WWE Night of Champions 2014: Most Intriguing Storylines to Track on Road to PPV
On the heels of a creatively successful SummerSlam pay-per-view, World Wrestling Entertainment has turned its attention to the Night of Champions event on September 21, a show headlined by the second consecutive clash between John Cena and Brock Lesnar over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
The show is absolutely key in the success of the WWE Network since it will be the first outside of the initial six-month subscription period. It is imperative that the company craft a card that not only is full of interesting and intriguing bouts but also convinces those original subscribers to sign on for another six months.
By announcing Cena vs. Lesnar as early as it has, the WWE has already started the process of formulating such a card. With so many ongoing storylines and fresh new programs that were set up the night after SummerSlam, it is not difficult for fans to take a look at the landscape of WWE and figure out what matches are likely to join the monumental rematch and which Superstars figure to play the biggest roles.
In anticipation of the September 21 event, take a look at some of the most intriguing storylines to watch for on the road to Night of Champions 2014.
John Cena's Redemption?
The SummerSlam main event was the most dominant and one-sided WWE World Heavyweight Championship bout in company history. Brock Lesnar tore through John Cena en route to his most recent title reign and did so on one of the biggest stages in all of sports-entertainment.
At Night of Champions, they will meet for the second consecutive month with the top prize in the industry at stake.
Cena is an all-time great whose status atop the WWE mountain has been called into question following his dissection at the hands of the Beast Incarnate. After two huge F5s and 16 German suplexes, Cena was left lying in a heap at the feet of the new champion, doubts immediately creeping into the minds of the Cenation regarding his ability to conquer the conqueror.
On September 21, those questions will only grow louder as he steps back into the ring with the heavyweight champion.
Can Cena overcome the overwhelming offense and destructive nature of Lesnar, or will he once again be relentlessly and unmercifully demolished by the most imposing athlete in WWE history?
It is a question that will be answered next month, but how we get there, how the SummerSlam loss affects Cena and whether Lesnar enters Night of Champions overconfident are what will fuel the story over the coming weeks.
Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton, Act II
At SummerSlam, Roman Reigns defeated Randy Orton in a hard-fought, highly competitive match that continued Reigns' ascension to the top of the industry.
If the August 22 episode of SmackDown is any indication, the feud will continue.
Orton viciously and violently attacked Rob Van Dam, using a chair to enhance his assault. Later in the night, he came to ringside during Reigns' match with The Miz, then brawled around ringside with him after the contest.
The match with Reigns appeared to be the end of the months-long rivalry, but that was not the case. WWE Creative seems intent on continuing the program, keeping both major Superstars occupied while figuring out what steps to take with each as the end of 2014 rapidly approaches.
The biggest question surrounding a potential Reigns-Orton rematch is the stipulation of the contest. If they are thrown out into the ring to have another basic singles match, they could be met with the same silence they fought so hard to overcome at SummerSlam.
A Street Fight or No Holds Barred match would be preferred and would be a better showcase for Reigns' more power-based offense than a match in which he sells for the majority of the time, then makes the Herculean comeback that draws more comparisons to the hated Five Moves of Doom.
With Reigns clearly the face of WWE's future, whatever WWE Creative decides should be centered on the continuation of his meteoric rise and a push that will ultimately conclude with him holding heavyweight championship gold.
Mr. Money in the Bank Is Lurking
After sidelining Dean Ambrose following a vile attack on the August 18 episode of Monday Night Raw, Seth Rollins finds himself free to resume climbing the ranks in World Wrestling Entertainment. With the Money in the Bank briefcase in his possession and a golden opportunity at stake, he should be paying close attention to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match by the time it takes to the ring for the Night of Champions main event.
If Brock Lesnar is able to dismantle John Cena for the second consecutive month and retain the title, Rollins is more than likely to hold onto the briefcase. After all, who wants to waste a guaranteed title opportunity trying to take down the most dominant Superstar in modern-day WWE?
Should Cena somehow slay Lesnar and regain the title, he will likely be at less than 100 percent, creating an opportunity for Rollins to cash in and become the new heavyweight champion.
After his performance at SummerSlam and the major main event angle that closed Raw the following night, it is clear WWE is gaining faith in the former "architect" of The Shield with every passing week. It is certainly not out of the realm of possibility that he be rewarded for his recent work with a title run, especially given the lull in business that is the fall months.
Whether the company trusts Rollins to carry business as the top heel and be the Superstar the entire main event scene revolves around is another question entirely.
Can Paige Out-Crazy AJ Lee?
By trying to play mind games with AJ Lee and out-crazy the most unstable woman on the roster, new Divas champion Paige has opened up a can of worms she may very well regret in the weeks leading up Night of Champions on September 21.
For two years, AJ has demonstrated to millions of fans around the globe that she is far from the most stable woman on the roster. She jumped from man to man in 2012, kissing any and all Superstars who showed her the time of day, manipulated her best friend, getting Kaitlyn to believe she had a secret admirer before revealing that it was merely a ruse, and infuriated the entire cast of Total Divas by calling into question their legitimacy.
Why Paige, who is clearly not insane, would even attempt to match psychopathic tendencies with the queen of them is the question. The bigger question? Why Divas are only allowed to have characters that are insane. The answer to that one is something only WWE Creative can answer.
Commentators Michael Cole and JBL have already questioned whether or not the mind games played by Paige are an attempt to get AJ to lose her cool, thus creating an opening on which she can capitalize. As seen on the August 18 Raw and on SmackDown four days later, AJ is unlikely to fall for that trick. She cost Paige two consecutive matches against Natalya and seemingly has the Divas champion retreating, scurrying for the next course of action in her war against WWE's resident black widow.
How the writing staff approaches the feud from here on out, particularly how it books Paige, will ultimately determine the overall effectiveness of the feud. Will she continue to play mind games with someone whose mind is not completely right, or will she be more inclined to utilize intensity and aggression against her rival?
Mark Henry's War on Rusev
When Rusev defeated Jack Swagger at SummerSlam, it appeared as though he was ready to move onto bigger and better things. There is no way he could have imagined the bigger part of the equation would be former heavyweight champion and United States Olympian Mark Henry.
The World's Strongest Man established dominance on the August 18 episode of Raw, planting the Bulgarian Brute with the World's Strongest Slam, making it known to the world that he plans on putting a stop to Rusev's pro-Russian crusade in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Four days later on SmackDown, he watched as Rusev and Lana retreated, unwilling to test the big man for a second consecutive night.
In Henry, Rusev is presented with an opportunity to add yet another former world champion to his list of victims. Swagger was a suitable first addition, but Henry has built more legitimacy with fans, thanks to fairly strong booking on the part of WWE Creative over the last three years and the company's treatment of him as one of the bigger stars on the roster.
Regardless of how he has been booked of late, Henry has built quite the reputation with the audience since 2011, and beating him still means something.
A win over Henry in impressive fashion would be the key element to establishing Rusev as a very real threat to the main event talent in WWE. Thus far, the Russian defector has defeated a number of very talented individuals but no one perceived by fans to be of elite status.