Night of Champions (2008)
Night of Champions (2008) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took place on June 29, 2008, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. It was the first annual event to be promoted solely under the Night of Champions name and the second annual event under the Night of Champions chronology. It starred wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands. Like the previous year before, every match on the card was contested for a championship; three were won and five were retained.
|Night of Champions (2008)|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||June 29, 2008|
|Venue||American Airlines Center|
|Tagline(s)||It's a Night of Defenders, It's a Night of Challengers, It's a Night of Champions.|
|Night of Champions chronology|
The main event was an interpromotional match for the WWE Championship between SmackDown representative, Triple H, and Raw representative, John Cena; Triple H won the match and retained the championship. The main match was also an interpromotional match for the World Heavyweight Championship between SmackDown representative, Edge, and Raw representative, Batista, which Edge won to retain the championship. The main match from the ECW brand was an interpromotional triple threat match for the ECW Championship, in which ECW representative, Mark Henry, defeated the champion and Raw representative, Kane, and SmackDown representative, The Big Show.
Night of Champions received 273,000 pay-per-view buys, and was instrumental in helping WWE increase its pay-per-view revenue by $21.9 million compared to the previous year. The professional wrestling section of the Canadian Online Explorer website rated the entire event a 7 out of 10 stars, higher and lower than the 2007 event's ratings of 5 and 7.5 out of 10 (there were two ratings because two different writers reviewed the show).
The event featured eight professional wrestling matches, performances with pre-determined outcomes between wrestlers with fictional personalities that are portrayed as real, were featured on the event's card. The buildup to the matches and the scenarios that took place before, during, and after the event were planned by WWE's creative staff. The event starred wrestlers from the Raw, SmackDown and ECW brands – storyline expansions of the promotion where employees are assigned to wrestling brands under the WWE banner. Wrestlers portrayed either a villainous or fan favorite gimmick, as they followed a series of events which generally built tension, leading to a wrestling match.
The main event scripted into Night of Champions on the Raw brand was between Triple H and John Cena over the WWE Championship. At the Royal Rumble, Cena won the Royal Rumble match, a multi-competitor match type in which wrestlers are eliminated until one is left and declared winner, where he earned the right to challenge for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIV. The next night on Raw, Cena stated that he did not want to wait until WrestleMania for a title match, and decided that he wanted to face then champion Randy Orton for the title on that same episode. Orton declined to defend the title on Raw, but proposed to Cena that they could meet at WWE's next pay-per-view event, No Way Out, in a title match, to which Cena agreed. At the event, Cena defeated Orton by disqualification, but did not win the title because a title can only change hands via pinfall or submission. That same night, Triple H won an Elimination Chamber match, where the ring is surrounded by a steel structure of chain and girders, to earn a title shot at WrestleMania. The night after No Way Out, Cena demanded that he receive a title rematch, following his match with Orton, but Raw General Manager William Regal, a portrayed match maker and rules enforcer, announced that Cena and Orton would be facing each other in a non-title match, with Triple H as the special guest referee, in the main event later that night, with the stipulation that if Cena won, he would join the title match at WrestleMania, making it a standard match involving three wrestlers. Cena won the match, making him part of the main event at WrestleMania. At WrestleMania, Orton defeated Triple H and Cena to retain the title, after pinning Cena. At Backlash, Orton defended the title once again against Cena and Triple H, this time in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match which also included John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Triple H won the match after eliminating Orton last to win the title. On the June 2 episode of Raw, Cena faced Jeff Hardy, with the stipulation being that if Cena or Hardy won they would earn a title shot against Triple H at Night of Champions. Cena won the match to challenge Triple H for the title at Night of Champions. Three weeks later, during the fifth annual WWE Draft, a mock sports draft lottery in which wrestlers switched programs, Triple H was drafted to the SmackDown brand. On the June 27 episode of SmackDown, it was revealed that Triple H would still defend the title against Cena.
The main feud on the SmackDown brand was between Edge and Batista over the World Heavyweight Championship. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown, Batista, Funaki, Nunzio, and Colin Delaney defeated Edge, Chavo Guerrero, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in an eight-man tag team match. A stipulation was placed in the match that if Batista's team won the tag team match, Batista earned a World title match against Edge at Night of Champions. The following week, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero added a predicament to Batista's title shot, stating that in order for the title match to occur at Night of Champions, Batista would have to defeat The Great Khali to finalize his title shot. Batista defeated the Great Khali and retained his title shot. On the June 23 episode of Raw, Batista was drafted to the Raw brand as a part of the 2008 WWE Draft. That same night, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon informed Edge that even though Batista was drafted, Edge would still defend the title no matter what the outcome was.
The other predominant title match on the ECW brand was between ECW Champion Kane defending the title against The Big Show and Mark Henry in a standard match involving three wrestlers. At One Night Stand, WWE's previous pay-per-view event, The Big Show won a five-man Singapore Cane match including CM Punk, Chavo Guerrero, Tommy Dreamer, and John Morrison to earn a title shot against Kane at Night of Champions. On the June 23 episode of Raw, Kane was drafted to the Raw brand, making the ECW title exclusive to the Raw program. During the supplemental draft, Mark Henry was drafted to the ECW brand. It was announced on WWE's official website that Henry would be added to the title match, making it a Triple Threat match.
Each of the three top title feuds were affected by the 2008 WWE Draft and an additional Supplemental Draft held two days later on WWE's official website. As a result, each of the world title matches became interpromotional matches between the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands with the winner of each match determining the championships for each brand.
|English commentators||Jerry Lawler (Raw)|
|Jim Ross (SmackDown)|
|Michael Cole (Raw)|
|Mick Foley (SmackDown)|
|Mike Adamle (ECW)|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|Backstage interviewers||Eve Torres|
|Ring announcers||Lilian Garcia (Raw)|
|Justin Roberts (SmackDown)|
|Tony Chimel (ECW)|
The first televised match was a tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship, in which the champions, John Morrison and The Miz defended the title against Finlay and Hornswoggle. The match began with Finlay in the ring as he crotched Morrison on the ring apron. Back in the ring, Morrison performed a dropkick on Finlay. Throughout the match, the Miz and Morrison were in control. Hornswoggle was tagged in the match, which led to him to execute a hurricanrana, stunner and run up from behind the Miz, grabbed his head with one hand and leaped forward to drive Miz's face into the mat. Back and forth action took place between both teams. The match concluded with Finlay performing the Celtic Cross on Morrison, but the Miz knocked Finlay out of the ring, before he could pin Morrison. Morrison then gained consciousness. He then pushed Hornswoggle off the top ropes and slammed him into the ring mat to gain the win and retain the tag title.
The next match was for the WWE United States Championship, in which Matt Hardy defended the title against Chavo Guerrero accompanied with Bam Neely. Guerrero dominated most of the match and worked on Hardy's left knee. Neely, who was at ringside, did as well, as he grabbed Hardy's leg around the ring post at ringside, while Guerrero distracted the referee. Guerrero tried to perform a Frog splash, but Hardy moved out of the way. The match ended as Hardy avoided a vertical suplex, dubbed as the Three Amigos. Hardy executed a Twist of Fate, which he followed with a cover and a pinfall, thus retaining the WWE United States Championship.
The third match was a Triple Threat match for the ECW Championship, in which Kane defended the title against The Big Show and Mark Henry. The match began with The Big Show and Kane double teaming Henry and focusing on one another. The Big Show tossed Kane over the top rope. That incident saw Trainers and Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) attend to Kane at ringside. In the ring, the Big Show was able to get the upper hand over Henry. Kane returned to the match, which saw him perform a flying clothesline on Henry and executed an uppercut on the Big Show. That proceeded with Kane going back and forth splashing Henry and Big Show in the corner before being caught in a bear hug hold by Henry. Kane managed to get out of the hold, which led to both Kane and the Big Show to double chokeslam into the mat. Afterwards, Kane performed a superplex on the Big Show off the top rope, but Henry performed a splash. Henry covered Kane for the pinfall victory and thus becoming the new ECW champion.
The match that followed was for the World Tag Team Championship, in which champions Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes defended the title against Ted DiBiase and a mystery partner. Before the match got underway, DiBiase grabbed the microphone and said his partner had text messaged him saying that he was running late. DiBiase said he would take Holly and Rhodes in a two-on-one match. The bell rang and the match began with Rhodes and DiBiase in the ring. DiBiase, however, said that he wanted to face Holly in the match. Holly came into the match, but was immediately attacked by Rhodes. This incident saw Rhodes betray Holly and becoming a villain in the process. DiBiase took the microphone and introduced Rhodes as his tag team partner. The match came to an end when DiBiase placed Holly in a cobra clutch hold, a move DiBiase calls the Million Dollar Dream, slamming his head to the mat. DiBiase covered Holly to get the win and thus become World Tag Team champion with Rhodes.
The next match was for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, in which Chris Jericho defended the title against Kofi Kingston. In the beginning of the match, Kingston gained the upper hand over Jericho, as he performed a body-block. Kingston followed this by leaping onto Jericho on the top ring corner. Though, Jericho shoved him to the ring floor. Back in the ring, Jericho followed his assaults by applying an abdominal stretch submission hold, but Kingston escaped the hold. Back and forth action took place between both competitors. Jericho got Kingston in the Walls of Jericho, a submission hold that typically starts with the opponent laying supine on the mat, with the wrestler standing and facing them. As Jericho had the hold locked on, Shawn Michaels ran through the crowd and performed Sweet Chin Music on Lance Cade, who was at ringside. As Jericho witnessed the events, he released the submission hold and tackled Michaels off the ring apron. Kingston took the advantage as he performed a jump kick, a move Kingston calls Trouble in Paradise, pinned Jericho to become the new Intercontinental Champion.
The sixth match was a singles match, in which WWE Women's Champion Mickie James defended the title against Katie Lea Burchill accompanied with Paul Burchill. The beginning of the match saw back and forth action between both females. Lea controlled the match, after she threw James shoulder-first into the middle turnbuckle and worked on James' shoulder. Throughout the match, James began to take the advantage over Lea, but was not in successful in doing so. The match concluded when James performed the Mickie DT on Lea, thus winning the match and retaining her title.
Main event matchesEdit
The main match saw Edge defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Batista. For the duration of the match, Batista used his body size to his advantage. Batista sidewalk slammed Edge, after he threw Edge to the ring corner. The match saw back and forth action between both men. Edge tried to perform a shoulder block takedown on Batista, but Batista executed a Big Boot. Midway through the match, Edge's associates, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, wheeled General Manager Vickie Guerrero to ringside to witness the match. Edge went for another shoulder takedown, but Batista managed to move out of the way, which saw Edge crash towards the ringpost and Batista performed a Batista Bomb. Batista covered Edge, as the referee went for the three count, he was removed from the ring by Vickie. The referee began the 10 count on Edge, who left the ring, but Edge hit the official. Vickie proceeded to call in a new referee to the match; Chavo Guerrero came out as the new referee. Following the events, Batista lifted Vickie to the ring and threw her directly onto Hawkins, Ryder, and Guerrero, who were at ringside. Edge took advantage of the situation as he hit Batista with the World title belt. Guerrero entered the ring and gave Edge the victory in the match.
The main event saw Triple H defending the WWE Championship against John Cena. During the start of the match, both men began outperforming each other. Triple H, however, gained the advantage, as he performed a high knee on Cena, followed by a facebuster knee smash. Cena took control after he executing a diving leg drop bulldog. Cena proceeded by trying to perform a Five Knuckle Shuffle but Triple H countered as he was able to perform a spinebuster. Triple H regained control in the match, until Cena picked Triple H up and threw him over the top rope, where Triple H landed awkwardly on his left knee. Cena went to the outside and began to work on Triple H's knee, putting it into the ring post twice. Back in the ring, Cena took the upper hand as he executed a chop block, a shoulder block that targets the back of an opponent's knee, on Triple H's knee. Another moment in the match saw Cena apply the STF on Triple H but Triple H escaped the hold. Cena tried lifting Triple H onto his shoulder, but Triple H countered as he executed a Pedigree. Triple H couldn't cover Cena, as he clutched on to his left knee. Both men were down. Triple H and Cena stood to their feet, leading to Cena executing the FU, only to receive a near-fall. The match concluded with Triple H executing the Pedigree on Cena. Triple H got the pinfall victory, retaining his title.
Following Night of Champions, the Raw brand did not have a top-tier championship belt, as Triple H was drafted to the SmackDown brand and took the WWE title to the program. On the June 30 episode of Raw, Edge made an appearance, causing Batista to show up and beat him down. Shortly afterwards, Edge lost the World Heavyweight title to CM Punk, after Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank contract, making the World title exclusive to the Raw brand, once more. Punk would lose the title at Unforgiven, after he was unable to compete in the title match at the event, following an attack backstage by Randy Orton. The match was won by Chris Jericho, who was named as his replacement. The ECW Championship was made exclusive to the ECW brand, following Mark Henry's win at the event. Henry, however, lost the title to Matt Hardy at Unforgiven in September. Triple H dropped the WWE title at Survivor Series.
At The Great American Bash, WWE's following pay-per-view event, John Morrison and The Miz lost the WWE Tag Team titles to Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in a Fatal Four-Way match, which also involved the teams of Jesse and Festus and Finlay and Hornswoggle. At the same event, Shelton Benjamin defeated Matt Hardy for the United States Championship and Michelle McCool became the first ever WWE Divas Champion defeating Natalya in the process. At SummerSlam, Mickie James and Kofi Kingston lost their respective titles in an Intergender tag team match to Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella.
The American Airlines Center usually can accommodate 20,000, but the capacity was reduced for the event. This event received 273,000 pay-per-view buys. Night of Champions helped WWE earn $39.8 billion in revenue from pay-per-view events versus $17.9 billion the previous year, which was later confirmed by Linda McMahon, the CEO of WWE, on August 5, 2008 in a quarterly result. Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section rated the event seven out of 10. The rating was higher and lower than the 2007 Vengeance: Night of Champions event with the rating of 5 and 7.5 out of 10 (there were two ratings because two different writers reviewed the show). The WWE title match between Triple H and John Cena was rated an 8 out of 10. Additionally, the ECW title match between Kane, Mark Henry, and The Big Show was rated a 3 out of 10.
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