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Please click through for the Best and Worst of WWE Night Of Champions 2013.
Best: Let’s Give It Up For The Night Of Champions Opening Video Package
I yell a lot at WWE for not embracing their history because WWE history is awesome. Not because I am a continuity nerd, although I am that.
When I was a kid I loved wrestling, but what I was REALLY into was baseball. I was an Orioles fan because my dad was an Orioles fan, so I loved Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray because they were the big stars. What made me a baseball fan for LIFE was discovering the hundred years or so baseball had lived before me, watching old footage of Mickey Mantle and Bob Gibson and hundreds of other guys who were great at a thing I loved. I was always thirsty for knowledge, and baseball was like, “here, little boy, look at how we’ve magically defined a nation for a century, don’t you want to be a part of this?” At no point did baseball say “it’s the 1985 season, forget everything that happened before April.”
I like when WWE seems okay with their history, and isn’t afraid to put up pictures of Buddy Rogers and Pedro Morales and be like, “here, little boy, like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan? These guys were them first. Don’t you want to be a part of this?” The serious announcer helps a lot, too. TNA’s done that to open 90% of their pay-per-views, and their entire history is “Jeff Jarrett.”
Worst: Me Too, Paul. Me Too.
I was worried (read: not worried) that the Intercontinental Championship wasn’t going to be defended on the pay-per-view built around the idea of every title being defended, but thankfully Triple H knows that throwaway undercard title matches we’ve seen twice already this month are BEST FOR BUSINESS and made an impromptu Kofi Kingston/Curtis Axel match.
Granted, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. It wasn’t as bad as the Raw match. Kofi is helped tremendously when he’s doing his thing in front of a crowd that actually likes it, instead of commanding people to mindlessly yell “boom” and clap their hands all stupid between deep stretches of boredom. “Guy who has competent-ish matches with lower card talent” is Curtis Axel’s wheelhouse (see: his NXT feud with Tyson Kidd, where he almost convinced us he was worth another shot), so if you can put them together and not have it slow the world to a halt, it can work.
It also helped get over the story that Paul Heyman was doomed, because nobody thought Axel was gonna beat Punk full strength, and now he’s just wrestled for 10 minutes and been kicked in the face a bunch beforehand. Heyman getting more and more frustrated with Axel’s ineptitude is a good sign for wrestling fans, because it increases the chance that he’ll jettison Axel into space forever and pretend that whole “infallibility of Paul Heyman Guys” thing still exists. Bring up Paige to steal AJ’s thunder, quietly Forrest Gump Antonio Cesaro into some old ECW footage and there you go.
My least favorite part of the match happens about midway through, though, when Axel does his weird galloping leapfrog that barely clears the dude (seriously, Kofi could’ve been lying facedown on the mat and Axel would’ve almost crotched him in the top of the head) and hits a weak dropkick to the sternum, and JBL yells out, “LOOKS LIKE ‘IS DADDY RIGHT’DERE.” LOOKS LIKE HIS DADDY NOWHERE, JBL.
Worst: Rob Van Dam Stars In Destinos
A brief transcript of “Rob Van Dam learns Spanish from the first Hispanic person he’s ever met and also he’s in 10th grade apparently,” in case you missed it:
RVD: “how do you say ‘hasn’t learned a new move since 2000’ in spanish”
Ricardo: “uhh, that would be ‘no ha aprendido un nuevo movimiento en 13 años,’ I think.”
RVD: “cool man cool hey how do you say poop”
Ricardo: “Like, poop specifically, or just any word for shit”
RVD: “how many sons does Don Fernando have?”
Ricardo: “Don Fernando tiene dos hijos.”
RVD: “and what does Raquel Rodriguez do for a living?”
Ricardo: “Raquel Rodriguez es una abogada de Los Angeles.”
RVD: “argh hold on this is fun and all but my my brain just stopped working, what’s going on… I can’t breathe and I think I’m starting to go blind”
Ricardo: “it’s because you haven’t pointed at yourself with your thumbs and said RVD in the last five seconds, try that”
RVD: “RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD”
Ricardo: “RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD”
RVD: “RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD”
Ricardo: “RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD RVD”
RVD: “now THAT’s more like it. Hey, want to make some vegetable faces?”
Big shout-out to the three people who enjoyed that.
Worst: Okay AJ, New Plan
AJ Lee found her Diva Army backstage and, unsurprisingly, they are tired of accompanying her to the ring after one-ish week. It cuts into their “stand backstage, wear dresses” schedules. Also, their “stand with our shoulders in each others’ armpits and have conversations” schedules. Who blocks these backstage shots, Tommy Wiseau? I want to watch the Divas play football by tossing it back and forth from three feet away.
Hey AJ, I’ve got an idea: why not use Big E Langston? I’m not just saying this because I love Big E and miss him being a regular part of Raw, I’m saying it because I want to see him pick up Layla, Alicia Fox and Aksana on one shoulder and give all three of them The Big Ending at the same time.
Worst: How Many Times Are We Gonna Pretend Like We’ve Never Seen A Double Sharpshooter
Jerry Lawler: “We are about to witness maybe the first-ever double Sharpshooter!”
Jerry Lawler: “Has this ever been done?”
Royal Rumble 2011:
Jerry Lawler: “Has this ever been done before? It’s locked in!”
I feel like Natalya does the double Sharpshooter more than she does the regular one. Guys, it’s okay to get excited about it without pretending it’s the first one ever.
Best: AJ Wins!
The good news out of the Divas fatal fourway is that AJ Lee held onto the championship, and the folks at the E! Network didn’t suddenly send down a “give Jojo the belt” memo. She got the win cleanly, too, with a Black Widow in the middle of the ring, and Natalya was mindful to tap out on AJ’s lower back instead of pounding her in the ass like last time. That … ended up being a really gross sentence.
But no, as a wrestling fan, a longtime Chickbusters fan and the Internet’s leading NXT booster I can only accept this story going in one of two directions: (1) Kaitlyn deciding that AJ was right all along, throwing in with her, forming the new heel Chickbusters (to bust these chicks up) and Kaitlyn being repurposed as AJ’s Hot Lady Big E Langston, or (2) Paige, Emma, Bayley, Charlotte or whoever showing up on Raw and being all, “while you were claiming to be the only Diva who works hard, we’ve been getting kicked in the face by Sara Del Rey for the last six months, prepare to die.”
Actually, my third acceptable option is “Sara Del Rey all day everyday.” She can come out to Konnan’s music video.
Worst: You Have Access To Literally Every Living Wrestling Legend And THESE Are The Guys You Let Talk About Wrestling
WWE employs (or can easily employ) basically every talented speaker still currently alive in the history of pro wrestling. I’m talking Mick Foley, William Regal, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, Ted DiBiase (the rich one, not the one that loves hunting) … hell, they can get Jesse Ventura or Gene Okerlund or Terry Funk or whoever they want to wear a suit and talk about wrestling. Instead, who do they get?
1. Michael Cole’s Nobody
2. A guy who can barely form completely sentences
3. A guy who can talk but is handicapped by having to do so in a wacky accent
4. ALEX RILEY
So instead of, I don’t know, a decent conversation about the show they’re watching, every “expert panel” segment goes like this:
Josh: “Booker T, you said earlier that Rob Van Dam was going to win the World Heavyweight Championship.”
Booker: “AW DEFFITLY JOSH, ROB VAN DAM HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO BE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, BUT ALBERTO DEL RIO HAS PROVEN TIME IN AND TIME AGAIN THAT HE IS BEST CHAMPION, HE WILL WIN HERE EASILY TONIGHT JOSH.”
Santino: “WHATSAMATTA YOU FACE”
Riley: “This is like the time I talked to Rob Van Dam about The Miz.”
Get the f*cking Iron Sheik in here to call Rob Van Dam THE JEW, I don’t care, anything else.
Best: It’s Like Wrestling Jack Hanna!
At some point during Van Dam’s return run my consistent hatred for him subsided. He’s that uncle who was a real dick to you when you were a kid and you hated his guts, but then you grow up and he shows up again and he’s exactly the same, with all the same issues and problems, and you just sorta feel sad for him and good for yourself that you didn’t end up like that. Rob Van Dam is COOL UNCLE, brother of Cool Dad, and him being around is fine, as long as he isn’t winning belts and making young talent look like hapless nerds like some asshole uncles might.
Van Dam matches are still not my bag, however, and the high-points for me here were mostly the times when Del Rio would dropkick him in the head and slap BOTH of his legs, so it sounded like he was caving in Rob’s skull. One day Austin Aries is gonna discover that you can slap both legs at the same time and make SUPER SOUNDS and he’s gonna feel like he’s dropkicking people with a rocket ship. I liked the finish, cheap as it was, with Del Rio not releasing the cross arm-breaker and drawing a disqualification. It’s a nice way for a coward champion to BE a coward champion without being a total wuss.
Even the Ricardo stuff after the match made sense, and it’s normally the kind of thing I hate. Van Dam didn’t just mindlessly beat Del Rio up after the match … Del Rio held the submission too long, got DQ’d, then tried to attack Van Dam with a chair. Ricardo proved his worthiness for the first time since he started wearing mall kiosk clothes and stole the chair, allowing Van Dam to get the advantage. They put the exclamation point on it with the Van Terminator to send the Detroit crowd home with a happy memory of their legendary local guy, and while Ricardo’s NO, DO THE BIG MOVE THAT KILLS PEOPLE gestures seemed a little heartless and vindictive, I get it.
Best: I Once Ordered An ECW Pay-per-view To See What The Van Terminator Was Gonna Be
True story: the most effective “buy this pay-per-view” moment in my history as a wrestling fan was back in 2000 when Rob Van Dam was feuding with Scotty “Anton” Riggs in ECW and was all, “MAKE SURE YOU GET THIS SHOW, BECAUSE I’M GONNA DEBUT A NEW MOVE AND IT’S GONNA BLOW YOUR O-RING OUT.” I’m paraphrasing. The entire ad campaign was THE VAN TERMINATOR IS GONNA HAPPEN, WHAT IT IS and I was totally hooked. I was a big Van Dam fan back then, because I was 20 and he hadn’t had his horrible, neutered WWE or TNA runs yet. I ordered a show I wouldn’t have otherwise and had a great time watching it, so the Van Terminator has a special place in my heart, even if Shane McMahon usurped it immediately and reappropriate it for non-neckbearded audiences.
Michael Cole’s call of “Shades of a decade ago!” didn’t really help things, though.
Worst: Fandango Vs. Miz Is An Excuse For The Announcers To Discuss Breakdancing
So, this happened.
Fandango and Miz had what I’m praying to Christ is the blowoff match to their awful, awful side-thing and it ended with Miz getting the submission victory while making that awful, awful face. What is that face? Why does Miz become a Jack Kirby character when he locks in the figure four?
The highlight of the match for me was Cole, Lawler and JBL getting bored with what was going on in the ring and deciding to have a conversation about breakdancing. Lawler, who you’d expect to be totally cool with young people and non-whites, suggests that breakdancing was born when people tried to steal hubcaps off of a moving car. That causes a grand WHATTA YOU KNOW ABOUT BRAKE DANCIN’ MAHCULL and Michael Cole meekly mentioning that he used to breakdance in high school. Part of me wants the WWE announce team to never go off-script, and part of me wants them to ONLY go off-script.
Best/Worst: “Randy Savage” Is The New “Boring”
WWE crowds learned a lot of weird lessons from the post-WrestleMania New Jersey crowd this year, the weirdest one being the substitution of random noun chanting instead of saying “boring.” Don’t get me wrong, I hate (hate hate) the “boring” chant, but now people are chanting “maple syrup,” chanting “JBL” to try to get JBL to wave at them and “Randy Savage” at any and all situations. “Randy Savage” is the new boring. I can’t remember the last show or PPV where somebody DIDN’T chant Randy Savage. Was it WrestleMania?
I hope they put Macho Man into the Hall of Fame this year (passive-aggressive Lanny Poffo or NO passive-aggressive Lanny Poffo) just so the chant can reach critical mass and be replaced by next year’s One Good Crowd.
Worst: Tell Me You Did Not Just Poll That
The “who is the greatest champion ever, people with no attention span who regularly participate in our app” polls were easily the worst part of the show, with each championship getting its own ridiculous result. Some were bad but to be expected — Chris Jericho as the greatest Intercontinental Champion ever over Honky Tonk Man, Mr. Perfect and not-even-on-the-poll Macho Man or Warrior; Trish Stratus being the greatest women’s champion ever because they spent 10 years demanding we believe that — but some were downright OFFENSIVE, like the idea that ANYBODY could EVER be as synonymous with the World Heavyweight Championship as Ric Flair.
In what goddamn multiverse does RIC FLAIR not win a “who is the best World Heavyweight Champion ever” poll with 100% of the vote? ESPECIALLY not finish FOURTH out of five, behind Edge, the Undertaker and Booker T. If you’re only counting WWE’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, sure, some of these guys deserve to be higher than Flair, mostly because Flair never held the WWE version of the World Heavyweight Championship and was WWE Champion. His inclusion in the poll suggests that WCW and the NWA count, which means WHY THE F*CK ARE EDGE AND UNDERTAKER AND BATISTA EVEN ON THIS POLL.
They should’ve put an asterisk next to the poll name and had the fine print read, “can you remember what you had for breakfast this morning? If not, vote in these polls.”
Worst: Awesome, Two Curtis Axel Matches On One Show
Speaking ill of CM Punk is sorta the death sentence of the comments sections of these reports, so I’ll be honest and say that it isn’t his fault that he’s wrestling Curtis Axel in the second of two Curtis Axel matches, and that this wasn’t one of his better efforts because of it.
There was zero drama going into the match anyway. Nobody thinks Curtis Axel can beat Punk. This is the guy who got slapped in the face by Triple H and stayed down with an upset look on his face. This is the guy who rests the microphone on his chin and says all the syllables in “intercontinental” instead of having charisma or being able to speak like a human being. If they were having a gibberish-off, sure, Axel might be able to crush him, but in a wrestling match that assumedly will constitute a cog in a much bigger story involving main-eventers, no, Curtis Axel is never beating Punk.
And what’s funny about it is that Axel’s manager won the match, but only after Axel had been knocked out and choked out. So technically Axel’s side won, meaning Axel won, and … man, how sad is it that Axel’s only memorable victories are the ones that don’t make sense? When did Dadaism become a professional wrestler?
Best: The Big Guy!
On the upside (or the downside, depending on how you look at it), Paul Heyman summoned THE RYBACK from out of nowhere to put Punk through a table (dangerously) and slice up his back. Ryback went through the table all weird, making me think he had Goldberg’d himself into the ring post or something and gotten knocked out to earn the “Goldberg” chant for the first time ever, but eventually he got up, dragged Heyman on top of Punk and gave Paul the victory.
The good part of this is twofold: Ryback gets to do something interesting besides physically/sexually harass local wrestlers I enjoy, and Paul Heyman gets someone who can feasibly compete in actual wrestling matches and can bury Curtis Axel in a shallow grave somewhere and forget about him forever. The history between these three is complicated … Heyman worked with Brad Maddox to keep Ryback from beating Punk in Hell in a Cell last year, but now Punk and Heyman have split, Heyman and Maddox find themselves on opposite sides of Triple H’s favor and Ryback does/should hate everybody. Maybe Ryback’s going back to the Cena feud and being the smartest guy on the show, figuring out that if Punk could win the belt and keep it for almost two years with Heyman in his corner, maybe he should try out hanging with Heyman and see if it works.
The bad part of this is that Punk and Ryback have never had very good matches with one another, and Ryback sorta feels like Substitute Brock Lesnar. Shouldn’t that match have ended with LESNAR showing up and putting Punk through a table? If Brock didn’t charge the cost of South Dakota to show up for wrestling dates, it probably would’ve been.
Best: Thanks For Playing, Dolph
Poor Dolph Ziggler. He “said something in an interview around SummerSlam” that put him “in the doghouse,” and I put that shit in quotes because I hate quoting Internet hearsay, but man, if a doghouse exists, Dolph Ziggler is f*cking in it.
This guy was the World Heavyweight Champion a few months ago. Now he’s getting sorta-impromptu matches in the “breathing room” portions of pay-per-views against 1/3rd of a heel team and is losing to them clean as a sheet, going down to their finisher and not even making it look good. This whole time I’ve been like, “Ziggler vs. Ambrose will be GREAT because Ziggler will do a Van Dam headstand on the headlock driver and make it look like a million bucks.” But nope, he just lies down. Super disappointing, especially after Kofi Kingston made the Curtis Axel Driver look so good. Yes, I just complimented Kofi at the expense of Ziggler. I don’t understand it either.
The match was fine, but nothing we haven’t seen done 20 times better on Raw recently. That’s one of the weird things about Raw (and NXT) setting the match bar so high lately … you’ve got to do something really special to make a match on pay-per-view seem like it was worth paying 50 bucks for.
Best: The Shield, Again
As you might’ve read once or twice before, I love these guys, and never more than when they’re winning championship matches without cheating while the announcers yell THE DAMNED NUMBERS GAME because they’re bad guys. Dean Ambrose beat Ziggler with the one-to-one numbers game. Reigns and Rollins took advantage of the referee crouching over Darren Young for no reason to win their match. They are young, talented guys who understand how WWE matches work. They’re champions, and frankly they should almost never be beaten.
Also, if you like The Shield at all, I do not recommend listening to this podcast, even if my Roman Reigns impression is on the nose.
Worst: Does Titus Not Know He Can Pin A Guy Without Having To Laterally Press Them?
My only complaint from the tag team match is that Titus O’Neil does the Sky High as his finish and doesn’t seem to understand that when you sit out you can just hold on to the guy’s waist and that’s a pin. You don’t have to let go, roll backwards awkwardly, then crawl over and laterally press the guy. I really want to see Titus do a sunset flip, then let go of the guy and roll around all stupid until he’s on top of him.
Worst: Who Are The Greatest Tag Team Champions Of All Time?
Go f*ck yourself.
And so we get to the GRAND DAME of Night of Champions: Daniel Bryan using a running knee to win his second WWE Championship, and to pin the second of two iconic WWE stars of the era in the span of about a month.
This, by itself, is wonderful. I’m going to try hard not to be that guy who goes, “yeah, but I’ve watched more than this one episode of wrestling so I know where it’s gonna go,” so I’ll leave that speculation up to you. What I’ll do is say how happy I am that my favorite wrestler gets to win the biggest honor in the industry in the main-event of two straight pay-per-views against the two biggest THEY NEVER LOSE types WWE has to offer, and how it doesn’t matter if they last a minute or a day or a year, because people are yessing in the streets and he’s got like 47 different t-shirts for sale and he’ll be fine.
I’m sorta concerned by how much I’m identifying with Orton, though. He reminds me a lot of Johnny from The Karate Kid. He’s the bad guy of the film, but he’s not the “bad guy,” that’s Kreese. Triple H is Kreese. Triple H is pulling Orton’s strings, manipulating him into these situations where he can lord his power and influence over him and make him do shit like attack an already hurt guy (Daniel “Bryan” LaRusso) to prove his loyalty. When he does it, all Triple H does is second guess him to keep him desperately reaching out for validation and affection. Triple H is all, “we banned The Shield and Big Show from the ring tonight to see if you’re GOOD ENOUGH” and Orton has to leave all worried, even though Triple H has this referee in his pocket and knows how the story’s gonna end. Orton’s matches since winning the WWE Championship have been too good to ignore all this … they WANT you to know that he’s worthy of the championship, he’s just in a bad situation. If Johnny hadn’t been all mentally f*cked by Kreese he would’ve SKUNKED Daniel in that tournament, I don’t care what you say.
So does this story end with Orton turning on Triple H and teaming up with Bryan to fight for what’s right? Is Orton good enough to pull that off?
Worst: Oh God, Scott Armstrong Is Triple H’s Nick Patrick Because He’s Related To The Road Dogg, Isn’t He
IT’S ME, IT’S ME, IT’S THE S-C-O-DOUBLE-T.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
Would have loved it when they showed the “don’t try this at home” video, during the word “separations” they show cena and Orton walking away from their wives.
Who’s the Greatest Triple H of All Time?
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
King Jaffe Joffer
Uncle Pancake is in the back with a rousing Coach Taylor-esque speech waiting for the Prime Time Players.
I’m disappoint that Ryback carried Pauly out over his shoulder like a carpet and not in his arms like a princess.
Looks like Punk just fell into the… big trap.
Q: who is Curtis Axel’s favorite DJ?
A: SHA Money XL
I want Fandango to always tap out quickly in a leg lock, because he has to make sure he can dance the night away. “MY QUADS, MY BEAUTIFUL QUADS”
Flair just lost it on his coat somewhere
RVD climbing the turnbuckles is a reminder that we’ll all die someday.
So if there’s anything we’ve learned is that holy shit, nobody can referee a Natalya match.
Thanks, everybody. Join us back here tonight for the WWE Raw open discussion thread, and on Tuesday for the Best and Worst of That Raw When Daniel Bryan Gets Chris Jericho’d, Probably.