Monday, September 29, 2014

WWE Network Reviews: Night of Champions 2012

Night of Champions 2012
September 16th, 2012 – TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts – Attendance: 14,886

At the 2011 version of this show, I questioned the decision to have CM Punk lose to Triple H. The WWE made up for it at the Survivor Series when Punk dethroned Alberto Del Rio to win the WWE Championship and would go on to have the longest reign with that belt in the modern era. That reign faced it's toughest challenge to date on this show as he would face the man he originally beat for the belt at the previous year's Money in the Bank, John Cena. That match was in Punk's hometown of Chicago and this would be in Cena's hometown of Boston. The only other thing from this card that I remember off the top of my head is that I enjoyed Sheamus' World Title defense against Alberto Del Rio and look forward to seeing it again.

The video package shows all of the belts and former holders before focusing on CM Punk's quest for respect. I always hated how they had guys like Bret Hart tell him that he needed to earn the respect. Like, had he not? Or John Cena saying that he's only kept the belt “by any means necessary” which was untrue for the entire first half of his run. CM Punk was honestly right in everything he said during his heel run. Michael Cole informs everyone that Jerry Lawler is improving after his heart attack during Raw the previous week. His replacement for the show is John “Bradshaw” Layfield, who gets a big pop from the fans. I miss when JBL was good on commentary instead of how he's useless now.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Fatal Four Way Match
The Miz (c) vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara

The Miz cuts a pre-match promo about how unfair this is, but gets cut off by Rey Mysterio's entrance. This starts basically as a tag team match with Miz and Cody Rhodes against Sin Cara and Mysterio. The Luchadors get in control early but then Miz and Cody try to work over Sin Cara. He botches a part of his comeback before arm dragging Mic out of the ring. Mysterio sends Cody out and goes to square off with Sin Cara. Cara has a backbreaker type move reversed into a head scissors that was cool. Cody and Miz now one up each other with shots on Cara and Rey before going against each other. They counter one another until Cody gets sent outside and we get a series of pins from the other three. JBL wisely mentions that both Rey and Cara have been AAA Champions in their past. Cody hits the Disaster Kick on Cara, and I hate that the name changed from the Beautiful Disaster. A “Let's Go Cody” chant breaks out as Miz powerbombs Cody who hits a second rope suplex on Rey. Now, we get a “Miz is Awesome” chant as he hits a sweet DDT on Rey. Cara hits a suicide dive on the Miz while Rey hits a head scissors on Cody outside. Back inside, Rey and Cody pick up near falls with nice little moves. Cody and Miz end up in 619 position and Miz gets nailed with it. Cody moves but ends up outside as Rey drops the dime on Miz. Cody stops the pin and goes for it himself but Cara breaks it. Rhodes goes to unmask Cara and sends Rey outside hard. Cara pulls out another mask from his trunks and goes to put it on Cody, but Miz attacks him from behind. He goes for a powerbomb and Cara puts the mask on Miz, who is now blinded by it. He bumps into Cody and instinctively hits the Skull Crushing Finale to pin Cody.

Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: The Miz in 12:05
Solid opener, but not much different than other Fatal Four Ways for mid-card titles. Fun action and the Sin Cara mask story came into play. ***

The Prime Time Players yell at Eve Torres about how they should be on the show tonight. They do the “Millions of Dollars” dance as Eve gets told there is an emergency. They find Kaitlyn taken out and her ankle has been injured. She's sad because tonight was her shot at the title. 

WWE Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane

The video package recaps the awesome anger management segments between Daniel Bryan and Kane. That whole thing was hilarious including their hug it out stuff on Raw. I'd like to point out that I strongly disliked Kofi Kingston and R-Truth as Tag Team Champions. The Champions double team Kane early but he fights out and tags Bryan hard. Truth hits a nice backflip into an armdrag before tagging in Kofi. Michael Cole mentions the “great” teams to hold these titles in the past and brings up Big Show and Kane, as well as the Basham Brothers. Terrible. Truth hits a dancing leg drop and Kane blind tags in. The crowd is very hot for Bryan as they “Yes!” everything. They continue to work well as a team and Kane hits a dropkick before moving to a rest hold. The challengers go to do another double team but Bryan misses and they start to argue. A shoving match ensues until Bryan asks for a huge, which gets a huge pop. They hug to an even bigger pop but it allows Kofi to get a bit of a hot tag. He hits his usual offense including the Boom Drop and he taunts for Trouble in Paradise, but Kane pulls Bryan out of the ring. They argue which gives Kofi the opening to hit a baseball slide and a sweet front flip onto them. He springboards back in, but is caught into the No Lock! Truth saves him but then runs into Kane outside. Bryan hits a big dropkick in the corner and Kane tags himself in. Kane climbs to the top and gets into it with Bryan again, leading to Bryan shoving him off and onto Kingston for the three.

Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Daniel Bryan and Kane in 8:30
Decent tag team match made better by Daniel Bryan and Kane's fantastic chemistry and the crowd being into it. **3/4

Kane and Daniel Bryan shout “I AM THE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS” at each other a bunch of times after the match. Cutting backstage, Booker T and Theodore Long are talking when Eve walks in to give them the update on Kaitlyn, saying she can't perform. Booker says there must be a title match and gives Eve the shot. You can see this whole story coming a mile away.

WWE United States Championship
Antonio Cesaro (c) w/ Aksana vs. Zack Ryder

Zack Ryder won this title shot by winning a battle royal on the Pre-Show. Antonio Cesaro was doing his “I speak five languages” thing at this point too. Right at the bell, Cesaro slams Ryder and slaps him around. They also mention that Cesaro is a former rugby star, and it's funny that still in 2014, they have no idea what his character should be. He busts out the EDDIE GILBERT hot shot on Ryder. Cesaro uses his power to psychically wear down the challenger. Cesaro hits the awesome pop up uppercut for two. Ryder busts out of a submission and hits a discus clothesline. Ryder then hits a second rope dropkick and counters a suplex with a neckbreaker for two. Ryder hits a top rope hurricanrana and attempts the Broski Boot but Aksana pulls Cesaro out of harm's way. That allows him to win with an uppercut and the Neutralizer.

Winner and Still WWE United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro in 7:46
Nothing match. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything of note either. The outcome was never in doubt. **1/2

Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero vs. Randy Orton
This is Randy Orton's first match back after being suspended sixty days for violating the Wellness Policy again. He was coming off of a run during 2011 and 2012 where he put on really good matches consistently. Orton uses his strength advantage to gain the early upper hand on Dolph Ziggler. Dolph turns the tide and things are off to a slow start. Orton picks things up a bit with his signature backbreaker and some clotheslines. He snaps off his excellent powerslam but Dolph reverses his DDT into a rollup for two. They fight to the top and Orton gets knocked off and onto his back. As he gets up, Dolph meets him with a missile dropkick for two. Dolph busts out about six straight elbow drops and shows off in between. He applies a headlock and does his headstand with it. Orton rallies with a back suplex and man, Vikcie's voice is killing me at ringside. Orton decides he wants to be like a mid-90's vanilla babyface and uses a standing dropkick. Ziggler goes up top but gets crotched and Orton nails a superplex for a near fall. Vickie hilariously points at the fans and laughs at them. Things break down as the two men trade shots with the crowd in Ziggler's corner. Orton seems to win this battle until Dolph connects with the Fameasser for a close near fall. Ziggler blocks Orton's rope DDT for the second time and they fight outside. Orton finally gets his DDT with Ziggler on the guardrail in a cool spot. Orton brings him inside and covers but Dolph gets his foot on the bottom rope. Randy smells blood but his RKO is countered into a rollup for two. Dolph applies the sleeper but Orton breaks it and hits a pop up RKO for the victory.

Winner: Randy Orton in 18:24
That started slow but picked up nicely near the end. Randy Orton can really be hit or miss when it comes to in ring work but he seemed motivated here. ***

WWE Divas Championship
Layla (c) vs. Eve Torres

JBL says that this is the arena where Layla made her debut in 2006 and says that she won the $250,000 Divas Search and an NBA ring as a Miami Heat dancer that year. Impressive. Layla snaps off a sweet armdrag near the start and Eve shows off some athleticism. Layla fires back with an interesting pinning combination for two. Eve goes away from sportsmanship as she attacks Layla on the outside. At one point though, Layla is clearly smiling as she's thrown into the apron. Eve puts on a choke of sorts in the corner and is progressively going more heel by the moment. Layla rallies and hits a dropkick but continues to oddly have a smile on her face. She goes for her corner splash spot but misses and Eve takes advantage by hitting a corkscrew suplex of sorts to win.

Winner and New Divas Champion: Eve Torres in 6:38
Perfectly fine Divas match. Not much more to say here except that Eve turning more heel by the minute was some solid storytelling. **1/4

After a promo for the Rock vs. Cena “Once in a Lifetime” (yea right) DVD, Lillian Garcia introduces some breast cancer survivors in the crowd. The camera cuts to Daniel Bryan shouting that he's the Tag Team Champions to random backstage people before running into AJ Lee and Dr. Shelby. Kane comes out shouting the same thing and they force AJ Lee to shout at them. Kane pours Gatorade on the three of them and says that he's going to Disneyland! Funny stuff.

World Heavyweight Championship
Sheamus (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio w/ David Otunga and Ricardo Rodriguez

Sheamus is sporting white, green and gold trunks in honor of the Irish community in Boston. Smackdown General Manager Booker T shows up and reinstates the Brogue Kick. Sheamus tries the Brogue Kick instantly but hits David Otunga, who was on the apron. Del Rio misses a move and falls outside so Sheamus follows with a battering ram off the apron. Del Rio drives Sheamus into the Spanish announce table hard and kicks him in the ribs. They go back inside and Del Rio locks on a Crossface of sorts. He ends up nailing Seth Rollins' Blackout for two, which I've never seen him do before or after. He gets perched on top and applies the Cross Armbreaker on the top rope which looked really cool and painful. He leaps off the top, which was a mistake as Sheamus clobbers him with an axe handle. JBL calls Sheamus a mutant, which got a chuckle out of me. Del Rio ends up on the apron and blocks the 10 Beats of whatever. I always forget. Sheamus ends up fighting him off and wailing away with it anyway in the corner. Del Rio counters White Noise with a Backstabber for a near fall. He ends up rallying and connecting with White Noise anyway. Time for the Brogue Kick, but Del Rio ducks and nails a step up enziguri for a very close two. Del Rio has one of the best enziguris of all time. Del Rio applies the Cross Armbreaker but Sheamus rolls through and tries the Texas Cloverleaf only to have Del Rio block it. Sheamus charges and gets his arm caught in the ropes, so Del Rio kicks it into oblivion. Del Rio hits another move on the arm he's worked throughout and gets the Armbreaker on! Sheamus muscles out and powerbombs Del Rio to break the hold. He goes for the Brogue Kick but it's again dodged by Del Rio, who again puts on the Cross Armbreaker! Sheamus gets the ropes to survive. He gets up in the corner and Del Rio makes the crucial mistake of trying another enziguri and Sheamus moves. Once Del Rio gets to his feet, he eats the Brogue Kick to end things.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Sheamus in 14:29
Really good match here. One of the best in either guy's career. The arm work was masterfully done, Sheamus sold like a champ and Del Rio looked strong unlike last year. Both men deserve praise for this. ****

The WWE Championship video package is excellently done even though John Cena was beyond ignorant for some of the stuff he said. He was right about certain things though, so kudos to him for that. Paul Heyman is in the ring as he cuts a short promo on Boston about witnessing history when CM Punk retains for the 302nd straight day.

WWE Championship
CM Punk (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. John Cena

This is a case of two men who bring out the best in one another. I never expected that between them but they always deliver great bouts. Punk is sporting Yankee pinstripes on his trunks which is tremendous since this is in Boston. Sadly, this is Punk's first PPV main event since December. Disgusting. A mental chess game opens things as Punk smartly avoids the patented John Cena shoulder block. The wrestling sequences continue while the crowd is split on the participants. Punk showboats and it nearly costs him but he's able to break off a DDT for two. He then applies an Indian Deathlock of sorts, which is always a good looking move. Punk trash talks the fans on the outside, leading to a baseball slide from Cena. JBL and Michael Cole argue about why Cena gets everything and Punk gets shafted. Cena hits a fishermen suplex on the outside but gets kicked in the head when they're back inside. Heel Punk continues to shine as he jabs Cena a few times with a little juke in between. Cena blocks the GTS and it's time for the shoulder blocks. Punk reverses the slam though and gets a near fall. His neckbreaker is blocked and Cena clotheslines his head off. YOU CANT SEE ME. He goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Punk kicks him in the mouth. The story of Punk knowing how to counter everything is well done so far. Punk hits a cross body but Cena rolls through and goes for the AA. Punk holds the top rope but Cena dumps him outside. He actually busts out a suicide dive and the shock on Paul Heyman's face is priceless. Back inside, he goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle again but Punk pulls him into the Anaconda Vise in an awesome counter! Superman turns it into the STF, but Punk counters again into a crossface. Cena powers up and slams the Champion. They trade shots in the middle of the ring until Punk hits a kick and then a knee in the corner. He hits his bad looking Macho Man elbow for two. Punk signals for the GTS but Cena counters into the STF! Punk breaks it and connects with the GTS but Cena kicks out! As they get up and trade shots, they block each other's finishers and Cena hits a fast version of the Shuffle so it's not blocked and follows with the AA but Punk is able to get his shoulder up! Cena goes up top and misses his super Fameasser, so Punk kicks him in the back of the head for two. He gets another near fall with a William Regal Knee Trembler of sorts. The Champion goes up top and misses a crooked moonsault (a rumored meaning of the CM in his name). Punk hits a second GTS but Cena kicks out. Remember when finishing moves would actually finish matches? CM Punk hits Cena with a badass Rock Bottom and he honestly should've won with that. Cena kicks out but how tremendous would that have been? Cena pops up and hits an AA that doesn't get the job done. Cena sets up Punk on the top and hits a second rope German for the three!

He runs out and grabs the belt and I remember being furious at this result. I see some pissed fans leaving but the referee take the belt away and hand it to Punk. I've never heard a main event end in a draw and get a positive reaction from the fans.

The match is ruled a draw; CM Punk retains the WWE Championship in 26:54
Great match as always between these two, but I think the false finishes might have been a bit overdone. Ending in a disqualification hurt the score as well. ****1/4

CM Punk lays out John Cena with the WWE Title and shouts “Respect!” to close the show.

Overall: 8.5/10; Great. The best in the Night of Champions series in my book. Only the United States Title match is passable here and maybe the Divas match. The Four Way opener was fun, Orton/Ziggler was good, Team Hell No winning the title was solid, the World Title match was great and the main event was a thrill ride. Thumps way up for this show.