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HITS & MISSES - WWE Night of Champions 9/18: Hunter-Punk, Cena-Del Rio, undercard title matches, look-ahead to HIAC

Randy Orton
By THE Wrestling Times -  -- 9/18 Night of Champions PPV Hits & Misses

PPV HITS

Air Boom vs. The Awesome Truth (WWE Tag Titles): This match was a strong way to start off Night of Champions. All four guys worked hard to get the crowd going (which was a good crowd for most of the night). I particularly liked the "missed tags" as it told a good story and kept alive the conspiracy theory in the minds of Miz and R-Truth. The finish was also fine with me because it kept the hunt for the Tag Titles alive and I think people thought the post-match interview would lead to some interference later in the night, which it did. A strong start to the PPV. 


Dolph Ziggler vs. John Morrison vs. Jack Swagger vs. Alex Riley (U.S. Title): I was happy with this match and the finish was surprising (the false finishes were also very well done). I, honestly, thought we were going to see a title change here; specifically, I thought we would see Swagger take the gold. What's ironic is that this was the Raw title that didn't move elsewhere this weekend and I figured it would be one of two to change hands. With that said, I liked how the match unfolded and was surprised at how Riley was given more "star treatment" in this match rather than Morrison. It was also booked in a way that keeps the triangle between Swagger, Ziggler, and Vicki Guerrero going and I'm all for storylines unfolding over a longer period of time. If you're going to have a 4-way match, this was one of the better ways to book it. 

 Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry (World Heavyweight Title): I've liked pretty much everything about this feud so far and the NOC match-up was no exception. The match wasn't a five-star gem, but both guys worked their tails off and I even liked how it was played up so much during the match that Henry has been with WWE for 15 years and hasn't ever won the "big one." Henry definitely deserves a run with the title and after hearing his post-match promo, I hope he gets a strong run until at least early 2012. One theory floated my way was that Henry hold onto the title until WrestleMania and he could lose the title to the ultimate underdog, Daniel Bryan. The problems there are that neither guy has the credibility in the eyes of the common fan to be a main-eventer at the biggest show of the year, especially at this point, and a lot would have to be done to get those guys there. The only counterargument that could be made is that there is enough star power in Rock-Cena and potentially a top-notch WWE Title match that could carry the show and allow those two to pull that match off. However, I still don't see it happening. 

Triple H vs. C.M. Punk (No DQ/COO title on the line): Was there too much interference in this match? Yes. Was this match over-booked? Yes. Did it feel like Vince Russo wrote the conclusion to it? Yes, again. However, the match was good enough before this all to become a hit and, while overbooked, I like that there were questions coming out of it that still need to be answered. Therefore, I stand firm on this as a hit and am still very interested at where WWE is headed with this story. There's a big difference between having one match/storyline overbooked and multiple matches/storylines overbooked like TNA does. I'm not down on this storyline yet and still look forward to seeing the main players in this storyline every Monday night. 

PPV MISSES

Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase (Intercontinental Title): The work was there from both guys, but this feud was so rushed that I just couldn't get into the match. I think this feud could develop into something a little stronger but it just wasn't there at NOC. This feud is in the early stages, so the miss doesn't fall so much on the shoulders of DiBiase and Rhodes here. Also, worth nothing, was how could Jerry Lawler contest that Rhodes won by cheating? If anything, DiBiase was ready to attack Rhodes with his own mask before the roll-up that ended the match. I probably shouldn't lump in bad announcing with a miss on a match, but it just had to be said.

Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix (Divas Title): This match had the makings of an exciting moment for Beth Phoenix, WWE, and the fans in Buffalo. Instead, it sucked the life out of the building! Yes, a Divas match once again sucked the life out the building. But, this time is was because of the final booking decision and not because the fans just weren't interested in seeing "yet another bad Divas match" because the match wasn't bad at all. This was the most interested I've seen a live crowd get into a Divas match in quite some time (granted, it was in Phoenix's hometown) and the crowd was just crushed when Kelly got another "fluke win." One fluke was passable last month. Now, I'm afraid the ship has sailed and WWE has dropped the ball big time on any chance of reviving the women's division again. 

Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena (WWE Title): The best way to convey how I felt after this match concluded is to simply tell you exactly how I reacted. When Del Rio tapped out, I literally put my head in my hands and didn't look at the TV for at least three minutes. There are no legitimate challengers left that Cena hasn't beat clean. The Cena love-fest has me frustrated beyond belief and the only way I could potentially get behind anything involving Cena right now would be a massive overhaul that includes him turning heel. Of course, I highly doubt that this will happen. I would think that Cena fans would also not care too much about his title reigns anymore because they are so brief and the chases are so short that the conquest practically mean nothing. However, Cena's character is mostly catered to a younger crowd and I suppose it doesn't take much to get the fanbase excited (therein lies the problem), so nothing will probably change. As for Del Rio, he deserved much better for his first title run. He just won the title one month ago and is solid inthe ring and with his promos. I believe hHaving him lose to Cena this soon, in a clean manner, does nothing for him, the title, and WWE business in the long-run. 

ANALYSIS/OVERALL GRADE

Overall, I thought this PPV started to tank after the Divas Title match. The energy was really zapped from the crowd and it also was a turning point for the rest of the show. It certainly wasn't a bad show by any means, but it wasn't a good one either. The undercard wasn't bad, but between the two main event matches that "sold the show," there was some disappointment, especially the WWE Title match. I'd say that it was a slightly above average show that didn't live up to its potential. NOC could've easily been a solid "B" to "B-plus" show, but instead graded out to about a "C." 

Moving forward, there's only a two-week turnaround to the next PPV. So, there shouldn't be much hesitation in terms of booking matches for tonight's Raw. I'm assuming there will be Triple H and Punk in some sort of re-match, possibly involving KevinNash, in Hell in a Cell. Del Rio and Orton, more than likely, will also get their title re-matches. With the quick turnaround, I don't expect many fresh match-ups heading into that show. I also don't expect many more answers that concern the Punk-Triple H-Nash feud and I'm actually okay with that. I'd like to see this stretched out as long as possible. To those that have judged the storyline already, I still feel it's too early to do so, even if it seems like part of it have been fumbled. To those people, I say to wait it out and see what happens at the finish line. 

In terms of the undercard, I think WWE will finally go with Ziggler-Swagger for the U.S. Title and I'd like to see more from Rhodes and DiBiase with the IC Title. Both feuds have potential and they could elevate both titles if they're given the proper time to build these feuds. Miz and Truth also are in an interesting mid-to-upper-card position. They are involved in a feud over the Tag Titles, while now also being sprinkled into the top feud on the show. I'm curious to see how this gets played out. 

Other than anything involving Cena, I haven't given up on the slow build to some of the current WWE storylines. Every feud other than Cena-Del Rio that was featured at NOC seems to have a nice foundation to it with room for a nice, slow build. The Divas feud is definitely on life support, but when aren't the Divas feuds, and division for that matter? I still just hope WWE will stay the course with these other feuds despite the struggling ratings because they do have some legs to them.