Sunday, September 18, 2011

WWE Night of Champions 2011

WWE Night of Champions 2011
September 18th, 2011
First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York
Attendance: Unknown at this time

"It's a Night You Will Never Forget"

Those are WWE's words, not mine. Hot off the heels of Summerslam we've arrived at September's PPV, this year using the Night of Champions theme and concept. So obviously we've got a ton of title matches tonight, but we've also got the return of Triple H to a WWE ring for the first time since his match against the Undertaker back at Wrestlemania this past April, up against the hottest man in the business these days, CM Punk. Doesn't look like a blow-away show or anything, but I'm expecting some solid outings, so let's start the show.

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T

WWE Tag Team Title Match
Air Boom (Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne)
© vs. Awesome Truth (The Miz/R-Truth)

So I guess Miz and Truth have their own little team name as well Truth and Miz proceed to perform a remix of Truth's old theme music, replacing the chorus of "What's Up" with "You suck". Those dastardly fiends! Miz and Kofi start us off with a lock-up and Kofi quickly socks him in the face for a near fall and tags Evan in. Nice double-stomp from the top rope onto Miz by Bourne and already they're going the quick-tag route. They do a bit of Hardy Boyz-esque double team moves until Miz gets a shot in finally and tags Truth in. Truth and Miz both get sent to the floor and both members of Air Boom fly off the top rope with stereo cross-bodies to pop the crowd a bit. Back in the ring the heels go to work on Bourne in their corner, trading quick tags and grinding him into the mat with different rest-holds. Bourne tosses Truth off with a release northern lights suplex but Miz just tags back in and the isolation game continues. They do a very good job of teasing the hot tag to Kofi a few times to build up the crowd's anticipation for it, and when Kofi finally does get it they explode for him as he delivers a springboard forearm to the Miz. Kofi's the proverbial "house of fire" and goes into his usual acrobatic house-cleaning routine, capped off by the Boom Drop and the S.O.S., but Miz kicks out at two! Truth distracts Kofi back on his feet long enough for Miz to sneak up behind him and deliver what I guess could only be described as some sort of stunner/DDT combination where Miz just plants Kofi head-first into the mat from the stunner position, but somehow he still kicks out. Kofi and Bourne pull the old heel trick of slapping their hands together to make the sound of a "tag" without actually tagging behind the ref's back, and Bourne nails Miz with a spinkick. Bourne takes both of the heels out with sick jumping kicks and then he attempts the Air Bourne, but Miz moves and Bourne sees it coming, landing on his feet. Miz gives Bourne a huge implant DDT, but Kofi breaks the tag up this time. The heels tag behind the refs back but this time the ref won't allow it! My god, we've entered wrestling psychology Bizzaro World! (Bizzaro! Bizzaro!) Miz gives Bourne the Skull Crushing Finale but the ref is busy arguing with Truth so it only gets a one count. This pisses Miz off, so he shoves the ref down and the ref disqualifies his team for the cheap finish at 10:02. After the match Truth and Miz take their frustrations out on the poor ref, giving him an epic beatdown. Up until the DQ finish, this was a great opener. Fast paced, lots of solid tag-team wrestling and with a unique twist on one of the biggest cliches of the formula tag match (the fake tags behind the ref's back). Hot match. ***

Backstage Truth and Miz complain about conspiracy theories to Matt Striker and tell off Triple H.

WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes
© vs. Ted DiBiase

God help me I'm actually interested in seeing this match-up. Cody's improved drastically over the last year to one of the best young heels on the roster and even Ted has started to show some life in the last few weeks working this feud with Cody. They start off with some smooth chain-wrestling sequences, trading different counters. DiBiase works an armbar on Cody and then nails him with a dropkick for a two count. Cody counters out of a back suplex and then destroys DiBiase with his leaping knee-strike, which just sounds ungodly stiff. Gourdbuster from Rhodes and he stomps away at Ted on the mat. Both men work some very impressive counter-mat wrestling, but the crowd doesn't seem to give a shit which is unfortunate because these two are actually working really well together here. Cody works an abdominal stretch on Ted for a bit and then tries a wristlock, but Ted fights it off and fires off a clothesline and finally the crowd gives him a bit of cheers for his offense. Sitout spinebuster from Ted, but Cody kicks out. Cody goes for the jumping knee again but Ted sees it coming this time and dropkicks him in the face. Ted launches Cody off the top rope and then rips off Cody's protective mask! Cody rolls him up from behind though and pulls Ted's tights to get the cheap win at 9:48. I really dislike that cliched ending, but the action through-out was really good. The only problem was that the crowd just wasn't into Ted at all so when he started to make his fiery babyface comeback, there was no heat for the finish. Really technically sound match though. **3/4

Christian's music hits all of a sudden and the former champ makes his way out to the ring in street clothes, having not been booked to wrestle on tonight's show. He enters the ring and grabs a mic from ringside and begins to talk about his legendary career in this business before getting to his usual shtick about how he deserves "one more match" for the World Heavyweight title. Christian says that whoever wins the title match between Randy Orton and Mark Henry later on should have to defend the title against him directly afterwards. Christian pulls out the old "Bills suck" shtick for some nuclear heat. Christian actually manages to convince most of the crowd to chant "One more match!" with him despite them booing the hell out of him seconds ago, but no time to dwell on that as Sheamus interrupts Christian moments later.

Sheamus enters the ring and starts spouting off more of his usual cutesy vulgar Irish anecdotes but Christian doesn't back down, continuing to demand one more match. Sheamus says that he'll help Christian get one more title match and win the title if he agrees to let Sheamus be the first person he defends it against. He helps lead the crowd in the "One more match!" chant before turning around and giving Christian the Brogue Kick for a big pop. Sheamus is so very much more interesting as a face.

WWE United States Title Fatal Four-Way Match
Dolph Ziggler
© vs. John Morrison vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley

Now this looks like it could be a lot of fun. Chaos reigns as there are no tag rules in this one, so each heel pairs off with a face to start us off at the opening bell. Swagger eats an STO takedown from Riley for a two count and then tries a pescado to the floor on Ziggler, but Dolph moves and he meets the steel stairs instead. JoMo hits a cool looking dropsault, kicking off Ziggler and moonsaulting onto Swagger for a two count. JoMo is tossed out and Vickie tries to convince Jack and Dolph to work together, but of course that's not happening. Riley nails Swagger with a beautiful TKO, but Vickie puts Jack's foot on the rope to break the count and Riley is dropkicked out of the ring by Ziggler. Ziggler argues with Vickie and JoMo nails him with a springboard knee-strike for a near fall. Ziggler hits the fameasser on JoMo, but again he kicks out. This match winds up falling into the usual pitfall of multi-man matches, with a lot of people laying around on the outside while two guys do a few spots in the ring. Riley jumps to the top rope while Morrison is in the Tree of Woe position, and Morrison gives him a German suplex off the top rope from the tree of woe! That was sick. Swagger follows up with a huge belly-to-belly on Morrison from the top moments later. JoMo starts cleaning house, giving Swagger a sick tilt-a-whirl hurricanrana before kipping back up to his feet and delivering a standing C4 suplex to Riley, who somehow kicks out of it. Morrison goes for Starship Pain, but Riley gets the knees up and Ziggler locks him into the sleeper from behind while Swagger works the ankle lock on Riley. Riley nails Swagger with a huge DDT and the crowd is on fire, thinking for a second that Riley is about to win the title, but Swagger kicks out at two. Swagger rolls through and delivers the ankle lock to Riley again. He ducks a springboard attempt from JoMo and then gives him a devastating gut-wrench powerbomb, but Ziggler tosses Swagger aside and covers Morrison to steal the pin and retain his title at 8:12! Wow this one started off a bit slow and tedious but once it got into a groove, it never stopped escalating and getting hotter and hotter down the stretch towards the finish. Some really creative multi-man spots and an awesome closing makes this match of the night so far, despite it's brevity. Now please, move Dolph up to the main event scene again. ***1/4

Backstage Josh Matthews asks Mark Henry about the rumors that he can't get it done and win the World title tonight and if they're getting to him, so Henry tells him to come out after his match to interview him when he wins the title later. Elsewhere Matt Striker is with a cackling Vickie Guerrero, who is over-pleased with the events of the last match. She claims that finally her talents are being recognized and that she'll make a great future C.O.O. before planting a big smooch on Striker.

Hey! Hell in a Cell is two weeks away! That's plenty of time to build a PPV, that buyrate's not going to plummet at all.

World Heavyweight Title Match
Randy Orton
© vs. Mark Henry

These two work decently together and Henry seems rejuvenated these days so who knows, maybe this won't actually suck. Henry overpowers him to start but Randy is quick to strike back with big kicks and knees. Has anyone ever noticed that Mark Henry looks alot like that girl from the movie Precious? Orton goes for an early RKO but eats a boot to the skull instead. Henry tries for the World's Strongest Slam, but Randy counters into a sleeper-hold. This works only momentarily however as Henry knocks Orton to the floor with a huge forearm and then drives his back into the ring apron. Henry wraps Orton back-first around the ring apron and just stretches him out like a pretzel in a painful-looking spot. Henry hits a big splash on Orton, but the champ kicks out. Henry continues the domination, beating down the champ and taunting the crowd as he does it. Henry tries another splash, but Orton moves this time and lays in closed fists on the big man in the corner. A lariat won't take Henry down so Orton gives him a dropkick instead. Henry blocks the second-rope DDT from Randy and delivers the World's Strongest Slam, but Orton kicks out at two of course. Henry goes for a Vader bomb but Orton gets his feet up and DDT's Henry from his knees. Mark again tries to escape but this time Orton gives him the second-rope DDT, which provides a hell of a visual. Henry plays possum and reels Orton in moments later before taking out Randy's leg from under him. Henry blocks the RKO and gives Orton the World's Strongest Slam and yes, that's enough to end it as Mark Henry finally wins his first world title (to a surprisingly huge pop too) at 13:13. They finally pulled the trigger on Henry, how about that. Good for him. The match itself was better than expected, but still not up to the usual standard that Orton has had all year long. Still, decent little match and a nice moment for Henry and everyone else in this business who had to toil away as a company man for years with nothing to show for it. **1/2

After the match Josh Matthews hits the ring with a mic to congratulate Mark Henry. Henry snatches the mic from him and rubs the title in his face. He tells off the crowd that had just been cheering the hell out of him for winning the title by calling them all doubters and haters and he manages to get his heat back almost instantly. Hell of an intense post-match promo from Henry here, you could tell he was legit fired up from finally achieving his dream.

Backstage John Laurinaitis tells Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez that last Monday was just about doing his job, and that he should focus on his title match. He wishes him good luck as he takes off and then wishes good luck to someone off camera. The camera pans to the side and reveals CM Punk to a roar of cheers. He's not buying Johnny Ace's false good luck wishes though and takes off as Ace is seen typing into his cell phone as we end the segment.

WWE Diva's Title Match
Kelly Kelly
© vs. Beth Phoenix

Kelly is with Eve Torres, and Beth is with Natalya of course. This is Beth's hometown so she gets a big pop, easily the biggest of her career. Lots of Beth Phoenix signs in the crowd too. Kelly tries a side headlock to start but Beth breaks it up with a shoulder-block. Kelly flips out of a hip-toss as a big "Kelly sucks!" chant starts up. As if to disprove the fans she manages to deliver a fantastic lucha libre style twisting hurricanrana off the top rope and covers Beth for a close two count. When the hell did Kelly learn to do THAT? She tries her handstand-headscissors submission briefly and then goes for a cross-body off the top rope, but Beth catches her in mid-air and spanks her to add humiliation to the ass-kicking. Beth chokes Kelly on the bottom rope and then drives her throat-first into the same rope with a catapult. Kelly counters out of a tilt-a-whirl attempt and delivers a big bulldog on Beth to some boos from the crowd. Natalya pulls Beth out for a breather and Eve jumps Natalya. Beth knocks Eve off and returns to the ring, where Kelly tries a few different roll-ups to little success. She back-flips out of the rocker-dropper position (similar to the move X-Pac used for years) but eats a huge lariat from Beth anyways and the crowd is really roaring in approval for Beth now. Beth delivers a huge superplex off the top rope onto Kelly and again the crowd roars. Good god, this is the best diva's match I've seen in years. Beth takes too long to recover from the superplex so she only gets a two count from it though. Kelly counters a Glam-Slam attempt into a sunset flip roll up though and somehow that's enough to get the quick 3 count and for her to retain the title at 6:24. Umm...WHAT?! You go through all of that match making Beth look like the greatest female wrestler to ever live in front of her hometown crowd to roars of cheers, and then you have her lose with a fluke roll-up? I really don't like that finish at all, Beth should have won here. As a match though, this was seriously good stuff for the Diva's, red-hot crowd, some great counter moves, no botches or blemishes and that superplex was crazy for someone as small as Kelly to take. Tack an ending that doesn't suck onto it and this would've been ***+, but instead I'm just going to leave it slightly underneath that. **3/4.

WWE Title Match
Alberto Del Rio
© vs. John Cena

Del Rio has Ricardo re-do his introduction in Spanish of course. Cena enters to a lot of boos and a huge "Cena sucks" chant. Never fear though because Cena wins them back moments later with a somewhat humorous little promo mocking Del Rio's over-the-top entrance. Standard opening match exchanges to start with Del Rio trying to be sneaky and Cena catching him at every corner. Ricardo trips up Cena to a nice pop but he gets thrown out by the ref for it. The usual dueling Cena chants start up as they brawl to the floor, and back inside the ring Del Rio hits an awkward cross-body on Cena before locking on a loose reverse chinlock. He gives Cena a couple of big boots and goes right back to the chinlock. Cena breaks it off and both men clothesline each other simultaneously. Del Rio tries a dropkick but Cena moves and he flies out of the ring through the second rope. Cena gets his second wind though and hits a pair of shoulder-blocks followed by the fallaway slam and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena goes for the AA, but Del Rio counters into a big lung-blower for a two count. Cena avoids the cross-armbar attempt and nails Rio with a dropkick. He goes to the top rope but Del Rio meets him with a running step-up enziguri for another near fall. Del Rio escapes an STFU attempt and delivers a sick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and things are really picking up now. Del Rio gets tossed shoulder-first into the steel ring post and Cena hits him with the big leg-drop off the top rope for another hot near fall.
Del Rio counters the AA into a German suplex, but that won't do it either. Del Rio goes to the top rope and delivers a huge back senton splash onto Cena, but still no three count. Del Rio rolls Cena into the cross-armbar but Cena lifts him up with his sheer power and powerbombs him! Back on his feet Cena delivers the AA to Del Rio, and here comes Ricardo Rodriguez to try and interfere. Cena knocks him off the apron and applies the STFU to Del Rio. Cena wrenches away for a few moments until finally Del Rio taps out to give Cena his 10th WWE title at 17:26. I'm surprised they put the title back on Cena already and off Del Rio after less than a month, but the match itself was great stuff and far better than I had expected it to be. Red-hot stuff while it lasted. ***1/2

No Disqualification Match
Triple H vs. CM Punk

If Hunter loses, he must resign as company C.O.O. This was originally supposed to be Nash facing Punk, but he wasn't cleared in time for the show so they plugged Triple H into the match instead, likely giving us a much better one in the process. Punk jumps Triple H from behind during his trademark water-spitting entrance and we're off with a brawl around ringside to start us off. This seems eerily like the start to the Triple H/Undertaker match at 'Mania this year. Each man teases using their finisher on the other on the announcer's table at ringside but neither man is successful so they hop in the ring for the first time and begin brawling again. Punk goes for the running knee into the corner, but Hunter moves and he flies over the top to the floor outside the ring. Triple H hops out and bashes his leg into the ring post repeatedly. Punk manages to escape and nail him with the running knee on the outside floor anyways, but Hunter just tosses him over the barricade, which falls apart from the damage. Triple H nails him with a double axe handle from the barricade and they fight into the crowd. They brawl through the (probably drunken) crowd and onto the rampway, where Triple H tosses Punk face-first into the sparkling LED setup. Punk goes all Macho Man on Triple H with a double-axe handle of his own off of the LED set-up and then he casually just tosses a few sandbags at him in a funny moment. The fight continues back down the aisle as they head back towards the ring area. Punk pulls out a garbage can and a steel chair from under the ring and just waffles Hunter over the back with it. I'll never get tired of that sickening sound of steel against flesh...that sounded a lot less creepy in my head. Hunter responds with a big spinebuster, but Punk kicks out. Hunter sets the chair up in the corner and beal-tosses Punk into the chair, sending him to the floor. Hunter chop-blocks Punk's leg and the focus on Punk's legs continues. Hunter sets up Punk's leg against the ring-post and then waffles his leg against it with the steel chair. He looks to apply a figure four onto Punk on the floor, but Punk shoves him into the steel steps. Triple H grabs a monitor from ringside and tries to use it, but Punk nails him in the face with a deadly high kick, laying Hunter out on the spanish announcer's table. Punk goes to the top rope and delivers the Macho Man elbow drop to end all elbow drops from the top rope all the way through the table on top of Triple H! Great spot there. They crawl back into the ring when suddenly The Miz and R-Truth run out from the back and hit the ring to attack both men! They beat them down and then get all up in referee Scott Armstrong's face, but he's an Armstrong man and Armstrongs don't back down, as he blocks a sucker-punch from Miz and nails him before Truth jumps him from behind. Suddenly John Laurinaitis makes his way down to the ring just as Punk and Triple H are getting back to their feet, and they clean house on both of the heels. Punk turns around and walks right into the Pedigree from Triple H, but there's no ref. Another ref runs down but Johnny Ace instructs him to revive the original ref instead of just go in the ring and make the count himself. Triple H bitches at Johnny and then turns around right into the GTS from Punk. Ace tosses the ref in to make the count now, but now R-Truth breaks the count up so Punk gives him a devastating GTS on the outside floor. This is mass chaos, and for once that's actually not really a bad thing. Punk springboards back into the ring but he springboards right into the Pedigree from Triple H. One, two, thr-----NO! Yes, they actually let Punk kick out of the Pedigree, and the crowd was so freaking shocked by it they exploded and nearly took the roof off the building. Ace walks off texting suspiciously on his cell again, calling in more reinforcements. And of course, here comes Kevin Nash out from the audience. He hops the rail, enters the ring, and nails both men with right hands. Nash goes to work on Hunter in the corner and goes for the Jackknife, but Punk breaks it up so Nash gives him the Jackknife powerbomb instead, and it's a big one. Nash clears off the remaining standing commentary table to prepare to put Hunter through it, but Triple H nails him from behind with the sledge-hammer. He enters the ring, gives CM Punk a second Pedigree, and that's enough for the win at 24:01. Some people are probably going to hate the overbooking of the finish here, but for once I actually think it kind of benefited the match in it's own way, and it made both men look good without having to take a somewhat-clean pin from the other man. This should set up a rematch down the line with Punk going over I can only presume, but what we got here was great for a main event. Some fun brawling, a crazy elbow drop spot, and a bit of sports entertainment-y goodness all wrapped together makes me forgive this for being slightly overbooked and slow to start. ***3/4

Bottom Line: Coming into this show I expected a few quality matches, a minimum of filler, and overall a solid card somewhere in between "good" and "great", and that's exactly what we got here in my eyes. You've got a hot tag opener, a few solid mid-card matches from unlikely suspects (the Diva's, Rhodes/DiBiase), a somewhat historic title win for Mark Henry, and two very good main event matches to close out the show. Not a show that's going to go down in any "Greatest PPVs Ever" list, but well worth your time I'd say for the most part and a Thumbs Up from me.

Score: 7.0/10


The Crock said...

Great review X, I'm a big fan of the star system... Much more flexible than letter grades. I agree with most of it, but I thought the Henry/Orton encounter was worth a bit of a higher rating, might just be a personal bias though.

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