The weeks leading up to Night of Champions proved the WWE can put together a strong build without John Cena. The longtime face of the company may be sidelined due to injury, but Randy Orton and the new corporation angle filled the void.
Although the focus on establishing Orton, Triple H and the McMahon family has left less time for the mid-card feuds, it will be worth it in the long run. A strong foundation is being built for the months ahead, which continues with the WWE Championship match at Night of Champions.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the top matches on the pay-per-view card and make predictions for which superstars will pick up the victories. For a complete list of announced matches, visit the WWE's official site.
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship
Orton was seemingly going through the motions before winning the Money in the Bank briefcase. He needed a major storyline to revitalize him, and he got it. Giving him the WWE title while being backed by the company's power players was perfect.
At the same time, the rise of Bryan into a major force with a gigantic amount of fan support is equally important. Although his championship reign only lasted a couple of minutes, getting turned on by Triple H actually helped everybody involved and jump-started the angle.
The corporation storyline is still in its early stages, and for it to fully succeed, it needs to remain dominant for awhile. That means Orton must emerge from Night of Champions with the top title, but only after some shenanigans to keep the crowd squarely in Bryan's corner moving forward.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam for the World Heavyweight Championship
It's time for a change in the World Heavyweight title picture. Del Rio continues to get chances, but his gimmick has been stale for a long time now. Getting rid of Ricardo Rodriguez certainly didn't change that. In fact, it exposed the issues even further.
Van Dam isn't the perfect option to take control of the belt. It would be better if Damien Sandow was ready to cash in his briefcase. He hasn't been built like a champion, however. So the high-flying veteran is the next best choice and would provide the belt with a boost.
The most logical way for the title to change hands is with Van Dam getting some help from Rodriguez, or potentially his alter ego El Local. At least then things would get shaken up and provide the title picture with some refreshing excitement after more of the same from Del Rio.
Prediction: Van Dam
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship
This match has show-stealing potential. Two superstars with main-event talent getting a chance to showcase why they both have extremely bright futures. Hopefully they are given an extended amount of time to shine.
Ziggler was never able to fully capitalize on his Money in the Bank moment, losing the World Heavyweight title a short time later. He's slid back down the card since that point, but it should only be a matter of time before he moves back up the ladder.
That said, winning the United States title wouldn't do much for him at this point. And it doesn't make sense to take the belt away from Ambrose while he's in a high-profile storyline with his fellow Shield members. Expect him to retain after a great back-and-forth battle.