Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that leave you waiting more than a DMV clerk with a hang nail, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we get right down to business with the first Cewsh Review on our new, improved, slick savvy sexy home here at cewshreviews.com. And not only are we back in the swing of things with a new review, but we’re also returning to WWE for the first time since Wrestlemania all those months ago with our review of WWE Summerslam. The future faces the present, the Beast faces the Deadman, and on at least one occasion the palm faces the face, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Of course, when I say that “we’re” reviewing it, I am referring to myself and the newest member of our family, The Law. You’ve already seen a few of his articles and know that he knows what’s up, but not you’ll get to see him get his hands dirty as we separate the chaff from the wheat and try to figure out whether a show can be enjoyable and hateable at the same time. Oh my Cewshketters, it is ever so good to be back. Let’s get down to business.
So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!
Segment 0 – 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.
Segment 1 – 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, 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.
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!
Segment 2 – 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.
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. 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.
Segment 3 – 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.
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
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! 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.
Segment 4 – 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.
Segment 5 – 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 entrapped 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.
Segment 6 – WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ryback (c) vs. The Miz vs. The Big Show
The Law: Feed me more indeed. I’m going to get a sandwich.
Cewsh: Oh man, that sounds good. I’ll grab one too. Let me 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 Over Everyone Else Following The Shellshock.
Segment 7 – 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, though not to the same extent. 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. I enjoyed it, and the finish was fun and crowd pleasy, but I was feeling this feud and this felt like a stumble on the road to something better.
76 out of 100
Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose Over Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper Following The Spear.
Segment 8 – 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.