Pre-show notes: If you missed the show, you can watch it here on WWE Network. You can find past editions of The Best and Worst of Night of Champions on its tag page.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Night of Champions 2015.
Best: The New Big Guy
The opening match for Night Of Champions was full of surprises. I was surprised that they’d open with a Ryback match, surprised that a Ryback match would center around psychologically-sound limb work, surprised that Kevin Owens went over (almost) clean, and surprised that it was one of the best matches of the night. Ryback is one of those guys who is eternally frustrating because he understands how wrestling works and can be genuinely great, but spends most of his time doing cross-eyed readings of cue cards and shaking his head between taunts. The way to book Ryback is to put him in the ring with opponents who beg him to be something more. Put him in with Daniel Bryan or Owens, and he shines. Put him in with Big Show or Miz, and he doesn’t. It’s what keeps him from being a top guy, but it’s also a totally exploitable, genuine skill that should be the focus of his WWE career.
Anyway, yeah, Kevin Owens and Ryback kinda tore it up. I wasn’t expecting it. I’ll mention it a little later when Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte happens, but we sometimes forget that early match limb work is supposed to have something to do with the finish. That’s why you’re doing it, right? Think of wrestling as a real competition for a second. If your opponent does something signature with his arms, you’d want to attack his arms, right? If he uses his legs or his back, you attack those. At the same time, if your opponent is KNOWN for those things, he might be hard to injure in those areas, and that’s where the give-and-take limb work battles come from.