WWE Night of Champions 2014: 6 Worst Booking Decisions in PPV's History
It does not take a rocket scientist to tell you that WWE Creative does not always hit the proverbial ball out of the park when it comes to booking its Superstars, matches and stories. The company's annals are dotted with disappointing, nonsensical and idiotic booking decisions, and the seven-year history of its championship-centered pay-per-view, Night of Champions, is no different.
From leprechauns fighting for prestigious tag titles to Super Cena rearing his head and damaging Alberto Del Rio's credibility in the process, the show has been home to several moments that left fans scratching their heads or rushing to the Internet to voice their frustrations.
On Sunday, September 21, the company will present the 2014 edition of the event on the WWE Network (for only $9.99), and with Brock Lesnar making his first WWE World Heavyweight title defense against John Cena, there is already plenty of reason to believe that a major booking mistake is imminent.
With the very real possibility that this year's show will present at least one instance of booking stupidity, here is a look back at six previous instances of creative injustices.
List is in chronological order.
John Morrison Wins the ECW Championship (2007)
Circumstances away from the ring necessitated Johnny Nitro's involvement in the ECW Championship match at Vengeance: Night of Champions, but that does not make up for what was a major misstep on the part of WWE Creative, who awarded the former tag team specialist and Intercontinental champion with the ECW Championship, instantly making him the top dog on the revived brand.
For one year, CM Punk climbed the ranks in ECW, becoming its breakout star and one of the most popular young competitors in WWE. When plans were changed at the last minute, Punk should have been rewarded in the form of the ECW title for his hard work in helping to ensure the future of the once-hardcore brand.
Instead, Nitro won the title and went on to hold it for three months, wrestling a series of underwhelming matches against his Straight Edge rival that exposed his limitations as a legitimate singles star at that point in his career.
Punk would win the title from Nitro, who underwent an image and name change shortly after winning the title and was referred to as John Morrison on the September 4 episode of ECW.
Unfortunately, it would take a partnership with The Miz to help the former champion regain momentum following what can best be described a disappointing run with the gold.
Hornswoggle in a Championship Match (2008)
One year after receiving a premature push as a singles star, John Morrison entered Night of Champions as one-half of the WWE Tag Team champions with The Miz. Together, the team had stolen headlines, becoming one of the best acts in WWE's midcard. Their antics on ECW were entertaining enough, but their WWE.com web show The Dirt Sheet really allowed the talents to breakout.
Unfortunately, they found themselves involved in a ludicrous match at Night of Champions 2008 as they defended their titles against fighting Irishman Finlay and his associate, the pint-sized Hornswoggle. As a troublesome leprechaun, Hornswoggle developed quite a bit of fanfare and became a great heater for Finlay, who otherwise would have been left to get over based solely on his superb in-ring skills.
With that said, Hornswoggle was a comedy character who belonged as far away from a title match as possible. With so many other talented individuals on the roster at that point, it is impossible to believe that a more suitable partner could not have been found for the grizzled ring vet.
Instead, the tag titles were devalued as Hornswoggle performed a few flashy spots that popped the crowd but made his much larger opponents look like fools.
Thankfully, the champions won the match and recovered in short form, thanks to their ability to talk their way back from any detrimental booking scenario. But they never should have been put in a situation where they were confronted with a match that could have undone all the work they put in to bring legitimacy back to the titles.
Jeff Hardy Wins the WWE Championship (2009)
The rivalry between Jeff Hardy and CM Punk in the summer of 2009 not only headlined what was one of the hottest periods in SmackDown history, it also legitimized both stars as marquee main event attractions for World Wrestling Entertainment.
What should have been a major chapter in their rivalry, however, had fans questioning the logic of the booking by the time Night of Champions concluded.
Punk had gained a ton of momentum as a heel in the weeks leading into the July pay-per-view. He had introduced his holier-than-thou Straight Edge persona to a brand new audience and was really thriving as the overbearing heavyweight champion.
Hardy was the sympathetic babyface who weathered the constant reminders of his substance abuse to remain focused on his quest to regain the title he had taken from him by Punk, courtesy of the Money in the Bank contract.
After the villainous champion slyly escaped several bouts with the title still in his possession, many wondered how he would manage to retain the title in Philadelphia when he met Hardy at Night of Champions, especially since all signs pointed to the culmination of the feud occurring at SummerSlam.
As it turned out, Punk did not escape the City of Brotherly Love with the title as Hardy pinned him and regained the belt just one month after losing it.
Why risk killing all of the heat Punk had generated just to give Hardy another title reign that would last for a few weeks?
It was a nonsensical booking decision that threatened to hurt Punk's effectiveness as the top heel in the industry.
John Cena Defeats Alberto Del Rio (2011)
When Alberto Del Rio cashed in Money in the Bank and defeated CM Punk for the WWE Championship to close out SummerSlam 2011, some questioned why the company would take the title from its hottest star. The only silver lining was that Del Rio would be the beneficiary of a push that would finally establish him as a main event heel whom the company could build around. Right?
Del Rio's first title defense on pay-per-view came against John Cena. Despite a strong performance and a competitive match, the Mexican aristocrat found himself trapped in the STF and tapping out moments later. It was an anticlimactic conclusion to his first title reign and one that had many fans questioning what the point was.
Why take the title off of Punk and put it on Del Rio if the endgame was for Cena to wind up with yet another title reign? The scenario becomes even muddier when one takes into account the fact that Del Rio regained the strap weeks later.
The answer lies in the fact that WWE stupidly scheduled five pay-per-view events in a four-month period. WWE Creative had to give fans a reason to plunk down their hard-earned money to order the shows and their solution was to hotshot the title from one guy to the other.
Del Rio came out of the entire ordeal much worse off than he was previously, netting two title reigns that lasted less than a month each while Cena and Punk remained the top two babyfaces in the sport.
Triple H Pins CM Punk (2011)
CM Punk brought mainstream attention back to wrestling thanks to his impassioned promos, most which were laced with venomous insults and truthful statements that exposed the backstage politics of WWE. More importantly, he backed up his push to the top of the industry with two five-star classics against John Cena, proving that he was more than capable of living up to the hype.
So how did WWE handle the first breakout star in over five years? Did they put him over strong, having him beat everyone en route to running with the heavyweight title?
Nope. Instead, they had him drop the WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio at SummerSlam, then engage an over-the-hill Kevin Nash in a feud. When Nash could not pass his physical, Punk segued into a rivalry with Triple H in which his legitimacy was regularly called into question by The Game.
Then, to top it all off, he lost an overbooked mess to Triple H at Night of Champions, effectively killing off any of his remaining momentum.
By the time Punk regained the WWE title in November, it was too late to recover the heat that he had enjoyed months later, and as a result he became just another WWE Superstar rather than the breakout mainstream sensation he could have been with better booking.
Randy Orton Defeats Dolph Ziggler (2012)
Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler are among the most consistently great workers in the industry, so a match between them, especially on the grand stage that a pay-per-view event provides, is sure to have heightened expectations.
The quality of the match was never really in doubt. What was, however, was the booking.
Orton had been a top star for eight years. Win or lose, he was going to remain that way. One of the most popular, marketable and decorated stars of the decade, The Viper's spot on the card was never in jeopardy.
Ziggler, on the other hand, needed the support of WWE Creative to help what had been a fairly eventful year for him. The winner of the Money in the Bank match in July, it looked as though the Showoff was poised to enjoy that main event push so many thought he deserved. A win over Orton would go a long way in providing him with that push that would really convince the audience that Ziggler was the real deal.
Unfortunately, WWE Creative let him down. Orton picked up an unnecessary victory over Ziggler and the Showoff was left to work even harder than normal to overcome lackluster booking and what was an apparent lack of faith in him by management.
He would go on to win the World Heavyweight Championship the following April, one night after WrestleMania 29, but an injury doomed his title reign and he has wallowed in the midcard since.