WWE Cyber Sunday 2008 DVD Review

Cyber Sunday, WWE’s “most interactive PPV” has always divided the fans into those who believe the voting is a scam and those who fall into the “they really count” camp. I, personally, fall into the latter (with WWE semi-manipulating situations to get the desired results).

wwe-cyber-sunday-2008-dvd-cover_1

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 162mins (excluding extras)

Disc: 1

Chapters

  • No Holds Barred Match: Kane v Rey Mysterio
  • ECW Championship Match: Matt Hardy v Evan Bourne
  • WWE Universe Chooses the Tag Team Match: Cryme Tyme v John Morrison & The Miz
  • WWE Intercontinental Championship Match: Santino Marella v Honky Tonk Man
  • Last Man Standing Match: Undertaker v Big Show
  • Divas Halloween Costume Contest
  • WWE Championship Match: Triple H v Jeff Hardy
  • World Heavyweight Championship Match with Special Referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin: Chris Jericho v Batista

Extras

  • WWE.com Exclusive Pre-Show Contest – WWE United States Championship Match: Shelton Benjamin v R-Truth
  • Honky Tonk Man, Roddy Piper and Goldust Argue Over Who Was the Greatest Intercontinental Champion

The reason I believe that the results are genuine is down to a number of factors. The first is that asking people to spend money on voting for something and then ignoring said votes is a criminal offence (as seen by the recent scandals in the UK) and, secondly, that some of the results of the voting has been against what should have been the obvious choice (Kane/Snitsky was, clearly, supposed to have the chair as the weapon of choice, yet ended up with the chain. The finish still ended up using the chair, even though Snitsky should have been disqualified for wielding it).

There has also been the testimony of the wrestlers themselves (OK, not the most reliable sources) in WWE media and outside organisations published material. Chris Jericho, the IC champ involved in the first ever match at this event (then called Taboo Tuesday), has gone on record many times stating that he had no idea it would be Shelton Benjamin who would come out and face him (Shelton was one of FIFTEEN wrestlers who could have fought that night – WWE have never gone for that many options since) until his music hit.

The 2008 edition threw up some intriguing match-ups, even though WWE did kind of cheat with the Kane/Rey match (two of the three options basically allowed the guys to have the same match and just tweak the finish a little).

The first thing I’d like to address with this DVD is the options menu. I know most of us will have seen the event, but there are some who haven’t, so having the options menu (with music that is catchy for about a minute and then gets on your nerves) reveal the results of all the bouts is a shame. I can remember WWE releases where they wouldn’t spoiler the situation (like with a tournament; they’d have the first-round wrestlers listed, but then only mention that the next rounds were on the card and not who actually fought in them). It’s a small thing, but if you hadn’t seen the event and checked the chapters first, a lot of the appeal of this PPV is taken away.

Anyway, enough of that, let’s talk about Cyber Sunday 2008 itself. The show starts with one of the worst (WWE) pre-show hype videos in living memory. Normally a seriously strong point with WWE television and pay-per-view broadcasts (WWE’s production staff are usually the best around when it comes to promotional vignettes), the introduction to Cyber Sunday is a mish-mash of superstars reading a line from the script in succession with all the passion and verve of a man on his last walk as he heads towards the gas chamber. It really is a massive misfire and means you go into the event a little unsure.

Of the seven matches on the card, three of the matches had set opponents and the fans voting for the stipulations they would be fought under and another three, all title matches, had a trio of opponents to choose from (although, the results of two of them were more than obvious). The remaining match on the card was a tag match that had the fans vote on three pairings. Interestingly, CM Punk (the poster-boy for this event) was lost in the shuffle of this match and, ironically, didn’t feature on the card at all.

The opening match is Kane v Rey that could have been fought under either “Falls Count Anywhere”, “No Holds Barred” or “2-out-of-3 Falls” rules, with the first two basically allowing the same match layout to be used. The feud between the two was, mostly, a boring and confusing mess that was quietly dropped after WWE realised very few people were buying into it.

The match itself is decent enough, but is almost a copy of their previous encounters. Rey does channel Sabu and use an Arabian Facebuster at one point (although Michael Cole thinks it was a “unique” move), but apart from that, it’s nothing special… although, the finishing sequence (from when Kane brings in the ringsteps) is really well worked and logical under the stipulation.

The second match of the night is also the first title match of the evening as Evan Bourne (in a landslide) is chosen to face Matt Hardy.  This was the choice I would have picked if I could vote (as Matt had faced the other two numerous times); I wanted to see what Evan could do in a PPV environment… and he didn’t disappoint.

Matt has become a master of his craft in the last few years and can have a good-to-great match with virtually anyone on the roster. Evan Bourne is (was?) one of the most exciting talents to show up on WWE television in many a year. Putting them together seemed like a match made in Heaven… and almost 70% of those who voted felt the same way.

The fans in the arena were also happy with the result and cheered on both men throughout a beautifully paced match that was a credit to both men. Like in the olden days of WCW, two smaller wrestlers had the potential to steal the MOTN honours. They didn’t quite reach those heights, but the match is really, really good with a high-octane finish that could have went either way.

The third match on the card is, to me, the very definition of “filler”. We could have had either Mickey James & Jamie Noble v William Regal & Layla, Cryme Tyme v Miz & Morrison or Priceless (Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase) v CM Punk – the cover star – & Kofi Kingston. The fans chose middle option, which was a minor disappointment to me (and to WWE?) due to how well the latter of the three had been working together in the previous few weeks.

As much as I love Miz & Morrison, they are wasted by being used in nothing matches against a team like Cryme Tyme. Legitimate contenders for the best tag team WWE has produced since the TLC era, M&M should be pushed and protected at all costs. Putting them into this environment does no-one any favours. Both Miz and Morrison carry themselves like the stars they are and just seem above and beyond all except the upper-echelon on the roster.

From one filler match to another straight after. The difference is that Santino Marella’s matches are secondary to both his character and anything non-wrestling he does on camera. This was the very definition of  “comedy match” and, as such, was kept short for all the right reasons. Goldust (who is seriously out of shape at this event, although he did lose a lot of weight once he was re-signed on a contract), Honky Tonk and Piper were used perfectly in this situation and showed TNA how you book a comedy segment using veteran wrestlers. Honky gets a great pop from the fans as he was chosen in the closest of all the votes at this year’s event.

I’ve said this many times before, but Santino Marella (“the champion of all the Earth”) is, quite possibly, the greatest comedy wrestler in history. Everything he does just seems to click hilariously well. The fans in arenas seem to love him as well and, seeing as how this was in the midst of the “Honk-a-Meter” era, this was a highlight for me personally. The match sucks (as if you expected anything else), but Santino’s pre-match promo (AND DANCING!!!) is worth it’s proverbial weight in gold.

The rest of the matches on the card are all business, with Undertaker v Big Show exceeding all expectations with their Last Man Standing Match. Sure, there are shortcuts along the way, but they add to the match rather than take away from it. The one thing that annoyed me when watching it first time around was the stipulations. To me, a Last Man Standing Match (where the loser is the man who can’t answer a ten count) and a Knockout Match (where, um, the loser is the man who can’t answer a ten count) are the same thing. A minor quibble, but one that takes away from the voting a little bit.

Saying that, the action is hard, brutal and intense,with both men doing their best to put on a good match. They build on their previous encounters and logically progress from exchanges that took place in those matches. Undertaker countering Big Show’s chokeslam into a DDT will never get old; it’s a thing of beauty and Show deserves a lot of credit for how he takes it. Other highlights include successful chokeslam from the barricade into the announcers table (even if the referee’s subsequent count was obviously messed up) and the finishing sequence, which achieves an awesome pop from the fans (and rightfully so). A well-worked gimmick match between two guys who have good chemistry and the size to make even basic exchanges seem bigger and better.

To lighten the tone before the WWE and World Title matches, the Divas provide some much needed eye-candy and perform their annual costume contest. Sister Tiffany, French Maid Maryse (in my opinion, the hottest Diva on the roster by a mile) and Tomb Raider Mickey James are very, very nice on the eyes, but, credit must also go to  Victoria the Banana for services to comedy.

Of the two matches remaining, I was more interested in the WWE Championship Match than the World Heavyweight Championship Match due to the prospect of another Jeff/HHH encounter. There was no-way the fans would vote Koslov in on his own, so I knew Jeff would be involved, but I also had a feeling that Hardy in a one-on-one match would get the nod over a Triple Threat Match.

As fate would have it, that is exactly what happened, so we got another sterling match between two guys who just seem to click with each other once the bell rings. The match is not as good as their matches at Armageddon 2007, tNo Way Out 2008 (which, to be fair, featured another four wrestlers and awesome gimmick) or their heated encounter at the previous month’s No Mercy, but it is still a great encounter.

The action is an extension of those bouts mentioned above and has a lot of exciting exchanges between the two of them. Also, like a lot of the earlier matches on the card, the finish is a thing of beauty. There is no way – I repeat, no way – either of the other two options available could have come close to what these two put out. This was my MOTN.

So, we come to the second main-event of the evening and the last match on the card; World Heavyweight Championship Match between Chris Jericho and Batista. Steve Austin (with SEVENTY-NINE PERCENT) was elected to officiate this match and was also voted in to referee the World Heavyweight Championship Match at last year’s event (which also had Batista involved – as champion). This would mark the first time Shawn Michaels would lose a Cyber Sunday/Taboo Tuesday voting, while JBL never stood a chance.

Learning from last year’s event, where the special referee was, basically, a non-factor, 2008’s attempt featured a lot of good action between the wrestlers and Steve Austin. WWE, obviously unsure of how the voting would go, worked out a great way to have all three feature in the match without it seeming forced or illogical.

Of course, in any match where there is a special referee, some (if not all) of the attention is taken away from the actual match they are officiating and is shone on them instead. This match is no different, but it is pulled of with aplomb. Old angles are continued (Jericho/HBK) new rivalries are born (HBK/JBL) and the finish is a hot-botch of things happening all over the place… but done where it makes sense and has a purpose. The crowd reaction when Randy Orton makes his appearance and Steve Austin’s response to it are awesome. The crowd react so much, it literally causes the hard-cam to shake.

A great match to close possibly the best version of this event since it began in 2004 and you can’t go wrong with an Austin Beer Bash [tm] to close the show.

Extras

The first extra on the disc is the dark-match that took place before the PPV and is Shelton Benjamin defending the WWE United States Championship against R-Truth. The bout is decent enough, and deserves to be seen by more than those who logged on to WWE.COM to watch it. In my opinion, this should have been swapped on the card with Cryme Tyme v Miz & Morrison.

The second is the better of the two and is an eighty-second comedy backstage promo between Goldust, Honky Tonk Man and Roddy Piper over who was the best IC champion of all time. The old-timers ham it up with great dialogue such as…

Piper: I beat The Mountie.

Honky: Yeah, but I beat them all.

Two nice additions to a really good PPV.

Overview

The first thing that catches your eye when the show gets under way is the stage. WWE show, once again, why they are light-years ahead of every other televised wrestling/fight company with a stunning set designed to look like a massive mobile phone with screens where the buttons would be. It really is gorgeous to look at and a credit to the WWE design team.

Your enjoyment of the show will depend on your tolerance for Todd Grisham. “The Grish” is the compère for the event, announcing the results for each of the matches AND working the commentary desk with Matt Striker (as one-half of the Powerslam Announcing Duo of the Year).

I made brief mention of the piss-poor opening video and how WWE normally do so much better. The proof of this is in the video promo for Wrestlemania XXV that is shown after the Intercontinental Championship match. How WWE messed up so badly is a mystery.

The matches on the card vary from passable to awesome. The Santino/Honky match was never going to be anything other than a comedy skit, so that lived up to all expectations, but the tag match should have been removed and replaced with Shelton/R-Truth from earlier in the night. The three main title matches are great and Big Show v Undertaker is better than expected.

All in all, a great card and one that deserves to be added to your collection.

Oh, and WWE have edited out Vickie getting the result wrong (she initially said that “I Quit” had won the vote), so that is another thing TNA should learn about mistakes in their broadcasts.

Finally, props to WWE for using ‘Propane Nightmares’ by Pendulum as the theme for this event.

Points: 8/10 (This would have been higher if it wasn’t for the wasted use of Miz & Morrison).

Buy It:

UK: DVD

USA: DVD

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