WWE / wresling

schattenjaeger
Schattenjaeger's Previously Owned Reviews #1: WWE Survivor Series 2018
Introduction Okay, I'll do this now. Welcome to Schattenjaeger's Previously Owned Reviews, a brand I first started over at Steemit, but due to Steemit being an uninteresting piece of crap these days, I'm moving it over to Scorum. I will mainly be focusing on pro wrestling. And most likely mainly on retro things, but if something interesting takes place in the modern world of pro wrestling, I'll make sure to cover it. Survivor Series, coincidentally enough, happens to be a great place to start the review series, as it was a show with a ton of significant things going on. And by "a ton", I'm mainly talking about the two title matches at the end, but that's already a lot more than most modern WWE PPVs have going for them. I'll quickly run down the way I rate matches: 5 Stars (*****) is a basically what I consider to be a perfect professional wrestling match. There have only ever been a few during the entire time I've been a fan that I'd consider five star worthy. To mention the two that always immediately come to my mind: Owen and Bret at SummerSlam 1994, the first Hell in a Cell match between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker from Badd Blood 1997, Bret and Austin at WrestleMania 13, and Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat from the 1989 Chi-Town Rumble. Just because a match isn't rated five stars, it doesn't mean there's something "wrong" with it, per se. It's just that I feel "five stars" is an accolade that should be protected, and only really reserved for those few special cases. I very rarely rate anything five stars. 4 Stars (****) is just a step below the above. A four star match is a match that captures my imagination, has me glued to the TV throughout, and makes me care about the outcome. It takes more than "good in-ring work" for me to rate a match four stars. It also takes interesting characters and character work, selling, and the ability to engage both the audience and me. I feel that the latter part is something that is severely lacking in today's pro wrestling. And not just the WWE, mind you. I'd like to add that getting the NXT crowd to chant "This is Awesome!" doesn't count. 3 Stars (***) is a rating that I'm willing to give to a match that only has great ring work going on. A great TV match can easily be in the three-star region. A solid, well-executed match that, for all its upsides, lacks that oomph to push it to four stars. This doesn't always have to be a fault in the performers; it can also be the lack of an interesting storyline, or a botched build to the match. Or lack thereof. This is why I call this the "good TV match territory". 2 Stars (**) is the "average WWE TV match". Good, solid, if uninteresting work that usually has little to no build or heat behind it, and thus offers no real reason to care about. Not a bad match. Just a match I have no interest in going back to. These matches, by the way, are a big reason why the weekly WWE TV shows are generally a chore to get through. People complained about the 20-minute opening promos on RAW way back in the day, but at least they progressed storylines. The heatless TV matches are just filler - especially in the case of RAW since they need to find ways to fill three hours. 1 Star (*) is a match that I think is downright bad. To be fair, not many WWE matches fall into this category since the work is generally solid enough to earn two or three stars, but sometimes these duds do happen. But they were more common in the yesteryears, especially on TV in the undercard. There has to be something wrong with the match for me to give it only one star. It's the opposite of a five-star match; something has to stick out, but in a negative way. Survivor Series 2018 First of all, let me say that I absolutely loathe the lazy RAW vs. SmackDown concept. A nice idea, in theory, I guess, but the WWE has never really gone anywhere with the idea. Nothing is on the line, and I have no reason to care about the outcome of any of the matches since there are no stakes in any of them. The PPV seemed to try to rectify it by giving RAW a clean sweep 6-0, but it was barely mentioned on RAW, and I don't think it was mentioned at all on SmackDown so that right there should tell you that the whole PPV was a waste of time. At least as far as storylines go. Thankfully, what took place in the ring was actually very entertaining, and putting aside my negative attitude towards the concept of the PPV, I did find myself enjoying the show pretty much from top to bottom. Oh, and by the way: no, I'm not covering the pre-show for the simple reason that I didn't watch it. These PPVs are already two decades long, so sitting through a pre-show in addition to the main PPV is just asking too much. Sorry. Team RAW (Bayley, Mickie James, Nia Jax, Sasha Banks & Tamina) w/Alexa Bliss defeat Team SmackDown (Asuka, Carmella, Mandy Rose, Naomi & Sonya Deville) in 20:15 The interesting story here was Nia Jax, and whether or not she'd have heat from the crowd over accidentally breaking Becky Lynch's nose and sidelining her with a concussion six days prior to the show. I predicted that the crowd would not be happy with Nia, and they weren't. Becky vs. Ronda was the match most people seemed to be most looking forward to in the entire show, so for Nia to botch and basically cancel that match, it wasn't going to be a good look for her. And it wasn't. And I actually want to talk about this for a bit. I've heard people supporting the idea of pushing Nia now that she has heat. The idea being that it'd be foolish to not take advantage of all this heat that Nia now finds herself with. The crowd legitimately hates her, which makes her an effective heel. I get that. I understand that. Nia having all this hate from the crowd will make for a great moment once Becky finally comes back and gets her hands on Nia. But there's something to be said, in my opinion, about the idea of rewarding Nia for her fuck up. Especially considering it's not Nia's first fuck up. She has a history of hurting people in the ring due to being reckless. My opinion is that it sends a bad message to the locker room when you reward someone for not doing his or her job right. Yeah, you could say that they did the same thing in 1997 when Owen was walking around with a shirt that said "Owen 3:16 Says I Just Broke Your Neck" in reference to him breaking Steve Austin's neck at SummerSlam, but I wouldn't consider that to be particularly responsible, either. And Owen had a much better reputation than Nia currently does, for sure. I've seen people say stuff like "Well, you don't work in the WWE as an agent, so it's none of your business to critique who gets put in what position" and whatnot, but I find it ironic coming from people running podcasts and blogs about wrestling; their work has everything to do with critiquing the WWE and their creative, so by their own logic, I could say: "Well, you don't work in the WWE creative, so what business is it of yours to be critical of the creative choices the company makes?" Right? And it's not about being a "snowflake" who is offended over WWE's decision to push Nia Jax. It's just being an observer who finds it silly that due to fucking up, Nia gets a reward that the other girls doing a better job than she is, aren't getting. Not like there aren't other over girls on the roster. I get wanting to capitalize on the heat, but you could just write Nia off TV until Becky is ready, have Becky job her out in two seconds, and have that be it. It would accomplish the same thing. And while doing so, it would send a much better message to the locker room. Anyhoo. The match itself was okay. Nothing spectacular. But I do want to point out that I find myself being impressed by the level of work the women are putting out consistently. The women are quite often the most interesting thing in the WWE for me. This match just never got above the pretty good mark. Like I said, it's difficult to care about these RAW vs. SmackDown matches since nothing is on the line, so it just becomes an exhibition for the girls and guys to get their shit in. Nothing wrong with the match, mind you. Just nothing to write home about, either. Bayley seemed a bit worse than usual, though. I'm not sure way. Almost hesitant with some of her spots. I haven't seen that from her before. But again, I don't watch WWE week to week anymore, so maybe this has been an on-going thing. Why has neither Sasha or Bayley turned on the other already, by the way? A heel Bayley would be something interesting - even though I hate the trope of "X should turn heel" that is always the internet's answer to everything. It's sad to see Alexa sidelined, and I'm worried about the rumors of her concussion issues keeping her from the ring for good. Alexa is my favorite out of the women, and while she isn't necessarily the in-ring worker that someone like a Charlotte is, she has the best grasp of her character out of anyone in the entire company, and that includes the men. A similar performer, to me, is Carmella. Not a flashy wrestler, but she more than makes up for it with her charisma and understanding of her character. I felt she was more in her element as a heel, but I'm happy to see that, for once, someone fully embraces the role of a babyface without coming off as lame. Asuka was finally being portrayed as a badass again, after being relegated to the role of an afterthought recently. It wasn't enough to earn her team the victory here, but she did remind me of why I still feel Ronda vs. Asuka is the real money match in the women's division. If only Asuka had been protected better this year. The finish comes with Nia turning on her teammate Sasha in order to steal the victory for herself. Basically, the WWE capitalized on the pre-built heat Nia has going for her now. As expected. Survivor: Nia Jax Rating: *** Seth Rollins [RAW] defeats Shinsuke Nakamura [SmackDown] in 21:27 Just because I failed to mention it above, let me just say that I also hate the damn geek shirts the wrestlers are made to wear during these Survivor Series PPVs. Nothing says "geek" more than wearing that stupid t-shirt of your brand. Especially since there's always a select few stars who get to bypass wearing the shirt. It just further accentuates how some wrestlers are perceived as stars while others aren't. This was a good match that could have been a great match with some build up and heat to go along with it. Unfortunately, again, nothing was on the line, so the match was an exhibition. Just like the match before. And I'm just not the type of wrestling fan that is only going to be impressed by ring work alone. Especially since Seth is in the middle of his feud with Dean Ambrose, and even stated on the go home RAW that his mind is not on his match with Nakamura. Okay since, in kayfabe, Seth doesn't care about his match with Nakamura, why should I, as a fan, give a shit, either? The end result is I didn't. And I like Nakamura, still. He's one of the rare Japan imports that I actually do enjoy. He's phoning it in and has been ever since he came to the WWE, but I still enjoy his charisma. A main eventer? Maybe not. Not with his current mentality. But a solid midcard name, absolutely. I did enjoy all the mannerisms and the storytelling in the match, which is why I'm convinced both men could do better if a match between them had an actual story going for it, but they worked with what they had. They do manage to get the crowd invested in the match, and I give credit for that, since going in, the match was not only cold but freezing. I just don't like these matches that pit two champions against each other in a non-title situation because one of the champions needs to lose for no reason, making that champion look weak as a result. Champions should be protected better, in my opinion. It doesn't accomplish anything, it only hurts. The finishing sequence was really cool with both men attempting to go their finishes, but having them countered multiple times until Seth finally manages to land the Curb Stomp, getting the pinfall. Seth and Nakamura showed some good chemistry, and it'd be nice to see a match between them that actually has something on the line. Rating: *** AOP (Akam & Rezar) w/Drake Maverick [RAW] defeat The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) w/The Big Show [SmackDown] in 09:04 Eh. Meh. I actually like Sheamus. Most of the goodwill people had for Sheamus was killed dead with that neverevereveverending feud with Alberto Del Rio back in the day where the two had somewhere in the ballpark of 280 consecutive PPV matches against each other, and I can understand that. But I've always considered Sheamus to be a talent and a star. I know that his neck issues are probably the reason why he's never going to be a featured performer again, which is a shame, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Cesaro, I've never cared about, honestly. I know the internet has a hard-on for him, but to me, he's just been so vanilla and uncharismatic that I've never been able to get into his matches. I understand that he's objectively a very talented performer, but the severe lack of a character or any other defining traits other than "he's a good wrestler" make me pass on him. Sorry, Cesaro. I respect the talent, though. And dude's freakishly strong and stays in shape, and looks like a star in general. I just wish he was actually interesting. AOP I had never seen prior to watching this PPV - and I wasn't too impressed here. I know that they are an NXT tag team that was recently called up to the main roster, but it seems to be a thing with these NXT tag teams that they really don't connect with the fans on the main roster. The NXT fans are easy to please, but someone should teach these guys it takes more to make a mark on the main roster. This was a match where I had trouble paying attention. I guess it'd be a solid three-star match like the matches prior - if it wasn't for the embarrassingly bad finish. Basically, AOP's manager Drake Maverick gets so scared of the Big Show, he pisses himself. And then Cesaro and Sheamus are too busy at laughing at him, AOP manages to get the victory. In addition to this being stupid toilet humor, my problem with this whole angle is that it doesn't even make the heels look bad; it's the babyfaces who laugh at Drake for pissing himself that end up looking bad, and looking like bullies. The babyfaces, in a logical setting, should be the ones defending the kid who gets bullied by the heels - not the other way around. Why am I expected to side with babyfaces who make fun of someone pissing his pants? It's stupid. This all goes back to the WWE not being very good at writing babyfaces in general. Rating: ** WWE Cruiserweight Title Match Buddy Murphy (c) defeats Mustafa Ali in 12:20 Hey, it's a match with something on the line! It's the Cruiserweight title, but still. It's something. Immediately, the match felt bigger than any of the prior bouts on the card. I'm not someone who is a huge fan of the "indy" or "cruiserweight" style, and the WWE has given very little reason for me to give a damn about the cruiserweights, but I'd be hard pressed to say that the work here wasn't very good. I was actually surprised by how much I ended up liking this match. It felt like a big deal; both men seemed like they wanted to win and cared about the outcome. There was some lack of selling on display, but the facial expressions and desperation showcased by both men did pull me in, which is something I'm looking for in a match. The WWE has managed to make the women's division interesting, but still seems to be struggling with the cruiserweights, though. The crowd wasn't too invested in this match at any point, and I can't blame them since both men wrestle on a show that no one watches, showcasing a division no one is given a reason to care about. And it's not always the fault of the performers. To a point, it is. But the 205 Live show is so buried underneath RAW and SmackDown, I give them a slight pass. I wouldn't mind the cruiserweights being integrated into RAW and SmackDown - especially RAW because it's three hours and as mundane as mundane can be - instead of having their own show. I don't think the women would be as over as they are if you had to go out of your way to watch their own show on the Network. They're over because they're a part of the main weekly shows that everyone watches. Rating: ***1/4 Team RAW (Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre & Finn Balor) w/Baron Corbin & Lio Rush defeat Team SmackDown (Jeff Hardy, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Shane McMahon & The Miz) in 23:59 The men's Survivor Series match was very similar to the women's match beforehand, in the sense that very little happened, but nothing was really wrong with it, either. Though I wonder who Samoa Joe pissed off. He got the scrub elimination in first few seconds of the match. I don't think Joe is ever going to headline in the WWE after losing every attempt at a world title and seemingly never managing to get a big win when it counts. I can take or leave Joe in 2018 myself, but it's something I've noticed with his booking. The big story of the match was making Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman look good. WWE seems to be rather schizophrenic when it comes to Strowman; they want him to be an unstoppable monster, except when it comes to those actual main event matches where it counts. A bit like Joe, honestly. But Strowman has more years left, so there's more time for him to come back from all of the losses. It's just weird to me how WWE seems to love the guy, but at the same time seem so unwilling to go one step further with him. Drew is clearly their next big guy. And it's easy to see why. Drew is tall, he's muscular, he has a great, menacing look, and I remember Angle insisting on putting him over in TNA due to seeing something in him. So, I trust Angle. I'm not sold on Drew yet myself, but I'm more than willing to see where it goes. For some reason, on the Team SmackDown side of things, the man getting the most attention was Shane McMahon. I understand that he is The Best in the World, but if Team SmackDown was going to lose, why put Shane over Ziggler, again? What gives? I thought the entire point of World Cup victory at Crown Jewel was that Shane lucked out. But now Shane goes over Ziggler again, proving that Ziggler is a scrub. And I'm no Ziggler fan. But Ziggler is a full-time performer. What's the end game of having Shane go over the actual wrestlers on the roster? What's the money being made there? Shane was also the only one in the match who didn't have to wear the geek shirt, further showcasing how he is above all of these scrubs. No wonder no new stars are being created, honestly. I hate to sound like a whiny IWC critic, but that is honestly how I feel. Shane gets his shit in, is the last man standing from his team, but in the end does succumb to the surviving Team RAW members of Braun, Drew, and Lashley. It just feels silly that the lasting impression from this match is Shane being portrayed as the heroic babyface, even though the role could have easily been given to someone like Rey, or even Miz who has been hitting it off on all cylinders lately. Well, I guess you need to showcase The Best in the World. Survivors: Bobby Lashley, Braun Strowman & Drew McIntyre Rating: *** Ronda Rousey [RAW] defeats Charlotte Flair [SmackDown] by DQ in 14:40 It's not the match we originally wanted, but it's the match we got - and that's not a bad thing at all! Don't get me wrong: I was very much looking forward to Becky vs. Ronda, but I was more than satisfied with the substitute we got. Ronda and Charlotte put on a hell of a match that went a long way showing me why the women seem to put on the more interesting matches in the WWE these days. I was thinking about this the other day, and came to the conclusion that the women don't rely as much on high-risk moves, gymnastics spot and the like, and the stuff is more grounded and basic, which is something I enjoy. Holy shit, this match went full speed ahead from the opening bell; it was snug, it was intense, it was everything I personally look for in a professional wrestling match. Ronda has evolved nicely as a performer, and I'll talk about that more in a minute. I'm sure her big matches are still very much rehearsed, but she has a great grasp on things like selling, and I respect the fact that she really throws herself into this thing. She clearly wants this, and leaves it all in the ring. It was interesting to see how the crowd would respond to this match due to Becky being replaced with Charlotte, but I guess since Becky and Charlotte embraced each other on the go home SmackDown, the crowd accepted Charlotte as Becky's replacement. Even though there was nothing on the line in this match, either, the fact that it had the most build out of all the matches on the card, helped it immensely. The match did work as part of Charlotte's ongoing insecurity angle, and it also became part of the finish. We didn't get a conclusive finish as Charlotte got herself disqualified by whacking Ronda with a kendo stick for the DQ, but it didn't matter at all as the beat down angle that followed was more than enough to satisfy the crowd. The weird thing about this, though, was that instead of turning Charlotte heel, the spot made her a babyface. The crowd, for whatever reason, turned on Ronda, and I'm honestly not sure why. Maybe because she's feuding with Becky, and Becky is the hottest act in the company right now. It did make me feel bad for Ronda as she had busted her ass for this, and really didn't deserve to have the crowd shit on her like this. But the way the beatdown was done did no favors for Ronda; it's a pure babyface spot when someone does an extended beatdown, leaves the ring, and then comes back to continue the beatdown further. So, Ronda was, in a way, in a no-win situation here. I still think the WrestleMania match should be Ronda and Becky, but keeping Ronda as a babyface in that match is going to be tough. The crowd will absolutely favor Becky over Ronda, and I can see it damaging Ronda, to be honest. Nevertheless, it is the hottest match the company can book right now. Women's wrestling has come a long way since the Divas Era, and now a women's match could easily be considered to be WrestleMania main event worthy. It's pretty crazy. How Charlotte figures into all of this remains to be seen. Surely this issue between her and Ronda needs to continue at some point, as well. My hat off to both women here. They did a great job. Rating: **** Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman [RAW] defeats Daniel Bryan [SmackDown] in 18:43 It was hard to know what to expect out of this one. The originally advertised match was Brock Lesnar vs. AJ Styles, a rematch from last year's Survivor Series. But out of the blue, Daniel Bryan won the WWE title from AJ on the final SmackDown before the PPV, and not only that, but he also turned heel in the process. This was the dream match Bryan had been wanting for years, so it was nice to see him finally getting it, though. Despite turning heel, Bryan clearly worked this match as the babyface by default, which was confusing, but ended up working really well. I guess the logic here was that this brand rivalry theme of the PPV bypassed any and all ongoing storylines for this one night, and regularly scheduled programming would continue the week after. This match, just like Ronda and Charlotte, was off the hooks. It was the most invested I've been in a fake wrestling match in quite some time. Mostly because the men were clever enough to play off of all of our fears and doubts going into the match regarding Bryan's health. Bryan already retired once due to severe concussion issues, so the thought of Lesnar suplexing him around like a ragdoll was a scary one. The match opened up with a deadly German Suplex that left Bryan motionless on the ring apron. For a moment there, it looked like he got legitimately hurt. And I was looking at the referee to see if he was going to do the X sign to signify an injury. Lesnar continued to suplex Bryan from one side of the ring to the other several times, to the point of it becoming very disturbing. Bryan's selling was excellent as he had a glazed look in his eyes that was designed to make you fear for his brain. The first German was the worst, though, as it looked like Bryan was trying to flip over in mid-air, but just missed it, landing straight on his head. He ended up being okay, though, thankfully. Just as the crowd was starting to chant "boring" and "same old shit" at Lesnar, Bryan surprised him with a low blow, and the match officially started. Bryan managed to believably take Lesnar to the limit, showing why he's one of the best workers in the world by quite a considerable margin. The crowd became unglued and, for the duration of this one match, forgot all about Bryan's heel turn a few days prior, and was cheering him on like it was WrestleMania XXX all over again. For a second there, they almost had me fooled that Lesnar was going to tap out to the Crossface, but in the end, Lesnar did hit the F5 for the pin. I'm sure most everyone expected Lesnar to get the win in the end, so this was not surprising, but the amount of stuff Bryan got in on Brock was more than I saw happening. In the end, it was an excellent match, one that had me glued to the TV, cheering Bryan on. But it wasn't just Bryan; Brock also showed why he is a great professional wrestler when given the opportunity, and when he cares enough to be. Lesnar absolutely made Bryan look like a threat, sold everything he did like death, and only escaped by the skin of his teeth. Probably my match of the year in the WWE in 2018. Just because of the emotional investment involved. Rating: ****1/2 Overall Survivor Series was a thumbs-up show, salvaged mostly by the last two matches, with the undercard being serviceable enough to make the overall show solid. Ronda and Charlotte and Lesnar and Bryan are both worth a rewatch, and are matches I'd recommend out of this card. This is a strong showing when one considers my general lack of interest in the gimmick of the PPV. Not to mention the fact that Bryan and Lesnar had zero build-up, and was essentially a heel vs. heel match. Overall, I had a good time watching this PPV, and it did make me interested in watching both follow up TV shows the following week. Thanks for reading, and if you want to get more of these, drop a follow. See ya.
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battleaxeupdated
An Ode to Asuka
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