Welcome to the WWE Night of (Most) Champions preview. I threw the “most” in there because in the past every Night of Champions event had every title on the line. Not this year. It’s the one show of the year where you advertise the idea that every title is on the line because it’s in the NAME OF THE SHOW (capitalized for effect), yet the show gets here and one title is missing while another was just added to the lineup on Smackdown.
The Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel isn’t defending the once coveted IC Title because he’s in a handicap elimination match with his manager Paul Heyman against CM Punk. If they knew Axel wasn’t going to be defending the title (he was left off SummerSlam completely too) why not put it on somebody else that could actually have a match where it was defended? I know WWE thinks Axel is a bigger star because he’s holding IC gold, but the reality is he’s just a guy holding a meaningless title that he rarely defends.
Regarding the US Champion Dean Ambrose, if you missed Smackdown then you missed the announcement that Ambrose will defend the US Title against Dolph Ziggler. What I don’t get is why they were unable to officially announce it earlier.
I understand the top two matches are the reason why somebody would buy this event. Trust me, I get that. But if you’re going to name a PPV Night of Champions with the idea that “every title is on the line” then put every title on the line. It’s not that hard, WWE. It screams like lazy booking to me.
I’ll be at the event in Detroit on Sunday. It’s about two hours away from me, so I am sacrificing some NFL viewing to make the trip and check it out. Could the card be stronger? Sure. It’s not that bad, though. I enjoy PPVs. In terms of predictions, I went perfect at SummerSlam. I’m hoping to do so again here although I think it’s a less predictable lineup this time around.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of my friend Steve Melo.)
Tag Team Turmoil No. 1 Contender’s Match: The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos vs. Tons of Funk vs. The Real Americans vs. 3MB (Kickoff Match)
Congrats to 3MB! Even though you’ve lost nearly every match you’ve been in for the past year you are just one victory away from a tag title shot. Does that make sense? Not really. I guess it’s similar to the Royal Rumble concept in that you can win one match to get a title shot that way too. Still, it’s just odd to see 3MB in a match like this.
I think it’s really between The Usos and the Prime Time Players. The Usos could likely have the better match with Rollins & Reigns if that’s all WWE cares about with this, but if they want new opponents then it will be the PTPers, who have turned babyface in the last month. I think it will be the Prime Time Players that come out the victors although if it’s The Usos then I have no problem with that either.
Winners: The Prime Time Players
Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Winners of Tag Team Turmoil
I love The Shield as a team and don’t want to see them lose the tag titles in a match that has very little build to it. They are more important as performers if they are holding gold, so keep it on them. If they drop the tag titles in the near future that’s fine, but let’s see them have an actual feud with the PTPers. Perhaps they might not even have a feud since Los Matadores are coming in likely as a babyface team. The champs retain.
Winners: Rollins & Reigns
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
I’m glad the match is on the show because if they get 10-13 minutes like I expect they will have one of the best matches of the night. They showed good chemistry on Smackdown. They had a couple of incidents on TV where Ambrose got in Ziggler’s face repeatedly and started this whole thing, so there’s a bit of a story there. The problem is they completely ignored it for a couple of weeks too. As for Ziggler, I think he should be in the World Title picture rather than US Title and it’s a major step down for the guy. I doubt Ziggler leaves as the US Champion. It’s better if Ambrose holds it.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi (Fatal 4-Way Match)
You’ve got the craziness of Divas Champion AJ Lee, Natalya’s great technical wrestling ability, Brie Bella yelling a lot because the crowd dies so much when she’s in a match and then Naomi’s flying ass move. Those are all the elements of this divas fatal fourway match. Sort of.
I’ve said many times that I think the best thing for the Divas Title would be an AJ Lee title reign that lasted about one year at least around WrestleMania. That’s how I would book it. But I’m not writing this preview based on what I would do. I’m here to talk about what I think WWE will do and in this instance I think WWE might take the title off AJ Lee. Why? Because it’s an easy story for a future episode of Total Divas, which will continue airing in November and December this year. One of those girls wins the title to get revenge on AJ after she cut a scathing promo on them.
I know that title change finish makes sense, but I’m going with AJ retaining the title. I think it’s too early in her reign and too early in this storyline to lose the title. One of the girls has to be booked better as a challenger before winning the Divas Title. In this match I think we’ll see Natalya, Brie & Naomi having issues with one another, so AJ gets a rollup pin on one of them to win the match.
Winner: AJ Lee
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
Is it a one match feud like Del Rio vs. Christian was at SummerSlam or will there be more to this rivalry? That’s the question I ask myself when talking about this match. I think this might be the first match in a series of multiple matches for them because the next PPV called Battleground is only three weeks away. They can use this match to build to that one.
My hope is that Ricardo Rodriguez turns heel or at least “accidentally” costs RVD the match before making the full turn in the weeks that follow. He doesn’t work that well with RVD. Del Rio’s better with Rodriguez at his side. I know that Del Rio kicked his ass and that’s why Rodriguez came back as a face, but they could always say it was a lesson that he learned. That’s why Del Rio is willing to bring him back. Ricardo’s not a smiling babyface in a RVD t-shirt. He’s a wimpy heel in a tuxedo that is the personal ring announcer of the Mexican aristocrat. That’s who he is. Keep it that way. (I’m aware of the stipulation on Smackdown where GM Vickie Guerrero said he couldn’t be at ringside, but if he shows up to turn heel that’s just part of the story since Vickie’s a heel too.)
Regarding Damien Sandow’s Money in the Bank briefcase, I don’t think that will come into play. Not here. This match will be about Del Rio keeping his title and getting back his buddy Rodriguez on his side.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
CM Punk vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman (Handicap Elimination Match)
I think either Punk’s going to win this match clean to give everybody a happy ending to this Punk/Heyman story or somebody will show up to help Heyman and Axel win. It wouldn’t surprise me to see another “Heyman Guy” emerge during this match. Ryback would be a good choice assuming WWE wants to keep pushing him. My personal choice would be Antonio Cesaro because then we’d get some incredible Cesaro/Punk matches out of it, but he seems to be tied up in a midcard tag team right now.
It will be interesting to see how they book the match. The predictable thing is Punk going after Heyman aggressively while Heyman hides as much as possible and Punk works a 10-13 minute match with Axel. Unless they had some kind of no DQ stipulation to the match (like they did for Punk vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam), Heyman should barely get any offense in on Punk. He does a great job of playing the scared heel, though, so I have no doubt that Heyman will be great here. Axel works hard, but isn’t connecting with the crowd well enough. Maybe it will come one day. It’s not there yet.
I’m going with the Punk win. He lost to Lesnar at SummerSlam. He will get his revenge on Heyman here with the memorable moment as Punk hits Heyman with the F5. By doing that, they can move Punk back into the WWE Title picture because feuding with a guy several levels below him like Axel is really doesn’t help Punk a whole lot. I realize he’s at the point in his career where he doesn’t need the WWE Title, but the title means more when Punk is chasing it. End the feud here. It’s time.
Winner: CM Punk
WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
A month ago it was pretty obvious that Daniel Bryan was going to beat John Cena for the WWE Title and that Randy Orton would cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase to leave SummerSlam as WWE Champion. I called it, you probably called it and most fans around the world probably called it. I think for this match the obvious finish is that Orton leaves as WWE Champion. The question is how will he win? The reason it’s a question is because a simple win for Orton is unlikely.
I think the story has been pretty good heading into Night of Champions. For the most part, Bryan has got his ass kicked by Orton and The Shield, but he’s also won a lot of matches against Shield members too. He doesn’t come into the match as a loser at all. He comes into the match as a sympathetic babyface that the fans love because he won’t quit despite the fact that Triple H and Orton are doing everything to break his spirit. He’s not “Stone Cold” Daniel Bryan even though Stone Cold also had to fight that the powers that be. Austin was not a traditional babyface. Bryan is. Lucky for us, Bryan’s also arguably the best in-ring performer in the entire world right now and that means we get great matches on a regular basis.
I love the chemistry between Bryan and Orton. They had a great singles match on Raw a couple of weeks before SummerSlam where Bryan won clean using the kendo stick while applying the Yes Lock. Since then they’ve wrestled several times at house shows while Orton is getting legit heel heat, so the atmosphere should be great in Detroit on Sunday. I expect them to wrestle an awesome 20 minute match before we get the creative finish.
The other factor that’s a part of this match is the role of the Big Show. Even though he’s only been back from injury for a couple of months, Show is a part of this storyline as a friend of Bryan. The friendship came out of nowhere because Show spent the last year as a heel and suddenly he returned as Bryan’s big buddy. That makes me (and probably you) think that maybe he’s going to revert back to his heel ways by costing Bryan the match on Sunday. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s a possibility.
I think Bryan will have the match won, the ref will get bumped and Triple H will go down to ringside. Hunter will tell Big Show to knock Bryan out and instead of that Show will knock out Orton after Bryan ducks out of the way. Bryan will cover, the ref will recover enough to count the pin and it will look as if Bryan won the title until Triple H reverses the decision. It has to be something silly like that because they will do a finish that gives Bryan another crack at the title likely at Battleground and also Hell in a Cell, both of which are in October.
To summarize all that, I’m going with Orton retaining via disqualification. Basically, I don’t think Bryan is leaving as WWE Champion. I also don’t think this is his last title shot. That’s why they have to come up with a creative finish that will hopefully lead to another match.
Winner: Randy Orton
SummerSlam was a great show. The best PPV of this year. One of the top 20 best PPVs in WWE history. No, I’m not going to rank them. I just feel comfortable in saying that. I don’t think Night of Champions will be on the level of SummerSlam because the lineup is weaker. That’s fine. Not every show can be the best of the year. This is about progressing some stories with the main one being the Orton/Bryan rivalry that has a long way to go. Like I predicted above, I think Punk gets his revenge on Heyman as the happiest moment on the card. Other than that, we have some potential for some good matches that could be great if they get a lot of time. I’m being cautiously optimistic. Since I’ll be there (section 106 – come say hi!) I have higher expectations from an enjoyment standpoint. I hope it’s a good show. I don’t want to spend my money to be disappointed.
I’m not sure when I’ll have a recap posted about Night of Champions. I won’t be home on Sunday night until very late and then Monday I work all day, so no time to write. I’ll write about Raw on Tuesday morning. That means the likely posting time for my Night of Champions recap is Wednesday at some point. I’ll do my best to get it up sooner, but it may be difficult.
John Canton – firstname.lastname@example.org