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Sept. 24: Former WWE Superstar Chris Masters
Triple H Vacates WWE Championship
Much to the surprise of most WWE fans, Daniel Bryan seemingly won the WWE Championship at Night of Champions after he hit Randy Orton with his patented running knee to take the title. The next night on Raw, however, it was revealed that referee Scott Armstrong had administered a fast count. Because of that, Triple H stripped Bryan of the title and held it in abeyance. Bryan and Orton will do battle once again at Battleground with the WWE Championship hanging in the balance.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Was the NOC Main Event Booked Correctly?
Heading into Night of Champions, the consensus seemed to be that Orton would retain the title through unfair means. Interference from Big Show, Triple H or even The Shield seemed likely, but the creative team went in a totally different direction. It has been quite some time since the WWE Championship was last vacated, so the angle feels fresh at the very least. It also allowed Triple H to flex his administrative muscle, which makes him look even more powerful.
At the same time, Orton comes away looking somewhat week. He was supposed to be a dominant heel champion, but Bryan beat him cleanly even with the fast count. He returned to his ruthless Viper persona on Monday, though, so perhaps this will be good for him.
The biggest side story to keep track of is Armstrong's status, as Triple H relieved him of his duties. Armstrong pretended as though he was in cahoots with Bryan, but it is quite clear that Triple H put him up to it.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
While the writers could have pushed forward with the status quo by having Orton retain, the current angle could ultimately be better for the storyline moving forward.
Had Bryan won the title at Night of Champions and held onto it, as many initially thought he had, it would have damaged the storyline significantly. Bryan is the ultimate underdog, and he is best utilized as a guy who is chasing the title. Vacating the strap allows him to continue doing that, and it also makes it seem as though the deck is totally stacked against him.
Orton and The Shield can only beat down Bryan for so long before it gets repetitive, and the creative team came to that realization. Now there are a number of different avenues this angle can be taken in, as Orton can regain the title at Battleground, Bryan can win it and move on to a feud with a new hand-picked challenger or something can happen that causes the title to remain vacated.
Now there is a great deal of unpredictability involved with the storyline, and that will make it even better in the long run.
Rumor Mill: Possible Stipulation for Bryan vs. Orton at Battleground (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Ryback Joins Forces with Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman was finally getting his at Night of Champions after CM Punk eliminated Curtis Axel from the handicap match. Punk handcuffed Heyman and began decimating him with a kendo stick, but an unexpected Superstar made the save as Ryback stepped into the ring and speared Punk through a table. Ryback then placed Heyman on top of Punk, which resulted in Heyman picking up the shocking victory. Ryback carried Heyman away and established himself as the newest Heyman guy.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Will This Be a Successful Partnership?
While it isn't terribly surprising that a new Superstar has joined Heyman's stable, it remains to be seen if Ryback was the right choice. From Ryback's perspective, this is an ideal move. The once-dominant monster hasn't done much since his feud with John Cena over the WWE Championship, as he has been relegated to backstage segments in which he bullies random people. Siding with Heyman obviously gives him instant credibility, but he has to be booked correctly in order for that to matter.
As for Heyman, he desperately needed someone new in the fold as well since Axel simply hasn't resonated with the fans. Heyman's feud with Punk was growing stale prior to Ryback's involvement, and while it may not get much better, at least it will provide the fans with something new. It also ensures that Punk and Heyman will continue their feud through Battleground at the very least, which means that plenty of fantastic promo segments are on the horizon.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Although the creative team deserves credit for trying to revive Ryback and keep Punk vs. Heyman fresh, the end result is another feud between Punk and Ryback. That rivalry already happened less than a year ago and it got less-than-sparkling reviews. The roles are reversed this time as Punk is the face and Ryback is the heel, but the results are likely to be similar. The matches between Punk and Ryback a year ago weren't particularly good, and there is nothing to suggest that they'll have improved in-ring chemistry moving forward.
Also, it seems as though the creative team is going to allow Ryback to have some mic time, which is the wrong route to take. The best part about his partnership with Heyman is that he shouldn't have to speak. Ryback is awful on the mic, and he was at his best when he was a largely silent, destructive force.
Ryback's relationship with Heyman should be similar to what Brock Lesnar has with Heyman, but the creative team seems to think that Ryback is a capable talker. Since Ryback will see an increased presence on the mic and his matches with Punk are unlikely to be good, there isn't much to look forward to.
Rumor Mill: CM Punk Reportedly Working with Injuries (PWInsider via WrestlingInc.com)
Rhodes Family Continues to Get Embarrassed
Bryan and Orton are the main focus of the company right now, but "The Corporation" has involvement in other angles as well. One of the most intriguing ones relates to the Rhodes family. Cody Rhodes was fired a few weeks ago after losing a match to Orton, Goldust lost to Orton in an attempt to get Cody his job back and Dusty Rhodes made an appearance on the most recent edition of Raw. Stephanie McMahon gave him a choice between either Cody or Goldust receiving a new contract, but when he refused to choose, she forced Big Show to knock him out.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is a Cody Rhodes vs. Goldust Match Possible?
Big Show's involvement is definitely worth tracking, as it seems like he is on track to turn heel in the near future, but the Rhodes angle is interesting as well. It's obvious that Cody will be back at some point since he's taking some time off for his wedding, but it remains to be seen how he will be reintroduced. Since Stephanie was willing to give either Cody or Goldust a contract, there is a pretty good chance that a Cody vs. Goldust match could take place at either Battleground or Hell in a Cell, with the winner earning a WWE contract.
Wrestling fans have been calling for a feud between Cody and Goldust for a very long time, so it's likely that the WWE Universe would respond very well to it. Perhaps Dusty could even be thrown into the match as a special guest referee in order to spice things up. There are plenty of possibilities, and the WWE has a golden opportunity to make Cody a star after misusing him for so long. Hopefully the creative team decides to move forward with this, as it would make for a great supporting feud.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Since the Cody vs. Goldust match is in such high demand, the writers would be crazy to ignore it. Assuming that it does happen, the seeds are planted for a major swerve.
Since WWE has been hammering home Cody's marriage and the fact that he can't provide for his family, it would be interesting to see Cody turn heel and side himself with "The Corporation." This would allow him to get his job back, and it would give him nuclear heat. There is some risk involved in turning Cody again since he was just starting to gain traction as a face, but it would make storyline sense.
With so many Superstars taking a stand against the WWE's power structure, it's likely that Triple H and Stephanie will start to recruit some people aside from Orton and The Shield. Rhodes would be a good option since they can promise him a huge contract in order to properly care for his family. Whatever the case, it's great to see the Rhodes family with such a significant role on WWE programming, and it's a storyline that will definitely be worth following.
Rumor Mill: Return to Ring Possible for Dusty Rhodes (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Donald Wood: 147.5
2. Mike Chiari: 55
3. Michael Cahill: -32.5
4. Brandon Galvin: -75
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