Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top Ten Thursday: Night of Champions Matches

Recently, I reviewed all of the Night of Champions Pay-Per-Views and they will all be posted on this blog. A bit of a spoiler here though as I will be listing the top ten matches from that show's history, so you'll see some match ratings that I've yet to post here. The qualifications are simple; just be a match that happened on a Night of Champions Pay-Per-View. I am also not counting Vengeance: Night of Champions since it falls under the Vengeance history. Honorable Mention goes to Michelle McCool vs. Melina from Night of Champions 2009. The best women's match in the show's history. This will be short recaps while the actual reviews will be posted soon.

10. WWE Tag Team Championship: AirBoom (c) vs. Awesome Truth

The opener to the 2011 Night of Champions was for the WWE Tag Team Titles and it was a good one. R-Truth and The Miz were hot as a team with awesome, pun intended, chemistry, and AirBoom was one of my favorite thrown together tag teams. The crowd was hot for this and it had a unique twist on the usual tag formula and I appreciated that. AirBoom retained when Awesome Truth got disqualified, which played perfectly into their conspiracy theory angle. This was hot, helped advance a story and had good wrestling. That's all you can ask for. ***1/2

9. World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (c) vs. Batista

Following the 2008 Draft Lottery, Raw had no World Champion. Edge, the reigning World Heavyweight Champion, was on Smackdown and Triple H and the WWE Championship was drafted over to Smackdown with him. This show was Raw's last chance to get a title back as both Batista and John Cena had title shots. We'll touch on Cena's later but this was fun. Edge and Batista always had good chemistry and the overbooking worked here. Edge needed help from Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, Vickie Guerrero and Chavo, so Batista stayed strong even in defeat. After laying him out with the World Title, Edge pinned Batista for the three to retain. ***1/2

8. WWE Intercontinental Championship: Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler

I got a kick out of the "Hi, I'm Dolph Ziggler" stuff from the early stages of Dolph's career, but I never thought he'd be someone I could take seriously. That all changed during this Intercontinental Title feud with Rey Mysterio. Both guys put on one of the best matches on the card of the 2009 show, nearly stealing the show. I didn't expect Dolph to get a near 15 minute Pay-Per-View at this point in career but he did. Rey Mysterio retained with the 619 and they would best this performance a month later at SummerSlam. Also, Maria accompanied Dolph to the ring, which is always a good sight. ***3/4

7. WWE Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Edge vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Wade Barrett

With the red hot debut of the Nexus, Raw had a crowded main event picture in 2010 as Wade Barrett joined the fray. The WWE decided that a Six Pack Challenge would be the way to go. Chris Jericho was eliminated in the first few minutes and would leave the WWE until 2012. Wade Barrett earned his first pin on John Cena thanks to help from the Nexus, which was pretty cool. The final two superstars were the Champion, Sheamus, and Randy Orton. Orton was in the midst of his face turn, which featured a stale character but a great in ring worker and he won with an RKO to win the title. Fun match. ***3/4

6. WWE Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

At SummerSlam 2013, the month before, Daniel Bryan did the unthinkable and cleanly beat John Cena for the WWE Title. Triple H would then Pedigree Bryan, allowing Randy Orton to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase. This would kickstart the Bryan vs. Authority storyline, that had a lot of bumps, but ended the way it should have. However, these two would have their first of three straight Pay-Per-View main events here and they delivered. We got a back and forth match and Bryan continued to look like an absolute star. I expected a DQ finish or something like that, but instead, Bryan won in about 17 minutes. The decision was changed the following night, but the match was still a barn burner. ***3/4

5. WWE United States Championship: The Miz (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

During the inagural season of NXT, Daniel Bryan was given The Miz as his pro in a pairing that everyone was intrigued by because everyone knew that Bryan was light years ahead of Miz as a worker. Miz impressed me greatly during his upper mid card run from 2009-2011 and this was his best match ever. Miz played a great villain and he worked Bryan's arm wonderfully. I saw Miz do some things that I remember Nigel McGuinness did in his classics with Bryan that I appreciated. The arm work, the spots, the crowd, the interference from Alex Riley and everything else about this match was great. Bryan overcame his former pro with the LeBelle Lock after 12 minutes. ***3/4

4. World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio

The 2012 Night of Champions was the best in the show's history and this match is one of the reasons why. Sheamus was in the middle of a very good run as World Heavyweight Champion. During that run he had some good matches with Alberto Del Rio, but nothing would top this encounter. Everything came together beautifully here as this has to be top five in the career of both men. Del Rio worked the arm and Sheamus sold like a champ. After losing to John Cena and looking weak the year before, Del Rio looked great in defeat here. An awesome 14 minutes that you should give a look at for sure. ****

3. World Heavyweight Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. Jeff Hardy

After cashing in his second Money in the Bank briefcase on June 7th, 2009, CM Punk became an interesting character. He started to slowly turn heel during a feud with Jeff Hardy that produced good matches. They wrestled for three straight Pay-Per-Views with each match being better than the last and this was the second in that series. They got the main event spot on this show and made the best of it by having the best match of the night and the fans got sent home happy as Hardy captured the gold in about 15 minutes. Much like Mysterio/Ziggler, they would best this a month later at SummerSlam. ****

2. WWE Championship: Triple H (c) vs. John Cena

As stated earlier, Raw had two chances to bring a title back home in 2008, and after Batista failed earlier in the night, a lot of people expected John Cena to win in the main event. The build was great as they went back to their WrestleMania 22 match from two years eariler. Triple H was out for redemption after tapping out to Cena on the grandest stage of them all. This was a great sequel as we got a lot of false finishes and counters of finishers. This is a clean loss that Cena has under his belt that I always forget about as Triple H pinned him following a Pedigree in 19 minutes. ****

1. WWE Championship: CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena

Being a huge CM Punk fan, I loved that he had a long run as WWE Champion, but hated that he took a backseat to John Cena. They would meet in a Triple Threat match involving Big Show at SummerSlam, but their build to Night of Champions was excellent. Punk added Paul Heyman and Cena took some jabs. He was wrong about Punk "only keeping the belt by any means necessary", but was spot on about Punk not wanting change, just wanting to be in the top spot. What followed was the best 27 minutes in the history of this Pay-Per-View as we got so many near falls I couldn't keep track. I did think that the finisher kick outs were a tad overdone and the draw finish hurt the score. However, Punk in Yankee pinstripes in Boston was cool and the match was still great. ****1/4 

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