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July 24, 2009
– Adam Russell

Crossing the line

This was the Night Of Champions go-home show, and was being built around a champion Vs champion match between World
Heavyweight Champion CM Punk, and Intercontinental Champion Rey Mysterio. I've been a big fan of the recent CM Punk storyline, his
feud with Jeff Hardy, and his slow-burn of a heel turn. What has been most effective about the turn is that at no point has Punk acted
overtly heel, or if he has, it's been very quickly reeled in, and has seemed justified (for example, Punk using Chris Jericho as a weapon
against Hardy last week, after Hardy had tried the same thing against him). I also give credit to Jim Ross, who has done a great job of
offering Punk's perspective throughout. This week, I think Punk, and the WWE, crossed the line.

The show, coming from Richmond, Virginia, began with Jeff Hardy coming out for his match against Chris Jericho, but first he addressed
his Night of Champions opponent, Punk. Jeff said that he is sick of Punk's preaching about his straight-edge lifestyle, and after the pay-
per-view, the preaching will be over, because the fans will be living in the moment with him. He then turned his attention to Jericho, telling
him that he shouldn't be worried about finding a tag team partner, he should be worried about him.

--- Jeff Hardy Vs Chris Jericho

The match began with a collar-and-elbow tie-up, Hardy taking Jericho down with a waistlock and laying into him with punches. This
outburst forced Jericho to the outside, but Hardy followed after him and sent him into the security wall, and then back into the ring. Jericho
tried to get into the match with a kick, but his irishwhip was reversed and he was met by an elbow, and then a head scissors takedown
which sent him back to the outside. Hardy tried a baseball slide style dropkick through the ropes, but Jericho blocked it, and dragged the
number one contender to the floor, with Hardy landing back-first. With the heel now in established control, we went to break at1'40, and
came back at 4'57 with Jericho hitting a neckbreaker on Hardy. He then locked on a half nelson, grounding Jeff, who managed to elbow
out of the hold, and come off the ropes with a cross body block for a two count. The comeback was short-lived, as Jericho re-established
control with an enziguri for a two count, and then floored Hardy with a big right hand, before playing up to the crowd. Jeff hit back with a
series of punches, and sent Jericho into the corner, but he missed a splash, and Jericho hit a Bret Hart-style elbowdrop from the second
turnbuckle, picking up a two count with his feet on the ropes. He followed that up by slingshotting Jeff's throat against the ropes for
another two, and then applying a facelock. Hardy worked up to his feet and sent Jericho to the ropes, catching the tag champ with a
wraparound clothesline, and then going on the offensive with forearms, an inverted atomic drop, and a legdrop to the groin for a two
count. He then hit a front suplex and went up to the top rope, but Jerico managed to avoid the contact of the Swanton Bomb, and hit a
Lionsault for a two count at 10'03. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho next, but couldn't turn Hardy over. Hardy countered into a small
package for a two count, and then connected with an inside enziguri. He went for his turnbuckle-assisted dropkick next, but Jericho
caught his legs and turned him over into the Walls. Hardy, after much struggling, made it to the ropes, and then countered another Walls
attempt with punches. Jericho decided to slingshot him instead, but Hardy landed on the ropes and hit a Whisper in the Wind for a close
two count. Hardy looked for a Twist of Fate, but Jericho countered into a Codebreaker, which sent Hardy to the outside. Jericho went out
after him and struggled to get him back into the ring, only picking up a two count when he eventually did. He gave him a kick to the ribs,
but then ran into a kick/Twist of Fate combination, before Jeff slowly made his way up to the top rope. Jericho had enough time to recover,
and crotched Jeff on the ropes before climbing up with him. Jeff though headbutted Jericho back to the mat, and hit the Swanton Bomb
for the victory at 15'11.

A good, long match to open the show is always nice, although watching Hardy he doesn't really bring the intensity or energy to his
matches that you'd think he would. If rumours of him taking a break from the ring after Night of Champions are true, hopefully he'll use
that time to recharge the batteries, and come back fresher.

We cut to Michelle McCool in the make-up department in the back. She told the make-up lady that no-one understands how great she is,
before Melina came in and congratulated her on being the biggest phony in WWE history, on what grounds, I'm not sure. She then said
that she has invoked her rematch clause for the Women's Championship at Night of Champions, and that the title is coming home. She
then told McCool that she needed more make-up, and threw powder all over her. The delivery from both girls in this segment was
abysmal.

After a John Morrison promotional video aired, it was time for our second match of the night.

--- The Great Khali Vs Mike Knox

Good to see Knox back on TV, even if it was to do an inevitable job. Knox tried to take the fight to Khali with kicks and punches, but Khali
took him down with a clubbing blow, and then laid into him with elbows in the corner, and a slap to the chest. At that point, Kane's pyro
went off, and the Big Red Machine came out to watch the match from the ramp. Knox used the distraction to beat Khali down to his knees
with punches and kicks, but he was caught by an elbow, a big boot, a chop to the head, and the Punjabi Plunge, all to give Khali the win
at 2'10. Khali then challenged Kane to get into the ring, but Kane only got as far as the apron, before deciding to save it for another day.

Word Up was next, and the word was GOAT, being an acronym for 'greatest of all time'. This was just a way for Cryme Tyme to talk about
the new tag teams DVD, before the Hart Dynasty interrupted and said that it should be them talking about it, since their family is featured
on it (the Hart Foundation). The two teams argued until Jesse made his regular appearance and said that, since he is from Badstreet
USA, he should be the one talking about the DVD. He then made fun of the Harts for coming from the 'bad streets of Calgary', and
seemed to win some approval from Cryme Tyme and Eve.

--- Dolph Ziggler Vs Finlay

Dolph was accompanied to ringside for the first time by Maria, and had some words to say before the match. He said that he isn't one for
big introductions, but after Night of Champions, everyone will know him as the Intercontinental Champion. Dolph took the early advantage
in the match with a waistlock, but Finlay reversed and took Ziggler down to the canvas, before breaking. A collar-and-elbow saw Finlay
grab a headlock, and then he shoulderblocked Dolph down after being sent to the ropes. He then whipped Ziggler into the corner, but
when he ran in he went shoulder-first into the ringpost as Dolph side-stepped him. Dolph then sent him again into the post, and then
applied an armbar. Finlay managed to whip Dolph over to the mat, but Dolph came back with a clothesline for a one count. He locked on
another armbar, which Finlay punched out of, but this time cut the Irishman off with a dropkick. Finlay finally (try saying that three times in
quick succession) made his comeback with a trio of clotheslines and a senton for a two count, and then executed the shoulder in the
corner which he had attempted earlier. He sent Ziggler over the top rope, but Dolph landed on the apron and forearmed the brawler, and
then tripped him and tried to drag him to the outside. However, Finlay kicked him back into the announce table and floored him with a big
clothesline. This brought Maria up out of the chair from where she had been watching to check on her beau. Finlay took a step-back, not
wanting to get physical with Maria in such close proximity, but Dolph took advantage of this by hitting the Trid Yap and getting the countout
victory at 4'19, as Ross played up Finlay paying the price for being a gentleman. It seems that Maria's presence is going to add a new
dimemsion to the Ziggler character, and could play a part in him winning the IC championship.

We next saw Jericho and Kane talking in the back, teasing that Jericho could be trying to recruit the big man to be his partner.

CM Punk made his way out next, looking very serious, to apparently make a challenge to the WWE Hypocrites. He began by saying that
he came to challenge the fans to see things his way- to just say no, and that the people who cheer for Jeff Hardy are slaves to the vices
associated with his 'living in the moment'. He continued that he feels bad for them, because they walk around blind, wearing their
prescriptions on their sleeves like a badge of honour. He asserted that he was the only person in the arena who hadn't abused
prescription drugs, or taken recreational drugs, and said that it's hard being straight-edge, but harder to live the lifestyle they all live. After
running down drinkers and smokers, he said that the chances are slim that anyone in the arena will ever get that monkey off their back
and, predictably, Jeff Hardy made an appearance. Hardy said that Punk has forgotten what it's like to be human, and that people make
mistakes, but they also change. Punk responded that he isn't going to enable Jeff anymore, and that, in fact, he doesn't want to be in the
same ring with him, so he's going to do what he always does, and 'just say no'. With that, Punk left, bringing the segment to an end.

I was not a fan of this segment at all. The subtleties of the Punk heel turn are really what have made it so much fun, but this went that one
step to far, leaving little doubt as to where Punk stands. Also, Punk's delivery didn't really go along with what he's been doing recently,
and it seemed like the evolution of the character had missed a couple of steps. I think it would have been much more effective to have
Punk come out and try to justify his recent actions, and turn the focus onto Hardy's own questionable actions (attacking Punk from
behind, etc). The way they chose to go here left me bitterly disappointed.

--- Eve Torres Vs Natalya

Eve was accompanied by Cryme Tyme, and Natalya by Tyson Kidd and David Hart Smith for this divas match, which got under way with a
collar-and-elbow lock-up. Eve took control with a headlock, and held on to the hold when Natalya tried to send her to the ropes. Natalya
managed to throw Eve down, and the two locked up again, with this time a rope break separating them. Natalya pushed Eve, but Eve took
her down with a headlock, before Natalya fought out of the hold with elbows. The daughter of Jim Neidhart picked up the first nearfall of
the match with a powerslam, and then locked on a surfboard, always a move that looks impressive. She then missed a legdrop, and Eve
made a brief comeback with a clothesline and a dropkick, before being levelled by a discus clothesline, the same move that Natalya
used to pin Eve on Superstars this week. This time, however, Eve ended up to close to the ropes to be pinned. Natalya looked to continue
the beating by putting her on the top rope, and climbing up after her, but Eve elbowed and headbutted her down, and then followed up
with a moonsault to pick up the upset victory at 2'57. For a short match, this was pretty decent, and I like the improvement that Eve has
made in the ring. I still would have preferred the vastly talented Natalya to win, but even in defeat she was allowed to look good.

We cut to the Great Khali and Ranjin Singh in the back, and Chris Jericho walked in. Jericho said that Khali was on his shortlist to be his
tag team partner, and Khali, via Singh, responded that it would be an honour to be the tag team champion, but he wouldn't want Jericho
as a partner.

--- R-Truth Vs Charlie Haas

Truth started the match by doing a dance in Haas's face, the latter responding with a push, and Truth coming back with a punch and a
heel kick for a two count. Haas connected with a kneelift, and sent Truth to the corner, and as Truth came out with the corner jazz, he sold
his knee as if he landed awkwardly. Haas went right to work on the leg, slamming it into the ringpost, taking Truth's kneepad off, and
locking on a half Boston crab. Truth got to the ropes, and then kicked Haas into the corner as he tried to apply a spinning toe hold. Truth
then hit a back body drop and a hiptoss for a two count, but Haas kicked out the leg, putting him back in control. He sent Truth into the
corner, but missed his target running in, and this allowed Truth to hit an axe kick and pick up the victory after 4'41 of decent action.

Jim Ross and Todd Grisham ran down the card for Night of Champions, and then it was main event time.

--- CM Punk Vs Rey Mysterio

A lock-up saw Punk transition into an armbar, which Rey countered with a flying mare. Punk then tried a different tactic, kicking the leg of
Mysterio, and locking on a stepover toehold, executing a forward roll which sent Rey slamming into the mat. Rey kicked himself free, and
the two went into a knucklelock, which Rey turned into a sunset flip for a two count. After an exchange of pin attempts, the two got into
each other's faces, as we saw the respect they may have had for each other fade away. An exchange of kicks ended with Punk throwing
Rey shoulder-first into the ringpost, then rolling him up for a two count. Punk took Rey down with a shoulderblock next, and then locked
on a knucklelock, which Rey tried to counter by running up the ropes, no doubt looking for an armdrag. Punk, however, pushed Rey to the
outside, hotshotting his arm on the top rope on the way, and then connected with a baseball slide as we went to commercial at 3'49. We
came back at 7'22 with Punk continuing the assault on the arm with an armbar. Rey used his feet to execute a break, but Punk rammed
him into the corner, and then covered him for a two count, before getting another two with a snapmare and a kick to the spine. He then
went to a hammerlock, which Rey elbowed his way out of before falling victim to a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a nearfall. Punk went back to
the arm with a keylock, and then a Gori special-like submission, which Rey armdragged out of, before drop toe holding the world champ
into the corner. With the tide turning in the match, Rey's Night of Champions opponent, Dolph Ziggler made his way to ringside. This
didn't slow Re down though, as he picked up nearfalls first with a springboard cross body block, and then with a dropkick. He then used
a head scissors to put Punk into position for the 619, but Punk back body dropped Rey, who landed on the apron, who connected with a
springboard senton. This brought Dolph onto the apron, and the distraction was enough for Punk to hit back with a leg lariat, and pick up
a two count at 13'09. He tried a suplex next, but Rey floated over. Punk reversed the waistlock and rammed Rey into the corner, and then
hit his kneelift. Rey blocked the bulldog though, sending Punk back into the 619 position, but this time Punk met him with a headbutt. He
tried to slide Rey to the outside, but Rey rolled through, only to springboard onto Punk's shoulders for the Go To Sleep. Rey managed to
elbow his way free from the predicament, and hit a big DDT, followed by the 619, and then a springboard splash. He went for the cover,
but Dolph broke the count, causing a disqualification at 14'40. Rey drop toe holded Ziggler into a 619 position, but Punk intercepted him
with a shoulder tackle, and then left the ring, leaving Rey in the hands of Ziggler. Ziggler hit a pair of Trid Yaps, as Punk watched on from
the top of the ramp, but Hardy came out to make the save on the third, pushing Punk aside as he hit the ring. Punk didn't take kindly to
this, and returned to the ring to hit a Go To Sleep on Hardy, and the show ended with the World Heavyweight Champion standing over his
number one contender.

The main event provided lots of action, but I wasn't a fan of the finish, Rey essentially beating Punk clean before Ziggler's interference. All
in all, this wasn't a good night for Punk, in my opinion, though the finish of him laying out Hardy was a good way to take us home to the
pay-per-view.

MVP of the night- Not a night in which anyone really stood out, so I'll give this to Ziggler for the second week running. Made a big impact
again.