziggler match, and scrace mentioning of the other match is fitting because the four way was the very definition of a match that is just…there. Everybody flops around for awhile like jellyfish in a moon bounce, everyone does finishers, and then we get on with seeing what John Cena is up to. It’s forgivable to have a match like that, especially if that’s what they were asked to do, but it aint winning anyone any brownie points with me.
68 out of 100
85 out of 100
Cewsh: To compare these two things together is more than a little unfair. I mean, it’s like comparing that first bite you take into a perfectly cooked steak where you can just taste the meat and sauce blending together perfectly and it almost melts in your mouth, to having a week old breakfast burrito shoved in your mouth and having a donkey kick you in the nuts until you swallow it.
Really, it all comes down to the right way and the wrong way to do a squash match. The right way to do one is to put your squasher in the ring with 1 or more squashies who are very easy to perform devastating moves to, and then letting your squashers get on with the business suggested by his title. The WRONG way to do a squash match is to put your squasher in the ring with a semi talented big guy who will lumber around and take all of your squasheer’s offense awkwardly, thus resulting in everyone looking like a big pile of suck with some sunglasses on it. Obviously these two matches represent each of the varying styles, and I’ll let you go ahead and try to figure out which one is which.
53 out of 100
70 out of 100
Cewsh: Well one of these things was a fun battle royal that opened a show well and brought a lot of attention to a certain Mr. Tyson Kidd that he has been riding ever since, (straight to a Money in the Bank entry even.) The other is a slow paced lucha libre match conducted in front of a crowd so silent that you could almost hear Vince McMahon sighing all the way from backstage. There’s a clear winner here, but very specifically the loser here is Sin Cara.
Look, Sin Cara is a fun wrestler and a tremendous draw in his home country, but I think we can all acknowledge that he had about the worst first impression that it was possible for a wrestler of his kind to have. He, (a bit unfairly,) was labeled as a botch machine, and just as he started overcoming this he was busted for drugs and suspended. That’s awful, but it isn’t totally unsalvagable. After all, his merchandise was still selling at a steady clip, and there was something about him that just remained inherently cool. But now they’ve given him a new outfit with new colors that don’t stand out nearly as much, and they’ve continued doing the lighting thing during his matches which is almost universally reviled, and THEY’RE STILL NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH HIM. Every bit of this match just smacked of “let’s test him against Hunico again to see if he’s going to botch it up” and if that was the case then WHY IS THIS ON PAY PER VIEW?!
Nothing there did anyone any favors. Unlike the battle royal which, if nothing else, had the decency to not bury anyone.
75 out of 100
65 out of 100
Cewsh: Just…no. No thank you.
The Miz deserves better. He really, truly does. Even if the guy put a pot on top of Vince’s head while he was sleeping and started doing the drum riff from Wipeout, he still deserves better than THIS. Christ. I wouldn’t wish jobbing to Brodus Clay after doing the Thriller dance on live television on my worst enemy. Especially if he had to use his Jiffy Lube vacation days to do it.
48 out of 100
55 out of 100
Cewsh: It would be easy for me to say that simply adding Kane to a match will automatically drop its score by 7 or 8 points, but a) that wouldn’t be fair, and b) Kane’s really big and I enjoy having all of my teeth. But the thing that actually sets these two matches apart is what they were trying to accomplish. You have Bryan/Punk, which was just trying to be a damn fine wrestling match, and then you have Punk/Bryan/Kane, which was entirely meant to be used as a springboard for the “Crazy AJ” storyline. Both matches are good, and I don’t hold the booking of the second match against it, but as is usually the case, the better match is the one where the writers got out of the wrestler’s way and let them ply their trade in peace. That won’t always make for the better match, but here it made all the difference.
84 out of 100
77 out of 100
Cewsh: Ah, the John Cena led main events. Regardless of what I write here, these two matches, (especially the first one,) are going to go down in the kind of infamy that only wrestling fans can really dig up. Obviously this all stems from the storyline that saw Johnny Ace bring in Brock Lesnar to be the new figurehead of WWE and sic him on John Cena in what we’ll graciously call a hostile takeover. Unfortunately the whole thing backfired when Cena actually beat Lesnar, and a frustrated Laurenitus responded by attacking Cena himself and challenging him to a match at Over the Limit. Along the way, Laurenitus humiliated and fired the Big Show and was told that not only would any superstar that interfered in his match be immediately fired, but that Johnny Ace himself would be fired if he didn’t win. Fast forward to Over the Limit, and John Cena is purchasing a Johnny Ace Ass Kickery Kit, complete with ornamental washcloth and designer spoons.
Now where I differ from the majority of people who loathe this match like it stole their rent money, is that I rather enjoyed the beatdown. Cena, working through an actual injury, manages to make a happy fun time out of John Laurenitus getting pummeled comedically and purely for the fans benefit. The crowd seemed into it, the beatdown was cathartic, and everything seemed to be really well done. Hell, this match was cruising into Seal of Approval range right up until Big Show lumbers into the arena. After spending a totally unnecessary amount of time getting Ace back to the ring, Show feeds Ace for Cena to deliver an Attitude Adjustment, and then promptly shoves his fist, which currently has 3 different zip codes of its own, into Cena’s face, allowing Johnny to win, and us all to sigh collectively.
The next night on Raw, Ace announced that Show’s interference was totally okay, because he hadn’t been an active superstar at the time, and then signed him to a crazy contract which made Show completely unfireable and able to do whatever he wanted at any time. This led to increasingly angry promos and beatdowns by Show, and it all came to a head when Vinny Mac himself arrived to personally fire Laurenitus. Vince wound up knocked the fuck out courtesy of Show, and Laurenitus found himself once again depending on a victory to save his career, this time inside of a steel cage.
Which brings us to Cena and Show’s eventual match, which actually turned out surprisingly well. The whole thing played out with the Big Show destroying Cena at nearly every turn, and only being foiled when all of the guys he’d jumped in the past month, (Brodus Clay, Kofi Kingston, etc,) intervened to help give Cena the time he needed to recover and eventually escape the cage. Which resulted in Johnny Ace being fired to within an inch of his life at long last, and all of us breathing a sigh of relief that Vince got to the man before the fashion police got a chance to.
See, this is where overbooking can save you or sink you. Ace/Cena was a fine little beatdown right up until an overbooked “shock” ending was done just badly enough to spoil things, and as a result, it sits in the merely good range. But the overbooking at the end of the cage match, with all sorts of people fighting back against the crazy dominant Big Show, actually helped it substantially and caused the match to really grab the fans even more. How it’s possible to know which will work and which wont in the writer’s meeting is pretty much impossible, but everyone has to get lucky sometimes. So when it comes to this match, I did enjoy Ace/Cena about 70 points more than most, but Show/Cena just turned out to be the bigger spectacle. And either way, John Cena isn’t exactly being put in the greatest position to succeed.
70 out of 100
75 out of 100
Cewsh: Well we’ve come to the end of our comparison shopping, and to be honest the whole thing ended up being a whole lot closer than I suspected. When I watched these two shows at the time, I found Over the Limit to be a tired, dull show that was as hard to get through as an insurance seminar taught by Ben Stein. No Way Out, on the other hand, felt fresher, funner, and like a more consistent show overall. The scores bear that out pretty clearly, but I was probably too hard on Over the Limit, which suffered from a bunch of road blocks to fun on the card that messed things up. At any rate, there really IS hope for the near future here, and very real things to build on, on the way to Summerslam. But if I see the Miz dancing again, I’m going to send my army of robot assassins after him. It’s for his own good.
71.44 out of 100
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our gallant attempt to pick every last morsel of content out of the Summerslog and if you enjoyed it, you just might see us compare and contrast some more interesting things down the road. But for now we’ve got an absolutely chock full plate coming your way for the next month, with Money in the Bank, a huge 3 review project and most importantly the Cewsh Reviews Super Mega Ultra Technicolor Dream Card 3 on the horizon. Those things are all going to be downright spectacular, but our next review may top them all. See, once upon a time in the early 00s, newly minted Christian Vince Russo started a wrestling promotion dedicated to Jesus, with all religious based storylines, and chock full of WCW wash outs and drug addicts. So it will be with a joyful tear in my eye that I will bring you our review of the one and only show this company ever produced, Ring Of Glory: The Great Commission. We are, to say the least, excited. So until then, remember to keep reading and, as always, be good to one another.