Sunday's Night of Champions pay-per-view featured three title changes and a title unification, but even with all that gold changing hands (or, in the case of the tag team championship, copper changing hands), there wasn't anything particularly memorable about the show. There were some good matches, but I just don't know that Night of Champions lived up to the $45 price tag (especially with the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view just two weeks away).
The big news is that Randy Orton won the six-pack elimination challenge to capture the WWE title. Orton is the hottest wrestler in WWE and I'm glad the company decided to just put the belt on him now rather than draw out his chase any longer.
The other noteworthy development is that Chris Jericho was eliminated from the six-pack challenge in less than two minutes in what perhaps was his final WWE match for the time being. The announcers seemed confused as to whether the stipulation that Jericho had to leave WWE if he lost was still in effect, although several wrestling websites reported Sunday night that Jericho was indeed done.
Jericho addressed the reports after the show via Twitter: "Since I've apparently made my last appearance in the WWE, I guess I have nothing to do tomorrow. … The websites have spoken!!! Whatever, I'm goin to Calgary tomorrow so I'll let y'all hash it out."
In other title changes, Daniel Bryan defeated The Miz for the U.S. title in what I thought was the best match of the night, and Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes captured the WWE tag team title in a tag team turmoil (gauntlet) match. Michelle McCool became the unified women's champion in a match with Melina that was bad on several levels.
World heavyweight champion Kane and Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler were the only champions to make successful title defenses.
Here is a match-by-match look at the show:
Randy Orton defeated WWE champion Sheamus, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Edge and Chris Jericho in a six-pack elimination challenge to win the title (21:28): It took only 1:29 for the first elimination to occur, as Orton hit the RKO on Jericho and pinned him. Jericho slowly walked to the back with a stunned look on his face. A few minutes later, Orton and Cena cleared the ring and engaged in a stare-down, but Barrett broke it up before the two babyfaces could touch. The same situation with Orton and Cena occurred about a minute and a half later, and this time they actually did go at it briefly. It was made clear that Sheamus may have been the champion, but Orton and Cena were the biggest stars in the match. The second elimination did not occur until the 15-minute mark, as Cena took out Edge with the Attitude Adjustment after a series of finishing move attempts. There was a very good near fall a few minutes later, as Cena trapped Sheamus in the STF in the middle of the ring, but Sheamus managed to get to the rope for a break.
At that point, the rest of The Nexus showed up and attacked Cena, which led to Barrett pinning him with his Wasteland slam at 18:33. The Nexus then targeted Orton, but Cena, who was still at ringside, attacked them with a chair. That allowed Orton to recover and eliminate Barrett with the RKO at 20:32. As expected, it came down to Orton and Sheamus. Sheamus snuck up behind Orton and landed the Brogue Kick, but Orton kicked out, which got a huge pop. Sheamus then went for the High Cross, but Orton slipped out and hit the RKO for the win to become a seven-time world champion. Orton was booked to look strong in this match and is clearly being positioned above Cena at this point. As Orton celebrated after the match, I half-expected The Miz to come out and cash in his Money in the Bank contract, but it didn't happen. We're likely getting a rematch between Orton and Sheamus at Hell in a Cell, as well as a match between Cena and Barrett. The seeds continue to be planted for Cena to turn heel and feud with Orton down the line.
World heavyweight champion Kane defeated The Undertaker in a no holds barred match (18:29): The match, which featured a lot of brawling outside the ring and had a methodical pace, told a good story. The Undertaker put up a strong fight, but Kane kept cutting off his comebacks, solidifying his status as the dominant brother now. Undertaker went on the offensive before the bell even sounded, as he charged Kane on the ramp while Kane was making his entrance. Kane, however, survived the initial onslaught and went on to control the majority of the match. The Undertaker hit a choke slam at the 17:40 mark and then set up for a Tombstone Piledriver. Kane, however, reversed it and hit a Tombstone of his own for the clean victory. The Undertaker really sold the beating as he slowly made his way to the back after the match. It's pretty much a lock that there will be a rematch between the two at Hell in a Cell. Perhaps The Undertaker should summon Paul Bearer from the dead so that he can "urn" back his supernatural powers.
Daniel Bryan defeated U.S. champion The Miz to win the title (12:29): Bryan scored the biggest win of his career, while The Miz put on one of the best in-ring performances of his. These two worked very well together and the atmosphere was intense. There were some great near falls, including one that was set up by Miz delivering a wicked flying clothesline off the top rope onto Bryan, who was straddling the top rope after being crotched. Bryan got the win when he forced Miz to tap to the LeBell Lock. The finish occurring at that point surprised me, as I really thought Miz was going to make it to the ropes to force a break.
Intercontinental champion Dolph Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston (12:42): The stipulation was that Ziggler would lose the title if he was disqualified or counted out. The first five minutes were slow but then the pace really picked up and there were some good near falls, the first of which occurred at the 9:15 mark when Ziggler barely got his foot on the rope after Kingston hit the SOS. Kingston attempted the move again less than two minutes later, but Ziggler caught him in a sleeperhold, which Kingston reversed into a sleeper of his own. Ziggler broke the hold by sending Kingston into the ropes. Vickie Guerrero teased that she was going to slap Kingston, but Ziggler warned her not to get him disqualified. As Ziggler turned around, Kingston went for Trouble in Paradise, but Ziggler ducked just in time and then hit the Zig Zag for the victory. This was probably the biggest win for thus far for Ziggler, who came out on top despite the odds being stacked against him. Although Ziggler and Guerrero were all smiles at the end, there was a hint of tension between them, and also between Guerrero and Kaitlyn, who came to the ring with Ziggler and Guerrero but was sent to the back by Guerrero early in the match.
The Big Show defeated CM Punk (4:43): Since the show was in Punk's hometown of Chicago, he was cheered when he came out, but he cut a great heel promo to turn the crowd – well, some of it anyway – against him. There was a "CM Punk chant" a couple minutes into the match after Punk hit a head-first dive over the top rope onto Big Show, who was down on the floor. The finish saw Big Show spear Punk in mid-air after Punk spring-boarded from the top rope, and then nail him with the knockout punch. I think Punk's promo lasted longer than the match.
Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes defeated WWE tag team champions The Hart Dynasty, Evan Bourne and Mark Henry, The Usos and Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a tag team turmoil match to win the title (11:42): This gauntlet match began with The Hart Dynasty against The Usos. Shockingly, The Usos beat THD in just over two minutes, thanks to interference from Tamina. Taking the belts off of THD is one thing, but jobbing to The Usos like that? It will be interesting to see where David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd go from here. Marella and Kozlov were out next, but they only lasted about a minute, as Tamina distracted Marella, causing him to lose. The Usos' run was ended by Bourne and Henry, as Bourne scored the pin on one of the twins after hitting the Shooting Star Press. Those three decisions were all rendered in just over five minutes. McIntyre and Rhodes were the final pair to enter, and Rhodes scored the victory by hitting Cross Rhodes on Bourne after about six and half minutes of action between the two teams. Once THD was eliminated, it was pretty obvious that McIntyre and Rhodes were going over. McIntyre and Rhodes now getting to appear on both Raw and Smackdown sounds good to me.
Michelle McCool defeated WWE Divas champion Melina in a Lumberjill match to unify the women's titles (6:34): What a poorly booked mess this was. To start with, it was a unification match with one competitor who isn't even really a champion. Then we had the Lumberjills, who were supposed to toss the competitors back in the ring whenever they were thrown out to the floor, but the girls all just stood there looking clueless for the most part. When the Lumberjills did decide to get involved, they all ganged up on McCool (the heel), thus giving Melina (the babyface) an unfair advantage. But even with the odds stacked against her, McCool prevailed, thanks to a distraction from Layla. I don't know why Layla would help McCool after McCool duped her out of a spot in this match on Smackdown Friday, but I sure hope McCool and Layla are not going to be co-unified women's champions. There was an unintentionally funny spot when the Lumberjills were mixing it up outside the ring that saw Rosa Mendes start to throw a punch at Jillian Hall and then change her mind just as she was about to make contact. Hall said something to her and then Mendes walked away. Only Rosa Mendes (well, probably Lacey Von Erich, too) could botch a punch.