John: Welcome to our WWE Night of (Most) Champions preview. I threw the "most" in there because in the past every Night of Champions event had every title on the line. Not this year. It's the one show of the year where you advertise the idea that every title is on the line because it's in the NAME OF THE SHOW (capitalized for effect), yet the show gets here and one title is missing while another was just added to the lineup on Smackdown.
The Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel isn't defending the once coveted IC Title because he's in a handicap elimination match with his manager Paul Heyman against CM Punk. If they knew Axel wasn't going to be defending the title (he was left off SummerSlam completely) why not put it on somebody else that could actually have a match where it was defended? I know WWE thinks Axel is a bigger star because he's holding IC gold, but the reality is he's just a guy holding a meaningless title that he rarely defends.
Regarding the US Champion Dean Ambrose, if you missed Smackdown then you missed the announcement that Ambrose will defend the US Title against Dolph Ziggler. What I don't get is why they were unable to officially announce it earlier.
I understand the top two matches are the reason why somebody would buy this event. Trust me, I get that. But if you're going to name a PPV Night of Champions with the idea that "every title is on the line" then put every title on the line. It's not that hard, WWE. It screams like lazy booking to me.
I'll be at the event in Detroit on Sunday. It's about two hours away from me, so I am sacrificing some NFL viewing to make the trip and check it out. Could the card be stronger? Sure. It's not that bad, though. I enjoy PPVs. In terms of predictions, I went perfect at SummerSlam. I'm hoping to do so again here although I think it's a less predictable lineup this time around.
Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling's Andrew Johnson and Christian Michael.
(Note: All graphics are from WWE.com. The banner is courtesy of our friend Steve Melo.)
Tag Team Turmoil No. 1 Contender’s Match: The Prime Time Players vs. The Usos vs. Tons of Funk vs. The Real Americans vs. 3MB (Kickoff Match)
Christian: I think there are only two logical choices to win: The Usos and the Prime Time Players. The Usos are really over and should get a shot at the Tag Titles but WWE is all about politics and because of that the Prime Time Players are going to win. Darren Young was on the Ellen Show discussing his decision to come out two days before the PPV. What that has to do with who wins and losses in WWE I don't know, but that's the business for you.
Prediction- The Prime Time Players
Andrew: It's pretty well known by the TJR faithful that I'm a tag team wrestling nerd, so you'd think this match was kind of like a late Labor Day present for me or something (What do you mean people don't give out Labor Day presents? This is AMERICA, isn't it?). Alas, this is just another one of those awkward last minute throw-together things that probably will be fun in the moment, but ultimately underwhelming in the long run.
WWE does this every now and again. They'll have a Tag Team Turmoil match and often times it amounts to nothing. One time they even had a battle royal where the last two guys got a title shot against Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett, and it ended up being D'Lo Brown and Test aka the most unfortunate tag team in wrestling history. It also doesn't help that there's no clear #1 contender in place, so every team looks like they're not really up to the challenge. Because if they were really the best option they'd be undeniably the top contenders, right? The guys with the most momentum right now are Prime Time Players, and they've had more singles matches in the past few weeks than anything. Next to them are the Usos who keep trading victories with The Real Americans, and then there's Tons of Funk who are going to crawl out from under the Wyatt Family's boots long enough to be ineffective, and 3MB. That's right, 3MB. Jesus Christ.
I think the Players are the best option at this point but I sure don't think they're going to win the match, unless Big Show decides that the best way to hurt The Shield is to take away their claims to an elevated status and causes shenanigans. It would be cool, but like I said, unlikely.
Winners: The Prime Time Players
John: Congrats to 3MB! Even though you've lost nearly every match you've been in for the past year you are just one victory away from a tag title shot. Does that make sense? Not really. I guess it's similar to the Royal Rumble concept in that you can win one match to get a title shot that way too. Still, it's just odd to see 3MB in a match like this.
I think it's really between The Usos and the Prime Time Players. The Usos could likely have the better match with Rollins & Reigns if that's all WWE cares about with this, but if they want new opponents then it will be the PTPers, who have turned babyface in the last month. I think it will be the Prime Time Players that come out the victors although if it's The Usos then I have no problem with that either.
Winners: The Prime Time Players
Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns vs. Winners of Tag Team Turmoil
Christian: I picked the Prime Time Players to win the Tag Team Turmoil Match so will I pick them to win the Tag Team Titles? Well, here's the thing. I want to because of what I mentioned in the pre-show match. It wouldn't even be the worst thing to beat The Shield at this point because the Tag Titles are doing nothing for them and would mean something for the PTPers. My problem in predicting this match is that The Shield is aligned with Triple H and I can't see them losing clean to a midcard act. So, when in doubt go with Cena. Since he's not in this match, go with his black twin, via DQ.
Prediction- The Prime Time Players win via Disqualification
Andrew: See above.
Winners: The Shield
John: I love The Shield as a team and don't want to see them lose the tag titles in a match that has very little build to it. They are more important as performers if they are holding gold, so keep it on them. If they drop the tag titles in the near future that's fine, but let's see them have an actual feud with the PTPers. Perhaps they might not even have a feud since Los Matadores are coming in likely as a babyface team. The champs retain.
Winners: Rollins & Reigns
United States Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler
Christian: While this is certainly better than being in a buffer match like Ziggler was at SummerSlam it is still a step down from where he was the night after WrestleMania. I don't know whose corn flakes he pissed in but someone is clearly mad at him.
From just a pure wrestling stand point this one should be a lot of fun. Ziggler is one of the best workers in the company and Ambrose can more than hold his own.
It would be nice that if along with Bryan that Ziggler gets a big rub from going against the Triple H regime but I don't see how he beats Ambrose here. As much as I love Ziggler he shouldn't be US Champ anyway. He's graduated from that. Ambrose wins and we all wonder what the hell is going on with the Show Off.
Prediction- Dean Ambrose retains the United States Championship
(We will add in Andrew's prediction for this one if he is able to send it along.)
John: I'm glad the match is on the show because if they get 10-13 minutes like I expect they will have one of the best matches of the night. They showed good chemistry on Smackdown. They had a couple of incidents on TV where Ambrose got in Ziggler's face repeatedly and started this whole thing, so there's a bit of a story there. The problem is they completely ignored it for a couple of weeks too. As for Ziggler, I think he should be in the World Title picture rather than US Title and it's a major step down for the guy. I doubt Ziggler leaves as the US Champion. It's better if Ambrose holds it.
Winner: Dean Ambrose
Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Natalya vs. Brie Bella vs. Naomi (Fatal 4-Way Match)
Christian: It sucks that AJ is most likely losing to create a "feel good moment" for the finale of Total Divas but once again, that's the business for you. Naomi is really talented and is pretty entertaining on the show. If WWE is serious about their women then she should win and become the babyface face of the division. Natalya should also win because she is the best wrestler among the WWE divas. Two women can't win the match so my pick is Brie Bella. Why? Because when in doubt, take John Cena. Since he's not in the match I'll take his "sister-in-law". Close enough.
Prediction- Brie Bella wins the Divas Championship
Andrew: From what I understand this whole ridiculous story is being set up for the finale of "Total Divas" and since reality TV is stupid, I assume this will have a convoluted and unnecessary ending planned. The good news is that they could still conceivably have a good match despite it's intentions. AJ Lee is wiry and fun to watch, especially when she slaps on the Black Widow. Natalya is decent, and can hide her biggest negatives (mainly ring presence) when she has to share the stage with three other women. Naomi is better than anyone is willing to credit her, and Brie is the better of the Bellas when it comes to in-ring ability, so really this could be a lot worse.
When trying to think of a proper finish for this, I don't really see it ending any way other than AJ coming out on top and the other three being all "YOU BITCH YOU COST ME SAY IT TO MY FACE HASHTAG" kind of stuff to set up the next season. Of course, I don't watch reality TV, so I might be WAY off base on how their stories conclude. I assume not realistically, because well, come on.
Winner: AJ Lee
John: You've got the craziness of Divas Champion AJ Lee, Natalya's great technical wrestling ability, Brie Bella yelling a lot because the crowd dies so much when she's in a match and then Naomi's flying ass move. Those are all the elements of this divas fatal fourway match. Sort of.
I've said many times that I think the best thing for the Divas Title would be an AJ Lee title reign that lasted about one year at least around WrestleMania. That's how I would book it. But I'm not writing this preview based on what I would do. I'm here to talk about what I think WWE will do and in this instance I think WWE might take the title off AJ Lee. Why? Because it's an easy story for a future episode of Total Divas, which will continue airing in November and December this year. One of those girls wins the title to get revenge on AJ after she cut a scathing promo on them.
I know that title change finish makes sense, but I'm going with AJ retaining the title. I think it's too early in her reign and too early in this storyline to lose the title. One of the girls has to be booked better as a challenger before winning the Divas Title. In this match I think we'll see Natalya, Brie & Naomi having issues with one another, so AJ gets a rollup pin on one of them to win the match.
Winner: AJ Lee
World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam
Christian: Honestly, I don't care about this match at all. I like RVD. I like ADR, but this feud I couldn't care any less about. It's pretty much a direct result of the Brand Extension ending too. This feud is just shoved into all the other stuff they do on RAW and comes off as unimportant.
Prediction- Alberto Del Rio retains the World Heavyweight Championship
Andrew: This is kind of painful for me to admit, but Rob Van Dam has been really doing it for me lately. Between his matches with Orton and his passable TV bouts with Del Rio in the past, I actually think this thing has legs. Del Rio is always top shelf, and RVD has proven lately that he's capable when he gives a shit, excluding that horrific Ryback match this past week. As long as he keeps the silly high kicking to a minimum, I think this will be largely inoffensive.
I'm not a big fan of the feud though. I'm sorry, but Van Dam's even-keeled personality bothers me, and every time Del Rio is ringside during an RVD match he can't muster anything more than a "Are you watching this motherf**ker?" look of contempt. Plus, I'm worried about Ricardo. He went from wearing a tux to an airbrushed RVD shirt. He doesn't even have variants, he just literally wears the same thing every week, and I'm pretty sure he's still wearing his old tux pants. I'm starting to think that he doesn't have any other clothes. Can't we get CPS to take Ricardo away from his pot smoking protector?
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
John: Is it a one match feud like Del Rio vs. Christian was at SummerSlam or will there be more to this rivalry? That's the question I ask myself when talking about this match. I think this might be the first match in a series of multiple matches for them because the next PPV called Battleground is only three weeks away. They can use this match to build to that one.
My hope is that Ricardo Rodriguez turns heel or at least "accidentally" costs RVD the match before making the full turn in the weeks that follow. He doesn't work that well with RVD. Del Rio's better with Rodriguez at his side. I know that Del Rio kicked his ass and that's why Rodriguez came back as a face, but they could always say it was a lesson that he learned. That's why Del Rio is willing to bring him back. Ricardo's not a smiling babyface in a RVD t-shirt. He's a wimpy heel in a tuxedo that is the personal ring announcer of the Mexican aristocrat. That's who he is. Keep it that way. (I'm aware of the stipulation on Smackdown where GM Vickie Guerrero said he couldn't be at ringside, but if he shows up to turn heel that's just part of the story since Vickie's a heel too.)
Regarding Damien Sandow's Money in the Bank briefcase, I don't think that will come into play. Not here. This match will be about Del Rio keeping his title and getting back his buddy Rodriguez on his side.
Winner: Alberto Del Rio
CM Punk vs. Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel & Paul Heyman (Handicap Elimination Match)
Christian: Poor Curtis Axel. People will be waiting for him to lose just so they can see Punk get his hands on Heyman. Axel has been booked poorly. Just sticking him with Heyman isn't enough to get him over. He's such an afterthought it's not even funny. I like the guy a lot as an in ring talent.
Is it too early for Punk to get his revenge on Heyman? Maybe but without Brock Lesnar being around how much longer can this feud go with Axel doing all the grunt work for Heyman? That leads me to my next point, you know who really needs Paul Heyman? Ryback needs Paul Heyman. He could be Heyman's new Rhyno.
Axel gets eliminated. Punk chases Heyman around the ring. Ref bump. Meat Hook. Heyman scores the pin. That really keeps the feud going and gives Ryback something to do. Everyone wins.
Prediction- Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel
Andrew: Since it's Night of Champions and the Intercontinental Champion Curtis Axel is in a match and it's NOT for the Intercontinental Championship, all signs point to he's going to lose and lose hard. I assume it'll be some combination of Punk's kicks and Axel's complete lack of spatial awareness that does him in. Maybe he'll stumble around gloating and fall into a pit somehow. That or his backwards way of talking is actually Zatanna like magic and he accidentally destroys the arena.
So yeah, I think Axel is going to fall. How couldn't he? The tension has to build to a fever pitch. Paul Heyman has to look like he's in danger. But is he going to actually be in any danger? I don't think so. Whether it be Axel shenanigans getting Heyman DQ'd, or the Kraken is unleashed and F5's Punk back to the stone age, Heyman probably shouldn't meet his end at Night of Champions. Plus, having a pinfall victory over Punk would make his inevitable comeuppance all the sweeter.
Winner: Paul Heyman
John: I think either Punk's going to win this match clean to give everybody a happy ending to this Punk/Heyman story or somebody will show up to help Heyman and Axel win. It wouldn't surprise me to see another "Heyman Guy" emerge during this match. As Christian suggested above, Ryback would be a good choice assuming WWE wants to keep pushing him. My personal choice would be Antonio Cesaro because then we'd get some incredible Cesaro/Punk matches out of it, but he seems to be tied up in a midcard tag team right now.
It will be interesting to see how they book the match. The predictable thing is Punk going after Heyman aggressively while Heyman hides as much as possible and Punk works a 10-13 minute match with Axel. Unless they had some kind of no DQ stipulation to the match (like they did for Punk vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam), Heyman should barely get any offense in on Punk. He does a great job of playing the scared heel, though, so I have no doubt that Heyman will be great here. Axel works hard, but isn't connecting with the crowd well enough. Maybe it will come one day. It's not there yet.
I'm going with the Punk win. He lost to Lesnar at SummerSlam. He will get his revenge on Heyman here with the memorable moment as Punk hits Heyman with the F5. By doing that, they can move Punk back into the WWE Title picture because feuding with a guy several levels below him like Axel is really doesn't help Punk a whole lot. I realize he's at the point in his career where he doesn't need the WWE Title, but the title means more when Punk is chasing it. End the feud here. It's time.
Winner: CM Punk
WWE Championship: Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
Christian: Let me start off by saying it is too early in the chase for Daniel Bryan to win the title back. It is also the absolute wrong time for him to be tossed away like a piece of trash. He FINALLY got the upper hand on Orton on RAW after being left laying for some seven straight shows.
Bryan really needs to control this match to show he is on Orton's level and Orton is going to need to cheat to win to show that was the only way he could stop Bryan. It keeps Bryan strong in defeat and keeps the story moving along. How Bryan will get another title shot with Triple H being in charge will be a big story going forward but they'll have time to figure that out.
I see the match ending in one of two ways. #1. Yes Lock on Orton, in runs The Shield and we get a DQ. Easy way out but it works. OR #2. Bryan is setting up for that big running knee. The ref is checking on Orton and doesn't see The Big Show knockout Bryan. Yup another Big Show heel turn but it works here. I've been waiting for weeks for Show to attack Bryan. It seems so obvious that he will turn on Bryan. The only physicality for or against Big Show was him knocking out Bryan. Other than that he cries he HHH yells at him. So, it would be plausible that it's been a con job the whole time. If you go that route you can say that Bryan has to beat Show at Battleground to get another chance at Orton and then he can face Orton at Hell in a Cell.
It's just a thought that could give the story some more mileage without having to do the same thing over and over again.
Prediction- Randy Orton retains the WWE Championship
Andrew: *Here's the thing guys, I'm not going to give you my prediction for this match. I was asked by two awesome Wrestling Bros (Casey Campbell and Jessica Hundall) to contribute to their preview over at LobsterSting.com by giving my thoughts on the main-event. I know I usually shill hard for TJR, but in this one tiny instance I'm going to shill them, because A) They've always been supportive of me and don't ask a lot and B) I'm a whore and will do anything I can to see my name in print on as many different sites as possible.
But, I'm not going to leave you hanging. In place of my prediction on this match will be TJR's own Heather Hickey, who is better than me anyway so it's kind of an upgrade. Plus, she has the same prediction I do. How convenient! Take it away, Heather...*
Heather: Is Triple H hogging the spotlight? Is this a re-boot of the Austin/McMahon story? These questions have proven to be super-polarizing amongst fans, so job well done, WWE. I’m not thrilled about having to listen to Triple H so much every week, but I’d much rather boo the shit out of him in his business suit than begrudgingly golf-clap for him in his trunks. And check me on this: does Randy not seem like he’s almost gleeful to be the bad guy again? It makes me happy to see him in his natural state. Furthermore, I am happy to see them taking their time with this feud. There’s something to be said for focus.
And if we just look at these wrestlers and this match, it has big potential. I think Bryan has brought out the best in Orton this year. Neither of them minds wrestling fast or rough, so I’m hoping to see the both of them wrestling out of their comfort zone on Sunday night. Maybe a few higher-risk moves or some blood from Randy, and I’d love to see Daniel dig a little deeper into his bag of submission tricks. It pains me to say it, but this is a throwaway PPV; it’s on these two men to re-define it. Let Triple H come out and drop some backhanded compliments; let Big Show cry into his singlet and/or knock someone out; let The Shield brood and smolder around the ring. But please let them have a proper match!
Prediction: Randy Orton to win, with interference. I say this partially because they’ve played the “Daniel Bryan comes out on top” in the RAW go-home show trick. I also say it because I feel like they plan to draw this out more. All of this is coming from someone who loses every WrestleMania pool, usually to children who've made their picks based on whose name they like the sound of more.
Winner: Randy Orton
John: A month ago it was pretty obvious that Daniel Bryan was going to beat John Cena for the WWE Title and that Randy Orton would cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase to leave SummerSlam as WWE Champion. I called it, you probably called it and most fans around the world probably called it. I think for this match the obvious finish is that Orton leaves as WWE Champion. The question is how will he win? The reason it's a question is because a simple win for Orton is unlikely.
I think the story has been pretty good heading into Night of Champions. For the most part, Bryan has got his ass kicked by Orton and The Shield, but he's also won a lot of matches against Shield members too. He doesn't come into the match as a loser at all. He comes into the match as a sympathetic babyface that the fans love because he won't quit despite the fact that Triple H and Orton are doing everything to break his spirit. He's not "Stone Cold" Daniel Bryan even though Stone Cold also had to fight that the powers that be. Austin was not a traditional babyface. Bryan is. Lucky for us, Bryan's also arguably the best in-ring performer in the entire world right now and that means we get great matches on a regular basis.
I love the chemistry between Bryan and Orton. They had a great singles match on Raw a couple of weeks before SummerSlam where Bryan won clean using the kendo stick while applying the Yes Lock. Since then they've wrestled several times at house shows while Orton is getting legit heel heat, so the atmosphere should be great in Detroit on Sunday. I expect them to wrestle an awesome 20 minute match before we get the creative finish.
The other factor that's a part of this match is the role of the Big Show. Even though he's only been back from injury for a couple of months, Show is a part of this storyline as a friend of Bryan. The friendship came out of nowhere because Show spent the last year as a heel and suddenly he returned as Bryan's big buddy. That makes me (and probably you) think that maybe he's going to revert back to his heel ways by costing Bryan the match on Sunday. I don't think it will happen, but it's a possibility.
I think Bryan will have the match won, the ref will get bumped and Triple H will go down to ringside. Hunter will tell Big Show to knock Bryan out and instead of that Show will knock out Orton after Bryan ducks out of the way. Bryan will cover, the ref will recover enough to count the pin and it will look as if Bryan won the title until Triple H reverses the decision. It has to be something silly like that because they will do a finish that gives Bryan another crack at the title likely at Battleground and also Hell in a Cell, both of which are in October.
To summarize all that, I'm going with Orton retaining via disqualification. Basically, I don't think Bryan is leaving as WWE Champion. I also don't think this is his last title shot. That's why they have to come up with a creative finish that will hopefully lead to another match.
Winner: Randy Orton
Andrew: This is going to be a transitional PPV. Not a lot of stories are going to see resolution here, and that's fine because not every PPV needs to be a feud ender. The tag team title scene is literally just getting started after months of inactivity, Orton and Bryan still has a long way to go before we see the endgame play out, and assuming it isn't a one-off RVD and Del Rio is still in its infancy. The only match I can see possibly see having a payoff would be the Punk/Heyman Saga, but as you read above, I don't think that's likely. So reset your expectations and hunker down for the long road.
John: SummerSlam was a great show. The best PPV of this year. One of the top 20 best PPVs in WWE history. No, I'm not going to rank them. I just feel comfortable in saying that. I don't think Night of Champions will be on the level of SummerSlam because the lineup is weaker. That's fine. Not every show can be the best of the year. This is about progressing some stories with the main one being the Orton/Bryan rivalry that has a long way to go. Like I predicted above, I think Punk gets his revenge on Heyman as the happiest moment on the card. Other than that, we have some potential for some good matches that could be great if they get a lot of time. I'm being cautiously optimistic. Since I'll be there (section 106 - come say hi!) I have higher expectations from an enjoyment standpoint. I hope it's a good show. I don't want to spend my money to be disappointed.
I'm not sure when I'll have a recap posted about Night of Champions. I won't be home on Sunday night until very late and then Monday I work all day, so no time to write. I'll write about Raw on Tuesday morning. That means likely posting time for my Night of Champions recap is Wednesday at some point. I'll do my best to get it up sooner, but it may be difficult.
On behalf of Andrew and Christian, thanks for reading.
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