WWE Night of Champions: Burning Questions and Final Projections
It's time for Night of Champions! (Minus the Intercontinental and United States titles, of course.)
For the first time in months, the overall pay-per-view doesn't feel that exciting. Going from John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan to Bryan vs. Randy Orton is a bit of a drop.
Even bigger is CM Punk's drop from fighting Brock Lesnar to taking on Curtis Axel. Still, it's hard to judge how good a pay-per-view will be ahead of time; perhaps the show could surprise.
Before SmackDown, WWE only had five advertised matches. Five? That's it? There's more matches on a regular commercial-interrupted episode of Raw. Well, if you have an extra $50 laying around maybe you don't mind paying $10 per advertised match.
I went 7-1 last month to bring my all-time Bleacher Report WWE pay-per-view prediction record to 53-14-1.
Time to put that all on the line as we take one last look at Night of Champions.
Tag Team Turmoil Match
Burning Question: Why are the Wyatt Family not in this match?
Match Outlook: So let me get this straight. The Wyatt Family has defeated Tons of Funk on four separate occasions, and beat The Prime Time Players and they weren't invited?
Matches like this just show how weak the tag division is. Unlike last month's pre-show with Rob Van Dam and Dean Ambrose, this is unlikely to entice any potential buyers.
Let's go with some decent action, some tomfoolery and a clean win in about 10 minutes.
Final Projection: The Prime Time Players (90 percent confidence), The Usos (8 percent confidence) and The Real Americans (2 percent confidence), and then Tons of Funk and 3MB (combined 0 percent confidence).
The Players have been getting a bit of a push lately, and are the only other babyface team who haven't had their shot at The Shield yet. Most importantly, their image was the biggest one on the promotional photo shown on Raw.
AJ Lee (c) vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi
Burning Question: Who is the real villain here?
Match Outlook: WWE is trying, but fans still aren't interested in the Diva's division. That's probably because it's a huge mess.
Most hardcore fans are behind AJ, but she's the one playing the heel, but a heel who makes good points and takes group beatdowns.
This will probably go around seven minutes with some decent action. Besides Brie Bella, the other three participants in the match can go in the ring.
Final Projection: AJ Lee (95 percent confidence).
Taking the title off of AJ would be a big mistake at this point. None of the others involved are anywhere near over enough to be the face of the division. Still, you could potentially see WWE giving one of them the belt just to have it carry over to a Total Divas storyline.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
Burning Question: Remember when Dolph Ziggler was the World Heavyweight Champion? Did that actually happen?
Match Outlook: I've never fully understood why WWE gives away matches for free and then expects us to pay for them days later.
On SmackDown, we saw Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler go one-on-one. Granted, we didn't get a clean finish but we got six minutes worth of action.
It would also be nice if this was an actual feud with both men getting some mic time to put it over. With all that said, this should be a solid middle of the show contest. Ziggler can bump like no man's business, and Ambrose is a good brawler.
Final Projection: Ambrose (98 percent).
Ziggler appears to be in the doghouse these days. With his lack of TV time and loss to Bray Wyatt on Raw, it seems that management may be sending him a message.
With the way WWE is building up Triple H's stable (of sorts), it doesn't seem to be the time for the babyfaces to get their victories yet.
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
Burning Question: Will Ricardo Rodriguez finally come home?
Match Outlook: You never quite know what you're getting with Rob Van Dam. He can be clunky, or still put on a great performance. Del Rio is underrated in the ring, and could pull out a good one from Van Dam.
Their recent match was pretty mediocre, but there's potential to turn things up on the big show.
Final Projection: Del Rio (75 percent confidence).
It would be nice to have one babyface hold a title, but it most likely won't be Van Dam. Rodriguez and Mr. Dam have zero chemistry together, and we were never given a solid explanation for their joining in the first place.
It's time that Rodriguez comes back to Del Rio, and all will be right in the world.
The Shield (Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) (c) vs Tag Team Turmoil Winners
Burning Question: Is it really fair for the winners to wrestle twice?
Match Outlook: Let's go with the earlier prediction of The Prime Time Players winning to take on The Shield. If that's the case, it should be a fun match. The Players seem to be getting more over with the crowd, and The Shield has yet to be in a bad match.
Final Projection: The Shield (99 percent confidence). Having the duo lose their titles without any hype behind it would be a move that is not "best for business."
Besides, it's good to have Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins with the gold around their waists as they're involved in the biggest angle in WWE.
CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman
Burning Question: Will a new Paul Heyman guy debut? Please?
Match Outlook: No matter how good the match is, the crowd should be hot for this one. Axel is fine in the ring, but there's no way he'll be able to top Punk's match with Brock Lesnar last month.
But that's not what this is really about. This is about finally seeing CM Punk get his hands on Paul Heyman. It's a well done build that's months in the making, and Punk's promo on Raw was great at enticing viewers to order the show.
Overall, it should be a good match with a lot of near falls and high drama.
Final Projection: Punk (80 percent confidence).
I'd love to see Matt Morgan return to become Heyman's newest client, but it's doubtful that it will happen. The main point is that the company just can't drag this feud out any more with Curtis Axel in such a prominent role.
I'll go with Punk winning after a hard fought battle, and plenty of dirty tricks by Heyman and Axel. Punk then gives Heyman three Go To Sleeps, which keeps him off of TV for a month or so.
Heyman then returns with a new client to keep the feud alive.
Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Burning Question: Can this match save the show?
Match Outlook: These two are at the top of their game right now, and could put on one fantastic main event.
If nothing else, it's the first advertised non-involvement of John Cena, CM Punk or Triple H in a pay-per-view main event in almost three years (Hell in a Cell 2010 had Kane vs. Undertaker in the final slot).
Yes, it kind of stinks that so much of the spotlight has gone to Hunter instead of Orton, but there's still a lot of heat in this one. People want to see Bryan win.
The two also had a great series a couple months ago, and should be able to put on a satisfying end to the show.
Final Projection: Orton (92 percent confidence).
With the "best for business" story taking up so much TV time, it's doubtful that WWE would give us the payoff this soon. Besides, having Orton and Bryan face off a few more times wouldn't be bad at all.
Orton will take this one, just not cleanly. With John Cena on the sidelines, expect these two to be feuding for the next couple of months.