The Way Too Long Review of WWE Night of Champions 2009

Before we get started, I have exclusive news just for Inside Pulse.  I’ve obtained a video of the recent Big Show-Great Khali fight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmpKuNiQ3So

If only they worked that good in the ring.

A FLARE (?) FOR THE GOLD

It’s pretty sad that the WWE has so many championships these days that are normally ignored on pay per view that having an event where the titles are actually remembered becomes cause for celebration.  Then again, championships in wrestling are a funny thing.  Without them, there would be little incentive to watch.  And yet they are ignored, abused, or treated with indifference by those who should be looking out for their best interest.  The fate of a title belt can change the entire destiny of a promotion.  Having the wrong guys as champion can sink a promotion.  Having the right guy as champion can cause a new golden age.  The WWE has had great skill and a little luck when it comes to getting the right guys in the mixes for their belts.  Going back to the formation of the company, when they broke away from the NWA, it really couldn’t have been anyone but Bruno Sammartino to draw houses at Madison Square Garden, and the cast of rogues who challenged him were colorful for their era.  It was the right mix and it worked.  In the 80s, it couldn’t have been anyone but Hulk Hogan.  I’ve heard people argue otherwise, and make pitches for other wrestlers who could have had Hogan’s spot, but I firmly disagree.  Hogan brought to the table professionalism, work ethic, a very unique look, marketing savvy, character awareness, and little personal baggage.  And his ability to wrestle anyone using formula-driven, character based matches was the perfect style needed to draw kids in the era of the commercial based Saturday morning cartoons and the golden age of video games.  In the attitude era, nobody but Steve Austin could have been the guy to be the anti-hero who stood up to his over-bearing boss.

Yes, eight championships is likely too many.  But who knows?  Maybe this will give them more chances to find that next lightning in a bottle wrestler that will ignite another era of main-stream popularity.  No, it’s not the amount of belts that are the problem.  Hell, they could have another dozen belts and nobody would care as long as they’re being used properly.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

There are two world titles, one of which is almost always in better standing with the fans then the other.  In fact, it’s downright rare when the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship are basically on equal footing.  Usually one is considered leaps and bounds higher in value then the other.  Right now the WWE Championship is incredibly devalued because Randy Orton is bombing so completely as champion and playing the central role in some of the most BORING episodes of Raw that have ever been produced.  He’s totally JBLing the belt.  It’s not totally on him though.  He’s stuck in the Twilight Zone of wrestling, reliving the same feud night after night with no end in sight.

The World Heavyweight Championship has been fun to watch, but frequent title changes makes it clear that there is no long-term planning being taken into consideration with how the title is being handled.  CM Punk won the title and then gave it up a month later.  Jeff Hardy then gave it back a month after that.  And because most people think it’s highly unlikely that CM Punk is going to make the Undertaker submit at Breaking Point, the belt is devalued before the title change even happens.  Sure, Punk could very well win, but if the majority of the fans decide that his losing is inevitable, who cares what happens with the belt afterwards?  It’s one of those instances where the WWE has booked itself into a corner.

You have two secondary titles.  I don’t mind them as much.  Quite frankly if it wasn’t for Kofi Kingston’s run as US Champion I likely would have given up on Raw by now.  Yes, I am aware that most smart marks want to have him skinned alive.  I haven’t figured out why yet.  I get that the Kingston character is completely one-dimensional, but I think that works because the guys chasing him for the belt are all such slime ball heels that a straight-forward, no frills babyface actually strips the booking down to it’s purest form: guy has belt, heels want it.  Some don’t like his matches.  I don’t get that myself.  These are the same people that were marking out for Mr. Kennedy, a guy so boring once the bell rang that I’m shocked that he would ever be given serious consideration for a main event run.  Of course, that doesn’t explain Randy Orton.  That said, unless Kingston gets a major character upgrade, he’s the type of guy who will always be firmly placed in the midcard, and the secondary titles should be there to elevate the next generation and not keep them in a holding pattern.

The Intercontinental Championship has been very much revitalized in 2009.  It’s like we’re reliving the glory years when guys like Bret Hart and Mr. Perfect carried it.  Scratch that, because I think the last six months have actually been the high point for the belt’s entire existence.  Sure, there have been great moments for it over the last decade.  But this is the first time in many, many years that the belt has delivered top-quality matches so consistently.  Even when you hit a snag, like… say… the champion being busted for drugs and being forced to lose the title and abort the short-term plans for it, the WWE has pulled off turning the negative into a positive and letting the title change happen in the most classy and entertaining way possible.  And unlike the United States Championship, it’s serving the function that it was created to do: elevate the mid-level guys in the fans eyes.  It’s turned guys like John Morrison and Dolph Ziggler into bigger stars, and placed previous world champs like Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio into positions where they could end up in the main event again.

You have the ECW Championship, which was previously known as the European Championship.  More or less.  It’s usually held by guys that nobody in their right mind would ever consider putting a world championship on.  Yes, I am aware that Christian was a TNA World Champion.  I said nobody in their right mind, remember?  I kind of wish the WWE would take ECW in a different direction and have it go completely rogue from the rest of the roster, save for their weekly match for Superstars.  No roster mixing, no talk of the other two brands, and not even participation in the (pointless) yearly draft.  The ECW title started off just fine when RVD and even Big Show were the champions.  When Bobby Lashley got it, it started to lose it’s luster.  Vince McMahon feuding for it actually served to elevate it slightly (hate mail goes to reneke2@msn.com) because, hey, the chairman wants the belt.  It must be worth something!  Then the value of the belt came crashing down when Johnny Nitro filled in for Chris Benoit at Night of Champions in 2007 and won the belt.  Circumstances of why he got the belt not withstanding, it was at that point the WWE clearly said “the ECW Champion is not a peer of the two main event belts we promote.”  CM Punk’s victory over the rechristened John Morrison did not save it’s decline, and the belt ended up moving to guys who would not warrant consideration for the IC or US title.  Chavo Guerrero, Mark Henry, and Tommy Dreamer were all nothing champions.  ECW actually has a promising young roster.  But because the championship is roughly at the same level as the Women’s or Diva’s Championship, it doesn’t serve it’s intended function: to elevate.  Hell, in recent episodes of Raw with Jack Swagger chasing the US belt, they didn’t bring up that he was once ECW Champion.  It means that little.

You have one set of tag team belts, and that’s just fine.  At any given point the WWE usually only has two or three regular tag teams anyway.  Although I’m digging the Big Show/Jericho team’s weird chemistry with each-other, I really think that having them as the champions is kind of wasteful.  Considering what the tag belts did for the careers of John Morrison and the Miz, maybe the title should be used in the same capacity as the IC is.  You have a lot of young and promising wrestlers who have little in the way of personality going for them.  Tag team wrestling has proven highly effective in the past of making stars out of such talent.  Just look at Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.  The problem the WWE has is they are often content to let colorless guys in the under-card just float around aimlessly and hoping they do something to catch on.  Pair them up, make them a tag team, and the whole division could be revitalized.

And of course you have the Women’s Championship and the Diva’s Championship.  Why this division required two separate belts is beyond me.  It makes more sense to have one roving champion, like the tag division.  Given how limited in talent… training actually… the female roster in the WWE has, two women with championships is wasteful and pointless.  I give the Diva’s Championship another six months before they figure it out and abandon it.  But having a female champion is not as worthless as many smart fans act.  There are some women on the roster that are actually pretty talented, and a lot more unsigned talent out there that are legitimately trained wrestlers who do it because they love wrestling and not untrained hot-bodies who only do it because it pays slightly more then being a stripper.  Hell, Michelle McCool is getting so good at it that I honestly think if they found the right opponent for her, it could be the first women’s feud to be an upper-card draw since the first Wrestlemania.

So no, this isn’t the high point for championship booking in WWE history.  The IC and US titles are doing fine, but everything else is watered down and under-utilized.  It’s a shame too because the roster is so talented right now that they could support all seven of the eight belts (the Diva’s Championship has got to go) without having the meaning of being a champion be devalued.  They just proved on Smackdown how important the ‘secondary’ IC title can be in terms of quality.  And you know what?  All it took was for someone to decide that the best person to hold the belt was not the guy who should have logically got the belt, according to how the storylines were going.  They could have easily have put the belt on Dolph Ziggler.  And the match would have been pretty good.  But someone said let’s make the IC belt mean something incredible and they put the belt on John Morrison instead.  And in turn that gave us a match that was better then pretty good.  That’s how all the belts should be treated.  If only.

July 26, 2009 from Philadelphia, PA.  It used to be famous for it’s cheese steaks, but then Big Show and Mark Henry arrived and now they’re famous for a city-wide famine.  Truly tragic.

The set is pretty cool, looking a lot like the old King of the Ring stage.

Match #1: Tag Team Championship
(c) Chris Jericho & ????? vs. Ted DiBiase & Cody Rhodes

So Edge tore his Achilles tendon.  He’s done, folks.  I don’t want it to be true, but it’s practically a certainty.  If there’s one muscle you do not want to tear, that would be it.  A torn Achilles turned Dominique Wilkins from one of the most flashy, explosive players in basketball into a slow, lumbering has-been.  Sure, Edge will come back but he won’t be the same.  He’ll never be as fast, his move set will likely be limited, and most importantly he’ll likely never regain a dependable sense of balance.  Yes, wrestling is not truly competitive, but it’s still an occupation that requires high levels of physicality, and this injury is incredibly devastating to one’s ability to be able to do the job at the level he once did.  Yes, it’s sad.  But his fans have to face reality.  Shawn Michaels came back from his injury, yes.  But wrestling has a history of guys recovering from back and neck issues.  A 100% recovery from a torn Achilles is impossible.  The Edge that wrestled before the injury is gone forever.  And the truth is, I hope someone tells him “yes, it would be a feel-good story if you returned… but maybe you have to accept that this is a bad break that you can’t come back from and hang it up.”  I’m sure he’ll always have a job in the company.  Hell, maybe make him a commentator or a general manager.

Anyway, Jericho asks to play a video of Edge’s surgery, with Edge telling Jericho that he will be back and he will have his ass for saying mean things about him.  Jericho responds by saying he was wrong for picking Edge as his tag partner because he’s frail, injury prone, and selfish.  In fact, it was selfish of him for getting injured.  Damn, now that’s a heel mindset there.  He then announces his tag partner: Man Mountain Rock.  No wait, it’s Big Show.  Fans do a pop-groan, then go silent.  Show and Cody start.  Cody uses quickness to avoid Show, but show allows the sluggish Show to corner him and skillet chop him.  Hiptoss sends Cody flying across the ring, and Rhodes bails.  Show palms Rhodes up to the apron only to eat a hangman.  Tag to DiBiase who gets killed right away.  And hey, unventilated pyro smoke makes a cameo.  Awesome.  You know, I’ve said a lot of controversial things since I joined the Pulse.  And yet the thing that seems to piss people off the most is my call to end pyro in wrestling unless they can actually keep the smoke under control.  This is by far the thing I get the most hate mail for.  Seriously, what the FUCK?  Are wrestling fans so mentally undeveloped that they’re still impressed by shinny, multicolored sparks of gunpowder?  Is a one second discharge of fireworks worth the trade-off of having entire matches conducted in a haze of sulfur?  When the average non-wrestling fan tries to picture what a wrestling fan looks like, they likely think of Beavis & Butthead, and I can’t blame them.  FIRE FIRE FIRE!!  HUH HUH HUH!!  It’s fucking pathetic.

Back to the match, Show chops at DiBiase.  Tag to Jericho, who Show then whips into Ted.  Backelbow by Jericho, a ram into Show’s foot, and a tag out.  Show comes in with a clothesline, then a big head-butt.  Tag to Jericho, then Show botches his end of press-slamming Jericho into splashing DiBiase, drawing hate-hooing from the crowd.  DiBiase gets a quick shot in and tags Rhodes.  He doesn’t do much better and gets whipped into a cheap-shot from Show for two.  DiBiase then low-bridges Jericho.  DiBiase smacks Jericho around on the outside.  No heat for any of this, because both teams are heels.  DiBiase comes in and smacks Jericho around.  Rhodes comes in and they hit the Cade/Murdoch High-Low for two.  Tag to DiBiase somehow ends up the legal man stomps Jericho, then tags Rhodes.  Punches from Rhodes and then a whip to the corner.  Snapmare by Rhodes into a neck-vise.  Jericho fights out and goes for a sunset flip, but Rhodes fights out and hits an elbow.  This match sucks.  Tag to DiBiase who kicks and stomps away.  Cody then gets a blatant choke.  Jericho almost makes the tag but DiBiase muscles him back to the corner.  Rhodes in but he misses a charge.  Jericho eats a boot on a charge and Cody fires off a moonsault into a pin out of nowhere to finally make the crowd warm up.  It gets two.  Jericho is prevented making the tag, but he gets a small package for two.  Clothesline by DiBiase, who then lowers his head into a kick.  Jericho charges but gets caught in a powerslam for two.  Horrible rolling-armdrag into a kick by DiBiase for two.  Jericho goes for the Walls on DiBiase but that gets blocked.  DiBiase goes for Dreamstreak but that doesn’t work either and Jericho ends up hooking the Walls in.  Rhodes gets Show to distract the referee, then fires off his big DDT on Jericho.  It gets two.  DiBiase gets a dropkick on Jericho, but Show had already made the blind tag.  He goes for a double chokeslam, but the heels escape.  Jericho pulls Rhodes out of the ring and Show spears DiBiase for two.  Legacy kicks Show down, but Jericho comes in and hits the codebreaker on DiBiase and Show hooks in the colossal clutch for the submission.
*1/2 I’ve really been pretty patient waiting for Rhodes & DiBiase to show some kind of chemistry together, but it’s not to be.  They just don’t work as a team.  Alone, they’re not really bad wrestlers, but as a team they rely too much on punching and kicking.  They’ve been together for over a year and have not shown any improvement.  Some disagree with me, but I find them bland and boring.  I heard their match with DX at Summerslam was good, but I remain skeptical.

Meanwhile, CM Punk ignores a question asked by Josh Matthews, and instead asks the audience that after all the truth he’s spoke about Jeff Hardy, are they still behind him?  They say yes, so he takes the microphone and enters the arena to cut a snotty, preachy promo on the audience.  God, I love it.  He asks the fans who support Jeff Hardy to stand up.  Shots of various kids in Jeff Hardy t-shirts and face-paint are shown.  Punk says he doesn’t blame the kids.  He blames their parents.  Or parent, because anyone who would cheer Jeff Hardy is clearly the product of a single-parent household, like Jeff Hardy grew up in.  Goddamn, that’s just ice cold.  Punk tells off parents for enabling their kids.  The fact that they would let their kids look up to a junkie like Jeff Hardy shows they don’t care about the welfare of their children.  They’re young and impressionable.  You let them have a Jeff Hardy t-shirt, and the next thing you know they take up smoking, then drinking beer, then hard liquor… a gateway drug for weed.  Fans pop for that, so Punk tells them next it’s street drugs and fishing prescription drugs out of their mommy’s purse.  Punk says instead of Just Saying No, they should Just Say Yes.  Yes to a drug free, straight edge America.

Well, that was the evil heel promo to end all heel promos.  Of course the average public toilet has more intelligent forms of life swimming in it then the city of Philadelphia does and thus most of his stuff went over their heads and they didn’t boo or cheer.  They were just like ‘huh?’  Which I guess made his point for him.

Sadly, I don’t think the world is ready for the type of heel that CM Punk is playing.  It’s like Steve Austin’s run in 2001: too high-concept for the average wrestling fan.  Plus, I somehow don’t see the heel who preaches for total abstinence from drugs as flying in the TV-PG WWE environment of today.  One of the reasons the WWE has gone TV-PG is because they want parents groups off their backs.  Now picture the conversation those groups would have regarding CM Punk.  “Why is he the bad guy?”  “Because he says drugs are bad.”  “Oh, so the WWE is pro drug use!”  Extreme?  Yes.  But these are the same groups who said Al Snow’s head was a, quote, “text-book case of spousal abuse.”  They crossed the stupidity line before.  They’ll do it again.

Match #2: ECW Championship
(c) Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian

Lockup to start, then some bitch slapping.  Shoulderblock by Tommy gets two.  They trade wristlock-takedowns, then Tommy shoots off Christian but eats a spinkick for… zero because these guys have serious issues with pacing and timing.  Tommy blocks the flip-up kick in the corner and hits a neckbreaker for two.  Slap by Christian (he fights like a girl) and a back-elbow.  Tommy is on the apron, but he catches Christian charging and tries to suplex him off the apron.  Christian slides between his legs and yanks him to the floor, then dropkicks him through the ropes.  Springboard plancha by Christian whiffs and Tommy hits a rolling senton on him.  Back in, Tommy covers for two.  Powerslam gets two.  Tommy climbs but gets yanked off the ropes.  The announcers talk about all the fans these guys have.  The same fans who are silent like a Tibetan monk right?  Snapmare by Christian, then a kick to the back.  This match sucks.  Dreamer fights back, so Christian goes for the KillthismatchSwitch, then Dreamer escapes so Christian hooks in a sleeper.  Dreamer throws himself backwards and splatters Christian, much like the famous Vader/Cactus Jack spot.  Of course, neither guy is especially big, so it’s the equivalent of a marshmallow landing on a cotton ball.  Another sleeper but this time Dreamer throws himself over the ropes and to the floor, which takes Christian with him.  Both guys are out cold on the floor.  This goes on forever, then both guys get in the ring where Christian misses a sledge off the top and Dreamer hits a horrible low pancake for two.  Didn’t get much air off that one.  He preps Christian up in the tree of woe and dropkicks him.  DDT is countered by Christian but Dreamer turns it into the Sky High for two.  Pump-handle slam is turned into a reverse DDT by Christian for two.  Dropkick by Christian, then a missile dropkick but Dreamer catches him and slaps on a pathetic looking Texas Cloverleaf.  The move had been banned a few months after the radicals arrived because a lot of guys in early 2000 were not as flexible as the current roster is, and that move is legitimately painful.  Christian escapes, only to get catapulted.  They trade near falls, then Christian hits the flip-up kick, followed by a missile dropkick.  Christian goes for the KillmeifthisgoesonforanotherfivesecondsSwitch, but Tommy turns it into a DDT, but Christian turns that into the KillhiscontractandsendhisboringassbacktotnaSwitch for the pin and the title.
3/4* Wow, that was boring, yo.  If you need proof of how horrible this match was, when they showed the post-match highlights one of them was the opening bitch-slaps these guys fired off.  Terrible.  I know smart fans are in love with Christian, but I still don’t get it.  Horrible worker, everything he does looks more fake then wrestling should, his promos seem forced and he delivers them like he’s reading off cue-cards, and he absolutely cannot fire up a crowd to save his life.  What made him the anointed one of smart marks?   I remember when the internet heroes were good wrestlers.  Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Brian Pillman, Shelton Benjamin, Bret Hart, etc.  Now the smarks go nuts for guys like Christian, MVP, or Mr. Kennedy.  Guys who wouldn’t know what a good match was if they had Ric Flair’s soul stapled to their brain.  Standards and expectations are so low anymore.

Meanwhile, Big Show tells people that he’s not Jericho’s friend, but business is business.  Jericho blows Show and claims that they’ll be the most dominate team ever.  Show says they’ve held over 40 titles between them.  Jericho then thanks Edge for making all this possible.  The dickish heel promos are then times better then the matches tonight.

Match #3: United States Championship, Six-Pack Challenge
(c) Kofi Kingston vs. Primo vs. MVP vs. Carlito vs. Jack Swagger vs. The Miz

This shit will be hard to follow.  I’m usually pretty anal about getting all the details of a match correctly, so hopefully my readers will forgive me because I’m bound to miss shit.  Anyone who needs proof that the wrestlers in general take the Wellness Policy seriously, look no further then the incredible shrinking Carlito.  He looks like he had the air let out of him.  Miz rolls up Primo for two.  Swagger rolls up MVP for two.  Kneelift into a neckbreaker by Miz for two.  Kingston is playing the spinning-plate game, busy saving every pinfall.  Meeting of the minds causes Carlito and Kingston to wipe out.  Primo headbutts Miz down, then hits a backelbow on Swagger.  Rana by Primo to Swagger, then a springing splash to Miz for two.  Dropkick to Swagger, who then hits the gutwrench bomb on Primo out of nowhere for two, with Carlito saving.  Carlito goes for a springboard but Swagger dumps him.  Horrible over-head throw by MVP, aka the worst wrestler currently in the WWE yeah I said it, and he ends up on the floor with Swagger.  Swagger whips MVP into the guardrail, then Carlito hits a moonsault off the top rope and too the floor on MVP, who doesn’t catch him.  How does this fucker still have a job?  In the ring, Kingston hits a missile dropkick on Swagger and the floating legdrop for two.  Miz sends Kingston to the corner and clotheslines him, then hits the diving clothesline to Swagger in the corner.  Primo catches Miz climbing, then Kingston gets in the mix and Swagger as well and we get the required tower-of-doom spot.  Carlito comes in and dropkicks Swagger, then tries pinning everyone else for two and two.  MVP yanks Carlito down, then goes after Miz and gets disposed of.  Carlito flips over his brother and both guys try to cross-body and wipe out.  Swagger misses a charge on Kofi in the corner and Kofi ten-punches him.  Swagger picks Kofi out of the air and slams him.  MVP takes Swagger out and both guys tumble to the floor.  Cool spot sees various pin attempts between Kingston, Carlito, and Primo.  Fans pop for it.  Carlito holds Kingston for a free shot, but Swagger trips up Primo up before he can hit it.  Swagger in, and the Colons try to double clothesline him but he ducks and hits his own.  MVP hits his pathetic throat-thrust, then hits a shitty, mirror-universe version of Triple H’s face-buster on the knee.  Ballin’ Elbow to Swagger and he loads up for the playmaker, but then Miz comes in and loads up the atomic skull crushing finale of death or whatever the fuck he calls it, and both guys hit their moves, but only Miz didn’t take any punishment himself and covers for two.  The Colons dump Miz and try to work together, but Carlito hits the backstabber on him.  Kingston comes in with the tornado kick on Carlito and covers for the pin.
** Unstructured train wreck.  Some cool spots but ultimately this match just had bad idea written all over it.

And it really is time for the WWE to cut their losses with MVP and just release him.  He’s had plenty of chances to prove he can carry his end of the massive push they started him with in the ring, and he’s failed every chance he’s gotten.  If he was just bland and boring in the ring, that would be one thing.  But he’s dangerous and sloppy and someone is going to get hurt by him if he’s left unchecked.  He’s spent a lot of time in the dog house and clearly did not learn his lesson.  Send him packing to TNA before he breaks someone’s neck executing a simple vertical suplex and the WWE gets stuck with another PR nightmare.  I get that the WWE keeps hoping they’ll recoup their investment in him, but like they did with Mr. Kennedy, at a certain point they just have to say that he’s not worth it.

Meanwhile, Randy Orton apparently isn’t sipping from the same cup of awesome that CM Punk, Big Show, and Chris Jericho was drinking from and cuts a horrible promo on why he’s so cool.  They could replace him with an audio-animatronic from Disneyland and nobody would notice.

Match #4: Women’s Championship
(c) Michelle McCool vs. Melina

Tough choice between McCool or the Miz as most improved wrestler of the year in the RSPW awards.  I’m pretty sure I’ll ultimately vote for Miz, but every time I see McCool wrestle she makes me reconsider it.  McCool baseball slides Melina as she makes her split-leg ring-entrance.  Sadly, they don’t follow this up anything and let Melina crawl back in the ring as if nothing happened.  Well, that fucking sucks.  That was a pretty cool spot and a big bump from Melina, and it called for the match to be structured around the injury from that move.  The bell rings and Melina spears Michelle down, then does the matrix move to duck a clothesline.  Armbar by Melina, then a whip to the corner and some back-kicks.  McCool bails out of the ring, then bails back in.  She begs off, but Melina hits the worst dropkick ever to her face.  Another horrible kick from Melina, then another.  She misses a head of steam and tumbles out of the ring, where McCool knees her up against the guardrail.  In the ring, she covers for two.  Half-crab by McCool to show off Melina’s flexibility.  McCool preps her between the ropes and snaps her off the ropes.  On the floor, McCool misses a running boot on the guardrail and crotches herself.  They end up standing on the guardrail, where McCool hits a DDT.  McCool returns to the ring and hopes for a countout, but Melina makes her way back to the ring.  McCool wipes out on a missed baseball slide, then Melina locks her legs around Michelle’s head and bangs her against the apron, then hits a facebuster off the ropes.  Melina’s obnoxious, shrill screaming pretty much prevents the fans from reacting to her.  She’s annoying.  In the ring, Melina preps McCool against the ropes and hits a head of steam.  Shoulderblocks in the corner and smacks at her with some weak brawling moves.  Knees to the gut by Melina and a spinkick gets two.  Belly to belly suplex by McCool gets two.  Head-scissors and a leg-chop by Melina, then she dives off the ropes with a seated senton, but McCool pushes through it and gets the pin.
**1/4 Match of the night so far.  Melina is beyond terrible when she’s on offense, but Michelle McCool is so talented that she’s able to stop pretty much anyone from stinking of the joint.  If she drags a good match out of Gail Kim I think that would qualify her for sainthood.

Match #5: WWE Championship
(c) Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H

Never saw any of these guys wrestle each-other before.  I actually had the schedule for Raw’s PPV main events through Wrestlemania leaked to me by an inside source.  I will now post them here, exclusively at Pulse.

Breaking Point: John Cena vs. Randy Orton: I Quit Match

Hell in a Cell: Randy Orton vs. Triple H, Hell in a Cell Match

Bragging Rights: Triple H vs. John Cena vs. Randy Orton: Fans vote to decide on whether they want a stretcher match, cage match, or a cage made of stretchers match

Survivor Series: Triple H vs. John Cena, Special Referee Randy Orton

Tables, Ladders, and Chairs: Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H in a triple threat TLC Match

Royal Rumble: Randy Orton vs. John Cena in an Last Man standing match, guest referee Triple H

No Way Out: Triple H vs. Randy Orton in an I Quit Last Man Standing Stretcher Cage Match, guest referee John Cena who also can win the championship if he can guess how many jelly beans are in the jar before the match is over

Wrestlemania: Triple H vs. Randy Orton vs. John Cena in a triple threat match where every guy also acts as the guest referee

Man, I hope they don’t spread themselves too thin.

Orton tries to bail so that Triple H and Cena can kill each-other, but they bail as well and surround him.  He rolls back in so they chase him back in as well.  Triple slugs it out with Orton, who goes to bail again, but Cena sees it coming and sneaks around to clothesline him on the floor.  Cena tosses Orton back in to Trips, who slugs it out with him.  Bulldog by Cena, then a punch by Trips.  Orton bails again, so Trips and Cena catch him in the aisle.  They do some light brawling there, then Cena tosses Orton in the ring, where Orton quickly recovers, bounces off the ropes and knocks Cena off the apron and into Trips.  Orton tosses Cena in the ring and slugs it out.  Punches and kicks from Randy, then some stomping.  He knocks Trips off the apron, then shoots Cena off.  Cena fights back with some shoulderblocks and the protoplex.  Five knuckle shuffle by Cena and he calls for the FU, but Trips stops him for no fucking reason.  I call it Stupid Wrestler Syndrome or SWS.  Logically, Triple H should have let him hit the FU, which would take Orton out of the equation and possibly set himself up to pin Orton if he can dispose of Cena quick enough.  If someone actually avoided using Stupid Wrestler Logic in a match, it would make their character look like a fucking genius.  And yet it’s universally practiced in every multi-man match.  Hell, look at the Royal Rumble.  Wrestler A is about to dumb Wrestler B.  Wrestler C comes in and makes the save.  Why does that make sense?  The best Royal Rumble was easily the 2004 edition, and one of the things that made it work was Stupid Wrestler Syndrome was mostly avoided.  Same with the triple threat main event of Wrestlemania XX.  Sure, there was some instances of it, but the three participants used them contextually in the match instead of as a means to create an empty drama-spot, like this was.

Back to the match, and oh the irony as Triple H’s stupid saving of Orton leads to him getting clotheslined by Randy for two.  Well that’s what you get for being an idiot.  Stompery in the corner by Orton, then a standing dropkick for two.  Now it’s time for a chinlock, roughly five minutes into a triple threat match.  Yea!  Trips fights out but eats a powerslam.  Orton starts to sell this like a double-KO for some reason, then stalks around like he’s getting ready for the RKO.  Trips shoves off and then hits a DDT in a spot that looked really strange, like it didn’t come off as it was supposed to.  Cena climbs the ropes and in one of the most blatantly telegraphed spots of the year, Orton and Trips are hunched over for the standing legdrop off the top, and both guys noticeably peak up (Triple H especially) to make sure they’re in position.  Sure enough, Cena hits the move on both guys.  Fans boo the shit out of this, and not because it’s your usual Cena haterizing.  This is total amateur hour here.  I’m actually embarrassed for them.  Cena slugs it out but eats Orton’s wrap-around backbreaker.  Orton turns around into the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! but Orton backdrops him out of the ring.  Cena to the apron where Orton smacks him into the ropes, then Triple H up and he gets prepped as well.  Orton sets both guys up for the rope-DDT, and I had already started to type out bitching about how it was another telegraphed spot, but both guys fight out of it and backdrop Orton over the top rope.  This leaves Cena and Triple H alone in the ring, and the fans actually want to see it.  So naturally this means they’ll keep Randy Orton in the mix for with them for the next twelve years.  We get the ‘YEAH’ ‘BOO’ punch sequence that’s practically required when these guys slug it out.  And of course it has to be the comical, overly dramatic slow-motion punching that makes my blood boil.  Cena lowers his head into a facebuster, then Triple H lowers his head into the blockbuster.  Cena loads up for the FU, then Trips counters into the pedigree, but Cena counters that into the STFU, but Triple H counters out of that, then Cena goes for the FU again, and Trips finishes the sequence off with a spinebuster.  Good counter sequence that got the fans going more then anything Orton and Triple H had done over the previous six months.  KICK WHAM PEDIGREE~!! gets two as Orton saves and yanks Trips out of the ring.  Orton brawls Trips down and preps the announce table.  Orton loads up Trips on the table, but Trips lowblows him and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE, but John Cena displays SWS and saves Orton, even throwing him out of harms way and into the nurturing hands of the crowd.  He then slaps the STFU on Triple H on the table, where he can’t possibly win the match.  Stupid you say?  Stupid like a fox, says I.  Orton takes out Cena, then tosses him back into the ring, where they slug it out.  It’s a “BOO” “YEABOO” one, as the fans aren’t totally prepared to cheer for Orton.  Shoot off and Cena lowers his head into a kick, and Orton does the RKO stalking.  Cena tosses off of it, why Triple H is still in a coma on the table.  Cena preps Orton on the top rope, then slowly loads up Orton for the FU.  There’s good ways to sell injury and there’s bad ways.  Struggling to simply drape your opponent’s limp arm over your shoulder?  Not one of the good ways.  Trips saves by placing Cena in a position for the eclectic chair, and possibly a doomsday device.  But Cena escapes and catapults Trips into the ropes to crotch Orton in another terrible looking spot.  I would say these guys are having an off night, but there aren’t many good nights these guys have had in 2009 for comparisons sake.  Orton is tied up in the ropes, so Cena snatches Trips in the STFU.  Trips muscles to his knees from this and starts to get close to the ropes.  Cena yanks him back to the center of the ring and reapplies the hold.  He really should have made sure Orton was out first, because Orton escapes and goes for the punt.  Cena avoids it, releases Triple H and rolls up Orton for two.  Clothesline by Orton and it’s a three-way knockout.  The fans were actually hot for this last sequence.  Orton is up first and Garvin Stomps both guys.  Multiple kneedrops to Cena, then stomping and a kneedrop for Trips.  He misses another kneedrop on Trips, then Cena chopblocks him.  Trips wipes himself out dropping his weight on Orton.  Looks like he came pretty close to blowing his knee out on that one.  Protoplex to Orton, but Trips low-bridges him while he’s doing the five knuckle shuffle.  Trips then slaps the sharpshooter of all moves onto Orton.  I must say, of all the bullshit versions of the sharpshooter guys have used over the last decade, this is the best one I’ve seen.  Even better then the ones Chris Benoit used.  Cena then comes in and slaps on a crossface (called the STF by the announce-tards despite the fact that there is no S or T involved) on top of the sharpshooter and Orton taps out.  The ref can’t call the match over because two people can’t win and thus he just sits there like “fuck, what now?”  BUT WAIT~!! because Legacy runs in to make the save for him.  Rhodes goes to check on Orton, giving Cena enough time to recover.  He loads Cody up for the FU but Orton RKO’s him while he’s still holding Rhodes and that gets the pinfall.  Cool spot to end a horrible match.
*3/4 In my review of Wrestlemania, I said “Triple threat matches can be a disaster.”  Here you go.  Lots of illogical, telegraphed spots and terrible pacing.  There were moments where it looked like things were going to pick up, only for everything to come crashing down again.  Despite these guys having their timing off, I’m actually not going to lay blame on them for their string of shitty matches.  The WWE needs to stand up and realize that these guys have done pretty much everything they could have in every combination of matches and have nothing left in the tank that will be original or fresh without resorting to horrible, gimmicky spots.  Of course that’s not the case.  Since this PPV aired we’ve had another Orton/Cena match, another one is on the way this Sunday at Breaking Point, and all signs point to a hell in a cell match in October between Orton and Trips.  What the fuck do we need to do to end this madness?  Have a telethon?  Attendance is down, ratings are down, buyrates are down, and given the quality of Smackdown main events it’s clear where the fault lies.  I would say people should write letters or hold up signs at events saying enough is enough, but the WWE proved they don’t listen to the fans when Orton/Trips drew no heat at all at Wrestlemania and that justified in their minds keeping this shit going for another seven months.  It’s the Undertaker/Austin/Kane feud for the new century, only that feud actually drew money.  This one isn’t, and there’s no end in sight.

Meanwhile, Maryse gets hit on by the Miz.  Miz goes to kiss her but she doesn’t want to because he lost the US championship and she doesn’t want to be seen with a loser.  Miz gets all stalker-crazy on her and says she’ll come crawling back to him when she loses her title.  But she’s already butchered it, much like she butchers the English language.  He should have brought up how she butchered her spray-on tan.  Splotchy bitch.

Match #6: Diva’s Championship
(c) Maryse vs. Mickie James

Maryse gets no reaction, which is about the same amount every female heel in wrestling gets these days.  One of the problems is they don’t write the female heels to be… well… heelish.  Instead of booking them to be vicious, they book them to be annoying, catty, snotty, and played for comedy relief.  Wrestling isn’t a sitcom.  There’s room for humor, but at some point the fans have to take the villains seriously or they’ll sit on their hands for their matches.  They have to give the chicks an edge.  Don’t be catty, be paranoid.  Don’t be snotty, be malicious.  And quit playing every promo like a segment on Friends.  Don’t send the chick (be it Maryse or Michelle McCool or Jillian Hall) out there to make fun of the babyface.  Send them out there to threaten, injure, and humiliate them.  Don’t have them laugh about it afterwards because they’re just like the stereotypical evil cheerleader seen in every teen dramedy.  Have them be serious and intense.  The big reason why nobody boos the female heels is because they’re not a threat to anyone.  No threat = no drama = nobody cares.  And if nobody cares and there’s no heat, it hurts the match quality.

Both girls can’t wait to slug it out, but the ref is slow in getting the bell rung.  He finally does and we get a staredown.  Weird.  Maryse avoids a lockup, then we get to it and Mickie muscles her down.  Waistlock by Mickie, which Maryse elbows out of it.  It seems to bust her lip, so Mickie chases her to the ropes.  Maryse stays in the ropes, so Mickie yanks her off it and rolls her up for two.  Shoot off by Maryse but Mickie snapmares her over and dropkicks her in the face for one.  Elbow to the face and a whip reversal to the corner, where Mickie gets flipped to the apron.  She tries to spring over the ropes but Maryse kicks her in the head and knocks her to the floor.  Christ that was hard, and Maryse actually hurt her own leg doing it.  Back in, Maryse slams Mickie’s face into the mat, then cuts off a comeback with an elbow and a kneelift for one.  Maryse slaps on a camel clutch.  Mickie fights out of it, only to get tossed to the floor.  Maryse grabs a can of hairspray from under the ring, but Mickie steals it from her.  Fans are completely cold this whole time.  The ref takes the hairspray away from her, so Mickie mounts some punches.  Back in, Mickie whiffs a sledge off the top and Maryse covers for two.  Mounted punches, then back to the camel clutch.  Mickie stands up and drops Maryse down and we have a brief double-KO.  Slug out while both chicks are on their knees.  Mickie wins out and fires off a running forearm, knees her in the gut, slings her down, and clotheslines her a few times.  Neckbreaker gets two.  Shoulderblock by Mickie, then she gets an elbow up off a reversed whip.  Rana by Mickie, but Maryse throws her into the ropes and rolls her up for one.  Mickie gets caught climbing and thrown off the ropes.  Maryse goes for something but Mickie catches her in the roundhouse DDT for the pin and the title.
1/2* Maryse is terrible and Mickie couldn’t do anything to get the fans into the match.  It also went four minutes longer then it should have.

Meanwhile, Ted DiBiase bitches at Josh Matthews for only focusing on the negative aspects of their night, such as losing the tag titles.  The more important thing is Orton is still the champion, which somehow will lead to them becoming bigger stars.  If the WWE is hoping this will elevate them the same way Evolution did for Batista and Randy Orton, they shouldn’t hold their breath.  I actually think Rhodes and DiBiase have gotten worse since they teamed up.

Match #7: Intercontinental Championship
(c) Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler

At this point the last two matches need to four-star it or this show is getting thumbs down.  Anything less is not going to cut it.  Lockup and Ziggler takes Mysterio to the corner.  Clean break, except a light brushing by Ziggler.  Dropkick by Ziggler out of nowhere gets two.  Rollup by Rey gets one.  Lockup and Ziggler grabs a headlock.  Shoot off and Ziggler gets a shoulderblock for one, then another shoulderblock for one.  Clutch chinlock already by Ziggler.  He’s not quite ready for prime-time yet.  Ziggler almost botches his end of a Mysterio head-scissors.  Rey whips Ziggler into the corner but gets caught charging and powerbombed into the turnbuckle for two.  Hard whip to the corner gets two.  Now another chinlock by Ziggler, which he actually works.  Shoot to the corner but Rey grabs Ziggler using his legs and slings him into the corner, then hits a seated senton and a springing crossbody for two.  Rey charges into a powerslam for two.  Ziggler loads up a suplex but Rey uses momentum to drive him out of the ring.  Seated senton off the apron and to the floor by Mysterio.  Fans are fucking dead.  Back in, Mysterio ends up on Ziggler’s shoulders, but gets down and hits a back elbow.  Mysterio manages to prep Ziggler for the 619, but Dolph avoids it and shuffle-boards Mysterio out of the ring and into the announce table.  Ziggler brings Rey back in and slaps on half-nelson/chinlock, then moves it into a full-nelson.  Rey elbows out but charges into another powerslam for two.  Elbowdrop gets two.  Mysterio tries to fight back but Ziggler again grabs the full-nelson.  Mysterio escapes only to bounce off the ropes and get caught in the full-nelson again.  This time he quickly flips around to turn it into a rollup, but Ziggler sits on it for two, turned into a pin by Mysterio for two.  Sunset-flip by Ziggler is rolled through by Rey into a buzzsaw kick for two.  Jawbreaker by Ziggler gets two.  Ziggler charges into a drop-toehold by Rey.  Mysterio charges and then lands on the apron on an attempted backdrop by Ziggler.  Rey climbs and goes for a crossbody but Ziggler dropkicks him out of the air for two and two.  Stompery, then Ziggler charges but Rey pushes him into the turnbuckle.  Exploding gutbuster by Ziggler gets two.  Enziguri by Mysterio is brilliantly oversold by Ziggler.  Mysterio follows this with the 619 and the springboard splash for the pin.
*** Decent match but it also served to prove that Ziggler is not quite ready for a run with a belt.  He’s good and has lots of potential, but he hasn’t quite shook off the green yet.  What was here was adequately paced but also rough around the edges.

Match #8: World Heavyweight Championship
(c) CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy

CM Punk was world champion for a decent amount of time in 2008, and now again in 2009, but this is actually the first time he has main evented a pay per view as champion.  Fans apparently paid their money to sit on their hands all night.  I don’t know why they even bothered showing up.  CM Punk gets no heat for his entrance.  Hardy doesn’t do much better.  That said I hope the WWE sticks with Punk and keeps him near the top of the card for the rest of his career with them.  I think at Breaking Point he’ll prove against the Undertaker that he can wrestle any style against any type of wrestler, and that’s exactly the type of person the WWE needs in the main event scene.  There have been a lot of “next Shawn Michaels” in the business over the last decade, but Punk is in my eye the heir to the throne.  Actually, Punk seems to combine the best aspects of both Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.  It’s as if they got so stinky drunk they forgot they hated each-other long enough to have a kid.  By the way, Bret is secretly a girl.

Circle and Punk kicks at Hardy’s leg.  Another circle and another kick to Jeff’s leg, then Punk taunts him with a “seriously, what are you going to do to me?”  Headlock by Punk, then some chain wrestling by him, then Punk pushes off.  I love his big ass shit-eating grin.  Punk grabs a headlock and sarcastically, loudly, laughs his ass off.  Shoulderblock by Punk, then he loads up for the GTS, but Hardy wiggles out and goes for the twist.  Punk wiggles out of that so Hardy fires off a couple clotheslines and some shoulderblocks in the corner.  Hard whip to the corner, but Punk gets a sunset flip for two.  Hardy slugs out of a chinlock, but Punk ducks a charge and Hardy flies out of the ring.  Punk goes for a suicida but whiffs and hits the guardrail.  Nasty bump.  Jeff tosses Punk back in and covers for two.  Jeff climbs so Punk bails, then lulls Hardy into diving off the top at him.  Punk moves out of the way and Hardy kills himself on the rail.  Punk dives back in the ring and pesters the ref into counting.  Hardy barely beats the count in, so Punk covers him for two.  Soccer kicks by Punk get two.  Hard whip to the corner and some more kicks get two.  Grounded dropkick gets two.  Bow-and-arrow hold by Punk, which Jim Ross calls an “oldie but goody.”  Hardy wiggles his way out of it and onto Punk for two.  Shots to the back by Punk, then he preps Hardy on the turnbuckle.  He loads up a superplex but Hardy turns it into a pancake suplex off the ropes for a double knock-out.  Both guys are up at the same time and Punk is pissed, so he bitchslaps Hardy.  They brawl and Jeff gets a flying forearm, an atomic drop, a legdrop between the legs and a dropkick to the face for two.  Hardy climbs for Punk pushes him into down and into the ringpost.  Running knee to the corner, and Punk sells this so well with a big, sarcastic, mouth-cupped “oooh did I do that” look.  Punk tries to follow this up with the bulldog but Jeff shoves out of it and hits the Whisper in the Wind for two.  Pancake suplex by Jeff, which loses it’s luster after he’s already done it off the top rope, but he needed a move to set up the swanton.  He misses on it.  Punk shoots the half, then lifts Jeff up for a double-underhook into a backbreaker.  He then chains this into dragon-sleeper stretch.  Jeff makes the ropes, so Punk fires off his kicks.  Twist of fate out of nowhere by Jeff and the swanton bomb but Punk gets his knees.  Punk covers for two.  Punk comes springs off the ropes but gets caught in the twist of fate, but Punk counters that into the GTS.  Big shit eating smile from Punk as he covers… for two.  Punk can’t believe it and goes for a couple more pinfalls.  He can’t understand how Jeff could still be alive.  Well you see there CM, when you take a whole ton of vicodin, you feel less pain and thus stuff hurts a lot less.  It’s a non-straight edge kind of thing.  Crooked edge, possibly zig-zaggy edge.  Punk gets pissed so he grabs the belt to bail on the match.  Jeff gets pissy that Punk is trying to screw him again, goes completely apeshit, catches Punk in the aisle, tosses him in the ring, punches the shit out of him, twist of fate, swanton bomb, new champion.  Awesome ending.  Sometimes you just need to snap.
**** Pretty good match.  Excellent pacing and good call-backs to their previous match at the Bash.  I think that both guys are capable of doing better, but considering that they still had a ways to go before their series was concluded, I don’t blame them for not shooting their wad here.  It’s kind of a shame that Jeff Hardy has left because these guys clearly have chemistry together.  That said, staying could mean getting stuck in one of those infinite loops like Orton/Trips/Cena are in.  Like that episode of Buffy with the mummy’s hand.  That was a good one.  Anyway, nice match.  I’m not a big fan of ladder matches in general, but I still look forward to the Summerslam TLC match.

Bonus Feature: Josh Matthews interviews CM Punk.  We get a clip of Punk coming in after the match and attempting to shake Jeff Hardy’s hand.  The fans chant “Just Say No” to that, which is the only cool thing those fucktards did all night.  Hardy goes to walk away, but then comes back in and they shake hands clean.  Thankfully this wasn’t used to abort Punk’s preachy character.  When I read it, I figured they were losing their balls and were going to turn Punk back, just like they did with Shawn Michaels in 2005.  Thankfully, that’s not the case.  Punk says he stands by everything he said, but he can’t sway public opinion.  The fans are not listening to him, but rather “they’re listening to a screw-up, who happens to be World Heavyweight Champion.”  And that’s that.

BOTTOM LINE: No question about it, Night of Champions gets a huge thumbs down.  Subtract the Punk/Hardy match and this is a worst WWE PPV ever contender.  And while the main event was quite good, it can’t support the weight of shit that was piled on top of it all by itself.  Ziggler/Mysterio was borderline decent, but there is nothing else worth coming back for.  Six out of eight championships were not worth their weight in gold tonight.  Shameful.

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