I'm pretty sure I fell asleep at one point during the main event steel cage match last night. Is that my fault or the WWE's? If it's not my fault, then I'd like to be refunded at least a couple of bucks. That way I can afford the plastic wrap needed to cover my living room to prevent a huge mess after I blow my brains out for ordering this garbage. Too harsh? Yea, I didn't think so either.
To be fair, last night's WWE pay-per-view event, Now Way Out, fell somewhere between tolerable and decent. The fact of the matter is that the WWE, in no way, shape or form, should be charging people what basically amounts to an average monthly electric bill to watch certain events. I got bills to pay! Are you listening, WWE? I'm eating tuna and rice for the next month in between selling blood for rent money and student loans, but at least I got to see a tuxedo match, Ryback squash fest and a prime example of "over booking..."
It was like watching a fireworks display that started with the grand finale and ended with a dud. The show certainty had its moments. An event that had a wide variety of matches, superstars, plot advances, a few surprises and an electric crowd, but an event that suffered from some pretty obvious downfalls as well.
It's easy to sit here and say the event struggled because of the obvious depth problems the WWE is currently facing with their roster. The absence of Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio and the Miz certainty doesn't do the WWE any favors, but there's no use in crying over something you can't change at the moment. It's more a sign of positive changes to come, but until then, the WWE needs to stretch the limits of its current roster rather than add excessive filler. Filler during Raw or Smackdown is one thing, but excessive filler during a pay-per-view event is crossing the line in my eyes.
I completely understand how a Tuxedo match between Santino and a non-wrestler, a completely random Hunico/Sin Cara match and a "could've been done on Raw" promo from HHH are all relevant to the pacing and booking of the night. God forbid the WWE actually placates to its live audience and gives them a Zack Ryder match. Way to stay on the pulse of your fanbase, WWE!
The whole night was a random collection of stunning in-ring work from the future superstars of the company to an atrocious display of bad booking, filler and moments where I flipped over to the NBA Finals and actually forgot I had paid for a wrestling pay-per-view.
The biggest positive a hardcore fan of wrestling can take away from last night is that the company has a tremendously strong foundation for the future. Sheamus, Ziggler, Punk, Bryan and Rhodes proved last night that not only can they get strong crowd reactions, but are capable of putting on some of the best matches I've seen in years.
The future is bright. Last night? Not so much.
In retrospect, I would have rather jobbed to Ryback than ordered last night's event. It would have stung much less in the morning.
Grading the Matches (based on a scale of 1-100)
Sheamus Vs. Dolph Ziggler (World Heavyweight Championship Match)
Talk about your show opener! The storytelling, athleticism, choreography, pacing, ending, counters, sleeper holds, kick outs, more counters and the electricity of the crowd gave me a giant Ziggler throughout the entire match.
If my goosebumps could've talked, they would have all chanted "This is Awesome!" in unison.
If this is what I have to look forward to when we talk about the future of the WWE, then sign me up. That quite possibly might have been the greatest match I've seen all year. Where the hell did that come from?
I loved the way they re-captured the anxiety of almost witnessing another "18 seconds" deja-vu open to the match. The way the crowd made every move these two men made seem more epic then they were, the way Ziggler stayed perfectly in character throughout the match and the instant ending that should happen when your finishing move is a straight kick to the face.
I hated that King misunderstood the obvious "Let's go Ziggler" chants for "Let's go Sheamus," though. Whether it was on purpose or not doesn't matter; the fact is that the WWE needs to stop shoving certain wrestlers down our throats like we're idiots who can't form an opinion on our own. If I'm chanting "Let's go Ziggler," I'm not confused on who to "root" for. No, I don't need a reminder on who the "good guy" is either. I have chosen to like someone over Sheamus... deal with it.
I find it hilariously frustrating that the WWE always seems to get scared and panics when it travels to a "hardcore wrestling city" and everyone boos the ones they want you to cheer.
We're not all in elementary school. A lot of us prefer hard-working, athletically gifted, superb ring-work wrestlers over the mundane, boring, always placating good guys who always win. Sheamus isn't there yet, but I have a funny feeling the universe is going to turn on him soon enough. The one thing keeping Sheamus on my good side is the fact that all of his pay-per-view matches are never boring.
Match Rating: 96 (A+)
Santino Marella Vs. Ricardo Rodriguez (Tuxedo Match)
I mean, we started out fine enough. The audience placating was funny the first time, but then the 10-minute match dragged on for about nine minutes more than it should have. I'm not a big fan of the "Boring!" chant because I find it highly disrespectful, but if there was ever a time to do it, this was it.
Here's a list of things me and my friend did while this match was on: checked our fantasy baseball teams, made a pot of coffee, checked in on LeBron and Durant, took a bathroom break and then gauged our eyes out after we realized it was only half over...
Match Rating: 65 (F): If I gave it a zero, then it would totally skew the overall pay-per-view grade, but realistically, it was about as bad as you can get. This is what wrestling nightmares are made of.
Cody Rhodes Vs. Christian (Intercontinental Championship)
We all knew this match was going to be a solid encounter between two excellent ring-workers. While their match didn't quite have the pedigree and prestige that Punk, Sheamus, Ziggler and Bryan's matches had, those who follow wrestling were eagerly anticipating this match. For a feud that didn't really have a lot of hype, it still managed to produce a lot of intrigue going into last night.
Would Rhodes once again become champion? Would Rhodes lose and move on to bigger feuds and titles?
The match was excellent across the board. Rhodes kicking out of the "Kill Switch" was a surprising moment that made me certain he was bound to win...until he didn't. The flurry of counters towards the end was enough to remind you why you love wrestling.
Match Rating: 85 (B+)
Fatal Four Way, Tag Team Match
You know you completely agree and are surprised by booking when the words "Yea, alright!" flow out of your mouth with enthusiasm as they're announcing the match. What a pleasant surprise this was...
The match itself wasn't anything special, besides the "Holy (Expletive)" moment when Tyson Kidd performed a huricanrana off the top rope that left a pile of bodies flat on the ground. The twist ending with A.W. switching teams finally gave the tag team division an actual story line to work off of in the future too.
The WWE has always been better when they have a legit tag team division, and last night was a tremendous step in the right direction. Now, if only Kofi can find a partner who doesn't either get injured or suspended... I'm starting to think it's more Kofi's fault than Bourne's or Truth's. He's obviously a bad influence.
Match Rating: 79 (C+)
Layla Vs. Beth Phoenix (Divas Championship)
I haven't given up on the divas division like a lot of people have, but my friend summed it up pretty perfectly:
My Friend: Why waste my time and their time by having to have a "token divas match?" It doesn't make any sense. It makes just as much sense as having someone return from injury and randomly get a title shot and win, which happened in this very division. It's a joke and a shameful one at that. Until they build up the division so it's not just a random divas match with no story or build, they should just save the time for other matches. Ya know, like another Tuxedo match, or a squash match or...oh, wait..
Has it gotten to the point where honest-to-goodness Diva Championship matches are considered filler?
Match Rating: 71 (C-)
Sin Cara Vs. Hunico
"We Want Ryder!"
Match Rating: 70 (C-)
CM Punk Vs. Daniel Bryan Vs. Kane (WWE Championship Match)
You know, eventually, the WWE is going to have to let CM Punk main event a pay-per-view that John Cena is a part of, right?
This marks the fifth straight outing that John Cena has headlined a pay-per-view event without the WWE title on the line. This has to eventually end, right?
The unbelievable energy from the crowd shows that this is what people want to watch. What they want to see. What they want the product to be more focused on. It would be wise for the WWE to take note. The pacing, the perfectly in-tune choreography, the odd ending and the dominance of Kane throughout the match gave us all a good show and story.
Even as fan of Punk, I was still hoping to see Kane plant him with the tombstone at the end for the victory. I was captured and carried away by this match from the very beginning. Too bad the show had already be stolen, but nonetheless, a fantastic way to represent the WWE championship.
Match Rating: 91 (A-)
Ryback Vs. Two American Idol Wannabees
Watch Raw or Smackdown either this week or any previous week, and you'll get to see this match for free.
Ziggler and Sheamus went for 15 minutes. Take out this match and the Tuxedo match and they could have gone for 25 minutes, or Punk could've gotten more playing time...just saying.
Match Rating: 65 (F)
John Cena Vs. The Big Show (Steel Cage Match)
First of all, I love how the signature match of an event called "No Way Out" is a cage match... Where there are numerous ways out...
I was probably one of the few people who was actually looking forward to this match. It had enough intrigue, good promos and enough heartfelt emotion to get me invested in this match. I thought we were all in line for another bloodbath, but instead, we got a slow-paced, disorganized, over-booked ending that was basically another "Super" Cena win in the record books.
John Cena overcame the odds (with the help of five other people) and defeated the Big Show and then proceeded to put "people power" figuratively and literally through a table. So what are we left with now?
No more Big Johnny on Raw? It's certainty an interesting premise, but I have little faith that this is the end of him. Nice suit, by the way; where can I get me one of those?
What's left for the Big Show to do? I'm not one for always describing someone as "buried" or "lost all momentum," but I think Cena was right when he said Show would have nowhere to go if he lost that match. Looks like it's jobbing to Brodus Clay from now on...and after that, Ryback?
The match wasn't terrible, but it was certainty forgettable, and that's where my biggest issue lies with last night. With a crap load of future talent clearly outshining the past two "main events" in recent pay-per-views, when will the WWE learn that Cena doesn't equal main event all the time?
There should be no reason to have your main event be forgettable...
...I can't wait to see how they'll weasel John Cena into another pay-per-view main event. Unless it's a Money in the Bank re-match with Punk, I'll finally cross that line into annoyed.
Match Rating: 80 (B-)
Overall Event Rating: 78 (C+)