WWE Night of Champions: Ranking Every World Title Match in the PPV's History
With Night of Champions 2012 nearing, it looks as if fans will see John Cena vs. CM Punk and Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio in the two world title matches. How will they compare to the world title matches in the event's history?
Giants, future Hall of Famers, heroes and beasts have all graced the Night of Champions stage.
Through all the pay-per-view's World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Championship and ECW Championship matches, we've witnessed both duds and thrillers.
From Vengeance: Night of Champions in 2007 to Night of Champions 2011, here are all the world title bouts, worst to first.
13. 2009: Christian vs. Tommy Dreamer
This ECW Championship match was solid, but nothing special. A particularly low energy crowd didn't help matters.
Tommy Dreamer was great with the real ECW, not the castrated version WWE put out towards the end. Without a kendo stick to wield, without the intimacy of the Hammerstein Ballroom and without the wild, unpredictable nature of ECW, Dreamer seemed out of place.
Christian brought his usual athleticism, hopping in and out of the ring.
There are some nice high-risk spots here both by Christian and by Dreamer, two guys going hard for a crowd that didn't care.
12. 2008: Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. Big Show
The ECW Championship was defended in a giant-sized slugfest. Canadian Online Explorer rated it a 3/10, which is a bit harsh but not too far off.
The commentators played up the wrestlers' mammoth size, which was the best and worst part of the match. It was cool to see the three giants banging into each other, but the lack of speed and variety took away from the excitement.
As you would expect, most of the action plodded along.
The match rarely featured all three guys at once. Having Mark Henry out of the picture for so long hampered the emotional impact of him winning the title.
11. 2007: Johnny Nitro vs. CM Punk
Johnny Nitro and CM Punk's match was doomed from the start.
Chris Benoit was booked to face CM Punk for the vacant ECW Championship. As great as that match could have been, it never happened because Benoit was out with what he told WWE was a family emergency.
The crowd was disappointed with Nitro taking the Wolverine's place, chanting, "We want Benoit" for much of the match. Little did they know the tragedy that was befalling Benoit's family at that time.
Had the atmosphere been more welcoming and had things turned out differently, the crowd might have gotten behind these guys more and enjoyed what was a well-worked match.
Punk and Nitro pushed each other to their limits, showing off nifty moves and displaying good chemistry.
10. 2009: Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena
A disappointing match began in promising fashion.
All three wrestlers received a big reaction from the crowd, especially John Cena who got a mixture of cheers and jeers.
Randy Orton began the match trying to slither out of the ring to let Triple H and John Cena fight it out first, but was thwarted. Cena and Triple H double teamed Orton for much of the match, forming an unlikely temporary alliance.
The match had star power and some good spots, but it suffered from a slow pace.
A potentially thrilling table spot turned out to be a tease. Orton overdid his Viper routine, nearing cartoonish acting at times.
A sharpshooter from The Game was a welcome surprise.
The ending had potential with both Cena and Triple H clamping a submission hold onto Orton who tapped. The climax ended up fizzling, though, due to an expected Legacy assist and subsequent RKO.
9. 2011: John Cena vs. Alberto Del Rio
Even as often as we've seen it done before, there's a certain appeal to the hero struggling to get his hands on the slippery bad guy until they finally meet in the ring and justice is delivered.
If you don't mind John Cena reprising the role of Hulk Hogan, this is an entertaining match. Sure it's annoying to see him take such a major beating, only to shake it off and prevail.
Cena stealing Alberto Del Rio's car was a funny moment. Seeing Ricardo Rodriguez getting kicked out also got the fans buzzing.
Del Rio performed well, playing the throwback heel to the T. Cena delivered an impressive powerbomb out of the cross armbreaker.
How one feels about Cena makes or breaks this match.
8.2008: Edge vs. Batista
Like he did for John Cena, Edge brought out Batista's best in the ring. This match is just another example of that in action.
Edge lived up to his "Ultimate Opportunist" nickname, using craftiness and Batista's mistakes to control much of the match.
WWE played this up as Batista's last shot at the World Heavyweight Championship, completely ignoring the previous Night of Champions pay-per-view where Batista lost a "Last Chance Match" to Edge.
Ignore that plot hole, and there is plenty to enjoy here.
Edge threw Batista over the Smackdown announce table. There were big-time power moves and a natural chemistry between the two.
The ending felt cheap, even if it did further catapult Edge into a higher level of heel. La Familia got involved and compiled the injustice on Batista.
Chavo Guerrero served as impromptu ref mid-match, and Edge used the title to knock Batista out. Not quite as good as their clash in 2007 but entertaining nonetheless.
7. 2010: Kane vs. Undertaker
The novelty of this brother vs. brother feud was long gone, but an excellent buildup made it feel electric regardless. Sure the vegetative state angle was over-the-top, but both men rocked it on the mic leading up to this.
Kane and Undertaker gave fans a gripping brawl, fighting viciously from the get-go.
Undertaker threw Kane into a pillar, and both men tossed the other into the steel steps. The fight they delivered was excellent and was topped off by a surprise clean victory by Kane.
6. 2007: Five-Pack Challenge
WWE champ John Cena had to fight off challengers Bobby Lashley, Mick Foley, Booker T and Randy Orton in a wild Five-Pack challenge.
The action was crammed at times, but at others, it was chaotic fun.
Lashley dominated much of the action, including a beautiful dive from the ring to a pile of foes outside. It seemed inevitable that Lashley would walk out with the title until he was slammed through a table courtesy of John Cena.
Kicks, spears, RKOs and steel chairs filled an excellent match with constant action.
As busy as the match was, WWE made the smart move. With Foley and Booker T late in their careers and Lashley not quite main-event material, shoving all these guys together made for the best main-event option.
5. 2007: Edge vs. Batista, Last Chance Match
Edge and Batista's chemistry hit a high gear here. Both men came off as vicious, determined and worthy of carrying the World Heavyweight Championship.
Seeing Batista unleash his frustration was compelling both during the match and when he failed to make the most of his "last chance."
The two wrestlers were in sync the entire match: Batista as the fiery powerhouse and Edge as the wily, underhanded heel.
Edge got himself intentionally disqualified with a low blow, but Teddy Long ordered that the match continue. It looked then as if Batista would finally be able to beat his rival and capture the title once again.
But it wasn't meant to be.
Batista delivered a thunderous powerbomb on the outside, but after pushing Edge back in the ring, couldn't beat the count himself.
This match offers a poetic, dramatic ending that is mighty powerful.
4. 2010: Six-Pack Challenge
Much like Night of Champions 2007, the WWE champ had to face a litany of challengers. For Sheamus to remain champion, he would have to fend off Randy Orton, Edge, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Wade Barrett, not to mention interfering members of Nexus.
This was far better booked than the 2007 Five Pack Challenge.
Chris Jericho received an extremely early exit with uncertainty about if he'd ever return to WWE hanging in the air.
Even with Jericho gone for most of it, the match was brimming with star power, old and new. Nexus was the biggest star, though, as we were in the heart of the Nexus storyline.
Like wolves circling prey, the members of Nexus attacked everyone, trying to crown their leader champion.
Instead, Randy Orton prevailed.
The shock of Jericho's and Cena’s exits, the volatile environment created by Nexus and WWE capitalizing on Orton's momentum with the fans added up to a worthy main event.
3. 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
Jeff Hardy and CM Punk had one of the best feuds of 2009. Their chemistry and their bulging hatred for each other elevated this match to a high level.
It featured more mat wrestling than you'd expect from Hardy and a show-stealing performance from Punk.
Despite losing the gold, Punk was the star here. He was clearly having fun out there playing the cocky heel.
Building on the momentum from his promo earlier that night, Punk pushed his persona further into the limelight. He and Hardy fought hard, diving, grinding and kicking to create another great match between them.
2. 2011: Mark Henry vs. Randy Orton
During Mark Henry's dominant run, when he was knocking out Kane and Big Show, WWE utilized his momentum to create a special moment.
The euphoria of Henry earning a well-deserved major championship echoed throughout the WWE Universe for a long time after this match.
Randy Orton used his speed for most of it, trying to staying away from the big man. They played the proverbial cat-and-mouse game until Henry finally squashed his opponent.
A defiant Orton refused to stay down.
Even as the victim of Henry's power moves and a bow and arrow submission around the ring post, Orton managed to look like a predator, gutsy until the very end.
Henry followed the match with a stirring promo. Coming off as real and compelling as he ever has, he told the crowd, "This is my moment, and I'm not sharing it with none of you."
1. 2008: Triple H vs. John Cena
Of all of Night of Champions' world title matches, this felt the biggest. A part of that is the stardom involved, but there was a feeling in the air that something special would happen.
A rematch two years in the making saw Triple H avenge his WrestleMania 22 loss in a superb match.
The calculating predator that is Triple H focused on John Cena's back. The favor was repaid to him when Cena took no mercy on Triple H's injured leg.
This was a clash of two alpha males banging horns, living up to the hype,
One of the match's most memorable moments is Cena struggling to get the STF on as Triple H squirmed in desperation, flipping the move into a crossface.
The thrilling ending saw them slide from counter to counter until Triple H landed a final pedigree on a woozy Cena.