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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Night of Champions Report (Preview: You Ought to Watch Night of Champions)
By The Doc
Sep 12, 2012 - 5:01:08 PM

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Of John Cena’s top rivalries, where do you rank the one with CM Punk?

Preview You Ought to Watch Night of Champions

The Preview You Ought to Watch Night of Champions

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to Jerry Lawler. I hope that he makes a speedy recovery and that he never wrestles again. Hopefully, his having a heart attack just minutes after a match and just days after wrestling all weekend will teach guys his age a lesson about what they should and should not put their bodies through. The human body can only handle so much punishment.

Turning our attention to Night of Champions, I seriously think that if you aren’t watching this on Sunday in some way, shape, or form, then you will be missing out on one of the greatest matches of the year. I love the rivalry between CM Punk and John Cena as it embodies every bit of the words that I write about the potential for the “reality era.” When those two get into the mode of ripping each other as they did in the closing segment of this week’s Raw, there is no more compelling a piece of television that the WWE can offer. Cena gave Punk a dose of his own medicine and told the truth…and, ladies and gentlemen, the truth makes for some very intriguing professional wrestling matches. Sure, what he said was no more 100% true than what Punk said in his infamous “shoot” promo last year, but it was so laced with realistic overtures that you would be seriously hard pressed to tell, thanks in large part to the passion that telling said truths invokes in their characters. Not since the Cena-Brock Lesnar brawl shortly after Wrestlemania has there been a more engaging segment on either show or PPV.

In any great rivalry, the participants are challenged to step up their games. Cena, when motivated, can cut the best promo of anyone in the business. Last night, he did just that. He took Punk’s style, wrapped it up in a nicely worded package, and threw it right back in the champion’s face. It was an incredible thing to watch. What will be interesting to see is how Punk responds next week. Just as his verbal acumen prompted Cena to create something memorable in the interview department, Cena’s jabs will make Punk go back to the drawing board and see what he can come up with to top it. That’s one of my favorite things about watching those guys – they bring out the best in each other. I believe that this feud will give us the first logical Hell in a Cell match (at Hell in a Cell) in a long time. So, I expect some sort of dirty finish to the match at Night of Champions. I hope, though, that Punk can maintain some of the credibility that he built in his matches with Cena last year. In those matches, he was portrayed as being hip to Cena’s game, able to one-up him on several occasions like a quarterback that had extensively studied a complex, stout defense. I hope to see more of that, as it distinguishes Punk from the rest of Cena’s opponents.

I think the fact that this match will take place in Boston provides an interesting setting. I wonder if Cena has done enough in the last several months to win over his hometown crowd. 2012 has been a very good year for Cena, overall. You could make an argument that this has been his best year, as a character, in quite some time. The work he did in the build-ups to his bouts with The Rock and Brock Lesnar were descriptive of his abilities to step outside the vanilla gorilla shell, get creative, and fully invest people into his storylines. Surely, the crowd will be split, as Punk has done work worthy of praise in his own right. I look for the audience to play a big role in the memorability of this match and think that this should easily be one of the most dramatic matches of the year, second only to the Rock-Cena or Taker-Trips matches at Wrestlemania. To me, this match alone is worth the price of admission. There are a lot of ho-hum matches that headline PPVs, but Cena and Punk are the clear #1 and #2 guys in the business right now and they’re batting a thousand in giving us amazing performances against each other.

Do not sleep on Alberto Del Rio challenging Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship, though. I don’t want to read like the written version of a broken record, but these guys have had a pretty damn good feud, despite all the claims to Del Rio being the black hole of charisma. I’ll tell you this about Del Rio: the guy may not be a magnetic personality, but he plays his role well and the role that he plays will always be a main-event caliber act. His presence gives the sizeable Latin American audience someone with a face to get behind. That may not be a role that everyone can appreciate, but he’s a believable threat to Sheamus and they’ve done a nice job accentuating that fact in the last few weeks since Summerslam. Their entire storyline has been rock solid, to me, but they’ve upped the ante with this stuff about the Brogue Kick being banned. It should set up Sheamus to overcome sizeable odds and get over his new submission finisher, but they could pull a fast one. It’s tough to say, for sure, given the circumstances. Quietly, they’ve added depth to the characters of both Sheamus and Del Rio and both will come out of this feud – which, honestly, should find a way to make it to Hell in a Cell next month – better off than they were before.

What I’m ready for is the potential great match that they’ve kept teasing in their previous matches. I think these guys have shown flashes of being able to tear the house down together, but neither of the PPV matches to this point have been given adequate time to reach their potential. Could Sunday be the night that we see what they can do? I think both could use a great match to further this rivalry and stretch it out another month. That could prove difficult, but it should be interesting to see how it plays out. I think both need this match to be great. I’m talking four-stars great. Sheamus has had some good matches during his run in the main-event as a babyface, but a bout that really gets the crowd hyped and into the near falls is just what the doctor should order for the Celtic Warrior to take the next step as a hero. His best match to this point was against Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules, but that match did not have the elaborate, Sheamus-centered back story that this match with Del Rio does. Sheamus and Del Rio have been feuding since April and they’ve turned up the heat in the last few weeks leading to what could be the payoff match. My expectations are high…and I think Sheamus will retain by submission in the semi-main-event slot. They’ve earned it this month.

The only other match that I’m truly interested in is Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler. Earlier in the year, Ziggler was shown watching Orton’s match on a monitor, commenting that he should be doing more important things. Orton’s suspension postponed what seemed to be an impending feud between the two, but now that he’s back, they’ve been doing some solid work together. I place the emphasis on the word “solid.” Look, there’s not a bigger Dolph Ziggler fan on this website than I am, but I think that he’s been in a bit of a rut compared to what he’s shown himself capable of. Those matches with Jericho should have been definitive show stealers, but instead were just “good.” If he wants people to truly “follow that” after his match is finished, then he’s going to need to do more. At this point, his best matches are still on television from nearly a year ago. With his increased opportunities, that needs to change. A match with Orton on PPV could and should be a fantastic effort that borders on the brilliant. I’m not sure if Orton is fully motivated given his current situation, but there’s no denying that Orton and Ziggler have good chemistry. One of those aforementioned TV matches that I classified as Ziggler’s best was against Orton.

I’m not saying that Ziggler still isn’t stepping it up in other ways. I think that it’s great that he’s one of the rare Money in the Bank winners in recent memory to chalk up some quality wins and have some actual build-up leading to both his victory to hold the briefcase and the eventual cash-in. His 2012 has featured three World title matches on PPV. Since Money in the Bank, he’s been in programs with Jericho and now Orton. That’s a really positive sign for his future. Yet, call me crazy for challenging Ziggler if you will, but I want this guy to go out and steal the show on Sunday. I want him to do what I don’t even think is possible – but that’s what Shawn Michaels often did and that’s the standard that he seems to want to set for himself. I don’t think that you can beat Cena vs. Punk. I just flat out think that the circumstances won’t allow for it. So, Dolph Ziggler, I urge you to prove me wrong and steal that f-ing show, brother. Hit all your key moves. Be smooth in the execution of the high risk spots. Give me a handful of false finishes that bring me out of my chair. I don’t give a damn if Ziggler wins, though I do think that would be the right call. What I want, more than anything, is for Ziggler to do what his T-shirt says. I hear a lot of talk about being “so damn good,” but I’m not seeing a lot of backing it up to the fullest. Nothing but love for ya, Dolph, but hit a home run on Sunday.

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