Sunday 29 June 2014

Night of Champions: The Long Game

It’s a little disappointing to say but the next several months of WWE pay-per-special-events look a little predictable. Most people I’ve spoken to are predicting the same winners for Money in the Bank (preview of that show available here). Cena, Rollins and the Wyatts are the important names people expect to go over. Lesnar’s involvement in SummerSlam has been confirmed, with a leaked poster making it look like a match between him and Cena is on the cards. And it’s been twigged that Night of Champions is going to fall around the expiration of any initial Network sign-ups, meaning WWE will want a big show to encourage people to renew their subscriptions.

I’ve written before that predictability in wrestling isn’t always a bad thing. A card can be thoroughly predictable while still be very enjoyable and providing surprises during matches, rather than in the results. But a few months of predictable programming pushes this feeling to breaking point. A predictable show is fine. A string of them is not.

Because I feel that the next few months in WWE seem easy to call I thought I’d post some predictions for beyond Money in the Bank.

The most obvious prediction to make is that Cena will enter SummerSlam as WWE champion and defend against Lesnar. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll leave Money in the Bank with the strap. He could just as easily win the title from a transitional champion at Battleground. The frontrunner for that spot would probably be Randy Orton, although Bray Wyatt and Sheamus could work too.

I don’t think the transitional thing will happen though. I think Cena will unhook the gold at Money in the Bank and make it through Battleground unscathed to defend against ‘The Beast’ at SummerSlam. What he’ll do at BG is beyond me. A title defence against recent foe Wyatt could just about work. So could a stipulation brawl with Kane. Cena’s been slipped into a feud with ‘The Demon’ in Bryan’s absence and it’s the sort of title match WWE would likely book on a filler show, which Battleground looks set to be.

Filler show? Well, yeah. I originally thought it had a chance of being a pretty significant piece of work, featuring Ambrose v Rollins and Orton v Reigns in singles scraps, but I’ve changed my mind since the need to stack Night of Champions with big bouts came up. I’m now expecting Reigns’ match with ‘The Viper’ to be held off until SummerSlam and the SummerSlam match against Triple H that I expected him to have to be pushed back until Night of Champions. Ambrose and Rollins can rumble at Battleground and SummerSlam without hurting the appeal of the match. They’d just need to be given a suitably enticing stip for their bout at ‘The Hottest Event of the Summer’.

This leaves me predicting four matches for Summerlam. Lesnar challenging Cena for the title and probably winning. Ambrose and Rollins having their second straight singles encounter, this time with an exciting gimmick added to keep it feeling fresh. Reigns KOing Orton with a Superman punch. And Daniel Bryan returning to action to gain retribution against the main who, in the storyline, inflicted the neck injury on him, Kane. I think it’s likely Bryan will be ready to return at Battleground but keeping him off that show saves his return for the bigger show and keeps ‘The Big Red Monster’ free to lose to Cena.

Oh, and one other SummerSlam match. I’m not interested in how they’ll get there but I think the Wyatt Family versus Stardust and Goldust seems like a logical thing to expect too.

Night of Champions is the real reason I’m writing this. Because I want to predict a few months ahead of time that it will see Daniel Bryan challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE championship. That’s the biggest match WWE can promote right now. Were it not for Bryan’s injury it would have headlined SummerSlam (technically it still might but it looks unlikely right now). That it (probably) won’t will in fact been to WWE’s advantage as it gives them an excuse to hold the bout off for a show they need to make a must-see event.

Save it for Night of Champs, bro.
I’ve already mentioned that Triple H versus Roman Reigns will probably be on the card too. That match has already been teased. We’ve had a preview of it in the Shield v Evolution six man tags at Extreme Rules and Payback but by the time a September PPV rolls around those matches will be several months old, meaning that people won’t feel like they’ve already seen the match. To be honest I don’t think that would be the feeling anyway, rising star Reigns against seasoned veteran Triple H is a match with a fair amount of appeal even without the pair locking up beforehand. But a few months between the six man collisions and their first singles match can’t hurt.

By this point the Rollins and Ambrose rivalry will have very likely run its course. I’ve no idea who ‘The Architect’ will have moved on to but whoever’s holding the Intercontinental championship wouldn’t be out of the question. I’m expecting Rollins to have the Money in the Bank contract by this point (he’ll either win it at the show or Ambrose will and he’ll beat him for it during their feud), and he’ll need a reign as ‘The Man’ of the mid-card before going on to the world strap. That’s just the way WWE works.

Rollins wrestling for the IC title will free Ambrose up for a match with Orton. That’s another fresh match to slap on the Night of Champions card. And fresh matches featuring main names is what are what’s needed for that show.

If most or all of this happens I’ll probably feel pretty proud. But I’ll also feel more than a litrle deflated. For WWE to be so predictable for three months would be very disappointing. I don’t think they will be. They must realise how simple the layout of everything up to Night of Champions looks and I suspect they’ve got plans to chuck in some surprise. Hopefully that’ll start at Money in the Bank. If it doesn’t it’s going to be a long and boring summer.


For ease and simplicity here’s what I’m predicting for the next three pay-per-views:

Cena to leave as WWE champion
Seth Rollins v Dean Ambrose

Brock Lesnar to defeat John Cena for the WWE championship
Daniel Bryan v Kane in a stipulation match
Randy Orton v Roman Reigns
Seth Rollins v Dean Ambrose in a stipulation match
The Wyatt Family v Stardust and Goldust

Night of Champions:
Daniel Bryan v Brock Lesnar
Roman Reigns v Triple H
Randy Orton v Dean Ambrose
Seth Rollins to wrestle for the Intercontinental championship

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