WWE has been turning in the most interesting week-to-week programming of the year of late, yet Sunday's presentation of Night of Champions was by far the worst pay-per-view they've produced this year.
From the unannounced matches to the 20-minute opening promo to the puzzling finish, the show felt more like an expensive episode of Monday Night Raw.
If you don't like my style of writing, I promise I rarely rant in this format. This show last night left me puzzled and confused and in need of a good rant. I have to believe some will share my opinions, while others will see this as standard IWC complaining. Take it for what you will and please share your thoughts in the comments below.
We'll take it from the top.
Triple H welcomes us to the show.
Unless something truly important is about to happen, a pay-per-view should never begin with a promo.
What happened to open Night of Champions was anything but important. For the last month, we've been reminded on a nightly basis that Triple H is the most evil SOB in the business, keeping down Daniel Bryan, firing Cody Rhodes and manipulating the Big Show.
So instead of drawing heat and antagonizing the crowd, Triple H plays babyface to Paul Heyman's slimy tactics and punishes Curtis Axel by forcing him to work double duty on the show. For the record, two matches on one PPV should be reserved for stars that the crowd wants to see more. Axel does not fall into this category.
Then, rather than putting over Kofi Kingston as the guy who has twice beaten Axel in recent weeks, he's just "the first guy Triple H walked by backstage." Great way to make us care.
WWE is relying way too much on Heyman's immense talent to make people give a damn about Axel. We still don't.
AJ is a face, is a heel, is a... what is she?
A few weeks ago AJ cut a pipebomb-esque promo on the Total Divas cast members, claiming they make a mockery of women's wrestling and that she's the one true Diva in the WWE. The crowd popped huge. The Total Divas cast were catty prima donna female stereotypes. AJ stood up to the business.
Then, we go backstage and AJ is set up to look crazy. Nobody wants to be associated with her. Suddenly, she's the bad guy. And, I have to ask, who are you supposed to cheer for in this situation? A Bella telling people they are losers like a preteen bully. Nattie, who doesn't really talk and, to anyone who has watched the E! show for five minutes, sees as self absorbed. Then there is Naomi who botched at least three moves during the match.
Sure, women were made to look like trash during the Attitude Era, but it isn't much better to see a group of insecure, backstabbing, unintelligent, selfish, fame-obsessed "divas" occupying the division.
RVD vs Alberto Del Rio - the feud nobody cares about that must continue
It was a really great nugget of an idea. Del Rio is the champion without a challenger. Rob Van Dam is fresh and red hot right now. He's motivated and could go a long way in helping get over Del Rio. But here is the problem: Del Rio couldn't be more boring of a character.
Please, I am begging someone in the comments to write out Alberto Del Rio's character sketch. Right now, all I have is he's Mexican. To add insult to injury, this match ends in a disqualification. If this didn't already feel like an episode of Raw, this piece of filler adds to that argument.
Miz vs. Fandango - Why? Because... stop asking questions
Since we wanted to make sure that Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, The Shield and the new top contenders for the tag team championship, the Primetime Players, don't have enough time to actually put on a memorable match that could create excitement and interest in their respective championships and feuds, we needed to make sure that Miz had a chance to improperly apply the Figure Four Leg-lock while the crowd dances in support of his opponent (the bad guy).
This WWE Title is too hot, let's toss it around
CM Punk held the WWE Title for 434 days. Since January, the most important championship in the industry has moved from Punk to The Rock to John Cena to Daniel Bryan to Randy Orton and now back to Daniel Bryan.
There is the possibility that the victory is overturned and the belt goes back to Orton tonight due to a fast count, but nonetheless, this result makes Orton look weak as a champion and Triple H as an evil authority figure.
We've spent the better part of this feud focused intently on the Big Show, yet we didn't see him tonight. The odds have been stacked so squarely against Bryan, yet there aren't any obstacles other than Orton for him to overcome tonight. After a fairly blah show, we get a title change that the crowd didn't know how to react to.
As molten as the crowd was at the conclusion of SummerSlam, they seemed confused. Nobody expected Bryan to win the belt. He's not supposed to climb the mountain that quickly. The chase had only began. Now, we're left wondering how he's going to have it taken away.