IHAO on ... Night of Champions 2014

Wrestling is a fickle mistress to its fans.  Sometimes, things are really great, like basically everything put on at NXT.  Sometimes, things are a mixed bag of good, bad, and great.  Sometimes, things are just garbage.  But for the most part, wrestling is a hobby that feeds itself.  What I mean by that is that you watch wrestling, and if you enjoy it, you keep watching it.  Good, bad, great, weird, boring, whatever, there is something to bring you back to watch another day of wrestling.  The only thing that can really stop is when you have a PPV like Night of Champions, where everything is bad.  There isn't an ounce of worthwhile to draw you back into the fold.  There is just bad match after bad match after bad match after bad match.  Even the best match of the night still really needed something else to kick it up.

Before I go any further, let's get into my review of Night of Champions.

The Dust Brothers beat the Usos to become Tag Team Champions

This match was ... ok, hold on, I'm going to do something a little different.

 Sheamus retained the United States Championship against Cesaro; 

 The Miz cheated to pin Dolph Ziggler to win back the Intercontinental Championship; 

Rusev made Mark Henry tap out for Russia, I guess

So I opened up my whole review saying everything was bad.  And that is true, everything wasn't good.  But what makes these four undercard matches bad is something very hard to really get a grasp on: telegraphing.  There is an energy to sports, a spontaneity.  There is excitement and adventure and thrill when you watch as your team makes a great play, or suddenly there is a sac that puts your guys back 7 yards that could cost your entire advantage, or a simple fault puts the pressure on one of the tennis guys you are watch, or other sports things to make my point.  Professional wrestling has to have that feeling.  That spontaneity as to exist.  We have to be seeing the moves and counters and offense and defense and all of that as if it is happening RIGHT NOW.  That immediacy creates the tension that allows the rest of the professional wrestling storytelling tropes to come into play and feel excited and energetic for this match.

The Usos and the Dust Brothers have wrestled each other a good bit in their pasts.  They work pretty well together.  In fact, they work too well together.  They know what the other one is setting up, and reach appropriately, because this is a scripted show, even if a lot of its individual choices are improvised.  But when you react to a maneuver a little before you get hit, you are telegraphing.

Sheamus and Cesaro have had probably seven or eight matches against each other, and they have really gotten to know each other's styles.  And they've also gotten used to their presence in the ring and just ... not "go through the motions" because that sounds like they don't care, which isn't true, they are working hard, they just ... have become stale, and telegraph just about every single moment within their match.

Put the slow Rusev in a match with slower Mark Henry, and you have a plodding fight that is about as interesting as watching a piece of steak and a piece of lamb get slapped against each other for 6 minutes.  Shameless pandering to the international/national gimmicks makes this even worse.

Miz and Ziggler have had so many matches, that they even added a whole bunch of comedy and two country superstars to this one to keep it entertaining.  And it didn't work.  Of the four, this one is the closest to being a good match.  But the Miz is incredibly limited, the commentary is a joke, and Ziggler is left out to dry to keep this feud going when he should be doing bigger and better things.

All four of these matches, which is a little over half the three-hour long show's run length, are not up to snuff.  There are great wrestlers chomping at the bit for any screentime in your own company, waiting to prove themselves, and most of these matches were a waste of time.  No, all of them were a waste of time, and even worse, in the case of Ziggler they were a waste of talent.  At least in the tag match we have new champs who have unseated the long (and basically boring) reigning tag champs in the Usos.  Maybe we'll finally get some fire in the tag division and have some real competition.

Verdict for all four - Not worth watching, not bad enough to be angry about

The anger, no, that's coming a little later.  But sense I condensed those four matches into one big blob of bad, let me put the next group together.


Seth Rollins declared winner after forfeit, but Dean Ambrose don't care
AJ Lee defeats Nikki Bella and Paige in a triple threat to become Divas Champ again
John Cena wins by DQ against Lesnar

Forgive the formatting, things got a little wonky.  Now, why are these three bundled together?  Because they are all still bad, but there is some ok to pretty good in these ones.  They don't all have the problem the others did with staleness and telegraphing.  These three segments get bundled together because their strong merits were either ruined, repeated, or wasted.

Rollins is doing a good job doing his heel Money in the Bank thing.  Reigns has "emergency" hernia surgery - that is INCREDIBLY well timed, considering he had no more feuds, was starting to get stale to the audience, and had to be kept away from the title scene somehow - so just like at Battleground, Seth is declared winner by forfeit because Reigns couldn't compete.  And then Dean Ambrose arrives via taxi to kick some butt.  Not a lot, but a little.  But he's quickly stopped and carted out before anything truly interesting can happen.  The fans wanted to see Ambrose again, and that's really what saved this incredibly uninteresting brawl: Ambrose.  He's the best thing going for the WWE right now for keeping things actually entertaining, with his lizard face and brawling antics.  But the WWE right now just cannot kill a feud, so of course, he is stopped by the trainers and various other personnel that HHH sends out to save Rollins, and the feud continues.  Will it be good when we get the blow off?  Who knows.  I have my doubts.

The Divas Triple Threat match ... ok, there is some really good stuff to talk about.  We have three women who are all working hard to be good wrestlers.  All three are saddled with bad versions of gimmicks they COULD be doing well.  And all three are given three times as much match time as is normally given to a Divas match.  This is the match of the night, with all three women bumping around for each other, the competition being strong, and the offense looking good.  The problem is that instead of filling a match with great stuff, they stretch out the stuff they wanted to do, and fill in the gaps with irritating character garbage.  If you were watching this match, you would have no reason to think that Nikki was heel in it.  She wasn't an important part of the story.  She was just there as a reward for being a bad guy.  The story was about Paige and AJ, and their frenemy-ship.  And since AJ has won, it will more than likely continue.  If they can make this different, and new, and get some real fire going, then the feud will be reinvigorated.  Stop with the skipping, get to having the good matches I know you can!  Because hot damn, this match was long, and had great spots.  They just had a bunch of space between them that dragged the whole thing down.

On a similar topic, Brie Bella is the least sympathetic babyface just ... ever.  She is constantly one-upped by Stephanie, Paige, Nikki, everyone, and all she does is cry or make snide comments.  YOU CANNOT GET OVER YOUR BABYFACES IF THEY ACT LIKE COWARDS AND WHINNY BABIES.  At some point, Brie should have been fighting back.  Showing some kind of spirit, some willingness to fight!  This kind of booking is actually what hurt Daniel Bryan after his Wrestlemania win, when he was just always smiling and joking and running in fear from Kane.  He never once brought the fight until the PPV matches.

Ok, and then Cena and Lesnar.  Lesnar kicked out of 4 or 5 finishers this match, most of them on a 1.  Yes, I understand you are trying to make him look like a monster, but when he kicks out of a finisher at 1, you have made everyone that ever got hit with that finisher in the past that didn't kick out at all a huge puss.  There is no realism.  And not only that, it makes you have to continue to up the ante.  The beat down with Cena at Summerslam was intense and amazing because of its brutality.  And it had plenty of finishers, too, but Cena didn't look as strong there as Lesnar did here.

Oh, and Lesnar used a move that has broken multiple people's arms in the kayfabe of the show, in the reality we are presented, Lesnar did that to Cena multiple times to Cena, for longer and longer periods ... and of course Cena never once sold a single ounce of damage to his arm.  Hell, he even did the very classic 'passed out during a submission" spot, where a ref picks up the guys arm, and it drops because he's all but out, and he does it again, but on the third one, he stands strong!  Yeah, Cena did that, except he stayed strong on even the first one.  THE SPOT DOESN'T WORK IF YOU AREN'T IN PERIL!  THAT'S WHY SPOTS LIKE THAT ARE CALLED "FACE IN PERIL" SPOTS!

This match was plodding, boring, and even worse, pointless, as Seth Rollins comes out to cause a DQ finish, then tease a cash-in, and get run off so that everything stays exactly the same.  Cena never has a feud that doesn't go three PPVs, and it is infuriating that I went into this match knowing for a fact that it wouldn't matter because Hell in a Cell is just a month away, where these feuds will almost all continue:  Ziggler/Miz, Cena/Lesnar, Rollins/Ambrose, Usos/Dusts, AJ/Paige.  Rusev will move on to Big Show, or maybe Sheamus, and hell, maybe Sheamus/Cesaro will have another go around.

Verdict - Better than the last four, but also more infuriating, especially the main event

Randy Orton RKOs Jericho to send Jericho away for a little after he does a flying gonna-get-countered-into-an-RKO-butt

But the creme de la creme is this one.  You got two high card talents but got nothing to do with them?  Have the heel attack the face for no reason, admit to it, and then they can have a match to earn a paycheck.  Jericho has done no one any good since he started doing his short stint returns a year back or so.  Feud with Fandango, nothing.  Feud with Ziggler, nothing.  Feud with Bray, nothing.  None of it mattered.  Not only that, he constantly loses, so a win against him no longer means anything.

Then you get Orton who has become so stale that I could ... I don't even feel like making a metaphor, he's just going through the motions.  He has no reason to push himself to be great, so he isn't.  His matches are monotonous and have been for months, and they will continue to be because he isn't going to be feuding with Lesnar, so he'll just float around doing nothing and make a huge amount of money for putting in the littlest effort he can.

These two were both just tired, and old, and ready to be done.  There was no point to this feud other than to pay these two guys.  You want to be mad about the WWE paying Lesnar to compete rarely, or the Rock for just a few matches?  Why not get made at guys like Orton who get paid to just waste our time and never strive for anything.  He makes just as much money, but wastes even more screentime.  At least the Rock and Lesnar had feuds.  They had storylines.  Orton attacked Jericho because "hey, might as well, its the season premiere of Raw."

And how can a show have a season premiere if it never doesn't air?!  WWE programming, not including NXT or Total Divas or any other side things, is on national television for seven hours a week, spread out to four days out of the week, except for when we get PPVs, which just adds even more hours and takes up another day.  And we just see the same garbage over and over and over.  So yeah, there is no "season premiere" so go shove that up your butt!

ALSO!  Can we STOP with the doing awful nonsense moves so that Orton can do the RKO "out of nowhere"?  It isn't out of nowhere, he does it the same every time!  ALSO stop superplexing all the time, Orton!!!  It doesn't do any good when a big maneuver is used in every one of your matches so it doesn't have any kind of impact and you treat it like it is as devastating as a double clothesline!  THE DIVAS DID A BETTER, MORE IMPACTFUL, MORE INTERESTING SUPERPLEX THAN YOU, AND FOR THE LONGEST TIME THEY WERE THE BATHROOM BREAK!


Verdict - Please, Jericho, retire so your Hall of Fame career doesn't become a joke.  And Orton, just ... stop.

Thank goodness for NXT.  Where every wrestler is excited to be there, they are all fighting for their spot, and they are all working to put on great matches every time they can.  Where HHH guides people to make better and better gimmick decisions, not letting guys go out there with a bad gimmick.

I hated Night of Champions.  It is probably the worst PPV of the year.  I hope WWE doesn't take me up on ---


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