WWE Night of Champions 2012: Why CM Punk vs John Cena Fell Short of Expectations

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2012

Photo courtesy of WWE.com
Photo courtesy of WWE.com

Night of Champions was an event with so much invested in the main event that it needed to be incredible for the show to succeed. CM Punk and John Cena simply didn't live up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon them, though, and that ultimately hurt the pay-per-view as a whole.

Punk and Cena had a lot to contend with as the weight of an entire event was on their shoulders as were there past performances. Both men probably count their encounter at Money in the Bank last year as the best of their respective careers and their rematch at last year's SummerSlam wasn't far behind.

The problem with that, however, is that fans expect a five-star classic out of them each and every time they lock horns now. Those expectations are unrealistic, but that is precisely what Punk and Cena needed to do at Night of Champions. It simply wasn't the case.

As a whole, the match wasn't terrible, but it didn't seem special by any means. There was decent back-and-forth action and plenty of close calls, but this match was worked at a considerably slower pace than some of their past bouts, and I believe that took away from it to some degree.

The biggest issue, though, was the ending. All signs point to this feud continuing through Hell in a Cell or even Survivor Series—since Punk and Cena are the two top guys in the company—and there is nobody else for Punk to feud with until The Rock becomes a factor at Royal Rumble. But it could have been handled much better.

It initially seemed like Cena had won the match and the WWE Championship with a German suplex off the top rope, but the decision was reversed as it was ruled that both Punk and Cena's shoulders were down. Because of that, the match was a draw and Punk retained the title.

I wanted Punk to retain and knew that he wouldn't win cleanly, but the draw was a cop-out. There are times when draws are acceptable, but during the main event of a pay-per-view that needed the match to be great certainly isn't one of those occasions. Had the match been on RAW that would have been one thing, but I hated that Night of Champions ended that way.

As much as I hate to say it, the finish was very TNA-esque. It almost seemed like the writers didn't know how to make everyone look good while still having a winner, so they decided to take the easy way out. Nobody wants to see a pay-per-view end without a winner, so the result definitely leaves me a bit sour.

My proposed finish was to have Big Show come to the ring with Paul Heyman distracting the referee at which point Big Show would hit Cena with a WMD. Punk would get the win and the fans would get to witness an actual resolution, but Cena would have had an obvious excuse and he would have been entitled to a rematch, so the feud could have continued.

Punk and Heyman are likely to form a stable at some point with Brock Lesnar and perhaps Big Show, so why not plant the seeds? Heyman mentioned again on Sunday that Punk was a "Heyman guy" and since both Big Show and Lesnar are Heyman guys as well, it's only a matter of time before they come together.

I suppose the creative team may be waiting to put that into action, but what we saw at Night of Champions instead was unacceptable. Fans pay a great deal of money to see a good event, but the undercard was underwhelming and Punk vs. Cena was supposed to be the saving grace.

The match itself wasn't bad by any means, but it didn't make the show like it was supposed to. I could have lived with it if the ending was satisfying, but it came up short on many levels.