WWE championship gold will shimmer in the spotlight of Night of Champions 2013.
Following a triumphant SummerSlam, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Rob Van Dam look to continue WWE's momentum. Title bouts and grudge matches highlight a pay-per-view that will likely raise as many questions as it answers.
The fun starts on Sunday, as fans filing into the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit watch five tag teams battle for the right to challenge Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Dig into a preview that offers predictions and backstage news that may reveal how the night plays out.
Rumors, Potential Spoilers
The murmuring fans hear on wrestling news sites isn't always accurate, as those awaiting John Morrison to return at the 2013 Royal Rumble found out. Still, the rumors floating around about Night of Champions all seem highly plausible.
In fact, they parallel what many fans are expecting to happen.
Take the outcome of the Bryan vs. Orton match. Wrestling Observer, via WrestlingInc.com, is reporting that "Daniel Bryan won't be winning the WWE title from Randy Orton at Night of Champions."
Even the most diehard Bryan fan can't have high hopes of Bryan winning back the championship on his first try. The better story is him in pursuit, climbing the mountain.
WWE could change their minds before those two do battle, but that match will be more about how Orton survives than a question of who will win.
Anyone expecting Big Show to play a role in that match is likely right.
As reported by PWInsider, via WrestlingInc.com, "Triple H is expected to wrestle twice between now and WrestleMania XXX. A match against Big Show has been rumored."
If this turns out to be true, that feud could get ignited by Big Show interfering in the title match. Should he thwart Triple H's plan to cheat Bryan out of victory, expect the giant to be facing "The King of Kings" in the near future.
During the show's kickoff event, long before Orton and Bryan wage war, five teams will compete for a shot at The Shield.
For those wondering who will represent the three-man team of 3MB, PWInsider.com has your answer. A report, via WrestlingInc.com, says that it will be Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal representing the team.
They were already the least likely duo to win the Tag Team Turmoil match, but keeping Drew McIntyre out of the mix doesn't help their chances as he's the best wrestler on their squad.
- Naomi vs. Brie Bella vs. Natalya vs. AJ Lee (Divas Championship)
- Turmoil match winner vs. Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins (Tag Team Championship)
- CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman (Handicap Elimination Match)
- Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose (United States Championship)
- Rob Van Dam vs. Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship)
- Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship)
Divas Championship: Brie Bella
A victory for Natalya would be a victory for female wrestling. There's certainly an argument for rewarding the best grappler in the Divas division with another title run, but it won't happen.
Brie's position as one of the top stars of Total Divas will have her overtake the other women in this Fatal 4-Way match.
Putting the Divas title on her would help highlight the show WWE seems so keen on promoting and would give the reality show more exciting material to showcase.
AJ is going to be hard-pressed to come out as champ with the stipulations of the match. Not only does she stand to lose the title without being involved in the decision, she goes into this clash a targeted woman after blasting all her foes on the microphone.
Tag Team Championship: The Shield
The teams involved in the pre-show Tag Team Turmoil match are much like the teams in the NCAA basketball tournament play-in games. The Prime Time Players or The Usos will follow the glory of victory with the reality that they have little chance to win.
WWE has booked Reigns and Rollins too strongly to fall here.
Even as hot as Titus O'Neil and Darren Young have been in recent weeks, The Shield losing titles on Sunday will feel unrealistic. Reigns and Rollins have knocked off so many big stars that they've quickly climbed to an upper rung of the WWE ladder.
The Prime Time Players aren't there yet.
Handicap Elimination Match: CM Punk
It's time for the climax of this dark story; it's time for Paul Heyman to get his overdue punishment.
WWE stories are all about the payoff and here that means that Punk lays a major beating on the man who betrayed him. Axel will surprise many with how close he gets to knocking off "The Best in the World," but it's hard to imagine any other outcome than Punk winning.
Expect some dramatic faces from Heyman as he struggles with the thought of Punk trying to snap him in half.
The feud feels ready to close and closing it any other way than Heyman suffering will disappoint fans.
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose
There's little reason to believe that Ambrose won't hold fast to the title.
This looks like Ziggler's going to be asked to do what he does best—make his opponent look great. There's been too little focus on this rivalry and no mention of Ziggler's desire to gain the U.S. title again for a title change to happen.
Ambrose will make sure none of The Shield's championships change hands.
World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Van Dam
This is where WWE can send their fans home happy even if the heels win the majority of the other battles.
Van Dam will turn the story of his return into one for the ages with a world title win in his 40's. It would be George Foreman beating Michael Moorer all over again.
Whatever fountain of youth "Mr. Monday Night" has been drinking from is working: Van Dam has delivered great performances since returning at Money in the Bank. Expect his roll to continue as Ricardo Rodriguez gets revenge on his former employer.
A potential show-stealer will see Van Dam hit the Five-Star Frog Splash and get the decisive pin as the Detroit fans go nuts.
WWE Championship: Randy Orton
Even if the rumors mentioned above weren't circulating, the smart money would be on "The Viper."
WWE has put too much time into this story to have it end after the first act. This is a narrative capable of stretching out for months, leading to a cathartic conclusion after much frustration.
Bryan has Triple H, The Shield and Orton against him.
He and Orton are sure to put on a great performance and just how WWE goes about keeping the belt on Orton will be intriguing, but this is the most predictable match on the card. Punk's story is in its final chapter; Bryan's is miles away from the conclusion.
Orton leaves with the WWE Championship with an ending that leaves fans anxious for what comes next.