Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that think that Wrestlemania is insensitive to maniacs and should be changed to Wrestlefunforthewholefamily, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight, as we roll out that proverbial red carpet, put on our finest evening wear, (tuxedo t shirt worn over a velvet bathrobe,) and get ready to review the most prestigious wrestling event in all the world, WWE Wrestlemania! Now, it’s been a long road to the show of shows this year, with about as much controversy leading up to it as I can ever remember seeing before. From Daniel Bryan’s terrible injury, shocking return, and subsequent lack of push, to the phoenix like rise of Roman Reigns against the will of many fans, to a Wrestlemania headliner who barely appears on more WWE shows than I do.
It’s been a tumultuous Road to Wrestlemania, made even stranger by a build that even Vince McMahon acknowledged was thrown together at the last minute compared to shows in the past. So just what kind of show can we really expect from all this chaos? I don’t have the slightest idea, but what I can tell you is that I will not be alone in this review. Now you may be expecting our regular contributors like Artie, Psycho, MichaelC, maybe even the returns of Cewsh Reviews Hall of Famers Vice and Mrs. Cewsh. Those would all be great, but we’re going much bigger this year. Oh yes, you see, we listen to our fans. We’ve seen all your requests for your favorite guest reviewers and we tabulated it up. And so tonight, we’re bringing back the three most requested guest reviewers and Cewsh Reviews history!
So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!
Cewsh: Here we are, baby. Wrestlemania! The grandaddy of ’em all! The pinnacle of the wrestling and wrestling reviewing year. And for such a momentus occasion I have been keeping track all year of your requests for the return of guest reviewers across all our social media platforms. At last, it’s all been tallied up, and we can get down to business. Alright then, computer. Show me who you guys have been yearning to see make a return to reviewing shows after a few months off. Is it the elusive Defrost? Is it the vanishing Kyle 242? Hell, it could even be Vice! Let’s see who you guys picked.
There aren’t words.
Well hell, if that’s what you want, then that’s what you’re going to get. Strap in, because…
AJ Styles:…we’re about to get wilder than a bucket of bait in a biscuit factory! Hi there! I’m AJ Styles, and i’m a wrestler just like these here folk we’re fixin’ to watch. Heck, i’m the “I Wrestle Pretty Good.” Champion over in that Japanese place where you can’t get gravy no matter what you do. I’m just dang excited to be back the the good ol’ US of A to watch this show and to meet Robocop ’cause he’s tougher than a roadkill burger at noon on a Wednesday. How ya doin’ there, Roby?
AJ Styles: Aww! But you’re all shiny and neat like a fancy belt! We can all give each other nicknames and be best friends! Let’s start over. Hiya, Roby! How are ya?
Cewsh: Don’t feel bad, AJ. Anne’s a nice nickname and that’s nicer than he’s ever been to me. And with that said, it’s time to get past these shenanigans and on to the actual show!
Cewsh: The feud that led into this match, if that’s what you want to call it, has to be one of the most nonsensical in recent memory. To make a long story short, at some point in March the writers were so desperate to give all of these guys something to do that they opened a wormhole to an alternate universe where R-Truth still has a job, and all you need to do in order to get a title shot is physically touch the belt itself. Seriously, everyone in this match is in it either because a) they stole the Intercontinental Championship or b) R-Truth stole it, and then gave it to them because he’s a nice guy. And while I would personally love a WWE where title shots are assigned to everyone by R-Truth based on who he randomly bumps into in the hallway, it definitely caused a lot of angst from fans about how Ambrose and Bryan, in particular, were being wasted.
But enough about the story. Let’s get to the match! Which, like all modern day ladder matches, was more of a creative thought experiment in imaginative wrestling moves than it was a match.
As always, this was enormously entertaining and popped the crowd big time to kick off the show, but more and more ladder matches are starting to lose their luster. Having any during the year outside of Money in the Bank really risks exhausting people who demand crazier and crazier shit every time out, and that’s how you get Jeff Hardy. Let’s not make any more Jeff Hardy’s, okay?
AJ Styles: My favorite restaurant is Hardees!
Cewsh: I’m sure it is, AJ. I’m sure it is.
80 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Blah, blah, blah, feud, feud, feud, Authority, Authority, Authority, etc. You don’t want to hear me recap the way that WWE took a storyline that nobody cared about, (dissension within the Authority,) made everyone care in a huge way, (Orton’s return,) and then promptly made people not care again, (everything after that.) I mean, I could probably commit several pages to the mishandling of Randy Orton’s characters throughout his whole career, much less just for this one feud. But no, that’s not why you’re here. Let’s get to why you’re here.
HOLY TAP DANCING PANDA DICKS! That move is so inescapably cool and impressive that if you can watch that gif through just one time and be satisfied then you are clearly pumping something other than blood through your veins, (and the robot hunters will be with you shortly.) Despite otherwise having a pretty mediocre match, this one move was the highlight of the show to that point and would have been the thing that people remember most from this show…if this were a normal show.
As it turns out, it wouldn’t even be the most giffable move done by a former OVW talent with more than 10 World Titles to his name.
AJ Styles: Ooh, ooh! A guessin’ game! Well let’s see here, it’s gotta be some fella who wrestled in Oreo Violin Westerns…
Cewsh: Ohio Valley Wrestling.
AJ Styles: Right, right. And he’s got to have won 10 fancy belts.
Cewsh: That’s right. At LEAST 10.
AJ Styles: And OVW was only a WWE developmental territory between the years of 2000 and 2008, and all told roughly 96 wrestlers left OVW to join a mainstream national roster after spending time there…
Cewsh: Um, wow. Actually that’s true and very insightful AJ, but I think you’re making it harder than it needs to be. Also, where did your accent go?
AJ Styles: So if we remove everyone who never joined the main WWE roster, and of course, remove women from consideration as there has never been a woman world champion in any major promotion, and then subtract out anyone who wasn’t on WWE’s roster during a period where there were at least 19 title changes altogether, since he would have had to lose it 9 times at least, and then we divide by a coefficient representing the likelihood of still being active at the time when this show airs, we get our answer!
AJ Styles: Was it me?
Cewsh: What? No, of course it wasn’t you. You never wrestled there!
AJ Styles: Oh right. I give up.
Cewsh: I hate you so much right now.
Anyway, this match is exactly the kind of solid, well wrestled filler that makes for the best Wrestlemanias. It keeps things hot, provides a backbone of great wrestling to build the rest of the show on, and finishes with a memorable bang. Like pretty much everything that Seth Rollins is doing lately, there’s really nothing to complain about here at all.
AJ Styles: OOH! I know, Cewshy! Was it Big Daddy Yum Yum?
Cewsh: MOVING ON.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: It may have been the most persistently speculated on roster move in wrestling history. Sting to WWE. The franchise of both WCW and TNA coming to the only mainstream promotion he had never worked for to go up against legends he had never stood toe to toe with. People asked for it, people begged for it, people cockily predicted it on their blogs, only to close them in shame as yet another year went by when Sting re-signed with TNA and started the whole wretched process over again. As we passed the decade mark on the rumor, most people started to gradually give up on the idea. Sting was too old, it seemed like he never wanted to leave TNA, and there were even more rumors that WWE never wanted him to begin with. So imagine all of our surprise when TNA started their nosedive into obscurity, Sting became a free agent, and in no time at all the dream of Sting in WWE became a mind blowing reality.
Now, it’s impossible to talk about Sting in WWE without mentioning the elephant in the room. Sting is wrestling a match at Wrestlemania and it is not against the Undertaker. It would be frankly disingenuous to discuss the Sting/WWE speculation without mentioning that it was so much about Sting/WWE as it was Sting/Undertaker. That match became one of those things that just seems to fit into people’s heads and can’t be pried out with a crowbar, (like a New Nation of Domination, or a new Crusierweight division.) It would have made for a horrible match with both men in the shape that they are, but there are some people who will never be happy that this match took place instead of that one. These people have a right to their opinion, and I respect how loyally they have held onto that dream for all these years.
But those people are dumb as hell, and this match is awesome.
Let’s see, where should we start with this outrageous tribute to spectacle? Well golly gee, I imagine a good starting point would be where TRIPLE H SHOWS UP AS A GODDAMN CYBORG.
How fucking cool is that? They even had Arnold Schwarzenegger up on screen to endorse him before he marches down to the ring like the king of all badasses. This is pretty fucking…
Cewsh: Wait, what? No, it’s okay, Robo. He’s just wearing a costume as a tie in with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Terminator movie…hold on, who are you calling right now? What did you mean by “backup”? I don’t think i’m ready for this.
Cewsh: Oh no no no no no, this is not happening.I am not having an underage shirtless cyborg party in my living room right now. Robo, you are not allowed to invite anyone else to this review.
Cewsh: Dude, what did I JUST say? Megaman isn’t even a cyborg, he’s a full robot! Dr. Wiley isn’t here, Megaman, and you are definitely not programmed to review wrestling shows. Now, Robo, just send your friends home and we can…
Cewsh: WHAT?! WHY ARE YOU HERE?
Cewsh: THAT DOESN’T EVEN COUNT. ALL OF YOU GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE. YOU TOO ROBOCOP, THIS IS EVEN WORSE THAN LAST TIME. YOU ARE THE WORST REVIEWER OF ALL TIME.
AJ Styles:That’s true, ya’ll.
Cewsh: YOU’RE BANNED TOO. EVERYONE IS BANNED.
AJ Styles: Aww, but I was gonna knit you a sweater so we could be fuzzy pals.
Cewsh: BANNED! I’m going it alone from this point on for the sake of my sanity.
ANYWAY, let’s get back to the match. Now, the concern coming into this was that this whole thing would be a big stinking pile of poo, because Triple H was going to have to be the spry, athletic one, and matches where that is the case do not work out well. But what we never considered when we were all discussing this match beforehand is that WWE might just say “fuck it” and pull a lever marked “fan service”. WWE reached down into our collective nostalgia, and for the course of one match they just jammed on all of the buttons, resulting in a surreal collection of moments that are monumental in significance and way off the charts on the cool meter. Let’s take a tour through them, shall we?
This is a picture of the last two legends of the Attitude Era that are still standing. Sure you could include the Undertaker, but he has become a creature that only exists one night a year like Santa Claus, or anyone your mother introduces to you as your “new father.” These men don’t just represent that era, but indeed, they have been the avatars of two generations of mainstream promotion battles. They have never met in a wrestling ring, and their careers share practically nothing in common except for the simple fact that, more than anyone from their time, they were the generals of two armies at war. People took issue with how WWE shaped this feud as WWE vs. WCW, but truthfully I find it hard to see it any other way. They are the Men Who Stayed. When their peers on top evaporated around them, and the company had no one else to lean on, and they had to change drastically to stay relevant, they stayed and did those very things. And now they’re here.
This picture is of the NWO, the most significant stable in wrestling history. The NWO had a long and complicated history with Sting, as it was Sting who was the first man to stand against the tsunami of destruction brought by these three men and those that they corrupted and beat them back. But while all 3 of these men had truly memorable WWE runs, as a unit they also represent WCW in a strange way, even though they sought to unmake it. And despite the fact that 2/3rds of this team is comprised of Triple H’s best friends in the world, the NWO walks down to this ring to support Sting. Things just got interesting.
This is a picture of D-Generation X running to the support of Triple H. Originally formed in the wake of Shawn Michaels’ retirement, DX was a force that was constructed, (arguably unbeknownst to them,) to form as a protective shield around Triple H as he rapidly ascended to the main event. They will always be thought of as babyfaces, just as the NWO will always be thought of as heels, but tonight they’re charging to Triple H’s defense.
This is a picture of D-Generation X standing across the ring from the NWO. If you think people had talked about Sting/Undertaker for a long time, that’s nothing compared to the endless hours of time people have spent talking about this exact match up over the past 20 years. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the single best thing about professional wrestling in my eyes. This picture represents 20 years worth of constantly evolving storytelling. To someone familiar with these characters, this could evoke everything from Triple H’s beginnings in WCW, to the fact the X-Pac is the only man to be a member of both of these stables, to the aforementioned historic friendships between Triple H, Hall, Nash and X-Pac, to the way that babyface/heel alignments are completely thrown to the wayside in favor of actual bonds, forged on television in real life, that fans believe in far more than they would in any sort of transparent booking.
This is nostalgia brought to life. Something that I truly thought we’d never see. And we aint done yet.
This is a picture of Shawn Michaels, one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time, superkicking the babyface in this match to help his best friend win. This is what i’m talking about. Doing this sort of thing in literally any other context would be a flagrant violation of Shawn Michaels as a character. But not only is the friendship between Michaels and Triple H so deftly ingrained in our psyche that we understand his motivations immediately, but we’ve seen his loyalty so much through the years that it’s hard to even boo him for doing this.
This is a picture of Triple H staring in disbelief at his broken sledgehammer. Road Dogg seems pretty upset about it. The sledgehammer has been Triple H’s weapon of doom for his entire reign as a main eventer. A force he has used to cripple spines, break open scalps and win countless matches that he never should have. It’s as powerful a symbol as exists in wrestling today. And Sting broke it over his knee like a toy. It’s a small moment in this match that many won’t even remember, but Triple H spent 15 years getting the sledgehammer over for a moment like this where he can make Sting look like an unstoppable badass in no selling it. That’s good heel work, that is.
And finally, this is a picture of Triple H shaking hands with Sting after beating him. A gesture that makes no fucking sense and makes Sting look like a chump in every conceivable way.
Ah well, nostalgia always has an expiration date.
90 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
AJ Styles: Wait a minute, there. AJ? Am I in this match?
Cewsh: NO YOU ARE NOT IN THIS MATCH GO HOME.
Ahem. But even though AJ Styles isn’t in this match, let’s take a look at who is for a moment. Two of the people here have been carrying this division on their backs for over a year now, and have grown so much in that time that they have to be among the premier female talents on the main roster right now. Their matches have been consistently high quality, their feuds have generated more than cursory interest from a fanbase who usually doesn’t give Divas the time of day, and they have really shown that they may be the cream of the crop for this generation of Divas.
The other two are AJ and Paige.
This match is a great illustration of what a difference a year can make. Here, the Bella Twins go in hard with AJ and Paige, and together the four of them deliver what may well be the best women’s wrestling match in Wrestlemania history, (this is not a high bar to set.) It’s crisp, it’s fast paced, and the crowd gets into it to a surprising degree, especially since all four of these people have turned heel and face so often over the past 6 months, that I doubt the people in attendance were even sure of who they were supposed to be cheering.
Still, the Bellas continued their frankly astonishing rise to credibility, AJ Lee gets one last moment in the sun before riding off into the sunset, and Paige gets some exposure which will hopefully help her undo the massive botch job they have done with her thus far. Not bad for a filler match.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: There is no fucking way you would have believed me if I had told you before this show started that this might very well be the show stealing match of the night. No way whatsoever would you have even given that ludicrous statement the time of day. But then again, that was in the time we will henceforth refer to as PT. Pre-Tank.
For so many reasons, this may be one of the greatest entrances in WWE history. From the enormous flag celebration led by Lana…
…to Rusev riding a tank into the arena like it’s a metal murder dragon and he’s the king of storms, this was one of those star making moments that happens all too seldom in wrestling. When you couple it with John Cena’s entrance, which was an eye rolly video about America, and i’m amazed that we all didn’t just defect on the spot.
But those are just the entrances. Nobody is worried about how John Cena and Rusev will do OUTSIDE the ring. But considering the fact that their previous matches didn’t do much to impress people, you would be forgiven for expecting more of the same here. But hoo boy you would be wrong, wrong, wrong.
This match is a terrific display of just what John Cena can be in the right situation. He plays this match perfectly, selling heavily for Rusev and staying on the ground more often than not. When John Cena sells a monster beating, he sells it through agony, and especially through his movements which get more and more labored as he drags himself to his feet again and again. Obviously he’s John Cena, so he never stops getting up, but as Rusev lays into him here, Cena does a fantastic job of selling the idea that beating Rusev is a nearly hopeless endeavor, despite the fact that this is JOHN FUCKING CENA and we know he’s going to win. That’s good babyfacing.
Rusev is no slouch either in his star making performance, as he tears Cena apart so thoroughly that he forces Cena to reach into his fabled bag of tricks. You know the one. The one where he keeps his bizarre hurracanranas and powerbombs, and that sick Kenta Kobashi top rope leg drop. Well this time he reaches back and comes up with a doozy.
I have watched a lot of wrestling in a lot of groups with a lot of people. I have never seen a move get a reaction on the level that this one did. People were yelling, falling out of their seats, laughing hysterically and jumping up and down. Of all the moves in the entire fucking world, not one person alive would have guessed that this is the one that Cena had up his sleeve, and that’s exactly why it works.
I saw a quote by Steve Austin recently about this move, and how Austin thought it was great but had no value because he didn’t use it as a finish. I hate finisher porn as much as anyone, but John Cena is a special case, as he has evolved this interesting sub gimmick over the years of surprising tough opponents with things they couldn’t possibly have prepared for. Numerous times, he has gotten back into matches simply because he hit a move that was purely unscoutable. He’s like a knuckleball pitcher in baseball. Even if you know it’s coming, you don’t know what it’s going to look like when it gets there, and that has given him a great tool to use against all of these hot young challengers. This is John Cena’s wily veteran strategy, and you don’t need me to tell you how well it works for him.
In the end, of course, John Cena wins this match. It’s Wrestlemania. That’s what happens at Wrestlemania. But even if I focused heavily on Cena in my review, just know that what I left this match with more than anything was a hugely increased opinion of Rusev’s star potential. The months since this show have not been kind to him, and it’s a mystery where he goes from here, but few wrestlers ever shine this brightly, even for one night. He has it in him.
90 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Oh for fuck’s sake. Just take my money already,
Cewsh: One year ago, something happened that changed the wrestling world. It wasn’t Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top, however meaningful that may have been, and it wasn’t CM Punk’s shocking departure and all that came from it. On the night that Brock Lesnar pinned the Undertaker in the center of the ring at Wrestlemania, the last remaining pillar of kayfabe fell. The only rope that connected us back to the days when it was so much easier to suspend disbelief was cut, and in the hours and days after it happened you could see wrestling fans around the world reeling in shock. Many were angry, and lashed out at the decision, and others just felt empty and wrote long, sad blog posts about the Undertaker’s legacy. But wherever you stood on the Streak finally coming to an end, the important thing is that it touched every single wrestling fan in some way. It may be the last time in wrestling history that a storyline carries the kind of momentous weight that the Streak did on a yearly basis, and now that it is gone The Undertaker, Wrestlemania and even WWE feels untethered from the world we knew. There will always be 3 timelines of WWE. Pre Streak. Streak. Post Streak. Welcome to the new world.
Of course, the ending of the Streak has always been thought to represent the end of the Undertaker. Those that believed that the Streak would eventually end always assumed that it would coincide with the end of the man’s unparalleled career. So imagine my surprise when a monster in a fedora crept out of the midcard bayou he’s be trapped in for too long and called him out. For weeks, Bray Wyatt cajoled, threatened, pleaded and demanded to meet an unnamed opponent who could not have more obviously been the Undertaker if Wyatt had an Undertaker hand puppet and been talking to it the whole time. And as Wrestlemania drew nearer, he got his wish. The Undertaker announced his return, Wyatt grinned in anticipation, and all a giant black cloud of doubt settled over everything.
Let’s lay all the cards on the table, alright? The Undertaker looked like shit in his match with Brock Lesnar. It wasn’t just that he had the concussion and wasn’t able to wrestle. It was just that the man himself had finally begun to look frail and sad. He didn’t seem to have the strength and dexterity he once was so known for, and the talk for months afterwards was all about how it didn’t even seem like he had another match left in him. When this match was announced it just brought all of those doubt back into focus. Is the Undertaker even physically able to have a match? Will he look like a particularly gothy skeleton again? How the hell is Bray Wyatt going to help him have a watchable match? These questions didn’t have any obvious answers, and I don’t know if there was a single person watching who didn’t share them on some level.
And then the gong hit.
It’s been said plenty of times, but the simple fact is that if this match had taken place in the dark instead of during sundown, it probably gains about 5 points just for how much that would have added to the atmosphere of the whole thing. WWE did everything they could to wait, and short of making this the main event of Wrestlemania, there really weren’t any options left to them. But all of that is pretty secondary to the fact that Taker walked out into that arena looking 5 years younger and 10 years more spry. And while that wasn’t enough to get rid of all of my cynicism right off the bat, once the bell ring, it melted away almost immediately.
This match may well feature the best sell job of the Undertaker’s career. Not only does he taken an absolute beating from Bray Wyatt, but he deliberately sells us our own fears about his old age. As the match wears on, he’s is obviously having more trouble than in years past keeping up with the younger Wyatt, and needs more time to recover.
He makes us conscious of his age and perceived fragility with every bump he takes and, more importantly, every bump that he gives. Even though Wyatt would normally never even be a feasible option to beat the Undertaker, they present us with a way to make us believe that that may actually happen, so that when the near falls come, we care.
Ultimately, the Undertaker wins. And while it doesn’t heal the wounds that the death of the Streak left in many, it does still help. Some people are going to find this slow, plodding, or even downright bad, but this is a very good match that isn’t getting anything close to the credit it deserves. Whether we’ll see another great Taker performance or not remains to be seen, but this match was all it took to take a definite “no” and turn it into a “maybe.” Frankly, all I care about in the end is that Taker get to retire on his feet. If tonight is any indication, there aren’t any doubts left to have.
86 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Well I could tell you how much I loved this match, the ending, “Suplex City”, Roman Reign’s being John Cena 2.0 and Brock Lesnar’s version of strong style, but I think you’ve read enough of my endless ranting for one day. I have officially run out of positive adjectives and am faced with one of my highest rated Wrestlemania main events in recent memory. It was everything I wanted it to be, and far exceeded my wildest hopes. It was pretty rad, you guys. What can I say?
So let’s bring it home with a gif that sums up my exact thoughts at the end of this match. Take it away, Seth.
95 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: This show was good. Bafflingly good. Astoundingly good. You know what, i’ll go ahead and say it. On a segment by segment basis, this was the best Wrestlemania of all time. Literally nothing happened during this entire show that was not fully, and completely enjoyable. Every match had some kind of twist to it that made it feel much fresher than I expected, every backstage segment was short and meaningful, and statistically this is going down in history as the highest score for any show that we’ve ever reviewed.
If this is what Wrestlemania is like when they don’t plan for anything, then fuck it. Let chaos rule, baby. Because this was as much fun as I have ever had watching WWE.
Alright, that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed our Wrestlemania review that was so stuffed full of wacky gimmicks that it officially marks the moment where we enter the 90s WWE era of Cewsh Reviews. Coming up on the horizon we have all kinds of wacky projects and fun, but until then remember to keep reading and be good to one another!