Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that show up whenever they god damn feel like it, geez Mom, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as, just before we kick off the first PPV of the new year in the Royal Rumble, we take a second to look back at the PPV that brought 2014 to a close, WWE TLC 2014! It’s been a month since the show took place, and yet there are some things about it that just depserately need to be talked about, from the match that I loved that everyone else on Earth hates with a burning passion, to the main event which has more weirdness than a Sid Vicious promo, this was a weird show run by weird people. But with so many titles on the line, and a serious focus on veterans vs. up and comers, this show can’t really be BAD, right? Right? Only one way to find out.
Cewsh: We start off with one of the stranger opening videos in recent memory. Most of the imagery has to do with comparing the gimmick matches we’ll see tonight to a destruction derby, which is kind of a tortured metaphor, but the really odd thing is that the video is half narrated by a disembodied voice that only seems to be there to agree with everything. So the entire video is like, CAR CRASH, clip of Dean Ambrose promo, disembodied voice saying “Yeah. Uh huh. You got that right.”. It’s like they just had P-Diddy in the production truck and they accidentally recorded everything he was saying in the background.
Anyway, the point of the video is that we’re going to see a lot of people do great harm to themselves, each other, and to an entire wing of Home Depot. Sounds like fun.
Cewsh: There are two kinds of ladder matches. There are the ones where the people involved focus heavily on the actual match and just use the ladder to add spice to the proceedings, (see: Edge/Flair, Edge/Cena, Jericho/Michaels,) and there are the ones that focus heavily on creating a flow of spots to maximize the spectacle, (see: every TLC and Money in the Bank match.) Both types can produce great matches so long as the performers commit to one side or the other, but when a match gets caught in between the two it often has a way of feeling unsatisfying, like the match wasn’t quite the spectacle or pure match that it could have been.
This match falls into that grey area in between, where Ziggler and Harper drift in and out of having a serious match and playing spot fu, and while usually this would result in one of those disappointing matches I referred to, somehow the fantastic chemistry between the two and their insane hard work manage to save it from that. Ziggler especially has been attempting to see if he can elevate good matches to all time classics sheerly by force of will lately. A game Harper sticks with him every step of the way, and together they produce something that is really better than the sum of it’s parts. I would be lying if I said that it was as good as it could have been if the structure of the match had been a little different, but when you get a match that tears the house down to open the show, and it’s for a title that has seen very little of this sort of prestige over recent years, then that complaint sounds hollow even to me.
One day, somewhere in the future, we will look back of Dolph Ziggler’s career, and matches like this one, and we will marvel at it. Both at the quality of what he had to offer, and the limits of what he was able to actually achieve. It’s a bummer, but like all the best wrestlers throughout history, when you watch him in the ring, he’ll make you forget his spot on the card completely.
84 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Artie: Ooo, Ziggler has new boots and while they’re very nice, I can appreciate the frugality in Harper wearing the same clothes for the last 8 years. I really dig how JBL built Ziggler up as a master of the ladder match with his MITB win and his retention of his MITB against Cena 2 years ago. It’s a good way to show contrast as the WWE universe is fairly unaware of Harper’s wrestling past.
These two do what they do best and steal the show IN THE FIRST MATCH. Busting out ladders and taking risks, we some absolutely beautifully brutal spots for 2014 PG WWE.
From Harper belting Ziggler in the face with a ladder:
To Harper throwing his own body through a ladder:
Ziggler countering a powerbomb onto a ladder with sheer grace:
But what is brutality without the right guys selling it? Both man get a few cuts, so there is a spattering of blood dripping around all throughout this match. These two guys knew exactly how to sell this ladder match as a god damn war. Both looked like death at the end of the match and came out looking like true stars. With this kind of war being fought for the IC title, I can only imagine what they’d do over the WWE Championship.
With how great that was, coupled with the fire lit under everyone’s ass after NXT: REvolution, the rest of this show HAS to be awesome, right?
Grade: A for ass-kicking opening.
Cewsh: It must be really hard to be a babyface wrestling against Miz and Mizdow right now. Traditionally, in wrestling you have a heel and a face. The heel does bad stuff, the face does heroic stuff and the crowd reacts accordingly. It’s the classic formula. In recent years that dynamic has been stood on its head, as fans have become more and more comfortable cheering for whoever they enjoy, rather than going along with the prestablished plan. Obviously this makes things hard on babyfaces trying to get over when wrestling popular heels, but Miz and Mizdow are a whole other thing. They are a tag team which will almost always contain both the biggest babyface AND the biggest heel in any match they’re in. So the dynamic for every match they have is all about the conflict between the two, and whoever they’re facing has to bust their ass just to get the crowd to notice them.
Luckily, that other team here is The Uso Brothers, who have grown so much as a team in the past two years that it kind of defies belief. When you pair that with an actual storyline, in this case Miz wanting to bone zone with Jimmy Uso’s wife, Naomi, you get a match that actually feels more important than you’d expect. The crowd was interested, the action was good, and unlike others, I really didn’t mind the match ending in a DQ. There’s something here that WWE can build on, and the Usos are a good foil for Miz and Mizdow as they progress on towards their inevitable breakup and Wrestlemania feud.
This is solid midcard goodness. It could be better, but we all know just how much worse it could get.
Wait a second, you’re not Artie. You’re just an angry, meme posting robot who is wearing Artie’s face as a hat. Don’t try to lie, you’re like 20 feet tall and you are clearly made of metal and have Artie’s face on top of your head like a jaunty little hat.
What’s that? You’ll work for free AND give me a face massage? I don’t see how that can end badly. Welcome aboard!
75 out of 100
Cewsh: We go backstage where Seth Rollins is getting interview and he all but dons a massive billboard that says, “DON’T FORGET THAT THE AUTHORITY EXISTS YOU GUYS, THEY WILL BE BROUGHT BACK AT A LATER POINT IN THIS STORYLINE.” Seeing as he’s the only relevant member of the group all there’s a 0% chance that they don’t bring them back, Rollins has basically been transformed into a foreshadowing machine in all of his promos. The Authority WILL come back, we WILL get revenge on Sting, I WILL win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. It’s like someone handed him the wrong notes and he’s just reading off of the booking sheet for Wrestlemania.
But beyond that, let’s talk about the nickname they’ve given Sting. “The Vigilante”. Over the years, WWE has given people all kinds of clunky ass nicknames that really make no sense. Dean Ambrose is a Lunatic Fringe? How so? The All American American? Points for alteration, but nobody is ever going to say that out loud. And now they’ve saddled Sting, a guy whose name is pretty much already a nickname, with “The Vigilante.” I mean for fuck’s sake WWE, does vigilante even mean what you think it…
…oh. Huh. Actually, that may be one of the most correct nicknames in WWE history. Hmm. Well it’s still awkward as hell, but if nothing else I owe an apology high five to whoever sits at Titan Towers with a thesaurus open trying to name all of these people.
Cewsh: I love, love, love, love love this match. Love. Love love. Love, love, love. When they initially presented the idea of a match where the central factor was something that is used in 70% of all matches, i’ll admit that I was highly skeptical. After all, they’re just fucking stairs, right? And in the hands of most of the roster, that’s how the match would have gone. A normal match with the stairs being used for a spot or two. Instead, what we actually got was one of the hardest hitting matches in recent memory, and possibly the hardest hitting of Big Show’s career. These two didn’t just use the stairs as a prop in an otherwise dull, plodding match. They beat ten kinds of hell out each other, and the stairs featured heavily into all of it, from the way Big Show got the win, to the way Rowan’s gameplan was based around opportunistic stair use, to the cannonball spear through a wall of stairs that was so satisfying that I had to pause the show to gif it in the moment.
Over the years, Big Show has been part of some truly heinous “giant vs. giant” matches, that didn’t live up to the hype for a number of reasons. Usually, it was because the other giant just didn’t have the right kind of style or durability to allow Show to go full bore with his genuinely terrifying strength. As result, Show has basically spent 20 years in the wrestling business being horribly miscast and forced to work around it. But here, in a fantastically stiff brawl, Rowan takes everything Show gives out and comes out looking like a viking badass even in the loss, which is far more valuable than any sort of half assed win could ever have been. Rowan is on the right track towards stardom thus far, and the way you get there isn’t through a string of meaningless wins, it’s through a streak of meaningful performances. And by my reckoning, this will do just fine.
With all of that said, come on guys. At least pretend like having the shoulders down on a pin is important.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: Maybe it’s the proximity to the holiday season. Maybe it’s the remembered scent of holly and mistletoe, the vision of bright lights and happy children skipping through the world. Maybe it’s the recently had bounty of thoughtful gifts and food from loved ones. Whatever it is, I feel that perhaps something has grown my heart 3 sizes bigger and made me like a match that I am absolutely certain is not held in high esteem by many others.
But let’s be clear, I didn’t just like this match because I mark out for hobos in santa outfits breathing vodka fumes on children at the mall, (though I do.) This match is an overbooked, chaotic mess from start to finish, and in this case that actually works in the match’s favor. Over the years the term “overbooking” has really gotten a bad name, mostly due to the fact that we had about a 5 years stretch where no match was allowed to end clean. But what we forget is that the funnest matches of the Attitude Era, and indeed any era, were overbooked. That sense that anything could happen and that anyone could win as the rules fly out the window is amazing, and this match got me hook, line, and sinker.
Now, it must be said that I really thought that Seth Rollins was going to win this match, and i’m disappointed that he didn’t. Not because he’s being buried or whatever, (settle down, smarks,) but because I don’t like the future set before us with John Cena as the number one contender. We’ve all spent so much time penciling in Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania, that I think it’s left us blind to the reality of the situation that this match has driven home. It’s going to be John Cena vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. It just is. And while i’m fully prepared to be a driving force on the increasingly vacant Roman Reigns bandwagon, that’s a match that is going to be a hard sell to anyone who wants to see something different or fresh for the next few months.
But that’s the future. For tonight, I liked this match. Rollins did an amazing job, as he always seems to these days, Cena showed the aggressive side of himself that always leads to his best matches, and the interference made sense and didn’t take away too much from the match itself. Maybe it’s the rosy red glow of John Cean’s sweaty, pasty skin that has put me in the Christmas spirit. Whatever it is, being this nice feels strange and I’m not sure I like it.
83 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Cewsh: When you run a wrestling blog for awhile, you eventually get sorted by readers into what sort ot “guy” or “girl” you are. The things that you appreciate and support the most are often held up as things that represent you and your blog itself. You think about Dave Meltzer, and you immediately think of how much that dude loves Japanese wrestling and ladder matches, for example.
For me, it has always been women’s wrestling and Japanese wrestling. Not because I only love those things, are even because i’m among the biggest advocates for them out there. But when you’re a vocal fan of genres of wrestling that are underrepresented, that’s what people tend to remember. As a result, though, I realize that it can be kind of exhausting for me to constantly talk about how great everything is in Shimmer and New Japan, and about how talented some of the Divas are if they could only get a chance to show it. It becomes white noise after awhile, and I understand that. It is because of that understanding that I know that when I say this, many of you will roll your eyes and scroll on the the next gif. You are my readers and I love you anyway. But this needs to be said whether you listen or not:
Nikki Bella is getting really fucking good.
This match is only okay, (short, inoffensive and transitional are all apt words,) and Nikki hasn’t had anything that you’d call a classic yet, (though her match against Brie at Hell in a Cell was surprisingly good,) but Nikki is slowly transforming into something very special. Whether it’s John Cena’s influence or what I don’t know, but she’s been building muscle mass lately and has been using it to great effect in her matches, compiling a moveset that is both visually impressive, and unique among the current Divas. Hell, she was already a natural hatable heel, but she seems to somehow be growing into the monster heel of the division right in front of our eyes, and the day will come soon when she gets a chance to sink her teeth into a match that is going to blow us away. I know you don’t believe me. I know you think i’m biased. But I also know that when it happens, i’m going to have to invent a new dance move to express my satisfaction.
68 out of 100
Cewsh: I’ll save us both some time. This match wasn’t interesting, but it wasn’t actively bad. It’s right there in that gray area in between that is poison to reviewers. Ryback remains a character that fans have really gotten behind, and it’s a good sign that he’s finally able to maintain momentum even when he’s not in matches where he’s satisfactorily smashing people, while Kane is valiantly plugging away, attempting to put over everyone he can get his hands on before his imminent retirement. I don’t think we’ll ever fully appreciate how often Kane does this until he’s gone. I just wish it were easier to appreciate the matches while he’s doing it.
64 out of 100
Cewsh: I’ll tell you what. If I get a single serious message from anyone who reads this that demands in depth thoughts about this match I will be so incredibly surprised that I will not only give said review, but I will begin our next review with a formal apology. This match is predetermined dullness piled on top of storytelling monotony with a healthy side order of being the exact same fucking match that we’ve already seen them have, which wasn’t interesting the first time.
I love and cherish every single one of you readers, and there’s nothing that gets me up in the morning like yammering on endlessly about wrestling, but come on now. A man has limits. And my capacity for goodwill is used up by Jack Swagger’s haircut alone, let alone this match.
59 out of 100
Cewsh: It would be difficult to come up with a stranger main event to a PPV than this one in recent memory. Not only because Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose main eventing over John Cena and Seth Rollins is weirdly contrary to the attention their matches have gotten of television, but also just because this match, and feud, is so goddamn bizarre.
The premise of this feud, insofar as it was gone into on the shows, is that Bray Wyatt has decided to target Dean Ambrose because in him, he sees another self destructive soul who can be corrupted and turned to the dark side. He methods of accomplishing this include bringing up his real life troubled childhood, and begging Dean to join him without explaining exactly what it is that he wants Dean to join. Ambrose, for his part, responds to this by yelling a lot and breaking Wyatt’s beloved rocking chair, which leads us to this blowoff match to a feud that any of us would be hardpressed to remember the details of.
The problem with the feud isn’t that Wyatt is doing his “COME TO THE DARK SIDE” routine again, or with the work put in by either guy, but rather it is the lack of focus on this storyline at all. When Wyatt feuded with John Cena, he had a tangible motivation, and his actions all led clearly to what it is that he was trying to accomplish, which was finally blackening the perfect white babyfaceness of wrestling’s greatest hero. First with fear, after weeks of gang attacks, then with anger when Cena finally got a chance to break Wyatt’s face open, and finally with despair when Wyatt wrenched the crowd and, rivetingly, the children away from John and left him doubting his identity. This was a good storyline, (despite it’s weak ending,) and it’s not a coincidence that that was the best Bray Wyatt has been in his tenure with WWE.
The difference with this feud is that there’s no endgame for Wyatt. No plan. At present, his character has no clear focus or motivation, and the same could be said for Ambrose, who is stuck in the uncomfortable middle area between edgy tweener and comedic babyface. They did the best they could with this feud, but ultimately it would be a hard sell for a Raw main event, let alone a major event, and it’s hard to see this getting top billing before the WWE Network era.
The match itself is similar to the feud. There were some very cool moments, and both guys worked their asses off, but it never quite shakes the feeling that it should be more intense than it is. Ambrose flies off of things again…
…and Wyatt gets up to his old tricks, and there were points where I thought they had slipped into high gear and were about to go nuts, but that momentum just never seemed to last. Which brings me to the finish which is one of the most ridiculously shitty endings to a match that you will see anywhere this years, last year, or any year. Dean Ambrose grabs a television and decides to to drag it into the ring, cords and all, to hit Bray Wyatt with. As he goes to swing it, the wires are ripped out of the tv causing it to FUCKING EXPLODE.
Now look, this is professional wrestling. It’s a cartoon world where people have superpowers and a tribe of leprechauns live under the ring. But even so, to have this match end because of an explosion coming from a household item in a way that even Michael Bay would scoff at is just so damn embarrassing and you can feel the air go out of the building. This match already had enough troubles on it’s back to begin with, but when you saddle it with an ending like that, it drops it another few notches. I like both of these guys, but at the end of this day this has to be considered the worst main event of the year by a pretty substantial margin, from a company that has gotten good at hitting home runs in the main event and nowhere else.
74 out of 100
Cewsh: There are a lot of people out there who hate this show with a burning passion. Artie could hardly even talk about it the next day without spitting with rage. I don’t think it was quite that bad, and indeed, there were a few matches which will be forgotten, but nevertheless held there own amongst the rest of the detritus here. But the WWE formula has made it very clear that fans are willing to forgive 2 hours of mediocre nonsense if they get a satisfying main event. If you give them 2 hours of mediocre nonsense and then a main event that makes no sense and disappoints everyone, well then that makes you something else entirely.
Cewsh: How about you, face stealing robot? What are your thoughts on this show?
Face Stealing Robot:
Well that’ll d it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed actually getting to read a review of WWE for a change. Next up is something a little bit different. You see, we’ve spent so much time lately caught up in the hurly burly of Wrestle Kingdom and the Royal Rumble, and I don’t know about you but I think we could use a bit of a palate cleanser. So I thought long and hard about what would represent the exact opposite of Wrestle Kingdom, and boy did I ever find it.
That’s right. Next week Cewsh Reviews returns to the hallowed ground of Juggalo Championship Wrestling. It’s a magical place, where those we believed dead and gone rise from the ashes to wrestle sad matches in front of insane fans, and after numerous requests from our readers, we will cover it once again. What lies in store for us? Is Bobby Lashley on this show? And who decides to go bottomless during their match? Only one way to find out. Until then, as always, remember to keep reading and be good to one another.