With Clash of the Champions just around the corner, Matthew Roberts takes another trip in the TWM Time Machine, this time back to 2008 and Night of Champions.
Why the WWE couldn’t have gone straight for the Clash of the Champions moniker instead of Night of Champions (it first appeared as a tagline for 2007’s Vengeance the year prior to this show) is anyone’s guess. It’s not as if they hadn’t appropriated WCW names for others shows prior to that year. Still, although this was a Night and not a Clash, the WWE Network makes it clear that we should treat those two contrasting names as part of the same lineage.
As the name suggests, this was a night where every WWE title was on the line. From a promotional point of view this is a hook but, and things have got even more unwieldy in the decade or so since, it does beg the question of whether or not a Wrestling company should be able to put on a show with as many matches as this and have each one for a title. But that’s another article for another time.
We kick off with the Smackdown Tag Team Titles being on the line as The Miz and John Morrison (now an on-screen duo in 2020 still) take on Finlay & Hornswoggle. Considering the latter is in there this is actually surprisingly decent. Although there’s the obvious comedy moments, for the most part this is played as a straight tag where the Champions target the smaller man when they can and trying not to have to tangle with Finlay. You can’t argue with that logic can you? It’s not great, but neither is it offensive and it’s a reasonable opener to the show.
Matt Hardy defending his US Title against Chavo Guerrero is up next and that seems better on paper than the match that preceded it. And maybe it’s because I had more anticipation leading into this one than I did for the opener but I’m not sure that this is any better than the tag. It’s two experienced guys who know what they are doing so it flows perfectly well and has enough twists and turns to keep you interested but it never quite seems to get going fully.
It’s miles better, though, than the ECW World Title match that follows it. You could spend thousands or words lambasting the WWE’s idea of ECW but really all you would need to do is point to an “ECW” World Title match that involves Kane, The Big Show and Mark Henry. To say the pace of this is slow would be an understatement and whilst lamenting that this match has absolutely nothing of the spirit that made the independent ECW such a breath of fresh air in the mid 1990’s seems pretty pointless (at least WWE’s version of Extreme actually made them money) there’s also the fact that however you present this match, it’s simply dull, boring and not very good at all.
The RAW Tag Team Titles are up next as Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes have to face up to the old mystery partner gimmick as Ted DiBiase (the son, that is) challenges them. Of course it’s a swerve as DiBiase’s partner is “late” but Ted fights on anyway only for the reveal to be that his partner is Cody himself. It’s a decent angle and does at least mean that the silence that met the entrance for Ted has turned into boos by the time he walks out.
Someone who Cody still knows very well is up next as Chris Jericho defends his Intercontinental Title match against a mystery opponent. No, it’s not Cody Rhodes. Jericho heels it up by saying that it won’t be Shawn Michaels after he injured him (the two were in the middle of a feud at this time) and it turns out to be Kofi Kingston who at the time I believe had been in “ECW” and had recently been drafted to Raw. Which meant that most people didn’t seem to know (or care) who he was. They care by the end when Shawn Michaels distraction is enough to enable Kingston to win but it’s a case of a successful PPV debut on paper not quite living up to that in execution. Yes, he wins the IC belt but it’s only a decent match and afterwards all anyone would be talking about is the Jericho/Michaels stuff.
WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James does at least get seven plus minutes for her defence against Katie Lea Burchill (who would end up in TNA as Winter in the years to come) so at least that’s proof that even in 2008 the women occasionally got more than 90 seconds for a match. The problem is that it’s just not very good. The two simply don’t gel and never at any point are you remotely convinced that Mickie’s title reign is in danger. We’ve seen worse over the years, for sure, but watched in 2020 when Women’s wrestling is taken a lot more seriously by the WWE this is simply nothing.
The show ended with two Heavyweight Title matches. First up is Edge defending his World Heavyweight title against Batista. It’s another slow one and for the most part the crowd seems disinterested in it. It’s only when Edge’s La Familia buddies get involved and we get to the over-booked run-in stuff that things pick up. Sometimes, SOMETIMES, the extra curricular stuff in wrestling can make up for the rest of a boring match. This is one of those times. The video package for Triple H and John Cena clashing over the Raw World Title tries to build their match as being akin to the likes of Andre/Hogan et al and whilst any fan of WWE nostalgia will get a kick out of the promo it’s as laughable now to think this was an epic as it would have been then. That’s not to say it’s not a good match and it is full of drama and excitement. With my memory as it is, I had no idea when re-watching who won this one and so it did keep me guessing right until the end. So I can’t fault it for that. It ends a decent show on a good note.
When looked at individually the matches on this card don’t seem to add up to much. But the event as a whole certainly had it’s moments and as a whole it’s rarely a show (ECW debacle aside) that could be classed as boring. Perhaps more enjoyment can be found by watching the show and considering where some of the key players are now, twelve years on but I found this a rewarding three hours and very enjoyable on it’s own merits.
Photos courtesy of WWE.com
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