Night of Champions is an interesting Pay Per View as all the WWE titles are defended and have the potential to change hands. A few new champions here and there would certainly liven up the current state of Raw which has somehow managed to be boring and insultingly stupid for the past few weeks.
Ryback vs. Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship
The feud leading up to this has been solid enough. The only trouble is how they’ve been writing Ryback. He’s been spoonfed babyface lines about being a role model and stuff and it isn’t quite working. Creative might possibly agree with me as Kevin Owens’ angle of attack has been about inspirational self-help book “The Secret” which Ryback made a genuine-feeling speech about months ago. I’m glad we both agree that that was the only time Ryback seemed real. Anyway, Owens has been hankering for championship gold since being denied the U.S. Title and being stripped of his NXT championship by Finn Balor. Makes sense to me. Let’s get our fight on.
The match was great. Physically outmatched by Da Big Guy, Owens went tactical. He isolated Ryback’s left arm and went to work injuring it as much as he could, grounding the powerhouse at every opportunity. Ryback held his own and certainly led a few momentum shifts but neither man would stay down. The crucial moment came when Ryback lifted Owens for the Shellshock but couldn’t execute it because of his injured arm. After another submission attempt by Owens, Ryback powered through, slamming Owens and going for the Shellshock again. Showing great ring awareness and knowing the referee wouldn’t see it, the hoisted Owens raked the eyes of Ryback, blinding him and leaving him vulnerable to a roll up pin. Owens got the three count and became the new Intercontinental champion. Awesome start to the night.
Owens being the new IC champ makes a lot of sense. Not only is he talented in-ring and on the mic, but part of his character is walking around, not giving a fuck and getting into arguments with people. It’s perfect to create a hotly-contested IC climate and hopefully bring back some of the lost importance of the belt. I love the fact that Owens won like a proper heel as well. Eye-raking and low blows are the hallmarks of a bastard and it’s no accident some of my all-time favourites have used them liberally. Whilst the focus was on Owens, it takes two to tango and Ryback wrestled a great match. I feel bad that his reign wasn’t working out. Now he’s not champ, hopefully Creative will take a new tact with him and start building him up again.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev
The world’s worst segment returns to fart in our eyes and ears for the second PPV in a row. The soap opera love triangle between Lana, Dolph and Rusev has possibly become a square as there have been hints that Summer might not be lying about her dalliances with Ziggler. Anyway, that’s all can stand to type. It’s not all completely terrible – Rusev gets some funny promos and Summer Rae’s mic skills are underrated. However, those few glimmers are not making it worth sitting through week after sodding week. I just want it to end. Dear Lord why won’t it end?
The match was decent enough. The whole thing was gifted a rather odd atmosphere as Ziggler came in wearing tights adorned with Lana’s face on the crotch. I can’t decide what to make of that. The fight was always going to play out like it did. Rusev’s a brick shithouse and Ziggler’s good at selling. Guess how the majority of the match went. Yeah. Ziggy spent a good 90% of the match horizontal whilst Rusev dominated. Ziggler managed to mount a bit of a comeback, but the match turned when Summer Rae got up on the apron. Was it to encourage Dolph or Rusev? I’ve watched it twice and still have no clue. Anyway, Ziggler got whipped into the ropes and it flipped Summer into the ring. The ref ordered her out and she threw a trademark shitfit. Before leaving the ring, she threw one of her shoes at the ref, missed and hit Rusev instead. Using the distraction, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag from behind and pinned the Bulgarian Brute. What the fuck ever.
You know the worst part? It still isn’t over. I’ve been wanting to take this bit out back and Old Yeller it for a while now and its utter refusal to die feels like a weekly personal insult. Whatever show this bit finally ends on gets an automatic five star rating.
New Day vs. The Dudley Boyz for the Tag Team Championship
Talk about your polar opposites. New Day are the WWE’s biggest success story right now. They’re incredibly entertaining and always manage to deliver inspired bits of tomfoolery. On the other hand, the Dudleys have been my favourite tag team since before my voice broke into the deep, sensual tones I normally speak in. No matter the outcome, I knew I’d be the overall winner.
New Day came out in their traditional flamboyant way. Aside from their nifty outfits, my attention was grabbed by Xavier Wood’s “Rufio from Hook” haircut. They spoke about their online petition against the Dudleys to “save the tables” and got some homegrown Texas heat when they mentioned that Barack Obama was one of the signatures. The Dudleys came out and the match got underway.
As expected, I enjoyed the hell out of the fight. Xavier Woods’ hypeman game was strong as he yelled and played the trombone from ringside. My favourite part of the match came when Woods blared out the Rocky theme as Big E held up a punchdrunk Bubba Ray and Kofi started jabbing and sparring with him. It’s little touches like that that make New Day an essential watch. Big E’s trash talking was great too, getting right up in Bubba’s face calling him “old man”. After a nasty looking apron splash performed by Big E on Bubba, which looked like it caught more of Bubba’s head than intended, the match went New Day’s way for a while. The Dudleys regained ground and hit the 3D on Kofi, covering him for the pin. Xavier Woods interfered and the ref called for a disqualification. The Dudleys won, but New Day retained the titles as belts can’t change hands via DQ. All three New Day members then went about stomping the exhausted Dudleys. Big E shouted “Woods! Get the tables!” and Xavier excitedly slid out of the ring to get some wood. Massive hypocrites that they are, New Day set up a table in the middle of the mat. Woods played up to the crowd, performed the awesome Final Fantasy victory tune and generally acted like a douche. Behind his back, the Dudleys had got up and were wrecking shop. Big E and Kofi were thrown out and Woods turned right into a 3D through the waiting table. Dudleys get the moral victory but New Day are still champs. Everybody wins.
Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship
I’ve been critical of the whole approach to the Divas division. It started off well enough with the whole #DivasRevolution stuff as well as calling up NXT awesomes Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. However, the wind was soon taken out of its sails and we had to endure weeks of terribly scripted promos as well as meaningless matches between the three division factions. Things took a turn for the better as Charlotte won a Beat the Clock Divas challenge to face champ Nikki Bella. They had the match on Raw and it ended with Charlotte winning, only to find out that the Bellas had pulled their “Twin Magic” bullshit and she had pinned Brie, not Nikki. Nikki went on to break the record for longest Diva title reign in the meantime. The rematch was set for Night of Champions with the stipulation that if Charlotte won, via DQ or otherwise, the title would be hers.
I dug the hell out of the match. For the first time in a long while, Nikki wrestled like the heel champ she is. She played mind games with Charlotte from the off, ducking out of the ring twice to cockily do star jumps and press-ups. When they actually got to fight, Nikki shoved Charlotte off the apron to the floor. It was clear Charlotte landed awkwardly and tweaked her knee. Sensing blood in the water, Nikki made Charlotte’s knee her primary focus and injured it every chance she got. It was a great example of ring psychology as Nikki’s unrelenting assault on Charlotte’s knee became the story with commentary helpfully reminding us that Charlotte’s signature submission requires two strong legs to pull it off. Nikki dominated, but Charlotte refused to give in. Getting more and more frustrated, Nikki went for a desperate top rope move which Charlotte managed to counter into a Spear. After some wobbliness, Charlotte painfully managed to lock in her Figure 8 bridging submission and Nikki tapped. Charlotte is our new Divas champion. Fantastic! Lots of celebration occurred and Charlotte’s father, the great Ric Flair tearfully congratulated her. I’d be cynical here, but I just can’t when it comes to the Nature Boy.
It’s a shame Nikki only started wrestling like a champ in the match she loses the title, but I’m hoping that some of this momentum is preserved going forward. Nikki wrestled an awesome match. She doesn’t really get credit as a wrestler and this’ll be an example to point to in the future. Now Charlotte is champ, I’m hoping the seeds have been planted for some trouble in the ranks and we get a breakdown of the factions and some worthwhile singles rivalries going on.
The Wyatt Family vs. Dean Ambrose , Roman Reigns and ?
The build up to this has been great and has gone through a lot of evolution. What started as a personal feud between Bray Wyatt and Roman soon got more interesting when Luke Harper rejoined the flock. Shield bro Dean Ambrose then involved himself to even the odds. The four battled for a while before Bray introduced the family’s black sheep, the mountainous Braun Strowman, into the mix. Strowman destroyed Reigns and Ambrose repeatedly and once again, the ex-Shield members found themselves on the back foot and sought a new partner to take on the Wyatts. Trouble is, the Wyatts kept attacking potential teammates and taking them out of the equation. After many beatings, Reigns and Ambrose announced that they’d found someone crazy enough to join forces and that the third man would be revealed at Night of Champions.
After much speculation, Ambrose and Reigns’ partner turned out to be none other than Y2J himself, Chris Jericho, making a surprise return to the ring. It was a cool reveal and made sense as Jericho already has beef with Wyatt, feuding with him last year. Although I had hoped for a triumphant Daniel Bryan return (sigh), a Jericho appearance is always welcome.
The two teams had a good back-and-forth and put on an enjoyable show. The teams traded moves and any babyface momentum gained soon came to an abrupt stop whenever Strowman was the legal man. The Wyatts soon isolated Roman and took it in turns to punish him. Reigns eventually managed to tag out and Team Not Wyatts mounted a bit of a comeback. Using teamwork, Ambrose and Reigns accomplished the Hurculean task of flooring Strowman. Ambrose dived outside to take out Harper and Reigns hit Braun with a Spear, gearing up for another only for Jericho to tag himself in. Jericho hit the Lionsault and went for the pin, whilst Reigns was incapacitated by Bray, slamming him into the barricade. Strowman powered out of the pin attempt and set about manhandling Jericho. He hit him with his unnamed finishing move (which I’ve taken to calling the Oh Fuck) and soon choked him out, like he’s done to many before. The Wyatts won and the Shield bros were left with questions for Jericho. Jericho had other plans and ignored them, shoulder checking Ambrose on his way back to the lockers. The hunt for a third man resumes.
Whilst the ending was a little strange initially, it’s made sense retrospectively. Jericho is known for putting over new talent and this was Strowman’s first PPV. It makes sense to not to abandon any traction he’s gaining through dominating this soon. Let it build. Jericho is instantly likeable enough to have you root for him but also not in the regular storylines enough to be affected by eating a loss. As for his jerk behaviour at the end? He’s Chris Jericho- he’s always a bad day away from being a selfish heel. I’m glad this rivalry is continuing. I really hope they’re building to something special with it.
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena for the United States Championship
In the first of Rollins’ two scheduled matches, Seth defended the US title against “Big Match John”. I thought the match went through some cool shifts. Rollins initially tried to put Cena away early, forgetting that he’s basically fighting Superman. When he didn’t get an early pin, what became apparent was that Rollins had an answer for everything Cena threw at him. Both men refused to stay down for any length of time and both had to dig deep to bring out surprising and effective powermoves to finally put the other away. About halfway through, the crowd got antsy and started an arena wide Mexican wave. Complete pro that his is, Rollins got the focus back on the match by directing it and following the wave around the stands. It was a great improv touch and added to the match. Rollins performed an incredible sequence later on where he superplexed Cena, held onto him and slammed him again in an effort to gain leverage. The match went on for a long time until Cena finally got the upperhand, legdropping and AA-ing Rollins in quick succession. Cena covered and got the three count and became a five time United States champion.
I’m sure most people trotted out the “LOLCENAWINS” meme in reaction to the match, but John Cena as US champ makes all kinds of sense. It was cool to have Rollins carry both belts, but I couldn’t see where they would conceivably go with the smug douche double champ. Plus, we should get a return of the John Cena Open U.S. Challenge, which was consistently the best part of Raw for weeks at a time earlier this year.
Rollins attempted to pick up his remaining title and go home, but was stopped by Cena. Cena AA’d Rollins to the floor and the stunned and exhausted champ back in the ring where he just started staggering to his feet in time for…
Seth Rollins vs. Sting for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Wasting little time, The Icon ™, The Vigilante ™ and collector of other generic nicknames, Sting, made his entrance. He set about capitalising on Rollins’ weakened state. He dominated Rollins for the most part with Seth crawling to get away. The action spilled outside the ring and Sting set Rollins up to put him through a table. Rollins shoved Sting and he went through the Spanish announcers’ table, causing a huge momentum shift. As doctors saw to Sting, Rollins got his gameface on, soon hitting the recovered Sting with everything he had. Sting was spent at this point and was barely keeping up. Sting managed to counter a Pedigree attempt into his signature Scorpion Death Lock, which in turn was reversed by Rollins into a pin. Rollins got the three count and retained. It was a really enjoyable match. All credit to him, Sting took some nasty bumps. Also, Seth Rollins wrestling two big matches back to back? Super impressive.
As Rollins tiredly celebrated his narrow victory, Sheamus’ music hit and he ran down, Money in the Bank briefcase in hand, referees in two to cash in on the knackered Seth. Sheamus hit Rollins with a Brogue Kick and laid him out before handing his case to the ref. Before the ref could ring for the bell, Kane’s music blared out and the masked, badass version of Kane returned to the WWE, having beef with Rollins. Kane chokeslammed Seth and Sheamus for good measure. Kane Tombstoned Rollins and the show closed out with the Big Red Machine standing victorious over the unconscious retaining champ.
All in all, a really enjoyable PPV. Looking back at the results, I think it’s fair to say that the right people walked away with the gold at the end of the night.