Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Night of Champions preview

Last December CM Punk successfully defended the WWE championship against The Miz and Alberto Del Rio in a triple threat Tables, Ladders and Chairs match in the main event of WWE's TLC pay-per-view. Despite that being nine months ago he has not headlined a supercard since.
That's likely to change this Sunday. At Night of Champions Punk will defend the WWE title against John Cena in Cena's hometown. That scenario should be enough to ensure Punk gets to go on last for the first time in 2012.
While I don't think we're going to see the title change hands I do think 'The CeNation Leader' is Punk's biggest challenge for a while. I don't think I've felt there's a chance someone could topple 'The Voice of the Voiceless' for the gold since he was feuding with Chris Jericho in the spring.
It's easy to imagine WWE wanting the title on Cena so that he can face The Rock at the Royal Rumble. It would be a huge match and free 'The Great One' up for a bout with Brock Lesnar or Undertaker at WrestleMania XXIX. That said I think a match between Punk and The Rock is more likely, saving the Cena v Rock rematch for 'Mania.

Could they have made him look any more angelic?
I expect Punk to retain via shady tactics. Some sort of cheat finish would make it clear that Punk will do anything to retain the belt, further establishing as WWE's new lead villain.
I think Randy Orton v Dolph Ziggler will grab the match of the night accolade. They're two of WWE's best wrestlers and rarely enter duff performances.
I'm going to predict a win for 'The Show Off'. He's been credited with sending Chris Jericho packing from WWE but that win occurred on RAW: Ziggler lost at SummerSlam. The man with the briefcase needs a victory on a pay-per-view and I think Night of Champions will see him get it.
If 'The Viper' happens to get the win then I suspect it could signal a cash-in from Dolph later in the evening. Orton having a PPV win over the newly crowned champion would setup a series of title matches between the two. That would get the new champ's reign off to a good start.
I'm not too sure we'll be seeing a MITB cash-in though. I think WWE may keep the case around for a bit longer and continue preparing Ziggler for his big win. That would be a wise move. The longer they spend readying 'The Heel' for the top the better his chances of succeeding.
On the subject of the World Heavyweight championship, the current champion Sheamus (whose surname was revealed to be Lipschitz on RAW) will defend the title against Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions. Yep, those two are wrestling on a pay-per-view again.
That they've been feuding since April and have yet to have anything better than a satisfactory bout apparently doesn't bother anybody involved in the writing process. Apparently we're meant to view ADR as a threat to the title even though he has proven he can't win it. I wrote this for my SummerSlam preview but I'll say it again here: I really hope this marks the end of the ADR v Sheamus rivalry. Both men are in desperate need of fresh opponents.
One match that could prove interesting is Antonio Cesaro's US title defence. A battle royal has been announced as the match for the YouTube preview show, with the winner advancing to the main card to challenge 'The Swiss Superman'.
I expect the battle royal will be made up of people who are not already scheduled for the pay-per-view. Possible names that spring to mind are Tyson Kidd and Alex Riley. Kidd was given a tremendously brief mini push around Money in the Bank which fans responded to very positively. Giving him more to do would be a good decision and having him earn his way onto a show with a battle royal win would be a good way to kick off another low key shove. Meanwhile A-Ry always gets a surprisingly good reaction and could be plucked from obscurity for a random PPV appearance.
Whoever he faces I expect Cesaro to retain. Switching the US belt won't help any other act but keeping it on Cesaro should help him to continue his slow rise through the ranks.
Another mid-card outing will be Layla v Kaitlyn, notable for being the latter's first shot at the butterfly belt. If they're given long enough I think the two could produce something enjoyable, but then I write that about most Divas matches on PPV and they never receive ample time. This match will be booked between more important, high profile outings to ensure the audience doesn't become burnt out.
The recent booking of Eve may indicate she'll be involved in some way, though I have no idea on specifics. Perhaps Kaitlyn will win and Eve will have the decision reversed (she's assistant to a GM so she can probably do that). Whatever Eve ends up doing on the show I expect her to appear during this bout. I don't think Kaitlyn will leave as champion, which is a shame because I think she's got more potential to be a star than Layla.
Daniel Bryan and Kane were opponents at SummerSlam. A month later they're getting the tried and tested "odd couple tag team" treatment. While this may seem a bit of a waste at first the match has the potential to be one of the highlights of the event.
Daniel Bryan clashing with Kofi Kingston should keep fans of good wrestling happy. The prospect of Little Jimmy being used to antagonise 'Goatface' with "Yes!" chants could prove a laugh. Kane's interactions with Bryan have been a highlight of RAW over the last month and it will be interesting to see how much he and Bryan bicker during the match. Surely we'll at least get a shoving contest mid-match?
Perhaps the most important thing about Kofi and Truth defending against Bryan and Kane is that it spared us another challenge from the Prime Time Players. Giving that unit a rest is the right move.
Night of Champions feels like the right time to crown new tag champs. Kofi and Truth still have fresh challengers to face but WWE seems uninterested in making use of units like the Usos, Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd, and the Ascension. I had assumed it would be the PTPs' night but that clearly won't happen. I predict a win for Daniel Bryan and Kane (or is that Kane and Daniel Bryan?) instead. Perhaps the Players will interfere to keep them towards the top of the doubles ranks.
Finally there's a rumoured four-way clash for the Intercontinental championship. The Miz will apparently defend against Cody Rhodes, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio. The main factors for the bout will be the recent partnership between the masked grapplers and the burgeoning rivalry between the heels.

With Mysterio, Rhodes and Miz all in the same match it’s safe to assume that the quality will be high. Sin Cara’s fondness for botching should be kept in check and it could actually turn out to be the most memorable outing of his WWE run so far. I think Cara or Mysterio winning the IC title is likely. Their upcoming partnership and-or feud would be spiced up with the Intercontinental title involved.

I’ll pick Mysterio to win. Havign Sin Cara gradually turn heel because he’s jealous of Mysterio’s success would be a simple and effective storyline.
Night of Champions does not feel like a must see show. Its top two bouts have been seen many times before and there's nothing new, such as a guest referee or gimmick stipulation, being presented in relation to either here (aside from the Brogue Kick ban but that's boring and won't change the match much). That the mid-card titles were both last minute additions and the tag title bout is being used to further a comedy rivalry tells you all you need to know about how shallow the mid-card scene in WWE is.
Lack of freshness aside I'm hopeful that NOC will prove memorable. There are plenty of opportunities for good performances and highlights. It's just an uninspiring card in the grand scheme of things.
Predictions summary:
CM Punk to defeat John Cena
Sheamus to defeat Alberto Del Rio
Dolph Ziggler to defeat Randy Orton
Daniel Bryan and Kane to defeat Kofi Kingston and R-Truth
Rey Mysterio to defeat The Miz, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara
Antonio Cesaro to retain the United States championship
Layla to defeat Kaitlyn

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