411’s Instant Access 09.15.13: WWE Night of Champions 2013
Posted by Scott Slimmer on 09.16.2013
Yes! Yes! Yes! (Or, depending on what happens on Raw tomorrow, maybe not.) Scott Slimmer and Michael Benjamin break down all of the action from Night of Champions.
Hey kids, I'm Scott, and this is 411's Instant Access: WWE Night of Champions 2013. Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to one TWO writers' thoughts on the show. Here's the team for Night of Champions:
Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let's get to the wrestling.
Kick-Off Show Match Tag Team Turmoil Number One Contenders Match The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos vs. Tons of Funk vs. The Real Americans vs. 3MB
Match Result: Darren Young defeats Jack Swagger with the Gut Check. Match Length: 11:14 Match Analysis: Slimmer: The Kick-Off Show matches have been getting better every month, and this Tag Team Turmoil Match definitely continued that trend. In addition to having strong in-ring action on the Kick-Off Show, I love the idea of having the result of the Kick-Off Show match have direct implications on the main card. The Tag Team Turmoil format meant that no two teams would get a lot of time to develop a real in-ring story, but Swagger's dominance did provide something of a cohesive narrative to the match. Darren Young's recent press made the Prime Time Players the safe bet to win the match, but they really have earned their place on the main card. Benjamin: his was a great way to get the crowd pumped and ready for a night of wrestling. The spots were fast and furious and it never felt like any of the teams stuck around past their welcome. An advantage to working a tag team turmoil match is that the crowd is already expecting fluke wins and quick matches. In turn, they bite for the false finishes easily and create a great atmosphere. The Prime Time Players went over as expected, earning themselves a tag team title shot against The Shield later in the night. The crowd liked that decision and so did I. All in all, this was better than I expected it to be. Match Rating: Slimmer: **½ Benjamin: **½ Average Match Rating: **½
Intercontinental Championship Match Curtis Axel (Champion) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Kofi Kingston
Match Result: Curtis Axel defeats Kofi Kingston with the Hangman's Neckbreaker. Match Length: 13:56 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I'm normally not a big fan of impromptu matches on PPV (as I may mention… repeatedly… during my comments on Miz vs. Fandango), but as well all know, there are exceptions to every rule. This match made a lot of sense in several different ways. First, it meant that all of the championships in WWE really would be defended on the show, and second, having Curtis Axel wrestle Kofi Kingston in the first match on the main card would play nicely into the psychology of the Punk / Axel / Heyman match later in the evening. In fact, having Triple H make this match even makes his character more interesting. Boring, clichéd heel authority figures have a tendency to always persecute the faces and support the heels, but Triple H has shown that he'll screw over faces and heels. Sometimes he'll make decisions that the fans hate (e.g., every time he screws over Daniel Bryan), but sometimes he'll make decisions that the fans love (e.g., putting Paul Heyman's life in danger). That kind of depth and ambiguity could be the key to making the Corporation 2.0 angle successful. The match itself was quite good, and I actually thought Kingston might get the win. Of course, that's when I also thought that Punk was going to destroy both Axel and Heyman, so I thought it would make sense for Axel to drop the belt and completely implode Team Heyman. Given the result of the Punk / Axel / Heyman match, it does make sense for Axel to retain the belt against Kingston. However, given the fact that CM Punk will seemingly be focused on Ryback going forward, that means Axel will need a challenger for a proper Intercontinental Championship Feud. He's been having pretty darn good matches with Kingston, so I'd be happy to see this feud continue for another month. Benjamin: Did it really have to take them 15 minutes to get us there? Anyways, the match was pretty good. They had a good amount of time and delivered the solid match you'd expect. The announcers did a fine job putting over the fact that Axel needed to get the match over fast before expelling too much energy for Punk later in the night. Axel retained after hitting a really brutal looking version of his finish that I quite enjoyed. Match Rating: Slimmer: *** Benjamin: *** Average Match Rating: ***
Fatal 4-Way Divas Championship Match AJ Lee (Champion) vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi
Match Result: AJ Lee defeats Natalya with the Black Widow. Match Length: 5:40 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I know I'm usually pretty tough on the Divas matches, but I actually didn't mind this one at all. In fact, I sort of enjoyed it. Having four Divas in the ring allowed them to have a spot-based match that hid most of their weaknesses. This approach definitely helped Brie and Naomi look better than I've seen them in quite some time. Yes, there were a few botches, but overall I enjoyed this match much more than most of the recent one-on-one Divas PPV matches. Benjamin: Creative needs to stop trying to dictate who we cheer for so much. I understand that story arcs need to be built ahead of time but the road agents should have predicted that nobody wanted to see the Total Divas gang up on AJ and work a good portion of the match as a triple threat. Add in the fact that there was a double sharp shooter spot that was so ridiculous the announcers were taking a huge piss on it, I can't recommend a damn thing about this one. Bad match. Good winner. Moving on. Match Rating: Slimmer: *½ Benjamin: ¼* Average Match Rating: *
World Heavyweight Championship Match Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez
Match Result: Rob Van Dam defeats Alberto Del Rio via disqualification. Match Length: 13:07 Match Analysis: Slimmer: For those of you who used to read my reviews back when Shawn Michaels was wrestling, you'll remember me admitting that sometimes I just couldn't be objective when reviewing his matches. HBK is my favorite wrestler of all time, and that automatically added at least a star to every match rating I gave him. I have a similar soft spot in my heart for Rob Van Dam, and so once again I'm not sure that I can be objective when reviewing this match. I really enjoyed this match, but was it because it truly was an enjoyable match? Or was it just the thrill of seeing RVD in a title match again? Or was it the change of pace that came from seeing Del Rio defend against a fresh challenger? And at the end of the day, does any of that matter? Should it matter why we enjoy a match, or should it simply matter that we do? These are questions for another time and place, but suffice it to say that this match made me happy. Given Del Rio's underhanded tactics at the end of the match, look for this feud to continue for at least another month (and, in fact, until any other even halfway credible face shows up on Smackdown). Benjamin: This was pretty good match. The crowd was in and out of it throughout. It's a typical problem with ADR matches. He just can't get the heat he needs to be getting when he's in control. They played off of their Smackdown match a couple of times in clever ways that, to my pleasure, the announcers did mention. The ending was bullshit in my opinion. RVD doesn't need the protection and I don't want to see a rematch very much either. That momentarily deflated the crowd until they let RVD get his heat back after the match with the coast to coast. Good in ring action that delivered a bit below my expectations going in. Match Rating: Slimmer: ***½ Benjamin: ***¼ Average Match Rating: ***½
Impromptu Match The Miz vs. Fandango w/ Summer Rae
Match Result: The Miz defeats Fandango with the Figure Four Leg Lock. Match Length: 7:49 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I mentioned earlier that I'm normally not a big fan of impromptu matches on PPV. THIS IS WHY. This Miz / Fandango feud has been lackluster at best, and the last thing it needed was a PPV match. This time could have been used in several better ways, and the match really iced the crowd heading into Punk / Axel / Heyman. I actually enjoy the Miz and Fandango under the right circumstances, but this half-hearted feud has been abysmal. Let's hope this is the last we see of it. Benjamin: The crowd entertained themselves in between complete silence. The announcers entertained themselves in between calling the (lack of) action. Fandango and Miz worked a pretty boring and heatless match. It felt like they were going through the motions. Cole and JBL were more entertaining than the match at hand so I actually didn't mind their banter. So much wasted time on this show already. Match Rating: Slimmer: *½ Benjamin: *½ Average Match Rating: *½
No Disqualification Handicap Elimination Match CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman
Match Result: Paul Heyman defeats CM Punk after Ryback drives Punk through a table. Match Length: 15:22 Match Analysis: Slimmer: WWE has gotten themselves into a strange situation in which they have a definite lack of top-tier faces (especially with Cena and Sheamus on the shelf), and yet they still have to find creative ways to keep one of their top two stars away from the WWE Title scene. When the World Heavyweight Championship was more prestigious that it is today (think about the heyday of Edge and Batista's runs), then it would have made perfect sense for Punk to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship while Daniel Bryan chases the WWE Championship. Unfortunately, at this point the World Heavyweight Championship would be seen as something of a step backward for Punk, and so he has to be occupied in other ways. Punk's gone about as far as he can with Axel, because actually having Punk challenge for the Intercontinental Championship would also be a step backward for him. That means someone else had to be inserted into the ongoing Punk / Heyman storyline, and tonight we found out that someone was Ryback. Ryback makes sense as the guy that Heyman would pick to watch his back while Brock Lesnar is away, but let's not forget that Ryback and Punk have history as well. Last year we saw a face Ryback feuding with a heel Punk and Heyman, so having a face Punk feud with a heel Ryback and Heyman could be quite interesting. Punk and Ryback never had a great match during their last feud, but that was due in large part to Ryback working as a face and Punk working as a heel. With the smaller Punk playing the courageous hero against Ryback's villainous beast, they have a much more classic story structure to work with this time around. We'll probably see Punk vs. Ryback at Battleground in three weeks, and I'm definitely looking forward to it. Benjamin: Punk and Axel delivered a solid enough No DQ effort to start things out. I'm always down for a kendo stick duel. Axel didn't show any fatigue after wrestling Kofi earlier in the night. I'd say that it was good by Axel's standards but well below CM Punk's usual PPV efforts. Once Axel was out of the picture, the Punk/Heyman chase and beating went down. Punk had some fun with him and eventually beat him with a chain in his boot. It's kind of weird that he didn't go for the chain to help himself out with Axel but that's a minor quibble. This is where the booking problems come in for me though. If Heyman hired Ryback and aligned himself with him, why didn't Ryback hit the scene immediately to protect Heyman? Anyways, I do wonder if we'll be getting an eventual face turn from Axel. Paul Heyman's lack of faith in him could easily progress into Axel wanting to prove himself on his own. TLDR: It was a pretty good No DQ match with an ending that deflated the crowd. That's something that we didn't need after RVD and ADR's finish. Match Rating: Slimmer: ***½ Benjamin: ***¼ Average Match Rating: ***½
United States Championship Match Dean Ambrose (Champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler
Match Result: Dean Ambrose defeats Dolph Ziggler with the Headlock Driver. Match Length: 9:37 Match Analysis: Slimmer: Ambrose and Ziggler are both talented stars on the rise, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that they put on a fun match. They didn't blow the roof off the place, but that was at least partly due to not getting as much time as they really needed (coughthanksmizcough). Ambrose continues to look strong, and his "slightly off" character will be a ton of fun when he eventually gets to start having proper singles feuds. I'm not sure there's a lot of life left in the Ambrose / Ziggler feud, so my guess would be that Ambrose will get a next challenger fairly soon. Benjamin: The douchebags who are chanting "we want tables" during every match are finally starting to get to me at this point. The crowd was on their hands for the early portion of the match but came alive when Ziggler hit a top rope facebuster that looked absolutely devastating. They wrestled a decent match after that with an out of nowhere finish for Ambrose. Again, and this is a theme for the night I feel, the match was solid but the lack of heat hurt it, as did the fact that beyond a couple of spots, it really did feel like they were going through the motions. Match Rating: Slimmer: *** Benjamin: **¼ Average Match Rating: **¾
WWE Tag Team Championship Match The Shield vs. The Prime Time Players
Match Result: Seth Rollins defeats Titus O'Neil after a spear from Roman Reigns. Match Length: 6:59 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I'm a big fan of the Usos, but I understand why it made sense to let the Prime Time Players have the match on the main card tonight. They'll be tag team champions sooner or later, and they can definitely put on entertaining matches. The problem with this match against the Shield is that I never really felt the Shield's titles were in jeopardy. The Shield have been so dominant for so long that it won't make sense for them to simply drop the belts to a team like the Prime Time Players or the Usos. They'll either need to drop the belts to a super team like Big Show & Mark Henry, or they'll need to lose the belts due to internal tension. The Shield will need to disband at some point so that Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns can stand on their own, and the story of how the Shield does eventually break up could be a great way for them to finally drop the belts. However, that being said, they work very well as the hired muscle of the Corporation 2.0, so my gut says that they'll stay together for the foreseeable future. Benjamin: These four men were dealt the same lukewarm crowd that the other matches suffered through. They worked their asses off and ultimately won them over by the end though. A few of the false finishes were pretty superbly done. Reigns is the master of breaking up a pinfall at 2.9. Titus O'Neil is growing by leaps and bounds as a perform as well. I didn't think he'd get past his green awkward phase, but he's really becoming a fluid performer. This match is a perfect example of working the proven tag team formula to deliver a good match. Match Rating: Slimmer: **¾ Benjamin: **¾ Average Match Rating: **¾
WWE Championship Match Randy Orton (Champion) vs. Daniel Bryan
Match Result: Daniel Bryan defeats Randy Orton with a running knee to the face. Match Length: 17:38 Match Analysis: Slimmer: Daniel Bryan put on the kind of high-quality match that we've come to expect from him, but let's not overlook how well Randy Orton performed in this match. When you've spent your career wrestling John Cena, Batista, and Edge, adapting to a guy like Bryan can definitely be a challenge. Orton did a great job of working the kind of match that highlights Bryan's strengths, and he definitely deserves his fair share of the credit for the quality of the match. The real story coming out of this match is that the referee's three count at the end of the match definitely seemed to be fast. That may have been a legitimate mistake by Scott Armstrong, but he's way too experienced for that to seem very likely. No, my guess is that it was part of the story. One possibility is that he was still groggy from having been knocked out earlier in the match. That would allow Triple H to claim that the three count was invalid and return the belt back to Orton, thus continuing to torment Bryan. However, what might be even more interesting is if Triple H had spoken with Armstrong before the match and forced him to make sure that Bryan won. As I mentioned earlier, Triple H has shown that he's willing to screw over both faces and heels. Did he want to make sure that Randy Orton didn't think he was above the law? Or did he think he'd have more opportunities to ruin Daniel Bryan's life once Bryan actually was the champion? With the way that Triple H has been running WWE, it would make sense for him to put specific demands on Bryan in order for him to continue to hold the belt (corporate makeover, frequent title defenses, etc.). We'll find out more on Raw for sure, but this is definitely an interesting twist in the story. Benjamin: This was a really good match. These two had proven chemistry so I had no doubt that they'd deliver the goods. The pacing and execution was off the charts. The false finishes at the end had the crowd erupting. There was good psychology throughout the match as well. I also want to note that Randy Orton did a really good job of selling his arm throughout the match. While I'm on Orton, I'd like to mention that the fisherman suplex counter to Daniel Bryan's big kick was a really cool reversal. Going into the show, I would have picked Orton to win every time. I was beginning to give D-Bry a bit of a chance by time the match started due to the show being so heel victory heavy. This story is going to progress a little faster than we anticipated but it's not bad because it's wrong. I'm excited to see how Triple H and Randy Orton ruin Bryan's life now that he's champion. Match Rating: Slimmer: **** Benjamin: ***¾ Average Match Rating: ****
Match of the Night: Slimmer: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (****)
The finish may be been a bit screwy, but everything up to that point was solid. This wasn't a MOTY contender, but it was definitely MOTN on a somewhat lackluster card. Benjamin: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (***¾)
Good stuff all around from these two vets. They delivered nothing short of what was expected of them and gave us a great feel good moment to close the show. I wasn't convinced that D-Bry was walking out with the championship until I saw the logo pop up to close the show. I'll be rewatching this one quite a few times.
Trash of the Night: Slimmer: The Miz vs. Fandango (*½)
If you're going to have an impromptu PPV match, you darn well better make it worth taking time away from matches that we actually paid to see. Unfortunately, that definitely wasn't the case with this match. The only saving grace here is that the match was so forgettable that I probably won't even remember it in the morning. Benjamin: The completely unnecessary opening promo that wasted 15 minutes and felt like I was watching Raw. It would have taken two quick backstage segments to accomplish what this did. Not a very wise use of PPV time in my opinion.
Final Analysis: Slimmer: This was a decent but definitely unspectacular show. Bryan / Orton was the only match that really delivered, but all of the other advertised matches were at least passable. Overall, the show wasn't as strong as Money in the Bank of SummerSlam, but it's far from the worst show that WWE's put on in the last few years. I'm not sure it was worth $44.99, but at least I don't feel completely robbed. Benjamin: This wasn't an amazing show by any means. I feel like I've thrown around the word "solid" quite a bit tonight. I think that's a pretty good word to describe a majority of the card. There was quite a bit of filler throughout the night that outweighed the good stuff in my opinion. I can't say that this was a huge letdown though, as I didn't have very high expectations going into it. Luckily, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan closed the show on a high note with a great match and the face walking away the victor.
Verdict: Slimmer: **¾ Benjamin: **½ Average Match Rating: **¾