Sometimes keeping things simple can pay dividends.
With the exception of WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and a few others, WWE pay-per-views have become increasingly focused on gimmicks over the last year or two. That means that Night of Champions stands out a bit from the pack by making the show mostly about title matches and the resolution of feuds, and a live crowd at Chicago’s Allstate Arena sounded its appreciation for that fact on Sunday night.
Even the main event, a Six Pack Elimination Challenge for the WWE Championship that could easily have turned into a muddled mess, came off well thanks to effective pacing and a couple of plot twists.
Sheamus entered the ring wearing the gold, but he had to contend with a field of competitors – including John Cena, Chris Jericho, Edge and Randy Orton – who had won his title a combined 17 times. Only relative newcomer Wade Barrett had no world championship experience, yet he still loomed as a threat thanks to the likelihood that his Nexus teammates would intervene at some point.
All six men started the match in the ring, but it didn’t take long for everyone but Jericho and Orton to get tossed out to the floor. Jericho tried a quick but unsuccessful attempt at a pin, then got blindsided by a bulldog from Cena. Orton connected with an RKO that sent Jericho packing after less than 90 seconds, and he had an agonized look on his face as he made a slow walk to the back.
Barrett found himself surrounded by all four of his remaining foes, each of whom had been attacked by Nexus at some point. The ensuing melee saw Cena left alone to square off first with Orton and later with Sheamus.
The champ gained the upper hand by hitting Cena with a high knee in the corner. Cena fought back with right hands and an Irish whip but ran into an elbow in the opposite corner.
Both men climbed the turnbuckles, where Cena threw Sheamus to the canvas before being crotched in turn by Edge. An unlikely alliance formed between Sheamus and Edge as they beat on Cena and Orton. They finally turned their attention to each other with Sheamus sidestepping a Spear and scoring with the Irish Curse.
Edge managed to avoid the Brogue Kick and find the target with a second Spear. Cena rejoined the action to dish out several Attitude Adjustments, including the one that eliminated Edge at the 15-minute mark.
Cena had no time to celebrate as he was attacked by Barrett. A series of reversals led to a Barrett DDT, but Cena kicked out at two.
Barrett soon ended up on the receiving end of the Five Knuckle Shuffle and had Sheamus thrown into him. Cena hit a drop toehold on the champ and locked him in the STF, even dragging him into the center of the ring. Despite that, Sheamus willed himself to get close enough to grab the bottom rope and break the hold.
As expected, the remainder of Nexus joined the fray around the 18-minute mark. Their arrival distracted Cena long enough for Barrett to plant him with the Wasteland, leaving only three men to fight for the title. The Nexus members jumped Orton on the outside but were quickly scattered by a chair-wielding Cena.
Back in the ring, Orton softened up Barrett with a backbreaker and hit an RKO to get a three count. A revived Sheamus scored with an immediate Brogue Kick only to see Orton kick out at two.
Gathering himself quickly, Sheamus looked for the High Cross. Orton managed to slide out and hit the RKO, covering for three and winning his sixth WWE Championship.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Hell in a Cell on October 3.
The Allstate Arena appears to be supporting WWE’s claims that it is sold out for tonight’s show. Let there be no doubt that Chicago is a devoted wrestling town. The three-man booth of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker is calling the action.
Dolph Ziggler (champion) vs. Kofi Kingston (challenger) – Intercontinental Championship Match, Champion Can Lose the Title on Count Out or DQ
Vickie Guerrero and her Diva trainee from the increasingly unwatchable NXT are on hand to support Ziggler. He doesn’t need any help early, grounding Kingston while the announcers discuss Vickie. I wish they wouldn’t. The final sequence begins when Ziggler applies a sleeper hold that is reversed, forcing the champ to toss Kingston out to the floor to escape. Guerrero moves in to slap the challenger, but Ziggler calls her off because he doesn’t want to be disqualified. That turns out to be the right call, as Ziggler evades the Trouble in Paradise and hits the Zig Zag to keep his belt.
Winner … and still Intercontinental Champion … Dolph Ziggler at 12 minutes and 41 seconds.
The Miz is the star of a new Paper Jamz commercial, which I don’t have a problem with since the toy/music line is sponsoring the show. But why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?
Todd Grisham discusses strategy for the main event with Edge. The Rated R Superstar doesn’t feel like he’s at a disadvantage against five other men because he always rises to the occasion when people least expect it. Edge vows to leave the ring tonight holding the gold.
CM Punk vs. The Big Show
Hometown boy Punk gets a warm reaction from the fans. But that’s not what he wants, so he tells everyone that though he loves Chicago, he hates and despises all of its citizens. Even after calling them all the scum of the earth and telling them they’ve ruined his beautiful city, Punk still gets some cheers when the match begins. Hey, he tried. An awesome spot sees Punk slingshot into a senton on the floor. Show eventually tires of CM jumping around, so he tackles him coming off the turnbuckle and uses one big right hand to end it.
Winner… The Big Show at four minutes and 40 seconds.
Josh Mathews speaks to Chris Jericho, who has claimed he will leave the WWE if he loses tonight. He’s not worried about that, though, as he has a history of defeating multiple opponents that dates back to beating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night. Also he’s the best in the world at what he do… er, does. A video package highlights the issues between The Miz and Daniel Bryan.
The Miz (champion) vs. Daniel Bryan (challenger) – United States Championship Match
You know how girls will sometimes randomly say to you that they need to know where your relationship is headed? I kind of feel like I’m at that point with Cole’s love for Miz and contempt for Bryan. It was funny at first, but now it’s just the same thing over and over and it doesn’t feel like it’s leading anywhere. Fortunately that doesn’t detract too much from this match. Miz shows how far he’s come as a wrestler by working over Bryan’s arms and shoulders. Bryan fights back with a dizzying array of high impact kicks and a dive through the ropes to the floor. Current Miz disciple Alex Riley tries to get involved by hopping on the apron, but Miz accidentally sends him flying. Bryan sidesteps Riley and gets several near falls. Miz goes ballistic, raining down strikes. He stalks Bryan from behind, but the challenger takes him down and maneuvers into position for the LeBell Lock. Miz strains but can’t quite reach the rope, so he’s forced to tap out… and Cole immediately launches into a rant about how Bryan got lucky and doesn’t deserve the belt. That’s it Michael. I think I need to see other announcers.
Winner… and new U.S. Champion…Daniel Bryan at 12 minutes and 25 seconds.
A promo airs for Hell in a Cell, which is in two weeks. Wait, that can’t be right. It is? WWE, please note the continuing crappy state of the economy and don’t ask people to pony up for pay-per-views every other week. Thanks.
Mathews asks Cena about his chances, and while running down the odds of various possible occurrences, he notices the large number of boos he got when first on screen and declares a 75 percent chance for a hostile crowd. He’s not sure what will happen in the main event, but he does know people should never count him out.
Michelle McCool (Women’s Champion) vs. Melina (Divas Champion) – WWE Women’s and Divas Championship Unification Lumberjill Match
I doubt there have ever been two titles begging for unification as badly as these. Layla is apparently upset that as co-holder of McCool’s belt, she got aced out in this deal. That doesn’t stop her from getting physically involved in the match, battling Melina long enough for McCool to connect with a big kick. Let’s move on.
Winner… and new Unified Divas Champion… Michelle McCool at six minutes and 33 seconds.
Grisham catches up with Barrett. He admits that his opponents represent greatness, but they also signify the status quo. He’s got a chance to prove tonight that the winds of change are indeed blowing. A video package recounts the long, twisted history between the Undertaker and Kane.
Undertaker (challenger) vs. Kane (champion) – World Heavyweight Championship No Holds barred Match
The brothers don’t even wait for the bell, battling on the stage. The pillars near the entranceway and the steel steps both come into play. Cool spots include Undertaker leaping completely over the barricade to tackle Kane in the crowd, as well as Kane launching himself off the barricade to the floor. Kane eventually takes control of the match inside the ring, battering the Dead Man. He simply waves his brother in for more. Undertaker rallies with a jumping lariat, Snake Eyes and a big boot to the face. He hits a choke slam and looks for the Tombstone. Kane manages to wriggle free and reverse position to deliver his own Tombstone. Even Undertaker doesn’t kick out of that.
Winner… and still World Heavyweight Champion… Kane at 18 minutes and 26 seconds.
Cena’s new movie Legendary is available next week on DVD, only at Walmart. It also showed on just enough movie screens that it can say it wasn’t direct to DVD. Elsewhere, Grisham asks Orton if he’ll share some of his thoughts on the main event. Orton considers it but tells Grisham no.
The Hart Dynasty (champions) vs. The Usos vs. Vladimir Kozlov and Santino Marella vs. Evan Bourne and Mark Henry vs. Drew McIntyre and “Dashing” Cody Rhodes – WWE Tag Team Championship Tag Team Turmoil Match
|WHAT YOU THINK|
What did you think of WWE Night of Champions?
It was great – 11%
It was okay – 22%
It sucked – 18%
Didn’t see it – 48%
The announcers talk up the importance of the tag straps. If they’re so important, why is tag team wrestling such a lost art in WWE, and why wasn’t this match announced ahead of time? The Usos eliminate the Harts right off the bat, ensuring we will have new champs. Kozlov and Marella don’t last long, and Bourne goes flying to send the Usos to the back. McIntyre and Rhodes take turns beating on Bourne, who finally manages to tag out to Henry. The faces rally and try to set up an Air Bourne off Henry’s shoulders. That doesn’t work, and Rhodes takes advantage by drilling Bourne with the Cross Rhodes for the win. Kind of a cluster, but it had its moments.
Winners… and new WWE Tag Team Champions… Drew McIntyre and “Dashing” Cody Rhodes at 11 minutes and 40 seconds.
A vignette introduces people who don’t watch Smackdown (a large group, one suspects) to Alberto Del Rio. He coins a phrase by calling the fans “mentally constipated.” I like that. One final video montage examines the history of the WWE Championship and the mentalities of all six main event competitors.
Sheamus (champion) vs. John Cena vs. Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Wade Barrett vs. Randy Orton – WWE Championship Six Pack Elimination Challenge Match
Winner… and new WWE Champion… Randy Orton at 21 minutes and 26 seconds.
Total Event Time: 2 hours and 46 minutes
Event Rating: 7/10
Nick Tylwalk admits to feeling a little mentally constipated from time to time after pounding out 2,000-word pay-per-view reports. Despite that, he’ll still answer you if reached at his Twitter feed @Nick_Tylwalk or at [email protected].