Monday, 21 September 2015

PPV Review: WWE Night of Champions 2015

      It's been a mixed four weeks across WWE television since SummerSlam, but it lead us to this, the seventh incarnation of Night of Champions. Seth Rollins had to defend his United States and WWE World Heavyweight Championships against John Cena and Sting respectively, whilst Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, The Wyatt Family, Dean Ambrose, The Dudley Boyz and more appeared across the show. Could WWE bring their Summer programme to a close in style? 

     The opening promo focused on the idea of challengers, rather than Champions, which was an interesting twist, whilst Seth Rollins dual title defences also featured heavily. 

     Match 1 - WWE Intercontinental Championship - Ryback (C) vs. Kevin Owens

One of those annoying little things that always niggled me is when the champion is out first for a title match, Ryback supposedly being a babyface made this even more frustrating to see.

The opening match was completely what it needed to be, sticking to a story-based structure and doing it well. Kevin Owens working over The Big Guy's arm, after the Intercontinental Champion had crashed into the ring post on the outside, worked well with Ryback doing a stellar job of selling his injury, holding his left arm close his chest for the majority of the bout. The closing sequence was where the two took this match up a notch after Ryback was able to escape an arm bar attempt and turn it into a potential Shellshock, Owens raked the eye and pull out a school boy roll up victory to win his first Intercontinental Championship. The idea that after being unsuccessful at putting Ryback after with the arm bar, that Owens resorted to cheating to get the victory bolsters his heel credentials and gives the pair somewhere to go with the feud heading into Hell in a Cell.

Winner - Kevin Owens via pinfall in 9 minutes, 32 seconds *NEW CHAMPION*

Following the bout, Owens celebration with the belt was spot on, as the former NXT Champion went over the top to put over his cheap victory, here's hoping that Owens will be the one to get the Intercontinental Championship some more spotlight.

Brock Lesnar's Go to Hell Tour on the WWE Network was unveiled, obviously we knew about Lesnar facing The Big Show at Madison Square Garden on 3rd October, and the announcement that Lesnar would be on the Steve Austin Podcast on 19th October, but the biggest news revealed was that Lesnar would face The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell on 25th October.

Match 2 - Singles - Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev with Summer Rae 

A cheeky recap of all the goings of this god-forsaken storyline over the last week, reminded me just how little I cared about this match. Ziggly had funky new tights for the occasion and the camera made a point of showing us Rusev's flag gimmick hanging above the ring.

    I tried to get into this one, I really did, but just like the soap-opera heavy feud I just couldn't get into the action. I think a big part of it had to do with the fact that it was clear the match wasn't going to finish until Summer Rae had gotten involved, and for the most part she was pretty inconsequential at ringside. Now the action in the ring was all right, but there was nothing in particularly that caught my interest, rather than quite a few superkicks being thrown back and forth. When Summer Rae did get involved it was all a bit contrived, as she fell into the ring somehow, got thrown out by the referee, then accidentally hit Rusev with her shoe, allowing Ziggler to hit a Zig Zag for the victory. At least, it stuck to the feel of the overall storyline I suppose. Personally, I thought this was about five minutes too long, and shaving time off the bout would actually have improved the contest, as there would have been less waiting around for Summer to get involved.

Winner - Dolph Ziggler via pinfall in 13 minutes, 42 seconds.

With everything else going on around the ring, Michael Cole spouted the cringe inducing line "That brings a whole new meaning to the word "heel" here in WWE"

Match 3 - Tag Team Championship - The New Day's Kofi Kingston & Big E with Xavier Woods vs. The Dudley Boyz

     Prior to their Tag Team Championship collision with The Dudley Boyz, The New Day were up to their usual antics, getting on the mic and putting over their #SaveTheTables petition. Whilst I'm not sure this was up their with the groups most entertaining efforts over the last few months, I did find the group incredibly annoying, but in a way that made me want to see the Dudleys beat them shitless. The list of people who had signed the petition was a little bit corny for my tastes, but it did garner a decent amount of heat from the Texas crowd.

The tag match was enjoyable, but it hardly set the world on fire. Keeping to a fairly basic tag team formula, The Dudley Boyz had a quick shine at the beginning, before the numbers game allowed The New Day to take advantage. Bubba Ray was an interesting choice as the face in peril, as the bigger man of his team (and arguably the most popular, thanks to his run as TNA World Heavyweight Champion) he surely would have been better off waiting for the hot tag before cleaning house. The finish I wouldn't usually be happy with on PPV, as Woods interfered to cause the DQ after The Dudleys had hit Kingston with the 3D, but as soon as they had hit the 3D I was hoping that wasn't the end of the bout. I think, having the Dudleys win the titles in their first PPV match back would have been a mistake, as it would have pulled the carpet away from their feud with The New Day. There's much more interest in the Dudleys chasing the New Day's titles, rather than the other way round.

Winners - The Dudley Boyz via disqualification in 9 minutes, 57 seconds *STILL CHAMPIONS*

The Dudleys getting their heat back by putting Woods through a table with a 3D (after New Day had introduced the tables) sets up a tables match between the two at Hell in a Cell, which is surely what everyone's been waiting for anyway.

Match 4 - WWE Diva's Championship - Charlotte with Becky Lynch & Paige vs. Nikki Bella (C) with Alicia Fox & Brie Bella

     The promo package before the bout was an extended version of the one that aired on Monday Night RAW last week, with an added lock at the pairs match from that show. The highlight of the pre-match festivities was the referee holding the Diva's title upside down, what a treat.

The best Diva's Championship match that I can remember. Taking a similar route as their match on Monday Night RAW, with Nikki targeting Charlotte's leg, with the obvious hope that Charlotte would be unable to lock in the Figure 8 submission hold. Charlotte's selling was spot on throughout the contest and she managed to garner a fair amount of crowd support which gave the match an extra boost. Nikki's offence looked the best it has ever done, as she delivered a series of vertical suplexes that would lead to Charlotte's legs hitting the bottom rope. A personal highlight of the bout saw Charlotte attempt a backslide, only for Nikki to mule kick her injured leg to escape. In my views, I wouldn't have had Charlotte win with the Figure 8, simply because of the injured leg. She of course could have pulled out her old finisher, Natural Selection, to pick up the victory. There was scope for an extra few minutes of action, that could have raised this match up just that little bit more.

Winner - Charlotte via submission in 12 minutes, 41 seconds *NEW CHAMPION*

Ric Flair coming out to celebrate post-match was lovely, but I do wish Charlotte had continued to sell her leg injury!

Kevin Owens interview with Jo-Jo backstage wasn't one of the new Intercontinental Champions best efforts, as he rambled through why he deserved to hold the title.

The Kick-Off panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton, focused on Charlotte and Kevin Owens title victories, whilst Booker put over his excitement for finding out who Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns mystery partner could be. 

Match 5 - Six Man Tag Team - The Wyatt Family vs. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Chris Jericho

    The promo for the match looked at the on-going rivarly between Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns, going back to Money in the Bank, but shied away from the main interest in the match, that being who the mystery partner of Ambrose & Reigns would be.

      I wish I super hyped when Chris Jericho walked out as the third man on Ambrose and Reigns team, but I just wasn't. Out of the names that were thrown about over the last few weeks, Jericho was probably the one I was least excited for, just because it seemed like the easy option. Seeing as Jericho has been touring with the promotion a lot over the last few months. I mean, at least it wasn't Baron Corbin, but when Daniel Bryan and The Rock's names had been mentioned, Jericho just didn't seem as exciting, as he walked out in his silly jacket.

The six man tag was all about Braun Strowman, with the entire bout rotating around the black sheep of the Wyatt Family. It was Strowman who put an end to the face shine, it was Strowman who was targeted while standing at ringside, it was Strowman who was waiting to make the tag for the Family as Reigns waited for the tag on the outside, it was Strowman who got the victory for his team tapping out Chris Jericho. Whilst Strowman is clearly limited, being protected by two strong workers like Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper (who put together a sweet sequence with Roman Reigns earlier in the bout), as well as those on the other team, there is space to turn him into a star, if he's kept protected. It wasn't up there with The Wyatt Family and Shield's tussles in 2014, but it was still an satisfying slice of six man action.

Winners - The Wyatt Family via pinfall in 13 minutes, 4 seconds.

The tension between Chris Jericho and his partners following the match (Jericho tagged himself into the bout, which would lead to the loss) was an interesting spin coming out of the bout, a feud between either Jericho and Ambrose or Jericho or Reigns has a lot of potential heading into WWE's Autumn season. 

Brock Lesnar's Go to Hell tour recieved another promo, which really wasn't needed, considering most people would be watching the PPV from start to finish.

Match 6 - WWE United States Championship - Seth Rollins (C) vs. John Cena

The promo package focused on both this match and Rollins' second match later on with Sting, focusing on Rollins' journey since WrestleMania and as well as detailing selected sections of his feuds with Cena and Sting.

Before the match the commentary team were still obsessing over Jon Stewart's involvement at SummerSlam, whilst Michael Cole said that the match was for the United Stights Championship, which was nice.

I predicted that this one would be the match of the night, and it duly delivered as John Cena and Seth Rollins put together a world-class bout over the United States Championship. The two going back and forth throughout the match, reversing each other signature moves took up the majority of the bouts storytelling, making perfect sense considering the pair have work a number of televised clashes against each other. Rollins looked particularly on form, blocking Cena's signature comeback sequence on a number of occasions, with a neckbreaker reversal of Cena's protobomb attempt. Whilst there were a few moments that could have been slicker, the majority of the bout was smooth and the pair locked very comfortable. 

    It was interesting to see Rollins wrestle a near perfect match against Cena, yet still be unable to pull out the victory. Rollins seemed to have Cena at every turn, being able to reverse a number of his signature moves, and control the match. The superplex pulled through into a regular suplex was a highlight of the contest, with Rollins looking great in control of Cena. My main main complaint about the bout was that it lacked any convincing near falls, with Cena's victory, following an Interverted Suplex, Leg Drop Bulldog and then an Attitude Adjustment, feeling like it should have come a few minutes later in the bout, after both had been unable to put each other away. There was space to really push this match onto the upper echelon of WWE contest, but in the end it just fell short.

Winner - John Cena via pinfall in 15 minutes, 45 seconds *NEW CHAMPION*

I'm not sure how I feel about Cena hitting an Attitude Adjustment on the outside after the match, it felt like it was setting up for a Money in the Bank cash-in, but with that not coming, it made it a little harder to buy into the next match.

Match 7 - WWE World Heavyweight Championship - Seth Rollins (C) vs. Sting

Sting had his funky coat back for the match, big loves for Sting's funky coat.

A completely different encounter to the one Rollins had had previously, this one was all about the spots. To call it a spot-fest would be a step too far, but it was the big spots that stood out, rather than the wrestling content. Sting taking a big bump through the announce table, Rollins getting pushed off the top rope into the barricade and Sting jumping off the top rope to the outside stand out as the most memorable moments of the bout. Perhaps it was felt that this was the way to get the most out of Sting at the age of 56, and it worked for the early part of the bout, but the high impact style clearly took it's toll in the closing stages.

With Sting supposedly hurting himself on a buckle bomb (a move he shouldn't really be taking in 2015, it's not a move I remember him taking that often before hand either), Rollins and Sting did the best they could following the injury. Sting's Scorpion Death Lock didn't look particularly well executed and hurt Rollins a little as he struggled to get to the ropes with Sting barely holding onto his legs (Sting also hurt a previous near fall off a Scorpion Death Drop, as he at first hooked both legs before remembering that Rollins needed a free leg to get on the ropes). Rollins pinfall victory on the Icon looked awkward as he reversed a second Scorpion Death Lock attempt. At least this match provided Rollins with a clean win, which will boost his title runs credentials, a little. 

Winner - Seth Rollins via pinfall in 15 minutes, 20 seconds. *STILL CHAMPION*

The after match shenanigans, with Sheamus and the returning masked Kane, open up some interesting avenues for WWE in the autumn, with the most likely scenario being that Rollins defends his title against Kane at Hell in a Cell.


ATPW Scale Rating - 6/10

This was a fine PPV offering from WWE, being a very easy watch from start to finish. Whilst more could have been done in the final two matches to really take advantage of the unique situation, both matches were offered something different and played to the strength of the challengers. John Cena and Seth Rollins US title bout was easily the match of the night, as the pair put together a terrific back and forth bout that had me gripped throughout. A special shoutout for the Diva's Championship match, in which both competitors worked hard to put together the strongest Diva's title bout that I can remember. Whilst Ziggler and Rusev's contest didn't do a whole lot for me, I'd still suggest that there wasn't a bad match on the card for this one. Whilst not quiet as strong as this year's SummerSlam, I'd put Night of Champions up there with Money in the Bank and Payback as one of the best B PPV offerings of 2015.

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