This was written the day after the show and the review is untouched from its original form.
The John Report: WWE Night of Champions 2011 Recap
By John Canton
Follow me on Twitter at @johnreport
This is not going to be a play by play recap of the show. I watched the replay of the show. I will assume you have read a recap elsewhere and what you’ll get here are my thoughts on everything that happened.
WWE Night of Champions
September 18, 2011
Buffalo, New York
They aired a video package about the PPV.
We were then introduced to the announcers at ringside: Michael Cole, Booker T. and Jerry Lawler. They are continuing to not use Jim Ross for PPVs. That’s wrong. They should eliminate Cole, but that won’t happen. Lawler could be removed too since he doesn’t watch Smackdown enough or at all.
Tag Titles: Evan Bourne & Kofi Kingston d. The Miz & R-Truth via DQ
I love this lyric in Truth’s song: “Conspiracy made me change it up.” It’s now “you suck” instead of “what’s up.” They call themselves the Awesome Truth, in case you’re wondering. That’s fun. Nice to see matching tights for Air Boom aka Bourne & Kingston. That makes them look like more of a team. They followed the basic tag team formula with Awesome Truth working on Bourne early on. Kofi got the hot tag, got a couple of nearfalls and then Bourne entered the match without a tag being made. Miz complained to the ref about it. The ref was an unknown, so they are playing up the conspiracy theory idea. Miz tagged Truth, the ref didn’t see it and he kept Truth out. Usually refs are blind the other way. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, but the ref was arguing with Truth and Bourne had enough time to kick out. Miz shoved the ref down, so that led to the DQ at 9 minutes. This will lead to a rematch, which is fine by me because these four could have a classic tag match if they get the chance. The referee did mess up a few times, as Cole pointed out correctly, so it adds to their conspiracy theory storyline. Post match, Miz shoved the ref down and Truth decked him with a right hand. Great heel work by both guys.
They aired the Be A Star anti-bullying commercial right after two heels attacked the referee. I’m pretty sure that was bullying.
They plugged Triple H’s “Inside Out” movie that is on DVD on September 27th.
Backstage, Matt Striker told Miz & Truth that attacking a ref can lead to fines. Miz & Truth said that wasn’t a ref, it was a conspirator that Triple H sent out to keep them down. Striker questioned if Triple H would do that and Miz told him that maybe Triple H won’t be the COO after tonight. That was basically their way of saying they’re getting involved in the main event.
Intercontinental Title: Cody Rhodes d. Ted Dibiase
I like how Cole was listing IC title holders being in the Hall of Fame, then Booker goes “Booker T.” and Cole tells him he’s not in the Hall of Fame yet. I’m a big Booker fan. Screw the haters. The crowd was pretty quiet for it because Dibiase’s face turn is fairly new. It’s not like he’s done a lot to change his character. Even his theme song is heelish. That should be changed. “I come from money” doesn’t make somebody likable. The finish came when Dibiase yanked off the mask, was going to use it against him and Cody rolled him up while using the tights to get the victory at 10 minutes. In the PPV preview, I said “the proper finish here is for Rhodes to win with a handful of tights.” I have to pull a Horowitz and pat myself on the back when I get a prediction correct. Dibiase should win the feud as well as the title, but that can be in a PPV or two from now. Then Cody needs to be elevated to the main event level because he’s close to being ready. Match went about 10 minutes. There will be more.
Christian came out. It’s a crime that he’s not wrestling on this PPV. He’s too good. He talked about his amazing matches over the last 17 years of his career. He says because of his illustrious career he deserves one more match to be World Champion. He deserves to face them immediately after their match is over. He tells Buffalo that they haven’t won the Super Bowl and they never will, but he has twice because of his two World Titles. The World Title gets passed around multiple times per year while the Super Bowl is once a year. Christian starts a “one more match” chant that most of the crowd supports, which leads to Sheamus coming out. He goes into story mode also and then says to Christian that if he helps him get one more match will he give him a title shot in return? Christian says sure. Sheamus leads a “one more match chant” and then decks Christian with the Brogue Kick. Big pop for that. These two will have some awesome matches together when they get the chance.
They plugged the Orton DVD. I’ve seen the documentary feature. It’s one of the best they’ve ever done. He’s not my favorite wrestler, but I’ve always respected and liked him. It’s worth a look.
United States Title: Dolph Ziggler d. Jack Swagger, John Morrison & Alex Riley
The pops for Morrison and SAY IT TO MY FACE~! guy were mediocre at best. They have killed whatever momentum that Morrison had earlier this year. He’s come back from his neck injury only to get de-pushed. I don’t think anybody believed either of them had a shot to win. Ziggler came out with Vickie Guerrero, although they weren’t necessarily a cohesive unit. The idea of the match was that Ziggler kept bickering with Vickie while she supported him, but also encouraged Swagger at times. Love how Booker yells out: “Come on Swag!” They had some nice moments where Morrison did his entertaining offense, but I don’t think anybody believed he had a legit shot. They did a lot of typical multi-man match spots where guys were breaking up pinfalls as well as submissions. Riley got a good nearfall with his leaping DDT on Swagger. The crowd bought that one. Swagger hit the Gutwrench Powerbomb on Morrison, Ziggler ran into the ring, shoved Swagger out of the way and Dolph covered Morrison to win. That’s the “heel is smarter than everybody” finish. Now I’m starting to think they are finally starting the story of Swagger turning babyface, which I’ve been writing about for six months now. I’d love a Ziggler/Swagger feud. I guess there’s a chance that Ziggler could turn face, but Swagger’s a better candidate for it I think. It was a very solid 9 minute four way match.
Backstage, Josh Mathews talked to Mark Henry and mentioned how people are saying that maybe Mark can’t win the big one. He told Josh to interview him after he wins the World Title. I didn’t believe Henry was going to win the World Title at this point.
Backstage, Vickie Guerrero was happy. She talked to Matt Striker. She said she was working with the US Champion and that Swagger wants to work with her. She said things were starting to happen for her. She says if Triple H loses she would make a great COO. Then she kissed Striker and made the “call me” sign towards the camera. That was funny.
They plugged the Hell in a Cell PPV in New Orleans in two weeks. Expect a lot of rematches there.
Long video package highlighting the Orton/Henry feud that focused on Henry’s “Hall of Pain” and all the havoc he has caused. As Henry walked out, they mentioned September 22, 1996 being the day that Henry debuted in WWE in a match against Jerry Lawler. Lawler did a good job saying that he knew that day that Henry would be a World Champion. I knew it the day he fathered a prosthetic hand with Mae Young. Booker mentioned that he brought the World Title to WWE. Technically he did bring the WCW Title with him in the summer of 2001, but then they had one WWE Title until Eric Bischoff gave it to Triple H in the summer of 2002.
World Heavyweight Title: Mark Henry d. Randy Orton
They told a basic story with Henry using his power while Orton tried to use speed and savvy to outsmart him at times. Even though Orton’s wrestled for fewer years than Henry, he’s been to the “mountaintop” so to speak many times, so they pushed the idea that he had more experience in that way. Henry dominated the majority of the action. He hit his big splash, which looks awful live by the way, and then the World’s Strongest Slam. Orton kicked out of it, which led to Booker busting out his: “WHAT DA HELL?!?!” I love that. Orton counters a corner splash with his knees and then he hit his DDT off the ropes. Henry reached the ropes though. The crowd tried to get behind Orton. He went for the RKO, Henry shoved him off and immediately hit the World’s Strongest Slam for the second time. That was enough for the pin after 13 minutes. They showed fans in the crowd that were in shock. Maybe they were just bored? Somebody gonna get their thirst quenched!
I don’t want to say that I’m surprised that Henry won the title. I just thought they would do it at the Hell in a Cell PPV or perhaps at Vengeance later in October. Orton’s title reign from Summerslam to Night of Champions was very underwhelming with his only TV title defense being against Christian in that cage match. In terms of quality, the match was fine although when you think of Mark Henry matches you can’t expect much. Even Kurt Angle couldn’t get a good match out of him at the 2006 Rumble. It’s more about the power offense rather than reversals or nearfalls. The big questions for me is: When was the last time Orton lost clean in a one on one match? I’m guessing it would be the late 2009 feud with Cena. That’s why Henry winning this way is a big deal. He didn’t just win. He did it in impressive fashion. They really put him over well. The Mark Henry push has been an example of what happens when creative really gets behind somebody. Yes, he deserves credit and I’ve given him his share, but it’s a case of the company really getting behind him because it’s his last year or two as an active wrestler. I’d love to see WWE get behind people like Ziggler, Morrison or Swagger in that kind of manner. The future is in the midcard, not necessarily in somebody in his 40s that has been there for 15 years.
After the win, Josh Mathews said congrats to Henry. He told the crowd to not cheer because they’re all doubters who didn’t believe. He wants to welcome all of us to the Hall of Pain. He’s not sharing his moment with anybody because we don’t deserve it. “I’m going to be the most dominant champion of all time.” He said he’s never going to lose the title. I enjoyed the promo. It felt like Clubber Lang from Rocky III.
They plugged Hugh Jackman being the guest star of Raw. I don’t miss guest stars at all.
They showed Alberto Del Rio & Ricardo Rodriguez talking to John Laurinaitis backstage about the match on Raw. He tells “Johnny” that the company should treat him with the respect he deserves. Laurinaitis wished Del Rio the best and then Laurinaitis wished CM Punk the best too. Mr. Punk happened to be standing right there. Punk was wearing a new CM Punk ice cream bar t-shirt and said he didn’t think Laurinaitis was sincere about it. Punk even said “pretty pretty” twice like Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He refers to him as Funk Man since he sounds like Marty Funkhouser on Curb too. The Curb references only make me like Punk more. Punk: “Good luck? Like best of luck in your future endeavors?” Punk left. Then they showed Laurinaitis looking at his cell. Hmmm.
Kelly Kelly came out to mostly boos because she was facing Beth Phoenix, who is from Buffalo. Kelly had Eve with her. Beth had Natalya with her. She was looking great as always. I’m a Natalya kind of guy, what can I say? Big pop for Beth especially when Justin Roberts said “Buffalo” during the intro. It was nice to see the smile on Beth’s face too.
Divas Title: Kelly Kelly d. Beth Phoenix
There was a “Kelly sucks” chant, which has a lot of double meaning if you want to write some jokes. Early dominance from Beth as she caught Kelly off the top and spanked her. See, there’s another Kelly joke there too. Kelly came back with a bulldog. Natalya pulled Beth out of the ring to save her, so Eve attacked Natalya. Beth whipped Eve down and sent her crashing back first on the floor. Back in the ring, Kelly got a couple of nearfalls. Beth countered the COME ON~! finish with a clothesline as the crowd cheered. “Let’s Go Buffalo” chant from the crowd. Huge pop for Beth hitting the superplex on Kelly leading to Booker with this: “YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!” It’s true that you don’t see that in divas matches. Beth went for the Glam Slam, but Kelly rolled through and pinned her after 7 minutes. Crowd booed. I did too. Cole said that Phoenix choked in her hometown. They were playing up the idea that Beth was overconfident going into the match. It was the second straight PPV where I was surprised that Kelly beat Beth. I’m not sure where they’re headed with this angle, but I figured the title would be on Beth or Natalya by now. I’m interested to see where they are going with this.
They aired a video package highlighting the Cena/Del Rio feud, which has been pretty brief to be honest so instead they focused on Cena’s desire to be champion again. He’s always champion. We get it.
For the intros, Alberto Del Rio walked down to the ring. He didn’t have his car. Rodriguez was hesitant to announce him when he saw him without the car. Del Rio asked him where his keys were. Then Cena’s music started up and Cena came out in Del Rio’s yellow Ferrari. Don’t be a bully kids, but it’s okay to steal somebody’s car like John Cena does. Now we know. Del Rio told Roberts to shut up, so Rodriguez did his intro. Cena cut off Roberts before his intro. Cena introduced himself “wearing Air Jordans, his 1990s jorts, the fighting Fruity Pebble” and some other things as he said he resides in a WWE ring in Buffalo, New York. Those giant heads of Del Rio & Cena in the crowd were hilarious.
WWE Title: John Cena d. Alberto Del Rio
The crowd was mostly supportive of Cena although there were some “Cena Sucks” chants too. Early on, referee Charles Robinson threw out Ricardo Rodriguez when he tried to interfere. That’s what they did at the house show match I was at last week. There was a mild “you can’t wrestle” chant directed towards Cena. Where were these guys during Mark Henry’s match? Asleep perhaps. Del Rio was on offense early, but that ended when he did his crazy bump to the floor where Cena moves while he’s hanging on the ropes. It’s risky to go full speed and crash onto the floor feet first like that. Then Del Rio went back into offensive mode. It was nice to see him even hit that Senton Splash off the ropes because he rarely hits that. He went for the Cross Armbrearker, but Cena powered out of it. Then Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment. Ricardo tried to interfere again, but Cena threw him into the ringpost to dispose of him. I actually thought at that point that Del Rio would somehow escape with the win since Cena was distracted. Nope. Didn’t happen. Cena finished off Del Rio with the STF after 18 minutes. The match was okay although it lagged at times. Usually I like matches to be longer, but in this instance it could have been five minutes shorter. I could tell from the beginning that Del Rio wasn’t winning because of all the offense he was doing early on. Cena made the same comeback in a title match we’ve seen so many times. Lawler freaks out about him as if he’s never won before, but it’s really tiring to see it on such a regular basis.
What to think of the WWE Title switch? I think this was a panic move. I think they looked at the ratings going down a bit over the last two weeks and thinking that a title change would be good for business. Cena’s their top guy obviously. They think business will be a bit better with him holding the title. I’m not sure if that’s the best idea because any momentum Del Rio has had is now gone because fans will look at him as a transitional champion. All of these short title reigns don’t benefit anybody. It makes the champions look weak. Cena’s now a 12 time World Champion counting the WWE Title 10 times and the World Title twice. He’s probably got another 5-6 years as a top guy, so you can count on him for another 86 title reigns at this pace. I think I’m being sarcastic. Sometimes I don’t even know when it comes to all of these title changes. I’m not anti-Cena. I’m against title changes that happen too often that don’t allow people to get over. It does more long term damage than anything. Hey Jack Swagger, how you doing?
Long video package to build up to the main event. Huge pop for CM Punk coming out. He was sporting his CM Punk ice cream bar t-shirt, which is pretty damn awesome. I’m assuming those will be on sale soon. Cole talked before the match started, but his voice was going so once the match started he shut up for the rest of the night aside from a few comments. That’s a plus. Big pop for Triple H coming out too. For somebody working only his second match of the year (at least on PPV/TV) he looks to be in great shape, which isn’t a surprise.
No DQ Match: Triple H d. CM Punk
Punk jumped him when the bell rang. They brawled on the outside to start, which was a good idea because it led to a fast pace right from the beginning. They smartly did some brawling in the floor and used a chair as a weapon early. I liked the announcing by Lawler & Booker as they talked about how perhaps Triple H was winded after being out of action for half a year. Huge bump by Punk as he went crashing into a chair. Then it was Spanish announce table time. Punk busts out some Macho Man/HBK to hit Hunter with a top rope elbow onto Triple H while he was on the table. Great spot. Booker yelled out repeatedly: “THIS IS RIDICULOUS!” Then it was interference time as Miz & R-Truth came out to attack both guys. Miz hit his finisher on Triple H and Truth hit his on Punk, then they put Punk’s arm over Triple H and Hunter kicked out. They obviously wanted Punk to win to rid HHH due to the conspiracy. Miz shoved ref Scott Armstrong, who is a former wrestler as most probably know. Armstrong blocked a Miz punch and then hit him with a punch of his own to a huge pop. Then Miz & Truth beat up Armstrong.
With Armstrong now on the floor, Hunter & Punk get up to take out Miz & Truth. Truth landed on Armstrong on the floor. That looked painful. John Laurinaitis came out. Hunter hit a Pedigree on Punk, another ref walked out, but Laurinaitis made him check on Armstrong. Then Punk hit a GTS on Triple H, so Laurinaitis told the ref to get in. Truth pulled Punk out to break that up, so Punk gave Truth the GTS. Hunter comes back to hit the Pedigree on Punk. Punk kicks out. Not a lot of people get to kick out of that move. Laurinaitis goes to his phone to send a text as Kevin Nash walks in through the crowd. Lawler, who is produced to react to things like a 10 year old, reacts in shock while the crowd basically expected it. Nash goes after Hunter. Punk goes after Nash, but Nash ends up giving Punk a Jackknife Powerbomb. Then Nash goes after Triple H on the floor. Nash went to take the monitors off the announce table, but Hunter KNOCKED HIM THE FUCK OUT~! with the sledgehammer. Back in the ring, Hunter stumbles back in to hit a Pedigree for the win after 24 minutes. The PPV ended there. Nash was apparently legitimately hit as he had to be helped to the back by medics after the referees gave the dreaded “X” sign post show. The Big Fragile needs to be careful out there.
I thought the match was a good brawl that was on its way to being really special until all the run-ins, which were fine in terms of adding to the story. I think it was interesting that Miz & Truth wanted Punk to win and so did Laurinaitis by the way he acted. He didn’t want to ref to count when HHH pinned, but he wanted him in there when Punk was about to win. I’m sure people are pissed that Punk lost, but it was way too soon for Triple H to be removed as COO. If you’re keeping track, it took three Pedigrees and a Jackknife Powerbomb to beat Punk. They are definitely protecting him, so I’m fine with it. For those that will write asking why this main evented the PPV since it wasn’t a title match, I say why complain? I know that the PPV is called Night of Champions, but that doesn’t mean it should only be a six match card with only title matches. You need more than that. Plus, it was the match with the best build. They are two main eventers. It’s refreshing to see a PPV not end with a Cena match. I thought the show would end in Triple H turning heel. That didn’t happen. I still think it will happen before Survivor Series.
I give the PPV a 5.5 out of 10.
Night of Champions wasn’t as good as Money in the Bank (I gave it a 9/10) or Summerslam (8/10), but it was still a solid wrestling show. The main event had some run-ins that were very “TNA-like” as some would say, but they were all things that furthered the story. In TNA, every PPV has run-in main events. In WWE it’s very rare. I’m of the opinion that doing run-ins during main events once in a while is fine. It’s stupid to do it all the time, but if it furthers the “what’s next” angle I’m okay with it. There are a lot of unanswered questions going into Raw. Don’t be shocked if you see Vince McMahon soon either.
I’m not too happy about Del Rio’s title reign ending so soon. Like I said before I think it’s case of WWE panicking because ratings went down a bit and when that happens what they usually do are sudden title changes. They’ve moved the WWE Title around a lot in the last two months with Punk, Mysterio, Cena, Punk, Del Rio and now Cena all having it. That tells me that it’s not that hard to be WWE Champion if people can lose it so easily.
I was not as surprised with Mark Henry winning the title and I’m happy that they did it in a clean manner because how often has Orton lost clean? I’m just surprised that Orton had such a short title reign. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a few title changes between those two to end the year.
Thanks for reading.