NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS
September 19, 2010
It looks like the next generation of WWE Superstars is taking over! The Miz, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler steal the show. Meanwhile, Kane and Undertaker sleepwalk through a match that could cure insomnia.
Dolph Ziggler . . . proves that it’s no fluke that he’s Intercontinental Champion, despite his storyline girlfriend.
CM Punk . . . has evidently been brushing up on his Lucha Libre watching.
The Miz . . . goes one-on-one with “The Best Wrestler in the World” and holds his own just fine.
DOLPH ZIGGLER © vs. KOFI KINGSTON (WWE Intercontinental Title)
As far as structure goes, this isn’t all that different from their match from the month before, the only difference is that this time we get a satisfying conclusion. Kofi isn’t as intense as he was at Summerslam, but he still busts out that great Thesz press. Dolph has the same sort of strategy, wearing down Kofi’s neck and trying to finish off with the sleeper. The stipulation (Dolph loses the title if he gets disqualified or counted out) mandates that this be honestly contested, and even when there’s an opening for Vickie to take a cheap shot, Dolph waves her off. Dolph shows that he’s getting ahead in the match by working smart, his counter of the SOS to the sleeper is the best individual spot of the match and his constant dodging of Trouble in Paradise is what leads him to hit the jumping neckbreaker that finishes off Kofi. Dolph going over completely clean doesn’t do Kofi any favors, but, this goes a long way toward giving Dolph some real credibility, instead of just being the guy on Vickie’s arm. ***1/4
THE BIG SHOW vs. CM PUNK
Why is this match happening on a PPV specifically designed for title matches? This couldn’t even be a number one contender match? This is mostly a squash for Show, but Punk makes his two spots count, the slingshot senton to the floor was straight out of CMLL and was twenty different types of awesome. Show sucks everything up and gets the easy win with the KO punch. Would anyone expect anything less from a Punk match in Chi-Town?
THE MIZ © vs. DANIEL BRYAN (WWE United States Title)
The fact that Danielson is involved should be enough indication that this is good. But, what some may find surprising is that Miz more than pulls his weight in making this as good as it is. Nobody would ever believe that Miz could beat Bryan in a wrestling match, but when Miz snaps Bryan’s arm over the ropes and keeps working it over, it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Miz is great at coming up with various spots and holds to keep things moving. The shoulder breaker is completely out of left field, but it’s the perfect move to use in this situation. The idea of Miz winning by tap out seems ludicrous, but when Miz starts stretching out the arm, it actually looks like he could pull it off.
Bryan puts over the arm as great as you’d expect him too. Even when he takes over the match, it’s still firmly in mind and continues to be right up until the bell rings. The closest he comes to really ignoring it is his prawn hold near fall when he causes Miz to run into A-Ri, and even then, he sells it after Miz kicks out. Aside from the great job in telling the basic story, there’s a nice stretch of near falls from both of them toward the end, Bryan’s victory roll counter to the Skull Crushing Finale was especially great. The way Bryan seamlessly takes down Miz and traps in the LeBell lock to force him to tap (to a huge pop, showing the real value in long term storytelling and angles) reenforces what everyone knew going in, but Miz was momentarily able to make everyone forget, that Bryan *is* the better wrestler. ***1/2
MELINA © vs. MICHELLE McCOOL © (Lumberjill Match to Unify the WWE Diva’s and WWE Women’s Titles)
Why even have this match format if the Lumberjills don’t do their “assigned” task of throwing Melina and Michelle into the ring when one or both them goes to the floor? They give Melina plenty of room, and then they all gang up on Michelle, the opposite over what should be happening. The wrestling itself isn’t anything to write home about, aside from a couple of nice transitions and counters from Michelle. The finish is overbooked and silly, with the Lumberjills ganging up on Michelle, while Melina easily dispatches an interfering Layla. Then a single kick from Michelle puts her down for the count. Okay then.
KANE © vs. THE UNDERTAKER (World Heavyweight Title)
Aside from a smart finish, with Kane reversing UT’s Tombstone into one of his own, essentially snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, there’s not much here to see here. It’s mostly just Kane and ‘Taker brawling mixed in with the usual Kane and ‘Taker spots like UT’s tope and Kane’s diving lariat. The rest of the match is just a slow paced punch and kick brawl with the idea that UT is still too injured to give it his all, resulting in Kane mostly squashing him until he finally starts to come back. This could have only gone eight minutes rather than eighteen and it’d have probably been pretty much the same match.
TAG TEAM TURMOIL (WWE Tag Team Titles)
Hey, the Hart Dynasty vs. The Usos didn’t suck for once! It probably helped that it was go-go-go without the Usos getting a chance to drag things down. Kidd hits an awesomely sick Asai Moonsault from the top, but Tamina distracts the ref and the Usos steal the win to ensure new champions. The Usos vs. Santino and Koslov isn’t too bad either. The key to working with the Usos must be to keep things short, work fast, and not to let them do any offense of their own. Santino pops the crowd with his comedy, but gets hit with the Samoan drop while he’s setting up the Cobra. The Usos’ luck runs out against Mark Henry and Evan Bourne. Not just because they lose, but because they try to work over Bourne a bit and it’s obvious why they weren’t doing anything before. Luckily, this is another short fall. Bourne tags Henry who plants one of them with the big slam and then the SSP from Bourne ends the Usos’ night.
The final fall of the match with Henry/Bourne against Cody Rhodes/Drew McIntyre is the only exchange that gets any real time, and it’s mostly typical formula stuff. Rhodes and McIntyre don’t do much besides punch and kick while they’re working over Bourne, but they both show a nice mean streak while doing so, which helps. Henry gets the hot tag and cleans house, but they make the mistake of trying to be too flashy with the SSP off Henry’s shoulders and Drew breaks it up, which leads to Rhodes pinning Bourne after the Cross Rhodes. Hey, if nothing else, it’s the first time in a long time that this sort of match didn’t end with a surprise team showing up at the end to take the titles.
SHEAMUS © vs. EDGE vs. CHRIS JERICHO vs. JOHN CENA vs. RANDY ORTON vs. WADE BARRETT (WWE Heavyweight Title)
The best thing here is the booking of the various eliminations. The work itself isn’t anything special, especially the long stretch from Jericho’s elimination until Edge is eliminated. The match may as well be a typical four-way match, three wrestlers spend an obscene amount of time on the floor while two others will work, and then it’s time to rotate. The only really good stretch is a bit early on, when Orton and Cena take turns scouting each other’s big moves. There’s also a nice little section where Orton and Edge try to suplex Cena, but he blocks it, and then later Edge takes out Cena’s leg so that he and Sheamus can give Cena a suplex, but that’s as good as it gets.
It’s the eliminations and booking that really makes this work. Orton’s quick elimination of Jericho supposedly send him packing (Jericho claimed he’d leave the WWE if he didn’t win the title and reneged), until Orton did it for real couple weeks after this. Orton is the MVP of the match in that regard, eliminating Jericho, Barrett (despite a Nexus attack), and then Sheamus to take the title. Barrett (with some help from Nexus) eliminates Cena to continue their feud leading to the PPV the next month. The final exchange between Orton and Sheamus plays off their Summerslam match, only without Sheamus having the easy out to keep the title. Sheamus gets frustrated when he can’t put Orton way, and winds up walking himself into the RKO. Had the work itself been even half as good as the booking, then this would have been a damn good main event, instead it’s watchable but that’s about it.
Conclusion: It’s hard to go wrong with this show. The only big negatives here are the World Title match and the Women’s match. But you’ve got two damn good matches in the Intercontinental and United States title matches, and the rest of the matches have some sort of redeeming quality.