WWE Night of Champions 2012: Reviewing September's Previous PPVs
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September is usually an interesting month for pay-per-views.
This is mainly due to its position on the calendar; more specifically, its position next to SummerSlam. In theory, September PPVs have a clean slate with which to work since the main rivalries are supposed to have been wrapped up at the August PPV.
Of course, it doesn’t always work like this, but the task of following the WWE’s second biggest event of the year ensures that the September PPV will always be placed firmly in the limelight.
For the last three years, that responsibility has fallen to Night of Champions. However, since the company’s expansion to a PPV every month in 1995, there have been three other shows hosted in August.
This article takes a look at these events, analyzing the success of each and recounting some of the most memorable moments over the years.
1995-98: In Your House
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Back in the 80s and early 90s, the WWE PPV schedule consisted of just four events: Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Survivor Series (a fifth event, King of the Ring, was added later than these original four in 1993).
Then in 1995, WWE decided to expand their schedule in order to compete with WCW, who were already operating PPVs every month.
The vacant months in between the traditional, big PPVs were then used to host shows called In Your House, each with a different theme or tagline for differentiation. Also, these events were typically cheaper and shorter than other yearly shows.
In total, there were four In Your House shows in September and they produced some great pieces of WWE history.
The 1998 event, Breakdown: In Your House, saw Stone Cold Steve Austin face Kane and The Undertaker in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Title, where the Brothers of Destruction simultaneously pinned the Rattlesnake.
This led to one of the most iconic moments in Raw history the following night, as Austin drove to the ring in a Zamboni to interrupt Mr. McMahon’s title presentation ceremony.
In typical Stone Cold fashion, Austin ignored orders, causing all manner of chaos as he leaped from the vehicle and began assaulting the Chairman of the Board before being escorted away by security.
It was a key development of the Attitude Era.
Other highlights of the event include the 1996 show, In Your House 10: Mind Games. Shawn Michaels faced Mankind for the WWE Title in a match that was nominated for Match in the Year at the 1997 Slammy awards.
The confrontation’s build-up also saw Mankind give his “Sexy Boy” promo from the boiler room in another entertaining, albeit somewhat disturbing, piece of mic work from Foley.
September’s editions of In Your House have definitely provided some of the month’s highlights, and great value for the cost.
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The Unforgiven concept actually began under the In Your House moniker in April of 1998. However, the series was abolished the following year, as the WWE chose to rebrand each event under more unique and individual names.
Unforgiven then became a PPV in its own right and went on to run ten successive shows.
The event put on its fair share of great encounters, such as the epic Tables, Ladders and Chairs match between John Cena and Edge, or the intense feud involving Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker that many are now clamoring for a repeat of at next year’s WrestleMania.
It also saw the innovation of the Championship Scramble concept. I personally felt the idea itself was good, as it gave lesser known stars such as Brian Kendrick the chance to become unofficial “interim” champions.
However, the general consensus was that the match only really got exciting towards the end and thus the Championship Scramble match never truly caught on.
Unforgiven’s highest attendance was in 2000. 18,092 fans packed out the First Union Centre in Philadelphia to see a card including a no-DQ match between Triple H and Kurt Angle with Mick Foley serving as guest referee, as well as a Fatal Fourway for the WWE Championship involving The Rock, Chris Benoit, Kane and The Undertaker.
But along with these successes, the show was prone to failure, and drew attendances of 10,000 or less on three separate occasions.
The tenth and final Unforgiven of September was attended by just 8,707, in an arena that can accommodate over 20,000. And though the event saw the most marginal of increases in PPV buys, ultimately it wasn’t enough to save the show from extinction.
The event was then cut from the WWE schedule and has never been used since.
Unforgiven was a solid PPV with some great memories, however considering its longevity, one may have expected it to produce a few more memorable moments.
2009: Breaking Point
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Breaking Point lasted one solitary show. The name reflected the PPVs theme as it featured both Submission and I Quit matches in the main events.
Triple H and Shawn Michaels put on a decent Submissions Count Anywhere match against Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, as the WWE looked to capitalize on the popularity of DX’s return at SummerSlam one month previously.
But the biggest talking point was to come from the World Heavyweight Championship bout, a Submission match between CM Punk, the champion, and The Undertaker. The Deadman picked up an initial victory, only for Teddy Long to overrule the decision before CM Punk scored a victory despite the fact that The Undertaker never tapped out.
Dubbed the Montreal Screwjob 2, this re-enactment of the 1997 controversy attracted criticism of a different kind. Many thought it was pointless and a sign of the WWE’s unfortunate inability to leave the past in the past.
The incident is less renowned and was simply less emphatic than the original version, obviously because people knew that this time it was in fact scripted.
Nonetheless, the arrangement served its purpose of putting Punk over whilst maintaining the Undertaker’s somewhat sketchy record of having never lost by tapping out.
Despite this seemingly intriguing card, the event failed to deliver. It drew just 169,000 buys, signalling a near 20% drop on the previous year’s final Unforgiven show, which drew 211,000.
Alarmingly, this made it the least successful of all the 2009 PPVs and the company's response was to immediately drop the idea.
The submission-theme would appear well suited to the current crop of “gimmick PPVs” in the WWE, but for now the fear of another failure has been enough to deter the powers that be from revisiting the Breaking Point concept.
2010-Present: Night of Champions
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Night of Champions saw a gradual transition into the WWE. It was first introduced in 2007 as Vengeance: Night of Champions, though the Vengeance preface was soon dropped and it spent the next couple of years taking place in either June or July.
The PPV then settled in September where it has been a fixture since 2010, with another Night of Champions having already been confirmed for the same time next year.
And though the September editions have perhaps been less notable than previous shows, they have been solid events nonetheless.
2010 saw a six-pack challenge for the WWE Championship, and another bout between Kane and The Undertaker, this time in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship that drew positive reviews.
Last year’s event saw more decent championship clashes, but was headlined by a non-title match, a move that somewhat undermines the PPVs title. The match itself, between Triple H and CM Punk, was interesting nonetheless, and the countless outside interferences certainly added to the excitement.
However, the feud will simply be remembered by many as the slightly anti-climatic end to the spectacular Summer of Punk. The Straightedge Superstar would go on to win the WWE Title once again, but much of the momentum from his historic victory over John Cena at SummerSlam was lost, thanks largely to this “conspiracy” storyline.
Though the Night of Champions buy rates have dipped in recent years, the WWE are persisting with the gimmick. The main event of this year’s PPV will of course see a rematch of Cena vs. Punk , in a contest that has received fantastic build up and one that I am certainly looking forward to.
A lack of effort regarding other matches may prevent the show from being an all-round classic, but the WWE Championship match, not to mention the possible presence of Paul Heyman, is enough to have me eagerly anticipating the September 16th showcase.
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Though a number of different aliases have been adopted, September PPVs have certainly provided us with their fair share of memories throughout the years.
The timing of such instances may have been somewhat sporadic and inconsistent and perhaps we should have more to remember from the ninth month of the year, but memories remain nonetheless.
And I for one believe that this year has the potential to provide us with more great moments to savor and enjoy.
Can CM Punk extend his remarkable title reign? Will a new WWE Championship belt be unveiled? Might we see the emergence of the much-speculated stable involving Punk and Heyman?
And of course, how is the dysfunctional duo of Kane and Daniel Bryan (or Daniel Bryan and Kane) going to fare in their bid for the Tag Team titles?
All will soon be revealed, and I for one will most definitely be tuning into Night of Champions 2012.
Comment below with your thoughts on the PPV, as well as any opinions you may have regarding the events that have been discussed from years gone by.