Night of Champions 2009 was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which took place on July 26, 2009 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the third annual event under the Night of Champions name and the ninth annual event under the Vengeance/Night of Champions chronology. Similar to the previous two events, the concept of the show was that every championship in the company would be defended. It featured talent from the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands. Eight matches were contested on the card
This show was considered a supercard, which featured more than one main event match. The main event matches featured were: Jeff Hardy defeating CM Punk for the World Heavyweight Championship, Randy Orton retaining the WWE Championship against Triple H and John Cena, Mickie James winning the WWE Divas Championship against Maryse, and WWE Intercontinental Champion Rey Mysterio retain his title against Dolph Ziggler. The undercard, featured Chris Jericho and The Big Show defending the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship against The Legacy, Christian defeating Tommy Dreamer for the ECW Championship, Kofi Kingston defending the WWE United States Championship in a Six-Pack Challenge against Montel Vontavious Porter, The Miz, Carlito, Primo, and Jack Swagger, and Michelle McCool defending the WWE Women's Championship against Melina.
The event had 267,000 buys, down on Night of Champions 2008 figure of 273,000 buys.
Night of Champions featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds, plots, and storylines that were played out on Raw, Friday Night SmackDown, ECW on Syfy and WWE Superstars—World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) television programs. Wrestlers portrayed a villain or a hero as they follow a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. All wrestlers were from WWE's Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands—a storyline division in which WWE employees are assigned to a television program of the same name.
The main rivalry from SmackDown heading into Night of Champions was between CM Punk and Jeff Hardy in their conflict over the World Heavyweight Championship. One month prior to the show, at Extreme Rules, Punk invoked the guaranteed title match he earned by winning the Money in the Bank ladder match against Hardy; he defeated him, and won the World Heavyweight title. The two had constant confrontations in the following weeks over the legitimacy of Punk's reign before they met at The Bash in a match that saw Punk get disqualified for striking the referee, leading to Hardy attacking Punk for what he saw as dodging competition (a title cannot change hands on a disqualification). On the July 2 episode of Superstars it came to light that Punk had suffered a storyline eye injury. Punk's rebuttal to Hardy's accusation was that he struck the referee due to his inability to clearly see a target. To clear up any dispute on to who the rightful champion was, SmackDown general manager, Theodore Long, announced another match between the two at Night of Champions, which was accepted by both competitors.
The Raw brand was represented by Randy Orton defending his WWE Championship. After defeating Triple H in a 3 Stages of Hell match at The Bash, Orton was without a contender for the championship, so on the June 29 episode of Raw, it was announced by the special guest host of the week, as well as onscreen matchmaker, Batista, that the title would be defended at Night of Champions against the winner of a single-elimination tournament. The semifinals commenced that night with Triple H defeating Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) and John Cena defeating The Miz. Triple H and Cena faced each other on the following week's episode of Raw, only to see Orton's protégés, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, interfere in the match and attack both men. As a result, it was announced Orton would defend the title against both Triple H and Cena in a triple threat match.
After winning the ECW Championship at Extreme Rules, Tommy Dreamer had been involved in a scripted rivalry with perennial ally, rival, and former ECW Champion, Christian. The former champion was given a chance to get back into the title picture by having a match with Vladimir Kozlov to determine the number one contender. On the July 9 episode of ECW on Syfy, Christian won the match, thus advancing to Night of Champions to challenge Dreamer.
Edge and Chris Jericho had won the Unified WWE Tag Team Championship at The Bash in a triple threat tag team match from incumbent champions, The Colóns, and Rhodes and DiBiase (collectively known as The Legacy). Two weeks following the event on the July 6 episode of Raw, the special guest host for the night, Ted DiBiase, announced that The Legacy would challenge Edge and Jericho for the titles. In the coming week on Raw, it came to light that Edge had legitimately torn his Achilles tendon, which required surgery, as well as sidelining Edge for a projected several months. It was announced on the next week's episode of Raw, Jericho had a storyline contractual loophole, which allowed him to choose a new partner to hold the titles with him if Edge were to be injured, thus allowing him to defend the titles at Night of Champions.
Following a defense of the WWE Intercontinental Championship on the July 10 episode of Friday Night SmackDown, Rey Mysterio was attacked by Dolph Ziggler. The following week on WWE Superstars, Mysterio and Ziggler had a verbal confrontation over what transpired, leading to the announcement of Mysterio defending the Intercontinental title against Ziggler at the pay-per-view.
Prior to the show airing live on pay-per-view, the fans in attendance were shown an untelevised match tag team match pitting Shad Gaspard and JTG (collectively known as Cryme Tyme) against Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith with Natalya in their corner (the three are known as The Hart Dynasty); Gaspard scored his team the victory, pinning Kidd to the mat following a clothesline and back heel trip combination.
The show commenced with Chris Jericho and his mystery partner defending the Unified WWE Tag Team titles against Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. It was revealed his partner was The Big Show, who started the match taking advantage of his size on his opponents before tagging in his partner, who was double-teamed by the challengers. The match ended when Jericho caught DiBiase with his signature knees to the face dubbed the Codebreaker, which led to The Big Show placing a Camel Clutch on Ted DiBiase, causing DiBiase to submit to retain the titles.
Following was Tommy Dreamer defending the ECW Championship against Christian. The match was fought at a quick pace with both men being able to counter the others attempt at offense. The action made its way out of the arena and to the floor of the arena as Christian threw the champion into the commentator's table. He made his way back into the ring in an attempt to dive onto Dreamer, who managed to dodge his opponent, who made his way onto the edge of the ring to execute flip dive known as the senton bomb onto his prone opponent on the floor. Once both competitors returned to the ring, they continued to counter each other's moves until Dreamer grabbed the challenger by the head in an attempt to drop him with a DDT, only to have Christian spin his way out to grab Dreamer's arms, and spin him behind his back before driving him on his face with a move called the Killswitch to pin his opponent and win his second ECW Championship.
The next title to be defended was Kofi Kingston's WWE United States Championship against Jack Swagger, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP), Carlito, Primo and The Miz. The match maintained a fast pace with each wrestler making multiple attempts to pin someone. The end of the match came when Carlito got behind Primo, pulling him back to the ground driving his knees into Primo's back with a move called the Backstabber. Kingston was behind his challenger in time to perform his 540-degree spinning kick in the air called Trouble in Paradise to the back of Carlito's head, leading to a pinfall victory.
The bout for the WWE Women's Championship was next between Michelle McCool and Melina. As Melina made her way to the ring performing her signature split to enter, the champion dropkicked the challenger to the floor of the arena, starting an aggressively-fought match. The match spent a portion of time on the floor with McCool holding Melina on the barricade surrounding the ring area, dropping her on her face on the structure with a DDT. The match continued with both women trading knee strikes and kicks. McCool caught Melina by the shoulders as she went for a pin to retain her championship.
The first main event of the evening was the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton, Triple H, and John Cena. The match started with Orton attempting to move away from the challengers in an attempt to let both of the fight each other; this was followed by Triple H and Cena following the champion outside of the ring. The three men took turns brawling with one another until Orton was dropped to the floor with a double-team suplex from his opponents. Triple H grabbed his fellow challenger by the legs, driving his spine into the mat; he went to pin Cena only to have Orton grab him by the leg, and pull him out of the ring, throwing him into the commentator's table. Cena interjected himself into a fight between all three on the table, throwing Orton into the crowd. As Orton recovered and returned to the ring, he was thrown out while Cena caught Triple H in the middle of the ring with a toehold simultaneously with a sleeper hold (both moves together are called the STF) in an attempt to make him submit. Orton made his way back into the ring in an attempt to punt Cena while he had Triple H in the hold; Cena quickly dodged, only to be taken down by the champion. This was followed by Orton stomping down on both of his opponents. Once both challengers recovered, Triple H took down Orton with a variation of a leg lock often called the Sharpshooter; Cena also grabbed the champion by wrapping his legs around his arm and applying a crossface hold. Orton proceeded to tap out, only for the referee to declare the match would continue, as he couldn't decide who won the match. Orton's protégés, Rhodes and DiBiase, interfered to assault the challengers. As Cena gained an upper hand against Rhodes to hoist him onto his shoulders, Orton grabbed Cena by the head and dropped him to the mat on his face with an RKO, leading to a pin on Cena.
Maryse defended the WWE Divas Championship next against Mickie James. The match centered around Maryse keeping her distance from James before descending to the floor in an attempt to use a can of hair spray to unleash onto the challenger's eyes; James snatched away the can to use it her self. The referee caught James and grabbed it away from her. The match returned to the ring as Maryse went to finish the match with the French Kiss only to have James counter with her Mickie-DT to pin Maryse and win the title.
Next was Rey Mysterio defending the WWE Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler gained an early advantage by muscling his opponent into the turnbuckle with a powerbomb. In attempt to ground his opponent, Ziggler locked Mysterio in a headlock and rode him into the mat. Mysterio managed to escape his opponent's onslaught by connecting with a kick to his opponent. He ascended the top turnbuckle in an attempt to dive on his opponent, who countered with a dropkick. The challenger ascended the turnbuckle himself with Mysterio on his shoulder before jumping off dropping Mysterio on his stomach onto Ziggler's knee. After an attempt to pin him, Mysterio retaliated by kicking his opponent onto the middle rope before swinging through them to kick Ziggler in the face with a move called the 619. After connecting, he jumped off the top rope, connecting with a body press to pin the challenger and retain the title.
The main event of the show was CM Punk defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Jeff Hardy. Punk dominated the challenger early with a series of kicks and arm locks before Hardy escaped to the floor. Punk dove through the ropes at Hardy, only to crash as his opponent moved away only to have Hardy go for a dive of his own and Punk reciprocate with his own dodge. The champion made his way back to the ring in the hopes of the referee declaring him the winner via countout, the act of a wrestler failing to appear in the ring for the referee's count of 10; Hardy made his way back in the ring by nine. A frustrated Punk continued his assault with knees before Hardy countered with a rebound kick off the top turnbuckle called the Whisper in the Wind followed by a pinning attempt. Punk escaped the pin with a riding inverted chinlock for a submission attempt. Hardy escaped with some offense before ascending the top turnbuckle and attempting with his finishing maneuver, the Swanton bomb, only to have the champion lift his knees up, driving them into Hardy's back. Punk exploited his advantage, and hoisted Hardy onto his shoulders before dropping him into a knee to the face called the Go To Sleep (GTS). He went for the pin, only to have Hardy respond by the referee's count of two. Punk decided to leave the ring at that time in hopes of getting counted out, which would allow him to retain his championship. Hardy headed him off on the entrance ramp, and threw him in the ring. Once both men were back in the ring, Punk made one more attempt at the GTS only to have the challenger counter by grabbing his opponent by the head and dropping him to the mat with his signature move, the Twist of Fate. He then attempted the Swanton Bomb again, which fully connected for Hardy to pin Punk, winning the World Heavyweight Championship for the second time, his third World Championship overall.
The following night on Raw, it was announced by the night's guest host, Shaquille O'Neal, that Randy Orton would defend his title next at SummerSlam against the winner of the Beat the Clock challenge, with the one wrestler out of five- Mark Henry, Montel Vontavious Porter, Triple H, Jack Swagger, and John Cena- who defeats their respective opponent the fastest would challenge Orton for the title. Henry set a pace at 6:49, which went unbroken for three straight competitors until Cena wrestled, which had him beat the time, thus going to SummerSlam.
CM Punk, after showing sportsmanship towards Jeff Hardy after their match, came out to address Hardy following a title defense against John Morrison on the July 31 edition of SmackDown, only to assault him before he invoked his contractual rematch clause the following week, only to lose due to interference from Matt Hardy, the match's guest enforcer, leading to Punk assaulting the champion. Theodore Long announced immediately following the match that there would be one more between the two at SummerSlam, which was announced to be a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match (TLC).
Dolph Ziggler continued his crusade for the Intercontinental title by attacking Rey Mysterio during a match with Mike Knox. This led to Ziggler regaining his contendership the following night on SmackDown by defeating Knox, R-Truth, and Finlay in a Fatal four-way match.
Night of Champions received mixed reviews from fans and critics. Most of the praise comes in the form of the World Heavyweight title match. Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch gave overall credit for all participants in the World title match, specifically Punk's work as a rogue character and the ending, which was seen as a surprise due to the rumor circulating that Hardy would be taking time off imminently. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reviewed Punk's monologue, calling it very good. Writing for The Sun, Rob McNicholson also praised Punk's promo, describing it as "brilliantly delivered". Canadian Online Explorer writer Brian Elliott reviewed the show, saying nothing was "of ill-note... (no, not even the Divas Championship match)"; like with other reviews, the World title match was his match of the night, rating it 7/10. Another match that received praise was the Intercontinental title match, which was described as strong by reviewers with the biggest problem, as pointed out by Meltzer, that Ziggler was not as well-known yet with the crowd. The Women's Championship match was well received by the fans and considered the best divas match of 2009 by many women's wrestling supporters.
The show received some mild criticisms. While many people were left intrigued with the double submission portion of the match, James Caldwell of the Torch was especially critical of the moment by questioning the logic behind the confusion the referee and commentator; the consensus gave the match a good review until the end, which Caldwell called "lame". McNicholson criticized the revelation of The Big Show as Jericho's partner, saying that "it wasn't an exciting pick like Christian or even an expected one like Jack Swagger." He also criticized the subsequent Unified Tag Team Championship match, calling it "a forgettable affair".
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark match: Cryme Tyme (Shad Gaspard and JTG) defeated The Hart Dynasty (Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith) (5:13)
- Jeri-Show (Chris Jericho and The Big Show) (c) defeated The Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase) to retain the Unified Tag Team Championship (9:32)
- Christian defeated Tommy Dreamer (c) to win the ECW Championship (8:28)
- Kofi Kingston (c) defeated Carlito, Primo Colon, MVP, Jack Swagger and The Miz in a Six Man Challenge to retain the WWE United States Championship (8:35)
- Michelle McCool (c) defeated Melina to retain the WWE Women's Championship (6:12)
- Randy Orton (c) defeated Triple H and John Cena in a Triple Threat Match to retain the WWE Championship (22:19)
- Mickie James defeated Maryse (c) to win the WWE Diva's Championship (8:36)
- Rey Mysterio (c) defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship (14:20)
- Jeff Hardy defeated CM Punk (c) to win the World Heavyweight Championship (14:56)
Other on-screen talent
- Night of Champions 2009 Official Website
- Night of Champions at CAGEMATCH.net
- Night of Champions at Online World of Wrestling
- Night of Champions 2009 on WWE Network
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