Wednesday, 29 October 2008

WWE Cyber Sunday on Sky Sports - TV Review

It’s the time of the year when WWE goes interactive - well, sort of (see the rant at the end), as they ask their fans to choose stipulation and match types with Cyber Sunday, shown live on Sky Sports here in Britain.

The show begins with Rey Mysterio and Kane renewing their rivalry - the stipulation - no holds barred with 39 per cent of the vote. An enjoyable start to the show, and another good David v Goliath type of battle, with the Big Red Machine simply overpowering Mysterio, who countered with his superior speed and aerial ability. Not much weapons use though, even though this was a no holds barred match. Mysterio came out on top after his 619/top rope splash combination. I’m left to wonder though how much longer this rivalry can go on, enjoyable as it is.

Match two is the fist title match of the evening, with Matt Hardy defending the ECW title against Evan Bourne, with 69 per cent, so thankfully no Mark Henry this month. This is the first time I’ve seen Bourne in action, so this is a new experience for me. The guy really impressed me in this outing with the mega-over Hardy, and in a way he kind of reminded me of a younger version of the Hardy Boys. There were a couple of moments that weren’t exactly well executed (Bourne’s attempted leg sweep on Hardy), but overall it was a good match, a real back-and-forth affair with plenty of false finishes, and Hardy taking Bourne out with the twist of fate at the second attempt. Boy was this good.

Tag-team action follows, with Cryme Tyme v The Miz and John Morrison getting 38 per cent. This was another example of great tag-team wrestling, featuring two teams which have a great chemistry with each other. I’m finally beginning to warm to the Miz, and it’s all down to his team with Morrison, and Cryme Tyme have always had good matches in them. A good match with both members of Tyme getting double-teamed, a mass brawl towards the end, and Morrison taking Shad out with his midnight ride to get the win. If only WWE gave us more tag-teams like these two.

More title action follows, with Santino Marella, accompanied by Beth Phoenix, defending the Intercontinental title against the Honkytonk Man, with 35 per cent. Much jaw-jacking to begin with, followed by Honky challenging Marella to a dancing contest, which ended with the champion clobbering the challenger. The match itself didn’t actually last that long, as Marella was disqualified when Beth tripped Honky as he came off the ropes, which only served to enrage the champion. But as he went to leave, he was stopped by the other two wrestlers in the vote, Goldust and Roddy Piper. All three veterans proceeded to take him out, which proved to be more entertaining than the match itself.

Another rivalry is renewed next, with the Undertaker taking on the Big Show - the stipulation - last man standing with 49 per cent. Before the match begins Jim Ross tells us that a win can be obtained via pin or submission. I’m guessing here that Vince was shouting down his ear about this error, before telling Taz to tell the fans the correct rules. Once again the two big men put on another good battle. It’s not pretty, no rest holds here as these two tried to beat the hell out of each other, with their fists, heads, and anything else they could get their hands on. Even the ECW announcers table took a beating, when Show choke slammed Undertaker from the barricade. This wasn’t enough to put the dead man away, and neither did Show’s big right hand. In fact it was the Undertaker who managed to beat the ten count. After surviving a chair shot, he synched in his choke hold submission, and even though Show tapped, the match didn’t end. It was only after the big man was counted out that the Undertaker was declared the victor. A very good match, with two outstanding performances from those concerned.

Then it’s on to the Diva Halloween costume thing, with Mickie James winning for her Lara Croft costume. Needless to say there was the inevitable cat fight afterwards. Just what purpose this served I fail to see.

Main event time #1, with Triple H defending the WWE title against Jeff Hardy with 57 per cent. After their last singles match, this one had a lot to live up to. They just about managed it. Some good, solid wrestling throughout this one, and the chemistry between these two is increasing all the time. As good as Triple H was here, you couldn’t help but hope that Hardy would finally get that win and the title. But sadly it was not to be. The twist of fate and the senton couldn’t put him the Game away, who retained the title by stopping what was probably going to be a third senton from the top rope, stopping that move and dragging him from the top rope to finish it with the pedigree. You know, I could watch these two go at it all day, and I still wouldn’t be disappointed.

Main event time #2, with Chris Jericho defending the World title against Batista, with Steve Austin as special referee with 74 per cent. Jericho looked a worried man going into this one, having spent the evening trying to get various people to take out Batista, getting the no answer all the time, and the choice of special referee didn’t do much for his mood either. As far as match quality goes, well, I just couldn’t get into this one. Technically it was fine, with a good storyline and good execution, but after the excitement of the previous match this one just didn’t do it for me. Austin did a good job as referee, only really getting involved a couple of times early on, until he got accidentally clobbered by Batista when Jericho ducked out of the way. This brought Shawn Michaels, one of the other special referees in the vote, down to the ring after Jericho took Batista down with the code breaker. Michaels, for obvious reasons, didn’t administer the count, and it looked like Michaels would make the final count after Batista speared Jericho. But this didn’t happen because JBL came down and pulled Michaels out of the ring. Then, as Austin was slowly getting back in, third choice referee Randy Orton came down, only to get stunned by Austin, and after all of this went on, Batista took Jericho out with the Batista bomb, and with Austin making the three count, we had a new world champion. As I said, it was okay, but were all the run-ins from the other referees and JBL really necessary?

In conclusion - I really enjoyed WWE’s latest attempt at making their new universe more interactive. The matches ranged from good to great, although there were a couple of moments where I was left scratching my head a little. However (and this is the rant I promised earlier), by only allowing fans to vote mainly by text, those WWE fans outside North America were more or less alienated, having had their voices taken away. This for me diminishes the entire concept of the event, and it was done just so WWE could make a bit more cash. Asking their fans to pay for text voting as well as the pay-per-view is going a bit far in my opinion.

The WWE now ram the concept of their “universe” down our throats, trying to make us feel like a part of a worldwide community, but they ignored a big part of that universe with Cyber Sunday.