Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that are too much swag for any one man to handle, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we return to WWE to cover the night when all the titles are on the line, (even if they shouldn’t be,) WWE Night of Champions 2013. Now, this show is an interesting one in the course of WWE history, because it comes on the heels of the game changing mega show that was Summerslam, where Daniel Bryan took the torch from John Cena and Triple H promptly snuffed it out. This is where Daniel Bryan gets his rematch, and the past four weeks of build across the entirety of WWE tv has been among the best in recent memory. But despite television being great and a huge feud cooking nicely, there aren’t actually a lot of matches on this show that are built up in any meaningful way. In fact, you could charitably say that four matches here have any meaningful back story at all. So what about the other four? And will Daniel Bryan be able to recover the championship? In fact, will anyone be able to strike a blow against Triple H’s empire? Well, there’s only one way to find out.
Cewsh: Let’s say that you were a wrestling fan in the Attitude Era who stopped watching around the time that Evolution was running things in WWE, (as many people did.) Much like the smarks of that day, you were enraged at the whole show becoming all about Triple H and his endless promos about nothing. Maybe you’ve moved on from wrestling, gotten married, had kids, and settled into a life of peaceful contentment, far removed from the angry ball of rage you turned into every time Triple H would pick up a microphone. Over the years various friends tried to convince you that things had changed, but you knew in your heart that it was impossible. Triple H had ruined wrestling, and you would never trust WWE again. Simple as that.
One day, some 10 years later, your kid comes home from school and says that he wants to watch this wrestling stuff he heard about on the playground, and you see that there’s going to be a PPV this weekend. In a pleasant haze of nostalgia and parental satisfaction, you order it and gather your family around to revisit what was once such a passion for you. As the opening video plays, showing many new faces and a few familiar ones, your excitement builds. You wonder why you ever left the comforting embrace of sports entertainment. Then the lights come up, the show begins, and the show begins with a Triple H promo.
It is said that you then ripped off all of your clothes and ran off into the forest to begin a new life as a wolf man who called himself “THE MANE”. Some might call this reaction extreme.
Artie: Man, this PPV starts off like RAW circa 2003, with Triple H coming out to talk for what feels like 3 days. He does that weird “cool heel” thing that he loves, where he drops little jokes and catch-phrases, despite the fact that the crowd is supposed to absolutely revile him. The Paulrus interrupts him and Triple H goes into straight up babyface mode with Heyman, despite the fact that Triple H IS HEEL.
I hate this “cool heel” crap, but I am glad that Triple H shoved Curtis Axel into a title match. I was really wondering why the IC title wasn’t on the line tonight.
Cewsh: It’s worth mentioning that if you ask many people about this show in the years to come, they are likely to refer to it as, “That show Curtis Axel was all over.” And they would be right, as this is the second of FOUR segments that he is prominently featured in across the course of the show, including the semi main event.
And while I don’t think as little of Axel as many do, (including my compatriot Artie here,) it’s just wayyyyyyyyyyy too much. Hell, two segments is too much. The fact of the matter is that Curtis Axel is not a compelling wrestling character, isn’t in any way charismatic, and wrestles the same match against everyone he gets in the ring with. It’s a pretty good match, so it’s hardly worth complaining about, but there’s nothing SPECIAL about it or about him. He’s like a failed lab experiment that is just sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to notice and dispose of it. God help him if he ever loses the buffer of Paul Heyman.
Meanwhile, we also have Kofi Kingston. Kofi has been performing silent, thankless miracles in the midcard of WWE shows for over 5 years now, and seems to be destined to continue to carry that boulder for the remainder of his career. And while this positioning has seen him be underated time and time again, the fact is that he may be the most valuable babyface in the company after John Cena. He’s a terrific company guy, he’s a burst of excitement and energy on every show, kids love him, his matches are universally good, and he never seems to complain. This match makes for a great example, because Kofi Kingston does everything he can to make it work, while Axel tries his best to be Tully Blachard. The result is a fine match that doesn’t embarrass anyone, but so easily could have. And if you don’t believe that Kofi Kingston is what makes all the difference, just mentally insert R-Truth and tell me how excited the crowd is. Or Zack Ryder. ESPECIALLY Zack Ryder.
65 out of 100
Artie: Ha, as soon as Triple H said Axel was defending the IC title, I said that it had to be Kofi and BAM, right on cue: out comes Kofi “Midkard” Kingston. Kofi and Curtis have just about zero chemistry together and the match is just oddly paced. Now, we’ve seen Kofi bust out good matches with some absolutely deplorable wrestlers, so i’m placing the blame solely on Curtis Axel’s shoulders. Axel seems to get the basic mechanics of wrestling, but he has no clue how to actually string things together and let a match a breathe. I don’t mean to shit on this so hard, as there were some genuinely good moments in this match, but after 15 minutes of talking opened the show, we needed something hot to get the crowd’s attention and this was NOT it.
The most baffling part here is Axel winning clean. This was a great time to take the belt off Axel as he would (kayfabe) be mentally unprepared to defend his title, especially with his Punk match later tonight. Axel is a shit IC champion and the title feels STUCK on him, as WWE is trying so desperately to convince that he is not shit. Bleh, shitty way to open the show.
Cewsh: This…this is not what you want to see.
Obviously, this feud is borne out of WWE’s desire to push both their successful Diva star, (AJ Lee,) and the stars of their successful tv spin off, (Total Divas.) And while that makes perfect sense, and you wont hear me talking shit about that for one single second, this match is exactly what you would be afraid it might be. It’s a nonsensical, botchy mess that is almost perfectly designed to embarrass anyone who might have been interested in the match or its competitors. Only AJ comes out of this wholy unharmed, thanks mostly to the fact that she was barely in the match to begin with.
And while Naomi and Brie Bella fluctuated between enjoyable and a hot mess of porridge, it’s Natalya that earns the largest share of the blame. Both for her enormously ill advised double Sharpshooter spot and for her wrestling, which has not improved appreciably since her days in Shimmer.
This was everything I try to convince people that women’s wrestling isn’t. It isn’t unwatchable, it isn’t painful, and it isn’t even unpleasant. It’s just fucking frustrating.
50 out of 100
Artie: Oh dear god, what a train-wreck. SUCH a hot feud, SUCH a cold match. The crowd did not care about anyone not named AJ and it killed the atmosphere. It also would have helped if they didn’t have Brie Danielson run the match for a solid 2 minutes when she’s the absolute worst wrestler of the bunch. The booking was ALL over the place too, with Brie and Naomi both laying there, SHOULDERS PINNED TO THE MAT, as Nattie just stares up into the lights before looking in a stupid looking double sharpshooter.
AJ saves the finish with her beautiful finisher, but it was too little too late.
F for Fucking mess.
Cewsh: There are two kinds of interesting title matches. There are the matches where you don’t know who is going to win, and there are matches where the outcome is obvious but the people involved make for a compelling match up regardless. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that this match isn’t in the first batch, as your grandmother is more likely to become a World Champion in WWE than Rob Van Dam is these days.
But while the outcome may not be in doubt, I came into this match excited because Del Rio has been on a roll this year with PPV matches that nobody, not even Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, can match, and Rob Van Dam has obviously been brought back to life since returning to WWE. It’s an unorthodox match that we’ve never seen before, and you’d be surprised how few matches like that there really are left on the WWE roster.
Luckily for us, this match wasn’t just exciting in theory, it was the best match of the entire night. It wasn’t a grand spectacle or a legendary contest, it was simply a tremendously well done match that drew the crowd in effortlessly and stole the show. Van Dam seemed a decade younger as he flew and sold all over the ring, and Del Rio continued to thrive as perhaps the perfect heel midcard champion, drawing heat from every action and once again having a match in the center of the show that redeems everything around it. Except maybe the fact that Michael Cole has no idea what Rob Van Dam’s moves are called, because IT’S THE VAN TERMINATOR YOU SLUGDICK. IT’S NOT A NEW INVENTION.
I’m sure these two guys won’t be able to continue at this pace forever, but this match came when they were both at their absolute best and it showed.
85 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Artie: Thank Mexican Jesus for ADR. Seriously, I am so grateful to have a guy like ADR on the roster, who i know will just go out there and tear the house down. After an hour or boring, lagging, dragging, and crappy segments matches, I breathed a genuine sigh of relief seeing ADR and RVD.
The match starts off slow, but hot as we’re in RVD’s home state and Del Rio can make eating breakfast seem like it was built to in a blood feud. RVD hits all his usual spots, as does ADR, but the pacing and the structure of match work very well to build up and tell a good little story. Absolutely fun match and the finish with ADR getting DQed left it all open for a rematch next month. Love the Van-terminator at the end there, even if it does baffle me, as I thought the WWE was chairshot-to-the-dome free. Oh well, it all served a purpose as both of these guys got to show off their stuff and get heat in the end.
A for awesomest thing of the night (so far)
Cewsh: We go backstage and are treated once again to the combfront good looks of Curtis Axel, as he paces cheerfully back and forth, jubilant after his earlier title defense. Paul Heyman, for his part, is anything but cheerful, and he tries to drive home to Axel exactly how important it is that Axel beat CM Punk tonight. Because if he doesn’t, then Punk will get his hands on Heyman, and that’s not the best case scenario for a portly 50 something who has been goading his enemy on for two months.
Axel then asks if Heyman believes in him, at which point Heyman hesitates because IT’S CURTIS FUCKING AXEL. For context, they are about to face a man who was inches away from beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania, was a screwjob away from beating Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, who has been the most difficult opponent that John Cena has ever faced, and who was the longest reigning WWE champion of the modern era. Whereas the biggest win on Curtis Axel’s resume came when he beat hair loss after heavy interference from the Rogaine Mafia. On paper, this is such a preposterous mis match that Paul Heyman has to have some kind of backup plan…
Artie: More blahblah from these two. Way too much talking and promo stuff on this when there’s so many matches to get through. Get to the damn titles matches!
Artie: THIS IS THE NOT THE MATCH I WAS TALKING ABOUT, WWE. Why is this on the show? Why? WHY is this on NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS?
Cewsh: It is one of the greatest triumphs of skill and tenacity in wrestling history that The Miz has gotten anyone to cheer him at all. I don’t mean that as an insult to him, because indeed, I think he may be the most underrated wrestler walking the planet today. But while some people are born to be babyfaces, (like say, Ricky Steamboat,) and some people are born to be heels, (like say, CM Punk,) The Miz is such a born heel that you might believe that he was genetically designed to be booed.
He came from reality tv, he cheated his way into the WWE title, he openly desires fame and acknowledgement and he has one of the most punchable faces this side of Kevin Federline.
Heel is in the man’s DNA. So watching him heroically attempt to pull off this face run and managing to have some limited success with it just further reinforces my high opinion of the man. He’s not boring, he’s not untalented, he’s miscast. Horribly, horribly miscast.
Here we have a match where the Miz is tasked with playing the babyface against a heatless Fandango in a feud built on a dance contest. And all the while all I can think about is how much better a fit he’d be as a suited fame whore who was the undeserving chosen one of management, holding a title he hadn’t earned against a man he’s feuded with for years. And while I’m sure several of you would hate that idea and are throwing rotten fruit at your screen after reading it, that, at least, would be a role he is suited for. After watching he and Fandango try their best to turn this meaningless hobble gobble into something watchable, all I can do is hope that someone else eventually realizes it.
68 out of 100
Artie: This match wasn’t bad, per say, I just don’t get why it’s here. We have so many matches to get to and so much to get through and we’ve already had 1 match added to the card, why is this here? This feud isn’t exactly setting the world on fire and these two could have just done this on RAW. The crowd didn’t care and neither did I.
D for da fuq is this doing here?
Artie: Oh thank God, my main event is up and the crowd is too. While no one is exactly wetting their pants over seeing Curtis Axel wrestle again, as soon as Punk pokes his plucky face out there, the crowd absolutely erupts and reminds you that they are, in fact, actually watching the show.
The match starts with a kendo stick duel. As soon as Punk gets Axel down, he suicide dives right onto the fat man and tips JBL’s hat because he can. After Punk finishes fucking around BLAHxel takes control of the match and does a whole lotta nothing for a bit. At some point in there, a table gets set up in the corner. I’m sure it won’t come into play at any point in this contest. There’s a point where Punk goes for a suicide dive and Axel hits him with the absolute worst looking chair shot ever.
After a bit more back and forth, Punk locks in the vice and rids of us Curtis Axel from this match. With a sneaky grin on his face, Punk shows us that he’s ready for some god damn action.
After whipping Heyman like a government mule with a kendo stick, he pulls a pair of handcuffs from nowhere and gets down to some serious walrus-whipping. As we all salivate over this Heyman-beatdown, THE BIG GUY RYBACK, runs in and smashes Punk through a table. After tossing Heyman over Punk for the 1-2-3, Ryback carries Paul Heyman into the sunset.
B- match. Punk carried Axel through it, but he & Heyman had enough chemistry to make this one just a little special.
Cewsh: I am already sick to god damn death of this feud. I like Punk, and I like Paul Heyman, but there are some serious, serious problems with this storyline that are only getting worse as time goes on. Now, obviously, when Paul Heyman betrayed CM Punk, leading to the match with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, things were great. The direction of the feud was clear, the end result was incredible and while Punk didn’t win, he still proved himself to be an incredible threat to anyone and got his hands on Heyman. Everyone was happy and the world was good.
Now we have what is essentially the exact same set up, except with Curtis Axel arbitrarily inserted into Lesnar’s place. That’s like having sex with Salma Hayek and having her turn into Steve Buscemi halfway through. It’s unsettling, disappointing, and it raises all sorts of questions about what is going on around here.
The match sees Punk attempt to wrestle Axel in a way that puts Axel over as a threat. It doesn’t work, because Axel is not a threat and everyone knows it, and nothing in this match does anything to disprove that. Eventually Punk just takes over and starts gunning for Heyman, which is helpful, because there’s still a real spark between those two that keeps this interesting despite itself. Even so though, the whole thing is pretty dreary until Ryback shows up out of nowhere to take Punk on an unscheduled trip to wood city, (wait, that’s not how I meant that to come out.)
And now we have Ryback inserted into this prolonged story, literally taking on Lesnar’s role. But hey, at least he looks the part.
This was not good. I had praised Curtis Axel here and there over the last few months as they used him in smart ways to avoid overexposure, but they full on jumped the shark here tonight. After four cometfucking segments of Curtis Axel’s face, I’m about ready to see Triple H pack him into a crate and ship it on back to NXT, never to be seen again. Let this match stand as the gravestone for his push.
60 out of 100
Cewsh: It was fine.
70 out of 100
Artie: Very, very fun back and forth match. Usually the crowd dies after a big match, but throwing these two out there was a great idea as they’re both hugely over and it kept the crowd breathing. Ambrose works on keeping this match at his slow, meticulous pace, but Ziggler fights back to turn it up and keeps the crowd invested. Some great uses of big spots like the fameasser and X-factor by Dolph, while Ambrose bumps and sells almost as well his adversary. the match comes to a head with a failed corner splash quickly turned into Ambrose’s finisher.
All around great little match, couldn’t have asked for more. Except for them to give Ambrose’s finish a damn name.
B+ for good breather between main events.
Cewsh: Now, we haven’t gotten the chance to address this since it happened, but you may have heard that Darren Young came out of the closet. I think all of us who aren’t belligerent fuckwaffles agree that this is pretty great, but while I am hugely excited to see that barrier broken down, you don’t come here to hear my sociopolitical analysis or my thoughts on gay equality in the unorthodox athletic environment, (check my Twitter for that.)
Instead, i’ll point to what this revelation, and the subsequent media coverage that it received, has meant to Darren Young’s career. In the short term, at the very least, it has gotten the Prime Time Players over enough with the crowd to take them from the bowels of Superstars all the way to a main event pay per view title match against the most dominant heel tag team in a generation. WWE seems loathe to push them further than that, s perhaps this is the peak that Darren Young’s career will ever see. But it’s still heartwarming to see him getting such a positive reaction, and for PTP to get this opportunity to show their stuff on a PPV stage.
The match itself was pretty by the numbers, and was very much a buffer between main events, much like the Ambrose/Ziggler match before it. But it didn’t need to be more. It was a good match, with a good reason for existing. Which is a very good thing indeed.
72 out of 100
Artie: Another fun, back-and-forth breather between our two main events. Shield worked like a strategic unit while the PTP got their first chance to showcase their babyface tag team capabilities on PPV. Not a bad match at all, just very much forced onto the card because of the PPV’s name. I would have preferred that they stuck the tag title match on the pre-show or something.
Daniel Bryan wants the WWE Championship. Ever since he was a boy lifting his first weight, his path was focused on one day becoming the very best wrestler who had ever lived. And over the years that have passed since he first got started he has made incredible strides towards that goal. He has stolen shows and earned titles in every corner of the wrestling world that could put up a ring to host him in. And while all of that talent, all of that pure skill, wasn’t enough to propel him to the top in WWE when he started, he persevered, finding first his voice as a character, then his audience as a babyface, and finally his goal as the WWE Champion. He is the man that John Cena passed his torch to. He is the People’s Champion. He is the future.
Randy Orton has the WWE Championship. Born into the wrestling business, Orton grew up directionless, falling into and out of the military due to immaturity and a lack of understanding of what he wanted from life. He fell into wrestling next, and with hardly an effort displayed the incredible natural gifts which have made him one of the smoothest and most dangerous wrestlers in WWE history. His rise through the ranks of WWE was meteoric and undeserved, and he carelessly wasted several opportunities before finally settling into a role as a top guy just below the very top. All that has ever stood in the way of Randy Orton is himself, as men who have worked harder and been more passionate have passed him by. Now he has sold what there is of his soul to the new administration for a secure role at the top, and whether he deserves it or not, that’s just where he sits now. He is the man the Authority passed the torch to. He is the Corporate Champion. He is the present.
Triple H owns the WWE Championship. Among the more controversial wrestlers ever to lace up a pair of boots, Triple H has alternately been the scrapping young kid pulling himself up by his bootstraps and outworking everyone else, and the entitled chosen one handed everything by his superiors. He’s been a rebel, a stooge, the top guy, and a jobber. He’s been everything to everyone, and now he has stepped into his role at the head of WWE, and holds the entire wrestling industry in the palm of his hand. He now has it in mind to see that WWE thrives, no matter who has to get trampled along the way. In the name of business, Triple H has turned his back on the wrestler inside, and has embraced the corporate being that thrives on politics, victory and humiliation. He is the Authority. He is the King of Champions. He is the past.
The future, the present and the past. All caught up in a maelstrom that none of them can control. In the end, someone will leave holding the championship, having justified their entire road to this night. But who? And perhaps more importantly, how?
I’m not going to talk about what happens in the match itself. If you haven’t seen it, and have actually waited for two months just to hear if I recommended it, then all you need to know is that I am going to recommend it. But it will always be impossible to view this match wholly on it’s own merits as we discuss it in the future, knowing, as we do, that the match meant nothing. You see, this was a Dusty Finish. And while that phrase is often bandied about, many people aren’t familiar with what the term really means. A Dusty Finish, so named because Dusty Rhodes so often did this while he was booking in Florida and the NWA, occurs when a heel champion loses the title on a big show, only to have the match overturned on the following show. This is done so the fans can have that special moment of their hero winning without the status quo having to change. And while it may seem to make sense for bookers in the moment, what it really does is cause the people who were excited at the victory to feel betrayed. Which is not, as they say, “best for business.”
In a vacuum, perhaps it would be possible to watch this match and take pleasure from the way that it ends. But even without knowing what happens after, this match ends incredibly abruptly and is never allowed to build to anything climactic. It’s not the moment that people were waiting for. It’ll be another two PPVs before they get that. This is a placeholder to keep people watching. And while I understand the thinking, I can’t imagine that anyone who paid $50 to see a match that meant nothing is going to feel overly great about it.
Ultimately, this wasn’t the match it should have been, and the ending was what it was. The Daniel Bryan train will roll on. But if it isn’t steered better by the conductor, it’s may run right off the tracks.
80 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Artie: Here comes Orton, he is so boreton, I do not care about this maaaaaaaan.
Ok, once Orton finishes slithering to the ring, the match begins in a fairly tame manner with both men trading back small bursts of offense. Now, the story of the match quickly become “Bryan’s hot, Orton’s not” as the match dynamic shifts in a peculiar way. Orton has the control at the start of the match, but once he’s done pretending he knows how to get heel heat, Bryan completely takes over the match, hitting Orton with everything he’s got. From this, we see a very bizarre structure as the smaller man, Bryan, leads the offense and beats the holy hell out of Orton. With Bryan’s flurry of offense, Orton sells like an absolute champ and takes a damn fine beating.
After multiple suicide dives, kicks, and knee shots, Bryan hit a beautiful suplex, followed by a headbutt from a mile away. A few counters later, bryan hits the Busaiku knee to win his second WWE Championship after a fast-count from the ref. Now, after everything we’ve seen this last month we know better than to expect this match to just end like that so up next we have…
NOTHING LOL. Thats it. Bryan wins “clean”, the crowd goes nuts, and Bryan lives happily ever after as WWE Champion.
A match, with an A+ finish.
Cewsh: This is a troubled show. While Summerslam produced two marvelous matches built on the back of stellar storylines, Night of Champions continued those storylines into new matches with decidedly mixed results. Obviously any time you have a main event end in a shifty way like this one did, you’re going to have complaints, (and for the record, this was the definitive Dusty Finish that you always hear referred to. The babyface wins the title, but in a way that means he won’t get to keep it.) But more than that, the rest of the show didn’t deliver in any way, which shines an even brighter spotlight on a transitional storyline in the main event of the show. It is what it is.
Now, with that being said, there are a whole lot of things to look forward to, from the eventual Orton/Bryan conclusion, to CM Punk’s total revenge, to the bevy of undercard talent bucking for attention getting their due. This isn’t a bad time in WWE. But nothing about this show would convince you of that.
Artie: All in all, pretty middle of the road PPV. The World title, WWE title, and handicap matches were all excellent, but a lot of this show was filler. There wasn’t anything too offensively bad, but the PPV felt bloated because of everything they tried to cram in. Solid enough PPV with three stand out matches, but all of the good stuff from this one could be summed up in a 3-minute video package.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed the first part of our grand “catching up with WWE reviews” collection. Battleground and Hell in a Cell will follow shortly, and my apologies to anyone who was eagerly anticipating NJPW King of Pro Wrestling to come first, but you can blame WWE for cramming so many PPVs into a month’s span that they’re starting to give me a complex. At any rate, there’s so much content on the horizon that it defies belief, so as always remember to keep reading and be good to one another.