Another week, another Wrestling pay-per-view. This time it's WWE's Night of Champions. The event where every WWE Title is on the line. A very fun concept, and a nice way to add something special to the show. I mentioned in my last WWE PPV article that Cyber Sunday was going to be changed to Annihilation. The title has been changed again... this time to the even lamer "WWE Bragging Rights"... and how I was looking forward to seeing the Superstars bust out "Fatalities" at the end of their matches.
This show had the great advantage of being placed several weeks after the last PPV event, giving feuds time to percolate a bit more than usual. In a nice touch, the WWE stopped having ANY title matches over the past few weeks to ensure who the champions would be going in and to make this show feel a bit more special.
Onto the matches:
WWE Title Match:
Randy orton (c) v Triple H v John Cena
Okay, before I go into this one, I'd like to say that I hope the Triple H/John Cena comedy tour doesn't come to my town any time soon. This past Monday on Raw, we were treated to about five minutes of shtick between HHH and Cena... all the while poor (WWE Champion) Randy Orton had to stand outside the ring and seethe. This match was put together thru a mini tournament that came down to John Cena and Triple H. Their match went to a No-Contest, so the natural result is a triple threat match. I'd like to see Orton pull this one out, however, his character and effectiveness has been neutered, seemingly at every turn. I can't remember the last time he was made to look credible. I guess an argument can be made that he's playing the classic chickens*** heel, but that kind of clashes with his current heartless, remorseless "viper" gimmick. I have a sneaking suspicion that Triple H will take the title here, and we'll be seeing this same match again at SummerSlam (possibly with a stipulation).
World Heavyweight Title Match:
CM Punk (c) v Jeff Hardy
CM Punk's heel turn doesn't seem complete just yet. He's still playing a (little) bit in the middle here. This match has been built very well, and has featured great work by both men. We're currently in July, which is when Jeff Hardy's contract was rumored to expire. There hasn't been any news on his contractual status as of yet, so with that niggling thought in the back of my mind, I almost have to give the win to Punk. Unless this is a rare occasion where the news hasn't been leaked yet, I can't see Hardy going over when he could just take off on the next week or two. I expect a great match regardless.
ECW Title Match:
Tommy Dreamer (c) v Christian
This match is kind of dependent on the Unified Tag Title Match. I've picked Christian as Jericho's mystery partner. I think it could be telegraphed here if Dreamer gets the win, and is immediately swooped into a Vladimir Koslov confrontation/feud. It would be interesting if Christian were to win here, and also be the mystery partner. I'm not sure how big the WWE is at the moment on having a double champion. Either way, Christian and Dreamer have worked together surprisingly well over the past several weeks/months. This should be a decent match. If I had to pick a winner... I'll go with Dreamer, if only to further push my outlandish hope that Christian is Jericho's pick.
Intercontinental Title Match:
Rey Mysterio (c) v Dolph Ziggler
One of the most improved superstars on the roster versus one of the most consistently awesome superstars on the roster. This match has no downside. Ziggler, goofy name aside, has really stepped up his game since moving to the blue show. Mysterio has been great for as long as I can remember, at this point. Since there are no strange stipulations attached to this one, I'm going to pick Dolph here.
United States Title Match:
Kofi Kingston (c) v The Miz v Jack Swagger v MVP v The Big Show v Carlito Colon
The omission of Primo Colon here is mind boggling. Primo had an awesome showing this past Raw in a six-man-tag, where he pinned his brother Carlito for the win. Putting the, not so awesome Carlito in this match in his stead seems kind of strange. No Evan Bourne here either, which is also odd. Anyhoo, I'd like to see Jack Swagger walk out with the US strap, and move on to a singles feud with MVP. It's only fitting for the "All-American American" to be the United States Champion. The Big Show inclusion is a bit annoying here as well, he should really be in WWE Title contention (which is a terribly stale program at the moment). It seems as though his pushes are sporadic enough to where he looks like a contender, but too sporadic in that he doesn't look like a credible champion.
Unified Tag Team Title Match:
Chris Jericho & ??? (C) v Priceless/Legacy (Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes)
Chris Jericho and Edge won the Unified Tag Team Titles last month at The Bash, when SmackDown! General Manager, Teddy Long added them to the Colons v DiBiase/Rhodes match in the interest of "shaking things up" and appeasing Mr. McMahon (who had just put Teddy on "probation"). In the weeks that followed, Edge had suffered a torn Achilles tendon which may keep him out of action for up to a year. Rather than strip Jericho/Edge of the titles, they've gone another route. Chris Jericho claims to have written special stipulations into his Championship agreement. Knowing that Edge is "injury prone", he had these stips written in to protect his investment in the team... now, Jericho is sole owner of the Unified Tag Team titles and reserves the right to choose his next tag team partner.
Got all that?
DiBiase and Rhodes are still in the same position they've been in since forming Legacy. They're Randy Orton's back-up, and are the guys that generally take the beatings that are meant for Orton. Last month, I picked Priceless to take the titles, so that all members of the Legacy would have gold. This time, I'm going the other direction. Jericho and his new partner will win, and the loss will further sow dissension into the Legacy stable, which is already incredibly weak as it currently stands. I'm still convinced that Ted DiBiase Jr. is being groomed for a babyface run, especially with his movie coming out sometime soon. As far as the mystery partner is concerned... Jericho has claimed that this new partner and he shared a lot of like traits. Right now, the (possible red-herring?) best guess would be Dolph Ziggler, who is currently feuding with Jericho-foe and Intercontinental champion Rey Mysterio. Another rumor is Matt Hardy, who's not doing anything besides healing from injury himself at this point. I, however, would really like for it to be Christian. It would allow Christian to remain on the ECW roster, and be able to float as 1/2 of the Unified Tag Champs. Christian's face run so far has been fun, however, I think he's always worked better as a heel, and has history with Jericho to boot. Ought to be a good match.
WWE Divas Title Match:
Maryse (c) v Mickie James
Mickie James and Maryse have been feuding since the draft. Mickie's always been fun, while Maryse... is kind of a poor-man's Angelina Love from TNA. She's okay to watch, and as long as she's holding the Diva's title, she'll be relevant... but, I really don't know how the WWE will make us care about her once she loses the title. There's really not a whole lot more to her than the belt. Her character only has an upside as a winner. If she's made to lose, her character changes. I think for this reason (or not, I may be in the minority here), that Maryse will retain here, and possibly move into a program with Gail Kim... while they waste Mickie in multi-diva tags for the next several months until it's her turn for a title program again.
WWE Women's Title Match:
Michelle McCool (c) v Melina
Hadn't seen this one advertised anywhere besides Jim Ross's Blog (haven't watched the go-home episode of SmackDown! yet) and almost thought they decided to leave this one off the show. Last month at the Bash, Michelle McCool became the first lady wrestler to have won both the Women's and Diva's Titles, respectively. Since then, there was a little roster shake-up explained away as (former Raw-owner) Donald Trump having arranged a 15-Superstar inter brand trade. In that trade, McCool lost her sidekick, Alisha Fox to Raw (I try not to read the rumor-mill... okokok, I try to take everything I read in the rumor mill with a grain of salt), because they feared that Fox was taking away some of McCool's heat. Also, in that trade... Gail Kim headed to the Red Show. While both lady's divisions are pretty shallow (no pun intended), SmackDown!'s is, in my own uneducated opinion, especially so. Beside the women involved in this match, I can only think of Natalya Neidhart (a heel) as a credible threat to the title. Eve and Layla, may, in time become contenders (Eve especially has shown much passion of late). All that said, I think McCool will retain, and Melina will chase the title until SD! can build another credible contender to McCool.
There you have it. Notable Superstars NOT involved in this show: Mark Henry, John Morrison & Evan Bourne (and to a lesser extent, Primo Colon). I would assume that Kane and Khali are being held off until SummerSlam (and by the fact that neither of them currently hold any gold. Seems like a fun card that may just be worth a purchase. Personally, I'm waiting for SummerSlam, where I'll probably hit up R.T. O'Sullivans with the guys... but, if I had money to blow, I wouldn't feel all that bad about blowing it on this show. Enjoy.