This show was overshadowed by the heart attack suffered by Jerry Lawler on the go-home
episode of Raw prior to the PPV.
Michael Cole opens the show with an update on Lawler, letting the fans know that Lawler was
recovering well and would be able to go home a few days later. Thankfully, Lawler has since
appeared to make a full recovery.
We are then introduced to Lawler’s replacement as colour commentator, none other than JBL.
Cole introduces him as ‘the longest reigning WWE champion in Smackdown history’, yet of
course JBL’s 280 day reign was surpassed by C.M. Punk. In fact, John Cena tied JBL’s reign
at 280 days in 2005/06 and then broke it with a 380 day reign in 2006/07. I guess it depends
on what you classify as ‘Smackdown’ in these post-brand extension days. It is also worth
noting that Jim Ross makes a temporary return to the announce desk on Raw the night after
this PPV, much of which is included as extra material on the Blu-ray release.
The action starts with a four-way for the Intercontinental Title, with The Miz defending against
Cody Rhodes, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (***). Miz makes some valid pre-match comments
about how unfair it is that he is the only champion tonight forced to defend against three
challengers. He threatens General Manager Booker T with a formal complaint about this,
which I don’t think ever went anywhere. The match itself teases a few Mysterio/Cara spots,
since at the time there were still plans for those two to have a match at WrestleMania 29.
Again, that went nowhere. Judging by the tepid crowd response, this is no big loss. This
is a perfectly acceptable and enjoyable opener, although the finish makes absolutely no
sense. After this, Mysterio would enjoy a number of days off work, Sin Cara would become
a definitive afterthought, Miz would become an atrocious babyface and Cody would grow a
moustache. Cody is therefore the real winner here.
We then go backstage to the Prime Time Players yelling gibberish and prancing around in
front of Eve Torres, apparently with a rape whistle. How these guys were never pushed to
the tag titles, I’ll never know. Somehow, this leads to Eve finding an assaulted Kaitlyn on the
ground, which kicks off a months-long storyline nobody really seemed to pay attention to at
any point. Still, points for trying.
In a more entertaining months-long storyline, we get a recap of Kane and Daniel Bryan’s time
in anger management with Dr Shelby. Both guys are undoubtedly great at comedy but the
jury remains out on whether or not we will get a decent pay-off.
This leads to the team not yet known as Hell No challenging for the Tag Team Titles against
R-Truth & Kofi Kingston (**). I still wish they had stolen a page from 30 Rock’s book and
called them The Best Friends Gang. Bryan’s beard is only marginally ludicrous at this point.
Credit where credit’s due for WWE getting more actual tag teams together instead of pairing
up random mid-card guys with nothing better to do. This was a veritable turning point, with
the crowd firmly behind Hell No (well, mainly Bryan) despite them being the official heels in
this feud. It’s pretty rare to see Kofi get booed by a crowd but that just speaks volumes to
Bryan’s popularity. We can but hope for an even bigger 2013 for him.
Backstage, the continued incompetence of Booker T sees him surprised by the notion that
Night of Champions requires all championships to be defended. After being reminded of
this by Teddy Long, he gives Eve the title shot against Layla that was originally to be given
to Kaitlyn. Then he buggers off, leaving Teddy in charge. Where on earth where they going
with Booker at this point? Anyway, it should be noted that Kaitlyn was accidentally made
number one contender after she somehow managed to eliminate Eve from a battle royal on
Raw that Eve was meant to win.
In more interesting developments, Antonio Cesaro brings Aksana and the greatest entrance
music in the business today to defend his United States Title against Zack Ryder (**).
Thankfully, Cesaro has since dropped his ‘five languages’ gimmick. It would have worked a
little better had he finished it with English. Ryder won a pre-show battle royal to get the title
shot here, which for some reason is not included as an extra on this release. Interestingly,
JBL blows Cesaro’s gimmick here by talking about Cesaro’s time on the indie circuit.
Cesaro was originally meant to be a rugby player who was kicked out of his chosen sport for
being too violent, then was signed as a wrestler by John Laurinaitis. Cesaro is, of course,
awesome, so hopefully he can get a decent push without being saddled with yet another
midcard gimmick. His current Fabulous Rougeau Brothers tribute character doesn’t seem
to be the best option but we shall see. The match itself is a veritable Superstars main event
squash, which is really all you can say about Ryder’s career at this point.
In another zany authority figure storyline, Alberto Del Rio and his lawyer, David Otunga, chew
out Ricardo Rodriguez for not keeping his neck brace on. This is somehow related to Alberto
trying to get Booker T to ban the brogue kick ahead of him challenging Sheamus later on.
Ironically, the match of the night is the only non-title match on the card – Randy Orton vs
Dolph Ziggler (****). Both men go back and forth with their big moves to big reactions from
the crowd, which is all you can ask for from such an encounter. Everything is bolstered
further by having JBL on commentary to again display his man-crush on Orton. Curiously, the
longer the match went on, the more the crowd favoured Ziggler, to Orton’s obvious disdain –
even going so far as to heckle a ringside fan, for which he later apologised. No doubt Randy
is chomping at the bit to finally be a heel again. Orton manages to nail a great variation on
his draping DDT in the build to the finish, which was executed to perfection. Both men have
essentially been trading water for several months but can still bring the goods in isolated great
matches such as this one.
This brings us to Eve challenging Layla for the Divas Title (*). As usual, nobody in the crowd
cares about the women wrestling. This was a good performance from Eve, however, as she
continued her heel run with a variety of subtle mannerisms during the match. Sadly, this
would eventually lead to her leaving wrestling in early 2013 to focus on her new role as a self-
defence instructor alongside her husband, Rener Gracie.
Meanwhile, Kane and Bryan continue their bickering backstage in front of Dr Shelby and
General Manager A.J. Lee, undoubtedly the most pointless General Manager in WWE history.
Yes, that includes the laptop. This ends with Kane chucking Gatorade over everyone in the
name of ‘comedy’, complete with forced laughter from Michael Cole.
In more questionable writing, we get Alberto Del Rio challenging Sheamus for the World
Heavyweight Title (***). There is of course a recap of the entire stupid storyline beforehand,
with Otunga claiming the brogue kick should be outlawed for some reason and Booker T
falling for the ploy… or so you would believe. Alberto’s metaphorical chubby during his
personal introduction by Ricardo is quite the sight, as is Otunga’s orange V-neck sweater.
Speaking of fashion, Sheamus wearing white trunks is a big no-no. Cole points out that this is
the WWE version of the World Heavyweight Title, which at this point is ten years old. Strange
that in the United States Title match they claimed it was the same title held by Harley Race.
A little consistency would be nice, guys. The match plays out almost entirely as expected.
If you’ve paid any attention to WWE Main Event Style in recent years you could call all
the moves in advance. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. It’s just that it is more akin to
watching a random episode of The Big Bang Theory rather than going to a live improv show.
Although Sheamus bizarrely yelling ‘FELLAAAAAAAA’ after the match is some mighty fine
surreal improve, to be sure.
All of which just leaves the main event of the PPV, C.M. Punk defending the WWE
Championship against John Cena (*** ½). At this juncture, Punk had almost ousted Edge as
Cena’s greatest rival. This of course stems back to Punk and his pipe-bomb taking the title
from Cena at Money in the Bank 2011 then leaving the company, returning to retain against
Cena at SummerSlam 2011, and then taking the title back from Del Rio when Cena could not.
Punk embarked upon an epic title reign that was still overshadowed by Cena and The Rock,
which led to him snapping at Raw 1000 and turning heel on both of them. Rock was already
lined up to face the champion at Royal Rumble 2013 and there was some uncertainty about
exactly who he would be facing at that point. This match answered that question, albeit in an
Things start of well enough with a Paul Heyman promo, which is Class 101 in trying to ensure
the newly-turned Punk was actually booed by the crowd. Did it work? Not really. Punk
holding the title over his head for three minutes straight after the ring introductions, wearing
New York Yankees colours here in Boston, almost did but it would still take considerably more
work to ensure Punk became a heel – Brad Maddox, Ryback, The Shield, The Rock and even
mocking Lawler’s heart attack. Not to mention the finish to this match.
Punk and Cena can have a match with one another in their sleep. If they did, it would be
much the same as this one. It is by no means bad but at no point felt as essential as their
PPV efforts in 2011. Punk’s heel act had not yet taken hold with the audience, which left
Cena stuck up faux-face creek – even in his ‘hometown’ of Boston. To be fair, the original
plan was for a Punk/Cena rematch in Hell in the Cell the following month. That would have
made for a sensible build for a Cell match for once, yet Cena’s injury led to Ryback getting
promoted to the main event spot instead. By the time Cena returned to the title scene in time
for Survivor Series, it became clear that heel Punk was destined to go on to face The Rock.
All of which renders this entire thing pointless.
DVD Special Features
Matt Striker interviews Booker T at Night of Champions, 16th September 2012
In which Booker T mostly manages to convey the message that banning the brogue kick was
not in fact the correct thing to do. This is only a few seconds long but is hardly worth your
Blu-Ray Special Features
RAW 17th September 2012:
John Cena confronts Paul Heyman
In which Heyman attempts to justify the controversial finish to the Punk/Cena match, going so
far as to call out the referee, Chad Patton, and offer his support. Cena interrupts to ramble on
about respect and demand a rematch there and then. Heyman naysays that idea on Punk’s
behalf, which for some reason brings out Del Rio to demand a rematch of his own because of
the brogue kick ban controversy. A.J., currently tied with Vickie Guerrero as my wife’s most
despised WWE character, in order to set up the obligatory tag team main event of Cena &
Sheamus vs Del Rio & Punk. Someone’s been taking GM lessons from Teddy Long, playa.
Miz TV with Booker T
This is the debut ‘episode’ of Miz TV. Miz attempts to get ‘miz-fits’ and ‘miz-takes’ over
as heel catchphrases to describe the fans. Dear lord. Booker is called out to defend his
decision to book Miz in a four-way at the PPV, although Miz won’t actually let Booker speak.
Small mercies and all that. Booker finally interrupts just as the ‘boring’ chants start. He just
about manages to introduce a new guest for Miz TV – Ryback. This was to set up a Ryback/
Miz feud that was cut short due to the rebooking of the WWE Championship program. Ryback
throws around the Miz TV set – a feat that Brock Lesnar would repeat in a few months’ time in
far more impressive fashion.
WWE Tag Team Championship
Daniel Bryan & Kane vs. R-Truth & Kofi Kingston
A lighter version of the PPV match the night before, purely to set up another comedy hugging
spot between Kane and Bryan. Fun, if you like that sort of thing.
John Cena & Sheamus vs. CM Punk & Alberto Del Rio
Again, a tag match that involves going through the motions. This is done to set up more
issues between Punk and referees. Nothing to see here.
Smackdown 21st September 2012:
Edge returns to WWE
This was a surprise appearance by Edge – and a welcome opportunity to see one of the
greatest entrances in wrestling again. He gets his cheap plug in for his appearance on
the Syfy show, Haven and then gets on to more important issues such as Kane and Bryan
hugging it out and then arguing on Raw. Bryan turns up to another epic reaction from the
crowd. Fans were literally jumping up and down yelling ‘YES, YES, YES’ at him during his
entrance. Surely they cannot fail to push this man more in 2013? Better yet, Bryan gets
the crowd to boo him within seconds of speaking to Edge. Bryan claims to be at one with
his emotions, which leads to a yes/no argument with Edge until Kane interrupts. Edge can’t
quite wrap his head around Kane enjoying this hugging thing, which leads to a humorous
rundown of the goofy storylines Edge and Kane have been involved with over the years.
They tease a fight but of course this leads to a nice big hug. Bryan is jealous at being left out
and so Edge and Kane invite him for a nice big, manly group hug, which Bryan is delighted
by. Damian Sandow interrupts before we can get the money hug, however, berating them all
for being involved in such nonsense with his trademark Kelsey Grammer impression. Edge
invites Sandow to fight either Kane or Bryan, leading to a nice ‘yes/no’ bit with the crowd,
who choose Kane. We don’t get the actual match, which Sandow did in fact win after Bryan
distracted Kane if you are curious.
Overall, this is an altogether unmemorable show. The show performed as well as could be
expected on PPV, increasing international buys 45% despite a 6% drop in domestic buys,
for a total of 189,000. That made for an overall decline from the 2011 version, headlined by
Punk/Hunter (courtesy of Kevin Nash) as well as Del Rio/Cena and Orton/Henry as the two
title matches. The build was of course overshadowed by the Lawler health scare and its entire
purpose was to set a direction for Punk/Cena that was never followed through on. The Orton/
Ziggler match is very good and worth checking out if it turns up on a random compilation. It
alone is not enough to justify sitting through this entirely average PPV, though.
Tags: alberto del rio, big show, Booker T, cm punk, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, edge, Eve Torres, jbl, Jerry Lawler, john cena, Kaitlyn, kane, Layla, Michael Cole, miz, Night of Champions, Paul Heyman, randy orton, rey mysterio, sheamus, sin cara, Teddy Long, WWE