Last night was the night, the NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS. With every title on the line, Night of Champions is usually a sneaky good show, ranging somewhere between your money’s worth and a steal.
For those who missed the SummerSlam review, the criteria for these is simply: “Did I get my money’s worth?” in terms of the individual matches and the PPV as a whole, using the tried and true “what was this trying to do, and how well did it succeed” rubric.
Each match is rated plus or minus on a sliding scale between 1 and -1, with matches worth multiple rewatches worth 1, a just-quite-PPV quality match being 0, and things that make me reevaluate being a fan earning up to a -1 score. The higher the number, the better Bang For Your Buck on the PPV. We’ll (eventually) keep a running tally for each PPV, and a handy list of PPVs we review to give you (and us) a better idea of what we thought was worth the time to check out in terms of matches and PPVs. As for the scale, it’s not particularly complicated but here are the basic levels (on a per-match average):
Like last month’s, we’re going to be using what I said during the What’s the Worst That Could Happen preview to see how close I was to “predicting” what unfolded, and how it stacked up to my best hopes and worst fears. Enjoy!
The Prime Time Players def. The Usos, Tons of Funk, The Real Americans and 3MB (Tag Team Turmoil No. 1 Contender’s Match)
What Nick Wants to Happen: PTPers manage to defeat the Real Americans, establishing two major teams in the division who can feud with each other while the Shield beat up more popular people, Real Americans screw over PTPers in title match.
This was perhaps the most obvious result of the night. For a free match, people got their money’s worth and then some. But, since it’s a free match, it won’t be included in our overall rating. It will also be one of two matches where we will double dip on predictions. You get three guesses on which matches. If you guess correctly, you win nothing.
Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston
What Nick Wants to Happen: CM Punk gets his hands on Heyman, Kofi Kingston comes out and screws over Punk, becomes new Heyman guy. Kofi awarded IC title by Paul E., who isn’t mad at Curtis Axel. Just disappointed.
Considering his full name is Kofi Kingston, Transitional Mid-card Champion, and they hadn’t handwaved him defending the title on the only night he is “required” to, so you just knew this was going to happen on some level. This wasn’t a bad match, and it made Axel look strong enough that when he got beat up later in the night, people weren’t wondering why he was champion. It’s not a match that did much for Kofi, but it wasn’t supposed to. And didn’t do much for the viewer, but it wasn’t supposed to.
Match: +.3 | Overall: .3
Divas Champion AJ Lee vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi (Fatal 4-Way Match)
Best Case Scenario: No one gets hurt, AJ retains. Kharma returns, devours AJ whole.
You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need. Not in this match, though.
Match: +.3 | Overall: .6
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
Worst Case Scenario: Rob Van Dam leaves the arena as champion.
Well, the worst possible thing didn’t, so that’s nice. One has to hope after this very solid match that they do a NoDQ match for the blowoff. Alberto Del Rio is one of the rare dastardly heels who actually gets better whenever you take away his safety net of the DQ title defense. Del Rio wants to hurt you. Allowing him to do so with impunity is always fun for everyone involved. This match set all of that up. Solid actual match with solid storyline development means a solid score.
Match: +.5 | Overall: 1.1
The Miz def. Fandango
I should have seen this match coming, and I get why they didn’t announce it, but they needed something to end this mildly entertaining and comically cliché feud. Dirty Curty is a great worker who does a lot of strong character in-ring, and Miz is the Miz. While it’s good that Miz worked the leg the entire match, that was probably the only good part of it that didn’t explicitly involve Summer Rae
Match: +.2 | Overall: 1.3
CM Punk vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman (Handicap Elimination Match)
What Nick Wants to Happen: CM Punk gets his hands on Heyman, Kofi Kingston comes out and screws over Punk, becomes new Heyman guy.
A yeoman’s effort by Curtis Axel, a new Heyman guy (unfortunately, it’s not Kofi, but Ryback) and just enough CM Punk getting his hands on Paul E. to make you want more. While this wasn’t a great match, it was a very well-acted, plotted and executed scene in the fantastic film that has been the Heyman-Punk feud.
Match: +.7 | Overall: 2.0
United States Champion Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
What Nick Wants to Happen: This match goes for 20 minutes, the only outside interference is a ref distraction after Ziggler’s super kick gives him the “victory”. Ambrose retains in “tainted” victory that is only tainted by Ziggler’s inability to overcome the theory of the Damned Numbers Game as opposed to the practical application of it.
If the Ziggler-Ambrose feud has/had one major issue, it’s that crowds that aren’t “smart” don’t understand/like Ziggler and that those very same crowds are FILLED with dudes who think that The Shield are heroes. The only thing worse for matches than the majority of people not having anyone to root for is the majority of people not having anyone to root for while a minority roots for the “wrong” guy. And cheering for the dude who is trying to get you to cheer for the other one is rooting for the “wrong” guy.
This match managed to overcome that, but it wasn’t able to overcome Ziggler’s inability to look believable on his comebacks after getting his ass kicked so majestically. Until he stops making other guys look so good (and stops gyrating at the beginning of his entrance) he will never get over to the level he needs. Ultimately, a mildly disappointing match, mostly because the expectations were so high coming in.
Match: +.5 | Overall: 2.5
WWE Tag Team Champions The Shield vs. The Prime Time Players
Best Case Scenario: PTPers win this match, win Shield match to get in view of Better for Business Bureau’s heat laser.
The only bad part of this match was that outside of a possible rematch on Raw, this will be a one-shot program. Likely be replaced by Mark Henry/Big Show, at the very least Titus and Darren both came off good, while Rollins and Reigns continue to be the best actual tag team since London and Kendrick.
I should penalize this match for the “Triple H/HBK are the best tag team champions in history” poll when they aren’t even the best tag team in DX history, but that feels unfair.
Match: +.7 | Overall: 3.2
WWE Champion Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
What Will Happen: Ref bump, flying knee kick, no ref, Orton punches Daniel Bryan in dick, Braddox comes out, fast count.
This was a very good match between two of the hottest performers, but that ending gives me the Howling Starrcades. Hopefully, this leads to the title being held up and not just handed back to Orton. But, given the way the announce team (and Jerry Lawler) was staying on message when it came Daniel Bryan’s “never say die” attitude and “perseverance”, it seems highly unlikely they don’t keep this going.
I don’t want another crooked ref storyline unless Braddox is involved, so hopefully they simply say he should have not been allowed back in the match and make it so no one is champion.
This match did everything it was supposed to: established Daniel Bryan’s finisher, ability to come through in the clutch and how over he is right now, while Randy Orton was beaten clean in the middle of the ring while the crowd lost their shit. The ending is the reason it didn’t feel like as big a deal as it should. It’s not that it made no sense. It just left us with the feeling it made too much sense
PPV Overall: 4.0 | Avg: .5
While this wasn’t the best PPV this year, it had the deepest non-Mania card, with 8 matches and a bonus free one rounding out what was a solid but not exceptional card. Definitely got our money’s worth, but this isn’t the type of PPV that makes me want to buy more in the way that Money in the Bank and SummerSlam did. Which is why the per-match average was decidedly lower than our previous reviews (.54ish to .5)