Putting summer in its rearview mirror, WWE now makes its way through the final line of pay per views of 2011. Night of Champions makes its return this Sunday with a triple main event. All three matches bring something different to the table. There’s a baby face – baby face match with a worked shoot feel, a hate-fueled encounter between a scoundrel villain and a hero looking for redemption, and then there is the David and Goliath battle for the gold. They all attract a different fan. Regardless of their histories, all three matches this Sunday seem to be a part of something bigger. As much build as fans have been through for Night of Champions, this is only beginning of what will likely be the three biggest programs for the rest of 2011.
Triple H vs. CM Punk
This match started building shortly after July’s Money in the Bank pay per view. Punk began making comments about the way Triple H made his way to the top of the wrestling business and put down his family. Over the last couple of months, Triple H and CM Punk have had a war of words week after week…or so we are made to believe. WWE has kept both men as baby faces during this feud, which can work, but as fans have had to listen to their verbal exchanges over and over again, one has to wonder what the purpose of this match is. Every time these two are given microphones, they speak about a lot of the same things. Listening to them, it seems like they have a lot of the same goals for WWE, and are both motivated to make the company the best it can be. Seems like these two should be friends, right? What is billed as a war of words seems more like a couple of passionate reformers thinking of ways to make things better. Yet here they are about to headline a pay per view against each other.
Having been on the sidelines for nearly a year, Triple H proved that wrestling for him is like riding a bike when he stepped into the ring with the Undertaker at WrestleMania a few months back. Yet HHH, like a lot of wrestlers, doesn’t always have the best chemistry with the people he wrestles. It usually becomes more visible with top guys like Triple H since the pressure is always on them to have good matches, and, being in the main event, people are more likely to remember his bad match over someone else’s. Punk is another guy who doesn’t always have great in-ring chemistry with his opponents. That being said, with all the hype around this match, CM Punk vs. Triple H could be one of the year’s biggest duds.
That’s not to guarantee they will have a bad match. They may very well put on a classic. However, the verbal exchanges can only go on for so long before they become redundant. Something has to happen this Sunday to either catapult this program to a whole to level, or sink it for good.
Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship
Cena vs. Del Rio was the rumored match for SummerSlam before things took off in the Cena-Punk program that essentially forced WWE to put on the Cena-Punk rematch right away. It was the correct choice as Punk-Cena was the biggest match of the summer. Also, the Punk situation would have overshadowed anything Del Rio and Cena would have done. Leaving it for after SummerSlam allows these two to go at it with no distractions.
The SummerSlam ending served to steer Cena’s anger to Del Rio. He sees Del Rio as a dirty sewer rat. You really get the feeling that Cena hates the guy. Everything about Del Rio character is fodder for John Cena. The WWE’s top dog has had a lot of bad blood feuds since he rose to the top, but Del Rio may be the guy who goes down as Cena’s most hated rival. This could be one of the go-to rivalries for the next few years, and this Sunday will only be the beginning.
Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry for the World Heavyweight Championship
How simple is this feud? Very simple indeed, and it is fantastic. Since his move to the Smackdown brand, Orton has really only had two programs; this current one with Henry, and the summer series with Christian. Sure he and Christian had match after match after match, but they were all very good. On top of that, it was a good program. They fought over something so simple – the championship belt.
There are those who are called “belt marks” in that they constantly complain about the frequent title changes or how tainted finishes in championship matches degrade the value of the gold. Some of these people keep track of every title reign and how many times the belt has changed hands in x number of days. Those fans have a point, but so do their detractors. The belt is, for lack of a better term, a prop. But it is one of the most important props. The line really falls in the middle of the belt marks and their critics. There is really no need to take a fake championship so seriously, but at the same time, from a character standpoint, these guys shouldn’t even be on the show if their goal isn’t to be the champion.
Wanting to be a champion and say you are the best is one of the most simple, yet logical and easiest stories to tell in pro wrestling. Mark Henry wants what Randy Orton has and he plans to take it at Night of Champions. Could this be the night Henry reaps is reward for fifteen years of hard work? Perhaps. Considering the tear Henry is on, WWE may be planning to do some sort of DQ or tainted finish that would push out a final resolution to this feud to Hell in a Cell. Having Orton being locked into a cage with the monster Henry will make for great television as he tries to come out alive, let alone still champion.
Randy Orton and John Cena will still be the reliable heroes after Sunday, and Mark Henry and Alberto Del Rio will both be despised villains in their own right. The wild card is HHH and Punk. With Punk just recently turning baby face, could he do a hard heel turn like Triple H did in 2000 when he teased a baby face run? Perhaps we are about to see another Triple H heel run. Or maybe, just maybe, we see both men come away with their reputations intact, but it will be far from over. The last few months of 2011 are about to get very interesting.