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Pay-Per-Review: WWE Night of Champions 2011
By: Chris Cash @RealityofChris
Judging by the latest poll on WrestleZone.com, there seems to be a very mixed reaction to last night's "Night of Champions" pay per view. Understandably so, I guess. Two major title changes, a few burials, another Kevin Nash return and a confusing finish to the main event that has left people scratching their heads.
Let's get it out of the way. John Cena is your WWE Champion once again and much like most of you, I was surprised to see it. Was this an abrupt reaction to Raw ratings dipping below a 3.0 again? Has Vince changed his mind on Del Rio as a main event guy? Or was this the plan all along? Regardless of the reasoning, it was the wrong move. Not just because it's John Cena either, but because yet again, another WWE superstar was buried in the process. Given the year ADR had, there's no way he could have been viewed as a transitional Champion all along. Unfortunately, his reign on top will be forgotten quicker than it lasted.
The one major issue I had with John Cena last night is due to the circumstances of the future. Unless Del Rio wins the title back tonight on Raw, the chances of Cena holding the title until WrestleMania next year look a hell of a lot more likely. Cena WILL be the Champion by 'Mania - he "vowed" to do it, so it's a foregone conclusion.
He won't lose it at "Hell in a Cell" or "Vengeance", will he? He's now working a tag with the Rock (and I'm sure two others in a traditional 8-man elimination match) at Survivor Series. The title won't even matter in that match. TLC? Surely not. At that point, you head into the Rumble and the "Road to WrestleMania" starts all over again. I guess he could lose it at the Rumble and still have time to get it back before April, but that's cutting it close.
I'm aware WWE could take the title off of him unexpectedly within the next six months, but if you lay out the options, the one where he holds it all the way to Miami definitely seems to float to the top. That's my biggest beef with all of this. Cena doesn't "need" the title. Others do. Six months is a LONG time for them to build another star or two with help from the WWE Championship. Maybe Del Rio isn't that guy, but WWE has to give people a legitimate shot.
In other news coming out of last night's event, Mark Henry was the logical choice. It's crazy to think that he's in the peak of his career, but he is. And it only took him 15 years to get there. The window of opportunity for this guy seemingly ran out years ago, but that's the wacky world of pro wrestling. Mark Henry is living proof that wrestlers can be repackaged and get over as a result. His physical attributes don't hurt, but consider his recent mic work. It's been great and his post-match promo last night was no exception. He's authentic and believable. It's good timing as well because if you weren't a fan of the "technical" aspect of last night's match between Henry and Orton (I actually enjoyed it), "Hell in a Cell" is the best place to highlight Mark Henry's strengths. Personally, that's the only thing I would have changed about Henry winning. I would have held out one more pay per view and had him win the title at HIAC, but in any case, a successful defend at the event works for me.
Is Mark Henry a legitimate Champion for the long term? That's the question that remains to be seen and if Vince gave up on Del Rio this quickly, it doesn't really bode well for the "World's Strongest Man" either. Henry's had 15 years of mediocrity and irrelevance to overcome and ADR was given every opportunity since his debut to succeed. I just worry that Vince gave Henry the title due to charitable reasons rather than because he's the best thing going on Smackdown right now. It may be a legit concern, too. Can fans forget about Henry's 15 years of "failure" and take him seriously as a Champion? Will people pay $55 to watch him get beat by a top babyface? In the end, it doesn't matter how much I like him. It doesn't matter how much you like him. If you won't pay to watch him, he doesn't deserve to be there.
Moving on, I am actually shocked at how many people care about the Diva's division all of a sudden. I received more emails and tweets regarding Beth Phoenix losing to Kelly Kelly AGAIN than any other subject regarding "Night of Champions". Was Beth buried? Eh, whatever. I may have bet the farm on her winning last night, but I can't say she was "buried" as a result. Kelly Kelly should be considered worthy at this point. She isn't Gail Kim or Natalya in the ring, but she has worked her ass off to get better. And she has. Considerably.
Her win over Beth at SummerSlam was sold as a fluke. Her win over Beth last night was presented as a second fluke. It's commonplace in wrestling and is meant to accomplish two things: 1) it's meant to put Kelly Kelly over as a credible Champion before she does inevitably lose the title and 2) it's an attempt to get you to care a little when she does end up losing it. It's probably also a funny personal joke by Vince McMahon to himself because he likes f'ing with the internet fans. If you think it's a lock that someone will win, bet against them.
If you want to argue that Kelly Kelly should have never been champion in the first place, go ahead and knock yourself out. There's been plenty of past Champions with limited wrestling ability and she's no exception. However, you can't have it both ways. You get pissed when titles are tossed around like hot potatoes; you then get pissed when someone holds on to it too long. I believe Beth Phoenix will get hers again and deservedly so, but kudos to WWE for making you care. How long has it been since you could say that. People are up in arms over Beth losing last night. Wow! My only advice: if Kelly vs Beth 3 takes place at "Hell in a Cell", think twice before putting your life savings on Beth winning. You might end up broke and pissed while Vince McMahon is chuckling to himself backstage. We simply can't have that!
Lastly, let's talk about the main event. Nick Paglino said on last night's post-PPV edition of the Voice of Wrestling that Truth pulling Punk off of Triple H was the most confusing part of the finish. I agree. Outside of that, I think everything else made sense. I think it will make even more sense if Nick's exclusive regarding a Vince McMahon return is accurate.
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