9/21/14 Night of Champions Review: Lesnar and Cena Help WWE Raise the Bar

 

If WWE wants to maximize the success of WWE Network, it has an incentive to keep its best content on the subscription platform. Night of Champions was a phenomenal event on WWE Network that followed five sub-par weeks of WWE programming on cable TV. I will not go so far as to suggest that WWE has willfully subjugated its free programming beneath its Network programming. On the other hand, there is no doubt that WWE reversed course at Night of Champions and redeemed the plodding storytelling from weeks before. Beyond the narrative and the in-ring action, the little things worked, as well. The announcers called the action in the ring and established the stakes of the matches more urgently than normal. The characters behaved in believable ways that fit their personas. Even the set and graphics packages were noticeably better than usual. It is hard to say whether Night of Champions was a better show than SummerSlam or Wrestlemania XXI, but the fact that it is even comparable to the top two shows on the WWE calendar speaks very well of the event. Even if the success does not translate into Network subscribers overnight, history shows that quality wrestling translates into dollars more predictably than anything else.

John Cena def. Brock Lesnar by DQ; Brock Lesnar remained WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Grade: A-

In the Night of Champions preview, I suggested that the storyline would revolve around either Cena’s incomparable resilience or Lesnar’s dominance. The main event featured both of those elements, but concluded with a slight turn that made sense and helped keep the storyline compelling. Cena blocked a German Suplex and hit Lesnar with an Attitude Adjustment in the first minute of the match and Lesnar managed to kick out at one. Lesnar recovered quickly and became dominant quickly. Kimura Lock. German Suplex. Kimura Lock. German Suplex. Triple Vertical Suplexes. Kimura Lock. Bellyt-to-belly Suplex. Lesnar hit Cena with a wider variety of moves than his dominant victory at SummerSlam, though he continued to cut off every Cena rally. He avoided an attempt at another AA and hit a German Suplex. After a series of shoulder blocks by Lesnar, Cena caught him and hit a second AA that got a two count. He slid out of an F5 attempt and locked Lesnar in the STF. Lesnar escaped and put Cena in the Kimura Lock once again, only for Cena to lift him out and slam him into the turnbuckle. Another AA led to an STF that wore Lesnar down near the edge of submission. Cena released the hold and hit a fourth AA that looked to have the match won for him. Seth Rollins ran into the ring and broke up the pin with a shot from his Money in the Bank Briefcase to Cena. He hit Lesnar with a Curb Stomp and announced that he would cash in his contract. Cena attacked Rollins and did not let him cash in. The bell never rang, but Lesnar recovered while Cena watched Rollins retreat. He hit an F5 to leave Cena laid out while he posed with his title belt. The match was as hard hitting as the SummerSlam main event, but it went both ways. Although many wrestlers do not show this level of physicality, Lesnar and Cena clearly showed the impact of the match on their bodies. It was a tremendous match for both participants. The dusty finish fit into the storyline even though the great match deserved a clean finish.

Randy Orton def. Chris Jericho

Grade: A

As I have said before, quality execution in wrestling outweighs surprise every time. It was not surprising that Orton wo