WWE Night of Champions 2013: Smart Finishes for Each Match on the Card
In just a few days, World Wrestling Entertainment will present its Night of Champions event, live from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich.
Topping the show will be Daniel Bryan versus Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, while Rob Van Dam will challenge Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight title.
CM Punk will look to gain a measure of revenge against former friend-turned-hated enemy Paul Heyman as he meets Heyman and Curtis Axel in a Handicap Elimination match.
AJ Lee will represent fans of women's wrestling as she defends the Divas title against Total Divas reality stars Brie Bella, Naomi and Natalya (who is also a wrestler by nature, but who is counting?) in a Fatal Four-Way match.
The Tag Team Championship will be on the line as The Shield defends against the winner of a pre-show Tag Team Turmoil match, while no match for the United States title has been officially announced.
The finishes of the advertised matches could go a very long way in determining the course of several key storylines. A good finish can make an entire storyline while a poor one can derail it before it ever really kicks into second gear.
What finishes suit each match best? What are the smart finishes to the advertised matches on Sunday's pay-per-view spectacular?
Find out after the jump.
No. 1 Contender Tag Team Turmoil Match
Sunday night, prior to the official start of the Night of Champions pay-per-view event, five teams will vie for the opportunity to challenge The Shield's Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for the WWE Tag Team Championship.
The field will include The Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro), Tons of Funk (Tensai and Brodus Clay), The Usos, The Prime Time Players and 3MB (most likely Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal).
In recent weeks, The Usos and the Real Americans have been engaged in a tag team rivalry, while the Prime Time Players have ridden a wave of momentum in the post-SummerSlam WWE.
3MB has been up to its normal jobbing ways, and Tons of Funk will be lucky enough to earn a pay-per-view payoff considering they have not appeared on television in weeks.
With the likelihood of a heel versus heel title match making it to pay-per-view, that essentially eliminates Cesaro and Swagger from contention.
On the Money in the Bank pre-show, Rollins and Reigns defended their titles against The Usos in an outstanding match that set the stage for one of the better events of the year.
Titus O'Neil and Darren Young have not had the opportunity to challenge for the titles since Reigns and Rollins won them back at Extreme Rules and have only recently turned babyface.
The Prime Time Players defeat Cesaro and Swagger, who eliminate Tons of Funk and The Usos earlier in the match, before they dispatch of 3MB in the final fall to earn a shot at the Tag Team Championship later in the evening.
They, like every other team before them, fail to capture the titles, however, as Reigns and Rollins continue rolling through the competition.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio, like him or not, has to be in consideration for Wrestler of the Year at this point in 2013. He has been one of the more consistent in-ring performers throughout these nine months and had been World Heavyweight champion for all but two months.
Rob Van Dam, on the other hand, has shown a sense of motivation that was missing during his days in TNA and has earned the championship opportunity that awaits him, thanks to excellent matches with the likes of Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Del Rio.
The introduction of Ricardo Rodriguez as Van Dam's new ring announcer was different, to say the least, but it allows the entertaining sidekick to continue his vendetta against former friend Del Rio and adds another element to the rivalry.
His involvement in the match should prove interesting. Is he really in Van Dam's corner, or was the entire split between he and Del Rio a ploy?
The biggest question surrounding the match is whether or not management thinks Van Dam is the guy to carry the company's second-most prestigious title. Del Rio has been a workhorse for WWE, while Van Dam is working on a very limited schedule.
It would be a big risk for the promotion to switch the title and potentially have no champion on the B-level house shows, but it may be a risk WWE is willing to take.
Van Dam leaps off the top rope with a Five-Star Frog Splash, but Del Rio rolls out of the way and the challenger crashes to the canvas below. Del Rio rolls Van Dam up, grabs a handful of trunks and picks up a cheap win to set up the eventual rematch at October's Battleground pay-per-view.
Fatal 4-Way for the Divas Title: AJ Lee vs. Naomi vs. Brie Bella vs. Natalya
AJ Lee defeated Kaitlyn at Payback in June in what many considered the best Divas match in years. A month later, she once again forced a tapout from Kaitlyn via the Black Widow submission hold.
Since then, the majority of the focus has been on WWE and E! Network's successful reality program Total Divas and its cast. Natalya, The Bella Twins, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie and JoJo have all seen increased television time, prompting what many refer to as the AJ Lee Bombshell.
The Divas champion appeared on the August 26 episode of Raw and did a "worked/shoot" promo in which she expressed her disgust for the women on the show, their need to have reality television to get exposure and the models the company hires as future Divas.
The promo got the WWE fanbase buzzing about women's wrestling again and resulted in support for AJ that some in management probably were not expecting.
On the September 2 episode of Raw, Naomi, Natalya and Brie Bella met in a No. 1 contender match. The match would end in a no-contest when AJ interfered. Moments later, Stephanie McMahon announced a Fatal 4-Way match for the pay-per-view.
There are several ways to go with the outcome here.
The Bella Twins have been positioned as the stars of Total Divas, and a win for Brie would be an excellent cap for season one, which is still taping.
Naomi is an athletically gifted young woman who has never really been afforded the opportunity to showcase her skills in any kind of extended push. A win for her would present an interesting opportunity for a program with AJ, who she starred alongside in NXT Season 3.
Natalya has been the overlooked Diva on the reality show, one whose in-ring career is floundering and whose personal life is more the focus on the program. A win for her would be a feel-good story that could be expanded upon on the show.
While all three of those ladies would be excellent choices to win the match, thanks to the success of Total Divas and the increased exposure it gives the company, they would not be the smart choice.
Naomi and Brie fight to the arena floor, allowing Cameron, Nikki Bella, JoJo and Eva Marie to all get involved. Inside the squared circle, AJ catches Natalya in the Black Widow submission and picks up the tapout victory.
Handicap Elimination Match: CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel
The feud between CM Punk and Paul Heyman has become a personal vendetta by one man to avenge his betrayal at the hands of his former friend. It is outstanding emotional, physical and violent storytelling that is missing from today's WWE.
Punk was within seconds of earning his third Money in the Bank briefcase when Heyman blasted him in the back, then the head, with a ladder and ended his chances of making history. A month later, his repeated distractions ultimately cost Punk a match against the monstrous Brock Lesnar.
Since July, Punk has done everything in his power to get his hands on Heyman, to repay him for stabbing him in the back, but has often been cut off by Heyman's clients.
Curtis Axel is the latest to stand between the Second City Saint and his former friend. On the August 26 episode of Raw, he and Heyman orchestrated a vicious kendo stick attack of Punk, leaving him marked and writhing in pain.
Heyman, in particular, was excellent as he screamed, "I loved you" before and after every shot to the upper torso with the weapon.
Punk has promised to unleash a side of himself that every fan who has ever bought his merchandise or cheered him on probably wishes they did not have to see. Heyman, on the hand, promises that his worst is far badder than Punk's.
An old-school wrestling angle that has been the best, most layered-on WWE programming will write its latest chapter Sunday night.
The match is a two-on-one handicap elimination match, a stipulation that teases the possibility that Heyman will finally get what is coming to him, courtesy of Punk.
But is that the right way to go?
CM Punk pins Curtis Axel following the GTS at the 14:00 mark and immediately sets his sights on Heyman. The crowd erupts as Punk slaps Heyman around the ring and is finally about to do substantial damage to the former ECW owner.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a new "Heyman Guy" appears, attacking Punk and drawing the disqualification.
Just who that Heyman Guy would be is the question. There are several undercard stars not being used, much like Axel before the pairing with Paul E., but there are also a handful of really exciting talents in NXT that could be called up and easily fill that role.
Whatever the case may be, it is too early to blow off the Punk-Heyman story.
WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
The main event of the evening will be the latest chapter in Daniel Bryan's quest to prove that he is WWE Championship material and an A-list star in World Wrestling Entertainment.
To do so, he will have to overcome champion Randy Orton, COO Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, The Shield and the potential involvement of The Big Show.
It has been a rough road to Night of Champions since last month's SummerSlam for Bryan. He has been beaten down, humiliated and verbally degraded by Triple H and company and has struggled to get an advantage.
Add to that the manner in which The Game has utilized the desperate, broke Big Show as his pawn, and there is plenty of reason to doubt Bryan's chances Sunday night.
Just in time to sell a few pay-per-views, however, Bryan finally got the best of Orton and those in power Monday night, catching the WWE champion with a running knee and standing tall with the WWE title in his possession to close out the broadcast.
There are several options on the board as far as the finish to Sunday's title match goes. Some have Bryan leaving Joe Louis Arena with the title, while others favor Orton retaining and the dictatorial reign of Triple H controlling WWE continuing.
The easy finish would involve Big Show interfering and costing Bryan the title in one massive swerve, not unlike the same finish fans witnessed a year ago when the big man chose siding with John Laurinaitis and the guaranteed payday over personal integrity.
Instead, the smart finish involves Bryan surging late in the match, taking out The Shield with a dive through the ropes and appearing poised to dethrone Orton. Then, as the referee is either down or distracted, Triple H enters the ring, delivers a Pedigree and assists The Viper to victory.
That finish allows for fans, Superstars and commentators to call into question Triple H's claims that he does what is best for business while also allowing an opening for Bryan to get a rematch at either of the next two pay-per-view events.
Would it be the most popular or original? No. But it would once again show that Bryan is a championship-level competitor who, once again, had the title in his grasp only for it to be ripped away by Triple H.