Wednesday, 2 July 2008

WWE Night of Champions on Sky Box Office - TV Review

It’s that time of the year again, when every title in World Wrestling Entertainment is defended on the same show in the Night of Champions, shown live here in Britain on Sky Box Office.

We begin with tag-team action, as Fit Finlay and Hornswoggle challenge John Morrison and the Miz for the WWE Tag-Team Championship. I’m still slowly warming to the Morrison/Miz team, but the fact that it’s Finlay and Hornswoggle challenging really says something about the tag-team division at the moment. Anyway, that’s the rant over, let’s get on to the match. Morrison and Miz put in another great team performance, and you can’t say anything about Finlay’s performance either, but Hornswoggle, that’s another matter entirely. Although he’s one popular little guy, he shouldn’t be in a match like this. After all, didn’t Vickie Guerrero strip him of the Cruiserweight title because she didn’t think he’d be able to defend himself in a proper match? So what we got here was Morrison and the Miz taking the little guy apart, and being unable to put him away, before he got the hot tag to his old man, who proceeded to clean house. Then Hornswoggle was tagged in, was thrown by Morrison off the top rope, and then pinned. So they couldn’t beat him with usual wrestling moves, but they could by simply throwing him off the top rope. Mixed feelings on this one, readers.

Hopefully, things will change a little with the next match, as Matt Hardy defends the United States title against Chavo Guerrero. As usual, Chavo has Bam Neeley watching his back. Now that’s more like it. A very nice little match here, with Guerrero taking Hardy down with a chop block and then working over the injured limb for a while, with help from his trusty bodyguard. Hardy made a brief comeback, but was clearly hampered by his bad knee, which allowed Chavo to regain control. More work on the knee followed, before a very interesting ending, which saw Hardy counter the third of Chavo’s three amigos with a twist of fate to get the title retaining pin. Good stuff here, and I hope we get to see these two against each other again. They showed good chemistry here, and it can only get better with further outings.

Then it’s time for Kane to defend his ECW title against the Big Show and….wait….did I see that right? Mark Henry? Mark bloody Henry is in this match now? Well, this was one of the ones I was looking forward to, mainly because Kane and the Big Show have had some good matches in the past, but now Mark Henry’s in it….well, I think you can see what I’m getting at here. Now when it was Kane v Show, it wasn’t too bad, and we saw some good stuff there, but when it became Henry v Show, with Kane being attended to by doctors at ringside after taking a heavy bump on the ring apron, it just wasn’t that exciting, bringing back memories of the recent Big Show/Great Khali match, and judging by the reaction (or lack thereof) of those in attendance, I’m not the only one who felt that way. Thankfully, Kane managed to get back into the match, and joined with Show to take Henry down with a double choke slam, which meant we saw more Show v Kane action. But then, horror of all horrors! After Kane caught Show on the top rope and took him down with a suplex, Henry sprang to life and big splashed Kane as he lay on the mat. A three count later and Mark Henry was the new ECW Champion? Did you hear that Shane Douglas? Did you hear that Sandman? Did you hear that Masato Tanaka? Did you hear that Terry Funk? Did you hear that Raven? Did you hear that Tommy Dreamer? Mark Henry is now the ECW Champion, and I hope that the dozen or so fans he has are now happy!

Time for the second tag-team title match, with Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes defend the World Tag-Team titles against Ted Dibiase Jr. and his mystery partner. Dibiase came to the ring alone, asking for the match to be put off for a while because his partner was late and wasn’t in the building. The plea fell on deaf ears, and the ref ordered the match to start straight away. Then it turns out that Dibiase’s partner was actually Cody Rhodes, who turned his back on Holly who attacked him and took him down with a DDT. Rhodes then tagged Dibiase in, who locked in the million dollar dream, and with the hold still applied, he then added a leg sweep, taking Holly down. A pinfall later, and we had new World Tag-Team Champions in the form of Rhodes and Dibiase. For some reason this hasn’t really shocked me, but it will be interesting to see if Holly gets a new partner to go against this young duo.

Chris Jericho’s up next, defending his Intercontinental title against a mystery opponent, who turns out to be new Raw roster member Kofi Kingston. I have really seen much of Kingston before, so I was interested to see how he’d match up against Jericho. Oh, and for some reason Lance Cade is at ringside watching the match. (You can tell I don’t watch Raw much these days, can’t you?) Anyway, back to the match, and I’ll tell you something, this Kingston bloke is good, pulling off some impressive moves, especially his flying body block which had shades of a frog splash about it. As for the match, good stuff here, and back and forth encounter between two wrestlers who seemed well suited to each other, mixed in with some fans who didn’t get what this match was about as they started a boring chant. We also got a surprise appearance from Shawn Michaels, who came through the crowd to distract Jericho, who knocked his rival off the ring apron. This gave Kingston the opportunity he needed, as he took Jericho out with a spinning kick to get the title winning pin to end a good match. Things didn’t end there though. As Michaels was helped to back, troubled by his eye injury, Jericho delivered a right fist to the injured eye. Good way to continue the feud, and I get the feeling we’ll see Michaels v Jericho at Summerslam.

Women’s action follows, with Mickie James defending the Women’s title against Katie Lea, who has Paul Burchill along for company. You know, I still get a strange feeling when I see people I’ve met wrestling for the world’s biggest wrestling promotion, which is the case with the two Brits here. I’ve followed Katie’s career since I first saw her wrestle back at the Revival show in 2002. Seems a long time ago now, and that match wasn’t exactly the greatest example of women’s wrestling I’ve ever seen, but the fact that she’s now in WWE shows just how far her career has progressed. This was an impressive outing for the Divas, with Katie working over Mickie’s left arm and shoulder, doing everything she could to put the champion away. But it wasn’t enough, as Mickie countered a back suplex attempt to take Katie down with a DDT. I really liked this match, and hopefully Katie will get another chance to become the first Brit to win the women’s crown. Well, hopefully before Leyla El does!

Main event time #1, as Edge defends the World Heavyweight title against perennial foe Batista. Messrs Ross and Foley seem to go to great pains to point out that Batista has never actually beaten Edge in a title match. When I first heard that these two were going to go at it again on pay-per-view, my first thought was “what again?” But instead of a match we’ve seen countless times before, we got something that was very satisfying and very entertaining. Edge is perhaps the best heel in the WWE at the moment, and Batista is perhaps the best foil he has ever had. Their chemistry in the ring together is almost perfect. It was a back and forth encounter, with Batista, realising that this was his last title opportunity against Edge, wrestling his heart out in an attempt to win the big gold. The drama was provided by Vickie Guerrero, who is really coming into her own as the evil general manager, stopping the count when it looked like big Dave was going to win. Hey, she even took a bump as Batista threw her over the top rope onto her comrades at ringside. All of this, of course, was part of the big plan as Edge clobbered the referee and special referee Chavo Guerrero came down to the ring and made the three count. Great action and drama here, and the last time you’ll see these two in a match, for a while at least.

Main event time #2, as Triple H defends the WWE title against perennial foe John Cena. Messrs Cole and Lawler seem to go to great pains to point out how these two are great fan favourites, and how Triple H has never really recovered from his previous defeat at the hands of Cena. Now, I’ve read quite a few comments over the past few days about how this was the best match of the show. I beg to differ. Okay, it was a very good contest, but for me it just couldn’t compare with the previous match, especially as far as drama and tension are concerned, possibly because there was no natural face/heel divide in this one. The best part of this match were probably the last ten minutes, where the two weary warriors, one with a dodgy knee, went all out in an attempt to win the match. Cena kicked out after the pedigree, Triple H reached the ropes during the STFU and kicked out after the FU, and we even had Triple H countering a second STFU with his version of the crossface. You have to wonder if this was his tribute to a certain wrestler who left this mortal coil about a year ago. Cena didn’t tap out to this submission move, but finally fell to the second pedigree of the night, with Triple H getting the title retaining win seconds later to end what was a very good bout, even if it wasn’t match of the night.

In conclusion - the second Night of Champions was a very good show, with the exception of the opening tag-team match, which left me scratching my head a little, and a certain title change, which left me shaking my head a lot. Hey, it only took the guy twelve years to win his first major title! The two main events certainly delivered what they set out to do, although it did surprise me at the time that neither of those titles changed hands, because it left Raw without a major championship. But when all is said and done, Night of Champions definitely gets the thumbs up from this reviewer. Well done all, unless your name is Mark Henry that is.

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