The Crystal Ball: Nerd Up Your Nunchucks for WWE's Night of Champions
Well, it's that time of the month again. No, ladies, don't get the wrong idea. This is the time of the month that you can actually look forward to. Or can you?
It's no secret that the WWE has been extremely "hit or miss" with it's pay-per-view offerings in recent years.
However, rather than the over-gimmicked and mostly uncreative themes we've come to tolerate from the 'E, this is a concept we're familiar with and one that gets over fairly well amongst most members of the WWE Universe.
It's time for the Night of Champions.
This PPV concept in and of itself sounds good on paper and usually plays out well for the No. 1 wrestling company in the world.
Still, some of the more determined smarks out there, (yeah, that's for you IWC), have been known to complain about the predictability of past NOC events. The usual grievance is either:
A. With every title being defended, 90% of the Champions retain. zOMG that's so boring!!
Or, the slightly more elegant:
B. wats the point, the wwe doesnt pay attention to its titles anyways and john cena always has to be in the world title match! omg i hate cena, he should die etc, etc.
Saddest part is that neither of those grammatical nightmares above are exaggerated in the slightest. These are the responses I see trolled about the forums of Smarkland each month around this time.
But I digress. Rather than listen to the complaints of the less intelligent fans of this industry we love so much, I feel it's time to share my own thoughts on who I feel is leaving Night of Champions with eight pounds of gold and leather.
Without further ado, let's begin.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston
This is the perfect example of a feud that should be white hot right now, making the Intercontinental Title, both Superstars and SmackDown! in general, look extremely good.
Instead, it's become SmackDown!'s resident piss break (along side the Diva matches, of course).
The part that bothers me the most is that Ziggler and Kingston are far too talented to be relegated to this.
While the matches themselves have been intense and fierce, the finishes have literally sucked the entertainment value out of the entire feud.
Even though everyone cried foul at the SummerSlam finish involving Nexus, it makes sense when one looks back to it now. Hindsight is always 20/20.
The subsequent DQ and count out finishes, making Dolph play second fiddle to veritable heat magnet Vickie Guerrero, have done nothing for the Champion except solidify why he lost as many as four Intercontinental Championship matches last year and ended up in midcard hell for the majority of 2010.
Dolph Ziggler is the victim of the same issues that plague WWE Champion Sheamus, just on a smaller scale.
The man simply is not allowed to win clean and establish himself as a threat, unless he's in a non-title match against someone who obviously won't beat him (i.e Chris Masters).
Meanwhile, any momentum Kofi had enroute to a Main Event push, stemming from his stellar feud with Randy Orton last year, has long since died out.
As my colleague John Cobbcorn put in one of his own slideshows, Kofi Kingston literally has everything needed to be a Main Event player. So, what's the deal, WWE?
In a perfect world, Dolph Ziggler will defeat Kofi Kingston clean to retain his Championship and establish himself as a serious and credible title holder.
Because this is not a perfect world, expect Ziggler to win thanks to more interference from Vickie Guerrero, continuing the trend of putting the heat on the wrong person and further damaging Ziggler's credibility.
Big Show vs. CM Punk
Seriously? Again? Okay, for those that might not get what my damage is, let me bold it out on the line below for you:
Why is there a non-title contest penciled in for a pay-per-view called Night of Champions?
That, in and of itself, makes about as much sense as TNA storyline idea, and that's the biggest insult I could throw.
We've seen Big Show tangle with Punk and his Straight-Edge Society on multiple occasions in recent memory. The problem is...who gets over from this? Survey says:
Does Big Show need to continuously squash the SES? What does that prove? That he's the World's Largest Athlete and is the only guy capable of single-handedly butchering a three-man stable on his own?
Well, that's just peachy but it's also something that's been widely known. For years.
Even for the kids that don't remember Big Show eating the ECW roster in 2006, or Big Show single-handedly wiping out all of Team Alliance during the Invasion angle of 2001, all it takes is one look at Big Show and he's believable.
We buy into him. Even if he is completely incapable of winning any sort of big title match.
So, we go to the next query. Okay, if Big Show doesn't need to get over, let's get CM Punk and his Straight-Edge Society over.
Yes! Now, let's accomplish this by having Gallows and Mercury play bitch to Punk, lose pretty much every match they get put in, and fail to do anything impactful whatsoever.
Let's face it, Mercury is now on the injured list and the SES couldn't even break Big Show's hand properly in a three-on-one assault, evidenced by Show's miraculous recovery at SummerSlam that led to his victory.
So, tell me again: Why are we having this match?
Big Show beating CM Punk one on one is just way too obvious. Expect Punk to win with the help of his stable.
Even if this happens, can someone please tell me how it benefits anyone? Because I still don't see it...
Melina vs. Michelle McCool/Layla To Unify Womens/Divas Titles
Another randomly thrown together Diva match. No build up aside from Laycool randomly ruining Melina's Championship victory over the undefined Alicia Fox at SummerSlam.
All the other Divas at ringside just so WWE doesn't have to waste more than one segment on them.
Forgetting entirely that Melina and Laycool are so much more talented then they are allowed to showcase, expect this match to go no longer than six or seven minutes (that's being generous) and for Melina to pull off a big Unification win thanks to a miscommunication between Laycool that will eventually lead to their split.
Oh, and expect about 45 percent of the audience to use this match as a bathroom/concession stand break.
WWE United States Champion The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan
Finally, something worth watching!
This, in my opinion, is the sleeper match of the night and has the potential to steal the show.
The Miz/Bryan feud has been building for months, stemming all the way back to the inaugural episode of Season 1 of NXT.
Not only that, but this rivalry has survived being put on the back burner and even forgotten about altogether following Daniel Bryan's untimely release back in June, an act that many in the wrestling industry still accuse of being a massive work on the part of WWE.
All of this aside, both of these guys have done outstanding jobs of making this match more important than it originally sounded.
Combining the animosity with just the right amount of sneak attacks and pitting The Miz's nearly unmatched charisma and mic potential against Daniel Bryan's cult-like "smark" following and superior in-ring wrestling skills and we have the makings of a good old-fashioned "I'm the better man" title feud.
This is being done without gimmicks, without silly stipulations and without loads of predictability going into it. Feuds like this one are what WWE has been sorely lacking for a long time.
The finish is up in the air, folks. With Miz's Money In The Bank stipulation, it could really go either way but, due in large part to Vince McMahon's personal decision to endorse The Miz and make him the next big thing, expect Daniel Bryan to pull off the "upset" of the night and make Miz submit to the LeBell Lock.
For fellow Bryan Danielson fans like me, let's not get our hopes up for what ought to be a big DB push and revival of the midcard.
This is more than likely just a way to get the belt off Miz and get him right into the Main Event scene. Still, a Daniel Bryan US Title reign in and of itself is enough to make most smart fans mark out in their pants.
World Heavyweight Champion Kane vs. The Undertaker
I'm going to switch it up on this one guys. I'm going to offer my prediction here at the beginning of the slide and then explain it, because this is one of those issues that just requires that kind of approach. Hell, it'll even get bolded, just so it sinks in.
Expect Kane to decisively defeat The Undertaker to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
Now, I'll happily admit to being wrong. I don't make this kind of prediction piece with the intent of being right with every choice and quite honestly, I'd be astounded if I was correct on every match. That would actually be a little disappointing.
However, I'd be stunned if I was wrong on this one. Kane has literally spent the last decade+ being known as "Undertaker's brother" and making other Main Eventers look good at his expense.
Being the professional he is, I've never once heard of Kane complaining about this but now he is experiencing what experts are calling a "career revival."
I feel this is mainly because Kane obviously has more years left to give the company than Undertaker.
Though people complain about Kane's sporadic use in Main Events and WWE taking such a ridiculously long time to place the Strap on him, it has its benefits.
Unlike Undertaker, Kane has not ravaged his body for as long or under as stringent a schedule as 'Taker.
Kane has not experienced the injuries or the many Hell in a Cell encounters. Kane is simply not as run down as Undertaker.
Don't mistake my words for disrespect because I truly believe that Undertaker has the most memorable gimmick in the history of wrestling.
Yes, bigger than Hulkamania because even now, 20 years later, it's still alive and kicking.
As good as 'Taker is, (and anyone who doesn't see him as one of the greatest who's ever lived is just an idiot), I'd be surprised if he was around longer than Kane.
Given all of this info and the way WWE has built up this match, it would make NO sense whatsoever to have 'Taker beat Kane.
From last I heard, Kane and 'Taker were penciled in for title matches leading past Night of Champions and to Hell In A Cell. By then, I'm sure 'Taker will have his powers back.
But not this Sunday. Like I said above people, expect Kane to defeat Undertaker to retain the title. And I mean decisively.
Six Pack Challenge For The WWE Championship
This match carries a good deal of hype and the recent addition of the "elimination" style should make for an entertaining contest but the predictability factor rears its ugly head again.
Thankfully, several things prevent this match from being 100 percent predictable.
1. Chris Jericho has promised to win the WWE Title at Night of Champions...or walk away from the WWE.
2. The Miz has a Money In The Bank briefcase, whoever wins this match is going to be tender meat, and if he loses to Daniel Bryan the way I expect him to, he'll want to redeem himself. Quickly.
Right off the bat, you can forget about Y2J winning this thing. I love him and he truly is the best in the world at what he does and only a fool would tell you otherwise.
I don't buy into the whole "Y2J is leaving and not re-signing" garbage and I won't unless I hear it from Jericho himself. The man is notorious for ducking the IWC and who can honestly blame him?
I expect Jericho to lose this match and take a hiatus from WWE for some work with Fozzy and to return as a babyface. (Yes, IWC, time for you to take this info and go spam some hate threads about Jericho face turns now).
Edge is another guy you can easily chalk off as a non-viable candidate to win this match.
I look at the recent criticism of his work as nothing more than senseless IWC hate (just because he isn't as "big" and "crude" as they liked during the early days of the Rated R gimmick).
Instead, I commend the man for being able to stay relevant, important and impactful despite a Decade of Decadence and multiple career threatening injuries.
However, out of every single guy in this match, Edge has the least going for him. Barrett has the Nexus, Cena and Orton are the most over guys in the whole company, Sheamus is the little engine that sometimes could, and Jericho has the "win or quit" stip. Edge? He's got nothing.
This brings it down to John Cena, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett and Sheamus. Let's break it down:
1. Randy Orton is on the roll of a lifetime, even managing to beat John Cena clean in a tables match (discounting the chaotic but largely uneventful interference from everyone and their grandmother in the Main Event on RAW). Unfortunately, in pro wrestling, this usually means he's the least likely of the four to leave with the gold.
2. John Cena rarely, and I mean RARELY, loses cleanly. However, Cena seems to be taking a back burner to the spotlight lately.
3. Sheamus has NEVER EVER defeated anyone clean in a title defense. (If you count Zack Ryder, I'll RKO your dog) and is perhaps the least credible Champion in the entire WWE. This is a situation that begs to be rectified.
4. Wade Barrett is the single most talented guy in Nexus and the dark horse of this entire match. It's his first title challenge and most people are still unaware of what he's truly capable of.
Taking everything above into consideration, I expect the final three to come down to either Cena/Orton (take your pick, honestly), Wade Barrett and Sheamus.
I would not at all be surprised to see Edge eliminated first, although in a match with this many big stars and so many pushes going on at once, that could easily be changed.
This match is pretty challenging to call. I do see Jericho being eliminated late in the match, likely due to some kind of interference on the part of Nexus, to set up his eventual return to RAW and babyface turn.
Cena and Orton, as always, are wild cards. Expect them to make it to the end of the match, only to fall to a heel.
This is where it gets tricky. As interesting as it would be to see Wade Barrett take the gold, it would likely be compared to Sheamus's shockingly fast ascension to the top and I just don't think Barrett is ready for that, though stranger things have happened.
All things aside, it's impossible to predict who will go out in what order or what the final lineup will be but I've narrowed it down to what I feel are the three most likely scenarios:
1. Sheamus retains clean, picking the scraps of whoever is left at the end of the match after surviving and thus, finally shutting up the naysayers who cry foul about his shoddy track record in title defenses. WWE take notice: Sheamus is desperately in need of this to save his credibility. But I won't hold my breath.
2. Wade Barrett pulls off a shocker and manages to steal the Championship and bring it to the Nexus. This may seem unlikely but after seeing the rise of Nexus and Sheamus's jump to Main Event, don't discount anything.
3. The Miz pulls off the "Shocker of the Year" moment by cashing in Money In The Bank on whatever sap wins this match and walks out of Night Of Champions with a more prestigious title than he entered with. This may be the most unlikely of the scenarios but again, don't discount anything.
And, of course, honorable mentions go to Miz cashing in and being the first guy to fail in his efforts. This seems to be a popular theory amongst the IWC and I felt it was worth putting in this piece.
Lastly, do not expect a babyface to win this match. Cena seems to be taking a back burner to continue his work with Nexus and Randy Orton seems to be on the "Steve Austin" track, as each unsuccessful title challenge just appears to get him more and more over with the fans.
WWE Night of Champions IS Worth Ordering
I'll admit, I can't say that this is a pay-per-view event worth ordering with 100% certainty, and obviously it's up to the fans' discretion whether or not to do so, but I feel that Daniel Bryan vs The Miz and the Six Pack Challenge match will be interesting enough to check out.
Of course, I can't blame anyone who is of the mindset that two good matches aren't enough to make a PPV buy worthy, especially in these times.
I hope you've enjoyed this look into my thoughts for what has the potential to be an interesting PPV at best. Thanks for reading and I'll see you again soon.
Comments and feedback are, as always, welcome and appreciated.