Breaking Down the Best and Worst of the WWE for Week of Sept. 9
Priming us for Night of Champions, WWE leaned on exciting returns.
Fans saw a Hall of Famer, a bizarre Superstar and a comic relief guy come back. A mostly excellent week delivered a handful of top-notch matches and the kind of theatrical drama that separates WWE from combat sports.
Goldust pulled a Rob Van Dam, looking like he is 10 years younger than he is.
Edge, Bray Wyatt, Kofi Kingston and Antonio Cesaro rocked the house as well. Their performances overshadowed the week's low points, namely some frustrating booking. From "The Prince of Perversion" to "The Rated-R Superstar," here is the best and worst of the week from WWE.
Best: Kofi Kingston vs. Antonio Cesaro
Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston showed us that WWE ended their feud over the United States Championship too early.
They showed off their excellent chemistry together in a standout match on Wednesday's Main Event. The contrast of speed and power once again made for exciting action.
Cesaro caught Kingston's leg as the high-flyer went for Trouble in Paradise. This gave Cesaro a chance to show off his Giant Swing again, spinning Kingston around for a lengthy amount of time before tossing him to the ground.
In a gorgeous sequence, Kingston countered the Neutralizer into a jackknife pin and Cesaro then bridged out of it.
This was the kind of in-ring rapport that made their previous matches so good.
Worst: Night of Most of the Champions
Dean Ambrose doesn't yet have a match to defend his United States title at Night of Champions.
We now head into a pay-per-view specifically designed to have every champion defend their title with possibly two titleholders not putting their belts on the line. WWE has chosen to focus on CM Punk's hunger for revenge rather than Curtis Axel's Intercontinental Championship, and now Ambrose may not get a challenger either.
Many expect Dolph Ziggler vs. Ambrose to be announced at some point before the event, but why not announce it on Monday and let it build some? Why not give the fans one more reason to buy the pay-per-view?
If both Ambrose and Axel go without defending their championships, it makes those titles seem mighty insignificant. It also takes away the one thing that makes this pay-per-view different from all the others on the schedule.
Best: Randy Orton vs. Goldust
What looked like a nostalgia match with a guy past his prime and the WWE champ turned into one of the most dramatic and engaging bouts of the year.
Goldust looked fantastic in his return on Monday's WWE Raw, sweating off his face paint in a valiant effort to win his brother's job back. "The Bizarre One" belied his age as he took the fight to Randy Orton.
His and Orton's performance reportedly earned a standing ovation backstage, per PWMania.com.
This was a clash that produced great emotion with Goldust being desperate to win and Orton stomping on his hopes of an upset. It also gives Orton more heat as he's now the guy who took the WWE title from Daniel Bryan, ousted Cody Rhodes and left Goldust in tears.
Worst: Former Champions Can't Buy a Win
As fun as it was to watch Antonio Cesaro battle Kofi Kingston on Wednesday, it's frustrating to see him so often be the prey and so rarely the predator.
Cesaro joins a group of recent champions who have gone from contenders to bottom feeders in a hurry.
Before losing to Kingston on WWE Main Event, Cesaro fell to a returning Santino Marella on Monday's Raw. Dolph Ziggler served as Bray Wyatt's victim and Wade Barrett wasn't even in action.
This is no isolated small sample as all three men have had a run of losses and appear to be sliding down the WWE ladder. Of course, not everyone can be in the top spot and rarely do we see a Goldberg-type streak of victories, but having Barrett, Ziggler and Cesaro lose so often makes it harder to see them as threats.
Soon the outcomes of their matches will be as predictable as when Zack Ryder steps through the ropes.
Best: Bray Wyatt's Performance
Dolph Ziggler may not have liked the outcome, but the explosiveness and intensity that Bray Wyatt displayed on Monday's WWE Raw reminded us why Wyatt has received so much hype.
Unlike his oft-criticized first match against Kane at SummerSlam, Wyatt looked confident. He was smoother and more engrossing, relishing the torture he was dishing out.
This is the Wyatt WWE was hoping for when it called him up; this is the Wyatt fans wanted and expected.
Credit Ziggler for helping the big man look good (as "The Show Off" is known to do), but Wyatt wasn't carried here, only given the opportunity to show us his fangs.
Best: The Cutting Edge
On a WWE Raw that had to compete with the return of Monday Night Football, WWE wisely brought in Goldust and Hall of Famer Edge to ramp up our excitement level.
Edge's performance, going back-and-forth with Triple H with verbal low blows, was stellar.
Triple H claimed that Edge was never a wrestler who made the company money. Edge said that Triple H married into success. It was the type of promo that walks the tightrope of reality and kayfabe to grab our attention and makes the insults mean something.
To add to the drama of that showdown, Triple H tossed a beat-up Christian onto the entrance ramp.
If the COO couldn't hurt the injured Edge, he was apparently willing to hurt his best friend. The segment made the most of Edge's presence, made Triple H look even more evil and gave Daniel Bryan a bump to have such a respected figure heap praise on him.