WWE Night of Champions Hitlist: C.M. Punk and John Cena deliver a match of the year contender, Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler, Kane and Daniel Bryan win the WWE Tag Titles, JBL brings out the best in Michael Cole
By Jason Powell
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WWE Night of Champions HIts
C.M. Punk vs. John Cena: A true match of the year contender and a strong, logical finish. I expected more negative feedback about the double pin, yet it seems most fans realize that it was the right thing for business with Hell in a Cell coming up next month. The near finishes were great both in terms of dramatic two counts and near submission finishes. There was great drama throughout and the wrestlers created that big match feel that the company failed to produce for it in the weeks leading up to NOC on television. Bonus points to Michael Cole and JBL for driving home the theme that Punk had thrown everything he could at Cena yet was unable to pin him.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler: The second best match of the night. It had a good pace from the start and even the supposed rest holds had an intensity to them that didn't make me feel like I was watching a lull in the match. Orton's temper flared up again when he cussed at the cameraman and had to be censored and again when he flipped off the crowd before the RKO. I can't believe he's letting fan taunts get to him at this point in his career, though I'm sure he has his own version of the story. Nevertheless, this was the best televised match these two have had. I'm not crazy about the outcome, but I'll wait and see the followup this week to determine whether any damage was done to Ziggler.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio: There matches never jump off the lineup page and they take a bit of time to get going, but they are entertaining once they do. As much as I'm ready for both men to move on, I was actually hoping they would do something in this match to justify the need for one more match inside the Hell in a Cell structure. It drives me nuts when WWE books wrestlers in HIAC matches when it doesn't feel like their feuds have reached that point. In this case, it would have felt that way given the lengthy program they've had. With the decisive outcome on Sunday, I don't see any need to go there next month. Of course, the problem is that if they don't then there's not a logical HIAC opponent for Sheamus. Perhaps they will scale back and use the HIAC structure only for the WWE Championship match this year.
Daniel Bryan and Kane vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth: The right team won the match. Bryan and Kane are very over right now, whereas Kingston and Truth have been spinning their wheels for months. The finish was clever with Bryan attacking Kane only to have Kane fall onto Kingston for the pin. The post-match antics backstage were really over the top, though I suppose we better get used to that given what we've seen from Team Friendship thus far.
The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes: A solid four-way match with a clever finish that seemed out of place. The finish seemed like something that should have been reserved for a tag team on the verge of a breakup. Miz being blinded by the mask really didn't serve a purpose in that he and Cody haven't been getting along anyway, so it's not like he needed an excuse to hit him with his finisher and score the pin.
Eve vs. Layla: The only thing that bothered me about the match was that Layla went from being skeptical of Eve to suddenly trusting her during their actual match, which resulted in Eve kicking her surgically repaired knee following a handshake. The end result was easy to see coming once Kaitlyn got the Nancy Kerrigan treatment and it made Booker T look like a dope for not seeing through it, but I like the fact that the only Diva with an actual character right now ended up with the title belt.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Zack Ryder: A minor Hit. This was fine for what it was. I enjoy the dynamic between Cesaro and Aksana. I'm surprised her distraction antics haven't caught on with the live crowds more than they have. The Cesaro uppercut punch never gets old, and it was good to see him go over clean.
Pre-Show Battle Royal: This was much better than the typical throwaway match that we normally get on the free preview show because it had meaning and set up a match for the actual pay-per-view. The crowd pleasing finish of Ryder going over was easy to see coming once they got down to the final four, yet it got the show off to a decent start and gave the crowd a reason to get worked up.
WWE Night of Champions Misses
None: I wasn't overwhelmed by the undercard and thus I agree with the majority of our poll voters who gave the show a sold "B" grade. The main event was excellent, I really liked Orton vs. Ziggler, and the World Hvt. Championship match was also strong. Throw in a solid undercard and this was a good show. I can even bump it up to a B+ grade simply for the announcing of the show. JBL brings out the best in Michael Cole. They are an excellent team. Here's hoping that Cole's straight forward approach continues once Jerry Lawler makes his return because this was as effective as Cole has been in years.
I don't know whether JBL has kept a close eye on the product or if he had someone feeding him lines throughout the show, but he seemed up to speed on the stories and characters. JBL gets more out of his in-ring background than other pro wrestling color commentators. He's not trying to act like a buddy watching the show with you. He puts over the talent by talking about his own in-ring experience. For instance, I loved the way he praised John Cena's strength and tenacity. Other color commentators could say the same thing, yet it means more coming from JBL because of the approach he takes and the credibility he's established with viewers. Consider this a big Hit for the makeshift broadcast team.
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