Christian figured heavily in this episode, hosting his Peep Show as the opening segment. This segment was all about his growing feud with new-coming bombshell, Alberto Del Rio. Christian certainly has charisma to match Del Rio’s, something that Rey Mysterio probably lacked, and this feud could be very good and very nourishing to both careers. The main point of this was for Christian to challenge Del Rio at Night of Champions, and for Del Rio to refuse. This, of course, doesn’t mean that the match wont take place, and indeed, there is a reasonable chance that it will. In would, however, be surprised to see another ‘Special Attraction’ match booked for this PPV, especially when there is no RAW equivalent – move that would further water-down the feel of the PPV, with Punk ans Show already having a non-title match.
A very big positive of this show was the matches. Almost every one was above-average to excellent. Our first match was the Hart Dynasty taking on the newish team of Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes in a match which seemed to have Tag Team Championship implications. As I said, this was a very good match and one where the Harts especially took the opportunity to show off, and even more specifically, Tyson Kidd. Like on RAW, Kidd was moving about the ring like a lucha d’or, constantly on the move, and showing great ring-awareness, using all of the ring to his advantage (at one point, ‘skinning the cat’ all the way round into a variation of the baseball slide). Kidd was the stand-out, but all four looked great here. These four are part of the future of WWE, and showed fantastic chemistry and storytelling. The end of the match was simple, but brilliant. The Harts went for the Hart Attack, which was scuppered by McIntyre grabbing Kidd’s legs, before Smith went for a slam on Rhodes, which Rhodes reversed seamlessly into his Cross-Rhodes for the win. It hasn’t been announced yet, but I don’t see how management could, even if they wanted to – which they shouldn’t, get out of booking this match.
Next up was Kofi Kingston vs Jack Swagger. Before the match, Kingston cut an average promo about Night of Champions, which seemed pretty contrived at times (although his use of the term ‘Trouble in Paradise’ as a catch-phrase was very apt and pleasing). Of the great matches, this was probably the least so (if that makes sense!). The first half of the match was quite slow and uninspiring, though there was very good wrestling on show nonetheless. The match really took off when Kingston started a revival, coming back at the dominant Swagger and showing great ‘heart’ when Swagger hit his powerful moves to kick out and keep going. The second half of the match was quick paced and very well and believably performed. Sometimes the Trouble in Paradise can be a little out-of-the-blue and unsatisfying, but this time it came after a reversal of Swagger’s version of the Vader-Bomb, and so led to a more believable Kingston victory.
LayCool had an OK match with Kelly Kelly and Rosa Mendes (who it was nice to see getting used) in which Layla picked up the victory for ‘the self-professed Women’s Champions’. The real story was afterwards though, when they drew a lot to see who would fight at Night of Champions, with Michelle apparently fixing it so she would win. It was Kaval who showed Layla what had happened too, which was a move that I liked because i’m really gunning for a romance angle between the two. I’ll be talking more about this (obviously) in my Night of Champions preview, but ti seems to me that this is the undoubted end of LayCool.
Our final match saw CM Punk take on Christian (booking that I really liked). Punk was apparently, S.E.S-less, and the commentary team seemed to be suggesting that he was letting them go. It does indeed seem that this is the case, and while i’ve enjoyed the S.E.S., I think it has gotten a little stale recently – something not helped by Serena’s departure. As to the match, both of these guys are just great in the ring, and they showed fantastic chemistry in this match. Punk’s skill and Christian’s experience all lended itself to a well executed, well told match, the sort of match that shows that Christian can hang at that level. All the while, Alberto Del Rio was at ringside, and when Christian seemed to be making his way to victory, Alberto teased him that he’d changed his mind about NOC just enough that Christian would be distracted enough for Punk to hit his Go To Sleep for the win. This was a good was to end the match in that it made sure Christian didn’t look weak, while adding further fuel to his feud with Del Rio. Afterwards, Big Show came down to help Christian, who was, by now, caught under a chair Del Rio was sat on while taunting him and saying that he still refused his challenge. Punk was still around to receive a Knock-Out Punch from Show to try and hype up their miserable little feud. You can see from what i’ve said about this match that I love Punk, but this feud is just incredibly uninteresting.
Our main event segment was Kane responding to Undertaker’s demands for a No Hold Barred stipulation for their NOC match. Kane, naturally, accepted and said it was what he wanted from the start, suggesting again that he had just manipulated his brother with ease. Kane delivered another fantastic promo on his brother and his match (seriously, I had no idea he had this in him – well, he was never that much of a talker …) before ‘Taker duly arrived. But again, Kane had the better of him, utilising the ‘dark powers’ to his advantage, having the lights go down before appearing behind him and delivering a brutal beatdown on his brother. What was particularly eerie, but in a good way, about this was how Kane used his brother’s moves: the familiar combination of Snake Eyes followed by a Big Boot and a Leg Drop. After Kane hit his Chokeslam and signalled for the Tombstone Piledriver, conventional wisdom would have pointed to an Undertaker comeback, but here, it never happened. Instead, Kane was able to hit the Tombstone, before mockingly using his brother’s sign of respect above him, with his own pyro going off. This whole segment told the story perfectly of Kane wrestling his brother’s powers and dominance away from the Undertaker. I remember when Kane was first revealed as the attacker, I was disappointed, but after the direction this has taken, being so innovative and unique (despite the amount of battles these two have already been in), I feel privileged to be watching it.