Night of Champions is the one night of the year when fans are guaranteed to see every championship in WWE defended.
For most fans, that's a positive thing, as some of the midcard titles frequently go months without a pay-per-view defense. But it's also a double-edged sword.
While a show like Night of Champions ensures each title will be spotlighted on a larger stage, it also illustrates the persistent issues with the booking of some of the midcard championships.
Some of those issues became prevalent on tonight's edition of Smackdown.
First, United States Champion Antonio Cesaro addressed his outrage at the fact his challenger will be decided in a battle royale on the YouTube pre-show, and he's valid in his opinion.
Doing a match like that, much like they did earlier this year when Christian won and then challenged Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship, may help draw viewers into the pre-show, but why is the champ in a position where there is no clear-cut contender?
Cesaro's only opponent (of any note, anyway) since winning the title has been former champion Santino Marella. Fortunately, that angle seems to be in the past, and there may have been a hint dropped on Smackdown.
During the segment, Tyson Kidd came out to confront Cesaro, but the Swiss superstar disposed of the Canadian. Brodus Clay came out to make the save. So it seems highly likely we may see Clay vs. Cesaro at the pay-per-view, but that doesn't reek of a vastly appealing match.
The United States champion should have an ongoing rivalry that will help propel and fuel storylines, not be dealing with random contenders determined the nights of pay-per-views.
The second match with baffling development on Smackdown was the Intercontinental Championship bout. The Miz hasn't exactly been developing a big rivalry, but on Raw, we saw Rhodes lay him out and hoist the championship.
Miz and Rhodes have also had a common enemy as of late in Rey Mysterio, so WWE opted to take the three of them and toss in Sin Cara, who beat Miz in nontitle action Smackdown, for good measure and make a fatal-fourway.
It seems like Miz may take the backseat in this match to Rhodes and his ongoing issues with both masked luchadors, so that's not exactly the best way to highlight the champ.
All of this isn't meant to say or insinuate that the Intercontinental and United States Championship matches at the pay-per-view will be bad, but they truly feel like an afterthought when this should be the one night a year they are truly highlighted and presented in a serious manner.
Part of making fans care about the product at a deeper level requires WWE caring about the all levels of the product from the main event to the midcard and beyond.
- Randy Orton cut a promo before his match with Tensai insinuating that his match will follow the World Heavyweight Championship match at Night of Champions. If this is, in fact, going to be the case, it probably wasn't the best idea for Orton to let that cat out of the bag, as fans now have an additional 48 hours to whine and moan. The match with Tensai was pretty good, and Tensai was booked to look strong, which was surprising given that his appearances as of late have become very sporadic. After the match, Vickie Guerrero tried distracting Orton while Ziggler struck, but The Viper thwarted those plans and stood tall in the end.
- Kane and Daniel Bryan returned to anger management with Dr. Shelby for some fun wordplay involving stress balls - and whose was bigger. These segments continue to be entertaining, and hopefully Dr. Shelby is an employee who will be around to manage this team for at least a while. Kane also gained some momentum for their team by making quick work of Kofi Kingston in a match. After the match, the good doctor came out and game Kane a look, which led the Big Red Monster to re-entering the ring and hugging Kingston, much to Shelby's approval.
- The opening segment of the show with Alberto Del Rio and David Otunga building a case against the Brogue Kick was alright but nothing special. It was nice to see a cameo from Christian, though I never remember even hearing that he was injured. Christian played the tweener role, talking down to Del Rio but saying he believes Sheamus' finisher is too dangerous. Bryan also emerged to make his challenge to Sheamus for their match. In the end, the champ ripped off Otunga's neck-brace and held it high in the air like a trophy.
- World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and Bryan had a good match, which really isn't a surprise. They billed this as a WrestleMania rematch, which would have been more meaningful if they didn't have a series of matches right after that show. Regardless, it was nice to see them in the ring together again, but it's a shame Bryan had to be made to tap out to the Texas Cloverleaf days before he and Kane challenge for the tag titles.
- The divas match between Kaitlyn and Beth Phoenix was alright. It's a shame Phoenix, who was once the dominant force of the divas division, is now basically used as cannon fodder, but beating her gives Kaitlyn some form of credibility. Seeing Kaitlyn allowed to work a match without Eve or Layla present was nice, as it puts some of the emphasis on her rather than those two heading into Night of Champions.
- The match between Sin Cara and The Miz was pretty sloppy. The editing team did a good job hiding a lot of it, but there were some pretty awful spots when Cara was on offense. This certainly wasn't a strong outing for the masked star, while Miz looked fine when in control. Also, the mood lighting needs to go. Not now - 10 matches ago.
Sin Cara d. The Miz
Kane d. Kofi Kingston
Randy Orton d. Tensai
Kaitlyn d. Beth Phoenix
Sheamus d. Daniel Bryan
Tonight’s Smackdown was a solid go-home show for the blue brand to Night of Champions. Sheamus and Kane were made to look dominant heading into their title matches, Antonio Cesaro has a potential opponent and The Miz’s match is set. There isn’t much time to build hype for some of these matches, especially the Intercontinental Championship match, but WWE did alright with their time. Night of Champions seems like it will be a fun show, but with a stronger build, it could have been even better.
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