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If you’re going to be a WWE Champion, rule No. 1 is that you’ve got to roll like a WWE Champion. Triple H knows this better than most, and so, after validating his actions last week as a "personal response" to Bryan's insults, The Game presented his handpicked WWE Champion, Randy Orton, a brand new Cadillac Escalade to go with his ill-gotten title. Daniel Bryan wasn’t about to let The Apex Predator gloat with impunity, though, and quickly arrived to crash the party. Coincidentally, though, Triple H also had a "gift" for the jilted former champion: The opportunity to prove his worth in a Gauntlet Match against each member of The Shield, to take place later in the evening. No re-gifting allowed.
Fandango has been embroiled of late in an extensive grudge with The Miz, and the animosity between the two ultimately cost the dancing Superstar a win when he felt The Awesome One’s wrath during a match with Cody Rhodes. Despite the presence of Damien Sandow at commentary, Rhodes was nearly textbook in his effort against Fandango, though the match ultimately ended in a much less technical manner after The Miz emerged in a stolen Fandango enemble and flanked by Rosa Mendes.
The former WWE Champion’s spastic “Thriller” dance left Fandango gobsmacked enough for Rhodes to seal with win with a roll-up, but the chaos only increased when Sandow and Miz stormed the ring and laced into their opponents with reckless abandon. Looking to corral the Superstars into something resembling coherence, Raw GM Brad Maddox made his entrance and – taking a play from one of the greats – finagled Fandango & Co. into a Tag Team Match (the “playa” is, as always, implied).
Damien Sandow can add a new tidbit to his vast wealths of knowledge: Never place his trust in the man who calls himself Faaannn-DAAAHHNNN-Go. Thrown together with the dancing king in an impromptu tag match, Sandow not only found himself on the wrong end of Fandango’s finicky tendency to walk out on his opponents, but his even more notorious tendency to bail on teammates at the moment of truth.
Sandow, to his credit, had been keeping his former partner Cody Rhodes on the defensive and was in position to win the match. That is, until Miz tagged in and put the boots to Sandow, pausing only to blast Fandango with a kick so stiff the dancing king two-stepped away from the match altogether, leaving the “Uncrowned World Champion” to suffer a Rhodes-assisted Skull-Crushing Finale for the three.
The only thing less surprising than the WWE Universe’s App vote for this match – if CM Punk beats Curtis Axel, he gets Paul Heyman in the ring – was the fact that, when it came time to pay the proverbial piper, Heyman managed to worm his way out of his comeuppance. Despite the mad scientist’s trepidation, Curtis Axel’s confidence more than made up for it in the early stages of the contest: Showing no fear against the ferocious Second City Saint, Axel took advantage of Punk’s bloodlust for Heyman to strong-arm the former WWE Champion into the defensive when Punk took his eye off the ball.
Though it seemed like Axel would pull off the victory, a Go to Sleep sent the gloating champion to the showers. But Punk was denied satisfaction when Axel retaliated with a low blow and incapacitated Punk with handcuffs before he could attack Heyman. The Intercontinental Champion then handed his boss a Kendo stick and the ECW mastermind went to work, hacking away at The Straight Edge Superstar until he was overcome with emotion and slumped up the ramp, looking for all the world as heartbroken as Punk was physically broken.
All in all, this was not Punk's night of retribution. Night of Champions, however, may prove to tell a different story.
The “Total Divas” gals are at it again. Proving that drama knows no boundaries, Brie Bella and Natalya stepped into the ring for a SummerSlam rematch. And while it appeared that Brie was doomed to suffer another loss to the “Queen of Harts,” some timely distraction by Eva Marie and Nikki gave her the opportunity to steal a win … though there weren’t really any winners once AJ Lee skipped to the mic and aired her grievances.
Dropping her own version of her ex-paramour’s famous pipe bomb, the “Black Widow” administered a lethal dose of poison to her fellow Divas, whom she felt were gifted the opportunities she had to sacrifice for. “You’re all worthless excuses for women, and you will never be able to touch me,” said AJ. “And that’s reality.”
Looks like Ricardo Rodriguez’s big client switch is starting to pay dividends. One week after officially leaving Alberto Del Rio’s services in favor of Rob Van Dam’s, Ricardo’s new jefe pulled off a big win against The Essence of Excellence and punched his ticket to Night of Champions in the process. Despite the fact that Van Dam's had the champion's number of late, the newly solo Del Rio wasn’t exactly shaking in his boots against Mr. Monday Night, matching the former WWE Champion shot for shot and even aping Van Dam’s famous taunt when the opportunity suited him.
Though Del Rio had RVD dead to rights, Rodriguez’s rallying of the WWE Universe stopped his momentum just long enough for Van Dam to struck with a roll-up as Del Rio attempted the Cross Armbreaker, springing a surprise pin on The Essence of Excellence. Not bad. But can he do it again in three weeks?
There are two things the WWE Universe will never get tired of: A renewal of old rivalries, and the defacing of Randy Orton’s automobiles. Over the course of The Viper’s contest against Christian on Raw, said Universe was treated to both. Two years after they took each other to hell and back in pursuit/defense of the World Heavyweight Championship, “The New Face of WWE” and Captain Charisma locked up once again in The Viper’s first match since reclaiming the WWE Title.
After sending Christian for a gruesome-looking fall off the turnbuckle, Orton seemed to have the advantage. But the former World Champion rallied, dodging an RKO before connecting with the Spear. Christian’s tenacity forced Orton to resort to dirty play, thumbing Captain Charisma in the eye behind the ref’s back before finally administering the RKO for a win.
If only Orton’s car escaped similarly unscathed: Moments after Orton notched the pin, Daniel Bryan appeared on the TitanTron alongside The Viper’s Caddy, which he had defaced with a bevy of “YES!”es thanks to a can of spray paint. Well, if Night of Champions turns out well for him, Bryan can rest easy knowing he’s already got a custom ride all ready to go.
Zeb Colter might take issue with the result, but there are few things more American than a good, old-fashioned fight, and that’s exactly what happened when Titus O’Neil tangled with Jack Swagger in a continuation of The Prime Time Players’ grueling rivalry with The Real Americans. “The Big Deal” and the former World Champion took each other to the woodshed in a nasty little tilt that carried more hallmarks of a brawl than a wrestling match.
Though Swagger successfully plied the Patriot Lock on O’Neil, Titus powered out of it only to suffer a dirty roll-up attempt that Darren Young helped to thwart. The ensuing smack talk between the Superstars’ teammates gave O’Neil the necessary down time to recover and finally dispatch Swagger with Clash of the Titus. Millions of dollars, everybody (by the way, that’s pretty American, too).
Put a challenge in front of Daniel Bryan and he will find a way to surmount it. Case in point: Faced with the wrath of WWE COO Triple H, the submission master plowed his way through each of The Game’s three instruments of destruction, The Shield, to prevail in a Gauntlet Match, although he came out significantly worse for wear when all was said and done. With the WWE roster forced to stand silent witness before Bryan’s apparent undoing, the bout had all the look and feel of a public execution as Bryan faced down the three Hounds of Justice in consecutive bouts.
Except Bryan survived. First came a grueling onslaught from Seth Rollins, which Bryan endured thanks to a top-rope German suplex and running knee to the head that put the Tag Champion down for a pin. His next two wins came under less decisive circumstances, as Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose interfered in each other’s Gauntlet installments to give Bryan a pair of DQ wins. With the referee unable to control the chaos, The Shield felled Bryan with the Triple Powerbomb to soften him up for Randy Orton, who – with Triple H’s blessing, sunk his fangs into the unconscious Bryan with a final RKO that left the No. 1 contender unable to move, fight back, or so much as give a “No” in protest.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Cody Rhodes defeated Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) (0:59)
- Cody Rhodes & The Miz (w/ Rosa Mendes) defeated Damien Sandow & Fandango (w/ Summer Rae) (2:55)
- CM Punk defeated Curtis Axel (w/ Paul Heyman) (10:54)
- Brie Bella (w/ Nikki Bella & Eva Marie) defeated Natalya (w/ The Funkadactyls (Cameron & Naomi)) (1:32)
- Rob Van Dam (w/ Ricardo Rodriguez) defeated Alberto Del Rio (8:27)
- Randy Orton defeated Christian (16:09)
- Titus O'Neil (w/ Darren Young) defeated Jack Swagger (w/ Antonio Cesaro & Zeb Colter) (3:11)
- Daniel Bryan defeated The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) by DQ in a Gauntlet match (12:27)
Other on-screen talent