By Graham "GSM" Matthews
The Authority Made a Historic Announcement
Did anyone else get their guard up when it was advertised before the show that The Authority would be making a "blockbuster announcement?" I prepared for the worst, but I must admit, it was cool to hear that Sting would be wrestling on this show. To me, that's on the level of a Brock Lesnar or The Rock competing on Raw, which is something that should be hyped well in advance, especially when you consider how desperate they are for ratings going into football season. Nevertheless, it was a big hook for the rest of the show, but I have to wonder whether a few viewers lost interest when they heard he'd be facing Big Show.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Prime Time Players
The New Day are such a tremendous act it's not even funny (which is ironic because that's exactly what they are). An argument can be made that they should be doing more to elicit heat as heels, but I think the average viewer is chanting "New Day Sucks!" regardless. The match wasn't anything overly special, but they maintained my interest as well as the crowd's. The ending outcome was never in doubt, but the in-ring action was enjoyable and The Dudley Boyz coming out afterward was a nice final sell for their pending title encounter.
Sasha Banks def. Paige
This was the first Divas match in a while that I actually cared about because it had a proper build-up and was meaningful, not just another throwaway match. That's what happens when you take the time to tell a story and not shove the term "Diva Revolution" down the viewers' throats. I'm sure Paige and Banks are capable of contesting a classic with more time, but for the time they were allotted here, they produced a nice bout. Banks' third clean win over Paige gave her credibility while simultaneously furthering Paige's apparent heel turn.
The Miz Hosted 'Miz TV' with The Wyatt Family
Remember when Miz was feuding with The Wyatt Family a few years ago and they destroyed him every week on TV? Yeah, me either. You had to know they weren't going to give anything away or reveal their intentions, but it might have been best to dispose of Miz from the get-go. Reigns' words about finding a third partner for Night of Champions built suspense for the pay-per-view and it was wise to hold off on the two teams brawling or even bringing out the third guy. This was one of Reigns' better promos in recent memory as he's always best when he keeps it straight and serious.
John Cena def. Sheamus
Some will say that this match has been run into the ground as much as Sheamus vs. Randy Orton, but if my memory serves me correctly, we haven't seen these two face off in singles competition in close to two years. I can't say it was the most exciting match of the night, but they put forth a good effort and had a solid matchup, so I can't complain. The loss only did more damage to Sheamus' lack of momentum, but at least Cena winning gives me hope he loses the U.S. title match Sunday.
Kevin Owens Interrupted Intercontinental Champion Ryback
How often do we get character development from anyone in the midcard who's not named John Cena? They did a nice job of building toward the Intercontinental title match at Night of Champions and establishing both men's motives. Owens is the perfect foil for Ryback's positive personality while Ryback continues to improve on the microphone. Look for their match at the pay-per-view to exceed expectations.
Stardust vs. Neville Went to a No Contest
I don't mind the idea of The Lucha Dragons aligning with Neville to take on Stardust and The Ascension, but where is this feud going other than the six-man tag team match on the Kickoff show? We haven't heard from anyone in this feud in weeks, and by this point, it just seems to be spinning its wheels. How did WWE expect anyone to care when the segment lasted all of one minute?
Charlotte def. Divas Champion Nikki Bella by Disqualification
The hype for the title match throughout the night was well done as was the video package (why didn't AJ Lee get one of those when she broke the record?) and I liked the placement of it at the 10 p.m. time slot because it showed WWE viewed it as important. Of course, it was nowhere near as good as some of the women's title matches we get on NXT, but I didn't expect it to be, so I enjoyed it for what it was. The screwy conclusion could be seen coming from a mile away to set up a rematch for Night of Champions, but that was the same exact finish they did at Money in the Bank only a few short months ago. Would it kill them to be at least somewhat original?
Cesaro def. Rusev
The two had a solid outing, but I feel like it could have been better with more storyline support. The crowd was very much behind Cesaro which was pleasantly surprising given his questionable booking as of late, but Rusev is a far cry from what he used to be and he's damaged goods at this point in my opinion. I was glad Cesaro didn't take another loss, but there was no reason for Ziggler to steal the spotlight from Cesaro here.
Sting def. Big Show by Disqualification
Weren't there reports circulating that Sting got in great shape over the summer in preparation for his WWE return? If that's true, then why did he wear a t-shirt while he wrestled on this show? The match was barely passable because it mostly consisted of punches and kicks before Seth Rollins interfered, but if nothing else, it was kept relatively brief and didn't overstay its welcome before the subsequent tag team match.
Sting and John Cena def. WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins and Big Show
Sting teaming with Cena, let alone wrestling on Raw at all, should have felt like more of a spectacle than it did. He performed well here and I liked how he was limited to only the hot tag at the end, but I blame it on WWE not hyping it further in advance (though they recapped his greatest moments nicely throughout the show). That said, it was a competent main event that did a decent job of building to the two title matches at Night of Champions. While I wasn't too fond of Rollins tapping out almost immediately to Sting, it established him as a vulnerable champion and gave viewers the impression that there's a chance Sting takes home the title.
First and foremost, let's address the elephant in the room: the "season premiere" label for this show was not necessary in the slightest. I doubt it gave viewers any incentive to switch over from football just because it was labeled as such. As for the show itself, it was significant improvement over last week and I thought it was just fine for a go-home show. Nothing particularly blew me away, but each match on the card was well-hyped and a handful of new matches were confirmed for the card. Night of Champions is notorious for being a hit-or-miss event, so we'll see how WWE goes about booking the show and what it might mean as we head into the fall season.
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