Tonight is the night that every championship in WWE is defended - it's Night of Champions. Tonight's event comes to us live from the TD Garden in Boston, and the card looks like this:
Coverage of the pre-show gets underway in minutes. Check back periodically through the evening for updates and results.
They air a video package that highlights the feud between Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio, focusing on the ban of the Brogue Kick. They go backstage and talk with Booker T. He says he's been a six-time World Champion and now as GM he needs to consider the safety and well-being of his talent and staff. He tells Josh Mathews that all he needs to know is that the kick is banned.
They switch gears to the announce position where they talk about the battle royale for the US Championship. They show a video package highlighting Antonio Cesaro's recent rise and capturing of the US Championship.
Match #1 - Battle Royale to determine the #1 Contender to the US Championship.
Brodus Clay comes out as the first contender. Primo and Epico are next, along with Justin Gabriel, Tensai, Tyson Kidd, Michael McGuillicutty, Zack Ryder, Darren Young and Titus O'Neil, Ted DiBiase, Drew McIntyre, Heath Slater, Santino Marella, JTG and Jinder Mahal.
Slater does his "one man band" dance and immediately gets tossed. The scrum is on and McGuillicutty is out next.
Tensai goes on an elimination spree, sending several folks out of the ring. Brodus and Tensai square off, but Santino tries to eliminate them. The PTP team up and send Brodus out, then Santino takes out JTG. Ryder eliminates McIntyre.
Santino hits the Cobra on Tensai and Young. He tries pinning Tensai but there are no pins. He decides to try Young but gets eliminated by O'Neil.
It comes down to Ryder vs. Tensai. Tensai eats knees on a charge in the corner and Ryder tries to get the Rough Ryder. Tensai counters and tries to powerbomb Ryder out of the ring. Ryder hangs on and hits a huracanrana to throw Tensai out and hangs on to stay in the ring. Ryder will go on to face Antonio Cesaro later.
Winner - Zack Ryder to earn the right to face Antonio Cesaro
Afterward, Josh Mathews asks if he will be able to beat Antonio later. He responds with "woo woo woo, you know it!"
The announcers talk about Boston's championship history, and then run down tonight's card.
Josh Mathews attempts to get an interview with CM Punk. That doesn't work out, but he crosses paths with Paul Heyman outside of Punk's locker room. He asks what Punk's mindset is and Heyman simply corrects his question without answering. Mathews says we won't hear from Punk in the pre-show.
They feed it to a video package highlighting the Punk vs. Cena feud, and the pre-show ends with the playing of the Night of Champions theme.
WWE Night of Champions Pay Per View:
They open the pay per view with a focus on the WWE Championship feud. Pyro goes off and Cole checks in, telling us there are 14,866 in attendance tonight.
Cole gives us the latest on Jerry Lawler, noting it took 15 minutes of CPR to save his life on Monday. He notes Lawler will be returning home to Memphis this coming week and introduces his partner for tonight, JBL!
JBL's entrance theme hits and he walks out in a suit, putting on his cowboy hat. Cole points out that this came out on social media earlier in the day. JBL comes to the table and Cole points out a Lawler tweet about JBL returning. JBL says he's keeping Lawler's seat warm but warned him it might be on fire because that's how he does things.
Match #1 - The Miz (c) vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes; WWE Intercontinental Championship under Fatal Four Way Rules
Lilian Garcia introduces The Miz. He cuts a promo, complaining about Booker T making this a four way match. He complains that he has to defend his title against three challengers and he's the only one who has to do so. He says he will go to the Board of Directors with a formal complaint.
The rest of the competitors are announced to the ring. Rey is wearing a shirt with a crown on in tribute to King. The fans aren't into this at first but they slowly get into it. They cheered for Mysterio when he went one on one with Sin Cara. Miz got a rise out of them too, and the male demographic chanted "Miz is awesome."
JBL admits he didn't think Miz would amount to much, calling him a "Kardashian Brother" and praises him for working hard to become the WWE Champion. The action spills outside, and JBL says it's fine but that's not where championships are won.
About 10 minutes in, Miz tries the Skull Crushing Finale. He gets it once on Sin Cara but then throws Rhodes outside. Rey hits a splash and covers but Rhodes drags him out of the ring. Rhodes picks up a near fall but Sin Cara breaks it up.
Cody tries to take Sin Cara's mask, which JBL says is a waste of time. Sin Cara takes a mask off (he had 2 on) and tries to put it on Rhodes. Miz hits Reality Check on Cara for a near fall. Sin Cara puts the mask over Miz's eyes. Miz still is able to hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Rhodes to get the win.
Winner - The Miz to retain the WWE Intercontiental Championship.
Solid opening bout with good action down the stretch to entertain. Would have been fun if Rhodes and Miz were cast as allies.
The Prime Time Players complain to Eve about having their title shot ripped from them. Eve was summoned by a trainer to go tend to an injured Kaitlyn. She says she was attacked by someone with a mask. Eve acts concerned as they try to move her.
Predictable story: Eve attacks Kaitlyn to get her shot at the title, and wins it. If it goes that way I won't complain too loudly, as Eve is head and shoulders developed over the women in the match.
They feed it to a video package focusing on the Kane and Daniel Bryan team.
Match #2 - Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c) vs. Kane and Daniel Bryan; WWE Tag Team Championship
Kane and Bryan have issues in the early going. Bryan wants a hug, and Kane pauses but gives in. The fans eat that one up. They get back on the same page and things are fine, but start to fall apart again late.
Bryan warns Kane and shoves him off the rope. Kane falls on Kofi and picks up the win.
Winner - Kane and Daniel Bryan to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions
Afterward, they go to each corner and celebrate, then start arguing over who really is the tag team champion. Kane does his pyro bit and leaves the ring.
The hug thing will eventually grow tiresome, but it's fun for now and the fans are eating it up. Worth noting that Cole is calling everything straight tonight so far and JBL seems up to speed on what's going on. He's been enjoyable to listen to.
Eve tells Booker that she informed Kaitlyn her title match would be rescheduled. Teddy Long interrupts and says every belt has to be defended. Eve admits she forgot, and Booker says that Eve will have to replace Kaitlyn tonight. Eve acted humble as she accepts.
We saw this coming a mile away, right? At least we don't have to see Kaitlyn wrestle.
Cole and JBL talk about their role in spreading breast cancer awareness and how WWE has gotten involved in this campaign. They say that the middle rope will be pink throughout the month of October as a show of support.
Match #3 - Antonio Cesaro (c, w/Aksana) vs. Zack Ryder; WWE United States Championship
Our pre-match word is "unfair" tonight. They give us highlights of Ryder's win in the pre-show battle royale. A sign is spotted in the background saying "Ambrose, you're wanted on set!" Cesaro controls the early going and hits a double stomp on Ryder's midsection.
Ryder battles back briefly. Cesaro throws Ryder up and hits him with an uppercut that gets a near fall. Ryder battles back again, but Aksana pulls Cesaro to ringside. Ryder follows and chases Cesaro back in the ring.
Cesaro gets the better of Ryder and hits the Neutralizer for the win.
Winner - Antonio Cesaro to retain the WWE United States Championship.
I find myself liking the Aksana/Cesaro pairing. She plays up the sex appeal aspect in this one to try and distract Ryder. The word routine is flat, but overall, this could really work.
David Otunga and Alberto Del Rio are tearing into Ricardo Rodriguez. He took off the neck brace. Otunga tells him that Ricardo always needs to wear that brace in public.
Bets on the Brogue Kick Ban being overturned before the match?
Match #4 - Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. Randy Orton
Cole and JBL banter about how Bob Orton Jr.'s hand was always injured. That was fun. Ziggler and Orton work a fast and tense pace early on. JBL says this is big for Orton because if Ziggler were to cash in and win, Orton would be first in line for a shot.
Ziggler gets a long run of offense with a series of good near falls. The fans weren't buying in, though it gave Ziggler a chance to show frustration that he can't put Orton away. Orton manages to catch Ziggler in a rope move and hits a superplex for a near fall of his own.
Ziggler hits the Fameasser about 15 minutes in and Orton kicks out at the very last second. Great near fall there. The men in the crowd cheer for Ziggler. Orton holds his neck as he did at various times throughout the match. The two battle to ringside, and Orton throws Ziggler into the safety railing. Orton cusses out the camera guy for being in the way.
Orton hits the elevated DDT off the railing but can't put Ziggler away once they're back in the ring. Ziggler got his foot on the ropes. Orton teases the RKO but Dolph dodges and rolls Orton up for a near fall.
Ziggler locks on the sleeper hold but Orton shoves him off. Ziggler charges, and Orton presses Ziggler up in the air and hits the RKO as Ziggler comes down to get the win.
That was fun. Match of the night so far and it's not close. Is this a tease for a cash-in later tonight?
The announcers talk a bit at ringside, and give us a sneak peak at Dredd 3D.
Match #5 - Layla (c) vs. Eve; WWE Divas Championship
A little bit into this, Eve plays the 'good sport' card and offers a handshake, then kicks Layla in the knee. She takes control from there, ramming Layla into the ring a few times. Eve locks on a submission that shows off a bit more of Layla's chest than I think she intended.
Eve finishes her off with the spinning neckbreaker to win the title.
Winner - Eve to claim the Divas Championship
Odd way of getting there and it seems Layla and Booker were the dumb ones who couldn't put one and one together. But, I can give it a bit of a pass because now they have the strap on someone who has a story to tell.
Lilian Garcia gives a short promo about the WWE partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and introduces a group of women in the crowd as cancer survivors. They air a short video package on breast cancer.
Daniel Bryan is running around, telling everyone and anyone who would listen that he is the tag champions. Kane did likewise, and eventually the two men came together. Dr. Shelby shows up and tells them he's proud of them but snaps and tells them "enough!"
AJ appears, and she snaps harder and yells over them. The doctor gets Bryan to congratulate Kane and asks if Kane has anything to say. Kane walks off and that causes Bryan to flip out until Kane walks in and dumps a Gatorade bucket on him. Kane says he's going to Disneyland.
They feed it to a package to recap the Brogue Kick nonsense.
Match #6 - Sheamus (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez and David Otunga); World Heavyweight Championship
Each man makes their entrance. Booker T emerges and removes the ban on the Brogue Kick. As this one gets going, Sheamus cues up the kick early, but it connects with Otunga rather than Del Rio.
Sheamus hits White Noise, then looks to the fans. He sets up for the Brogue but misses. Del Rio follows with a kick to the head that gets him a two count. Del Rio protests then tries the Cross Arm Breaker. Sheamus avoids and reloads the Brogue Kick but Del Rio avoids a second time.
Del Rio goes back for the Cross Arm Breaker again, but Sheamus rolls through it and tries to get the Cloverleaf. Can't quite lock it in.
Del Rio manages to get Sheamus' arm trapped in the ropes and kicks him. The official makes Del Rio back off, but Del Rio gets in another shot. Sheamus gets himself free and eventually ends up getting locked in the Cross Arm Breaker. Sheamus is able to get to his feet and slam Del Rio down in order to break the hold.
Del Rio is able to get the hold on again, and Sheamus teases tapping. He is able to stretch his leg to the bottom rope though and gets the hold broken. Del Rio is upset and throws a fit over it.
Del Rio tries his running kick in the corner but misses wildly. Sheamus comes out of the corner with the Brogue Kick to get the win.
Winner - Sheamus to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
Slow early, but it was a good final five minutes. The fans bought into the possibility of a submission win with the Cross Arm Breaker applied mid-ring. Will this go on to Hell in a Cell? Hard to say. Seems it's over here, but this is WWE...
They show us a "Don't try this at home" promo video, then a video package about the partnership between WWE and the National Guard. They then send it to a video package to set up our main event.
Paul Heyman is in the ring. He tells the fans that while he's from New York, he is just like them and gets to watch CM Punk's 302nd day as WWE Champion. He concludes his remarks by saying that Punk is the one who has said he's a Paul Heyman Guy.
Match #7 - CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena; WWE Championship
Punk gets his entrance first and says "302" before his normal bit with "it's clobberin time!". JBL defends the disrespect issues saying that Punk has held the title for 302 days but it's Cena and Rock that get the headlines. Cena gets a mixed reaction with his entrance, despite the new black and pink "Rise Above Cancer" gear.
Justin Roberts handles the introductions. Heyman is shown applauding Punk at ringside as Punk holds the belt up and soaks in the mixed-bag reaction he gets. He poses on the ropes and kisses the belt then hands it over to the official. Cena tosses his shirt to his dad at ringside.
Dueling chants get going early. Punk gets most of the early offense in. Cena catches him on the ropes and puts him on his shoulders, but Punk escapes, hitting a DDT on Cena. Punk stays on offense and drops Cena with a drop toe hold into a chin lock. When Punk releases, Cena clutches his shin and sells. He rolls out of the ring and limps as he gets to his feet. Punk lands a suicide dive then smiles at Cena's dad.
Punk blows a kiss to the crowd, presumably directed at Cena's family and friends. Cena recovers and hits a baseball slide kick under the ropes. He throws Cena over the safety railing near his family. Back in the ring, Punk takes back the match. They have a bit of a rough moment where Punk misses a punch that Cena sells anyhow.
Punk teases the GTS but Cena avoids and hits a pair of shoulder blocks. Cena calls for the Five Knuckle but Punk catches him with a kick to the face. They show Heyman leaning on the announce position.
Punk tries a cross body block but Cena rolls him through and tries the AA. Punk slips out and runs to ringside. Cena hits a suicide dive of his own on Punk then motions at Paul Heyman with the "you can't see me" thing. Heyman is shocked.
Cena tries the Five Knuckle again but Punk gets a leg up, grabs Cena's arm and locks on the Anaconda Vise. Cena slips out and locks on the STF. Punk counters that and uses a Crossface. Heyman is looking worried.
Punk and Cena trade punches in "yay" "boo" fashion, with Cena getting boos. Punk hits a drop kick followed by a high knee in the corner. Punk goes up top and hits the Macho Man elbow for two as Heyman looks frustrated.
Punk gets to his knees, then calls for the GTS. Punk teases it but Cena is able to counter it to the STF. Punk crawls to the ropes to break it, then comes back with the GTS but only gets a near fall out of it. Punk, Heyman, and even JBL sell shock. JBL asks what does one do when you throw your best shot at someone and you didn't win.
Punk limps, selling the STF, and unleashes some kicks. Punk's frustration grows as the announcers ask what he has to do to put Cena away. Punk slaps Cena but gets loaded in the AA but that fails. Cena comes back with the Five Knuckle Shuffle and hits the AA, but Punk kicks out. Punk rolls to ringside and Heyman is giddy about his guy kicking out of Cena's finisher.
Cena tries the top rope leg drop but misses. Punk hits a kick and gets a good near fall. Punk keeps up the strikes, including a spinning back fist. Cole says the frustration is turning to desperation. Punk goes for a moonsault but air-mails it.
Cena and Punk both get to their feet. Cena tries the AA again, but Punk counters and hits the GTS for another near fall. JBL says his respect for Cena will run deep regardless if he wins or not. Punk pulls out a different form of offense and hits the Rock Bottom for another near fall. Punk sticks his tongue out during the cover, assumably taunting The Rock.
Punk is shocked Cena kicked out again. Cena drops Punk with the AA only to get a near fall out of it. Cena puts Punk on the ropes as a "this is awesome" chant gets going. Punk hits some elbows and knocks Cena off the ropes. Cena hits a German Suplex off the ropes though and gets the pin...he thinks.
Cena goes and grabs the belt and celebrates, even letting one of the soldiers at ringside touch it. He gets in the ring and poses on the rope but the official is there waiting when he gets down. The referee claims the belt back.
Justin Roberts says that both men's shoulders were down, so Punk retains the championship in a draw. Cena is shocked and Punk flashes a shit-eating grin.
Cena protests, but when he turns around he gets blasted with the belt by Punk. Punk and Heyman head up the aisle together and celebrate as Punk's music plays to end the show.
Winner - Draw, CM Punk retains the title.
I always get a little edgy about what we see WWE do with Cena. But this was a gem of a match. Cole and JBL worked well to put over how much offense the guys were throwing at each other too. My initial reaction to the finish was "WTF?" but it makes sense because it keeps the belt on Punk, creates the need for a rematch, and did so without any outside interference from anyone else. This was a better route to go than have Show or Heyman stick their nose in the middle of it. Great match.
WWE did a great job with the in-ring portion of this pay-per-view tonight. Some of the backstage stuff was pretty groan-inducing, but that aside, the card up and down was well done. The undercard was solid, but not spectacular except for Ziggler /Orton. One can only hope we've seen the last of Del Rio vs. Sheamus, but even their match was enjoyable down the stretch.
Be sure to follow along tomorrow night starting at 8 p.m. EDT as we bring you all the fallout of tonight's pay-per-view on the Raw Recap here on Ring-Rap.com.