It’s been described as the worst pay-per-view of the year, but was it really that bad? That’s what I’m hoping to find out by finally watching WWE’s Night of Champions, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain.
The first match of the evening saw Curtis Axel defending his Intercontinental title against Kofi Kingston.
This impromptu affair came about when Paul Heyman confronted Triple H during his opening promo and asked him to cancel the handicap match against C.M. Punk. Triple H refused, and when Axel got involved and reminded the COO about his loss to him the Game told Axel he’d be defending his title after all, against the first man he found when he went backstage. That man was, of course, Kofi Kingston.
As for the match it proved to be a keenly-fought contest. Kingston dominated the early going, with Axel clearly off his game, but it wasn’t long before the champion came back into the match, working over his challenger’s head and neck after he’d taken him down with his suplex variation.
They then kicked it into overdrive as they moved towards the finish. Kingston missed two Trouble in Paradise attempts but almost put his man away with the SOS. Moments later Axel finally put Kingston away with his neck breaker/face-plant thing or whatever the hell it’s caused for the title retaining pin.
The Divas were up next as A.J. Lee defended her title against Natalya, Naomi and Brie Bella.
As far as Divas matches go this wasn’t too bad. It began with the three challengers taking it in turns to beat up on the champion a little before they turned their attention to each other. From there all three of them pulled off some good moves, with Naomi looking particularly impressive with her high flying offence.
Lee eventually came back into the match, and after Natalya tried to take Bella and Naomi down with a double sharpshooter Lee broke up the attempt and applied her black widow hold for the submission win.
The Smackdown main event saw Rob Van Dam, accompanied by Ricardo Rodriguez, challenging Alberto Del Rio for the World title.
This was another example of how the WWE RVD is a completely different animal than the TNA RVD. It may not have been the best outing of his long career but it certainly wasn’t that bad. In fact, both guys put in good performances here.
It began with some nice high flying moves, and although RVD’s moonsault spot was slightly messed up by Del Rio the action began to move along quite nicely, with ADR controlling the majority of the action, and RVD making minor comebacks every now and then.
Later on both guys began looking for their trademark finishers. Van Dam was always on the lookout for his frog splash, but when he finally got to execute the move Del Rio brought his knees up. He then immediately went for his cross arm breaker. Van Dam fought it for as hard as he could and eventually made it to the ropes. The only problem was that ADR refused to release the hold, giving the referee no choice by to disqualify him, which meant, of course, that although Van Dam had won the battle he hadn’t won the title.
That wasn’t the end of things though. Del Rio attacked Van Dam after the bell. The champion then went for a chair, only for the one-armed Rodriguez to snatch it from his grasp. He then took on the Fozzie role as RVD went coast to coast and kicked the chair into ADR’s face with a Van Daminator.
The first non-title match of the evening saw Fandango, accompanied by Summer Rae, taking on the Miz.
This one certainly had that filler material feel to it, and although it didn’t really feel like it should be on this show it was okay and you can’t really fault the performances of those involved. But in truth we all know that this probably won’t be remembered by the time you’ve finished reading this review.
For me move of the match came from our dancing friend when he came down with a top rope leg drop while Miz was hung up in the ropes. It didn’t do him much good in the long run though, because a few moments later Miz locked in the figure four leg lock, with Fandango tapping almost immediately to give the former champion the submission win.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel then made his second appearance of the evening as he joined Paul Heyman against C.M. Punk in a no disqualification elimination match.
As grudge matches go this wasn’t that bad. It began with Punk and Axel engaging in a kendo stick duel, with Heyman spending most of his time acting as a cheerleader at ringside, and as the match went on the main protagonists put together some pretty good exchanges.
But even though Axel put up a pretty good fight it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. Punk eventually took him down with the GTS, and even though that would have been enough to finish him he decided to inflict further damage with the anaconda vice. Axel soon tapped out, meaning that Punk had the chance to get his hands on his former best friend.
Thus began the brief chase around ringside and through the fans before Punk and Heyman made it back to the ring, and despite Heyman’s pleas Punk proceeded to beat the proverbial out of him when he handcuffed his hands behind his back and clobbered him with a kendo stick.
Then, just when it looked like Punk had had enough fun, Ryback appeared on the scene and speared Punk through a table. He then dragged Heyman into a pinning position, and a three could later the newly-named walrus had the unexpected win.
The title action resumed with Dolph Ziggler challenging the Shield’s Dean Ambrose for the United States title.
As with the previous matches this wasn’t too bad. It was a pretty even contest between two guys who matched up well together. Ambrose did a good job of controlling the majority of the action, and I was a little surprised when his hold of choice turned out to be a good old fashioned Japanese stranglehold.
Ziggler made it out of that particular move though, and although he almost walked away with the win after taking Ambrose down with the famous-er the internet darling came back and took his challenger down with his as yet-unnamed finisher for the title retaining pin.
The penultimate match saw Darren Young and Titus O’Neil of the Prime Time Players challenging the Shield’s Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the Tag Team titles, with the players having earned their shot at the title by winning the pre-show tag team turmoil match.
I quite liked this one. O’Neil looked particularly impressive early on when he was throwing Rollins around the ring like a rag doll, and Young pulled off some good moves as well before the Shield came back in and used him for target practice.
After a few minutes of punishment Young eventually managed to get the hot tag to O’Neil, signaling the start of the all hell breaking loose segment. Once again the big man looked impressive as he targeted Rollins, but a momentary distraction left him open to a spear from Reigns, with Rollins taking the pin for his team.
The main event saw Daniel Bryan challenging Randy Orton for the WWE title.
Now this certainly was an interesting encounter. The lead-up had been packed with drama, and this match was the perfect continuation to this intriguing ongoing storyline.
Both of these guys showed why they’ve been so hot recently with two very good performances. Granted, the action wasn’t on the level of a Brian Danielson match, but then again this is WWE, and not Ring of Honor.
The crowd were hung on everything Bryan did. You could just feel the entire arena behind him as he took it to Orton early on, and they were even more behind him when the Viper was controlling the action.
Orton’s performance was spot on. He really is better as a hated heel than a beloved babyface, mainly because he’s simply someone you believe would steal candy from a baby, but only after kicking the teeth in of the father pushing the buggy.
As for the action, with Triple H ruling that there wouldn’t be any outside interference we knew that we would get a good old fashioned one-on-one encounter. Everything about this match just felt right, from Orton’s cockiness to Bryan’s back against the wall performance, it just seemed to click in all the right places.
The end came when Bryan countered Orton’s RKO attempt with a backslide, and when that failed to get the pin he booted the champion in the head before connecting with a running knee for the title winning pin.
In conclusion – I’ve been reviewing professional wrestling shows online for over 13 years now, and I’ve lost count of the times when someone has said to me “you must have been watching a different show”. So many times in fact that it’s become a rather unimaginative response.
But having seen some of the comments regarding this show I get the feeling that I may well have watched a different show. Either that or I’m one of the few reviewers who watched this show looking to be entertained, because that’s what I thought Night of Champions was, an entertaining show.
From top to bottom the matches delivered to varying degrees. Everything just seemed right in my opinion, and the fact that only one title changed hands didn’t really matter.
As for my match of the night no-prize I’m going to give the award to the Orton/Bryan encounter for the reasons I’ve already gone in to.
So with all of that out of the way let’s wrap this thing up by saying that Night of Champions was not the worst wrestling show of the year, it was actually quite enjoyable, which is why this particular writer is going to give it a thumbs up.