Night of Champions 2008 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which took place on June 29, 2008 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. It was the first annual event to be promoted solely under the Night of Champions name and the eighth annual event under the Vengeance chronology. It starred wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands. Like the previous year before, every match on the card was contested for a championship; three were won and five were retained.
The main event was an interpromotional match for the WWE Championship between SmackDown representative, Triple H, and Raw representative, John Cena; Triple H won the match and retained the championship. The main match was also an interpromotional match for the World Heavyweight Championship between SmackDown representative, Edge, and Raw representative, Batista, which Edge won to retain the championship. The main match from the ECW brand was an interpromotional standard match involving three wrestlers for the ECW Championship, in which ECW representative, Mark Henry, defeated the champion and Raw representative, Kane, and SmackDown representative, The Big Show.
Night of Champions received 273,000 pay-per-view buys, and was instrumental in helping WWE increase its pay-per-view revenue by $21.9 million compared to the previous year. The professional wrestling section of the Canadian Online Explorer website rated the entire event a 7 out of 10 stars, higher and lower than the 2007 event's ratings of 5 and 7.5 out of 10 (there were two ratings because two different writers reviewed the show).
The event featured eight professional wrestling matches, performances with pre-determined outcomes between wrestlers with fictional personalities that are portrayed as real, were featured on the event's card. The buildup to the matches and the scenarios that took place before, during, and after the event were planned by WWE's creative staff. The event starred wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW brands – storyline expansions of the promotion where employees are assigned to wrestling brands under the WWE banner. Wrestlers portrayed either a villainous or fan favorite gimmick, as they followed a series of events which generally built tension, leading to a wrestling match.
The main event scripted into Night of Champions on the Raw brand was between Triple H and John Cena over the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, Cena won the Royal Rumble match, a multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until one is left and declared winner, where he earned the right to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIV. The next night on Raw, Cena stated that he did not want to wait until WrestleMania for a title match, and decided that he wanted to face then champion Randy Orton for the title on that same episode. Orton declined to defend the title on Raw, but proposed to Cena that they could meet at WWE's next pay-per-view event, No Way Out, in a title match, to which Cena agreed. At the event, Cena defeated Orton by disqualification, but did not win the title because a title can only change hands via pinfall or submission. That same night, Triple H won an Elimination Chamber match, where the ring is surrounded by a steel structure of chain and girders, to earn a title shot at WrestleMania. The night after No Way Out, Cena demanded that he receive a title rematch, following his match with Orton, but Raw General Manager William Regal, a portrayed match maker and rules enforcer, announced that Cena and Orton would be facing each other in a non-title match, with Triple H as the special guest referee, in the main event later that night, with the stipulation that if Cena won, he would join the title match at WrestleMania, making it a standard match involving three wrestlers. Cena won the match, making him part of the main event at WrestleMania. At WrestleMania, Orton defeated Triple H and Cena to retain the title, after pinning Cena. At Backlash, Orton defended the title once again against Cena and Triple H, this time in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match which also included John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Triple H won the match after eliminating Orton last to win the title. On the June 2 episode of Raw, Cena faced Jeff Hardy, with the stipulation being that if Cena or Hardy won they would earn a title shot against Triple H at Night of Champions. Cena won the match to challenge Triple H for the title at Night of Champions. Three weeks later, during the sixth annual WWE Draft, a mock sports draft lottery in which wrestlers switched programs, Triple H was drafted to the SmackDown brand. On the June 27 episode of SmackDown, it was revealed that Triple H would still defend the title against Cena.
The main feud on the SmackDown brand was between Edge and Batista over the World Heavyweight Championship. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown, Batista, Funaki, Nunzio, and Colin Delaney defeated Edge, Chavo Guerrero, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in an eight-man tag team match. A stipulation was placed in the match that if Batista's team won the tag team match, Batista earned a World title match against Edge at Night of Champions. The following week, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero added a predicament to Batista's title shot, stating that in order for the title match to occur at Night of Champions, Batista would have to defeat The Great Khali to finalize his title shot. Batista defeated the Great Khali and retained his title shot. On the June 23 episode of Raw, Batista was drafted to the Raw brand as a part of the 2008 WWE Draft. That same night, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon informed Edge that even though Batista was drafted, Edge would still defend the title no matter what the outcome was.
The other predominant title match on the ECW brand was between ECW Champion Kane defending the title against The Big Show and Mark Henry in a standard match involving three wrestlers. At One Night Stand, WWE's previous pay-per-view event, The Big Show won a five-man Singapore Cane match including CM Punk, Chavo Guerrero, Tommy Dreamer, and John Morrison to earn a title shot against Kane at Night of Champions. On the June 23 episode of Raw, Kane was drafted to the Raw brand, making the ECW title exclusive to the Raw program. During the supplemental draft, Mark Henry was drafted to the ECW brand. It was announced on WWE's official website that Henry would be added to the title match, making it a Triple Threat match.
The Divas rivalry from the Raw brand was between Mickie James and Katie Lea Burchill with the two battling over the WWE Women's Championship. Three months prior on April 14th edition of Raw, James won the Women's Championship by defeating Beth Phoenix. The next month at Judgment Day, she retained the championship by defeating Phoenix and Melina in a triple threat match. Katie Lea then began a feud with James by challenging her for the Women's Championship and said that she would carry the title with more class than Mickie. She also made fun of the on-screen relationship between James and John Cena. Over the following weeks, Burchill defeated James in tag team matches first with her brother Paul Burchill as a partner and with Phoenix as a partner. On the June 23 edition of Raw, during the WWE Draft, it was announced that James will defend the Women's Championship against Burchill.
Another match scheduled for Night of Champions was a WWE Intercontinental Championship match. The defending champion Chris Jericho however was engaged in a feud with Shawn Michaels. On the June 9th episode of Raw, during Jericho's segment with Michaels on The Highlight Reel. Michaels revealed that he lied to Jericho about his knee injury during his match with Batista at Backlash and that he indeed faked it. Jericho turned heel by attacking Michaels and throwing him into the Jeritron 6000 television screen shattering it. Michaels had suffered an eye injury as a result of the attack and wasn't seen for several weeks afterwards. Lance Cade later aligned himself with Jericho on the June 16th episode of Raw, by helping him attack Triple H and John Cena. Cade later explaned that he was Shawn Michaels greatest student in Texas back then and said that when he made it big he knew Michaels would pretend to be his friend and turn on him. He stated that he won't give Michaels a chance to turn on him like he did others. Jericho also blamed the fans for supporting Michaels instead of him and said that from now on he will be out to save himself. It was announced that Jericho would defend the Intercontinental Championship against Kofi Kingston who was recently drafted to Raw from ECW in the Supplemental Draft
Each of the three top title feuds were affected by the 2008 WWE Draft and an additional Supplemental Draft held two days later on WWE's official website. As a result, each of the world title matches became interpromotional matches between the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands with the winner of each match determining the championships for each brand.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Jeff Hardy defeated Montel Vontavious Porter
- John Morrison and The Miz (c) defeated Finlay and Hornswoggle to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (8:46)
- Matt Hardy (c) defeated Chavo Guerrero (w/ Bam Neely) to retain the WWE United States Championship (9:21)
- Mark Henry defeated Kane (c) and The Big Show in a Triple Threat Match to win the ECW Championship (8:17)
- Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes defeated Hardcore Holly (c) in a Two-on-One Handicap Match to win the World Tag Team Championship (1:30)
- Kofi Kingston defeated Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Lance Cade) to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship (10:59)
- Mickie James (c) defeated Katie Lea Burchill (w/ Paul Burchill) to retain the WWE Women's Championship (7:16)
- Edge (c) defeated Batista to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (16:50)
- Triple H (c) defeated John Cena to retain the WWE Championship (19:38)
Other on-screen talent
- Night of Champions 2008 Offical Website
- Night of Champions 2008 on WWE Network
- Night of Champions 2008 at CAGEMATCH.net
- Night of Champions 2008 at Online World of Wrestling
|2008 World Wrestling Entertainment pay-per-views|
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