Powell's WWE Night of Champions Hit List: Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship...for now, C.M. Punk gets his hands on Paul Heyman, Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam, The Shield escape with their titles
By Jason Powell
Dot Net Members are listening to the 97-minute WWE Night of Champions audio review that Jason Powell and Chris Shore recorded on Sunday night. They will also be listening to Jason's audio review of WWE Raw on Monday night. Join us on the ad-free version of the website and listen to roughly six hours of exclusive audio content each week by signing up for membership via the Dot Net Members' Signup Page.
WWE Night of Champions Hits
Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan: A good main event. It wasn't a match of the year contender nor was it as good as the Bryan vs. John Cena match at SummerSlam, but the wrestlers were also stuck with a live crowd that had no reason to believe that Bryan would win the title or even that it would stick once he did (more on that in the Misses section). The fast count finish seemed like one of those things that was obvious to everyone other than the broadcast team.
C.M. Punk vs. Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel: Heyman's antics throughout the night were a riot and drew genuine heat from the live crowd. There were some logic holes in that Heyman could have simply ran away when the match started and taken the count out loss, but this was the one match that gave the fans a satisfying payoff. They promised that Punk would get his hands on Heyman and he certainly did with the repeated kendo stick shots (did they dust off D-Lo Brown's chest protector for Heyman?). I was hopeful we would get a new Paul Heyman Guy and it looks like we did in the form of Ryback, who will certainly benefit from Heyman's mic work.
Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam: A solid World Hvt. Championship. The minor Hit goes for the work of the wrestlers, who deserved a better reaction from the live crowd. That's really the only match I can say that about, as WWE didn't give Motown much to get excited about. The finish was about as lazy as it gets. I didn't expect a clean finish, but I did expect the finish to do something to make me want to see a rematch between the two. It wasn't like RVD had Del Rio on the verge of losing his title and the champion took the easy way out. Rather, Del Rio had RVD locked in his finishing hold and wouldn't release it before the referee counted to five. Sure, RVD hit the Van Terminator afterward and the live crowd was responsive to it, but it still didn't leave me feeling like RVD was actually close to winning the championship. Speaking of the Van Terminator, I wish the guys in the production truck would pay closer attention to the replays they show. In this case, they showed viewers the angle that clearly showed Del Rio holding up his arms to protect himself behind the chair long before RVD even made his jump. Obviously, it's the right thing for safety, but the angle they showed it from left me feeling like Del Rio had more than enough time to roll out of the ring to avoid it, and that's not something they should want viewers to be thinking about.
Tag Team Turmoil match: A decent rapid fire tag team gauntlet match. I was surprised to see Jack Swagger positioned as the star of the match even though his team didn't actually win. The Prime Time Players got the win, yet it came across like they benefitted from the luck of the draw as the final entrants rather than working hard and winning the fans over in the process. By the way, the new Brodus Clay dinosaur gear is the most ridiculous attire I've seen in years.
Curtis Axel vs. Kofi Kingston: A decent opening match and another minor HIt. Axel is good in the ring even though he leaves a lot to be desired on the mic. He throws a mean dropkick and it was logical to have him go over here heading into his later match.
A.J. Lee vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi: Sure, it was clunky in spots, but it was better than I thought any match could be with four Divas in the ring at one time. The double Sharpshooter was cool and the right woman went over in the end.
WWE Night of Champions Misses
Daniel Bryan wins the WWE Championship: This should have been a big moment. Instead, the live crowd sat there waiting for the other shoe to drop, and most people still assume that it will tonight on Raw. WWE did themselves no favors by putting the title on Bryan briefly at SummerSlam, and doing so again here not only failed to pack a punch, but it hurt my interest in watching Bryan win the strap again in the future. I suspect we're in for a reversal tonight on Raw with Triple H pointing to the fast count. Even if the title change somehow sticks, I can't remember a time when the title changed in a singles match that felt so flat.
Overall show: This was the worst WWE pay-per-view of 2013. WWE had put together a nice run of pay-per-view events this year, but this felt mostly thrown together as it seems like all of the storyline focus is on the Triple H saga, which currently feels like it's doing way more harm than good. Sure, I realize the babyfaces will eventually get their revenge, but I continue to fear that the payoff won't be enough to justify the damage that's been done. As a viewer, I should care about whether Randy Orton or Daniel Bryan come away with the title tonight, but I have only minimal interest.
Triple H promo: Nothing screams a glorified episode of Raw quite like kicking off the pay-per-view with a promo. Hunter never said or did anything heelish. He gave the fans a babyface promise that no one would interfere in the main event and he ended up doing verbal battle with heels Heyman and Axel. Hell, he even started doing the "Are You Ready?" bit. I assume this was all done so we'll all be shocked when he returns to dick mode on Monday. Only no one over the age of ten actually will be surprised by this. By the way, why in the hell would they wait until the pay-per-view started to tell viewers that there would be no interference in the main event?
Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler: As someone who enjoys watching both wrestlers, I was surprised by how throwaway this match felt from the moment the bell rang. The work was solid yet unspectacular. They failed to draw viewers into the match with strong near falls for Ziggler. By the way, could someone in WWE take the time to come up with a name for Ambrose's finishing move?
The Shield vs. The Prime Time Players: A blah match with the now usual Roman Reigns spear finish. The Players gained very little from their tag team turmoil win and they lost something with this loss, as it showed they are just like every other babyface team that was in the turmoil match in that The Shield can and has beaten them all. I really cringed when Titus O'Neil broke out the whistle during a tag title match. It's one thing to get silly in a throwaway match on Raw, but it's hard to take the team seriously when they are clowning around rather than focussing on winning the tag team gold. The Players really need to ask themselves whether they want to be a serious team or an undercard comedy act. The hair pick and whistle scream undercard to me. They seem more concerned with using silly gimmicks than coming up with tag team moves.
The Miz vs. Fandango: I think we all sort of checked out mentally at this point in the evening. The unadvertised match was set up with a ridiculous dance contest on Friday's Smackdown. If Vince McMahon didn't have anything planned beyond the initial dancing bit for Fandango, then can we get to the point where he becomes Johnny Curtis again?
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