A little bit later than planned because of other commitments (dental work, training courses, you know the drill), we’re going to take a brief trip back in time to look at WWE Night of Champions, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The show began with Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara challenging the Miz for the Intercontinental title.
This proved to be a very enjoyable opener. All four men put in good performances and pulled off some great sequences, and it looks like Cara is finally settling into the WWE style of wrestling.
For me the best guy in the match was Mysterio. He looked back to his best after his injury problems, and it was great to see him flying around the ring again, although I was a little disappointed that more wasn’t made of the exchanges with his countryman.
The end came when Miz, wearing a mask that Cara had tried to put on Rhodes and had put on him instead, took Rhodes down with the Skull Crushing Finale for the winning pin.
Then it was on to Kane’s latest off couple pairing, this time with Daniel Bryan, as they challenged Kofi Kingston and R-Truth for the Tag Team titles.
This may be one of the most entertaining tag team matches WWE have put on this year. While Kingston and Truth once again showed what a great unit they are the storyline surrounding Kane and Bryan made this match.
There were times when they looked great as a team, and there were times when they argued like a divorcing couple, when they weren’t hugging that is.
All of this made for an interesting encounter where they would save each other from harm before engaging in slanging matches. This was never more evident than in the finish.
Kingston was about to take Kane down from the top rope with a hurricanrana when Bryan grabbed the monster’s foot to stop the move. This led to even more arguing, with Bryan pushing Kane off the top rope, leading to him inadvertently big splashing Kingston. A three count later and we had new champions.
Despite the title win the arguing continued as our new title holders debated just who was the new champion. This is going to get very interesting.
Next, Antonio Cesaro finally made his pay per view debut. Accompanied by the lovely Aksana he defended the United States title against internet darling Zack Ryder, who had earned the title show by winning the pre-show battle royal.
Those of you who have read my reviews over the past few years will know that I’m a big fan of the former Claudio Castagnoli, so I was eager to find out how the Swiss looked on the big stage.
I soon got the answer. He looked pretty damn impressive. This was a short and sweet encounter with a ton of great action, and while Cesaro impressed me kudos must go to Ryder as well.
It was one of those matches that could have gone either way. You could just feel the crowd urging Ryder on to the title as he made his impressive comebacks.
But it wasn’t to be. After Aksana saved her man from the Broski Boot Cesaro took control again, taking Ryder down with his Neutraliser for the winning pin.
Despite this being a “Night of Champions” the next match was a non-title affair as Dolph Ziggler, accompanied by Vickie Guerrero, went up against Randy Orton.
While I’m not exactly in favour of Orton being put back into the same position after his latest transgression I have to admit that this was a hell of an encounter.
The second longest match of the show was one of those intriguing back and forth affairs between two guys at the top of their game. Once again Ziggler proved he belongs at this level. He more than held his own against his more illustrious opponent.
Orton, for his part, put on an excellent performance. It was one of the best stints he’s put in in years, and all of these ingredients made this match what it was.
It was another of those matches that looked as if it could go either way, but when Orton took his man down with a DDT from the barricade to the floor you kind of knew how this was going to end, and although that particular move didn’t get him the win Orton finally took the victory when a fast exchange of moves ended with him taking Ziggler down with an RKO for the winning pin.
The Divas were up next. Originally our champion Layla was meant to defend her title against Kaitlyn, but when the challenger was attacked by a mysterious assailant backstage Booker T’s assistant Eve Torres took her place.
The filler material for this month was as entertaining as it goes. It started off as a friendly rivalry until a mid-match handshake saw Eve kicking Layla in the guy before wearing her down on the mat.
The crowd were so enthralled by what they were seeing that a chant that El Generico would have been proud off broke out, and although Layla made a spirited comeback Eve took her down with her neck breaker variation for the title winning pin.
The Smackdown main event saw Alberto Del Rio challenging Sheamus for the World title once again.
Before the match began our esteemed General Manager Booker T made an appearance, declaring that the Brogue Kick was now legal, much to the chagrin of Del Rio and his various flunkies, especially David Otunga, who found himself on the receiving end of the kick straight off the bat.
This lead to what proved to be a highly entertaining encounter. Once again the challenger targeted the champion’s left arm in preparation for his trademark arm breaker. Del Rio looked pretty good in that respect.
It actually looked like Del Rio was going to get this one on a couple of occasions. Sheamus survived two arm breaker attempts, barely surviving the second one when he managed to get his foot on the bottom rope.
But despite handing out a beating Del Rio was always on his guard with regards to the Brogue Kick, and having survived a few attempts himself he eventually fell to the vaunted move, falling prey to it after he missed his second enziguri-like kick. A three count later and Sheamus had retained the title.
The Raw main event saw John Cena challenging C.M. Punk for the WWE title. Yep, our boy finally made it back to the main event of a pay per view.
Before the match began Punk’s new BFF Paul Heyman appeared in the ring to make a brief statement, shaking the champion’s hand after he made his entrance. He then took up a position at ringside in front of the commentary table. Before you ask Michael Cole didn’t shout “down in front!”
So with that out of the way our two protagonists set out to have one hell of an encounter. It started off slowly but as it went along it developed into a truly riveting affair.
These two threw everything they had at each other, and then some, with Punk countering all of Cena’s big moves, frustrating him at every turn, with some speculating that this was because of Heyman’s influence.
As the action went on the big moves came out. Everything was there, and the frustration of both men was apparent for all to see as they both kicked out of pin after pin.
It was all there, Punk’s GTS and the top rope elbow, Cena’s STF and Attitude Adjuster. None of it worked though. We even saw Punk using the Rock Bottom at one point, but that didn’t work either.
In a last desperate move Cena lifted Punk onto the top rope and took him down with a back superplex, holding onto his man and bridging as he went for the pin. The referee made the three count, and that was it as Cena began to celebrate his title win.
Well, as it turned out that wasn’t quite it. As Cena stood on the second rope celebrating the referee snatched the title belt from him and gave it back to Punk as our master of ceremonies announced that the match was a draw because both men’s shoulders were on the canvas when he made his count, which meant that Punk was still the champion.
So how did the champion celebrate? By smacking Cena upside the head with the title belt before celebrating in the aisle with his new buddy.
In conclusion - so how would I describe this year’s Night of Champions event? Pretty damn good if you ask me.
From top to bottom this show delivered, and then some. Everything played out extremely well, especially the two main events, and it was nice to see the WWE title, the biggest title in professional wrestling today, finally contested in the main event of a monthly pay per view.
As for my match of the night I think it’s pretty obvious which one gets this prestigious no-prize. Yep, you guess it. The honour goes to C.M. Punk and John Cena.
I must also make mention of John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s stint at the commentary desk. JBL proved here that he’s one of the best colour men WWE have produced in the past 10 years or so. In one three hour show he did more to put over the talent in the ring than every other announcer combined has in recent memory. I really hope that he stays around a lot longer, because WWE needs more guys like him.
So with all of that being said let’s wrap this thing up by giving this year’s Night of Champions the big thumbs up.