On Sunday night at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, WWE presented its seventh annual Night of Champions pay-per-view. While the show didn't live up to the expectations of many, there were still several matches that managed to save it from being a complete disaster.
The main event saw Daniel Bryan challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Following a fast count by referee Scott Armstrong, Bryan pinned Orton to capture the prestigious prize for the second time in his career.
While CM Punk came close to exacting his revenge on Paul Heyman, he was ultimately unsuccessful defeating his former friend. This came after Ryback shockingly emerged from the back to lay Punk out for the three count, seemingly aligning himself with Ryback in the process.
Also at the event, Rob Van Dam and Alberto Del Rio clashed in a match for the World Heavyweight Championship. RVD put up a good fight against Del Rio, but the Mexican aristocrat intentionally got himself disqualified in order to maintain possession of his title.
All in all, it was a rather forgettable show that didn't continue the strong streak of stellar pay-per-views WWE had going since May. While the event had its moments, it was far from the show I originally expected it to be.
Here, I will analyze each significant segment presented on the show. I will also provide a combination of predictions and wishful thinking about what I hope to see in coming weeks.
Fans weren't given much of an incentive to care about any team involved, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much the live crowd was into the action. The eliminations were done at a rapid-fire pace, presumably because they short on time.
Nonetheless, every tandem performed well and The Prime Time Players were logical winners. This was a fun matchup, but not nearly as exciting as some of the other matches we've seen on the pre-show in recent months.
This was an extremely strange segment. First off, having a promo kick off a pay-per-view is never a good idea and didn't exactly set the tone for the rest of the night.
Secondly, Triple H came off as more of a babyface in this segment than he did a heel. I understand he might be attempting to act phony, but he played to the crowd when it was unnecessary.
I liked the fact that Curtis Axel made mention of his history with HHH, but The Game placing Axel in an impromptu match gave this show feel like an episode of Raw rather than a pay-per-view.
I saw this match coming after Kingston defeated Axel in on two separate occasions in the last few weeks. I'm not frustrated by the fact that it wasn't advertised in advance given the fact that it probably wouldn't have sold many pay-per-view buys anyway.
The match itself was very good and the best of the bunch from these two. Kingston will be Intercontinental champion before long, but I'm glad it didn't happen on this show. Axel can still do a lot with the strap before he eventually drops it. Many fans (myself included) complained prior to the show that not every title was on the line despite the concept of the event, so I'm glad that snafu was fixed here.
This match lived up to my expectations in the sense that it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't memorable by any means. AJ and Natalya did most of the in-ring work, Brie was limited and Naomi showed off her athletic abilities.
While "Total Divas" may be a hit in the ratings, the storyline surrounding the show does nothing for me, personally. However, I am glad WWE didn't opt to go with a title change, as I still strongly believe that it is still too soon in AJ's reign for that to happen.
While the feud between RVD and Del Rio up to this point has been lackluster, it was nice to see that their match made up for that. It wasn't a five star classic or anything, but it was an enjoyable contest with several close near-falls down the stretch.
The disqualification finish was a bit of a letdown, but it protects both competitors and allows the rivalry to continue. The post-match Van Terminators from RVD onto Del Rio was a cool visual for those in attendance.
These two have been feuding with each other since SummerSlam, so the fact they were added to this event didn't surprise me in the slightest. The match was fine for what it was, but hardly anyone cared, and why should they have?
Neither competitor has done anything of note in months and the bout was more of a time killer than anything else. Here's hoping this is the end of the line for this feud and both Miz and Fandango can move onto bigger and better things.
For the second straight month, Punk's match was given a no disqualification stipulation on the pre-show. Couldn't they have hyped that beforehand on Raw in an attempt to score more pay-per-view buys? Unreal.
Regardless, the match was actually an entertaining brawl, but nowhere near as great as Punk's clash with Brock Lesnar from last month's SummerSlam. That being said, Axel held his own against Punk in this contest and was made to look like his equal throughout.
Punk was able to get a small taste of revenge on Heyman before Ryback ultimately appeared. I would have liked to see Matt Morgan or even Luke Gallows return to the company as Heyman's newest client, but Ryback works for me.
Ryback hasn't been involved in anything meaningful in ages and Heyman can help cover for his mediocre mic skills. One question, though: Will we be subjected to another round of Punk and Ryback matches for the next several months? I surely hope not.
While they may have had a quality contest, it was far from the instant classic I thought we would see from them on this show. Nonetheless, both Ambrose and Ziggler put forth a strong effort and made the match as entertaining as possible in the small window of time they were given.
Ambrose going over clean isn't much of shocker, but how will the feud continue from this point forward? I hope this isn't the last we see of these two in the ring together, as Ambrose needs a legitimate contender to his title in order for the belt to matter again.
Everything else that preceded this match killed the crowd, so the audience wasn't awake for this bout at all. In its defense, it was a decent match where both teams were able to hit their signature spots.
The Prime Time Players are only getting started as babyfaces, so I don't think this will be the last time we will see them contend for the straps. The finishing sequence was well done and makes The Prime Time Players look good in defeat.
Bryan and Orton had an excellent match filled with plenty of back-and-forth action and suspenseful spots that kept the live crowd engaged. They have such great chemistry together that the fact they stole the show was already established going into this event.
I liked the fact that there was no interference (especially from Big Show, who was shockingly absent from this event), but the ref bump was pretty pointless. WWE didn't make casual fans believe that Bryan had a chance of winning the belt on this show, so the title change fell flat for this viewer. Despite the great reaction it received from the live crowd, it was hard to get excited about Bryan winning the belt back so early after losing it the first time.
However, since the referee's count was so quick, I expect Triple H to address the situation and strip Bryan of the title tomorrow on Raw. Not only that, but WWE needed to have Bryan win since no other championships changed hands at this event.
I didn't have high hopes going into this show, but it was definitely disappointing to say the least. There were a handful of well wrestled matches, but outside of the main event, none of them will be remembered a week from now.
This event wasn't heavily hyped the last few weeks, and now I can see why. Ryback joining Heyman was a noteworthy moment, as was the WWE title change, but it wasn't enough to make this a pay-per-view worth watching.
Almost every match on this show was easily predictable, which took away from the excitement of the event as a whole. While this show wasn't tremendously terrible, it was certainly the first lackluster event since WrestleMania 29 and didn't leave this viewer looking forward to what WWE has in store for the fall season.
Read the original version of this review here.
Graham Mirmina, a.k.a. Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.