Night Of Champions

What: The annual PPV which boasts a card filled with championship matches.

Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

When: 15/09/2013

SummerSlam marked the beginning of a new era in the WWE, an era which sees the COO of the WWE, Triple H, as the top heel, calling upon the Mr. McMahon days of years gone by. With a new Corporation outfit in place, it is a time in which the favourites are being held to ransom for any mishaps, and in the case of Daniel Bryan, not fitting the image of the company, preventing Bryan from becoming the WWE Champion and the poster-boy of the WWE.

Daniel Bryan, the indie hero, had completed the long climb of the ladder to the top of the biggest company in professional wrestling by beating John Cena in the WWE Championship match at SummerSlam. But it wasn’t without an ending that left a sour taste in the mouth of the majority of the WWE Universe.

The culmination of a long, hard-fought journey by Daniel Bryan was shattered in a matter of minutes. Triple H, the special guest referee in that match, cost Bryan the championship by pummelling his face into the canvas via the Pedigree, and allowed the Money in the Bank briefcase holder Randy Orton, to cash in the contract in controversial fashion. The image of the Orton and Triple H holding the title above their heads meant only one thing: Daniel Bryan’s nightmare was about to become a reality.

Since that night, the scheduled episodes of RAW and SmackDown have produced the continuous efforts to suppress Bryan and his search for redemption. Night after night, it seemed that Triple H and Randy Orton, along with their muscle The Shield, would keep Bryan on his back, but as the weeks rolled on, Bryan’s number-one contendership gained momentum, and in the final week building up to Night of Champions, it was Bryan who was heading into the PPV with the odds on his side.

The other major rivalry going into the PPV was that of CM Punk and Paul Heyman, with Curtis Axel providing the real in-ring competition. The two-on-one elimination handicap match was eagerly anticipated, and after weeks and weeks of buildup following Punk’s defeat to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, we finally got to see Punk lay his hands on Paul Heyman.

The intensity of this feud has no doubt been fuelled by the past. Punk held the WWE Championship for 434 days, with Heyman at his side while Punk played the heel. How would it all end? Or would it become yet another miserable night for the ‘Best in the World?’

So, without further ado, here is a run-down of every match that occurred at Night of Champions. Disagree with my opinion or rating? Leave me a comment with your thoughts and opinions!

 

Tag Team Turmoil Number One Contender’s match (for a match against The Shield later on that night):

Overview:

The WWE don’t always get the Kickoff match right, in my opinion, but this was a solid start to the night. The Prime Time Players are in the middle of a push right now, and it is doing them the world of good. However, the crowd haven’t fully ‘got it’ yet, but their in-ring ability is there for all to see, and the seal barks and the ‘Millions of Dollars’ dance is gaining popularity.

The Usos and The Real Americans were the other two standout teams. The Usos are brilliant to watch, but it seems that they need more work before they can realistically start a push for the titles. The Real Americans surprised me, but only in the sense that they are working hard to make it work. Swagger looks as though he’s in better shape, and Cesaro, despite not featuring for much of the match, is a real gem in my eyes. A future World Heavyweight Champion? I would definitely say so.

As for 3MB and Tons of Funk, I have nothing but negatives to say unfortunately. My main concern is Drew McInytre; the once hand-picked ‘Chosen One’ by Vince McMahon has been stuck in character limbo for far too long now. I sincerely hope that NOC is the last we will see of 3MB, but I strongly doubt it. Tons of Funk on the other hand are… just not working. Brodus Clay’s Stegosaurus-style dinosaur scales on his spandex optimises everything that is wrong with the funky duo. Good idea in theory, perhaps, but two big guys trying to play nice just doesn’t work.

Winners: The Prime Time Players

Rating: 7/10

 

Highlight(s): 

* The Uso’s highflying ability is second to none; some great moments from the Samoan duo.

* Drew McIntyre’s springboard dive which wiped out Brodus Clay; proof of his potential, and the match proved how it’s being wasted.

* Jack Swagger’s intense ankle locks.

 

Triple H opening promo:

The opening to the PPV came as a bit of a surprise to all who were watching Night of Champions on Sunday. The opening promo, which saw Triple H welcoming everyone to the show, was slightly out of place for a PPV opener. The general opinion on Twitter was mixed, with many showing their discontent at the RAW-styled opening. However, positives can be taken from the back and forth between Hunter and Heyman/Axel, who came out to try and convince Triple H to cancel their match against CM Punk later in that night.

The passing of the torch is complete. Triple H has embodied Vince McMahon and his many mannerisms – snide, clever and manipulative.

Triple H answers the critics! Intercontinental Title match was booked there and then, after weeks of complaints from the WWE Universe.

Heyman, as always, was brilliant. His mic skills are amongst the best in the business. The unkept look he is sporting right now has really added to his crazed persona.

 

Curtis Axel v. Kofi Kingston – Intercontinental Championship match

Overview:

Axel is a really talented wrestler, no doubt about it, but he proved earlier on the mic where, as a talent, he lacks tenacity, style and substance. The match itself was a typical bout between the two; Kofi wooing the fans with a few springboard gems; Axel aggressive in his approach. The title doesn’t really benefit either superstar either; Kofi has become quite stale, despite his brilliant style and remarkable technical ability. Furthermore, Axel sells Kofi well, but its not his in-ring ability that lets him down.

Axel hit the Hangman’s Face-buster with great aplomb, to be fair, and Kofi solid it superbly. There were some great spots during the match, but nothing we haven’t previously from the pair.

Axel doesn’t need the belt to succeed in my opinion, but the title does need some revamping and an intriguing storyline to bring it back to the credibility it once held.

Winner: Curtis Axel

Rating: 6/10

Highlight(s):

* Kofi Kingston’s springboard spots are as exciting as ever – brilliantly executed moonsault to the outside.

* Curtis Axel’s hellacious dropkick to Kofi’s gut after an attempted aerial assault.

 

AJ Lee v. Natalya v. Brie Bella v. Naomi – WWE Divas Championship match:

Overview: 

The buildup to the Divas title match has involved the cast of Total Divas locked in a tit-for-tat battle with AJ Lee, who believes she deserves a role in the hit reality show. The storyline has been brilliant in one sense, bringing back a certain aura to the Divas division that has been lacking for some time. However, there is one massive problem: AJ makes the rest of Divas look rather amateur.

I will admit, I am quite critical of the Divas matches, but then again, most people will agree that the days of Trish Stratus and Lita made watching the Divas matches fun and interesting, and nowadays, we are treated to a division that lacks that level of talent.

A very mediocre match that felt clumsy and misguided, filled with botches.To be fair, there were some nicely worked spots, especially the crazy double-Sharpshooter by Natalya, but other than that, it was AJ, whose brilliance is vastly superior to any other Diva on the roster, who shone and came out victorious.

Winner: AJ Lee

Rating: 4/10

Highlight(s):

* Natalya’s double Sharpshooter on Brie Bella and Naomi

* A well worked hurricanrana from Naomi.

* The Black Widow – Have you seen a better submission hold from a Diva?!

 

Alberto Del Rio v. Rob Van Dam – World Heavyweight Championship match:

Overview:

Rob Van Dam, the ageless and awe-inspiring fan favourite, who at 42, can still wrestle with the best of them, faced the World Heavywight Champion, Alberto Del Rio, in a feud with Ricardo Rodriguez at the centre of all the heat.

Both men are exceptionally talented superstars, but this feud is hopefully the start of a transitional period for the belt and its scene. I have stated in previous articles that RVD does not need to hold a championship (let alone have a ring announcer) to sell merchandise. He is who he is; a masterclass, with sublime ability who will forever be over with the fans. Del Rio arguably needs a new sense of direction, because without Rodriguez, he stands as a man alone, a man who hasn’t gelled very well with the audiences he is performing for.

The match itself had some brilliant spots throughout, an exhaustive contest that was surprising from start to finish. The kicks were flying and the match never stopped gaining pace. A few botches to note as well; some comical, some less flattering, which at the time took away some of the attention that should have been saved for the finer moments.

However, the ending was the sourest aspect of the entire spectacle.

Two DQ wins at the last two PPVs for RVD, put simply, sucks. The segment went out with a bang with the Coast to Coast, but overall, fans will be disappointed to see no progression or change of direction. Twitter was calling for a Sandow cash-in, or at least an RVD win, but it seems this will carry on for a little while longer. It may be a long time before we see the ‘Intellectual Savoiur of the Masses’ as our World Heayweight Champion.

Winner: RVD by DQ

Rating: 6/10

Highlight(s):

* Comical moonsault from RVD hit Del Rio at an awkward angle.

* The usual RVD works –  How he is still able to pull it out the bag at his age is staggering!

* Every single kick from Del Rio was perfectly worked.

* Coast to Coast post-match.

 

Fandango v. The Miz

Overview:

I can’t see how the WWE can justify having this match on the card. Fandango is now officially a failed character, even with Summer Rae boogying beautifully alongside him. It’s not hot, and because The Miz is about as flat as it comes, when you put the two together, you get a weird, random mid-card feud that HAS TO BE all about dancing.. or.. or.. whatever The Miz is good at…

The match was worse than mediocre, and I’m not letting my personal opinions interfere when I say that The Miz might be one of the worst workers on the roster. His ridiculous faces and poor showmanship is just unbefitting of a WWE superstar. The sooner this ends, the better.

Winner: The Miz

Rating: 3/10

Highlight(s):

* Fandango’s Leg Drop

 

Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman v. CM Punk

Overview:

Put simply, CM Punk and Axel work very well together. Their chemistry has had to develop fast to produce a product in terms of wrestling.

The contest between CM Punk and Curtis Axel saw some exciting exchanges, which saw the infamous kendo stick included, and Punk’s experience really shone through to bring out the best in Axel.

However, the crowd were anticipating the eventual showdown between Punk and Heyman. The brutal beat-down on Heyman didn’t disappoint, and the surprise ending with Ryback will, in the long run, make things interesting if it is done properly.

Punk hasn’t won a PPV match now since Payback, but it’s not a concern, as he’s selling every inch of this storyline with blood, sweat and tears. The Twitter reaction was a mixed bag, but most think that Ryback’s involvement will add to the already intriguing story. In my opinion, it is a pefect opportunity for Ryback to REALLY sell himself on the big stage. His feud with John Cena earlier in the year didn’t quite live up to the main event hype, but if this is handled well, we could see a brilliant new angle emerge from this controversial ending. No doubt, we will see the new ‘Heyman Guy’ parading around RAW, gleaming with pride and confidence.

Winner: Paul Heyman

Rating: 8/10

Highlight(s):

* Punk tipping the hat after hitting Heyman with the dive.

* Heyman’s cry: I BELIEVE IN YOU!

* Perfect neck-breaker to high knee combo.

* Punk’s GTS and Anaconda Vice were both hit with precision.

* Ryback steals the headlines, spears Punk through the table.

 

Dean Ambrose v. Dolph Ziggler – United States Championship match:

Overview:

Ziggler’s slide down the card has been disappointing to fans, but the ‘Show Off’ has been performing week in, week out, and works well with seemingly everyone he encounters, especially Ambrose, which hopefully means that this rut won’t last forever. The former World Heavyweight Champion is hopefully on the road to the top again, but it seems his punishment for speaking out may continue to hurt him.

The match itself was typical of a bout between this pair – a solid match that needed no storyline to fuel it. The match acted as part of the break between the two big matches on the card, and it was as good as it could have been, with all things considered. Hopefully, we will one day see these two fighting for a bigger prize, because they both deserve to be at the top of the card, one way or another.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Rating: 7/10

Highlight(s):

* Fame-asser from Ziggler.

* Ziggler’s plants Ambrose face first after running up the top rope.

* Ambrose’s ruthless spine-buster.

 

The Shield v. The Prime Time Players – WWE Tag Team Championship match

Winners:

Rating: 7/10

Overview:

The team behind the scenes clearly see something in The Prime Time Players. Their push has been met with great praise, as they consistently put on a good show for the WWE fans. A resurgence in the tag team division is needed, and I think with a solid story and feud in place, there could be some interesting developments on the horizon.

They delivered a great match with The Shield’s Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in a real whirlwind affair, that saw Darren Young collide with Seth Rollins with a mighty elbow and Titus O’Neill showing us why he is one to keep an eye out for in the future.

A blindsided spear from Reigns on O’Neill would be the ending to the match, with Rollins pinning him for the victory.

I foresee (hopefully) a proper buildup to a rematch for Battleground in October. It’d be nice to see a fresh, babyface tag team give The Shield a run for their money over the next few weeks and months. However, if you are expecting The Shield to drop the belts anytime soon, you may find yourself very disappointing. As the corporate’s muscle, The Shield will seemingly dominate the scene for the meantime at least.

Winners: The Shield.

Rating: 7/10

Highlight(s):

* Darren Young and Seth Rollin’s collide emphatically

* Titus O’Neill’s in-ring presence is exciting and positively amusing.

 

 

Randy Orton v. Daniel Bryan – WWE Championship match:

Overview:

Daniel Bryan has consistently worked his backside off in the WWE for the better part of eighteen months to get to where he is right now. The powers that be simply want an attractive face for the company, and wrestling ability isn’t all that marketable in the current climate of corporate WWE. Their attempts to keep Bryan out of the WWE title picture have been strong, but we all knew it would boil down to Bryan’s chance at revenge against Randy Orton. The promo that preceded the main event featured Triple H and Orton, and it was brilliant, with The Game toying with Orton over whether he made the right call to allow Orton to become champion in the first place. It was all set up to be an interesting main event.

Yet again, we were presented with another scintillating WWE Championship match that topped the bill at Night of Champions. I have nothing but admiration for both these men, especially when they face off against each other, with the pair at their absolute best right now in every sense of the word. There were a lot of hot bumps, with Bryan attempting the suicide dive on three occasions, with the last attempt ending with Orton at an advantage. We have seen the debut of Bryan’s new finisher, the high knee running from the ring corner, which he has hit every time with great conviction. It would prove to be the winning move at Night of Champions, but many will be scratching their head at the fast count that succeeded it.

It was not noted by the announcers either, which begs the question of whether or not this will produce a new angle.

We may have a new face of the WWE, but how long will it last? Monday Night’s RAW will hopefully answer some of the questions posed by the match.

Winner: Daniel Bryan (albeit, thanks to a dubious fast count)

Rating: 8.5/10

Highlight(s):

* Orton’s ruthlessness – clotheslines aplenty, “Garvin” stomp.

* Ref bump on Scott Armstrong

* Superplex to Orton, followed up with the diving headbutt

* Bryan’s patented knee to finish the match

 

 

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This article was first posted on September 16, 2013