Written by: Scrooge McSuck
– Featured on the WWE Network on September 25th, 2016, from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, with Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves calling the action, unless otherwise noted. This is the first Raw Exclusive PPV since the latest brand split, so we needlessly changed the name of “Night of Champions” because of reasons that never came to light.
– Note: The Kickoff Show featured Nia Jax defeating Alicia Fox. I’d normally include recaps of all matches, but they needed to inflate the running time for this show too, so I’m trying to cut corners wherever possible.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
The New Day (c) (w/ Xavier Woods) vs. The Club:
(Big E & Kofi Kingston vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson)
We’re approaching the 400-day mark for the reign as Champions for the New Day. They’re clearly positioned to break the record held by Demolition, ever since it was mentioned on TV after they broke the record the first time (that record being the Kendrick and London version). Gallows lays out Big E on the floor and Anderson with a running Liger-Bomb on Kofi for a near fall. Gallows takes a shot at Woods next and goes for Francesca II, but the camera misses it in a rare miss by the WWE production staff. Kofi gets worked over while Big E continues to play dead on the floor. Kofi gets a boot up in the corner, but knocks himself back into the wrong side of town. Big E tags I and throws Anderson with a series of belly-to-belly suplexes. He comes off the ropes with a big splash and tosses Anderson to the apron. Anderson counters the Spear with a knee to the face, but runs into a uranage for a near fall. Anderson with a running boot for two. Gallows and Anderson with the Big Boot of Doom for another two count. Kofi tags in and gets caught immediately with a spine-buster for two. Gallows blocks the SOS and plants him with a Choke-Slam. Big E runs in and gets a boot to the face. They set up for the Magic Killer, but Kofi fights it off. Trouble in Paradise to Anderson, followed by the Big Ending, but Gallows makes the save. Gallows meets the steps on a charge and Kofi nails him with a suicide dive. Woods hits Anderson with Francesca II (behind the back of the referee), and the Midnight Hour finishes at 6:44. **3/4 I’m not a big fan of babyfaces cheating, but this was a packed 7-minutes of action and actually made the Club look like threats after months of bad comedy.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match:
TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick:
Kendrick won a Fatal-4-Way to earn this title shot, and Perkins is actually making his main roster debut on this show. Yes, the CHAMPION was not featured in any capacity on the live edition of Monday Night Raw. Words cannot describe the awesomeness of Perkins’ entrance music. It’s epic enough to get a shout out from Mega Man on Twitter, and Mega Man isn’t a real person! Kendrick refuses the pre-match handshake. Kendrick with a waist-lock takedown. Perkins escapes and takes him over with a spinning head scissors. Perkins goes for the knee bar, but Kendrick makes it to the ropes. Kendrick traps Perkins in the ring skirt and pounds away. Back inside, Perkins regains control, slapping on a Boston Crab, then a Muta-Lock. Kendrick tosses Perkins over the top rope, hanging him across the top rope in the process. He tries tossing Perkins through the ropes again, but he lays into them like La Sombra. Perkins with a roundhouse kick in the corner, but Kendrick quickly comes back with a monkey flip for two. Perkins escapes another chin-lock with a mule kick. Flying head scissors, inverted atomic drop, and a spinning heel kick by Perkins. Whip to the corner, Perkins avoids a charge and connects with a neck breaker. Perkins with a butterfly into an atomic drop for a near fall. Perkins with the Eddie Guerrero suplex, followed by a back suplex. Perkins fights Kendrick off the top rope and a flying head scissors takes both men over the top rope! Back inside, Sliced Bread #2 is countered and Perkins with a wrecking ball dropkick. He comes off the top, missing the 450-splash. Kendrick goes for the Captains Hook, but Perkins rolls through and hooks the Knee Bar. Kendrick escapes and Sliced Bread #2 connects for a near fall. Kendrick with the Captains Hook, but again its countered. Perkins with a fireman’s carry into a kick and the Reverse Figure-Four finishes at 10:31. Post-match, Kendrick teases being a nice guy before nailing Perkins with a headbutt. *** This was perfectly acceptable wrestling until a hot finish, but it needed to be more than that for the first big showcase outside of the CWC. They didn’t really tell much of a story and just seemed to be going for cool spots in between Kendrick’s resting.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus:
It’s Match #7 in their Best of 7 Series. Sheamus won matches 1, 2, and 3, so paint the rest of the picture. Sheamus with brutal forearms in the corner to start. Cesaro comes back with a dropkick and clothesline, sending Sheamus to the floor. Sheamus with the clubbing forearms from the apron. Cesaro fights him off and comes off the apron with a seated splash. Sheamus straddles Cesaro across the top rope and plants him with a suplex-slam. Sheamus pounds at the previously injured back of Cesaro and connects with a pair of back breakers. Whip to the corner and Sheamus with the Savio Vega heel kick into the corner. That’s TWO references to Mr. Vega in two days, and completely unscripted. Cesaro counters the Celtic Cross with a sunset flip for two. Sheamus with a Power-Slam for two. Cesaro avoids a charge to the corner and lands an uppercut to the back of the neck. Back and forth across the ring with uppercuts, followed by a Tornado DDT for two. Cesaro actually hits the 6-1-9 (in slow motion) and comes off the top with a flying body press for two. Sheamus counters the Neutralizer, but the corkscrew uppercut connects for two. Cesaro sweeps the legs, but a swing is countered with a kick and roll-up for two. Sheamus with the Irish Curse for another two count. Sheamus with two more back breakers for a two count. Sheamus with the Clover-Leaf, but Cesaro rolls through and cradles him for two. Sheamus with the Celtic Cross for two. That looked pretty painful. Brogue Kick is countered with a roll up for two. Cesaro Swing into the Sharpshooter, but Sheamus makes it to the ropes. Sheamus blocks a Super-Plex. Cesaro avoids White Noise, but a tope suicida ends with him landing on his head in a gruesome spot. Back in the ring, and the Brogue Kick gets two. Cesaro makes the Swiss-Superman comeback and the Neutralizer gets two. Sheamus dares him to keep bringing it, so he unloads with a flurry of uppercuts. Cesaro knocks Sheamus off the top rope with a dropkick and teases another Super-Plex (this time to the floor), but Sheamus knocks him down with a headbutt. Sheamus leaps to the floor with a clothesline, but at the same time is met with an uppercut. Sheamus with White Noise. Cesaro shoves him into the post and clotheslines him over the security wall. The referee and trainers check on both men, and they call for the bell at 16:36 for a No Contest. **** I wanted to deduct points for the finish, but honestly, it worked perfectly into the story the match told, even if I disagree with it after two months of feuding. Two guys beating the piss out of each other for 15+ minutes until the referee came to the conclusion neither man could continue.
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho:
It’s the battle of Kevin Owen’s former best friend and his current best friend. Isn’t friendship so sweet? That’s pretty much the entire backstory for this shoe-horned program. Jericho throws his $750 scarf at Sami. He pounds away on Jericho with rights in the corner. Jericho uses the referee as a tool to get a cheap shot. Whip to the ropes, Zayn springboards over Jericho and takes him over with arm drags. Jericho bails, so Zayn follows and lays him out with a clothesline. Zayn goes for a moonsault off the barricade, but it completely misses. Jericho still sells it. The referee again is used to Jericho’s benefit, nailing Sami with a springboard dropkick. Jericho comes off the top with a diving elbow for two. Zayn with slaps to the chest. Whip to the corner and Jericho straddles him on the top rope. That spot, and a whole bunch of dives, are way over-used lately. Jericho with a suplex on the floor. Zayn fights out of a chin-lock, sends Jericho to the corner, and meets the boot. Jericho’s running bulldog is countered, sending Jericho to the turnbuckle. Jericho charges again and goes flying over the top rope. Zayn sees his opportunity and goes flying with tope con hilo. Zayn to the top rope with a flying body press for two. Michinoku Driver for two. Zayn fights off a Super-Plex attempt and drops Jericho face-first. Zayn escapes the Walls of Jericho. Jericho with a running enzuigiri and boots to the face. Zayn finally gives Jericho a receipt for all the slaps and gets knees up on a Lionsault attempt. Zayn hits the ropes for a Tornado DDT, but Jericho avoids the Helluva Kick. Zayn follows him to the floor with a botched Tornado DDT after diving between the ropes. Helluva Kick misses. Zayn counters the Code Breaker with an Exploder Suplex. Jericho counters the Helluva Kick with the Walls of Jericho. Zayn escapes and cradles Jericho for two. Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Code Breaker from out of nowhere finishes at 15:22. **1/2 Sloppy work, a bit sluggish early, and they were fighting for what reason? Jericho’s friendship with Kevin Owens? Weak sauce. This should’ve been a 4+ star performance, but it felt like a garden variety house show match that we’ll forget about in 30-minutes.
WWE Women’s Championship Match:
Charlotte (c) (w/ Dana Brooke) vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks:
This was originally advertised as Charlotte vs. Sasha, then nothing (don’t ask), then Charlotte vs. Sasha again, and now a Triple Threat when Sasha pinned herself when she “won” the title shot in a Three-Way with Bayley and Dana. Sasha goes for Charlotte. Bayley hits both with a baseball slide and cradles Charlotte for a one count. Bayley and Sasha argue for no reason when this is every woman for herself. Bayley with a springboard arm drag on Charlotte. All three go for dropkicks, unsuccessfully. Charlotte and Sasha with a series of counters until Charlotte hits a neck breaker. Sasha traps her in a tree of woe and hits the running knees. Bayley with an Exploder on Sasha and a springboard elbow on Charlotte for two. Bayley hangs up Sasha, and Dana pulls Bayley off the apron. Charlotte with a big boot to the back, sending Sasha crashing into the buckle. Whip to the corner and Charlotte with an over-head slam for two. Charlotte uses the ring post for a bow-and-arrow spot. Bayley keeps getting knocked down whenever she teases rejoining the action. Sasha with a spinning head scissors, clotheslines, and a dropkick. Charlotte avoids the Back Stabber, and suddenly Bayley is back in, with a flying body press onto both women. Bayley with shoulders to the midsection, followed by diving elbows. Sasha stacks the deck and drives the knees into Bayley for two. Sasha with the double knees from the apron to the floor. Sasha takes a shot at Dana for the hell of it. Back inside, Charlotte with a back-breaker and slam. Sasha blocks the Figure-Four and Bayley with Bayley-to-Belly for two. Sasha cradles Bayley for two. Charlotte sends Bayley into the buckle, and they might as well have just made this 1-on-1 since it obviously was the plan a few weeks ago. Charlotte lays out both challengers and hits them with a moonsault. Natural Selection to Bayley for two. Bank Statement to Charlotte, but Dana makes the save. More near falls. Sasha avoids Bayley-to-Belly. Charlotte with a roll up on feet on the ropes for two. Back Stabber into the Bank Statement, and this time Dana doesn’t bother saving. Bayley breaks it and now she’s trapped in the hold. Charlotte breaks it, sends Sasha to the floor, and throws her into the wall. Bayley with a cradle for two. They have a clumsy finish with Charlotte hitting Bayley with a pair of boots to retain at 15:28. I say clumsy because Sasha was out of position so they just awkwardly lurked around stalling for time. *** I didn’t hate this as much as others, but Bayley being involved was clearly just a way to avoid Sasha and Charlotte pinning each other so they could do it again at Hell in a Cell.
WWE United States Championship Match:
Rusev (c) (w/ Lana) vs. Roman Reigns:
Reigns is fighting for a Championship, Rusev is fighting for his wife’s honor. Rusev is the heel, by the way. I honestly forgot who Rusev beat for the title until stopping to think for a few minutes (Kalisto). Lockup and Reigns dumps him to the floor. They trade blows, with Reigns getting the better of it until Rusev bounces off the ropes with a jumping heel kick for a two count. Rusev with ground and pound for two. Crowd with dueling chants for Roman as Rusev sends him from corner to corner. The pacing suggests this is going long. Reigns with a clothesline, but still selling the body. Whip to the ropes and he hits a diving clothesline. Roman takes it to the floor but gets sent into the steps. Back inside, Rusev with a pair of pin attempts and a modified chin-lock. Rusev with a knee lift, hip toss, and diving headbutt. Reigns gets a boot up in the corner, hits the ropes, and runs into a dropkick. Rusev misses a dive from the middle rope. Reigns with a Samoan drop for two. Reigns with his 10-count of clotheslines. They take it to the floor again, with Reigns throwing Rusev into the barricade and ring steps. Rusev counters a Superman Punch attempt with a kick to the midsection. Rusev with a hot shot and roll-up for two. Roundhouse kick for another two count. Reigns comes back with the Superman Punch for two. Lana with a distraction, allowing Rusev to connect with a jumping side kick for two. He signals for the finish, stomping down on the back of Reigns three times, but Reigns avoids the Accolade and hits a Spear for two thanks to Lana pulling the referee out. Instead of calling for the DQ, he ejects her from ringside. Reigns with a roll up for two. Rusev avoids the Superman Punch, but gets tossed to the floor. Reigns with a baseball slide and the Drive-By. Another Drive-By, this time onto the announcers table. Back in the ring and Rusev with a roundhouse kick to counter the Spear for two. Rusev with the Accolade, but Reigns fights out of it. Rusev goes to the eyes and talks trash. Reigns counters Rusev in midair with the Spear and wins the US Championship at 17:07. **1/2 Good match, but nothing to really brag about. This started off really slow and they did the same thing we’ve seen all night, trading finishers and devaluing them in the process. The WWE Network is glitching like crazy for me too, which didn’t help my enjoyment.
WWE Universal Championship Match:
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins:
This show is too long for a B-level event. Hopefully there are no more glitches to mess with my viewing pleasure. Owens won the belt with more than a little help by Triple H, but Seth is still concerned in trying to be the Authority’s lap dog, so it’s really two heels fighting instead of a clear-cut babyface being involved. I’m going to have to break away from the recap style of the night, with the glitch issues flaring up again. Another slow-paced start, pushing this match beyond the three-hour marker because everything else went needlessly long as well. They traded lots of big moves, but the crowd was clearly burned out when every match has the same formula. It was obvious enough that Jim Ross, among others, buried the lack of creativity mid-match because they were doing it as early in the night as the Kickoff Match. Chris Jericho made his presence known, helping save Owens from defeat following a pedigree. There was a referee bump and Rollins appeared to have had the match won, but no one was there to count. Rollins fended off further interference from Jericho, but was caught with a Pop-Up Powerbomb, and wouldn’t you know it, now Stephanie McMahon felt was the proper time to send out a new referee, and that was enough for the three count and Owens to retain the Universal Title at 25:07. *** Another match that under-delivered on what should’ve been potential to be a show stealer. The work was fine, but the planning of all the matches earlier in the show ruined the effect for when it would’ve meant something, and we still have no idea on what is going on with Triple H. Is he waiting for after the NFL season to emerge from the shadows of his home before explaining his motives?
Final Thoughts: On paper, just looking at the match listing, this should’ve blown away Smackdown’s Backlash PPV a couple of weeks ago. Nothing was “bad”, but this felt almost like a chore to sit through, especially with every match, even the Cruiserweight Title Match, following the same pattern and formula. Some matches had questionable finishes, others were fine, but this didn’t feel like a show that was developing any storylines, it just felt like we’re still stuck in the same mud hole that we were in for SummerSlam, except we’ve got KO vs. Seth instead of KO vs. Finn Balor (or whatever the potential Main Event feud was meant to be). More New Day vs. Club after weeks of dying on TV, more Sheamus vs. Cesaro, more Sasha vs. Charlotte with Bayley taking the loss to preserve their blowoff, more Rusev vs. Roman. I’d hate to suggest this was a “bad” Pay-Per-View, but it was far from an enjoyable experience. It was good wrestling for the sake of good wrestling, and that’s that.