Night of Champions is here but it is being completely overshadowed by the news that Jim Ross has “resigned” after 20 years with the WWE. In what might be one of the worst kept secrets in a long time, Ross was forced to resign after losing control of a panel for WWE 2K14 due to a drunk Ric Flair taking over. That would only be considered a bit extreme if it wasn’t for 2K Sports absolutely loving how the panel went down and isn’t that the whole point? The truth seems to be that the WWE was looking for any reason to get rid of JR and this was as good as they were going to get. He’s the best pure play by play man they have ever had and between the Bell’s palsy and his already sporadic schedule, retirement doesn’t seem like the worst idea anyway. It did not need to go down this way though. Ross has said that he is not “going away” so the worst nightmare is him going to TNA. I highly doubt that would happen, but either way, good luck in your future endeavors.
Enough of the drama, lets move on to the show which starts off with Triple H because he just can’t help himself. He believes that this will be one of the best nights in WWE history, and has decided that there will be no outside interference in Daniel Bryan’s match against Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. Isn’t there already supposed to be no interference? That’s like the first rule there is. Anyway, apparently Big Show and the Shield and everyone else are not allowed to interfere. Like always. He starts to wrap things up when Paul Heyman comes out looking like garbage with Curtis Axel, begging to be excused from his match with Axel against CM Punk. He kisses Trips ass before stating his one mistake was allowing a middle aged father to be put in a match against a fighter of Punk’s caliber and pleases that the match be cancelled. Since Triple H is only playing an occasional heel, Triple H tells Heyman that there is nothing to worry about since he doesn’t even have to get in the ring. He can just have Curtis Axel beat CM Punk. He then asks Paul if he thinks Curtis can beat Punk. Heyman blows off the question but Axel steps up and says that he has a vendetta against Heyman and Axel ever since Axel beat Triple H in May (due to Triple H being too injured to finish coming a match with Lesnar). Trips reminds Axel of the saying, “don’t poke the bear” and brings up how at Night of Champions all titles are supposed to be defended (something I’ve been curious about with this Punk match all month). With that in mind, Triple H decides that Curtis will defend his Intercontinental Championship against the first person he sees when he walks backstage. “Best for business” count: 4
So Axel’s solo match is first on the card, and Paul Heyman announces that Axel is competing under protest. So who does Triple H find? Who else but Kofi Kingston, who has had Axel’s number for the last couple of weeks. They trade arm holds and chin locks for a while, then exchanging shots in the corner. Kofi starts working Axel’s leg and Curtis sells it hard. It’s now a part of the match and this could play in to the Punk match. Axel hits a dropkick despite the leg injury and takes Kofi outside to hurl him into the steps. Kingston leaps up to the apron, then hits a springboard moonsault onto Axel on the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi gets pushed down from the top rope, falling into the tree of woe where Axel hits a shoulder tackle and Curtis is in full control. Curtis goes for a clothesline but Kofi grabs his arm and flips over to drop down on Axel’s arm and get some momentum going. He hits the boom drop and goes for Trouble in Paradise, but Axel ducks under it and drives Kofi into the corner. Kingston then hits a swinging kick from the apron and goes to the top for a splash, but Axel meets him with a dropkick for a two count. Kingston then goes for SOS but Curtis pushes him into the ropes. Kofi comes back to try TiP but Axel ducks under it again and goes for his hangman’s facebuster (third finisher since coming back), but Kofi counters again and hits the SOS for two and a half. Great sequence that really got the crowd going. Kofi tried to follow up by leaping over Axel in the corner, but Curtis caught him on his shoulders and dropped Kofi onto the top rope, hit the facebuster and won the match. Pretty entertaining match, I’m just not sure why Axel needed two matches on the card.
Backstage, RVD is having Ricardo Rodriguez teach him spanish words related to beating Del Rio and becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. It’s the hokiest thing I’ve ever seen. Meanwhile, Aksana, Alicia Fox and Layla are done being in AJ’s corner after AJ said they are nothing without her or something. I don’t know. I guess it happened on Smackdown. There is just too much to keep track of outside of Raw.
The Divas Championship match is next as AJ defends against Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi in a Fatal Four Way. This is the first time Natalya has been featured in a PPV in ages and I expect her to lead the match. Meanwhile, Brie is dressed like slutty Rainbow Brite (as voted on by the fans!). The Total Divas quickly gang up on AJ and take turns tossing her into the outside wall. Back inside, Brie knees AJ out of the ring and bounces off the ropes to take out Nattie and Naomi. She then kicks out Natalya to go one on one with Naomi, who hits a dropkick and a hurricarrana. Natalya gets back in and is rolled up by AJ for two, and they then start slapping each other until Naomi hits them both with the rear view. Brie then tries to hit Naomi on the top rope but gets booted in the face instead. Naomi then tries a top rope cross body splash on Natalya, but it looked like Natty missed her spot as Naomi falls flat on the mat while Natty just drops down on her own. AJ goes after Naomi on the apron, who drops a shoulder into AJ, then hops over Brie to drop down on her head, only for AJ to pull her down to the floor after trying to slingshot back into the ring at Brie. Naomi really does have some skills. So now it’s Natalya taking over. She power slams Brie, hits a tornado clothesline on Naomi, then power slams Brie on Naomi. Cole and JBL quickly point out that the ref should be counting a pin since Naomi’s shoulders were down, but he doesn’t and Natalya managers to apply the Sharpshooter to both ladies at the same time. I’m sure most people skipped this match but it has some pretty good spots. AJ kicks Natalya to break it up and applies the Black Widow on her with Brie and Naomi still down to retain the Divas Championship. It wasn’t the cleanest match, but it was still pretty good. Natalya looked way to proud of herself for pulling off that Sharpshooter.
World Heavyweight Championship on the line next as Alberto Del Rio defends against Rob Van Dam who, with NoC in Detroit, is performing just a couple of hours from his home town in Battle Creek Michigan. Ricardo announces RVD in english while Lillian Garcia announces ADR in spanish. This just isn’t right. Van Dam starts off fast with a series of kicks followed by a monkey flip and a standing moonsault for a two count, then hitting another standing moonsault off the apron to the outside. With both men on the apron there was a cool spot with each man nearly suplexing the other either into or out of the ring. Each man was planted on each side of the ropes at one point or another before ADR dropped RVD onto the ropes to take control. He hits an enziguri to knock Rob off the apron, Van Dam moves away when Alberto drives to dive at him through the ropes, and the momentum turns again. RVD hits a slingshot leg drop onto the apron, followed by a side kick off the top rope. Del Rio dodges Rolling Thunder however, hitting the back stabber for a two count. Alberto goes for a reverse superplex, but Rob knocks him down and hits a front flip off the top rope for a two count of his own. The two trade blows until Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl back breaker to regain the momentum. He goes for the cross arm breaker but RVD counters with the scissor rollup for two. Alberto comes back with a kick to head. He goes to the top rope for an axe handle smash but RVD counters with a spinning kick to the face. He goes for the five star frog splash but ADR gets his knees up to block it and applies to cross arm-breaker. Van Dam inches his way to the ropes but ADR does not let go of the hold and Del Rio loses via disqualification, meaning Del Rio retains his title. Alberto continues the beat down in the ring, then grabs a chair. Ricardo grabs the chair before he can use it, and Rob hits him with a DDT. Rodriguez then urges Van Dam to hit the Van Terminator and he does! Well, technically Del Rio held the chair out like a shield to help close the distance and protect himself but he still went coast to coast. Del Rio gets medical attention as Van Dam celebrates with the World Heavyweight Championship belt that he didn’t win. Yet another high quality match from Rob Van Dam. Del Rio was pretty good too. This would have been a great time for Sandow to cash in. Oh well.
Backstage, Axel is feeling good after beating Kofi Kingston as Paul Heyman is explaining how critical it is for Axel to allow CM Punk to face Heyman alone in the ring. Axel asks Heyman if he believes in him, but Heyman says that he needs to believe in himself. Not exactly a vote of confidence. Meanwhile, Randy Orton is asking Triple H why he banned outside interference for his match against Daniel Bryan. Trips says it was because he wanted to make sure he picked the right guy to be the face of the WWE.
Fandango out next to take on the Miz. They are wrestling because the Miz beat Fandango, R-Truth and Khali in a dance contest. The crowd doesn’t care about this and neither do I. The go back and forth, doing a few moves and then dancing to mock each other. Nothing of note. It looks like Miz injured his arm or his side pretty badly at some point. He was holding his right side throughout the second half of the match. Miz dodges a top rope leg drop and hit a figure four leglock to win the match via submission. Miz was still holding his ribs after the match and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was legit. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I just got got.
Time for CM Punk to take on Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel in a No DQ elimination tag team handicap match. That seems like a lot of stipulations. Heyman has the appearance of a man walking on death row. Punk adds to that sense by coming down the ramp with a kendo stick yelling “TIME TO DIE!” I’m just trying to get over why Axel needed to have two matches tonight even though the first one was pretty damn good. The match starts with Axel and Punk facing off while both wielding kendo sticks almost like light sabers while Heyman watching from the floor. Punk gets a few shots in on Curtis, then leaps through the ropes at Heyman, puts on JBL’s cowboy hat to tip it to the announcers, then drags Paul into the ring. He asks the crowd what he should do with a thumbs up and thumbs down gesture (of course the fans go with thumbs down) but Axel drops CM with a low blow before any damage can be done. Axel controls the match for about 30 seconds until Punk goes on the offensive again. Punk goes to attack Axel with a chair but Curtis meets him with a dropkick and wedges the chair into the corner. Axel then answers the fans wishes by propping up a table in the ring against the corner. They both take shots at suplexing each other through the table but Axel finally hits a snap suplex away from the table and applies a chin lock. Punk rolled away from a flying elbow, then shoved Axel into the chair in the corer to start his momentum turn. After a swinging neck breaker and a running high knee, Punk went for the flying elbow but Axel rolled out of the ring. CM tried to chase him by diving through the ropes but Curtis clocked him with a chair to stop him cold. Axel hits a running neck breaker and is in full control. Axel goes for the hangman’s facebuster but Punk escapes and tries to hit a GTS, only Curtis escapes that and grabs a kendo stick. Punk blocks it though, hits the GTS and makes Axel tap out with the Anaconda Vice to eliminate him, forcing Heyman into the match. Punk has to chase Heyman around the arena and through the crowd before finally catching him in the ring. Punk grabs a kendo stick as Heyman begs for mercy. Punk has none of it as he beats Paul with the kendo stick and calls for the GTS. He then thinks better of it and pulls handcuffs out of his boot, handcuffing Heyman’s arms behind his back. Punk hits every part of Heyman at least once with the kendo stick before telling Paul he is going to break his face and points the stick at it. Right before Punk can land the final blow, Ryback comes out of nowhere to spear Punk through the table in the corner. He then drags Heyman on top of Punk to give Paul the win via pinfall. This is the only way the match could have really ended, as it is too soon for Heyman/Punk to be over and there is no way anyone will believe Axel can beat Punk. I did not expect Ryback to step in and start a feud with Punk, but he’ll do the job. Punk was obviously furious after losing. Good match. Not great, but acceptable.
United States Championship now on the line as Dean Ambrose defends against DOLPH ZIGGLER. Ziggler earned the title shot on Smackdown after beating Ambrose via DQ. I love Ziggler way too much to want him to win the United States Championship. It will be a huge step back for him and completely take him out of the main event picture (if he isn’t already). If I ever see Jack Swagger I’m going to choke him out with Zeb Colter’s mustache. Ambrose tries to taunt Ziggler by doing his hair taunt so Dolph clocks him with a dropkick and hits him with 10 elbow drops. Ambrose comes back by catches Dolph going for a Lou Thesz press and slamming him down, slowing the pace with a chin lock. Dean keeps Dolph out of it with a superplex, but when he goes to the top rope again, Ziggler runs up to hit a big face buster. Dolph keeps the momentum going with a leaping splash and ten punches in the corner, followed by a jumping clothesline. Ziggler then spins out of a back breaker into a sleeper hold, that Dean breaks up with a back body drop. Ambrose dodges a fame-asser to roll up Dolph and hold the tights for two (show plenty of Dolph ass), but Ziggler quickly follows up by landing the fame-asser for two of his own. Ambrose ducks away from a Ziggler splash to hit his front facing DDT to beat Ziggler completely clean. Decent match.
We go right into the tag team title match, putting Rollins and Reigns against the Prime Time Players, who won the turmoil match to determine the number one contenders during the pre-show, taking out the Real Americans who had taken out the two previous teams. This match starts with Rollins dancing around Titus like Muhammad Ali before getting caught in the air and being tossed around like a rag doll. Seth turns the tide when Darren Young comes in but Young fights off both Rollins and Reigns to reclaim the momentum for the PTPs. Young chases Rollins around the ring toward Reigns, but Darren ducks under Roman, only to be dropped onto the top rope by Rollins, giving the Shield momentum. Young is unable to get to his corner until he pushes Reigns away. Rollins tags himself in and tries to take out Titus, but O’Neil dodges Seth, allowing Young to pancake him and get the hot tag on Titus, who lays out Rollins with a huge shoulder. He goes post to post attacking both members of the Shield, heaving Seth over his head. Rollins answers with a spinning enziguri but O’Neil answers with a big spine buster. O’Neil looked poised to finish the match when Reigns came out of nowhere with a spear (that’s what he does) to win the match for the Shield. Really good tag match. Prime Time Players are stepping up since their push.
Before Randy Orton defends the WWE Championship against Daniel Bryan, I should note that so far, no title has changed hands.
Very little frills before the WWE Championship match starts. Good. They don’t need it. Bryan wrestles Orton to the mat (can you imagine such a thing?) before Orton drops Daniel with a shoulder. Bryan responds with a running knee and starts working the arm. Bryan goes to the second rope but Orton comes back by dropping him down with a back breaker. Randy controls the pace from here, stomping out Bryan and dropping his mid section onto the top rope. Bryan tries to come back with some take downs by Orton keeps Daniel down with the Garvin stomp. Bryan finally starts a comeback with a back flip over Orton into a leaping clothesline, followed up by a missile dropkick and a hurricarrana. Bryan keeps the momentum with a dive through the ropes, then a missile dropkick off the top rope and another dive through the ropes. Bryan tries to go through the ropes one more time by Orton saw it coming and met him with a forearm. Randy then laid him out with a DDT off the apron, and Daniel only made it back in the ring on 9. Orton starts a YES chant and goes for the RKO, but Bryan escapes and pushes Orton into the referee (uh oh). With the ref down, Bryan tries to lock in the YES lock when a second ref gets in the ring. Randy escapes and hits a power slam for a two count. Orton goes for the second rope DDT but Bryan slides out and applies the YES Lock. Orton crawls to the rope and breaks the hold, but starts pummeling him with kicks in the corner. Orton dodges the missile dropkick this time however, and gets a two count on a lazy pin. Orton puts Bryan up for a superplex but Daniel slides away, putting Orton in the tree of woe and hitting the missile dropkick. Bryan then attempts a super german suplex but Orton fights him off. Before Randy can capitalize, Daniel gets right back on him in the corner and goes for a traditional superplex (if there is such a thing). Bryan locks his legs on the turnbuckle and pulls himself up after the move, hitting a flying headbutt for a two count. Orton managed to counter a follow up round house kick with a t-bone suplex. Orton then slid out of a mudslide pin only for Bryan to run back at him with a knee to the face. The referee then had a quick count to give Daniel Bryan the WWE Championship! I completely expected someone to come out and refute the count, but no, the show ends with Daniel Bryan holding the WWE Championship. I’m very surprised that they did this so soon (I thought they had at least another month left to drag this out). A very good match, although not quite as good as their match on Raw when they were both faces.
I feel like that sums up the entire show. Good, but not great. Nobody didn’t deliver, but nobody really killed it. I guess it fits this PPV and Bryan’s whole storyline to call this show a solid B+.