WWE Night of Champions 2014: Smart Builds for PPV's Top Feuds
WWE Night of Champions 2014 may seem like it is still far off in the distance, but the pay-per-view is going to creep up on everyone faster than expected.
With WWE Network subscriptions up for renewal, this is a pivotal event that cannot afford to be lackluster.
As such, WWE needs to put as much work as possible into building up the show to become one of the most highly-anticipated, must-see events of the year.
But considering how much of the creative team could be wiped out from setting up SummerSlam, how can WWE go about making Night of Champions work? What are some pitfalls that need to be avoided and some smart paths WWE can take when building up what would be a true selling point for the WWE Network?
Intercontinental Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
The driving force behind the Intercontinental Championship's feud at the moment is The Miz's Hollywood persona, which should not be pushed aside in the slightest bit.
The Miz has his detractors in the WWE Universe who feel like he is still just that weird kid from reality TV who has no right to be in the ring.
When paired up with someone who has a reputation for being one of the best in-ring workers on the roster, Dolph Ziggler makes The Miz look even more out of his league. That aspect should be put under a magnifying glass and allowed to heat up to uncomfortable levels.
Ziggler is cocky and has built up the "Showoff" persona around the idea that he likes the spotlight and has no problem playing things up for attention. But what happens when he's in the ring with someone even more obsessed about that than he is?
There is an old cliche used by villains in film and television history that can be pulled out for this feud: "We're not so different, you and I."
These two are relatively young, passionate about the business and are former world champions. They are even from the same state!
While they are not mirror images of each other in all walks of life, there are enough parallels for them to feed off the other's reflection of themselves.
What separates the two is another aspect that can be focused on, showcasing that The Miz would rather cheat and manipulate his way into a win while Ziggler likes to back up his arrogance with tangible evidence.
Ziggler can walk the walk, but Miz can talk the talk and just will not stop yammering about it.
Fans should be salivating to cheer Ziggler on, wishing that he nails The Miz in the face so hard that he may finally shut the loudmouth up for good.
United States Championship: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
After months of being irrelevant, there is almost nothing WWE can do to salvage Sheamus as the United States champion.
This match is less about building up a feud between the Celtic Warrior and the Swiss Superman as much as it is just biting the bullet and putting the belt on someone new.
The fans were extremely supportive of Cesaro earlier this year, yet something happened along the way that killed that momentum.
Whether the blame should fall on WWE's creative team, the management at higher levels or on Cesaro himself remains to be seen, but this is a chance to get back on track.
All that is necessary here is for Cesaro to win the title and look strong in the process. Under no circumstances does it do him any good to win in a dubious manner just to protect someone as bland as Sheamus, who doesn't need the rub to begin with.
The next few weeks should be less about Sheamus and more about his challenger and the man who he should drop the title to.
Giving Cesaro some solid victories over Sheamus in tag team matches and allowing him to soundly defeat lesser opponents in squashes will help rebuild his credibility to an extent.
There doesn't need to be a soap opera story to go along with this—just two tough guys duking it out and "The King of Swing" getting the victory.
Divas Championship: Paige vs. AJ Lee vs. Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella
A Fatal 4-Way appears to be in the cards for Night of Champions, combining two singles matches together in a very smart strategy on WWE's part.
It's true that this event could have sustained a Brie Bella vs. Nikki Bella match as well as Paige and A.J. Lee on their own, but would that have been the best course of action?
A.J. and Paige have faced off numerous times, so there is no special draw in yet another rematch between those two.
Nikki and Brie could have piggybacked off the "sister against sister" motif, but only so much. These recent TV segments where the Bella Twins overact to nauseating levels are not doing the feud any favors, but that is more on their individual faults rather than the booking of the feud.
Both Nikki and Brie are very talented in many ways, but two better actresses would have people more invested in this program rather than laughing at it. Bringing A.J. Lee and Paige into the mix gives WWE an excuse to downplay the Bellas and not put as much pressure on them selling an entire segment on their own.
Sometimes, less is more, and that can easily apply to the Bella Twins feud, judging by the abundance of what we've seen so far. If WWE wants to maximize the potential of this feud going forward, the Divas Championship should not be ignored.
This is the one pay-per-view of the year where the titles are supposed to be the most important thing being talked about.
Nikki and Brie can't drop the sibling rivalry completely, but by no means should that supersede the championship, which would render A.J. Lee and Paige useless as well.
Since Total Divas exists almost purely from a foundational concept of women being catty with one another, WWE would probably relish in having that happen among these four Divas.
Let A.J. Lee be crazy. Let Nikki seek attention and power. Let Brie get some payback for her sister turning on her. All the while, force Paige into a situation where she needs to figure out a way to handle these three high-energy personas, lest she lose her precious championship.
Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
WWE may think that there is still money to be made with a rematch between Roman Reigns and Randy Orton, but this has been done many times in the past and run its course.
What Reigns will be doing at Night of Champions doesn't seem to be completely set in stone, although the cinder blocks may be pointing toward a match against Seth Rollins.
One of the obvious angles to play up in this feud would be their former partnership as members of The Shield, with Reigns seeking vengeance on behalf of his fallen comrade, Dean Ambrose. With Ambrose away filming a movie, it's unlikely that he will be facing Rollins at this event, so Reigns can step in and give Mr. Money in the Bank a worthy opponent.
The trick with this feud would be to balance the strengths and weaknesses of the two men involved.
As a cowardly heel, Rollins has a built-in fail-safe for both wins and losses.
Should Reigns need to lose this match at Night of Champions, he can be booked strongly leading up to the event and then lose by some fluke interference from The Authority. This would possibly set up the next opponent for Reigns at Hell in a Cell, whether that be Triple H, Kane or someone else.
On the other hand, if WWE would prefer Reigns to win at Night of Champions, it is even easier to set up.
Reigns can continue to steamroll through the competition on Raw and SmackDown for the next few weeks while Rollins evades feeling the full brunt of the unstoppable juggernaut.
At each corner, Rollins will have Randy Orton and Kane to back him up and take the fall for him. After all, wouldn't the architect of The Shield would be smarter than to fall victim to his enemies and not take advantage of the backing of his faction?
Bonus points can be awarded if Ambrose is able to return at Night of Champions to help Reigns out when Kane or Orton interfere in the match.
This could even set up an admirable Hell in a Cell match where Reigns, Ambrose and someone else face off against Rollins, Kane and Orton in the cage.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena
Thankfully, WWE is on the right track as far as the main event goes.
John Cena's fans are going to want to see him fight back like never has before and truly give Brock Lesnar a run for his money. With Lesnar, on the other hand, the total opposite needs to happen.
The story here is that Cena was humbled and embarrassed and is in need of retribution to make up for losing his title—not that he took Lesnar to the limit.
This isn't a match that can be booked with the question of which one of these evenly-matched stars can come out on top, with either man having a chance against the other. Instead, WWE needs to do just what has been happening: Promise the fans a war.
Did you enjoy Lesnar destroying Cena? Well, there's a good chance that it can happen again at Night of Champions, so you better not miss out on it.
Are you hoping that Cena will take that beating from SummerSlam, turn it around and dish the same punishment out at Lesnar?
You better make sure your subscription to the WWE Network is renewed, because that could be coming at Night of Champions!
The more Cena looks dominant and hungry to get at Lesnar and the stronger WWE can project the image that Lesnar could not care less and doesn't feel threatened at all, the better.
How do you think Night of Champions should be booked?
Leave your fantasy story ideas in the comments below!
Anthony Mango is the owner-operator of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment as well as the host of its podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.