WWE Night of Champions 2014: Most Controversial Moments in PPV's History
World Wrestling Entertainment's Night of Champions pay-per-view is traditionally one of WWE's B-level events, the one night of the year when championships are meant to be celebrated and defended in matches throughout the evening.
Over the course of its seven-year existence, the show has been home to some outstanding and memorable moments, not to mention some truly special matches.
As the 2014 incarnation of the show rapidly approaches on September 21, it is important to remember that with every major success comes a far bigger head scratch in terms of logic. While a great match can solidify and legitimize one of the company's most coveted prizes, a poor booking idea can derail a push, story or main event run instantly.
In preparation for this year's Night of Champions broadcast, relive four moments in which controversy ran supreme at the annual post-SummerSlam extravaganza.
Hardy Regains the Title (2009)
The summer of 2009 saw the rise of CM Punk on the SmackDown brand. After cashing in Money in the Bank and winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules, Punk rose to prominence as a villain, a champion for the "straight edge" movement in professional wrestling.
As the centerpiece of SmackDown, he was the type of overbearing villain fans were willing to pay money to see get his comeuppance. His anti-drug tirades and his targeting of Jeff Hardy as a failure of a role model not only enhanced the feud, but it made SmackDown a must-see program.
Surging heading into Night of Champions in July 2009, Punk was as hot as any other star in the industry.
So naturally, it made sense to pair him with the most popular wrestler in WWE for a huge pay-per-view main event.
The Superstars turned in an outstanding performance with a highly competitive match, but it was the outcome that caused a groundswell of disdain and anger from audiences as Hardy pinned Punk and regained the WWE Championship.
Yes, he regained the title just a month after losing it to Punk at Extreme Rules.
What was the purpose of putting the strap on Punk and having him successfully defend it once before losing it back to Hardy? Sure, his character developed and benefited exponentially from the program, and he was finally working main events on a weekly basis, but his credibility was somewhat shot when he failed to retain the title in his first major defense.
John Cena Regains the WWE Championship (2011)
Alberto Del Rio won the WWE Championship from CM Punk after cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at SummerSlam. Rather than enjoying a lengthy run that legitimized Del Rio as a main event heel capable of beating the top stars in the industry, he was defeated cleanly by John Cena in one of the most ridiculous moves in company history.
Cena trapped Del Rio in the STF and forced a tapout, further establishing his dominance of Del Rio and the entire WWE roster. It was incredibly demoralizing for those fans who had become disenfranchised with Cena's superhero comebacks and unnecessary victories.
Del Rio would recover and regain the WWE title weeks later at Hell in a Cell, but it was his rapid loss of the championship weeks after winning it that really hurt the Mexican Aristocrat in the process and created further hostilities between the WWE Universe and the business' top attraction.
Triple H Defeats CM Punk (2011)
The Summer of Punk angle that carried WWE through the heart of 2011 not only rejuvenated CM Punk's WWE career, but it also helped boost WWE's mainstream appeal. Punk appeared on radio shows and television talk shows and was interviewed by dozens of Internet websites and magazines.
Despite attracting attention thanks to his brutal honesty and his willingness to voice his frustrations with the company for which he worked, it was decided that Punk would drop the WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio to close out SummerSlam, courtesy of Del Rio's Money in the Bank briefcase.
A feud with Triple H should have continued the elevation of the Straight Edge Superstar, but instead, it only served as a showcase for the chief operating officer to continually belittle Punk, poking fun at his physique and trying to correct him at every turn.
The match between the two at Night of Champions, the culmination of their brief program, was a horribly disappointing bout. Not once did the Superstars ever appear to be on the same page, and the overbooked nature of the contest really hurt its quality.
Worst of all, Triple H beat Punk. You read that correctly. The most popular star in the sport dropped one of the biggest matches of his career to a guy who had not regularly competed in two years.
Punk never quite recovered, and the brief period of time in which he led WWE to heights it had not seen in years came to a crashing end and unsatisfactory conclusion.
The main event of the 2012 edition of the show saw John Cena challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship. Considering the quality of their previous bouts, there was plenty to be excited about, and neither performer was about to let his fans down.
Unfortunately, WWE Creative did not have the same drive and determination when it came to the paying customers, booking one of the least satisfying finishes in recent history.
Cena and Punk thrilled the Boston crowd with the competitive, back-and-forth match filled with dramatic near-falls and awesome sequencing. Both the commentary team and Punk's manager Paul Heyman did a tremendous job of selling the urgency of the contest, and the overall presentation benefited as a result.
Unfortunately, a match that was headed toward Match of the Year candidacy was derailed by a finish that one simply would not expect from a pay-per-view match.
Cena and Punk pinned each other at the same time, and the official declared it a draw. Punk was the last man standing following an assault on Cena, but the crowd was left completely underwhelmed by the result of the much-anticipated contest.
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