What did I just watch?
No, really. Someone please explain to me the reasons why I sat in front of a television screen for three hours for this event. The only rational explanation is that I slipped into a fugue state, imagined I was a hummingbird and flew with the cosmic space whales of the Alpha Quadrant.
I would believe that explanation far more than the one where I thought I was watching a wrestling program.
Let us get this over with, shall we?
Michael Cole, Jerry Jawler, and JBL are here to ruin the commentary for this terrible evening in Cleveland, Ohio.
LUKE HARPER (C) VS DOLPH ZIGGLER (LADDER MATCH – INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Want to know one of the biggest issues the WWE has had in the last year? The lower-tier titles having little-to-no storytelling value. The Intercontinental Title has changed hands more times than I can count. The Tag Team Titles have stayed between four teams–said teams are constantly locked in the same futile feuds it seems–the entire year. The United States Titles is on a man in Rusev who could bring prominence to the belt…If they would give him someone of importance to defeat.
I state all of this because Creative had a great chance to elevate the IC Title tonight by making Ziggler/Harper the main event. Instead, Ziggler–who should be main eventing–curtain jerks in his hometown in a match that was the only bright spot of a terrible, terrible evening.
Viewers won’t see another title match with this much raw physicality and intrigue for quite some time. Harper and Ziggler work well together, with Harper filling a crucial role in WWE as the guy who can work any style you ask him.
At this point, Ziggler’s talent is at a level that few on the main roster can keep pace to. A great in-ring actor, a fearless physical performer, and a true entertainer, Ziggler deserves better than being the first out on a card as terrible as the one put forth.
Unless you’re a glutton, watch this match then forget the rest of the event.
The Finish: Harper eats a savate kick while on the ladder with Ziggler, sending the dirty one flying. Ziggler climbs to the top, grabs his sad-ass brass ring, and takes the title back in Believeland.
The Time: 16:40
The Good: Brutally enjoyable spots, including a suicide dive counter by Ziggler that legitimately made myself and my viewing party think Harper was injured in a serious manner; Harper doing the Johnny Manziel ‘money taunt.’
The Bad: Why wasn’t this match last?
The Rating: **** out of *****
MIZDOW (C) VS THE USOS (TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS)
Remember that annoying kid from high school that held onto jokes and pop culture references just a bit too long?
Yeah, I hated that guy. WWE Creative is ‘that guy’ in relation to the Miz and Damien Mizdow. The stunt double antics are a bit that has gotten Mizdow over with the fans and has shown a performer creating something out of nothing. And yet, the wink and the nod persisting during the broadcasts in regards to Mizdow have grown to be too much.
The feeling is very similar to when parents started using Facebook or when nursing homes started teaching The Macarena. The saturation is too much and it is time for a change. The Miz/Mizdow feud is inevitable and now is possibly the time to pull the trigger while Creative can still harness “peak Mizdow.” The potential in a program involving the actor and the stunt double stepping from the shadows is a plot rife with potential, something I have mentioned that WWE desperately requires.
This would require a serious hand and an avoidance of things like the inept commentary team pointing out how hilarious Mizdow is every given chance. If Creative is not careful they will miss their best opportunity to harvest the rewards of this well-told story.
Oh, right: There was a wrestling match too. The Usos are still mostly terrible, the commentary team ignored the match in lieu of telling the audience how dumb and amusing Mizdow was, and said match ended under yet more shenanigans. Blah.
Damien Sandow deserves better.
The Finish: The Miz remembers that the finale to The Newsroom is on, grabs his Slammy Award, and bonks an Uso on the head to give the twins the win. Mizdow retains.
The Time: 7:17
The Good: The Usos showed that, at times, they have talent and the ability to think on their feet, such as when Jey botched a cradle and recovered by turning the failure into a beautiful Tequila Sunrise submission.
The Bad: The camera work and commentary was far too focused on Mizdow’s antics, which are best used as match seasoning, not an entree.
The Rating: *1/2 out of *****
ERICK ROWAN VS THE BIG SHOW (STAIRS MATCH)
The Wyatt Family as a whole have deserved better.
Starting the year as the hottest new heel group WWE has had in years, all three members of the Bray Wyatt-led stable have been misused in egregious ways. Bray Wyatt has been the odds for Cena to overcome in a summer feud that did more damage to Wyatt than good it did for Cena. Luke Harper, while given the Intercontinental Championship, has been nothing but a punching bag who can only finish matches by outside help or getting disqualified.
And Erick Rowan is saddled with The Big Show in what may be the worst case of “best intentions, worst implementations” I have ever seen.
I enjoyed the setup for this feud in that Rowan cannot stand bullies. This bit of character development makes perfect sense given his time under Bray Wyatt and teaming with Luke Harper, who often abused Big Red. The disconnect comes in that The Big Show appears to flip a coin each month to decide if he is going to be heel or face and is years past being interesting in-ring. Mr. Show is old, slow, and brings nothing to this feud other than his notoriety and the potential of giving an up-and-comer like Rowan a win over an established character.
Oh, wait a second: That last part didn’t happen. In what sane world does The Big Show need to look strong and menac–oh hey, Roman Reigns is back.
In regards to the match itself, the idea behind the gimmick holds water. Put two big, strong guys in a match meant to showcase said strength. Execution of said idea failed both men spectacularly, as implementation of the gimmick is just too limited to be interesting. The best spot of the match–Big Show tackling Rowan through a wall of stairs–was wasted by poor camera work and a commentary team more interested in joking about how red Rowan’s beard is.
Seeing a theme for the night?
The Finish: The Big Show bonks Rowan and pins him with the help of some stairs.
The Time: 11:10
The Good: Rowan is an agile big guy with a lot of potential; the wall-O-stairs was visually appealing.
The Bad: The Big Show winning purely so Roman Reigns has someone to punch in-between now and winning the Royal Rumble. Berleeve Dat.
The Rating: * out of *****
JOHN CENA VS SETH ROLLINS (TABLES MATCH, IF CENA LOSES HE RELINQUISHES HIS TITLE SHOT OPPORTUNITY)
I hate using .gifs in lieu of actual words. The whole thing is far too “Buzzfeed” for my taste. However, I cannot write anything that as succinctly sums up this match as much as the above image.
There was no chance in hell Cena was going to lose a match that would jeopardize the possibility of Cena vs Lesnar 3: Electric Boogaloo. Of course, maybe Creative didn’t need to make Seth Rollins look inept in the process, unable to secure a win despite the help of three men.
Seth probably should have compared notes with Cena to learn that one Samoan who can barely read off a cue card is more effective than three wrestlers who have all held championships within the company in the last ten years. Whoops.
The whole affair was an overbooked mess that made everyone look bad, minus Roman, who gets to punch things. So, that’s nice for him I guess.
The Finish: Reigns punches out Big Show, Rollins goes through a table, Cena overcomes odds. NEXT PLEASE.
The Time: 21:20
The Good: Rollins is the best heel in the company and his security team are icing on the heelish cake.
The Bad: The ‘John Cena Moves of Doom Drinking Game’ would probably be a liver hazard; WHY IS BIG SHOW GETT–oh, hi Roman.
The Rating: * out of *****
NIKKI BELLA (C) VS AJ LEE (DIVAS CHAMPIONSHIP)
Well, this was a whole lot of nothing.
Given how wonderful the NXT Women’s Championship match at REvolution was, one would think that the main roster Divas would attempt to keep from looking so terrible. I have to assume that Nikki and AJ did not receive that memo. In comparison, this barely resembled a wrestling match.
I must be spoiled by the likes of Charlotte and Sasha Banks, who make every action they do in the ring feel like there is force and purpose. Nikki and AJ are the exact opposite, appearing as if each Diva is putting out the force equivalent of a slap fight with oven mitts taped to their hands.
If ever there was a textbook definition for “phoned in” this match would be it.
The Finish: AJ gets mystery substance sprayed in her eyes, Nikki hits the Rack Attack and retains.
The Time: 7:40
The Good: Nikki’s finisher is named the ‘Rack Attack’ and she has fake boobs. Tee-hee. See? Creative has a sense of humor.
The Bad: AJ looks bored and the Bellas are only together and holding the belt because of Total Divas.
The Rating: * out of *****
RYBACK VS KANE (CHAIRS MATCH)
I should be more annoyed by this match and feud than I am, right? Kane is old and clearly phoning it in until FOX News offers him a full-time job. Ryback’s quality and skill have been called into question by those no longer with the company.
I should have hated this. I really didn’t. Was this a great match? God, no. However, it had everything that the stairs match earlier in the night should have had: emotion, a few impact spots, and the younger guy taking the win.
In the interest of being truthful, I also happen to like Ryback. There. I said it. Now let us move on with our lives.
The Finish: Ryback bops Kane with a Meat Hook and the Shell Shock for the win.
The Time: 9:50
The Good: The right guy won; I enjoy Ryback’s power style.
The Bad: This match could have been half the length and still achieve all it needed to.
The Rating: ** out of *****
RUSEV (C) VS JACK SWAGGER (UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP)
Rusev and Swagger are in a weird scenario where both guys deserve better. By this point in his monster heel run, Rusev should be getting larger names to maul, all in the name of building his legend. In regards to Jack Swagger, the former ECW and WWE champion is too good to be wasted on jobbing to the same guy in the same way over and over.
Yet, here we are, dancing this dance again.
This match was not unlike the many others these two have had. Swagger got in some nice suplexes, Rusev looked tough, and in the end the All-American American taps like he’s trying out for a Broadway production.
It was what it was, and that is just fine. For now.
The Finish: Rusev hits Swagger with a savate kick, allowing the application of The Accolade. Swagger taps, Rusev retains.
The Time: 4:55
The Good: Rusev and Swagger work well together; Lana is always entertaining.
The Bad: The United States Title feels less important than the other belts by a large margin.
The Rating: ** out of *****
DEAN AMBROSE VS BRAY WYATT (MAIN EVENT, TLC MATCH)
Reader challenge: Without using the word “crazy”, explain why Ambrose and Wyatt are in a feud.
Go ahead. Think it over. I’ll wait.
(Raw was really terrible tonight. I went to bed after Bork Lazer smashed Jericho. At least that was funny.)
Done? No? That’s okay. Tough question. I’ll come back to you.
I appreciate Creative giving the nod of confidence to Ambrose and Wyatt, placing this mess of a match in the main event slot. Both guys taken individually are wonderful, emotional performers. Together, they make me want to take a nap and question my existence. The ability to create narcolepsy is not the fault of the performers, however. Remember how I talked about stories and feuds needing a real emotional impact and reason during my NXT review? What is the motivation between Ambrose and Wyatt? Why do we–the fans–care? Hell, why do they care?
I need more from them than doing crazy, cool shit to each other for no reason.
The match itself was your typical spot fest mess, with each guy going from slow move set up to the next. The crowd was dead for most of the match, barely uttering a sound while Ambrose and Wyatt battered each other senseless. The topper on the terrible PPV cake came in the insulting, nonsensical ending that I assume was written after Creative watched one too many Road Runner cartoons.
Oh, right: The challenge. Did you think of anything yet, dear reader?
Huh. No? Really? Shocking.
The Finish: Ambrose grabs a mystical TV from the netherworld that explodes in his face (yes, really), giving Wyatt the chance to hit Sister Abigail.
The Time: 27:00
The Good: The actual wrestling portions of the match were great, as Wyatt and Ambrose are both fiercely physical.
The Bad: Exploding TV? Do the WWE writers assume the fans are stupid? Additionally: WHY IS THIS A FEUD? WHY?
The Rating: *1/2 out of *****
The Wrap-Up: What more is to be said about this terrible event? Take away the ladder match and I think this would be a hands-down winner for worst wrestling event of the last 20 years. The only saving grace is that Harper and Ziggler were the only ones to get the memo about “stepping up” after the NXT event. I think everyone else was going out of their way to be as terrible as possible, writing staff included.
Do not watch this event; it may take years off your life that could be reserved for drinking or wandering into a zoo at night while blindfolded.
Think of an answer yet? let us know via email at BackLogAdventures@gmail.com or on Twitter @EyePawd.