Sunday, October 5, 2014

WWE Network Reviews: Night of Champions 2013

Night of Champions 2013
September 15th, 2013 – Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan – Attendance: 10,500

Coming off the heels of a tremendous SummerSlam in 2013, Night of Champions had a lot to live up to. Daniel Bryan won the WWE Title from John Cena but dropped it within minutes to Randy Orton, who cashed in Money in the Bank. Bryan earned a rematch for this show. Alberto Del Rio reigned as World Heavyweight Champion but was very low on competition and would face the recently returned Rob Van Dam. This was the issue with the WWE at this point. John Cena went down with an injury and Brock Lesnar left again for a while, leaving someone like CM Punk to be in a match that was beneath him. Oh well, let's see what this show has to offer because the Bryan vs. Authority angle was running strong here.

As always, the intro video is pretty cool as it looks at the champions. It focuses mainly on the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton rivalry as well as CM Punk's with Paul Heyman. So, this is already off to a start that I don't like because Triple H arrives to start the show with a promo. I hate this on Pay-Per-Views. Commentary is Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John “Bradshaw” Layfield. He says that there will be no interference in the WWE Title match and is interrupted by Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel. He seems very concerned and HHH points out that he looks terrible. Heyman sucks up because he doesn't want to step into the ring with CM Punk. Even though he does a great job of putting over Punk and even Brock Lesnar, this was rather useless. HHH keeps the match and Curtis Axel decides to badmouth Triple H because he beat him on Raw (by countout) earlier in the year. Heyman yells at Axel for being stupid as HHH books Axel in a second match, this one with the Intercontinental Title on the line. The opponent will be the first person Triple H sees in the back.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Curtis Axel (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Kofi Kingston

There's actually a tad bit of back story here as Kofi Kingston had defeated Curtis Axel twice in the past weeks, including one via pinfall. Early on, it's clear that Kofi is in Axel's head as he wins their exchanges. This causes Axel to step outside and catch a breather. Back inside, Axel takes control and sends Kofi outside. It's noted that Paul Heyman isn't doing much coaching at the moment as he's clearly not pleased with his client. Axel follows outside but gets taken down by a leaping Kingston. Axel turns things around inside with some shoulder thrusts and gets a near fall with a back suplex. Kofi's rally attempt is thwarted by a big clothesline from the Champion. Heyman's 5 o'clock shadow beard seems very itchy to him. Axel channels his daddy with the running neck snap before applying a rest hold. Kofi comes back but botches an innovative DDT. He hits a double jump cross body for two and nails the Boom Drop. BOOM BOOM! He claps for Trouble in Paradise but Axel ducks and sends him into the corner. Kofi goes for a springboard move but gets dropkicked in a cool midair moment for two. Kofi misses Trouble in Paradise but counters Axel's finisher into the SOS for two. He had beaten Axel with it before. With desperation in his eyes, Axel hits the EDDIE GILBERT hot shot before wrapping this up with his finisher.

Winner and Still WWE Intercontinental Champion: Curtis Axel in 13:56
I'm surprised these guys got nearly fourteen minutes. They did well with it and probably would've been better if the crowd was more into it. **3/4

We are shown a poll where the fans voted for the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Chris Jericho garners 63%, Mr. Perfect gets 24%, Honky Tonk Man earns 10%, Rick Rude gets 2% and Pat Patterson finishes with a measly 1%. 

Rob Van Dam is shown in the back with Ricardo Rodriguez. This was always such an odd pairing and I totally felt that Rodriguez would turn. Anyway, in this segment Ricardo teaches RVD some Spanish. AJ Lee is shown skipping to the ring when she bumps into Alicia Fox, Aksana and Layla. She wants them to go out with her, but none of them want any part of her. Trish Stratus wins the poll for best Women's Champion at 56%, Lita has 29%, Moolah at 8%, Michelle McCool with 6% and Wendi Richter at 1%. 

WWE Divas Championship Fatal Four Way Match
AJ Lee (c) vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi vs. Natalya
AJ Lee's pipe bombshell on the Total Divas cast was shown and it's still fantastic to this day. As soon as the bell rings, all three Total Divas chase AJ, who is regretting her promo at least a little bit. The problem with this angle was that AJ was supposed to be the heel, but the fans sided with her over the reality stars. Brie Bella quickly turns on her fellow E stars and hits a double clothesline, followed by two running knees. Naomi snaps off a hurricanrana on Brie and then they bump into each other. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Where's Monsoon when I need him? Naomi hits the Rear View on Natalya but Brie breaks the count. Natalya gets a near fall and Naomi, as always, overshoots her flying cross body and completely misses Natalya. She eventually goes to springboard into the ring but AJ pulls her to the mat hard. Brie rolls up Natalya for two but the powerful Divas fires back with a slam on both her and Naomi. Brie is on Naomi but the referee doesn't count because he must be blind. Natalya puts Naomi and Brie in a DOUBLE SHARPSHOOTER! That's like Canadian squared. AJ applies the Black Widow on Natalya, who is forced to tap out.

Winner and Still WWE Divas Champion: AJ Lee in 5:35
Good Divas match. There was never a dull moment, and they tried hard. The double Sharpshooter was creative and I give them credit. **1/4

We go to the “All-Star Panel” which features Booker T and people who have done nothing of note really. I'll give you Santino Marella, but then it's Josh Matthews and Alex Riley. They give useless “insight”.

World Heavyweight Championship
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Rob Van Dam w/ Ricardo Rodriguez

ITS MEXICOS GREATEST EXPORT MAGGLE! This is Del Rio's third Night of Champions and he's been in a World Title match each time, though he's 0-2. The crowd is firmly behind RVD but Del Rio hits the first nice spot by dropkicking him. He does end up getting knocked outside and RVD follows with a botched moonsault. Maybe he was getting high before this match. RVD hits his corkscrew guillotine leg drop as Cole points out that the show is near RVD's hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. He showboats which costs him as Del Rio throws him into the barricade. Inside, he hits a sick sounding kick to RVD's head and steals his taunt. He must have had enough finishers stored. I swear Del Rio has the best enziguri since Owen Hart as he levels RVD with one that knocks him outside. He follows with a suicide dive that misses the mark. RVD gets on a flurry in the ring and goes for Rolling Thunder, but Del Rio moves and hits a Backstabber. RVD fights back and goes to the top, where I can clearly see that he's balding, and hits a front flip for two. His rally stops when Del Rio hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Del Rio decides to target the left arm before nailing a vicious superkick for two. Del Rio leaps off the top into a heel kick and RVD goes for the Five Star Frog Splash. At this point in his career, it's like three stars. Del Rio gets his knees up to block and applies the Cross Armbreaker. RVD reaches the ropes but Del Rio declines to break the hold, resulting in the disqualification.

Winner via disqualification: Rob Van Dam in 13:24
Solid little back and forth contest that had a finish that left a lot of be desired. It should've been used to make Del Rio look vicious, but he just used it to escape with the belt. ***

Alberto Del Rio attacks Rob Van Dam after the match for a bit. He grabs a chair but Ricardo Rodriguez makes the save, allowing RVD to get the upper hand in the end and lead to their Hardcore Match at the following Pay-Per-View. RVD actually hits the Van Terminator and I'm impressed that he can still do this at like 42 years old.

In the back, Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman are talking and Heyman is scared for his life. Voting for the greatest World Heavyweight Champion ever is Booker T at 38%, Edge at 22%, Undertaker at 21%, Ric Flair at 14% and Batista at 5%. Surprising results for sure. Randy Orton barges into Triple H's office, worried that he'll have no help tonight. See, this was the issue with his character. He wasn't the same Randy Orton, he was a punk.

Fandango w/ Summer Rae vs. The Miz
I seriously question why this match is on Pay-Per-View. Miz won a dance off two night earlier on Smackdown while sporting an afro. Things start with some back and forth stuff as both guys get in some of their usual offense. Miz goes up top but gets knocked down, leading to Fandango posing. Fandango puts on a rest hold in the middle of the ring, but it's not a good idea since the crowd isn't really into this. Fandango gets a near fall after nailing The Miz outside as the fans chant “Randy Savage”. Yup, they're officially in “we don't care about this match” mode. Miz starts to rally and hits a dropkick to Fandango's leg but this has no heat whatsoever. The fans “want tables” for some reason s Miz gets the Skull Crushing Finale blocked. Fandango hits a falcon arrow of sorts for two. Fandango hits an impressive guillotine leg drop for another near fall. Miz applies the Figure Four shortly after and Fandango taps.

Winner: The Miz in 7:49
I never liked the Figure Four finisher for The Miz. This was pretty boring and the crowd was totally dead for it. *1/2

No Disqualification Handicap Elimination Match
CM Punk vs. Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman

The history of Night of Champions is kind of telling for the WWE career of CM Punk. In 2009, he was World Champion, in 2010 he lost a meaningless match to Big Show, in 2011 he was in the main event against Triple H, in 2012 he was in the midst of his amazing WWE Title run and here, he's in a handicap match against a mid-carder. Too much up and down. Heyman stays outside while Punk and Curtis Axel wield kendo sticks to kick things off. Punk wins out and nails Heyman with a suicide dive! He brings Heyman in but spends too much time pandering to the fans so Axel stops him with a low blow. Axel's now in control and he gets a chair. He sets it up in the corner and gets a near fall with a clothesline. Axel gets a table and also sets it up in the corner. They counter suplexes until Axel hits one that's not through the table for two. They trade shots until Punk sends Axel into the chair in the corner, but it doesn't have the impact they were hoping for. It looked and sounded pretty weak. Punk attempts a suicide dive but Axel blocks it with a steel chair in another spot that didn't look as good as it should've. Axel now wails away on Punk with multiple kendo stick shots. Punk rallies and takes out Axel with a kendo stick and the GTS before applying the Anaconda Vise and Axel taps. Punk turns to Heyman and the facial expressions are priceless. Heyman runs and Punk gives chase through the crowd but they end up in the ring. Punk lulls him into a hug but destroys him with some kendo stick shots. He brings out handcuffs from his boot, which is a great callback to when Heyman and Axel cuffed him earlier in the month. STORYTELLING! Heyman is great here. Before Punk can deliver the finishing blow, Ryback shows up and drives Punk through a table. He places Heyman on Punk and it's over.

Winners: Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman in 15:43
For a PG Hardcore match, they did well. They tried some fun spots, though they didn't come off great. Punk and Axel worked hard and Heyman was his usual great self. ***

We go back to the dumb “Expert” panel to waste time.

WWE United States Championship
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler

Seeing the Shield come out together, even though Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns head to the back instantly, brings a tear to my eye. Some back and forth stuff to start and when Dean Ambrose avoids a move, he wipes his hair at Dolph Ziggler in a taunt steal. Dolph responds with a dropkick and ten elbow drops before taking him outside for a moment. Inside, Dolph chops away on Dean for a bit before Dean comes back with a huge spinebuster. Dean slows things with a rest hold but Dolph fights out and they trade rollups. As they up, Dean hits a double underhook suplex from the second rope for two. I appreciate something like that over the same old basic suplex. Dean goes back up top, so Dolph leaps up and hits a super X-Factor! AY-YO YOU DEALING WITH THE X-FACTOR! It only earns him a near fall though. Stinger Splash from Dolph followed by punches and a clothesline get two again. Dean dodges the Fameasser and gets a rollup for two, but once they're up Dolph hits it! He covers but Ambrose grabs the ropes. Dean hits a slingshot to the corner and as Dolph comes out, nails Dirty Deeds to retain.

Winner and Still WWE United States Champion: Dean Ambrose in 9:46
A good little match that could've been better. Nothing special but good nonetheless. ***

Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns arrive in the ring to celebrate with Dean Ambrose. The poll for greatest Untied States Champion is shown. Sting wins with 53%, Ricky Steamboat gets 24%, Sgt. Slaughters earns 12%, Harley Race gets 9% and Bobo Brazil clocks in at 2%.

WWE Tag Team Championship
The Shield (c) vs. The Prime Time Players

Were the Prime Time Players faces here?I guess so. They won a Tag Team Turmoil on the Pre-Show to earn this shot. We open with Titus and Seth. It just dawned on me that this was around the time that Darren Young came out so I see why they got a Pay-Per-View match. Titus tosses Seth hard across the ring and the way the crowd is popping for PTP, they had something with this team. I miss them. Young comes in and does his thing, knocking Roman Reigns outside and hitting Seth with a stiff elbow for two. Seth knows I love it because he turns the tide with the EDDIE GILBERT hot shot! Seth and Roman now work over Young until he snaps off a belly to belly. He makes the hot tag and Titus completely RUNS OVER Seth Rollins. Like turns him inside out and everything. He nails both Champions with hard hitting shots and hits a huge sky high on Seth. YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE! It only gets him two as Reigns and Young battle outside. Reigns enters and hits a huge Spear behind the referee's back to earns Seth the three.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: The Shield in 7:26
Again, nothing special or really of note. Decent but that's about it. The outcome was also never in doubt. **1/2

We see the greatest Tag Team Champions poll and DX wins with 47%. They beat the Hart Foundation, Wild Samoans, Legion of Doom and the British Bulldogs. The fans know nothing.

WWE Championship
Randy Orton (c) vs. Daniel Bryan

To those who don't know the story, Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam but then ate a Pedigree from Triple H and Randy Orton cashed in Money in the Bank. As Orton comes out, they do the greatest WWE Champion vote. Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, John Cena, CM Punk and Triple H finish in that order. Bryan works the shoulder as he's planning ahead to use the Yes Lock. Orton retaliates with some of his trademark rest holds, including one where he pulls Bryan's beard during a headlock. Creative. They sort of botch a Thez Press so I won't go into JR shouting for Stone Cold mode like I normally do when someone hits that move. Bryan rallies with a big running elbow that Michael Cole calls a clothesline. He hits a dropkick in the corner and reels off kicks to the “Yes” of the crowd before snapping off a top rope hurricanrana. Orton rolls outside but is met with a suicide dive. FLYING GOAT! He goes and hits it once more but fails a third time as Orton blocks it. Orton hits a DDT from the apron to the outside as Scott Armstrong, who I call Finlay ref due to thei resemblance, nearly counts the challenger out. Bryan makes it back in as Orton mocks the “yes” chants. He coils for the RKO but Bryan shoves him away and Finlay ref goes down. Orton goes for his DDT again but Bryan counters into the Yes Lock as a new ref arrives! Orton gets out but gets kicked in the arm a bunch. He dodges a corner dopkick though and sets up Bryan on the top. Bryan wriggles free and gets Orton in the tree of Joey Lawrence (woe). He dropkicks him and hits a second rope suplex but hangs onto the top with his legs in a wise move. He powers up and nails a flying headbutt for two. Finlay ref is up and takes back over. Bryan kicks Orton in the chest a few times but he counters the last one with a T-Bone suplex. Bryan counters an RKO and ends up hitting his Running Knee for the victory!

Winner and New WWE Champion: Daniel Bryan in 17:33
Really good main event that had an abrupt finish. Also, the Scott Armstrong quick count would lead to the title being vacated the next night. ***3/4

Overall: 6.5/10; Above Average. A solid show with nothing outstanding but a few solid bouts. The main event is the best match but the United States Title, World Title and CM Punk matches are all good. Everything else is decent at best. So not a bad show, but not a show that you MUST go out and see. Perfectly acceptable.