Just over a week to go before Night of Champions, and the card is rounding into form. There are still some matches yet to be finalized, but here is what we know, right now:
WWE Champion Randy Orton versus Daniel Bryan
This, of course, is your main event. Since SummerSlam, it’s been beatings galore for the American Dragon, with no end-and no help-in sight. With the Corporate Calvary circling their wagons against the challenger, the deck sure seems to be heavily stacked in Orton’s favor. I am sure Bryan will get in some offense and put on yet another stellar performance, making Randy look good in the process, but at the end of it, whether by way of outside interference or just a plain old RKO, I see the Viper slithering his way out of the PPV, title belt firmly in hand.
WHC Alberto Del Rio versus Rob Van Dam
This ought to be another great RVD match, and Del Rio is no slouch. But, this honestly screams “cash in”, and has for about three weeks now. Why do I say that? Well, for one, RVD and Sandow just went at it this week, so I see that as a bit of a tease. Second, I doubt ADR wins and is cashed in on (again). If RVD pins and wins, I fully expect Damien Sandow and his leather-clad contract to come hustling down to the ring, ref by his side, to cash in and go home with the gold.
IC Champion Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman versus CM Punk
I am waiting for this to be confirmed as an actual title match-crazy thought, I know, seeing as the PPV name is Night of Champions…but we shall see. I fully expect this to steal the show, or at least be a solid 1A when ranked against all other PPV matches (only the main event would come close). Punk has already laid the foundation for this to be a brutal exhibition, and if it is going to be a non-title, gimmick 2 on 1 handicap match, then why not allow it to just be a street fight. I say just when you think Punk is finally getting his revenge, an unexpected Brock Lesnar comes down to the ring to protect Paul. This is still on the fringe of possible, as the last word seemed iffy on Brock being back in 2013. With the heels expected to go over in the two world title matches, it makes booking sense to give one of the top faces a victory, however, so I would be fine with Punk going over here, with no Brock involvement.
Diva Champion AJ Lee versus Natalya, Brie Bella and Naomi-Fatal Four Way
As much as you could justify putting the belt on perhaps one of the other Divas (I am partial to Natty), the reality is AJ Lee is earning every minute of this title reign, and I would hate to see it stop now. I see no reason for a title change right this minute. In fact, I don’t think the woman who will dethrone AJ is currently on the WWE main roster.
US Champion Dean Ambrose versus Dolph Ziggler
This one right now is a tricky one. Given how the Corporation is going, I’d fully expect them to do whatever they had to do in order to keep Ambrose as champion. However, giving Ziggler the US title could be a nice consolation prize for his most recent, and all too brief, WHC reign. Just over a week away, I am still undecided how this one ought to unfold.
(Not yet announced) Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns versus ?????
This is a match that, again due to the notion of all belts being defended on the PPV, is kind of expected to be there. The problem for WWE Creative? Who is worth pitting against 2/3rds of The Shield? A month ago, you probably would have easily said that the Uso’s were primed for a push and a title reign. After SummerSlam, it was looking more likely to be a newly formed union of Mark Henry and The Big Show. Henry pulled a hammy during a house show, which put his status in jeopardy (though he was recently cleared)
So does WWE go with with Usos? Henry and Show? Or perhaps Prime Time Players, an emerging team to be reckoned with? Why not all of the above? Copying the theme for the Divas title match, all of those teams would have a reason to want a piece of Rollins and Reigns. Allow a stipulation where The Shield could lose the belts without actually getting pinned even, and it keeps things interesting. Ultimately, if the trio is destined to serve as HHH’s muscle for the time being, having belts on them is somewhat pointless, and they could end up getting overlooked or lost in the shuffle in the near term. I fully expect at least one Shield-related title change during NOC.
Really at this point, we are waiting on the tag title match. Maybe some added stipulations for some matches, but otherwise the championship matches are shaping up, and should provide an entertaining card