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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The PPV Perspective (Night of Champions 8/26/13 - A Great Promo, An Exhilirating Angle, A Modern Austin Story)
By The Doc
Aug 27, 2013 - 9:10:40 PM

The Snowman is a genius

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When the WWE delivers a top notch, noteworthy Summerslam, the product heading into the fall carries over the momentum. Football season starts tomorrow night, but I sit here as enthused about the wrestling product as I am about the gridiron glory that's about to take up my weekends for the next few months. I am totally locked into what the WWE is putting on TV right now.

This is a unique time on Raw. It reminds me a lot of 2005. Eight years ago, Summerslam was stacked at the top of the card much like the version from eight days ago. Each show featured a major returning star (Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar) clashing with one of the top grapplers on the roster (HBK, Punk), but then bolted immediately after. Then, on the night after each Summerslam, another regular (Chris Jericho, John Cena) bowed out for an indefinite amount of time. The weekly landscape was left void of two Summerslam focal points. Here in 2013, we are also coming off the loss of another regular upper mid-carder in Sheamus. "The Man," "The Beast," and a consistent presence are off TV.

The advantage to losing so many key parts of the show in rapid succession is that it gives Raw a fresh look. Back in '05, the September PPV card was nothing compared to Summerslam. Unforgiven was, though, a night of opportunities. Matt Hardy, Carlito, and Chris Masters were in headlining matches. Ric Flair, Edge, and Kurt Angle were back in prominent positions, all important to the financial bottom line. Unforgiven was not a great PPV, but it did have a different vibe to it that I think a lot of longer tenured fans will understand is often just as gratifying as the incredible, critically acclaimed show just because it gives us a sneak peak at the future. Thus far, Night of Champions '13 is taking on a similar role. Curtis Axel is stepping into primetime with a big chance to show off the skills that found him chosen as the next "Paul Heyman" guy. Randy Orton and Triple H are back in prominent positions that, along with Daniel Bryan's elevation to the current top babyface in the WWE, will basically be responsible for drawing the bulk of the September PPV buyrate. AJ Lee took a stand for the women's division and hit a homerun with her anti-Diva promo that should spark a Total Divas cast vs. the Diva's Champion storyline capable of adding some genuine interest to the show. In general, Raw had a nice flow to it last night for a second straight week that has me already prepared to shell out the money for Night of Champions in a few weeks.

I write about Daniel Bryan every week. I wonder if it is getting tiresome for you to read, but it is certainly not bothering me to continue writing about it. I will reiterate that his rise to prominence has been so organic that you would be hard pressed to call yourself a genuine fan of the industry and not be excited to see what's been happening. The people have spoken and they have said loudly and clearly that they want Daniel Bryan as their WWE Champion. It is, like it or not, reminiscent of the Steve Austin vs. Corporation feud from fifteen years ago. Elements that made that story iconic are scattered everywhere about the infant stages of this developing tale. Austin was chosen by the people. His wave of momentum caught on like wildfire approximately one year after being tested in the main-event scene in an incredible series of matches with Bret Hart. A year ago, Bryan had wrapped up his own test in the main-event scene and excelled to the point that people around the globe began to cheer his decidedly heel actions...just like the people had done with Austin.

Last night was the first traces of a bigger picture that maybe won't include Bryan in the end game of this establishmentarian regime. I could see Mr. Tito's prediction of Cena returning to take back the thrown actually happening. By night's end, my impression again shifted back to Bryan being included in the long run of wherever this angle is heading down the road. He's too perfect a fit for the story being told. The Golden Boy just does not fit, here. The biggest argument forming in my head to contrast the Bryan as the "end game" (vs. Triple H at Mania, perhaps) argument was how they could possibly stretch this thing out to where it would climax at Wrestlemania 30. That is a legitimate question. Part of my intrigue in Night of Champions will be to see how the WWE decides to book the finish to what should be an excellent match between Bryan and Orton. The line on the match should feature Orton as the heavy favorite, but how does the match conclude with the champ retaining while simultaneously keeping Bryan's chase going? With so many moving parts involved from Trips to Vince to Steph to the Shield, there are a lot of options. I will not be purchasing Night of Champions to see some measure of conclusion to this story, but rather to be a part of the story as it continues to unfold.

I continue to be enthralled with the CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman saga. The level of skill shown by those two men on the microphone these last two months has been nothing short of the best of the year. This story is captivating. If any two other people were uttering the lines that that they have spoken, I think it would come across as extremely corny. "I LOVED YOU!" Nobody could say that but Heyman. He and Punk know no rivals right now in that regard. Yet, what has me intrigued by the September chapter of their story is Curtis Axel's opportunity. It is pretty clear that he's got a long way to go as a talker, but there's no better way to learn than by experience. I was more impressed with the junior Hennig on Monday than I had been at any other point since his re-debut. I have read nothing but good things about his house show matches with some of the WWE's bigger names, but I have not been drawn to sitting through his in-ring work on TV as of yet until last night. With Brock Lesnar out of the picture, either for the time being or for good in this feud, I became engrossed in the thought of Axel getting the chance to show his stuff on Raw. I still do not see him as a future star, but my willingness to see how he does in the biggest match of his career in three weeks shot through the roof last night.

I do not know what to expect of the handicap match at Night of Champions, but I do know that it puts Axel and the IC title in a high profile situation and carries enough unpredictability to where, as with the WWE title match, I'm honestly curious just to see how they book the feud to continue. By no means do I see that match being the blow off to this feud. It is too good. When you have two guys that can talk as well as Punk and Heyman, it could keep going for months. Personally, I would love to see Rob Van Dam thrown into the mix to combat Punk, but that is not likely to happen with Van Dam's (probably) strong merchandise sales at stake. Or maybe not. He couldn't possibly be doing that well, could he? Enough to negate the box office appeal of Heyman's ECW "guy" against Punk? Anyhow, I'm excited to see what Curtis Axel can do. One would think that, given the lack of "name value" depth on the card, Axel and Heyman vs. Punk is going to be a long match (upwards of 18-20 minutes). That's plenty of time to make an impression.

AJ Lee certainly made an impression. What a helluva promo that was. Bravo, young lady. CM Punk tweeted a name for it: "The Pipe Bombshell." She beautifully sculpted a live interview that perfectly connected on the high notes of one version of the truth. Wrestling is at its best when there are two sides arguing steadfastly for their version of what they believe to be true. I can see AJ's side and she'll certainly gain a lot of fans on the internet for saying so eloquently what she did on Monday. I particularly enjoyed her description of the Total Divas cast not being able to lace up her Chuck Taylors. I also loved the part about her doing more in one year than the others had done in their collective careers. On WWE TV, that is absolutely true. The counter that I'm sure one of the Bellas will share is that the Total Divas cast has done more to raise the profile of the female part of the WWE roster outside of "wrestling land" than AJ probably ever will. AJ is a phenomenal, Trish Stratus-esque pro wrestler. She is everything that I, personally, want to see in a female on WWE TV. She can talk, she works her butt off, and she has made some serious strides as an in-ring performer - as evidenced by her "best women's match since Trish vs. Mickie" bout with Kaitlyn in Chicago three months ago. However, I am an - admittedly - avid watcher of Total Divas. I watch a lot of reality TV with my wife (give and take, ladies and gentlemen). Those girls were made for reality TV as much as AJ was made for WWE TV. I'd rather watch replays of the "Nattie farts" segments than watch her, the Bellas, or the girl from Tough Enough who said an Alicia Fox match was her favorite of all-time unnaturally putz their collective way through a live TV segment. You either have "it" or you don't and, in my opinion, none of those girls have "it." They clearly have something that makes them enjoyable to watch in their every day lives, though. I've watched every episode of Total Divas and those girls are well-representing the WWE, putting over nicely the tumultuous life of the WWE Superstar. There's not a more interesting feud that the WWE can offer from the women's division than AJ - the pro wrestler - against the collection of reality TV gals. Let's just hope to God that AJ vs. Nattie (or Trinity/Naomi, who has potential) is the chosen match from that collection.

Night of Champions is not destined to be a classic show, based on what I've witnessed, thus far. It will be, though, a good change of pace. I'm excited about it.

Question of the day: Do you think that the Bryan, Show, Ziggler, and Miz combination of rebels against the establishmentarian "Empire" will result in a War Games match for the PPV after Night of Champions?

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