Next up was Chris Jericho, who was given the tough task of putting on a watchable match with the Great Khali. He achieved this by telling a strong story of constantly working on Khali’s knee injury. Khali did his part well, following Jericho around the ring and consistently overpowering with sheer size and strength. Eventually, Jericho pulled off the respectable feat of turning Khali on his stomach for the Walls of Jericho and the win. Jericho, like Edge, then made his case to Sheamus with the strong argument that he, as the first ever Undisputed Champion and ‘best in the world at what he does,’ deserves a title shot most of all. This was followed by an angered Khali knocking Jericho from the ring (an action I saw no point in!). Personally, I would love to see a Sheamus-Jericho title match. That has quality written all over it. Not only that, but it would finally be a RAW main event without Cena, Orton or HHH. We would have to wait for the announcement of the N.O.C. main event though. Incidentally, Cole reused what he has apparently turned in to his new heel catchphrase: ‘and I quote.’ I like it – it really hammers home his almost bureaucratic quality as a petty heel.
In some surprising booking, there followed a Divas Championship match between Melina and Jillian after the intense build-up of … one week. This seemed destined to be a N.O.C. match, but apparantly not. I wonder whether management quickly changed their mind on Jillian? As for the match, it was pretty good. For two wrestlers without much chemistry, they were clearly trying to put on a good match. In the end, Melina retained, making her look a strong champion. Afterwards, co-Women’s champions, LayCool appeared on the tron, hyping their appearance mext week on RAW with something to do with Melina. Given the shock release of Serena (which had been decided by monday), I can only think that this and Jillian’s premature championship match has something to do with this. Now Serena’s gone, WWE will surely have no choice but to bolster the divas on Smackdown. Perhaps Melina will be switching shows with Layla? It wouldn’t bolster in terms of numbers, but it would add a new talented female wrestler to the roster. (That is meant as no disrespect to Layla, but as a member of a team, her loss doesn’t hurt as much). Anyway, all will be revealed next week! Lucky they have that 900th show coming up to justify the booking of Smackdown talent on RAW!
We then learned that Nexus had their ban on competing for championships lifted. This was news to me as I thought (as you will have seen in previous posts) that Wade Barrett still had a title shot up his sleeve. I thought they lifted that ban ages ago … but that’s wrestle-logic for you, and a fine use of it too! (The reason why this is so timely will be revealed later). Barrett promptly informed Sheamus that their long-running truce is now over – turning a smug-looking champion in to a suddenly nervous target.
In the first main event of the night, we had the best match of the night, pitting John Cena against The Miz. The Miz has now taken on top stars Randy Orton and John Cena in quick succession, and looked strong against both. To my mind, this was his best match to date, justifying future PPV main events. It started off normally enough, with Cena and Miz having a lot of back and forth. Initially, you’d think there was no way Miz could go over, but as the match progressed, the prospect became all the more cerdible, with Miz gaining the upper hand in offense and having believable near falls against Cena and avoiding his best attacks. Before this could conclude, down came Daniel Bryan to retaliate against Miz for last week’s attack. Cena courteously left Miz to Bryan, who locked him in a crossface for so long that a team of officials had to pull him off of Miz. Not much camera-time for Bryan, but a good attack nonetheless. Hopefully he’ll get some strong booking leading up to a US title match with Miz. It seems innevitable, but not in a bad way. As for the match, I have no problems with it being a DQ. It was the best way of keeping both looking strong (not that Cena particularly needs that, but what the hell …), and making Miz look perhaps even unlucky not to get the win.
After this, we had a tag match which ostensibly had WWE Tag Team Championship ramifications in which the Uso’s took on Santino and Vladimir Kozlov. This was a surprisingly good match in which Santino and Kozlov managed to leave their comedy at the curtain and have a good match. They were likeable, but serious – more akin to, let’s say, Edge and Christian (in approach, not size!) than to all-out goofs. After a decent match, they went over against the Uso’s, though nothing more was said about the tag titles. Post-match, Tamina stopped an attack on Santino, continuing their growing ‘romance.’ She even blew an affectionate kiss to Santino, though like a poison dart. It was all a bit weird, but i’m willing to let that go as some comic relief, especially seen as the match was good. As for the tag titles, I would actually like to see a team from Smackdown take on the Harts, maybe Luke Gallows and Joey Mercury?
Our main Main Event saw Randy Orton in a triple threat match against John Morrison and Ted DiBiase. It was nice to see Ted and John in such a high-profile match. It’s a good way for them to gain experience and credibility as main-eventers, which they surely will be in the future. This match wasn’t quite as good as Miz-Cena, but they worked well with the chemistry of a triple threat match. Morrison and DiBiase managed a lot of offense against the almost unstoppable Viper, and gave a very good account of themselves. I would, however, would have liked to have seen a Legacy stand-off between Orton and DiBiase, but I suppose that was besides the point of the match. In a nice-triple-threat spot, Orton was about to hit his spiked DDT on DiBiase before Morrison went for his chuck kick, which Orton ducked while retaining DiBiase in his clutches and hitting the DDT. The end of the match saw another cool RKO spot in which Morrison tried to hit a springboard attack on Orton, which Orton caught for the super-RKO and the win.
Sheamus saw none of this, however, as he disregarded this match, not even considering Orton as a contender to his championship. Instead, he came out and said he wanted to offer an opportunity to someone who had never had a title shot before, and he was going to have it right then and there! I had visions of Hornswoggle or a diva or something, which would have been terrible in this context, but instead, he called out Zack Ryder! I quite like Ryder, and was interested to see what kind of rub he’d get from being in a WWE Championship match. Even now, i’m not sure how his participation affected him … He did indeed get his first ever WWE Championship match, but it lasted approximately six seconds, with Sheamus hitting a Brogue Kick straight away for the pin. I’d like to see Ryder get a deserved rub for this, but then again, it’s hard to look at his challenge as anything much more than a joke.
It was good that the show didn’t end there, because it would have made the past few minutes meaningless. Instead, Sheamus invoked the WWE rules which state that a champion only has to defend every 30 days (in another nice piece of wrestle-logic, ignoring the jurisdiction of the GM etc) and so he was going to ‘take Night of Champions off.’ This fitted in nicely with the paranoid Sheamus that had come around due to the restrictions on Nexus being lifted, and indeed, Nexus leader, Wade Barrett was the first to challenge Sheamus’s decision. He quite rightly said that as NXT season 1 winner, he had the right to challenge Sheamus to a WWE Championship match at whatever PPV he wants, and he was challenging Sheamus at N.O.C. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I was glad that we would be having a main event without Cena, Orton and HHH (with respect to them), but I was unsure how ‘big’ a match the two could put on together at this stage of their careers. At this point, the GM agreed to Barrett’s challenge, but said that he was adding another FOUR challengers to the match: Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Edge and John Cena. In a minute or so, this main event became surely the most star-studded main event in years! It struck me then how clever this booking was. N.O.C., obviously, only catering for championship matches, would leave most of those involved in the Nexus storyline (i.e. some of WWE’s biggest stars) off the PPV. This was a way of including them in what has the potential to be a huge match. In a nice bit of vengence towards Barrett, the five WWE superstars surrounded the Nexus leader and attacked him, before turning on each other, hitting their various finishers on each other, leaving only Orton still standing. I look forward to seeing the booking leading up to this match. One obvious match would be the five WWE guys trying to keep on the same page against the five man Nexus (now that Sheffield is injured) at the ‘go home’ show. The jeopardy that Sheamus is under was well highlighted here, and it’s an occasion where a Championship Scramble might be a nice fit. Saying that, that could take away from the idea of a clear-cut victor from six top superstars.