WWE Week in Review, Sept. 21: Daniel Bryan Strikes Back, Fandango Flounders
After presenting a strong streak of fantastic pay-per-views earlier this year, WWE put an abrupt end to that with Night of Champions on Sunday night. While the event wasn't tremendously terrible, it left many fans scratching their heads as to why they bothered to order the event in the first place.
Daniel Bryan was successful in winning back the WWE Championship from Randy Orton at Night of Champions, but his reign was short-lived. Triple H stripped him of the strap the next night on Raw and announced that a rematch between the two for the title would take place at WWE Battleground in a few weeks.
CM Punk was finally able to get his hands on Paul Heyman at Night of Champions, but the ending result of the match wasn't exactly what Punk desired. With help from Ryback, Heyman shocked the world by pinning Punk for the three-count and the bragging rights.
In other action at the event, Alberto Del Rio and Rob Van Dam clashed over the World Heavyweight Championship, but Del Rio managed to escape with the title intact after getting himself intentionally disqualified. Del Rio added insult to injury by ambushing RVD backstage mere days later on SmackDown.
Here, I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing the Monday Night Raw, Friday Night SmackDown and WWE Main Event broadcasts, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, an award will be given to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan: Night of Champions
On a rather lackluster show, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan battling for the WWE Championship was among the few highlights of Night of Champions. Their feud could have been booked better going into the event, but they surely delivered inside the squared circle on Sunday night.
Bryan and Orton have indescribable chemistry in the ring together, which was evident during their series of matches a few months back. They put it all on the line in this bout, which is why it was unanimously named the match of the night.
Without any interference, Bryan nailed Orton with his patented running knee to pin The Viper for the three-count and his second WWE Championship. Sure, the referee's count was blatantly quick, but at least it made for a cool moment to close the pay-per-view with.
While this match may not have been as great as their last encounter on the June 25 edition of Raw, I'm certain that their rematch at WWE Battleground will be even better.
Superstar of the Week: Daniel Bryan
With victories on three of WWE's four televised shows in the last seven days, it is quite hard not to recognize Daniel Bryan as the latest Superstar of the Week. At Night of Champions, he had an excellent match with Randy Orton, whom he pinned to capture the WWE Championship for the second time in his career.
Unfortunately for Bryan, his reign was short-lived, as Triple H stripped him of the strap the next night on Raw. However, in the main event of that same show, WWE's resident Yes! Man earned a hard-fought victory over WWE Tag Team champion Roman Reigns.
He carried his strong momentum over to SmackDown, where he defeated The Shield in six-man tag team action. With WWE Battleground looming, is Bryan's time with the title drawing near?
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, September 16
Well, to say that Night of Champions was a disappointment would be an understatement. The event was one of the best of the year in 2012, so it is a shame to see the show fall flat on its face this year.
One can blame the lackluster buildup, but the poor execution of the event played a crucial factor as well. Nothing on that show left me looking forward to the next night's Raw, but I still tuned into the flagship show with high hopes anyway.
To my surprise, Raw was actually entertaining in that many of the matches were solid and served a purpose. Even the ending sparked conversation among wrestling fans, which left them anticipating what was to come next in the suspenseful story.
Of course, the show had its fair share of problems, but it managed to deliver more good content than bad, unlike Night of Champions. The fact that the Cleveland crowd was hot all night long was a nice touch as well. Here's hoping WWE can maintain the momentum of Raw in the weeks to come in order to rival the NFL in the ratings.
This Week's Highlights
Randy Orton: Despite the fact that he is no longer WWE champion, Orton still had one of his best weeks in recent memory. Following his destruction of The Miz on Raw, Orton announced on SmackDown that he will be bringing back his sadistic side on a regular basis going forward. This is the Orton we have been waiting to see for years now, and I can't stress how happy I am to see it return.
Paul Heyman and Ryback: CM Punk's No Disqualification match with Heyman at Night of Champions was entertaining enough, but the real talking point coming out of it was Ryback's new-found alliance with the genius behind ECW. The two make for a great team together, and their promos on both Raw and SmackDown were simply stellar.
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns: Reigns has never stood out to me as the "breakout star" of The Shield, but he certainly showed a tremendous amount of potential in his main event match against Bryan on Raw this week. They were given great time and both Superstars came out of the bout looking good. I'm not saying Reigns is world title material or anything, but be sure not to underestimate his abilities in the ring.
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler: Their Night of Champions match was a bit underwhelming, but their Raw rematch was a slight improvement. Ziggler has scored very few wins in the last month, so his victory over Ambrose came off as a big moment, and the crowd reacted accordingly. I have my fingers crossed for a title rematch between the two at WWE Battleground.
Tag team division: Surprisingly enough, both the Tag Team Turmoil match at Night of Champions and the Triple Threat Elimination Tag Team match the next night on Raw were very good. The crowds were into the action, and now I'm more excited than ever to see The Usos contend for the WWE Tag Team Championships against The Shield.
Curtis Axel vs. Dolph Ziggler: If you aren't already watching WWE Main Event on a weekly basis, this match should make you do so. It was a very-well wrestled match that saw Axel pick up a high-profile victory over the former World Heavyweight champion.
This Week's Low Points
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam: The match itself was pretty good, but the disqualification finish was extremely weak. It allows the feud to continue going into Battleground, but couldn't there have been a more creative way of allowing Del Rio to retain the title without getting disqualified? At least the post-match attack on Del Rio got a nice reaction out of the live crowd.
Big Show: His constant crying was tolerable at first, but now it has grown to the point of being annoying. He should not have been involved in the Dusty Rhodes segment on Raw and saying that he has no money is stupendously stupid. Don't get me wrong, though: Turning him heel now would be an even worse alternative.
Fandango: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. How does one go from defeating Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 to losing to The Miz at Night of Champions? His win over R-Truth on Raw was hardly impressive, and he lost another match to Kofi Kingston on WWE Main Event. Fandango is in desperate need of a new direction and character to get him back on track.
Rob Van Dam vs. Damien Sandow: A two-minute squash of Sandow is hardly worth it, especially when it did nothing to benefit RVD. Sandow is currently cursed by the SmackDown Money in the Bank briefcase, which is a shame since he should be being booked better as he prepares for a run with the world title.
Brie Bella and The Funkadactlys vs. Layla, Aksana and Alicia Fox: Didn't we see this same garbage on two separate occasions last week? What was the point of seeing it again with only one competitor changed? While this bout was forgettable, AJ Lee's commentary certainly wasn't. Her upcoming title feud with Natalya has the potential to be great, and I can't wait for their eventual in-ring clash.
Santino Marella vs. Jack Swagger: As stated last week, I'm glad to see Santino back in action, but is it really necessary for him to be beating midcard heels with potential? I understand the people he has beaten aren't involved in anything meaningful at the moment, but Santino's wins don't seem to be building toward anything significant.
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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.