Social media is a double edged sword. In fact, it’s more like a multi-sided sword, if that’s even possible. . . Can you have a sword that’s also an octagonal prism?
. . .
I shouldn’t write these columns on only 4 hours of sleep.
Last month I realized that I was spending so much time Tweeting, I wasn’t actually watching the wrestling on my WWE Network, and thus was born #SummerSlamTaughtMe, a series of handwritten notes that became a couple of columns and part of a podcast.
This month for Night of Champions, I decided to avoid social media during most of the matches, and once again took up my pen and yellow legal pad. However, as I watched WWENOC, I found myself discovering broader themes rather than just bad jokes and minor observations.
So, for #NOCTaughtMe, let’s do single lessons from each match, shall we?
Doc Manson and I discussed their future and potential briefly on the NAIborhood podcast yesterday morning, but seeing them in action last night really made me a believer. Stardust is a natural leader, this was common knowledge, but what impressed me even more was how different The Ascension looked. No longer bogged down by the pressure of doing everything on their own (especially with that terrible “we’re better than you” gimmick), Konnor and Viktor positively shined just being able to be wrestlers.
I’m excited to see where this goes from here.
One of the most common things I saw online near the end or just following Night of Champions was that the ‘event’ (can’t call it a PPV, can we?) had an “old school” feel to it, and I think we can thank our new Intercontinental champion for that. Mr. Owens had a match that Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and our own MagnumNAI would be proud of, spending the majority of it isolating a body part and working it over with some of the most innovative offense I’ve seen in quite some time.
Hammerlock Russian leg sweeps, sentons directly to the arm, it was a treat to watch, and for what it’s worth, Ryback did a fine job of selling that injury. He really didn’t have to do much else.
Maybe Kevin Owens didn’t inspire the rest of the roster to break out their 80’s wrestling psychology, but it was notable that many other performances that followed (including, most surprisingly, Nikki Bella’s) involved similar styles of wrestling.
The prestige and honor of many fans (this one included) favorite title is in your hands, Mr. Owens. Make us proud.
They probably didn’t have the best match on the card, but Dolph Ziggler and Rusev definitely had themselves a pretty good match, yet nobody seemed to care. Why? Obviously because we all have gotten so tired of this angle that nothing can save us.
You know who else was obviously tired of that story? The wrestlers themselves. It’s Rusev and Ziggler, so you’re going to get a good match regardless, but couldn’t you tell that there was just a little less than full effort coming from them? They weren’t really giving it their all, which would explain why, on a couple of occasions, we saw phantom bumps. Rusev runs the ropes to hit Ziggler on the apron, and Dolph takes off before Rusev gets there. Rusev sells a DDT without his head actually hitting the canvas. Those kinds of things.
Truthfully, we can’t blame the talents - This has been dumb for a long time and I’m sure both talents would like to move on. Whether or not they can do so is a different story.
One thing I will say, though. I love me some #SadRusev.
No offense, Mr. Luger, but Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are everything that is nice and good in professional wrestling. We saw it with their ‘Table for 3’ episode, we see it each night on RAW, and we absolutely saw it at Night of Champions.
What do we want from a “perfect” wrestler? An impressive look, excellent wrestling skills (which hopefully include power, aerial ability and some technical know-how), and charisma, particularly if it can translate onto the microphone. While it could be argued that no member of New Day has all of those features (though I could make a case for Big E), with their powers combined, they are something to behold.
I know this because, for that entire match, I couldn’t have cared less about the Dudleys. They were just in the way of the Day, if you will. I enjoy Bubba and Devon, but they were easily and completely overshadowed by Rufio and his Lost Boys.
New Day could be, historically, something very special.
I stayed on social media for this match, figuring it would play in the background and I’d glance at it from time to time, but I actually spent a good portion of the match paying attention, and that was all thanks to Nikki. When did she become Dean Malenko? Why wasn’t I given a memo? If Nikki has really been that skilled all this time, why on Earth did they not let her defend her title?
A lot of people were confused by the nature of that match, but it made sense to me, One of the biggest criticisms of Charlotte’s game has been her ability to sell, and that gave us all a chance to see if she’s improved in that area. It was a bit over-the-top, in my opinion, but she’s a Flair after all, so I guess that comes with the territory.
I almost felt a little bad for Nikki, to dominate the match the way she did and then lose so quickly.
Am I starting a #GiveNikkiAChance movement? No, but I have far more respect for her than I did before. That’s something.
As I said on the podcast, one of the matches I was most looking forward to was this six man tag, solely because I love a good mystery partner. When I saw the countdown and heard the music. . . I was less than thrilled.
In fact, I was borderline devastated. There were about 7-8 other guys that would have been more preferable to me, and those were just the likely names. Heck, I would have probably been more excited to see Big Show waddle his way down to the ring.
Jericho didn’t make any sense other than he fought with Bray Wyatt a long time ago. He didn’t have the size, the strength or the relevance to make a lot of sense there.
Then he made the blind tag on Roman, and it all started to make sense.
Chris Jericho wasn’t going to work as an opponent of the Wyatt Family. . . But he does make some sense as an opponent for Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. . .
NAI Honorary Team Member Adam hit the nail right on the head with his prediction, so props to him. I went from disappointment to intrigued with that tag, and I’m excited to see where this goes from here.
Well done, WWE, you do know what you’re doing.
The last two matches went back to back, so I’m going to group them together for a couple of final points.
Throughout the night, I found myself criticizing the logic of some of these matches. Why would Nikki Bella even participate in this match? Why not take a countout or blatant DQ? (I forgot about the no DQ rule, and thanks to the 457 people who reminded me) I was told to stop being rational, to suspend disbelief and to just enjoy the show, but I found it hard to do that with all these questions. I’m all for surrendering to the rationale of pro wrestling, but there needs to be SOME adherence to common sense.
Seth Rollins seems to incorporate that, and I really appreciate it.
I first noticed it when Cena was doing his “Cena thing” hitting the shoulderblocks. What happens next is textbook - The wrestler takes a giant swing, Cena ducks, hits the side slam or Blue Thunder Bomb (whatever it is) and goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle.
Except Rollins didn’t swing. He feinted, then hit a neckbreaker, and if memory serves, he gave the crowd a little “no way” look as he did it.
I loved that. Rollins is already a super talented wrestler, perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. Adding some actual logic and intelligence just sealed the deal. I also appreciated the number of times he tried to crawl or walk away with his title during the WHC match. That’s what a heel champion should do - anything to save the belt.
He might not be the next Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart, but Seth Rollins is a special talent, and you saw the way he randomly decided to control the crowd in a wave - He’s going to be the biggest babyface in the world REALLY soon.
We’re not sure what the nature or severity of Sting’s injury is, but obviously something was wrong during that title match, and that’s not even counting the huge bruise on his arm from smashing into the monitor on the Spanish Announce Table.
That was a scary moment, though, seeing him collapse in the middle of the ring. For just a second, I thought he was going to need to be carted out, and it was terrifying.
I give Steve Borden all the credit in the world for fighting through whatever the injury was and continuing the match, no matter how short it may have been. We’ve all spent a lot of time discussing Sting’s legacy, or the manner in which it has been portrayed by WWE. That moment there, staggering to his feet and continuing the match, might be the best thing Sting has ever done in a McMahon-controlled ring.
We all knew that Sheamus was going to try to cash in last night, but I didn’t see anyone on Twitter predicting that Kane would make his presence known during the main event. I figured he was there solely to give some slight air of mystery to who would be teaming with AmbReigns.
I have never been as big of a Kane fan as Jason Moltov or Liam Stryker. He’s been a fine and loyal WWE worker and I’ve enjoyed some of his matches, but I’ve always been ‘meh’ when it comes to the Big Red Machine, even more so when he went Corporate.
Yet there was a moment. . . After chokeslamming Rollins AND Sheamus. . . Where I was sitting upright in bed, quietly (since Mrs. Matthews was sleeping) begging Kane to grab the MITB briefcase, cash it in, and become World Heavyweight Champion.
Maybe it was because the “Demon” was back. . . Maybe it was because we hadn’t seen him in a while. . . Or maybe it was just #AnyoneButSheamus. . . but. . .
For just those few seconds, I became the kind of fan WWE has always wanted us to be - Lost in the moment, all reasonable thought out the window, pleading for a 20 year veteran I’ve never really been in love with to beat, as I just described, my favorite wrestler.
Goofy gimmicked stables. . . Working over a single body part . . . Solid storytelling. . . Totally bought in.
Now that’s Old School.