The biggest stars in WWE shined bright Sunday night in the 2012 Night of Champions, which is one of wrestling's most highly anticipated pay-per-view showcases of the year.
The sixth annual Night of Champions was perhaps the most exciting one in history as fans rocked TD Garden in Boston and watched some of wrestling's most fierce storylines unfold and give us a new chapter to each.
What makes the Night of Champions so special is that it features every active WWE championship belt being up for grabs, making a new champion almost inevitable and guaranteeing first-class wrestling. We were given just that Sunday night in one of the year's most epic nights of WWE.
One of WWE's biggest knocks is predictability, but we were all taken by surprise by the events that unfolded in Sunday's Night of Champions as they kept us guessing until the very end and left us with a big-time shocker.
John Cena ties CM Punk, Punk retains WWE Championship
In the night's marquee event, John Cena proved that he's officially back on the map and the most dominant man in WWE. But it wasn't enough for the judges as the match ended in a draw and CM Punk retained his WWE Championship.
Cena looked to be overmatched early, as Punk wore the 35-year-old down and seemed to be cruising to an early victory. However, Cena rallied back and nearly forced a tap-out with his epic strength and put Punk in some tough spots.
We saw a typical, hard-nosed fight from Cena as he hit his signature moves and wore out Punk down the stretch. Both fighters seemed down and out at times, and the momentum swung with every move.
Cena seemed to have prevailed and won his 11th WWE Championship when he nailed Punk with a German suplex before the shocking announcement was made just seconds after the ending. The referees said that both wrestlers' shoulders were on the ground for the pin, which caused the match to end as a draw.
As Cena complained to the referee, Punk came from behind and knocked him out with the belt to put an exclamation point on an epic night of WWE that wasn't short on controversy.
Sheamus beats Alberto Del Rio
Sheamus dug himself into an early hole against Alberto Del Rio, but came up strong in the second half of the fight to retain his World title.
Sheamus showed more promise early in the fight with a combination of neckbreakers and shoulder blocks, but Del Rio didn't easily give up.
Del Rio fought a hard fight, but angered the refs many times with kicking moves. He even shoved Sheamus into the Spanish announcing table. Though Del Rio nearly got Sheamus to tap out late in the match, he turned the tide yet again and knocked out Del Rio.
Perhaps he faces Ziggler next?
Eve beats Layla to take Divas Championship
Kaitlyn was expected to be a threat to Layla's bid to retain her title, but an injury forced her to withdraw at the beginning of the night.
Eve came in and stole the show.
Both ladies traded big blows early and Eve seemed to be injured, which forced Layla to show signs of sportsmanship by shaking hands. Eve took advantage of it and threw Layla out of the ring.
As the match wore on, Layla seemed to gain momentum and attempted a cross body, which Eve swiftly moved out of and quickly pounced on Layla.
After a back-and-forth battle between the Divas, Layla was hit with a neckbreaker pin by Eve and she became the newest Divas champ.
Randy Orton beats Dolph Ziggler
Randy Orton took down a hungry Dolph Ziggler after back-and-forth battle between two stars that don't like each other all that much.
An Orton judo throw put Ziggler down, and he jumped on a bruised-and-battered Ziggler to wear him down heading into the finale.
Orton unsuccessfully attempted a RKO that Ziggler turned into a two count late in the match, but Ziggler got launched high into the air by Orton who finally hit his RKO and pinned Ziggler.
It was undoubtedly the most exciting fight of the night as we saw two wrestlers in their prime facing off and giving us more than we could ask for.
This rivalry added some fire to it in Sunday night's bout, and it's sure to spark more interest for the next time these stars face off.
Antonio Cesaro defends US title against Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder got his night off to a strong start in the Battle Royal, but he had no such luck in taking away the US title from Antonio Cesaro.
Cesaro was never truly threatened in the match and seemed to set the tone early. Ryder couldn't bounce back and seemed out of sorts from his first appearance.
Ryder was undoubtedly the fan favorite, but that didn't keep Cesaro from reigning supreme. This match could've been over much earlier than it was, but the right man still won.
Daniel Bryan and Kane defeat Kofi and Truth
Bryan and Kane weren't always happy with each other during their tag-team bout, but they hugged it out -- literally -- and went on to take the tag team championship.
After an obvious argument between the two champions, the crowd chanted for the teammates to hug it out. And they did.
Though Kofi and Truth presented a big threat to Bryan and Kane, they prevailed.
The Miz wins 4-way IC title
After a grueling battle between four stars, The Miz defended his Intercontinental title in the four-way match.
He defeated Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara and Cody Rhodes to become reigning champion in the IC.
The Miz has always been known for his strong words and big mouth, but he backed them up Sunday night in a big way.
Zach Ryder wins Battle Royal
Zach Ryder let the field do most of the fighting before he came in and cleaned up, and he saved his best for last.
After many strong contenders (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, JTG and Ted Dibiase) were eliminated, Ryder's job was much easier and he took it to the last few wrestlers in the ring to notch a big-time victory.
Drew McIntyre hung around until the latter stages, but Ryder took care of him with a dropkick that sent D-Mac out of the ring and out of contention. That left Prime Time Players teammates Ryder and Tensai as the lone contenders still fighting.
Though, Ryder had no trouble defeating his teammate and notching the win.
Twitter is always a great springboard for opinions on sports, and this rings even more true in wrestling due to its massive fanbase. With a big pay-per-view event like this, there was no shortage of tweeting.
Pro Wrestling Report's David Herro gives his two cents on Sheamus' victory and what it meant heading into the Cena-Punk battle. He ended up being right.
If Sheamus doesn't tap I am pretty sure Punk or Cena wont either— DavidHerro (@DavidHerro) September 17, 2012
Renowned wrestling blog, Edge University, wasn't impressed with Ryder's performance and wonders when he'll be axed from future fights.
When is WWE going to realize that Ryder is over and they should just push him?— Edge University (@EdgeUniversity) September 17, 2012
Despite their favorite wrestler being spurned with a controversial decision, John Cena's #riseabovecancer fan page heralded WWE on the finish that took everybody by surprise.
*claps* Good job WWE...for once I actually didn't see that coming AT ALL.— ♥#riseabovecancer ♥(@AllthingsCENA) September 17, 2012
All in all, it was a fascinating night of WWE and one that ended in a way that none of us saw coming. The 2012 Night of Champions didn't disappoint with its marquee fight of Cena vs. Punk, but it also stayed exciting throughout as even the Divas put on a thrilling show.
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