The WWE just wrapped up a star-studded weekend in Brooklyn. NXT tore the house down with amazing performances from Bayley, Sasha Banks, Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and more. Then came the actual Summerslam event, which delivered almost across the board (more on this later), followed by one of the best Raw’s in recent memory. So how does Vince McMahon and co. top themselves at Night of Champions? Well, they probably don’t, but that won’t stop them from trying. And, why shouldn’t I try too? What follows is how I’d book Night of Champions. Enjoy!
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens – U.S. Championship
Night of Champions is the one night a year that every single title must be defended and since Rollins currently holds both the U.S. title and the World Heavyweight Championship, he is forced to pull double-duty. Luckily, the WWE has a solid pairing to match him up with that is sure to set the tone for an excellent show. Cesaro vs. Owens was one of the most underrated parts of Summerslam and a second collision is sure to be must-watch TV. Because those two can do the heavy lifting in the ring, Rollins is able to hold something back for the main event later on in the night. The buildup would be very basic. Owens uses the knowledge that every championship must be defending to force Rollins into a match. Owens has demonstrated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to improve his paycheck and this represents an easy opportunity for him to bump his pay grade. Triple H agrees to the match, but tells a shocked Owens that not only will he face Rollins, but Cesaro will be in the ring as well. During the next few weeks, Rollins’ attention is obviously elsewhere, but Owens and Cesaro continuously harass him during promo segments to remind him that they’re still around.
Taking the title off of Rollins could really cheapen his win over Cena, but I think he can stomach the loss. Owens beat Cesaro at Summerslam, so it would make sense for him to go over here. However, the most interesting scenario would be to have Cesaro take the title, especially considering the recent groundswell of fan support for the Swiss Sensation. This sets up a Hell in the Cell rubber match between Owens and Cesaro and Rollins isn’t hurt too much by a loss in a three-way dance. The correct booking would have Rollins sitting out most of the match, trying to play the opportunist, while Owens and Cesaro put on a show. Rollins tries to seize an opportunity and Pedigrees Owens. Before he can get into the pin, Cesaro runs in, delivers a European Uppercut, pins Owens and becomes your new U.S. Champion. The rubber match for the title is set for Hell in a Cell and Rollins has to do minimal work for his first match of the night.
Stardust vs. Neville
The early news out of Raw in Brooklyn is that Stardust turning on King Barrett was a storyline reason to give Barrett some time off to film a movie. That takes him out of this storyline that didn’t really seem to be over following Summerslam. Minus Stephen Amell’s involvement, the story has some potential to flounder, but, at the very least, Neville and Stardust know how to deliver a great match. In this scenario, we’re sticking with the super-hero gimmick and turning the next month into a game of cat-and-mouse between The Man Gravity Forgot and the Cosmic Prince that hopefully reminds the audience of the rivalry between Batman and the Joker. Stardust should consistently put Neville into moral dilemmas and test Neville’s resolve as the hero of the WWE. Neville should show doubt in his own abilities to rise above Stardust and be the hero we deserve. Maybe Neville has to choose between a star-making win against a big name or saving a damsel that Stardust is holding hostage backstage. They need to really go all out with this one or it will fall flat.
This pairing has the potential to elevate both stars, if given enough time. Therefore, I would have Stardust go over at Night of Champions, potentially by using the hostage situation discussed above to distract Neville. Then the feud would continue for at least one more PPV. In a perfect world, I’d love to see a Team Neville vs. Team Stardust at Survivor Series to play on the Avengers/Suicide Squad/Justice League teamups that are so popular in mainstream media. That said, Stardust and Neville might not have enough star power just yet to pull that off, so a blowoff at Hell in a Cell seems like a solid consolation prize.
New Day vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Titles
The Prime Time Players have a legitimate stake to be in this match, but frankly, the tag team division needs an injection of some new (though old) blood. Further, I’m personally tired of seeing multiple team matches after Summerslam and want a traditional match for my next PPV. So, PTP gets the boot and has to wait until after Night of Champions to use their rematch clause. And really, the New Day needs this. They need a run with a team that has clout like the Dudleyz to elevate them even further in fan’s minds.
Obviously, New Day has to go over here. They are the most over full-time team on the roster and should be the standard bearer for the division for at least six more months. The Dudleyz, on the other hand, are likely to be at the start of a three month-long run at best and don’t need the titles to get a huge reaction. Keep the belts on Xavier Woods and co. and use the next few weeks to build up the Prime Time Players characters to the level of New Day.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev
We know this match is coming and we also know that these Ziggler and Rusev can deliver a great match if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, this ongoing feud has largely focused on the two men fighting over Lana, while Summer Rae stands around and tries to look like the Ravishing Russian. After a double-countout at Summerslam, this angle needs a decisive blowoff and Rusev needs to either get back with Lana or leave her behind for good (or at least a year). The buildup to this one needs to have Ziggler continuously getting one over on Rusev and Lana mocking him the Bulgarian Brute every week. In some ways, Rusev needs to become the babyface heading into Night of Champions, while Lana plays the heel and Ziggler plays a hybrid.
From there, Rusev goes over at Night of Champions in an absolute war. These two need to beat the tar out of each other and capitalize on their in-ring chemistry. Ziggler was born to make brutes like Rusev look like a million bucks and Rusev is one of the more skilled big men in the WWE today. They should slug it out in an old-fashioned brawl that potentially leaves both of them bloody. However, at the end of the day, Rusev needs to just barely gut this one out and stand defiant over Lana; proving that he doesn’t need her to be successful. The two can then go their separate ways; with Ziggler likely heading into a program with someone like Sheamus and Rusev potentially feuded with Cesaro or Randy Orton.
Ryback vs. Sheamus – Intercontinental Championship
Ryback’s match at Summerslam against The Big Show and The Miz was largely forgettable, which is honestly how his entire IC reign has been so far due to injuries and bad storylines. Ryback showed some great chemistry with Kevin Owens on the Raw after Summerslam, but Owens needs to finish off his program with Cesaro before he can move onto The Big Guy. Much like Ryback, Sheamus doesn’t really have any obvious opponents to challenge right now. The Heavyweight Championship scene is locked up right now, so using the Money in the Bank suitcase seems like a big stretch; and no one wants to see him go up against Randy Orton for the millionth time.
So, in the only match on the card without a solid angle to back it up, Ryback and Sheamus go dancing. The easy story here is to have Ryback squash a few challengers in a few title matches on Raw and Smackdown and then have him claim there is no one big enough to take on The Big Guy. Then Sheamus’ music hits and he says something like, “You want somebody your own size? How ‘bout me fella?” and the two have a brawl. This one doesn’t even need a conclusive finish, as it would make sense to have this one end in a countout or DQ and continue past Hell in a Cell. That would give both guys a solid holding story until other opponents become available. This match ends in a DQ and Sheamus and Ryback fight in a Street Fight or No-DQ match at Hell in a Cell with Ryback going over. From there, Ryback moves into a feud with Kevin Owens and Sheamus gets more serious about cashing in his MITB case. Not the most exciting booking, but sometimes being effective is better than surprising the smarks.
Nikki Bella vs. Paige vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – Women’s Championship
The Women’s Division on the main roster could really use a kick in the pants. Which is a nice way of saying that Nikki Bella should not be holding the title. However, she has been a champion for almost a year, so you can’t just have her lose the title that easily or you risk devaluing the strap. That means she’s needs to lose in a way that doesn’t make her look weak, but does the job of getting the title to someone who can actually wrestle. Enter the Fatal Fourway. Charlotte and Sasha Banks used this match title to, along with Bayley and Becky Lynch, really put the women’s division on the map in NXT and I think they could do the same here. Nikki is used sparingly and Paige takes Bayley’s slot as the unquestioned babyface.
Sadly, Becky Lynch has to stay on the sidelines, but, at this point, Charlotte and Banks have a much bigger following and Paige is a bankable star that we know we can count on. Lynch will get her chance at a later date; this just isn’t it. I would love to put the belt on Sasha Banks because she’s the best women’s character in wrestling when they give her time to talk, but Charlotte seems like the safer belt. Charlotte was dominant in NXT and had some incredible stories with Banks and Bayley, plus she already has name recognition because of her father. People will want to get behind her and she can wrestle with anybody. Banks will get the title by next Wrestlemania, but for now, Charlotte is the standard bearer for the division. Charlotte pins Paige to win her first Women’s Championship.
Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, & ??? vs. The Wyatt Family
With the Wyatt’s introducing their newest family member Braun Strowman on Raw this week, it’s time for Ambrose and Reigns to gear up for a war and bring in a third member. The safe money on what WWE will do is to bring in Big Show after his apparent face turn this past Monday. However, no one wants to see Show muck up what could be a legitimately interesting feud, so I’m going another way. Bray brought in a guy from NXT (though one who has yet to wrestle on TV) to be his third man, so Ambrose and Reigns should do the same.
Finn Balor would be a huge get and would actually fit in pretty well from a wrestling standpoint. He can do the high-flying maneuvers that Seth Rollins used to do in The Shield and is a believable giant-killer if that’s what’s needed. Samoa Joe is another solid option that would bring some needed muscle to offset Strowman’s advantage. Joe doesn’t really need to be on NXT anymore, so a main event push seems imminent. The final NXT option could be Baron Corbin. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of his in-ring work, but he has a good look and would fit in with The Shield well. Plus, they can give him a bulletproof vest to cover up the belly fat he’s still working on shedding.
Of course, bringing in any of those NXT guys could be problematic if they don’t have anything to do after this match, so maybe there’s one more option. Mark Henry isn’t doing anything, would be believable up against Strowman, and is a better in-ring worker that Show at this point in their careers. With that said, regardless of who joins Ambrose and Reigns, The Wyatt Family has to over here. Bray needs to build some credibility and this feud is tailor made for a blowoff at Hell in a Cell. Look for Strowman to be the star here and throw enough people out of the ring for Bray to hit Sister Abigail and get the win.
Seth Rollins vs. Sting – WWE Heavyweight Championship
This is the one match that is already set in stone by the WWE and honestly, after what happened on the Raw after Summerslam, I’d have to get really creative to think of a way to change this. I’ll say this; the ensuing bout between Rollins and Sting is a very interesting one. Will Sting still be fighting for “the old guard”? Or is this just a way to try Triple H into another match? Only time will tell, but one thing is very obvious, there is simply no way this contest has an actual finish. Whether the interference comes from Triple H running down to save his golden boy or John Cena reinserting himself into the main event scene (and teasing a possible heel turn) by taking out Sting before he can pick up a win, this has to end with Rollins holding onto the title through dubious means.
That’s unfortunate because Rollins is one of the best, if not the best workers in the company and his constant dirty victories are making him look like a chump (a smart, conniving chump, but still a chump). He is THE World Heavyweight Champion and, even if he’s playing a rat-faced heel, he needs to be a believable in-ring threat. Him constantly winning by cheating cheapens his title run and hurts the company in the long run. It’s safe to have him beat Sting due to outside interference at Night of Champions, but he needs an actual, big-time victory over someone like Cena at Hell in a Cell or he needs to drop his title. In short, this match will mostly be used to set the table for what are sure to be a few big feuds of the fall. And, if nothing else, we know Rollins will deliver a memorable performance like always and Sting will get a gigantic pop if and when he brings out the bat. And we’ll all go home happy.