Hits and Misses: WWE Night of Champions 2014
The show must go on.
Just 24 hours before WWE Night of Champions aired on Sunday, September 21 (Monday in the Philippines), Roman Reigns was forced to withdraw from his match against "Mr. Money in the Bank" and former Shield comrade Seth Rollins. Reigns reportedly underwent an emergency hernia operation.
Calling an audible that close to a big show is something World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has grown accustomed to, given the injurious nature of the business.
Rollins was far from resting on Sunday, however, when his "lunatic" rival returned.
Meanwhile, the highly-anticipated WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch between Brock Lesnar and John Cena took a wild turn, when "Mr. Money in the Bank" himself attempted a cash-in.
Here are Ryan Songalia and Joe "The gRappler" Marsalis with their thoughts on WWE Night of Champions.
Gold & Stardust defeated The Usos to win the WWE Tag Team Championship
Ryan: This is what tag team wrestling is all about! There were high spots – Goldust took bigger bumps than he was a decade ago – and there was psychology. Stardust is in full-blown psycho heel mode, setting the table for an epic storyline that will play out in weeks to come. The WWE tag team division – neglected for the past few years – is finally back.
Joe: I was right – it finally happened. The Dust Brothers won their Cosmic Key in the Battle of the Facepaint in a solid match that was enough to wash away the lackluster build-up thus far. This championship match hit the mark. It was a fun opener, and nothing more needs be said.
Sheamus def. Cesaro to retain the United States Championship
Joe: Two words. Show. Stealer. Another prediction I got right. I knew they were going to try and milk the rivalry for all it’s worth, and the straight-up slugfest we saw proved exactly what there was to exploit. There are now two possible ways this can end – either Sheamus puts Cesaro over so that the Swiss Superman can finally move up in the world, or the two keep fighting each other to the point that they develop a mutual respect for each other and team up like what King and Marduk did at the end of Tekken 4.
Also, I’d just like to note that had Reigns not been injured, we wouldn’t be getting the minutes we got for these undercard matches. Sorry not sorry, but Reigns’s hernia was the best thing that happened to this PPV.
Ryan: They got everything right... but the finish. Maybe I’m just a bitter mark, but Cesaro had to go over. I loved everything else about the match – perfect styles clash of tough-guy, blue-collar brawlers. Cesaro did everything he had to in order to make Sheamus not look clumsy. This may be the best match Sheamus has been in since he was the King of the Ring in 2010.
I’d be open to this rivalry continuing. It makes for great mid-card brawling, and the crowd was certainly into it. I may be asking a bit much to have Sheamus inject something interesting on the mic to enhance the feud, but this is something that can grow.
The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler to win the Intercontinental Championship
Joe: I’ll be honest with you, I’m not even bummed about this result at all. Like the Sheamus-Cesaro feud, they realized that they had a winner with this rivalry, and now they’ll be extending it to at least one more PPV. It’s the fact that all 4 men (yes, all 4 of them) have been playing their roles to perfection that I’m not too sad about Miz taking back the white belt. Hopefully, they take off the kid gloves as the feud nears its climax, and ramp up the intensity to Sheamus-Cesaro levels at the blow-off match.
Ryan: Well, there aren’t many times where you get to see a title match where the finish involves exposing their opponent’s ass, but this was one of them. Now, I’m a bit fatigued from this rivalry, but I give both guys much respect for putting on another great match.
I loved the shot where they showed Ziggler’s face screaming in agony from the Figure Four leg lock. Reminded me of the Bret Hart-Stone Cold submission match from Wrestlemania 13. Great that Damian Sandow is once again relevant, but R-Truth still needs to put some damn pants on.
Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns via forfeit... But wait, Dean Ambrose returns!
Ryan: Even though Ambrose snubbed me for a photo in Japan a few months back, I’m still the biggest Ambrose mark alive. I think his return was well-executed and couldn’t come at a better time. With Reigns gone, they needed someone to keep that Shield angle going. Ambrose vs Rollins is the future Stone Cold vs The Rock feud.
Joe: DEAN AMBROSE IS SO SUCCESSFUL NOW, HE CAN AFFORD TO BUY SOME NEW CLOTHES! (He forgot to pay the cab driver, though.)
Seriously speaking, given Reigns’s sidelining and what happened in the main event, I have a feeling that we’ll detour from Stone Cold vs The Rock 2014 into Stone Cold vs Vince McMahon 2014. Going by the fun little return segment, Triple H might be getting more than a bit tired of Ambrose’s persistence, and will personally try and squash the little cockroach.
Rusev def. Mark Henry via submission
Ryan: There’s no way WWE was going to allow an older, barely-used talent go over on their best mid-card heel. Mark Henry did his part, got the crowd excited enough by making Rusev look vulnerable before ultimately succumbing.
Rusev has improved significantly in recent months. He’s big enough to be considered a giant, while agile and quick enough to put on entertaining matches. I love his standing side kick. Reminds me of Yokozuna and Rikishi. What’s with his Camel Clutch finish though? Are they trying to make him a Russian and an Arabic heel all rolled into one?
I still hope it’s a babyface Cesaro that puts Rusev away.
Joe: Totally agreed on all points, but with one other thing – his match wasn’t as hot as the ones he had with Swagger, which were very much nuclear. I’d like to think that it was because Henry is a player who works a slower, more dramatic game, and Rusev was filling in the wrong role as the smaller, quicker wrestler. That’s a part ideally played by the face, and sort of derails the momentum they’ve been building up for Rusev as the powerful, dominant heel. It worked better with Swagger as both of them were pretty mobile power wrestlers.
Meanwhile, I’m still not sure who should topple Rusev yet. I feel like it should be Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, or Fergal Devitt.
Randy Orton def. Chris Jericho
Joe: Looking at the bigger picture, this match is totally inconsequential, but the paradoxical thing is that Orton really needed that win. The Viper’s been treading water since Evolution broke up, being seen as a second- or even third-string plan for the Authority, and he really needed something to bolster his profile back to where it was before Wrestlemania. (Okay, granted, it’s not there yet, but it’s better than it was before last night.)
And in another unfortunate little twist, Jericho had a better short-lived feud with Orton than he did with Bray Wyatt. Who do we blame for that? Do we blame Jericho for failing to live up to his potential and not putting together a good program with Wyatt? Do we blame Wyatt for just flying too high above everyone’s heads? Or do we blame Orton for just being too basic?
Anyway, the bout was completely predictable, but predictable doesn’t always mean terrible. Solid outing from the two veterans.
Ryan: Y2-Job has done it again. When duty called, Jericho rose to the occasion and lost spectacularly to a heel in desperate need of some heat. My bitterness and resentment comes from the fact that I’ve been a huge Jerichoholic since he was walking around Nitro with Ralphus claiming phantom wins over Goldberg.
I feel that Jericho is too good to be turned into a jobber for the stars, but I’d rather have him putting on great matches in defeat than not being around at all. Also loved the pre-show when he and Christian bantered back and forth about their totally-awesome tag team from a decade ago. Those were the days, when the two most must-see heels were putting on great matches and great segments every week. Sigh.
Anyways, I’ve given up on Randy Orton. He’s a personality vacuum, but he can still work like a champ.
AJ Lee def. Paige and Nikki Bella to win the Divas Championship
Ryan: Pretty good match considering how poorly this could’ve gone. Nikki Bella is an exceptional worker; she took some awesome bumps. I don’t know about putting the belt on AJ, though. I feel she doesn’t need it as much as Paige does. AJ has really gotten that Black Widow finish over.
Joe: For those who might have forgotten in the fog of the Bella vs Bella storyline, this match pretty much served as Nikki’s coming-out party with respect to how far she’s come along in the ring. The AJ win does seem to be a setup for the eventual Nikki victory, because it would be less awkward to win it from AJ than from Paige. They’re expertly and subtly moving the pieces toward a bigger Bella vs Bella payoff, and away from the slightly overexposed Paige-AJ feud, giving it some time to breathe. That’ll be a gamble, but we’ll cross the bridge when we get there.
And one last thing: how is it that Paige and AJ’s best match with each other is in a triple threat?
John Cena def. Brock Lesnar via DQ; Lesnar retained the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Ryan: I understand why so many fans were turned off by this finish, but understand this: It had to be done. John Cena had done the job the last time, and he had to save face. What good is a Superman who has a villain he can’t compete with? In the end, Cena’s stock remained marketable, Seth Rollins got heat on him, and Lesnar still has the belts to pass on to a babyface.
What I loved about Rollins’ introduction to the match is that he was cashing in on a fellow heel. Since the company has gone PG, heels vs heels almost never happen, unless one of them is planning to turn. This was Stone Cold-esque, in that it didn’t matter who had the belt: he simply wanted it.
Brock being in the STF for that long without tapping put him over and made him look like a monster. There’s a reason why he gets paid so much to work so few dates: because he’s the best at what he does.
Now, who will the part-timer Lesnar drop the straps to? If Reigns is indeed out for a significant amount of time, will Daniel Bryan be cleared to return soon enough to make it happen? If so, it would make my year. YES! YES! YES!
Joe: Let me be perfectly clear: I LOVED THIS MAIN EVENT. I LOVED IT ALL, FROM THE OPENING BELL TO ROLLINS’S FAILED CASH-IN.
The body of the match itself was already 100% better than their SummerSlam bout, because it was – wait for it – an honest-to-goodness competitive match. I said Cena wouldn’t be dumb enough to come in unprepared the second time around, and the heated firefight made for a much more entertaining showing from both men.
Lesnar never looked weak, with all the STFs he endured and AAs he kicked out of. Meanwhile, Cena finally looked like the 16-time champion he didn’t look like last month.
And the most important takeaway from the botched cash-in is that a new star was elevated in a time of drought. Rollins wasn’t content with the sloppy seconds of whoever won the match. He knew he had to make a big statement, and that already separates him from the rest of the pack of former Money in the Bank winners.
Plus, the truth is we can’t go on in an environment of only Cena and Lesnar and the occasional Orton while Bryan and Reigns (and Punk) are gone. The WWE needed to do something drastic to jumpstart new growth, and this was the best way to do it.
In a single stroke, the company orchestrated three different happenings:
- Cena and Lesnar now have a perfectly good reason to try and cripple each other one more time inside the Cell next month.
- Seth Rollins is now wearing real big-boy shoes and will be trying to prove himself in the coming weeks.
- Dean Ambrose is now open to a feud with either Triple H or Randy Orton that will no doubt elevate him as well.
So many exciting opportunities unfurling in the bigger picture… and people choose to focus on the fact that the title match ended in a DQ. – Rappler.com