Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the the only reviews that tease you more than an out of your league prom date, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we have finally reached the show that the entire tumultuous summer has been building to, WWE Summerslam 2014. We’ve had rivalries brewing for months, as PPV after PPV has exceeded expectations, both in terms of quality and storyline progression, and now we’ve come to the blowoff where it all has to count for something. Can Lesnar vs. Cena avoid the curse of the Summerslog and be as good as we hope it can be? Can Ambrose and Rollins live up to the months of hype and expectation? Will the Miz continue to win my heart with his Hollywood heel antics? There’s only one way to find out.
Cewsh: This probably seems as weird to you as it does to me, but we have only reviewed one WWE show since Wrestlemania. There are various reasons for that, (and in the case of Extreme Rules, the reason was: ZzzzZzzzzzZzz,) but even though we haven’t been covering things heavily, that doesn’t mean that things haven’t been very interesting all through the early summer. Long ago, we coined a term here called “Summerslog” which is used to refer to how the months from Wrestlemania to Summerslam have always been historically dull, with very little of note going on. Not so this year. We’ve had calamitous injuries, wild Divas feuds, bitter betrayals, dramatic returns, and crazy battles, and we haven’t even gotten to the really important stuff yet!
So there are plenty of reasons to be excited for this show. On paper, there doesn’t seem to be a single dud match to be found. I’ve set the official Cewsh Reviews Expectation Meter to “Cautiously Optimistic” and if this show lives up to its potential in any way, you might just see me gushing about this company the way I do New Japan all the time. Okay, not really, but we can dream.
Cewsh: It has often been said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is true in many ways, but in the case of professional wrestling a similar adage is just as meaningful: “absence lets the writers come up with something you to actually do. Sometimes. Unless they fire you instead.”
I said the adage was true, not catchy.
In this case, a long absence allowed the Miz to redebut after several frustrating years with gimmicks that just didn’t quiiiiiiite work, with a new deluded movie star character that is so perfect for him that it makes me tear up with satisfaction. That small change has breathed new life into Miz, and he quickly snatched the Intercontinental Championship in the wake of Bad News Barrett’s injury, and has been riding high ever since.
Then we have Dolph Ziggler, who has gone years without any significant update to his character at all, and has somehow made this weird amalgamation of Shawn Michaels and Mr. Perfect into something that seems to capture the imagination of fans across the country. Not enough for them to cheer his promos or anything that would get him a real push, but enough to make every significant match he has feel electric.
This one is a great example. The first half of this match isn’t anything special, as we’ve seen much of the same from both of these guys before. But by the climax, these guys had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and when this happened I jumped out of my seat and yelled, “WAIT WHAT” at my cat:
From there, Ziggler managed to duck a kick, hit the Zig Zag, and kick off the show with a feel good moment for all of his fans who never seem quite sure if he’s going to be pushed or released from week to week. I think this is a pretty good indicator that WWE has a ton of confiedence in both of these guys, (and for good reason,) and that Ziggler especially will be dying for your pleasure for a long time to come. After all, precedent shows that if you’re the Intercontinental Champion, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re interested in you. Right?
83 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: After years of free promotion from Cewsh Reviews, as we shouted her name into every smarky bolthole the internet had to offer, Paige finally made her debut on Raw a few months ago to an enormous reaction, and to even more enormous success, beating AJ Lee for the title in her very first segment. It was a moment of euphoria, as this fantastic young talent that we rooted so hard for got a huge push right out of the gate and looked great doing it.
It was somewhat less euphoric when, during the next few months, she was presented as a white bread babyface and given absolutely nothing to do. For those who haven’t seen her work from before her call up, Paige is great at playing two kinds of characters. An annoying, mocking little brat, and a dark, badass anti-diva. She is exceptional in those roles, which someone never bothered to mention to the writing staff as they had her kissing babies week after week, until finally AJ came back and took her title back in the same anticlimactic way she had lost it.
Paige didn’t take the loss well. In fact, what followed was a heel turn by Paige that put her back on the right track. Gone were the phony smiles and forced enthusiasm, and gone were the endless 8 minute matches with no context or purpose. In their place came a cocky, teasing Paige, who would humiliate AJ and then pretend to be a friend to her face, which has led to a full on vengeance meltdown from our oft crazed champion. And so, two of the of the most talented women that WWE has ever seen are set to face off for the 4th time. In 2 of the 3 prior meetings, the title changed hands. Wouldn’t it be something if it happened again?
You see what I’m getting at, right?
Paige beats AJ for the Divas title here, and while that’s a great thing in and of itself, it’s the way that she does it that makes this match such a relief. Specifically, she wins the title in a match that doesn’t suck. Before she debuted, Paige had so much hype attached to her skills, both in the ring and out, that I was really worried that she’d have a long string of mediocre matches with mediocre opponents and management would write her off as an overhyped indy wrestler. Up until this match, my concerns had not been eased one bit, as she turned it forgettable numbers against people who were seemingly chosen at random, and then a surprisingly lame duck match against AJ the first time around. But this match is the one we expected from the two of them the first time. You can attribute that to their more defined roles here, (they were both weird tweeners the first time,) or to better chemistry, or to whatever you want.
The important thing is that it happened, and we’ll have Paige on our televisions for a long, long time to come.
79 out of 100
Cewsh: Where should I even start with this? Should I start with the fact that WWE has gone straight back to their 1984 booking playbook to plot this feud? How about the fact that the tea party guy who is openly racist is now AN AMERICAN HERO? Or how about the fact that despite how utterly insulting this feud is, both to our intelligence, and to the legions of WWE fans that exist outside of the United States, this entire feud has still been allowed to go off without a hitch?
Or should we talk about how WWE is so desperate to make Jack Swagger into another version of Kurt Angle that they may as well be collecting Kurt’s fingernails and doing voodoo transformation spells every night.
The funny thing is that, even among all of these legitimate complaints about this situation, maybe the thing i’m most confused by is how any of this works in kayfabe terms. WWE is an openly patriotic company. It is led by a collection of egomanical crazy people. So how on Earth does a guy like Rusev get a job, or even pushed in this environment? It’s not like his bosses are a faceless entity that we don’t know the opinions of. Hell, if you gave Vince McMahon a crate of steroids and a machine gun and pointed him towards Iran, you’d have the plot of Rambo 5. I don’t know, man. Feuds like this are the oldest trick in the book, and in this case, the book was written in 1942, and contains some words that you wouldn’t even say out loud if you were in an empty house by yourself.
Anyway, there was a match here too, though it wasn’t much to write home about. The story revolved around Rusev hurting his ankle early on in the match, and Swagger’s desperate, and totally unsuccessful, attempts to take advantage of it. Eventually Rusev locks on the Accolade, and, in an attempt to make him seem even more heroic, Swagger passes out in the hold instead of tapping out. Because he’s American, you see. And in America, if we lose, we always make sure there’s a loophole. I’m pretty sure that’s what it says on the Liberty Bell.
68 out of 100
Cewsh: This was the hardest match to review on this entire show. Not because it isn’t awesome, because it’s totally awesome, and not because I don’t like these guys, because I do, but because I had no idea what to say about it other than the fact that it was, well, awesome.
For all the criticism over the match concept when it was announced, (a lumberjack match? Wouldn’t a bra and panties match be more respectable?) Ambrose and Rollins made this match into the kind of chaotic spectacle that made all those Shield matches such edge of your seat affairs. Between Ambrose’s complete lack of self control when it comes to taking risks, to Rollins’ rapidly developing grasp of chickenshit heeling, all the elements were here to create exactly the kind of match that they’ve had us on the hook waiting for, for what seems like eight years. Hell, even the lumberjacks contributed, often physically hauling both men back into the ring, and pretending as if they were actually taking their role in the a match of this sort somewhat seriously.
I don’t think this is the best match these two can have, and I really hope that we get to see them wrestle in a match that better suits their styles than this one did. But if all I can think to say about your match is the word “awesome” again and again, you definitely didn’t fuck anything up.
89 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Meanwhile, this match sucked. It sucked the enthusiasm out of the crowd, it sucked the talent out of Bray Wyatt, and it sucked me into an alternate dimension where I was too busy looking at all of the jellyfish airplanes to make the obvious dirty joke about sucking.
There’s really no other way to put it. Chris Jericho looked slow and irrelevant, Bray Wyatt looked like a pale imitation of himself, and the chemistry, holy god the chemistry. The total lack of chemistry between these two was so obvious that if this were a romantic comedy, you would be yelling at the screen that they’re just not right together, and telling Bray to get with Chris’ brother Kyle, who rides a motorcycle and volunteers at the soup kitchen. He may be rough around the edges, but you can change him, Bray! Just give him a chance!
But by no means should you give this match a chance. It is a four alarm failure turtle that is dead on arrival.
52 out of 100
Cewsh: One of the hottest matches on this card is between Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella. I just want to let that sink in for a second. Not just a match. Not just a match that is heavily pushed. But one of the matches that is most anticipated by fans on this show is between a 30 something woman who hasn’t wrestled in 10 years and a reality show star. If that isn’t a triumph of booking, I don’t know what is.
When Daniel Bryan was forced to vacate the WWE Championship in May, it really left the company in a weird spot. Here they had this white hot feud between Bryan and the Authority, and this hugely over new star that the fans were fully behind, and they had no way to use it. What were they to do? Well, for the first time in recent memory, someone at the writer’s table said, “Why not push the women?” So that’s exactly what they did. Brie Bella began standing up to Stephanie having been pushed too far in watching her husband get abused and taken advantage of time and time again. That led to Brie slapping Stephanie full on in the face, quitting the company, and looking on helpless, as the vengeful Stephanie tortured her sister Nikki week after week.
But the feud didn’t begin in earnest until Stephanie unwisely assaulted Brie in the front row, causing her to get thrown in jail for assault. Brie agreed to drop the charges, so long as she got herself some of that sweet McMahon ass, (not like that,) in a match at Summerslam. And that’s where the story ended. There was absolutely no more to it, and certainly nothing involving Daniel Bryan and physical trainers and whatever else. If you think there was, you are suffering from manic delusions and should consult your physician.
So that all leads us here. Where a surprisingly heroic Brie Bella, takes on Stephanie McMahon, who has gone so fully heel that she now looks like the queen of the Thunderdome.
Shockingly, this is actually a good match. Stephanie has always done her best, but has never been anything but a hundrance in the ring before now, but here she does exactly what she needs to. She has a solid foot on Brie, and spends the match bullying the hell out of her because of it. Brie, for her part, plays a great plucky babyface, and neither one of these two pull their punches at all, making this one of the more satisfying grudge matches this year. But, of course, this match isn’t really about the first half. The REAL match starts when Triple H runs down to interfere on behalf of his wife. Together they bully Brie around until finally she takes Triple H down with a Suicide Dive, (a move Triple H must be getting really tired of getting hit with,) and she and Nikki have Stephanie at their mercy. What follows is the best heel turn of 2014.
And the world is a better place because of it.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: The first 10 minutes of this match are exactly what we all knew they were going to be. Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooring. Randy Orton is in that place he goes to when he’s in between interesting pushes and just mails in solid, but dull performances week after week, and Roman Reigns is one of the best hot finish guys in wrestling, but his style doesn’t translate to long singles matches with a bunch of selling in the middle. As a result, you could take a 10 minute nap when the bell rings, and then wake up happy and refreshed, and ready to check out the completely awesome finishing sequence which damn near makes up for the rest by itself.
Let’s review, shall we?
First, Roman Reigns spends roughly the runtime of Avatar preparing for a spear. This does not go well.
Angered by this unexpected failure, Roman Reigns tries again. This goes even worse.
Somehow Reigns kicks out of the RKO, which leads Randy Orton to questions his religion. Since Orton’s religion is punting people in the head, he decides to try that. This goes the worst of all.
There’s something to be said for a match where two guys are so stubborn and full of hubris that they just keep running into one another until everything sorts itself out. Now if onloy this match had been 20 minutes of that, we might really have something.
77 out of 100
Cewsh: Technically, we have Johnny Ace to thank.
While many may not remember now, it was Johnny Ace who, in his capacity as the General Manager of Raw at the time, brought Brock Lesnar back into the WWE.
He claimed that Lesnar would add legitimacy to WWE, and that he would become the new face of the company. But in truth, all Laurenitus wanted was to bring someone in who could hurt John Cena. At the time, it must have seemed like a no brainer and, indeed, the following match against John Cena was an enormous success by any standard. Cena managed to squeeze out a win over Lesnar in that match, despite being thoroughly beaten by the man in a way we had never seen before, and so the status quo seemed to be restored. But this was just a warm up for the Beast.
On the Raw that followed, Lesnar demanded more money and prestige from Triple H and WWE, and when he didn’t get it, he responded by snapping the COO’s arm and cackling all the way to the locker room. This touched off a massive feud that forced Triple H to tap into every bit of his intelligence and skill to go to war with Lesnar. After a Summerslam match where Lesnar humiliated his boss, and rebroke his damaged arm, Triple H spent 6 months training incessantly, motivated by not only his humilation, but also by the injury to his best friend, the threats to his wife, and the overall threat to his company. After 6 months of training every single day for one match against this monster of a man, he managed to defeat Brock in a Wrestlemania match that will go down as one of the highlights of his esteemed career.
One month later, Brock Lesnar beat him so badly that Triple H semi-retired.
After that Wrestlemania match, something in Lesnar changed. His main vulnerability in his first year was an arrogance and complacency that people took advantage of. That left. In it’s place was an almost animal rage and enthusiasm for inflicting harm on others that made him completely unstoppable. CM Punk had the match of his life in an attempt to beat Brock Lesnar. He failed. The Big Show thought his size would help help beat Brock Lesnar. He never even got a chance to use it. And the Undertaker thought his power was too much to ever be denied. And he was wrong.
After all of this, Lesnar walked away for another of his many breaks, leaving the wrestling world to move on without him. Daniel Bryan became a top star and then fell to pieces. The Shield fell apart and went to war with each other. And John Cena rose back to the top for the 15th time. All seemed good in the WWE Universe, until Triple H, in an attempt to get rid of an uncooperative Cena, agreed to give Lesnar a shot at the most prestigious prize in wrestling. Thus, a visibly concerned Cena was forced to walk down the aisle to face a man with no weaknesses. A man with no flaws. A man with no mercy.
True to that story, this match is a monster-lover’s dream come true. Brock Lesnar doesn’t beat Cena, he ANNIHILATES him. There is never one second in this match where John Cena is not completely overmatched and struggling desperately just to find any opening at all. He tries every trick that we’ve seen him win matches with before, every reversal into the AA, every shocking counter in the STF, every new move pulled out of his ass. He tries it all within the first 5 minutes, and every single bit of it fails. Just to prove that he can, Brock hit an F-5 in the first 10 seconds, and then just punishes Cena with an excruciating 16 German Suplexs; bullying John all over the ring at his own pace.
Then, after Cena finally got off the ONE desperation move that actually connected, Brock unleashed one of the greatest dick moves in wrestling history.
After that, Cena’s will was all but broken, and Lesnar toyed with him a bit longer before finally hitting one last F-5 to put Cena out of his misery and claim the championship. It is, by far, the most one sided main event match I have ever seen in professional wrestling, with the face of this generation treated like a pumped up Zack Ryder and left in a pile of neon colored rubble.
If you’ve ever had a complaint that WWE matches are too predictable, or that they never give you any sort of real surprises, then this is the match for you. They used years and years of expectation, continuity and storytelling to give us an enormous shock, just like they did with the Undertaker in April. And with this, Brock Lesnar has become something not seen in wrestling since Andre the Giant. An unassailable force of nature that is not just the best of the best, but an entirely different species altogether. The message sent by WWE here is essentially, “Brock Lesnar is so much better than the best guy of the past decade, that it wasn’t even a fair fight,” and that is a mindblowing statement from a company that so worships the status quo.
This is a benchmark moment in WWE history, and one we will refer back to for years to come. And all of it is thanks to the desperate act of a General Manager who most people don’t even remember having the job in the first place. Johnny Ace hired Brock Lesnar to hurt John Cena, and lo and behold two years later he got his wish. Now the entire future of the WWE lies in the hands of an unbeatable monster with allegiance only to Paul Heyman. We’re in fucking trooooooooouble.
92 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: This show won’t go down as one of the all time classics. It may not even break the list of top 5 Summerslams. But it was still very much something special. In a year where people are in the dumps about wrestler releases, profits being down, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk being gone, and a whole host of other issues, WWE responded with one of the best booked PPVs in recent memory. I would be hard pressed to find a single booking decision to take issue with here, (save that one that we discussed earlier.) So even though the actual wrestling wasn’t up to legendary standards, the stories made this show feel like so much more than would it could have been otherwise.
What i’m saying is that this show is the exact opposite of a TNA PPV. Guess which one leaves me happier at the end?
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed this return to WWE coverage, and we really couldn’t have picked a better time for it. Now let’s take a gander here at what we have in store for next week. Let’s see, it’s a WWE show…sure sure…it’s from 2006….okay, that was a solid year….it’s from the month of December…right oka…wait a second. Hold on, you can’t be serious. No! You can’t do this to me! No, I refuse! No, no NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
But until then, remember to keep reading, and be good to one another.
Some of today’s gifs courtesy of WrasslorMonkey.