In recent years Night of Champions has been somewhat of a throwaway event in that the big belt usually doesn’t change hands. (The last time being in 2011; there were Dusty finishes in 2012 and 2013) While there are always some title changes to justify the name of the event, you’d have a hard time remembering them without using wikipedia. Tonight did not fall into that category one bit. Three title changes, and they’ll all have some implications for the future. And the rest of the show was pretty good, too.
Intercontinental Title Match: Ryback (champion) vs Kevin Owens
Gotta say I was surprised her I figured this would end in a DQ or something and lead to a match with a more clear cut finish next month. Not so. Owens wins with an eye rake to get out of a Shellshock attempt by Ryback and a rollup to win the title. The match was decent; a lot of time was devoted to Owens working over Ryback’s arm, but they managed to play that well. Owens is a candidate for company wrestler of the year; he won the NXT title in February, beat John Cena clean in May and is now the Intercontinental Champion. As for Ryback, this has actually been a decent run for him this year since he won the title. Now we’ll see if he regains it or if he was just a transitional champ all along.
Tag Team Title Match: New Day (champs) vs The Dudleys
After the ending of the first match it was a fait accompli that the title wasn’t going to change here. This was a pretty paint by numbers match, not that that’s a bad thing, that was made more enjoyable by New Day’s antics (special shout out to Xavier Woods’ trombone playing). DQ finish, New Day member goes through a table afterward, pretty much what I expected.
Dolph Ziggler vs Rusev
Hopefully this is the end of this. Lana’s injury provided a convenient off ramp for a storyline that wasn’t going anywhere. Ziggler can move on, and they can figure out what to do with Rusev. The unstoppable monster run is over for him now, and ‘what do we next?’ is always the dilemma when you book a guy as unbeatable and then the inevitable end of that comes. The next few months is a real crossroads for Rusev, and what happens over them can determine whether he has a second act or goes the way of Tensai.
Diva’s Title Match: Nikki Bella (champ) vs Charlotte
We all knew what was going to happen here, but it was still done well for the most part. Nikki worked over Charlotte’s legs for most of the match, which was actually good strategy. We got the four way fight outside the ring between both ladies respective team members, which was expected. The ending was kind of abrupt, which makes we wonder if they went too long on the front end and had to wrap it end quickly or if they just need to save time for the rest of the show. Either way, Charlotte is now your Diva’s champion and from the looks of things an eventual match and/or program with Sasha Banks is on the horizon. What I really hope we get is a Diva’s title match between the two at WrestleMania where they can get 15 minutes to work and bring the house down. And I have take my hat off to Nikki Bella for stepping up her game over the last eight months. Although she’s still no better than the sixth best Diva on the roster she managed to move on from the two minute special slapfest era of Diva’s wrestling and not embarrass herself.
Six Man Tag Match – The Wyatt Family vs Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and ???
As you know by now the mystery partner ended up being Chris Jericho, which was fine by me. I had picked Cesaro but hey, whatever. Given that Jericho got to get put to sleep by Brahn Strowman I’m glad it wasn’t Cesaro. The match was good enough; Reigns and Ambrose have been working together long enough and have worked with Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper enough that the four of them can have a good match in their sleep. Strowman looks to be the latest unstoppable big man and the same question will be posed to him as is being done with Rusev now – what to do when the big man eventually goes down?
U.S. Title Match: Seth Rollins (champ) vs John Cena
Another very good one from these two, with Cena winning his U.S. Title back. Unless you were going to permanently unify the titles this makes the most sense. You can’t have Rollins lose to someone seemingly beneath him right now and you can’t have him defending two titles for any prolonged period of time. Cena can start up his open challenge again, which was a good program for him earlier this year, and Rollins can stick to one title.
World Title Match: Seth Rollins vs Sting
I was really suspicious about this one going in, given that Sting looked pretty washed up at WrestleMania and needed about 10 run-ins to hide that he probably can’t work any more then 8 to 10 minutes. Boy, was I wrong. Sting came to work and it showed, and Rollins is the perfect dance partner for him (and seemingly anyone on the roster at this point). But at the same time, he also proved that he has no business going full tilt any more. He took a table bump and a corner powerbomb, and did a dive off the top rope onto Rollins outside the ring. And while I was thinking ‘cool! go ‘head Sting!’ while I was watching it, it turns out that he got injured bad. When the doctor has to come out to the ring mid-match that’s not a good sign. If this ends up being his last match then he went out on a high note as this match was 10 times better than I thought it would be. Rollins gets the W, making fools out of everyone who was rending their garments over what they thought was going to be a title victory for a guy in his 50s.
Sheamus came down to try and cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase but was foiled by Kane, in a surprise return. I called it a while back that Kane and Rollins would be facing off at some point because that’s the natural result to any mistreated stooge angle. And while some will no doubt be groaning at the prospect of such a match, I go back to what I said about Kane a few months ago. He gets this work because he’s reliable. He can change sides when needed just by getting pissed off at somebody, and if you need a guy for a one hitter quitter match on a pay per view he can do that. We’re heading into the lean months of the WWE calendar; Hell in the Cell through TLC are just placeholder shows with a few highlights sprinkled in to get us to January and the road to WrestleMania. A Kane/Rollins match as a one off in October is perfectly fine and no reason to get all bent out of shape. No need to give us something like say, Rollins vs Kevin Owens, in November like some of you may want. That would be stupid and contrary to what you might think the bookers do actually know what they’re doing better than you and I.