Richard Reacts To Last Night's WWE Night Of Champions Pay-Per-View
Last night WWE held their Night of Champions pay-per-view from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. I like the pay-per-view because all titles in the company are put on the line and there are no goofy gimmick matches to take the focus off of the wrestling aspect of the product. Last night’s show featured some very good wrestling but I am still amazed at how WWE creative literally went by the book when they did this pay-per-view. Aside from Kofi Kingston capturing the Intercontinental Championship, there were no surprises or swerves in the event. I guess I shouldn’t be too upset since my Premium PPV Preview had 100% accuracy but I was hoping that WWE would do something to throw a curveball in the things that I had heard for the show. Below are my thoughts on last night’s pay-per-view.
Night of Champions opened with The Miz and John Morrison retaining the WWE Tag Team Championships against Finlay and Hornswoggle. I was a little surprised at the fact that the Shillelagh did not play a role in the match but other than that this was your basic fast opener that included some decent spots. Hornswoggle actually looked pretty good but in the end the correct outcome happened because you had to have figured that WWE was going to put Ted DiBiase over for the World Tag Team Championships.
Chavo Guerrero and Matt Hardy had a fun match for the second title defense of the evening where Hardy retained. I liked how they utilized the one counts, I’m one of those guys that is really against abusing the two count – especially early on in matches. Bam Neely did interfere but in the end creative did the right thing and did not left the interference affect the outcome. Good showing by Hardy in what was a successful pay-per-view defense of the US Title.
The triple-threat match for the ECW Championship featuring Kane defending against Mark Henry and Big Show wasn’t very pretty but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The match had its fair share of cool spots, including Big Show tossing Kane over the top ropes where he ended up tweaking his knee. Mark Henry looked the worst out of all three of them but again him going over was inevitable because he was moved to ECW in the draft. The spot of the match came when Kane gave Big Show a superplex off of the top rope – that was a sight to see. The crowd didn’t seem that into this match but in the end Henry went over with a splash and a clean pin on Kane.
The pay-per-view was shaping up to be pretty decent until WWE did one of the most predictable things in quite some time. Instead of making a surprise of Ted DiBiase’s tag team partner, they had him come out and explain that his partner was running late and that DiBiase needed ten minutes. They started the match with DiBiase solo only for him to get on the mic and request Hardcore Holly instead of Rhodes. Rhodes went for the tag then took out Holly, only to tag in DiBiase to change the titles. Cody Rhodes delivered his heel turn promo after the match. Like I noted in my coverage last night, I am not by any means against the team of DiBiase and Rhodes nor am I against a mega push as WWE World Tag Team Champions but WWE creative could have developed a more complex storyline than that. The way it was done came off as lazy and without a lot of thought. I never expected WWE to do something that obvious.
Things got a little worse after WWE dropped the ball with Dibiase’s mystery partner as they went to Todd Grisham in a luxury box with John “Bradshaw” Layfield. For no reason, JBL cut this boring anti-Texas promo where he proclaimed he was a Champion because with Vince McMahon incapacitated; he was the richest guy in WWE. Obviously he was given a promo on the pay-per-view because of his tremendous political stroke in the company so that he could keep his name out there without wrestling. I have a real problem with some of the better wrestlers in the company being held off of the pay-per-view only for JBL to get his own promo.
After a good Jericho heel promo, the next mystery of the night was solved when it was revealed that Jericho would defend the Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston which I thought was a wonderful move and a pleasant surprise. Kofi was elevated in ECW and having him go over Jericho in a very good match on pay-per-view to become the Intercontinental Champion certainly helps establish him. Kofi has a unique in-ring style that I can’t really compare to anyone else but it works and it’s getting over with the fans. Shawn Michaels did a run-in during the match where he gave Lance Cade (who was at ringside looking pretty goofy in street clothes) Sweet Chin Music. The way it was booked, Michaels ended up costing Jericho the IC Title which I thought made perfect sense because it got the title off of Jericho so that he can continue his feud with HBK. After the match, HBK completely oversold the eye “injury” once again when he took a cheap shot from Jericho. Why they are making such a big deal out of the eye I’ll never understand but it looks like the score has not yet been settled between these two. A SummerSlam showdown would be great because the program will have developed since WrestleMania.
Mickie James defending the WWE Women’s Championship against Katie Lea Burchill was the first bad match of the night. As far as spots go, it wasn’t terrible, as both showcased some decent wrestling but they completely lost the crowd. While Katie Lea has looked good in some of her showings, this was probably her worst match to date. The match never really clicked and after they lost the crowd all you could hear was Mickie overselling moves and Paul Burchill screaming at Katie Lea to rip Mickie’s arm off. The match was booked correctly with Mickie going over. It would have made her look terrible to get pinned a third time by Katie Lea.
Edge and Batista had a really good match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Like Undertaker and Edge, Batista and Edge have worked so many times together they understand each other and have great chemistry. Despite what some of his critics may say, I actually think that Batista is solid in the ring when he wants to be. The only beef that I had with this match was the finish as there was way too much interference. At first I was all for Vickie Guerrero’s involvement because it made her into such a hated heel. However, they overdid it last night with Chavo Guerrero (after he had lost mind you) come out in a referee shirt to fix the match. They did a cool spot where Batista threw Vickie over the top rope onto Hawkins, Ryder, and Neely but the finish was too gimmicky for me to enjoy. To overbook it just a little more, Edge won after a cheap shot with the World Title belt and Chavo counting to three. I was not surprised at all with Edge retaining but the finish was an eye roller.
Night of Champions was a pretty mediocre effort until Triple H defended the WWE Championship against John Cena. Say what you want about Hunter, say what you want about Cena, but this was the show stealer and definitely a Match of the Year candidate. WWE aired an outstanding video package before the match where they made a very big deal out of the WWE Championship – showing footage of past stars such as Bret Hart. WWE is very good at doing video packages like that and it is something that I wish that they would do more of. The match started slow but a wonderful story was told. What made the match so great was the go-home sequence. They both kicked out of each other’s finishers, Cena locked in the FU, and Hunter locked in the cross-face. The near falls were literally breathtaking. They had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands as there was a beautiful exchange of right hands in the center of the ring towards the end of the match. The finish saw Cena battle out of the cross-face by getting to his feet, nearly landing a final FU before Hunter countered and gave him the Pedigree to get the three count. I’m getting chills just thinking about how well that match was done. From a creative standpoint and an in-ring standpoint the match was flawless and it is one match that you must see. People can criticize WWE until they are blue in the face but a classic match like this is very rare. With my occupation I watch a ton of wrestling and I’m telling you that the only match that comes close to topping it is Flair vs. Michaels at WrestleMania. Cena and Hunter out worked everyone on the card and boy did this have a big match feel to it. The match felt like the heavyweight classic that it was intended to be and everyone involved did a tremendous job in executing it.
All and all, Triple H and John Cena took a mediocre pay-per-view and gave the fans something to remember. Make sure that you watch the Night of Champions main event; I can’t wait to see it again. I wanted to mention a blooper from the pay-per-view as they debuted a new Gillette commercial with John Cena and Vince McMahon and it was all Michael Cole could do to explain that the commercial was filmed before McMahon was incapacitated as he was nearly cut off by production rolling the tape. Jim Ross and Mick Foley were very good together and Cole and Lawler were not bad. Adamle was Adamle as he referred to Big Show as “The Show” at one point. You may want to watch this pay-per-view to see the title changes but the only match that I would worry about seeing would be the main event. There was nothing overly special up until that point but I cannot say enough about Hunter vs. Cena.
Richard can be contacted at richard [at] grayinternet.com
Richard Gray is a professional wrestling journalist and frequent contributor to Rajah.com. He has been covering the world of professional wrestling since 1999 and has had the opportunity to cover ground breaking stories such as the demise of ECW, the WCW buyout, the Benoit tragedy, Bobby Lashley leaving WWE, and more. For more on Richard check out his web site, Wrestling News World.