WWE’s annual Night of Champions event definitely had the world of professional wrestling talking, for both positive and negative reasons. In any case, the crowd at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas was treated to quite a show – a show that saw three championships change hands.
The first match of the night saw the first new champion as Kevin Owens defeated Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship. Over the past few years, the Internet has deemed the Intercontinental Championship cursed because anyone who holds it seems to have their careers stalled with no viable explanation. Even when talent like Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan, wrestlers who fit the ‘work-horse’ description that the championship is built on, win the championship their careers stagnate (or they suffer an injury). If anyone can break the curse and bring the Intercontinental Championship back to prominence it’s Kevin Owens. He’s a gifted wrestler who seems to improve week after week. It will be interesting to see where he goes after his inevitable rematch with Ryback, but this victory gives Owens the opportunity to make his first championship run something special.
The next championship to change hands was the Divas Championship as Charlotte ended the 300-plus day reign of Nikki Bella. This win may have come a week too late and been a little too obvious, but its outcome will impact the Divas division the same way – by allowing for an opportunity for the Divas to showcase their skills. Now that the ‘Divas Revolution’ is in full swing and Charlotte is the champion, WWE can theoretically map out months of feuds based on the number of deserving competitors. Nikki Bella is going to get her rematch soon, but Paige (who just turned heel on Monday) will be waiting and the competition line will only grow. Aside from Nikki and Paige, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Brie Bella, Naomi, and Natalya may all get an opportunity at the championship, making for a viable division that can be based on actual wrestling just as much as it is on the Divas’ beauty. The ‘Divas Revolution’ may have started a few months ago, but it’s just getting started.
The primary promotion for Night of Champions revolved around Seth Rollins having to defend both the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the United States Championship against Sting and John Cena, respectively. For more than a year Seth Rollins has gotten away with being the Authority’s (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) ‘chosen one,’ weaseling his way out of unfavorable situations and taking shortcuts to win and retain his championships. Given that he had to defend both championships against two future Hall-of-Famers, it wasn’t likely that Rollins would leave Houston with both belts draped over his shoulders.
The last hour of the show was devoted to both of Seth Rollins’ titles defenses. First up was the United States Championship match with John Cena, probably the best match of the night. Rollins and Cena had a match fit for a bigger show that saw both wrestlers put their full abilities on display. The match also saw something very rare in a WWE pay-per-view main event – a wrestler winning with just one finishing move. After a few false finishes (failed attempts at hitting a finishing maneuver) John Cena was able to give Rollins an ‘Attitude Adjustment’ and become a five-time United States champion. John Cena winning back the US title opens up the possibility for the return of his weekly open challenges, allowing opportunities for young-and-upcoming stars to shine in the ring against one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of trunks and lace up a pair of boots (jorts/cargo shorts and sneakers, in Cena’s case).
Immediately after losing to Cena, Rollins had to face another one of the greatest ever in Sting. ‘The franchise of WCW’ was main-eventing a WWE pay-per-view for the first time ever, and Rollins was the perfect guy to work with. Rollins is excellent in the ring and Sting has proven for years that he can still ‘go’. They delivered an entertaining match that saw Sting go above and beyond the call of duty, perhaps to his own detriment. Sting dove off the top rope for a splash on the floor, took a fall through the Spanish announce table, and took a punishing second ‘buckle bomb’ that seems to have been the cause of a potentially serious neck injury. As Sting hit the turnbuckle his head whipped back and he collapsed to the mat. After a few minutes, Sting managed to gather himself and finish the match. What started as an extremely entertaining match ended in a scary injury to a legend.
Night of Champions ended on a sour note with Sting’s injury, but WWE put on an excellent show that should provide new opportunities for the extremely deep talent pool currently on the roster. All three new champions, in addition to Seth Rollins and the New Day retaining their championships, should add more emphasis on in-ring wrestling and create opportunities for new, fun, and exciting matchups. Night of Champions may never be as big as Wrestlemania, SummerSlam or Royal Rumble, but its outcome can certainly change the landscape of WWE.
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