9/20/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
For most of the evening, Night of Champions felt like a solid, unspectacular off-month PPV. The matches were better than average Raw matches and longer, plus they featured more conclusive finishes. On the other hand, there were no exceptional matches in the first two hours and the only meaningful storyline developments were Chris Jericho’s return and the first main roster title for Kevin Owens.
Then Seth Rollins entered the show. With two title defenses, Rollins was always going to make or break the PPV. With a pair of very different fantastic matches, Rollins not only made the show, he elevated it to being much more memorable than a normal off-month PPV.
Seth Rollins def. Sting to Remain WWE Champion
Despite the beating he took against Cena, Rollins worked like crazy against Sting from the opening bell. Sting went for a Scorpion Deathlock early against his weakened opponent. While Rollins got to the ropes, Sting continued a straightforward assault that Rollins made look exceptional with a great sales job. They both climbed on the announce table and Rollins shoved Sting backward through the Spanish announce table. He teased leaving his fallen foe, but returned, slammed Sting on the remnants, and got a near fall.
Sting seied control of the match back when he shoved Rollins to the floor on a springboard attempt. He hit a Scorpion Deathdrop that very nearly won him the title before Rollins got his foot on the rope. Rollins hit a Buckle Bomb that severely impacted Sting’s ribs. Sting came off the ropes and collapsed in a scary scene. The referee stopped the match and checked on him. When the doctor cleared Sting to continue, Rollins went for a Pedigree. Sting countered to a Scorpion Deathlock. Rollins got to the ropes and tried another Pedigree. Sting again tried to counter to a Scorpion Deathlock, but this time Rollins rolled him into a small package to get the win. It was a very clever finish because it showed rollins thinking two moves ahead.
After the win, Sheamus’s music hit and he rushed the ring to cash in his Money in the Bank contract on the exhausted champion. He hit a Brogue Kick, but before he could start the match, Kane’s music hit. Kane returned in his mask and hit Rollins with a chokeslam. Sheamus looked delighted until Kane turned on him and hit another chokeslam on Sheamus. He hit a Tombstone on Rollins to end the show. We have been waiting for Kane’s return for a long time and this execution paid off. Rollins was great all night and the show’s results teased a number of exciting avenues for him.
John Cena def. Seth Rollins to Become US Champion
Cena has wrestled so many great US Title matches this year that it should come as no surprise that he wrestled another one against the top wrestler in WWE at the moment. He came out extra aggressive against Rollins. His hot start only lasted briefly when Rollins came down with a stomp on a prone Cena in the corner. Rollins maintained his momentum when he blocked the Five Knuckle Shuffle and went for a Pedigree. Instead, Cena fought free, finished the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and nailed a nice destroyer for a near fall. Rollins tried to turn the tide with a Buckle Bomb, only for Cena to counter it into a hurricanrana.
Rollins turned the match in his favor when he landed on his feet on an AA attempt and hit two superkicks. He followed those with a topez con giro. He missed a frog splash, but hit a smooth superplex/vertical suplex combo. Cena recovered just enough to apply the STF. Rollins got to the ropes and turned an AA attempt into a deadlift Buckle Bomb. Cena slowly fought back and hit an inverted suplex and a leg drop from the top rope. He punctuated the run with an AA to get the pin in the center of the ring. A frustrated Rollins tried to leave ringside with his World Title, but Cena hit him with another AA on the floor. It was a gratifying finish because both wrestlers looked so good and the result left nothing in question. Rollins will always have the double champion line item on his resume. This outcome allows Cena to return to his fantastic US Open Challenge story.
The Wyatt Family def. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Chris Jericho
Over a month ago, my co-host Scott Strandberg used our WWE Depth Chart to predict Jericho as a partner for the former Shield brothers on our Going Over podcast. Jericho made sense because he had a prior history with the Wyatts and enough of a name to pay off as the mystery partner. The faces fed off of the fans and started the match quickly until Braun Strowman turned the tide. Despite Strowman’s power, Reigns hit a powrbomb on Luke Harper for a two count. Harper answered with a superkick on Reigns for a near fall of his own. Reigns struggled momentarily before he reached Jericho for the hot tag. Jericho hit a bulldog on Bray Wyatt and put him in the Walls of Jericho.
Wyatt got Strowman back in the ring. Reigns and Ambrose slowly started to make progress against him. They chopped him down and Reigns hit a spear. Jericho blindly tagged himself in against the wishes of Reigns. He hit a Lionsault, but only got a two count. Strowman caught Jericho’s Codebreaker and hit his flapjack off of the shoulder. He locked Jericho in his chokehold and rendered him unconscious to get the win. After the bell, Jericho faced off with Ambrose and Reigns. The tension nearly boiled over, but the only physical contact was a shoulder bump by Jericho on his way out of the ring. It was a very creative way to end this chapter between the Wyatts and former Shield. Jericho is a more natural heel and would pair excellently with Reigns, Ambrose, or both for the next few months.
Kevin Owens def. Ryback to Become Intercontinental Champion
The show opener was one of the better matches on the card and focused on what both wrestlers do well. After an initial gorilla press slam to the floor by Ryback, Owens started to focus his attack on Ryback’s left arm. He came up with a wide variety of creative ways to focus on the elbow. To his credit, Ryback also sold the injury believably and consistently. Every time Ryback went for a power move, the injured arm got in the way or dampened the impact. In particular, Ryback struggled to lift Owens for a Shell-Shock and Owens was able to rake his eyes out of the referee’s vision. He used the advantage to roll Ryback in a schoolboy and get the win. The Intercontinental Title is a great fit for Owens. Above all, he is a wrestler, and the belt has a lineage to match. Ryback’s run was not bad, but never got him or the belt close to semi-main event status. I will be interested to see what he does after this program rusn its course.
Charlotte def. Nikki Bella
I defended the Dusty finish to the Charlotte-Nikki match on Raw on the premise that it resulted in deep honest heat on Nikki. Instead, the match’s video package painted Nikki as a resilient champion and the match did not even live up to their first encounter. Charlotte tweaked her knee early and Nikki worked on it for the whole match. Charlotte had to fight out of a half crab and a sleeper. When she did, she hit a sudden spear and a Figure 8 to force Nikki to tap. I liked the post-match celebration with Ric Flair and I understand the idea of Charlotte’s gutty comeback. Unfortunately, the sudden comeback in the match didn’t make her look like much of a champion. Not even happened here.
Dudley Boys def. New Day by DQ, New Day Remains Tag Team Champions
New Day’s table-saving promo before the match gave way to rhythmic kicks and head locks to drive up the entertainment value. The Dudleys looked tremendous. Bubba’s superplex on Big E and Devon’s rally off of a hot tag belied their age. They hit a 3D on Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods had to break it up to save the titles. New Day retrieved a table and prepared to put the Dudleys through it, but they recovered and put Xavier through it instead. While the match was fine, the pre- and post-match angles were clearly the better parts of their segment. I think we’re all relieved, too, that this rivalry looks set to continue.
Dolph Ziggler def. Rusev
The build for this match lacked electricity and the opening minutes shared that shortcoming. Eventually, the two exchanged near falls off of superkicks. Summer Rae got on the apron and got knocked off, which led to her ejection by the referee. She threw both of her shoes out of frustration and the second one hit Rusev in the face. The shoe let Ziggler hit the Zig-Zag to get a somewhat surprising win. Both wrestlers are better than this feud has been. The lack of chemistry between Ziggler and Lana led to a broader lack of chemistry. Now is a good time to cut losses and move on.