Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the reviews that bring home the bacon and have terrible cholesterol, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we cover a show that’s so goddamn gold that Indiana Jones will be questing for it 20 years from now, WWE Night of Champions 2012. Now then, we all know that the summer months have been more than a bit dreary and dull, but as we roll into fall, things are going to start to get interesting and it starts at the top. After all, a newly heel turned, (and Paul Heyman managed,) CM Punk is running roughshod across the main event these days, and now his arch rival John Cena has stepped up to the plate for one more epic match. If Punk beats Cena, he finally gets the respect he deserves, and if Cena beats Punk he finally redeems the least successful year of his career since he started rapping. But there’s more on the line here than just those two jokers. We’ve got Irishmen fighting Mexicans, we’ve got spirited attempts to pretend that the lesser divisions matter, and, perhaps most importantly, we have a performance that absolutely stole the show. Who gave it? Well, as always, there’s only one way to find out.
Cewsh: Ladies and gentlemen, your theme for tonight is respect. CM Punk wants it, John Cena represents it, Sheamus refuses to give it, and Alberto Del Rio doesn’t deserve it. And mixed in with those major storylines are lesser stories built around the respect and notoriety earned by becoming, or staying, champion. Considering that this is a show built around continuous title matches, it’s a strong way to take things, and focusing the video specifically on Punk and his demands for respects really drives the theme home. And when they show the clip of John Cena saying, “There is no CM Punk”, meaning that he has no identity or meaning, then things really start to break down crazy style.
It’s an effective video for an effective feud, and you have to imagine that the video guys feel like they’re on vacation when they make videos of CM Punk feuds. “Yeah, let’s just take his promos in their entirety and use some distortion filters on the footage. DONE. Let’s go get a Choco Taco.”
Good afternoon Mr Collins.
MichaelC: Who said that?
There is a back catalog of Cewsh Reviews awaiting history and witty comments.
MichaelC: Dear God, it’s like some kind of disembodied voice!
As always, should you or anyone you employ be censored or sued, Lord Cewshington will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
MichaelC: Well, that’s a cheery thought…
Your mission Michael, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on these shows. This tweet will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck…
MichaelC: Okay, on with review. All of these men have held the IC title, except Sin Cara, who is titleless in the WWE so far. Cody was Champion from August 2011 until WrestleMania 28 when he lost convincingly to The Big Show. Because God knows, The Big Show really needed that cup of tea with the title. Rey held the belt during a back and forth feud that produced some good matches with Chris Jericho in 2009, but is probably best remembered for refusing to drop the belt to some up and comer named Dolph Ziggler and for needing to drop it ASAP when he got Wellness’d. The Miz won the belt on the one thousandth episode of RAW, and had had several previous runs with the United States Championship. And Sin Cara, well, he’s learning.
I like Sin Cara. He got thrown in at the deep end and hasn’t drowned yet. I can respect that. It was nice of them to throw him a Rey Mysterio shaped life jacket too, while we are on that crass analogy.
Sin Cara and Rey have good chemistry together. The upcoming Mania match between the two, should Rey’s knees stick together long enough, should be as good as it will be a money match. (And it will. I mean, seriously, Mistico v Rey Mysterio?
You can hear the drooling in Guadalajara from here, and the WWE are pretty much the only company ever that can hold that match.)
Cody and Miz are no slouches either, so this is a fun match of the “flippy floppy reverses a plenty” type. The perfect style of match to get the crowd into the show. Some of it (like Cody’s disaster kick on Sin Cara) came off rather contrived, as did the infamous Tower of Doom spot, but other bits flowed nicer than they would have in less capable hands. And that Sin Cara is a hell of a good seller. I’m convinced he’s injured on every move nearly!
The finish comes fast and furious among many false ends, the crowd getting louder for each near pinfall. And finally The Miz, who has been third best all match, sneaks out the back door with the title, having let everyone else do the damage and achieved a great moment of right time, right place. This match continued Miz and Sin Cara’s redemptions, kept Cody Rhodes in the hunt, showcased the aging Rey Mysterio, and helped to cement Miz as the taker of all opportunities handed to him. It achieved a lot with little, and I think it’ll be looked at better as time goes by.
Fey: I want Miz’s leather coat. It’s really kind of awesome. Too awesome for him. Although, it looks like he’s trying to take Jericho’s place as the Lord of Bedazzles.
But this isn’t just the Sin Cara show. All four of these guys do a terrific job of keeping things moving along in a fast paced and exciting way, and hold the crowd all the way through to the end. Speaking of which, the end sees Sin Cara slipping a mask over Miz’s eyes, which backfires when Miz hits Cody Rhodes with the Skull Crushing Finale and wins the match not even knowing who he beat, which is one of the funner endings I’ve seen in recent times.
With this match, all four of these guys look terrific and this show is off to a great start. Which of course means…
76 out of 100
Cewsh: …that now it’s time to go backstage, where the Primetime Players are talking and dancing. If this seems suspiciously like something that would never actually be the focus of a backstage segment on a PPV, that’s because it isn’t.
Because Eve, who was interviewing them, is suddenly informed that something has happened. As it turns out SOMEONE has jumped Kaitlyn in the hallway and injured her, so she wont be able to compete in her Divas title match tonight. So the number one contender to the Divas title, (who beat Eve to get the shot,) who is set to face Layla, (who Eve is feuding with,) is set upon by a mysterious assailant immediately after which Eve was one room away doing interviews even though that totally isn’t her job, with a tag team that never gets interview time.
So with all of that evidence in mind, I’m fairly confident that the mystery attacker is going to turn out to be Alicia Fox. Craftiness is right there in her name. She obviously orchestrated this master plan to get herself the Divas title!
Fey: Because Diva title shots are so hard to get nowadays.
Cewsh: Hmm, good point.
MichaelC: In this entire scene, the best actor is the guy who looks like Howard Finkel playing a security guard.
MichaelC: In the beginning, there was one word, and that one word was…
For that pretty much sums up Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania. Orlando Jordan’s Summerslam debut lasted longer.
Bryan responded to this unfortunate turn of events by dumping his girlfriend AJ. Who responded to this by appearing to go crazy, all the while using every main eventer she came across to further her own ends. When she was playing Bryan and the WWE Champion CM Punk against each other, they both wound up facing off against Kane, who took rather a dim view on proceedings. A series of misunderstandings and frankly pretty awesome matches took place, before Mr Punk got involved with Mr. Cena and swiftly took his title out of the picture. However, Mr Kane and Mr Bryan were full of hatred for each other (thanks in no small part of the machinations of Ms Lee and Mr Punk) and so continued to beat on each other up and down the country. Not even a Summerslam match could settle the score.
So finally AJ, in her role as General Manager of RAW, decided to send both Kane and Daniel Bryan to anger management classes. Which produced some funny vignettes, and showed that both men had interesting comedic timing with each other.
The moment where the two of them let the poor other guy fall to the ground in the trust exercise still makes me chuckle, and its been repeated ad nauseum.
On the other hand, Kofi Kingston and his tag team championship partner of this year, R-Truth, were a bit stale as champions.
I think we know what this called for…
Cewsh: I agree. It’s obvious what we need.
Kane really is Teflon Isaac. 18 years Glen Jacobs has been in the WWF. He’s survived being the Fake Diesel and an evil dentist. He’s taken a short term Undertaker foe gimmick, and made it last 16 years. Things that’d murder anyone else’s career, he’s soldiered past. Katie Vick? Unmasking? Rug pulled out of a push yearly? A kayfabe career more schizophrenic than Norman Bates, one minute comedy, the next embracing the hate? Yet Kane keeps going. He even survived a three month feud with Shane McMahon. He even turned down at least one World title reign, and has put over every up and comer from Test to Drew McIntyre. And even then, it just takes one show to have him come across as a threat to the general audience once more. He’s completely bomb proof. He’s also been in many great matches over those years and has had one of his better runs in years since this whole Daniel Bryan thing started.
What I’m trying to say is, Kane has a bloody good argument at being included on any list of the most successful big men of all time, and we as an audience spend too much time focusing on what he isn’t (IE Undertaker class) and not enough time on what we’ve been able to enjoy, while we can. Kane is mostly awesome. And I feel pretty secure in saying that.
Bryan and Kane pretty much dominate the Non Air Boom, yet every time they get too much in control they miss-communicate and start fighting.
And before I know it, the match is over, and we have new tag champions.
PS – Am I the only one who thinks Kane and Bryan should get Steve Austin as their manager? Then they could be Team OH HELL NO!
Cewsh: That would be the first time that Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mama Benjamin would realistically have the same team name.
MichaelC: PPS – If you’d told me five years ago that in 2012 one of the most over men in the WWE would be Bryan Danielson, I’d have laughed in your face. Amazing.
Cewsh: I’m going to be honest with you here. I don’t think much of Team Hell No’s tag matches. It’s not that they’re bad, as such, and I’m fully enamored with their antics outside of the ring. But while they have phenomenal chemistry as characters, and even flash some in the ring, Kane and Daniel Bryan aren’t natural tag team wrestlers and it shows. So this match, like every match they have against anyone other than Rhodes Scholars, kind of falls flat and just makes you wish that they were doing a skit instead, (which is about the first time I’ve ever wanted THAT.)
Ultimately, they win the titles, as you’d expect, and Kofi Kingston and R-Truth slink off into the night until their next random push. Since they’re two of the 5 or 6 semi-over babyfaces on the entire roster, this doesn’t exactly hurt them any, though it’s a shame to see the end of Kofi’s run of great tag team wrestling over the past year. He improved by dramatic leaps and bounds during that span, and hopefully he can take advantage of that.
Now bring on the inevitable tag title feud against Harold and Dr. Shelby.
68 out of 100
MichaelC: Eve is backstage, tells Booker T that Kaitlyn can’t compete. Suddenly Eve winds up in the title match instead. Doesn’t sound fishy to me at all. What about you, Detective Cewsh?
Cewsh: Well Eve says it wasn’t her who attacked Kaitlyn, and is immediately awarded Kaitlyn’s title shot. I’m not sure what game Alicia Fox is playing here, but it sure is twisty.
Cewsh: The challenger for Antonio Cesaro’s United States Championship was determined in a battle royal prior to the beginning of the show. Zack Ryder beat out all kinds of incredible performers like the guy who wears a sock on his hand who isn’t even the person most famous for doing that, or member of failed tag team number 2. So now we get what will, in all likelihood, prove to be Zack Ryder’s final pay per view singles match. And to his credit, it really is pretty good. At this point it seems like Antonio Cesaro could have a good match with a dump truck, and deadlift it just as easily, and Ryder is capable of being pulled up to good things when he’s given a chance to work with the best.
Cesaro wins, which was never in doubt, and continues his storyline of being unbeatable against Americans in singles match, and his future is so obviously bright that even shades won’t do you much good. Maybe one day Zack Ryder will be able to look back on this match and say that he got to wrestle Cesaro on pay per view to impress his kids. Hopefully I’ll stop having his theme song stuck in my head by then.
75 out of 100
MichaelC: Cesaro does not suck. He comes out with Aksana who I had already forgotten all about. To be fair, her role was entirely unnecessary to the whole Antonio Cesaro character, and besides, there’s no such language as SWITZ, you Switz!!!
Hands up, who thinks Ryder is getting a second US title reign…ever?
Cesaro wins. Ryder goes on everyone’s 2013 WWE deadpools.
Cewsh: There’s an idea for Ryder. Just start dressing up and acting like Deadpool. It’s worth a try!
Fey: I don’t know how Cesaro didn’t just knock Zack Ryder completely out. Seriously. Cesaro is another person who consistently looks good . I’ve really been impressed with what I’ve seen of him.
Cewsh: I want that to be a sitcom immediately. IMMEDIATELY.
Anyway, Otunga and Del Rio are backstage yelling at Ricardo for one thing or another. It doesn’t really matter exactly what they were talking about. What matters is that having David Otunga around to be the legal version of the APA is my favorite thing in wrestling. And having the richest member of the roster hiring him is so logical that it blows my mind. Even if his advice isn’t overly helpful.
MichaelC: Up and comer takes on Orton. Gets RKO’d. Loses. Mr. and Mrs. Cewsh sigh lustfully at the screen at young Randy’s mastery of the mat.
Rinse and repeat.
Cewsh: Mmm, I wouldn’t mind seeing him rinse and repeat. Mmm…huh what where am I? OH. Right.
Oh right, yes. Match. Yes. It was good.
77 out of 100
Fey: Both these guys are great wrestlers but neither of them seem to be into this. I love seeing Orton just magically pull a drop kick out of thin air, though. There just seems to be something missing here, some little magic that makes it mean something. The crowd isn’t behind it either. Vicky, though, Vicky is effing into it. She’s out there screaming her head off. It’s really funny to watch her just start screaming – no words, just shrieking. Vicky really is what any heel manager should try to be like. She’s so great, she’s awful.
Cewsh: The story behind this match, as has been continued throughout the show, is that Eve has been trying hard to erase the “mean girl” image that she accrued while bossing everyone around as John Laurenitus’ assistant. And while most people have forgiven her and moved on, Layla has remained intensely skeptical. So when Kaitlyn, the woman who was supposed to get a title shot tonight, was mysteriously injured, people were suspicious of Eve. When Eve suddenly got Kaitlyn’s title shot, people were DAMN suspicious of Eve. And by the time Eve was in the ring against Layla and was bullying her around with jujitsu inspired matwork and holds, it was just too damn late to do anything about it.
One spinning neckbreaker later, and we have ourselves a new Divas champion. But was this her design all along or did she orchestrate the downfall of her rival Layla herself? By gawd, tune in tomorrow night on Raw!
As a match, this functions just fine, because it’s really only intended to get across that Eve is way more dangerous than we thought, and to put the title on the only woman in the company who can both work a match and cut a promo. It isn’t special, and the reign of Layla, (which never should have happened to begin with if we’re being reasonable,) ends with a wet “plop”, but it could be the springboard for bigger and brighter things for the division. Maybe. Possibly. Not.
68 out of 100
Fey: I’m really disappointed in the Diva’s division. I feel like if these girls were anywhere else, it wouldn’t fly, and if these girls were guys, it wouldn’t fly. Eve can be called decent at best, and Layla can be called competent at best. Neither can be called great, amazing, or even really good. And yet, they are the best of the Diva’s division? I feel really disappointed that this is what the division has been relegated to. We think of a match between two “decent” wrestlers as a pretty good women’s match. But why? Just because this is what WWE is giving us right now doesn’t mean we have to just accept that this is what women’s wrestling should be. Have you noticed that none of the women have last names? It’s almost as if they aren’t important enough to have them or for those names to be remembered. They don’t have characters, almost none of them get any kind of development, and they don’t even get to wrestle very often.
MichaelC: I like Layla. I do not like Eve. This match went rather badly for me.
Cewsh: Backstage, people are attempting to have a serious conversation when Kane ruins it. While that isn’t exactly a new concept for the Big Red Monster, the WAY he goes about ruining it…um…is.
If you say that this segment didn’t make you crack a smile, you are either dead inside or a robot, and if you’re a robot just forget I said anything because I’m not onto you at all and know nothing about the secret plans of our future machine overlords.
Cewsh: The feud between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio has to be one of the more disastrous WWE feuds in recent memory. It wasn’t that the matches were bad, they weren’t, or that the fans seemed disinterested, they didn’t, or even that the cheesy vignettes hurt Sheamus’ character, which they did but that’s beside the point. The worst thing about the Sheamus and Del Rio feud, from WWE’s point of view, is that it represents perhaps the last time that they can just float a storyline on for an unlimited period of time without experiencing a serious, serious backlash. See, it’s easy to understand why Sheamus feuded with Alberto Del Rio for nigh on 6 months. WWE wants to build Sheamus as a big star and wanted to feud him someone that he could knock around for while and look good doing it. Since Smackdown had about 1 main event heel at the time, it just made sense to keep the feud going until something new came along. But nothing did. And so here we are, with a match between two people WWE badly wants you to be invested in, which nobody on the planet gives a tenth of a shit about.
And that’s a shame, because in their entire 174 match series, this is the best match. They gel very well from start to finish, and Sheamus beats Del Rio in a way that is both satisfying and definitive, finally drawing this feud to a close. But how much greater would this match had been if the crowd hadn’t sat on their hands until the genuine skill of Sheamus had forced a reaction out of them kicking and screaming? How much better would this match had been if the angles leading up to it hadn’t made Ricardo the only sympathetic figure in the feud? And how much better would this match had been if they had held it in June instead of September? Unfortunately, we’ll never find out how good that match could be. I can only tell you how good this one was.
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
MichaelC: Good news – Sheamus is having a long reign as champion.
Bad news – He has faced Del Rio in every match since 1951. They have no chemistry whatsoever, and is precisely not what Sheamus needs at this point in time. Especially when in the ring with nearly everyone else this year, hes produced a barn stormer. Or at least, an entertaining show.
Fey: I love Sheamus. I do. He’s one of my favorites. But I’m so sick of this match up! They don’t work well together, they don’t look that good together. Del Rio isn’t that good at doing promos, especially not good enough to hold up half of a very long, very involved feud. And he just doesn’t hold up to Sheamus. He doesn’t concern Sheamus, and he doesn’t really threaten Sheamus. I love Sheamus just laughing and smirking as Del Rio threatens him, because that’s a great character for Sheamus to show, and different from a lot of the other personalities we see. Sheamus’ being playful and joking around is a welcome change from all the overly-serious wrestlers. But it doesn’t work when paired with Del Rio. He had a more compelling mini-feud with Otunga. Heck, Rodriguez is more moving of a character than Del Rio is. Del Rio just seems to fall flat to me. And he hasn’t grown any.
Cewsh: Now it comes down to the two biggest names of the current generation one on one for the championship. If you wanted to chronicle the feud between these two, there’s an almost endless amount of material to go with, from the obvious and excellent Batman vs. Superman analogy to the deep intertwining history between the two men ever since Cena knocked over Punk’s Diet Pepsi all those years ago. And while this is neither the finale of what will likely be a lifetime feud between these two men, or even the climax for that matter, this is another benchmark in the rivalry that will define this moment in the wrestling industry for decades to come. Wrestling history is always referred to it snapshots, little windows into eras that we use to define them. And while John Cena could lay claim to a number of such moments, (The Rock and Edge, for example,) it’s this rivalry, and the statement it made about the changing of the guard in professional wrestling, which will be meaningful long after both of these two have hung up their boots and called it a life.
With that said, coming into this match the feud between these two was probably at it’s least compelling. The story between the two wasn’t really going anywhere that we could see, and it seemed like both guys were just treading water in familiar territory until something new came along. That new thing was imminent, but this match would be the last before the age of Ryback began in earnest. So with a lame duck lead up, and not much incentive to make this something special, they easily could have mailed this one in and nobody would have blamed them.
But they didn’t.
Instead, these two delivered a match that built on their previous matches in a way that nobody could have expected, and completely stole the show. They went for it completely from start to finish, and by the time we got towards the finish the fans were damn near hoarse from going bananas. They countered each other again and again and again, showing how deeply each man had studied the other, knowing their nemesis’ strengths and weaknesses. Cena, having been foiled at every turn by Punk before, did everything he could to confuse the champion, busting out moves we had never seen from him before, and staying ahead of Punk every step of the way.
Punk, seeing that Cena had outgameplanned him coming into the match, fought back in kind, even going to a top rope moonsault the likes of which we haven’t seen from him since his indy spotmonkey days, (and which looked like he hadn’t practiced it since then, but we’ll give him a pass.) And at the end of this war of familiarity, John Cena pulled a rabbit out of his hat that we didn’t even know he had, German Suplexing Punk off of the top rope and bridging it for the 1…2…3.
Ah, but it’s not that simple. Cena, having gone to new lengths to win the match, was foiled by his own inexperience. In his enthusiasm to try something new, he didn’t know to lift his shoulders while bridging the suplex, and when the referee counted the pinfall, it was a pinfall dinner for two. And so the great John Cena, amidst the most frustrating year of his career since first becoming champion, failed once again to achieve the only goal he’s ever been interested in. Becoming World Champion. And our champion lives to fight another day, all the while knowing that the very fortune he denies is what saved him in the end.
Before watching this match, I had heard a parade of people trumpeting it as one that was shockingly good. I had my doubts, having seen the lazy nature of the build up. But put any doubts you may have to rest, ladies in gentlemen. This match is the real thing, and the feud that defines a generation continues on unchecked, to steal another show, another day.
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Fey: Punk is really enjoying his time in the heel spotlight. He does not pass up an opportunity to show boat and have it his way, as he lovingly kisses his belt. Cena, on the other hand, just whips his shirt off and is ready to go. I wonder if Cena practices taking his shirt off like that. Did he stand in front of a mirror and try to figure out what the most impressive method of removing his shirt would be?
Anyway, I appreciate the attempt from both men to bring in new stuff and elevate it. Cena jumping through the ropes out of the ring is pretty cool. Punk countering the five knuckle shuffle is cool. But seriously, Punk, that was one of the WORST moonsaults I’ve seen yet.
The Rock Bottom with the tongue was a good touch. So many AAs and G2Ss, though. I do, however, appreciate them trying to spice things up since this is such an over-done match up.
Of course, John Cena’s “reign of terror” in 2006-7 had quality title matches all over the shop, including two with The Great Khali of all people. (Hey, I’m a big Khali fan, but great matches are not his forte…) Yet people still shat all over Cena’s reign. Maybe the modern day fan can’t deal with long title runs? Maybe we’ve all been spoiled by the Attitude era, where a long title reign was considered to be about sixty days. Maybe we are all just old and snarky now?
It’s been a far better year for the WWE than many might have expected though. At least seven of their twelve PPVs (and I speak not knowing the TLC results) have improved their buy rates from 2011’s dreadful results. Not that you can lay much of that at the feet of Punk… it’s a team effort, shows with Mr. Cena still do better overall, and a Champion is nowt without his challengers. That said, research shows Punks merchandise is selling in waves, and PPVs with him front and center didn’t immediately buckle under the weight of expectation, both of which would be pleasing things.
Or to put it another way, people are into Punk v Cena or Ryback in exactly the same way they weren’t into Punk v Del Rio…
And even looking past that, keep in mind when a certain David Meltzer announces the initial buy rates for a show, he leaves out the international buys. In the days when they were 5% of the number, that was annoying but understandable. Nowadays, when at least 40% of the WWE audience is international, its damn right negligible. TV ratings are a fools game. Again, the international audience isn’t counted (and a damn few stay up to 4am just to watch weekly live RAW…) but neither is the Tivo crowd. The landscape of TV has entirely changed since the Neilsen battles of the 1990s between WCW and WWF, and to hum and haw over the making and breaking of superstars by that criteria is a fools game. Even the BBC, one of the most respected TV companies in the world, now rely on other data. Time wrestling fans did likewise.
So yeah, I’m fully in support of Mr Punks title reign. Artistically a success in the ring and on the mic more than not, financially a success also.
And it’s still fresh, a trick in itself.
Cewsh: It’s hard to come away from this show with any kind of negative impression of it, beyond a general boredom with the product. Essentially, Night of Champion offered us a fairly stale retread of storylines leading to matches that were better than they had any right to be almost across the board. As we finally begin to shake off the malaise of summertime booking and begin to look forward to the rapidly shifting sands of the winter WWE season, there’s a lot to be excited to see and even more to be excited to not see anymore, (seriously, if Sheamus and Del Rio are on my screen again I will turn on a Jersey Shore marathon to punish it for betraying me.) And while, admittedly, I’m writing this review several months into the future where things are pulsing with excitement and energy, I have to say that the ride to come was well worth the wait.
NOW BRING ON THE RYBACK.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you liked the first in a our 3 part installment of WWE catch up, leading up to the epic party that is the Royal Rumble. Next up on the slate we’ll be leapfrogging Hell in a Cell, (which we already reviewed and which you can find HERE,) and jumping straight on to WWE Survivor Series 2012. A night where the entire WWE roster gathers to watch a full season of Survivor, and the last man or woman standing is the World Champion. As gimmicks go, we could do a whole lot worse. So until then, remember to keep reading and be good to one other!