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CALDWELL'S WWE NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS PPV REPORT 7/26: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of all-title-match PPV

Jul 26, 2009 - 9:55:09 PM

By James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor

July 26, 2009
Philadelphia, Pa.

The WWE PPV opened with a video package focusing on the importance of WWE titles. They included old-school title match-ups including clips of Shawn Michaels winning WWE Title #1 at WM12, Steve Austin winning #1 at WM14, Trish Stratus retiring in Toronto with the Women's Title, and Hulk Hogan winning in MSG.

In-ring: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler introduced the show on behalf of the Raw brand. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase came out to start the show and Jerry Lawler speculated that Jericho doesn't have a partner because he doesn't have any friends. Jericho then came out with two of the four title belts. Jericho took the mic away from Lilian Garcia before rolling tape of Edge's ankle surgery. After the footage aired, Jericho said Edge is frail and selfish leaving him high and dry. "What about me? What about" Jericho said he finally found a man worthy of standing next to him in this ring. Jericho said his name is... the Big Show. Show came out sporting a new look with possession of the other two belts. Sporting a full goatee, shaved head, blue singlet. Show milked his introduction into the match for a while. Eleven minutes into the PPV, the opening bell sounded.

1 -- CHRIS JERICHO & BIG SHOW vs. LEGACY (TED DIBIASE, JR. & CODY RHODES) -- Unified tag title match

Match started with Big Show working over DiBiase and Rhodes. Legacy then cut off Jericho once he entered the match and the crowd got behind Jericho, who played the default babyface in peril. Crowd looking for a reason to get involved in this, as there's no one worth liking in the opening match. Definitely would not have picked this match to start, but Show's in the U.S. Title match, so he needs a breather before pulling double duty. Cody busted out a moonsault for a two count, then Jericho tried to escape to Show, but DiBiase cut him off. Legacy went back on the attack. Jericho tried to counter with the Walls of Jericho, but DiBiase fought him off and went for Dream Street, but Jericho fought him off and went back to the Walls. This time, he locked the hold on. Show ran incidental interference and Cody nailed a DDT on Jericho. DiBiase with a cover for a two count. Show suddenly took a tag and speared DiBiase mid-ring, but Cody broke up the pin. Show then discarded Cody, but Cody skinned the cat into a dropkick. In the confusion, Jericho smashed DiBiase with the codebreaker. Show then mounted DiBiase and slapped on the Camel Colossal Clutch for the tap out victory. Afterward, Jericho and Show shook hands after the victory.

WINNERS: Jericho & Show in 9:00. This match didn't make sense. Crowd was quiet for a heel vs. heel tag match that kinda sorta made Jericho (their best heel in the company) into a pseudo babyface. Okay opener, but not ideal. (*1/2)

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in the booed World Hvt. champ C.M. Punk. Punk was asked about the fans supporting Hardy, which he said he wants to ask the crowd about. He walked into the arena and stood in front of the grandstands. Punk said he doesn't blame the kids for supporting Hardy. He blames the parents. Actually, parent. He said it's obviously a single parent situation, just like the way Jeff Hardy grew up. He said single parents allowed their kids to grow up losers. Punk said them allowing their kids to grow up Hardy fans means they just don't care and don't make a conscious effort to teach them the proper way to live. Punk said it starts with a Jeff Hardy t-shirt, then turns into a pack of cigarettes, then turns into beer, then turns into marijuana and gateway drugs. Then, they're rummaging through mom's purse for prescription pills. This is a PG-friendly storyline? Punk said parents need to show their kids the right way. Punk said everyone needs to Just Say Yes to a straight-edge, drug-free America. Just Say Yes to the winner of tonight's match, the World Hvt. champion. Punk held up his title belt and saluted the crowd before leaving the grandstands.

In-ring: After a John Cena video aired, ECW champion Tommy Dreamer came out all-smiles to defend the title in the home of extreme. Josh Mathews said he's the last-standing ECW Original. Matt Striker drew attention to Dreamer's reception in Philadelphia to exemplify his standing with the fans. After a pause, Christian's music hit. Striker confirmed what I believed that Christian's reception was louder than Dreamer's. Bottom line is Dreamer appeals to a certain percentage of fans, but Christian appeals to a wider fanbase. Doesn't really matter what city they're in.

2 -- ECW champion TOMMY DREAMER vs. CHRISTIAN -- ECW Title match

After a few minutes of back-and-forth including a bunch of slaps, a group of fans chanted "E-C-W" to get behind Dreamer, who tried suplexing Christian to the floor, but Christian blocked and forced Dreamer to eat the apron. Christian then dropkicked him into the announce table ringside. He tried to follow with a running splash off the top turnbuckle, but Dreamer moved. Dream then followed with a cannonball dive off the apron to the floor. Good cat and mouse start to this one. Striker referenced the "old 1,000-seat Arena" when talking about Dreamer having a following walking around Philly earlier today. Mathews, obviously fed a line in his headset, sarcastically asked Striker if Dreamer had like three or four fans following him around. At least it wasn't a fat joke.

Dreamer avoided a ten count on the floor, then set up Christian for D-Lo Brown's Sky High finisher for a two count only. Christian went up top and nailed a dropkick, then he went back up top and wanted a second dropkick, but Dreamer countered with a rough-looking Texas Cloverleaf, which Striker credited to Dean Malenko. Christian escaped, then both men went into a rolling pin attempt exchange. Christian then caught Dreamer in the corner with the pendulum kick, followed by another top rope dropkick. Christian wanted the Killswitch, but Dreamer went for the Dreamer DDT, only to be countered with the Killswitch in center ring. Christian with the cover for the win to capture the ECW Title. (Dreamer did a slight leg kick at three to show he still had life on the pin.)

Post-match: Christian celebrated with the ECW Title belt, then Dreamer extended his hand. Christian countered with a hug and they embraced before Dreamer left the ring. Christian pounded his chest and saluted Dreamer, who quietly slipped out of the ring to give Christian the spotlight.

WINNER: Christian in 9:00 to capture the ECW Title. Good undercard match. Crowd has been quiet thus far, but both men put in a fair performance that should have been received better than it was. Christian vs. Kozlov coming to an ECW TV episode near you, apparently. (**)

Backstage: Todd Grisham brought in Big Show and Chris Jericho. Show was clapping his hands and happy with possession of the title belts. Show said they aren't friends. It's about business. Jericho said he picked Show because he's a destroyer. More than Hard Foundation, Road Warriors, and British Bulldogs. Somewhere, Brother Ray is complaining, "What about us with 21,438 titles?" Jericho said it's all business. Show said they'll be great together except for one slight thing. Jericho then looked into the camera and sarcastically thanked Edge for making this all possible.

In-ring: Jack Swagger came out first for the U.S. Title six-way match. First man to score a fall wins the title. Carlito, then The Miz came out to round out the first-half. Primo came out fourth and apparently he's replacing Big Show in the match. That makes the opening match even more senseless unless something runs later on to explain why that match started the show. MVP came out fifth, followed by U.S. champion Kofi Kingston.

3 -- U.S. champion KOFI KINGSTON vs. JACK SWAGGER vs. CARLITO vs. PRIMO vs. MVP -- U.S. Title match -- Six-Pack challenge

Match stared with scramble pin attempts. Swagger had a pin on Primo with the gutwrench powerbomb, but Carlito broke up the pin. Action moved to the floor with MVP and Swagger continuing their TV program. Carlito and Primo also brawled on the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi and Swagger were the only two men left. Kofi nailed the Boom Boom leg drop, but Miz broke up a pin. Miz then checked Swagger in the corner. Swagger looking weak taking everyone's offense tonight. Suddenly, Swagger came to life and gave Miz and Kofi a double slam off the top turnbuckle. Action everywhere in the ring like the middle of the Royal Rumble with guys doing spots. Carlito and Primo then ran into each other attempting cross body blocks. Kofi cat-jumped onto Swagger in the corner, but Swagger powerslammed Kofi. MVP then clotheslined himself and Swagger to the floor. Back in the ring, Kofi and Carlito battled. Suddenly, Primo became involved and they traded pin attempts. Nice three-way spot sequence. Crowd finally came to life and applauded. Carlito and Primo tried working together, but Swagger got involved. He double-clotheslined the Colons, knocked Miz off the ring apron, then clotheslined Kofi. Swagger played to the hard cam, then walked into a chinbreaker from MVP. MVP set up the ballin' elbow drop and connected. He wanted the Playmaker, but Miz gave him a Russian legsweep. Miz then covered Miz, but everyone broke it up. Miz was then dumped to the floor by the Colons. Carlito tried to shout instructions, then Carlito gave Primo the backstabber from behind. Don't trust your brother. Carlito talked trash after tricking his brother, then Kofi smashed Carlito with the Trouble in Paradise buzzsaw kick for the win.

WINNER: Kofi in 8:00 to retain the U.S. Title. Good finish after a slow, awkward, middle-of-the-Royal Rumble kind of a start. The stand-off between Miz, Primo, and Carlito was a great spot. Crowd seemed to finally get warmed up near the end of the match. (**)

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in WWE champion Randy Orton. Orton said what happened to Cody and Ted was unfair because no one could have prepared for Big Show. Orton said he knows what to expect in the WWE Title match tonight. He said he'll win because John Cena and Triple H will cancel each other out. Orton looked into the camera and said one day the fans will respect him and cheer him, but until then, he will remain the WWE champion.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced Smackdown's first official match of the night: the Women's Title match. An hour into the show, we heard Jim Ross's voice for the first time to set up the Women's Title match. Women's champ Michelle McCool came out first, then they showed footage of McCool and Melina having a pre-teen make-up war on Smackdown leading to the match. Melina came out next as the challenger.

4 -- Women's champion MICHELLE McCOOL vs. MELINA -- Women's Title match

Melina did her ring entrance and McCool did what someone should have done a long time ago in the context of this being a real competition - dropkicked Melina off the ropes during the entrance. Battle was on the floor and in the ring in the opening few minutes. Melina and McCool then stood on top of the guardrail, teetered on edge, then McCool DDT'ed Melina onto the top of the guardrail. Melina made it back in the ring before a ten count, then magically recovered and went back on the attack. She landed a hard-looking knee smash while McCool was hanging across the middle rope, then landed double knees across McCool's stomach out of the corner. Melina and McCool each had close nearfalls, then they went into a rolling pin exchange in the ring. McCool eventually trapped Melina's shoulders and scored the three count for the win. McCool sold exhaustion post-match as Melina just stared her down in disbelief.

WINNER: McCool in 7:00 to retain the Women's Title. Very aggressive match. They included many spots at the expense of selling the effects, but it was a good under-card showing for both women. (*3/4)

Backstage: They showed John Cena staring down at the ground in deep concentration. He prepared himself, then the announcers plugged the WWE Title three-way match up next. Not the main event. Not even a third hour match. Odd. They showed a lengthy video package on the feud leading to the Raw brand's "main event match" with a Raw Divas match still on the line-up.

In-ring: John Cena's music hit to loud initial boos. Cena Fans quickly tried to drown them out. Cena looked around to acknowledge the reactions before storming the ring and smiling toward the crowd. Triple H came out second and pointed to the crowd to acknowledge them. Long pause. Hunter and Cena then came close with Hunter doing the talking before Randy Orton's music finally hit. Orton slowly emerged with possession of the WWE Title belt. Lilian Garcia then handled the formal ring intros. Cena was loudly booed with a mix of cheers. Triple H was cheered with a smattering of boos. Randy Orton was booed, but received a few "smart fan" cheers. Before the bell sounded, Michael Cole went back nearly 50 years to the first WWE Title champion, Buddy Rogers. He name-dropped Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and the three men in the ring as other famous champions.

5 -- WWE champion RANDY ORTON vs. JOHN CENA vs. TRIPLE H

Bell sounded and Orton slithered to the outside. He wanted Hunter and Cena to battle, but they stared at each other and slipped to the outside to put Orton in the middle. Orton slithered back into the ring, then Cena and Hunter followed him. Orton, upset with playing monkey in the middle, tried to punch Hunter, but Hunter knocked him to the outside where Cena clotheslined him to the floor. Baby oil went flying and Orton left a big skid mark on the padding. Orton eventually made the challengers run circles to where Cena was bumped off the apron into Hunter's forehead. Back in the ring, Cena worked over Orton and dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle on the champ. Cena wanted the FU on Orton, but Hunter slipped into the ring and gave him a boot to the gut before tossing him to the floor. Orton then snuck up behind Hunter with a clothesline to begin working over Hunter. Cena then re-entered the picture to boos, but he was quickly removed with a neckbreaker from Orton. Hunter wanted a Pedigree on Orton, but Orton back-dropped him over the top rope to the floor. Orton then teased a double horizontal DDT across the middle rope, but Cena and Hunter blocked and dumped him to the floor.

Now left in the ring: Cena vs. Hunter. They slowly approached each other and Hunter did the "You Can't See Me" hand wave that set up a round of punch exchanges with the boos for Cena and yays for Hunter from the crowd. They countered each other's signature moves, then Hunter nailed a Double A spinebuster center ring. Hunter then wanted to finish Cena, but Orton grabbed Hunter from the outside and dragged him to the floor. Orton blasted Hunter into the announce table, then Cena became involved. Three-way brawl on the announce table led to Orton eating the front row. Cena then slapped on the STF on the announce table. Orton broke it up, then dragged Cena back into the ring. Boo / yay punch exchange commenced. Two rounds of boos for Cena tonight.

At 15:00, Orton knocked Cena to the mat and teased the RKO, but Cena shoved him high and hard down to the mat. Orton sold it with a major arch back. Nice. Cena put Orton up top for a superplex attempt, but Hunter slid into the ring. Cena came down, then slingshot Hunter across the ring into Orton, who was perched up top. Cena then slapped on the STF in center ring. Orton helpless. Hunter fought the hold, teased, a tap out, then Cena re-applied the move center ring. Orton then came to life and his eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas morning to Punt the crap out of Cena, but Cena moved and Orton airballed. Cena tried a quick pin, but Orton kicked out and clotheslined Cena. Hunter and Cena were down on the mat and Orton began the Orton Stomp on both men. Some pockets of fans with a "Cena" chant that pumped up Orton to continue attacking.

At 20:00, Orton missed with a knee drop and Cena took out Orton's left knee from behind. Cena then gave Orton a sit-out slam to set up the Shuffle again, but Hunter dumped Cena to the floor. Hunter then slapped on the Sharpshooter in center ring. A little love tap to Bret Hart in defense of Flair defense during Hart-Flair week? Suddenly, Cena slid into the ring and applied the Crossface on Orton at the same time Hunter had the Sharpshooter on. Orton tapped out and the ref looked like he had no idea what to do. Cena maintained the hold and the crowd didn't know how to react. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase then stormed the ring and attacked Cena and Hunter. Apparently that's allowed. What the heck are the rules here? Cena wanted the FU on Cody, but Orton hit the RKO on Cena. Orton then pinned Cena to apparently retain the title. On the replay, they didn't even show Orton tapping out, just the ref confused. After showing post-match disappointment from Hunter and Cena, they replayed Orton tapping out. Announcers just as confused post-match.

WINNER: Orton in 23:00 to retain the WWE Title. Why didn't it matter that Randy Orton tapped out to the double submission? Why did the match continue? The announcers sold confusion on the triple threat rules throughout the match (with Lawler sounding legit confused), the finish wasn't clear, and they really went TNA with the lack of rules application. Lame finish to an otherwise very good triple threat match that will probably continue the exact same feud. Orton's look before attempting the Punt on Cena around 15:00 was one of the highlights of the night. (***1/2 for the match, take away brain cells for the finish.)

6 -- Divas champion MARYSE vs. MICKIE JAMES -- Divas Title match

Maryse continued the Raw storyline of taunting Mickie to try to rile her up and make a mistake. The match went to the floor several times, similar to the McCool vs. Melina match. The Rick Martel / Beautiful People hairspray gimmick came into play as the ref tried to take control. Neither woman gained the advantage, though. Back in the ring, Maryse worked over Mickie's back. Mickie avoided Maryse's DDT finisher, then nailed her DDT finisher for the pin and the win to capture the Divas Title.

WINNER: Mickie James in 9:00 to capture the Divas Title. They went in and out of the ring several times to keep the match interesting in the "come down" match following the triple threat WWE Title match. Good showcase and solid victory for Mickie. (*1/2)

Backstage: Josh Mathews was with Ted and Cody. Mathews asked them about losing the tag title match. Ted said that's typical of "you people" focusing on the negative. Cody said they'd rather focus on Cena and Hunter losing. That's what the takeaway is, he said.

In-ring: Dolph Ziggler came to the ring first with Maria. "Unique relationship," Ross said. Rey Mysterio then came out and Ross referenced the title lineage. Thankfully, he didn't reference the imaginary IC Title tournament in Brazil, simply wording it as the title was "established" in 1979.

7 -- IC champion REY MYSTERIO vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Maria) -- Intercontinental Title match

Dolph connected with an early dropkick, then countered a head scissors into a powerbomb sending Rey neck-and-back-first into the top turnbuckle. Dolph then worked over Rey's neck with a headlock on the mat. Rey teased the 619 to try to get the crowd alive, but Dolph countered to retain control and the crowd remained quiet. Rey tried to mount a comeback, but Dolph landed a powerslam for a two count. They had a pin exchange at 10:00 leading to Rey nailing a kick strike beneath the chin for a two count. Rey wanted a top rope move, but Ziggler nailed a mid-air dropkick before connecting with a high-impact gutbuster. Rey suddenly fired back with the 619 and springboard splash out of nowhere. Finish came out of nowhere. Maria was indifferent and contemplative post-match after her man lost.

WINNER: Rey in 15:00 to retain the IC Title. Ziggler worked hard on the offensive attack throughout, but the crowd wasn't into Ziggler at all. It's going to take time for new stars to develop when WWE has trained the audience to accept the same old, same old. WWE set a poor tone at the start of the PPV by passing on an opportunity to introduce a new star into the mix with Chris Jericho by settling for a "name" like Big Show. (*1/2)

In-ring: After a lengthy video package aired on the Punk vs. Hardy feud, C.M. Punk came out first. Ross was surprised by the champ coming out first. WWE mixes that up so much nowadays, like the "legal man" in a tag match, that the "order of challenger-champ" element of the story has lost its significance. Jeff Hardy then came out second and did a victory lap around the ring before entering the ring. Justin Roberts handled the formal ring intros for the match expected to save this show from being a thumbs down show. Hardy with a universal positive reaction. Punk with all boos after raising the title belt in the air to show off. Ross pointed out that the same ref, Scott Armstrong, who took the "inadvertent" kick from Punk at The Bash that cost Hardy the World Title is ref'ing this match.

8 -- World Hvt. champion C.M. PUNK vs. JEFF HARDY -- World Hvt. Title match

Punk slowed things down to start, as he grounded Hardy with a chinlock before ducking a flying cross-body attempt, which sent Hardy skidding across the ring to the floor. Punk wanted a suicide dive, but he missed when Hardy moved. Back in the ring, Hardy wanted a top rope move, but Punk rolled to the floor. Hardy tried to re-adjust, but Punk pulled out the classic Samoa Joe move by casually moving out of the way to allow Hardy to eat the floor. Punk slid back into the ring to request a quick ten count on Hardy, but Hardy made it back in the ring at nine. Punk then applied a bow and arrow submission mid-ring. "An oldie, but a goodie," Ross said. Hardy broke free, then Punk showed fire punching Hardy in the face. Hardy fought back and went into a full comeback.

At 10:00, Punk blocked the Whisper in the Wind by shoving Hardy into the top of the ringpost. Punk then absolutely smashed Hardy in the face with the standard right knee. He did this awesome "oh, did I do that?" look on his face toward the crowd while covering his mouth. Great heelism. Hardy then blocked the follow-up bulldog and hit the Whisper in the Wind. Hardy wanted the Swanton Bomb, but Punk moved. Punk then hit a double underhook butterfly suplex across his knee before slapping on a Dragon Sleeper. Hardy reached the bottom rope for a rope break, though. Punk waited for Hardy to get up, then he nailed kick strikes and slaps, then wanted a spinning back fist, but Hardy ducked and hit the Twist of Fate. Hardy went up top for the Swanton Bomb, but Punk got his knees up to block. Punk tried to quickly score a pin, but Hardy kicked out to a big reaction. Crowd then went back to being quiet. Tough crowd tonight.

Punk wanted a springboard smash, but Hardy moved. Hardy tried the Twist of Fate, but Punk countered with the G2S. Over? No, Hardy kicked out. And a second time. And a third time. Punk super frustrated. Great sequence. Punk then went to the floor and grabbed the World Title belt. He took the title belt and started to walk away as if he was going to quit, but Hardy chased him down. He ran Punk back into the ring and the announcers suggested the ref was lenient with the ten count. Hardy then started beating on Punk with a flurry of offense. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate in the corner. He followed with a top rope Swanton Bomb and covered Punk for the win to re-capture the World Hvt. Title. Afterward, Hardy celebrated in the ring with possession of the title while Punk gathered himself on the floor. End show with Hardy standing tall as champ.

WINNER: Jeff Hardy in 16:00 to capture the World Heavyweight Title. I'm not sure what's the headline coming out of this: Hardy winning the WWE Title, Punk now the best heel in the company, or an awesome main event that helped bolster this overall lackluster PPV. Didn't quite save the PPV, but Hardy and Punk were simply great tonight. Punk was especially on his game with the heelisms, facial expressions, and offensive attacks. (****)

We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "WWE PPV Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of To contribute your thoughts on the PPV, click here.

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