On This Day: June 29, 2008 – Night of Champions: Cena vs. HHH. Again.

Night of Champions 2008
Date: June 29, 2008
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: 16,151
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Mike Adamle, Jim Ross, Joey Styles, Tazz, Mick Foley

So after the whole Benoit thing, they guys decided that calling it VENGEANCE was a bad idea so Night of Champions was born. This is kind of a finale to Vengeance but kind of not but that doesn’t really matter. As you likely know, everything here is a title match so there’s that fun aspect at least. The card is ok at best with Cena vs. HHH as the main event. This was a really bad time for the company as the cards just sucked. Also, HHH and Edge are the champions and both are on Smackdown. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is about being a champion. Well at least they kept it simple. Batista is after Edge and La Familia. It’s his last title shot too. Cena wants HHH and HHH wants Cena. Good to see that they care about each other.

Shinedown is doing the theme song. Things are looking up.

Smackdown Tag Titles: John Morrison/Miz vs. Finlay/Hornswoggle

Please make it short. They already did that didn’t they? Do I need to explain to you why this is a dumb match? And the fans pop for the challengers because that’s what Satan told them to do. The tall guy and the Monday Night Delight start us off. Ross and Foley are a weird pairing on commentary. Horny is listed at 4’4. Why did Vince wonder why we didn’t like the company in 08?

We do get a spot that I haven’t seen before as Morrison jumps over the rope and gets crotched on the ring skirt. I’ve never seen that before. Finlay starts throwing Horny into Miz and Morrison as a projectile. This is a comedy match that forgot the comedy. How weird is it to think that two years later Miz could be a potential MITB winner? I wouldn’t be surprised if he won it. Miz and Morrison were really starting to get good here but wouldn’t hit their stride for a few more months.

Horny comes in and beats up Miz, hitting a Stunner and a bulldog. None of these do anything of course since HE IS TINY. The problem becomes clear here very soon: the heels have to either beat up Horny or have him get the hot tag. Finlay beats up everyone after such a tag and the fans care for some reason. Horny goes up for the splash and Morrison finally realizes how stupid this is and more or less chokeslams him to the mat, ending this annoyance.

Rating: D. I mean seriously, it’s a freaking midget and an old man against a good and young team. Was this really the best option they had? They wanted this to make this a serious match and it just completely failed. It was a hybrid comedy match and mess and just didn’t work. They wanted Horny to be something serious and it just didn’t work so of course they kept going with it forever.

We get a quick thing on Mania 22 where HHH tapped to Cena to end the show. There’s a text thing as to who wins tonight: Cena, Batista, both or none. I’d answer but I know it already. I’ll do it anyway: Both.

US Title: Chavo Guerrero vs. Matt Hardy

La Familia gets their first match here and you can feel the idea of the stable dying every moment. Chavo has Bam Neeley with him here and is challenging. Ross says Hardy is popular and talented. Make your own jokes. That’s not really fair as Matt tries to an extent but when he’s most commonly associated with Edge, Christian and Jeff, he looks pretty weak by comparison.

The crowd is very behind Hardy here. I’ve never gotten why he’s so incredibly popular. He’s nowhere near as bad as he’s made out to be but he’s no second coming of Austin or anything. They’ve been fighting for about five minutes so far and nothing of note has happened really. Chavo works on his knee for some psychology. Did you expect a Guerrero to not have something in there?

Side Effect gets two and a solid pop. Chavo gets a half crab as this match just isn’t doing anything for me. It’s ok, but there’s just nothing here of substance at all. Matt does some stuff and then Chavo does some stuff, then they repeat it. Chavo goes Three Amigos which gets booed in Texas. That’s just odd. And Matt counters out of nowhere into a Twist of Fate to retain. Well that was abrupt.

Rating: D. This just wasn’t very good at all. It wasn’t horrible I guess but at the same time this just had nothing special about it at all. The match was like 9 minutes long and it just came and went. It’s a match that felt like a match for the sake of having a title match which isn’t something you want to see.

Tony Dorsett is here. OH YES!

We recap the Vince gets crushed thing which went nowhere.

ECW Title: Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Show

Oh it’s Mike Adamle again. He would be Raw GM soon enough and things went bad to an extent. Tazz has to anchor the commentary here and that just is not going to work. Show won a match at One Night Stand to get here and Henry is here because Vince wants him to be. Kane comes in as champion. Seriously, give him a world title reign. The guy has to job to people like Henry and people wonder why he doesn’t stay over. By the way Kane is on Raw after the Draft six days before this and the US Title is on ECW. God bless WWE logic.

We get big match intros for the first time tonight which is kind of weird. Adamle is trying here and I can always give him credit for something like that. Oh seriously what are you expecting here? Kane is the smallest guy in this match. What do you think they’re doing? Of course: tapdancing. Yeah that joke sucked. Anyway they’re just doing power stuff that is supposed to impress us and it would if we hadn’t seen these guys fight like 100 times each before.

Kane comes back up and gets a solid pop. They had the white ropes even back in 08? I never noticed that before. The bald guys hit a double chokeslam on Henry and then they fight. Stop me if this sounds like every other triple threat match ever. Show hits Kane with one as well and since Henry is a big fat tub of goo, Kane has to kick out on his own. You know,

Adamle really isn’t that bad. He truly isn’t. He just gets such a bad reputation for what he would do later on. He didn’t have a background for this and got thrown on the top company in the world and did his best. Kane puts Show down and then Henry splashes him in the corner for the pin. This would result in him getting his huge belt soon afterwards.

Rating: D+. Not bad again but still just a big mess as these three had nothing of note as far as working together went. Kane was the most agile guy out there and he was down for a good chunk of this. Matches like these rarely work and this was no exception. Henry got pushed for no reason at all and his reign bombed. Matt Hardy would take it like 3 months later. Kane would turn heel like the next night.

Batista is with Eve who is still an interviewer here. He says that he’s not going back to Raw empty handed. He says he’s going to be the man on Raw and Cena is right there in front of him. Cena says Dave might not be the only champion by the end of the night. And here’s Punk, saying he hopes they both win because the briefcase is getting heavy.

Raw Tag Titles: Ted DiBiase/??? Vs. Cody Rhodes/Hardcore Holly

Holly and Rhodes have held the titles since December and everyone is sick of them. Also, everyone and their mother knows that Cody is the one jumping here. DiBiase has been around like two weeks at this point so he’s the hottest thing on the planet. His first catchphrase, “Everybody’s got a price, but I’m priceless” more or less blew the Raw LD to pieces. Lillian should wear red forever. She just should.

Rhodes and Holly are both in lime green tights. This is Ted’s debut. Lillian says here is his partner but Ted grabs the mic and says his partner is on his way and he needs ten minutes. Threatened with forfeiting, Ted says start it and the partner will get here. Cody starts but Ted wants Holly. He’s the only one I’d bet. And immediately there it is: Cody kicks Holly in the ribs and hits a DDT, forming what would become Legacy. Cody also becomes the first person to ever lose and win a tag title in the same match. Well kind of I guess. No rating, but a cool moment considering what these guys would become.

HHH has a new DVD.

JBL is in a private box and is mad that he’s not on the Night of Champions PPV. Todd says because he isn’t a champion and JBL’s slow turn is great. His promos really were awesome but his matches just flat out sucked for the most part. He runs down Dallas for not winning anything. This really is a great promo.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. ???

Jericho is still a face here but that wouldn’t last long. Ah he’s in the middle of his turn here. That makes sense. The mystery opponent is not HBK according to Jericho due to him injuring Shawn more than once already. Jericho in long tights just doesn’t look right for some reason. I was at a house show about a week later and his eye seemed fine to me. Jericho says he’s an honest man. Oh dang it’s he’s Alberto Del Rio now. Some Jamaican music cuts Jericho off and the opponent is Kofi.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. Kofi Kingston

Kofi has been on Raw for six days at this point, having come over from ECW in the Draft. People knew he had something but the universal response was that this was too soon for him. This is more or less his big debut. Kofi starts busting out stuff that is normal for him now but back in the day was brand new stuff. Kofi hits that Frog Splash cross body for two.

The problem is that since not a lot of people watch ECW, not a lot of people know much about Kofi. You get a feeling here that they’re just kind of meandering along waiting on the big finish, which should be pretty clear if you’re paying attention. The fans chant boring for no apparent reason. The match is slow but not boring. Kofi starts busting out the insane dropkicks to kill the chants and hits the Boom Drop which has no name yet.

The Walls are blocked and another Boom Drop gets a long two. Jericho busts out the Liontamer and Shawn finally makes the required run in to distract Jericho so Kofi can kick him right in the forearm for the pin and his first title. This was what the IC Title was supposed to be about: a young guy that needs some credibility getting a title to give him some. Post match Shawn is helped out and Jericho punches him in his bad eye.

Rating: C+. Kofi wasn’t anywhere near what he would become but he was still pretty good. Jericho put him over here and the ending was solid. Kingston wasn’t ready to beat Jericho yet and he didn’t. Has Jericho ever beaten Kofi clean? I think he has but I’m not sure. Anyway, this was more about furthering the Shawn/Jericho feud without making Shawn go for the IC Title and on that front it did very well.

Edge complains to his cronies (including wedding planner Alicia Fox and the Edgeheads: Curt Hawkins and Zach Ryder) that he doesn’t need any help tonight.

We see the debut of the Vince/Cena razor commercial. Thank you for wasting that 30 seconds of my life.

Raw Women’s Title: Mickie James vs. Katie Lea

Katie won some tags to get here. Yeah whatever. Katie goes after the arm and this is just going nowhere. The fans are totally dead and there is just no point to this. Mickie uses a bunch of kicks because of her arm and this is just bad. Katie locks in an armbar but forgets to bend it the right way so it looks completely awful. And then Mickie uses the bad arm for the DDT and wins it. That somehow went on for seven minutes.

Rating: F. Oh this just failed. That’s all there is to it. Mickie’s selling was bad, the offense was bad, the ending was bad, the crowd was bad, are you getting that this was bad? Yeah moving on.

We get the results of the poll and it’s more or less a three way tie between Batista, Cena and both with neither getting 7% of the vote.

Recap of Edge vs. Batista. Edge won the title and got rid of Taker so Batista challenged him because Big Dave liked being in title matches. Batista goes to Raw after this so it’s his last shot.

World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. Batista

I have to use the proper names since both belts are on Smackdown at the moment. The champion comes out first again for some reason. That’s happened most of the night for some reason. JR tries to figure out what the R stands for in the Rated-R Superstar. Well no one ever accused JR of being up with the times. Batista gets a very solid pop. His pyro has to be heard to be believed.

Batista of course dominates to start us off as Edge is more or less trying to survive the opening part of the match. He busts out a Jackhammer and gets a small Goldberg chant. He’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t throw chops I guess. He then goes through the table to give Edge a chance. All of the papers sticking to his back is funny for some reason to me.

Edge keeps trying to make Batista miss including sending him into the middle turnbuckle. Ross informs us that the buckle isn’t covered in barbecue sauce. I hope he donates his brain to science. That would be interesting beyond belief to look at. The crowd pops like mad for a single punch from Batista. Edge busts out a neckbreaker which Batista gets caught with. Yeah I know: Edge using a wrestling move. In a cool looking move, Edge goes for Edge-O-Matic but Batista just throws his head forward and sends Edge flying. That was pure power and looked great.

Batista hits a clothesline that would have knocked Edge out cold back in 04. A Boss Man Slam gets two. I love that move. He follows it up with a GREAT spear. Instead of jumping on him his shoulder just popped into Edge’s ribs which makes it look and sound completely awesome. Batista Bomb is blocked into the Edgecution for two as this is getting good. How many times has Edge gotten kicked in the face when he goes for the spear?

Batista goes up and gets kicked in the face for his troubles. And here’s La Familia of course, Hawkins, Ryder and Vickie in this case. Batista leap frogs over a spear and hits the spinebuster but Vickie grabs the referee to tick off the crowd. Edge pulls the referee to the floor and pops him to try to get disqualified. Vickie wants another referee so here’s Chavo.

They’re going for Vickie as Vince here and it’s just not working. Batista throws her over the ropes onto La Familia and by that I mean LAUNCHES her in a great looking visual. There’s your reason to see this show: you get to see a pig fly. Well it was funny to me. A belt shot and a Chavo count ends it.

Rating: B-. Pretty decent match here but really nothing all that great. If you chop about five minutes off this then it’s a much better match. There was too much just killing time at the beginning and in the middle to make the ending work. The last five minutes were quite good but the first ten to twelve were just ok which holds this back. Still a good match though.

Batista takes forever to leave as they want this to be some big farewell match. That would work a lot better if this wasn’t a Raw and Smackdown show, meaning you’ll see him the next night.

Ad for the Great American Bash which is apparently about blowing up cars.

HHH says he’s going to do what he should have done at Mania. He’s going to put Cena over again?

We get the big match deal as this is apparently supposed to be as big as Foley winning the title, Hogan vs. Rock or Hogan vs. Andre. Well first of all Foley isn’t nearly as big as either of those. We see a ton of other moments like Eddie beating Brock, Shawn winning, Flair winning, Austin winning and then Cena vs. HHH II. I mean….really?

WWE Championship: HHH vs. John Cena

Cena gets mostly a face pop. Cole says if you aren’t excited about this then you should go home. Wouldn’t people hearing his voice be at home for the most of the time? Is he saying go back to live with your parents because it’ll make the world better? I hate when these shows get all preachy. We get big match intros and Cena is booed LOUDLY. Yeah HHH is the face here. Lillian sounds like she’s sneezing when she says H.

They even check the boots and tights. This really is a big match so they’re treating it like one. They feel each other out a lot to start and HHH hits a hip toss and throws in a crotch chop because DX is AWESOME right? They both show each other up and then are like screw this and start throwing bombs. Cena hits move #4 and gets two. He goes for the flying tackles and HHH uses that incredible mind and ducks to send Cena flying. I love basic counters like that.

The crowd seems a bit confused but they’re certainly interested in this. Cena takes FOREVER to set up You Can’t See Me and gets kicked in the chest for his efforts or lack thereof in this case. The standing around here is getting pretty stupid as they’re just waiting on moves to be done to them. The top rope Fameasser is more or less just a boot to the back of the head since HHH messed it up pretty badly.

STFU doesn’t hook but you know it’s coming. He takes too long AGAIN on You Can’t See Me and gets kneed in the face for his troubles. Pedigree doesn’t work and HHH is thrown to the floor where he hurts his knee. At least it’s not his quad. Cena acts a little heelish and goes for the knee. It’s smart strategy but because of the circumstances it’s making him the heel in this match. That my friends, is basic heel/face psychology.

He wraps HHH’s leg around the post as this is pretty solid stuff. They fight over the STFU which looks sloppy but cool at the same time. Pedigree hits out of nowhere but his knee is hurt so it’s only two. BIG pop for the kickout. FU hits for two also. HHH is selling the heck out of that knee. They slug it out with nothing but right hands and Cole has completely stopped talking for some reason. Ah there he is.

Cena hits the Protoplex and finally hits You Can’t See Me (yes I know that isn’t the proper name). It gets two of course, probably because it’s a stupud fist drop. STFU is locked WAY in as I’m pretty sure the knee isn’t supposed to go like that. HHH counters into a Crossface that looks like crap. In a cool counter, Cena stands up into the FU but it doesn’t hit. A Pedigree ends it.

Rating: B+. Solid match here but by no means as great a match as they would want us to believe. It felt like two guys trying to have a great match rather than a great match. That’s not the best wording but that’s how it came off. HHH should have won to even up the rivalry but they’re REALLY overhyping this. It’s good but it’s not that good.

One last thing: as HHH is posing, Lawler says he doesn’t want to be crass but they beat the heck out of each other. After everything else he’s said he’s worried about THAT?

Overall Rating: C+. Well this was in a way built around two matches and those were both good. Other than that though the show just didn’t do it for me. Too many of the matches were just there for the sake of having title matches and that’s never a good thing. The show is ok, but just ok. It got better the next year but the company as a whole was better than too. Check out the main event and that’s about it.

 

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on the History of Starrcade from Amazon for just $4 at:

 

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2 comments

  1. A King says:

    Didn’t CM Punk win Edge’s title the next night on Raw or something?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Indeed. It brought an end to Kofi being the highest level champion on Raw.