Having realised, it seems, that Tuesday night pay-per-views are as dead as the proverbial dodo, what was once Taboo Tuesday, is now Cyber Sunday. That it has remained on the WWE calendar — in whatever guise — is a good thing, for the concept of the fan vote to decide matches or stipulations has potential if used correctly.
For fans, the great appeal of the vote concept is that they can play the role of the match-maker, affording them the opportunity to “book” matches — the matches that they want to see.
Still, the appeal of that concept is negated if, as was the case with this year’s show, few of the decisions were really worth making. What is the difference, for example, in having either Coach, Mr McMahon or Eric Bischoff as a referee, when all three are pursuing storyline vendettas with D-Generation X?
In any case, while there was undoubted room for improvement, such grumbles did not seem to concern the crowd at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio, nor the fans who cast the 14,687,233 votes in the lead-up to the show. Indeed, the Cincinnati crowd were in loud voice for the majority of this pay-per-view offering.
Match #1: Umaga vs Kane
After Umaga hit the ring, it was Todd Grisham and Maria — who, with bra exposed, was dressed like she had forgotten to zip up the front of her outfit — who gave us the staggering result that Kane had taken 49% of this vote, and would face “The Samoan Bulldozer” in the opening contest. I cannot believe that Chris Benoit, the U.S champion, came dead last in the voting.
This was an improvement on previous Umaga vs Kane encounters, aided by what was a vociferous arena crowd. The match was the expected showcase of kicks and closed fists, although Umaga did strike with a belly-to-belly suplex and a diving headbutt from the second turnbuckle. After the match went to the outside, however, he missed the Samoan Spike, striking only the ringpost.
Back in the ring, Kane then utilised an uncharacteristic back suplex, before going to the top rope for his patented clothesline. Umaga countered the move with a blow to the chest, before striking with the Samoan Spike for the pinfall.
Match rating: 5.5/10
Match #2: Viscera & Charlie Haas vs The Highlanders vs Cade & Murdoch vs Cryme Tyme
After a backstage segment in which Sharmell failed to convince Big Show to help her husband in the main event, it was time for this four-way tag team match, which was voted as a Tornado match (all wrestlers in the ring at the same time).
Whilst it was somewhat of a throwaway match, there were several nice manoeuvres on show here, including stereo plancha dives by The Highlanders, a perfect released German suplex by Charlie Haas, as well as a new move by Cryme Tyme, which saw Shad slam his partner catapult-style onto Viscera.
The finish came when Cade and Murdoch struck the High-Low on Robbie, but Cryme Tyme ousted them from the ring and “stole” the pinfall for themselves. After the match, they also pinched Jerry Lawler’s laptop.
Winners: Cryme Tyme
Match rating: 5.0/10
In another backstage segment, D-X noted that they wanted to see Eric Bischoff as the special referee, as they haven’t had the chance to “do anything bad to him” yet. When HHH noted Bischoff’s claim that D-X weren’t controversial, Michaels declared that he was the man “who put Bret Hart in the Sharpshooter”, before taking out his frustration out on three bystanders, hitting each with a superkick.
Match #3 — Intercontinental Championship: Jeff Hardy ( c ) vs Carlito
Carlito garnered 62% of the vote for this one, which wasn’t surprising considering that not only is he a popular babyface, but because the match was also teased on last week’s edition of Raw.
The bout began with a very sportsmanlike handshake, but Carlito soon bucked that trend by dropkicking Hardy in the knee. From there, the match fell apart for several minutes, with both men’s positioning and anticipation way off, although it recaptured some fluidity when Hardy went for a Swanton bomb, but only struck Carlito’s raised knees.
After scoring with two springboard manoeuvres in a row — a twisting senton and a quebrada — Carlito blocked an attempt at the Twist of Fate, only to be caught with the Whisper in the Wind top rope attack. Carlito then made an attempt to stop this opponent coming off the top with the Swanton Bomb, but was pushed to the canvas, allowing Hardy to score with the move, and get the pin.
Winner: Jeff Hardy
Match rating: 5.5/10
Match #4: D-Generation X vs Edge & Randy Orton
After D-X had spent around five minutes lapping up the cheers of the crowd, it was announced that Eric Bischoff had garnered 60% of the vote, and would referee this contest.
The match started off at a surprisingly slow pace, and was initially notable for both Bischoff’s impartiality, and his steady counting. The match really began to take shape almost ten minutes in, with Orton crotching Michaels on the ringpost as he prepared to deliver Sweet Chin Music to Edge. From there, Orton hit his own variation of a backbreaker, and Edge set himself to hit Michaels with the spear.
Unfortunately for Bischoff, it was he who accidentally ended up in the way of the spear, and he remained motionless at ringside for the next several minutes. Bizarrely, then, with no referee around, both Triple-H and Orton waited to make the tag before entering the ring, a move which made no sense whatsoever.
After Edge hit Triple-H with a spear, Orton also caught him with the RKO, which brought a count of two from the newly-arrived referee Chad Patten. When he went for a second RKO, however, Triple-H pushed Orton straight into a superkick from Michaels, and it was only Bischoff’s attack of Patten that stopped a three-count being delivered.
Realising that Bischoff had just cost them the win, Michaels pursued the former Raw General Manager, before Edge cracked him with a chair shot to the head. Orton then hit Triple-H with another RKO, this time onto a chair, and Bischoff counted the pinfall.
Winners: Edge & Randy Orton
Match rating: 6.5 / 10
Match #5 — Women’s Championship Tournament final: Lita vs Mickie James
The WWE Divas all made their way to the ring before the start of this match, even before it was announced as a Diva Lumberjack match. Aside from a couple of altercations, it seemed that the Divas were out there only to provide some atmosphere, as the crowd’s silence here was absolutely deafening.
The finish came after a complete mess of a Tornado DDT by James, who was then herself struck with a DDT by Lita, who scored the pin to reclaim the title that she had lost to the retiring Trish Stratus.
This match was a good physical effort from both women, but technically, was nothing short of dire.
Match rating: 1.5 / 10
Match #6 — WWE Tag Team Championship: Kenny & Mikey ( c ) vs Ric Flair & “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Garnering 46% of the fan vote, it was Piper who was selected to be Flair’s partner, although judging by his awful physique and pasty white skin, he clearly wasn’t prepared for that eventuality.
Piper took the majority of the punishment in this short bout, before making the hot tag to Flair, who had his first attempt at a Figure Four leglock foiled by an impressive legdrop off the top rope by Kenny. It didn’t take long for him to get a second chance at the move, however, and as Kenny was disposed of by Piper, Flair locked in the Figure Four on Mikey for the tapout.
After the match, Dusty Rhodes and Sgt. Slaughter, who had joined Flair & Piper at ringside, helped to clear the ring of the Spirit Squad, before the celebrations began for the new World Tag Team champions.
Winners: Ric Flair & “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Match rating: 4.5 / 10
Backstage once more, King Booker tried to convince John Cena to come “into the kingdom” for the evening, and help him dispose of the threat of Big Show. Cena said that he wanted to spend an evening with Queen Sharmell in return, to which Booker — after asking the Queen to leave the room — hilariously replied “Okay.” Letting Booker into the fact that he was jesting, Cena then informed Sharmell of what The King had said, which caused an argument between her and Booker, to which Ron Simmons uttered “Damn!”
Match #7 — World Heavyweight Championship: King Booker ( c ) vs John Cena vs Big Show
67% of the vote dictated that King Booker’s World Heavyweight title should be on the line in the main event, which is no surprise considering that out of the three champions involved, Booker is by far the most hated.
Despite their earlier altercation in which Cena said that he would not align with Booker, his doing so provided a major storyline in the match, as they combined to clothesline Big Show over the top rope, affording them the chance to battle alone in the ring for over five minutes.
Booker controlled the majority of this period, hitting a Stun Gun and DDT, before Show entered the fray again, only to immediately taste a top-rope dropkick while he held Cena on his shoulders. From there, Show was once again put out of commission, this time when Cena pushed him into the ringpost, after Show had threatened to put him through the English announce table.
Back in the ring, Queen Sharmell attempted to strike Cena with the championship belt, but Cena anticipated the move, and hit her with an F-U. He then locked Booker in the STFU, but with the referee tending to Sharmell, Kevin Federline entered the ring and hit Cena in the back with the belt. The distraction was more telling than the actual blow, however, as when Cena chased K-Fed from the ring, Booker struck him with a weak belt shot, and captured the pin.
Winner — King Booker
Match rating: 6.5 / 10
With a show that provided little that could be considered above average, the WWE will have to make marked improvements to its next Cyber Sunday card if the concept is to survive. Too many of the matches seemed sloppy, and there was nothing here to distinguish this from the average episode of RAW.
Furthermore, the fact that the two marquee matches — D-X vs Edge & Orton and the Champion of Champions main event — both featured unsatisfying finishes is a sign that Cyber Sunday was little more than a pay-per-view set-up for the Survivor Series. It should be the job of television, not pay-per-view, to set up next month’s show.
Cyber Sunday was certainly not worth your equivalent of $39.95US. For those of you yet to test the waters, it may be time to give TNA a try.