Cewsh Reviews: WWE Summerslam 2015

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Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that will be enjoyed by your grandchildren by the time we get another review out, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you today as we take a step back to document one of the most interesting cards in recent memory, WWE Summerslam 2015. For this one night in the middle of the annual Summerslog, WWE decided to go all out and put on a mid year Wrestlemania style card. Brock/Taker, Rollins/Cena, Wyatts/Shield. The whole gang is here, and on paper what we’re looking at might just be the kind of party that you actually want to show up to, rather than the kind your mom forces you to go to because your parents work together and the kid isn’t popular because he’s way too into My Little Pony and you tell your mom that it can’t be a party if it’s just the two of you in the basement with pony dolls, but your mom isn’t listening because she’s already on her 4th mint julep and…

Ahem. What i’m trying to say is, without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!

 

INTRODUCTION FEVER!

Cewsh: Well, well, well. Here we are again. Cewsh Reviews a WWE show. Gosh, it’s been such a long time, guys. I haven’t covered any of the goings on in WWE since Wrestlemania. I’d better take a moment to go over what happened over those 4 months. Let’s see, John Cena became the best wrestler in the world, The Undertaker returned, and WWE started pushing the hell out of women’s wrestling? Blah, blah, blah, that’s all pretty by the book. Bobby Lashley still doesn’t work here so I’ll see you guys in another few month…

OH ALRIGHT. WWE has actually been a hotbed of goings on coming into this show. We have John Cena and Seth Rollins creating a feud involving the US title actually seeming of similar footing to the WWE title, which is something I never thought could be accomplished in a decade, much less one summer. Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker are suiting up for World War 3, Stardust actually has a feud and it’s with the first celebrity since Lawrence Taylor who actually seems capable of doing something in a wrestling ring, The Shield bros are slumming it with the Wyatt Family, New Day is New Daying it up, and all of it is revolving slowly around a very simple question. Do we care? Do we care enough about WWE to resume our intense review scrutiny of their shows? Are we ready to start giving a crap again and break down this parade of wacky nonsense like only we can?

Well don’t look too excited about it. Sheesh.

The Law: This show is such a microcosm of the current WWE product.

On one level, it’s a smashing success. They easily sold out the Barclay’s Center. Not just once, but three nights in a row for NXT, Summerslam, and Raw. We won’t know the business numbers (network subscriptions, pay-per-view buys) for several months but I’d venture to say they’ll be hefty. WWE is going to make millions of dollars this weekend, and that’s what it’s all about.

But there are so many underlying problems: The show is built around a match between two guys who only wrestle a few times a year, which makes every other show look like filler in comparison. The show is four hours long, fitting with their current mentality of “More content is always better.” The sub-main event is John Cena wrestling a midcarder, which is something we’ve gotten used to…except in this case the midcarder is the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins.

Really, if you had fallen into a coma the night of Wrestlemania and woken up tonight for this show, what would you have missed? Nothing too big. And yet, I’m excited for this show. Most of the matches have been built well. Undertaker vs. Lesnar and Cena vs. Rollins are both legitimately intriguing and unpredictable. Cesaro and Owens have a chance to steal the show, and I’m pumped to see what the women can do in their match.

 

Jon Stewart Is A Very Scared Party Host

Cewsh: We kick things off with our host for this evening, Jon Stewart of Daily Show fame, hyping up the crowd a bit. It’s always bizarre to see a celebrity show up for a wrestling show and actually a) appear to know something about the show they are on and b) have genuine enthusiasm for being on it. There are probably 10 celebrities in history who ticked both of those boxes, and Stewart is undoubtedly one of them. He’s also a lot of fun to watch, so when he starts to call out Brock Lesnar with a fake tough guy routine it actually got the rarest of delights in wrestling from me: a laugh unaccompanied by a facepalm.

Stewart says that he’s going to call out Brock later on in the night, and then announces that he brought some backup to protect him…

And Just For A Moment The World Held It’s Breath, Waiting To Hear The Name Bobby Lashley.

…bringing out Mick Foley to some big ol’ cheers from his hometown crowd. The two then do a bit about how Brock Lesnar will break both of their spines with the effort it takes a normal person to break a wishbone and Foley abandons Stewart to his inevitable fate later on in the night. Because Mick Foley is not your friend, no matter how much he looks like Santa.

As far as host segments go, this is one of my favorites in recent times and a great start to the show. They’ve really gone all out to make this feel like a major event and it shows. Off to a good start!

 

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus

Cewsh: Oh look, it’s the feud that absolutely everyone was asking for.

The problem with this feud, for me at least, is that these guys are both genuinely great performers. They’ve each had countless fantastic matches and will go on to have countless more, but they’re only fun to watch when they’re up against someone who can breathe life into things to compensate for the fact that both of these two have characters about as dynamic and edgy as a PB and J sandwich with the crust cut off. So when they wrestle each other, (again and again and AGAIN,) it only exarcebates the issue by rubbing our noses in it. It’s bad times for everyone.

But, having said that, this match was actually pretty fun. Sheamus is doing a really good job of making this version of himself feel different from his years as the Pale Piss Break, and Orton has really developed a fascination with unique counters to everything that make his matches unpredictable. And fuck, when Sheamus actually won clean with a nasty pair of Brogue Kicks, I was so taken aback that I skipped ahead to see who was running out to make the save.

FWOOSH FWOP FABOOM

Over the past three years, here is a list of people who have beaten Randy Orton clean on PPV: John Cena, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan. That’s it, that’s the whole list. So if there was ever any doubt that they really are running with Sheamus, let them end now. This dude will be WWE champion before 2016. Dare I say bank on it?

78 out of 100

The Law: These guys have been feuding for months now and until two weeks ago there was no story at all to it. At least Sheamus costing Orton the title and Orton stopping Sheamus’s cash-in gave them a reason to fight. But this match is indicative of WWE’s problems right now: two stale guys fighting for a really long time for no particular reason, just because they need to fill out a spot on the card. And it’s remarkable these guys are stale when they both recently came back from injuries and changed their face/heel alignments.

My complaints all fall on the creative team rather than the performers, because these guys are both pretty outstanding. Especially in the ring. Sheamus in particular is among the most underrated wrestlers in the world. He doesn’t make anyone’s top 10 list, but he never has a bad match and manages to consistently engage the crowd in his matches despite boring storylines.

This crowd was fully ready to shit all over this match, but Sheamus and Orton managed to win them over. Special praise to one of the best RKO OUT OF NOWHEREs in recent memory, as I genuinely didn’t expect this one.

This Is Just Filthy.

Heel winning the opener was strange, but I won’t complain about Sheamus being made to look strong. There’s a strong chance he’s going to be world champion in the near future, so they should be preparing him for that.

These guys can really wrestle. They just need a storyline people can actually get engaged in.

Rating: ***. Strong opening match. Keeping this crowd from hijacking was a real accomplishment.

Sheamus Over Randy Orton Following The Brogue Kick.

 

WWE Tag Team Championships – The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day vs. El Matadores vs. The Lucha Dragons

Cewsh: I realize that it’s been awhile since I did one of these review thingies, and therefore I haven’t gotten a chance yet to publicly jump aboard the New Day bandwagon, but right off the top I think it’s necessary that I declare my allegiance to them for now and forever. The way that this team has transformed 3 directionless, bland nothings into an entertainment super group is nothing short of bewildering. Kofi Kingston has found himself as a shade throwing snark ninja, Big E has adopted one of the most cheerfully bizarre characters i’ve ever seen as an intensely goofy murder machine, and Xavier Woods has come into his own as the loud mouth crazy person that we have sorely lacked in wrestling since Larry Sweeney passed. In fact, let’s dwell on Xavier for a moment, because some of the things he said during this match need special attention. Here are my top 3 Xavier Woods quotes from this match:

3. WE EAT BACON AND EGGS AND TOAST BECAUSE WE NEED A GOOD BREAKFAST.
2. NEW DAY ROCKS! ROCKS! LIKE A BAG OF ROCKS, PEOPLE.
1. BIG E’S GOT THE MARKET CORNERED ON TRICEP MEAT. YOU CAN’T EVEN GET A HAMBURGER.

Together, they have breathed life into this division to such an extent that every single team in it has suddenly become relevant. The sheer fact that El Matadores perform to anything other than silence is a testament to the runaway fun train of New Day.

Well, At Least WE’RE Having The Fun.

But it isn’t just them that makes this match tick. Kalisto is killing it as a tiny ball of hot tag excitement, the Prime Time Players, and especially Titus, have come into their own so well and are more over than I ever believed they could be, and El Matadores is the glue that holds the whole thing together. It’s been a long time since I could muster more than passing enthusiasm for any tag team wrestling in WWE, but as long as the New Day is around and has these solid teams to work with, I don’t see how it can suck.

83 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

The Law: I have no idea what WWE was thinking taking the belts off New Day. That’s my only real thought coming into this match.

Come on, we all know partners aren’t allowed to pin each other in WWE. That’s the Outlaw Rule, changed after Road Dogg and Billy Gunn pinned each other in a match in 1998. Doesn’t anyone care about the rules of professional wrestling anymore?

My big takeaway from this match is that New Day is just head and shoulders above everyone else in this division right now. PTPers are a solid face team, but the show is thoroughly stolen by New Day every time they’re on screen. They’re the best tag team WWE has had since the golden years of Edge & Christian, The Hardyz, and The Dudleyz.

NEW DAY WINS!

May This Gif Live On Forever In Our Hearts.

And thankfully they actually acknowledge the dubiousness of Kofi being the legal man.

Rating: **¼. Fun spotfest. It would have been better if we had just had a few months of Darren and Titus chasing New Day, but absent that this was the best way to go.

New Day Over Everyone Else Following Shenanigans.

 

Rusev w/ Summer Rae vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Lana

The Law: I’ve spent a lot of time complaining about this feud. I think it’s doing a disservice to everyone involved, but I’ve got to admit Rusev and Lana are really doing as well as they possibly could. Dolph and Lana have zero chemistry and their interactions are super awkward. Summer Rae is dead wood, but Rusev has managed to show a lot of depth and acting ability in this feud. Still, comparing where he was after he beat Cena at Fast Lane to where he is now shows that WWE’s booking team has missed an opportunity. After Fast Lane if you had told me Rusev would be in the main event of Summerslam I would have believed you. Instead, he’s in the third match on the card. He was higher on the card last year.

This match was fine, but I think it demonstrates a big part of why Dolph hasn’t made it as a top star in WWE. This is a super heated feud. It’s personal, they should be trying to kill each other. But did Dolph really act any differently than he always does? It seemed like the exact same schtick as always to me.

Double count out at Summerslam? Not buying it. Just have Rusev win because of Summer’s interference.

Rating: **¼. Nothing wrong with it technically, but it lacked the emotion I was expecting.

Cewsh: Lana wore this:

I know that there’s more that I should talk about, but how can I talk about wrestling feuds when Lana is wearing that. It’s like everything that was bad about the 90s threw up on her all at once, and she’s so goddamn gorgeous that she’s pulling it off. SHE’S FUCKING PULLING OFF THE DENIMPOCALYPSE. There should be museums dedicated to this moment in fashion history.

Oh, and the match was pretty good. Not great, not bad. Pretty good. The only really noteworthy thing about it is the finish, which certainly looked like it was botched and that Ziggler was supposed to get back into the ring in time to beat the count. If that is the case then he flopped a few too many times on the way back in and threw the thing off, which caused the super awkward brawl between he and Rusev after the match which seemed full of, “Oh shit, punch me to cover this.” Luckily, the ladies took over from there and the crowd genuinely went nuts the second Lana entered the ring. Whether the ending was planned or not, they made it work for themselves in the end.

Unfortunately there is no sign that this feud is ending anytime soon. I don’t have the slightest idea of what they think they can still do with it from here since Lana can’t wrestle and Rusev can’t actually lose until the end. I’m not looking forward to finding out the answer. This feud feels like a waste of everyone involved.

75 out of 100

Match Ended In A Double Count Out.

 

Neville and Stephen Amell vs. Stardust and King Barrett

Cewsh: I just…I just really hate this, you guys. It’s not that Amell was bad, on the contrary, he was easily the most physically prepared actor ever to enter a WWE ring. It’s not that the performers didn’t try their best. It’s just that everything about this is a big ball of buts. The contraction kind, not the kind you’re sitting on, though that too. What I mean is that everything about this feud causes me to have to say the word “but”. Example: I really loved Cody Rhodes commitment to Stardust and that he’s being given free reign with the character, BUT I have no idea what Stardust is meant to be as a character other than weird. You can’t just stick an Adam West Batman villains into the middle of modern day Raw and expect it to mesh well, because it just really doesn’t. Another example: Wade Barrett is a truly gifted talent, BUT he is now wearing two different gimmicks that suit him about as well as a small condom fits a hippo dick. Like said hippo dick, Barrett’s talent is bursting at the seems, dying to get out, and if it doesn’t then some shriveling up and sadness is bound to take place.

But, while i’m saying but, here’s another but. The hate everything about this match, including the show Green Arrow, the use of everyone in it, having a celebrity look like an even match for actual wrestlers, the abrupt way that it ended, and the treatment of Neville as someone without a personality of his own, BUT as a 10 minute entertainment experience, it really wasn’t bad at all. If you don’t bring my baggage to it, i’ll bet you’ll enjoy yourself. But for me, this was a bummer.

Oh, and can we just get rid of the fucking King of the Ring already? Winning this thing is career poison at this point.

65 out of 100

The Law: I should hate this feud. I don’t like the Stardust character. I think creative has turned Wade Barrett into a complete joke the last few months. And my I tend to dislike any storyline that’s not super gritty and realistic.

But this feud has been too much fun to dislike. Stardust has finally found a persona that works as he’s morphed from just being a weirdo into being a comic book villain. I love the comic book recaps. And Stephen Amell’s run-in was one of the better celebrity wrestling appearances in recent memory. This feud has been different, and different is the most rare and precious commodity of all in wrestling in 2015.

I thought this went as well as it possibly could have. Amell wrestled better than any celebrity since probably Kevin Greene back in WCW. He took bumps, was athletic, never looked out of place. They didn’t do anything fancy here, just built up to the hot tag and the Red Arrow. Perfect addition to the card.

Rating: **. It’s hard to imagine this being better than it was. Props to everyone involved.

Neville and Stephen Amell Over Stardust and King Barrett Following The Red Arrow.

 

WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ryback (c) vs. The Miz vs. The Big Show

The Law: Feed more more indeed. I’m going to get a sandwich.

Cewsh: Oh man, that sounds good. I’ll grab one too. Let me drop plunk down a score real quick.

68 out of 100

Cewsh: Yeah, that sounds about right.

The Law: I don’t have a hot take here. This match wasn’t terrible, it was just filler. None of these guys has much of any momentum and this feud has gone on a lot longer than it has any right to. They tried some different stuff here with Miz’s constant pin attempts and Ryback and Show breaking out some high flying moves, but ultimately it didn’t really work.

Rating: *. I actually like Ryback. He needs some better opponents.

Ryback Did Some Stuff.

 

Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

Cewsh: A few months ago, Roman Reign’s career seemed tied to a rocket headed for the stratosphere. He won the Royal Rumble, he went toe to toe with Brock Lesnar and may well have beaten the invincible beast if not for the interference of his old foe Seth Rollins. He had the entire wrestling industry in his grasp, and then summer came and it all faded away in front of his eyes. He started to become a bit of an afterthought, and up until Money in the Bank, he really didn’t have much direction or purpose. But when the kingmaker ladder match arrived and he earned a place in it, everyone and their mother was certain that this would be his chance to go for it again. Hell, I was screaming my prediction of Reigns vs. Rollins vs. Lesnar at Summerslam from the rooftops. The match finally came, and in the end he came just one rung from another shot at the top. One rung from redemption, from a new purpose. One rung from the spotlight. And then a funny thing happened.

Bray Wyatt came out of nowhere to cost Roman Reigns the match. His actions were baffling, and his reasoning hardly less so.

Behind the war cry of “Anyone But You” Bray Wyatt declared war on Roman Reigns. He brought Reigns’ daughter into things, he blindsided and mocked him at every opportunity, and in the first actual match he raised the stakes even higher by introducing a secret weapon. The prodigal son, Luke Harper. Roman, smarting from the bitter loss, turned to the only established friend that he has, and may well ever have in kayfabe terms, Dean Ambrose. Together, they’ll head into battle with a reunited Wyatt Family and put “Anyone But You” to the test.

The Law: This match really should be a bigger deal than it is. Reigns, Ambrose, and Wyatt are all up-and-coming superstars, probably future world champions. These four have a ton of history with each other and this match is a semi-rematch of the epic Wyatt Family vs. Shield matches from early last year. But this match build has been flat, because it’s another case of “why are these guys feuding?” In this case, they’ve actually lampshaded it a bit by having Ambrose openly say he doesn’t know why they’re fighting each other. That’s lazy booking, and it’s a chronic problem with Wyatt’s feuds.

I was expecting a lot more out of this match than we got. Started out with promise as they fought all around ringside, into the crowd. Then settled into a standard tag match…and Roman took the hot tag and pinned Bray. In a four hour show this seemed shockingly short. This obviously isn’t the end of this feud, but it probably should be. Someday WWE will figure out something that works for these guys.

Rating: *½. That’s it?

Cewsh: I can’t help but agree with my compatriot here. I was expecting the world from this match, especially in light of how those Shield vs. Wyatt feuds set the world on fire each and every time a few years ago. This was a fun match certainly, and they accomplished the most important thing which was to make Roman Reigns look like a cool destroyer for the first time in ages. But the whole thing just felt kind of incomplete.

76 out of 100

Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose Over Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper Following The Spear.

 

WWE Heavyweight Championship and WWE United States Championship – Seth Rollins (c) vs. John Cena (c)

Cewsh: It’s shocking to me that this match is being glossed over to the extent that it is, because in a lot of ways it represents one of the most significant storylines wrestling today. Not the specific confrontation between Seth Rollins and John Cena, which seems to be based as much around an errant knee lift and a broken nose than anything else, but around John Cena himself. Think about it. John Cena is the biggest name in pro wrestling and has been for a decade. He has accomplished everything, faced nearly everyone, and has reached the point in his career where he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This has happened with every major star of course, but this is one of the first times in wrestling history that the biggest star in the industry has been entirely open about his mortality as a dominant figure. Every John Cena feud for the past 5 years centers around the central idea of “Who is going to replace John Cena?”

Of course, nobody has. For reasons too numerous to count, every time someone new has come along and had the opportunity to take that step up to his levels, fate, circumstance or outright sabotogue have prevented them from doing so, even as Cena himself has worked tirelessly to cement someone, ANYONE, in that role. Punk, Bryan, Orton, Batista, Ryback, Ziggler, etc. Cena put them over relentlessly to no net gain for himself when they all eventually fizzled out or left entirely. And now once again he sits alone on top of WWE as the only attraction in the world’s biggest circus.

That’s what makes the past few months so interesting. Rather than have him hold the WWE title yet again until they could build a worthwhile challenger, they instead gave him the US title and asked him to make it something that people could care about. Within 6 months (!) that’s exactly what he did. In the meantime, Seth Rollins got the cocky heel push of a lifetime, completely devouring screen time, feuding with Brock Lesnar, appearing on the Daily Show, and accelerating into that “new potential star” role like he was born for it. That WWE would inevitably bring these two together to give the John Cena Makes A Superstar Experience another go round was inevitable. The only surprising thing is that, with so much at stake and with time starting to run thin on Cena’s full time career, they aren’t treating it like a bigger deal.

The Law: A tale of two title reigns: John Cena’s U.S. Title run is the best thing WWE has done in years. Meanwhile, Seth’s title reign is probably the worst since Jack Swagger. No blight on Seth there, it’s 100% on creative. He’s been surrounded by deadweight (Kane, Big Show, J&J). He’s been henpecked by Stephanie and Triple and stuck with the ridiculously stale Authority storyline. They’re going for Ric Flair circa 1985, but coming up closer to Chris Jericho circa 2002.

And here he comes out dressed like Mordecai. Can’t take him seriously looking like that.

If Sheamus Wore This He Would Effectively Become Invisible.

Quickly becomes clear that Rollins is working 100% babyface. Rollins beats Cena all over the ring, breaking out all the high-flying moves he smartly doesn’t use most of the time. Cena barely gets any offense in, and when he does it’s the AA, which Rollins has no problem kicking out of. We get a peak of why Rollins is going to be a great babyface champion, because he’s absolutely dynamite in the ring when he lets it all out. He’s like a technically sound version of Jeff Hardy who’s also strong enough to Powerbomb guys.

This match also shows us that John Cena would be a great heel if he ever turned. He just naturally gets the crowd to hate him without really trying, and then throws in great little touches like breaking out the Figure Four.

They’re having a great match, and then Jon Stewart runs in. I love Jon Stewart, but having him run-in during this match was a bonehead decision. They were in the process of making Rollins a great champ, and then they sacrifice that credibility at the altar of a goofy celebrity run-in. There were 100 other ways to get the headline of “Jon Stewart hits someone with a chair” besides having him decide the outcome of a world title match on a major show.

“Jon Stewart Hits Someone With A Chair. As It Took Place Outside Of A Wrestling Ring, He Is Arrested For Assault.”

Rating: ***¾. Still tremendous, but knocked down a good bit by the ending.

Cewsh: I need to be clear about a few things. First, I have no issue with Jon Stewart’s involvement. Of course it’s a weirdly unathletic celebrity getting involved in a major title match but this is one of those things that will never bother me because it’s so deeply entrenched in the wrestling experience. Run ins are as ubiquitous as suplexes, and when a heel champion needs to retain against an opponent that is currently out of his league, shenanigans will ensue. I thought they pulled it off well and it was a great marketing move. So no issues there. Second, John Cena is the best wrestler in North America right now. I don’t want to hear any arguments, he just is. No shut up, just accept it already.

Third, and this is going to be the real sticking point I think, I didn’t like this match. Cena was fantastic, and Rollins was unquestionably exciting, but there was something about this match that bothered me that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time. It took me a few days but I finally figured it out: this was a Ring of Honor match.

I think John Cena’s biggest strength may be his ability to adapt his style of match to whoever he is facing. Cena’s offense tends to go the same way, but whenever the other guy is on offense, it can look wildly different from match to match. If you look at other top guys throughout history, that really wasn’t the case, with guys like Hogan, Flair, Hart etc forcing opponents to work within their framework each time. When you put the right opponent in, (CM Punk, Edge, Kevin Owens,) you get something magical that you’ve never seen before. But sometimes it might be better for Cena to reign the other guy in. Not because the other guy isn’t unbelievably talented, because Rollins is, but because sometimes that style just isn’t the right fit for the match. Here, Seth Rollins, who is the heel, goes completely over the top with high flying moves, dramatic babyface style resilience, and a never say die attitude. No matter what happens to him, he just keeps popping up and launching into some fancy new spot or other. And they’re cool spots! Holy shit are they ever cool!

But ultimately they detract from the match. You can’t just stack up cool moves next to each other, no sell everything and call it a match. That’s the ROH way, and i’ve been worrying about it infecting WWE ever since the influx of indy talent started coming in. In the moment it’s a ton of fun, but this match is a great example of what happens when it goes wrong. Plenty of style, light of substance.

78 out of 100

Seth Rollins Over John Cena Following Shenanigans.

 

Team B.A.D. vs. Team PCB vs. Team Bella

Cewsh: As the Diva Revolution became a reality this year, I got a lot of messages from people who wanted to know what I thought of it, as the resident women’s wrestling fan or whatever. And while i’m normally not one to hesitate when given the chance to pretend to be an expert on something, this question is one that has me conflicted. On one hand women’s wrestling is being taken more seriously as a source of revenue and as something that can hold down a segment on tv than it ever has in WWE history. But at the same time, for all of the promotion and all of the air time and all of the work put into making this seem like a real thing to care about, I’m just not sure that it IS a thing to care about. When you seperate what this push means to women’s wrestling from what the push actually is, what you get is a hot kick start followed by a lot of milling around when the writers said, “Oh shit, we created a trios feud between women. What the shit do we do with this?”

This match is emblematic of that problem. There is so much talent here, and it explodes in delightful flashes again and again. You like these women, you want to cheer these women, you want to pay money to see them do what they do in the best way they can. But what this match reveals, even though it’s really fun, is that this division will never get to where it needs to go. It’ll be fun until the well dries up and then it’ll be THE REBIRTH OF THE CRUSIERWEIGHTS or some such thing. This isn’t a true women’s revolution. It’s the flavor of the month, and the days are running out.

76 out of 100

The Law: Divas Revolution. Boy, I don’t know. Sure, they’re getting two matches on Raw each week instead of one and the matches aren’t three minutes anymore. But they’re still in the bathroom break spot here, the Bellas are still dominating, and I think this match is a mistake. Too many people to be a real showcase. 24 hours after Sasha and Bayley stole the show at Takeover, she’s one of nine women in this match. It’s another match with no stakes, and another case of Summerslam not being the climax of a storyline like it should be.

This match went about as well as the storyline as a whole has so far: somewhere between failure and success. Wasn’t a bad match, though they failed to feature Sasha in any meaningful way. The heat segment went a bit long and the crowd was pretty sleepy. Regardless, right team won, nothing went hugely wrong. The women live to fight another day.

Rating: **. It was fine. Still waiting for the breakout match for this division.

Team PCB Over Everyone Else Following Shenanigans.

 

Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro

The Law: Battle of The Millennials. Brass Ring on a Pole Match. Two guys the internet loves, but who don’t seem to quite have the office’s full support. Here, they’re in the second to last match. I thought they’d be in the opener. Not sure if this was because they wanted to give Owens as much time as possible to recover after that Ladder Match the night before. Probably played a part.

There’s nothing in particular on the line in the storylines, but the stakes are so clear in the meta sense: they’re fighting to prove they belong in the main event. And we’re all rooting for them.

So it turns out to be a solid match, but not a homerun. No career-making performance for either guy, but they didn’t embarrass themselves either. Owens getting the win makes sense to me after he’d had so many consecutive big losses (two to Cena, two to Balor). Cesaro’s picking up momentum despite not having many wins of significance, so he can wait for his moment. Don’t have any problem with seeing more from these two.

Rating: ***. Good work, but they’re definitely capable of more. Gutsy performance for Owens only 24 hours after a rough Ladder match.

Cewsh: This match was good. You knew it would be good, I knew it would be good and it was good. Good.

75 out of 100

Kevin Owens Over Cesaro Following The Pop Up Powerbomb.

 

Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. The Undertaker

The Law: I can’t really explain what “big fight feel” means, but I know it when I see it, and this is it. Two legends with an intense personal issue and a broad history. Coming together to settle it. The build was fantastic. Less was definitely more, the limited schedules and creative limitations of both men paying off to keep them from being overexposed. That one brawl segment the night after Battleground was all they needed. Fights like this are why I love professional wrestling.

It was the best of professional wrestling, it was the worst of professional wrestling. It was amazing beyond belief, and it was utterly fucked. Brock Lesnar and Undertaker fought in a classic. They beat the hell out of each other, they woke up a crowd that had been sleepy for the previous two matches. Taker was in fine form, moving better than he had in the previous ten years. This was on its way to five stars.

And then came the fuckery.

There was a good idea somewhere in here. But I think the execution was horrible. Sure, Charles Robinson couldn’t see Undertaker tap. He wasn’t in position because he was counting Lesnar’s shoulders down. But there’s no precedent for a timekeeper ringing the bell without the signal from the referee (or a crooked authority figure). Add to that Lesnar and Taker weren’t positioned in a way that the timekeeper could have seen Taker tap out. And that no one in the crowd or on TV had any idea what was going on. It was just too cute for its own good.

I know they’re setting up Wrestlemania. But do you really set up Wrestlemania with screwiness? The promise is “this time we’ll give you a real finish.” Should I believe you? People paid hundred and even thousands of dollars for those tickets. They paid for a real finish. Not that bullshit. The crowd was just sort of sitting after the match.

Here’s my biggest problem: Brock Lesnar gives WWE credibility. His matches get covered on “Sportscenter.” Now his last three matches have been a Money in the Bank cash-in, a run-in by Undertaker, and this clusterfuckery. If you’re going to be legit, be legit. Give us a real winner and a loser. It would have been great if Brock had tapped out Undertaker with the Kimura. It would have been great if Brock had passed out in the Gogoplata while flipping Taker off. Doing both was a mess.

Rating: ****. I don’t know. I loved it up until the finish.

Cewsh: What he said.

NOW LET’S GET TO THE GIF!

AGAIN!

AGAIN!

AGAIN!

FOREVER!

This was a good match. That may not seem like high praise, but considering the fact that more than a few of us, (myself included,) were sure that the Undertaker was pretty much done altogether, this was a welcome reminder that he doesn’t have to be if he doesn’t want to be. These two went to battle and juuuuust about managed to use every shred of the respect and fear that the Undertaker has built up over the past 25 years to make this look believably competitive. Lesnar kept suplexing, Taker kept fighting back, and it made for the kind of match that comes around once in a great while.

You can’t just construct characters like these. Building these two men to this point took years of painstaking booking and seeing them fight here just brings home how important both of these characters are to WWE. These may be the two best monster characters in wrestling history and soon they’ll be gone. So even if the match ends with an anticlimactic kick to the balls in order to protect everyone, and even if Taker doesn’t quite have it in him to give Brock the match he deserves, this will still never not be appointment viewing. It could have been better, but fuck it, it hit the spot. It was the wrestling equivalent of macaroni and cheese.

86 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

The Undertaker Over Brock Lesnar Following Shenanigans.

 
 

————————————————————

 
 

Cewsh’s Conclusions:

Cewsh: This show is so goddamn mediocre that if we could crush it up and condense it into a beverage it would taste like RC Cola. Every match that had potential to be great got dragged down by something external, every spectacle that had a shot of really taking things to a new level got grounded, and with all the fucking talent on this card from top to bottom, i’m struggle to point at anyone and say that they stood out. There were no bad matches, I liked Jon Stewart, and the ending was controversial in a somewhat satisfying way. But for a show that was being hyped up as a second Wrestlemania, this thing just never came together.

Cewsh’s Final Score: 76 out of 100

 

The Law’s Legal Advice:

The Law: It’s another in a series of WWE pay-per-views where I come away with a bad taste in my mouth. I think this show would have been awesome with clear winners in the top two matches, but they had to protect everyone involved to insane lengths. So instead it feels like nothing was accomplished or settled and we just have to roll things over for another month.

So where’s the draw coming out of this? Taker and Brock are both probably gone for awhile, and they’re certainly not locking up against until Wrestlemania. Do we care why Jon Stewart attacked John Cena? They didn’t really do much of anything to set-up their next pay-per-view, but simultaneously they didn’t really blow anything off. Worst of both worlds there.

The Law’s Final Score: B-. Strong action in the ring, bad booking decisions abound.

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