WWE Night of Champions 2014: Power Ranking Every Card in PPV's History
WWE Night of Champions hit its stride in 2009 and its peak so far in 2012.
The newer pay-per-view doesn't have the storied history of SummerSlam or WrestleMania, but in the last few years stars like John Cena, Randy Orton and CM Punk have made it an increasingly entertaining show.
Still, Night of Champions' history isn't one crammed with classics. There have only been a handful of great bouts at the event.
Cena has an outstanding chance to surpass the event's best contests to date when he faces Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions 2014 on September 21. He'll have to outdo his own fine work in order to accomplish that, though.
Ranked based on how well the main event delivered, the average quality of matches and the number of standout bouts on the undercard, the following stacks up every Night of Champions pay-per-view from worst to first.
7. Vengeance: Night of Champions
Main Event: John Cena vs. Booker T, Bobby Lashley, Randy Orton and Mick Foley
Other Notable Matches: Chavo Guerrero vs. Jimmy Wang Yang
WWE's first attempt at celebrating its titleholders by way of the Night of Champions pay-per-view was a letdown.
Its two best matches (Guerrero vs. Yang and the main event Five-Pack Challenge) weren't great enough to make up for the large number of flops that the card produced. Few fans are willingly going to rewatch Santino Marella take on Umaga or Candice Michelle clash with Melina. Both were short and uninspired efforts.
The tag team title bout relied too much on nostalgia, putting an aging Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka in the ring against Deuce and Domino.
There was so little memorable fare overall that the show will always be remembered more for the fact that the event was the first to follow Chris Benoit's death. Watching Johnny Nitro take on CM Punk while fans chanted Benoit's name is eerie now.
A solid main event and good work from Guerrero and Yang for the cruiserweight title didn't make enough of an impression to be what this pay-per-view is remembered for.
Main Event: Randy Orton vs. Sheamus vs. Chris Jericho vs. Wade Barrett vs. John Cena vs. Edge
Other Notable Matches: Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz
One of Bryan's first eye-catching WWE matches highlighted a pay-per-view with far too many duds. The undercard underwhelmed for the most part.
Kane and The Undertaker had one of the worst, most uninteresting matches in their long rivalry. Michelle McCool defeating Melina in a Lumberjill match didn't result in many highlights. Add a disappointing Tag Team Turmoil match and the show gets hard to watch the whole way through.
Big Show and CM Punk looked to be heading somewhere with their clash, but it ended after only about four-and-a-half minutes.
The final bout was good, but not on the level of Night of Champions' greatest hits. It wasn't as thrilling as the one from 2008. Attribute part of that to the crowded ring. There have not been a long list of classics born from Six-Pack Challenges.
Main Event: Triple H vs. John Cena
Other Notable Matches: Edge vs. Batista
Triple H vs. Cena remains one of Night of Champions' best matches. Powered by the proverbial "big fight" feel, the two titans collided in a bout that engaged from the onset. The rivals meshed well together, producing a counter-heavy, well-paced bout.
It was a better match than Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton from 2013 or Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk from 2009, but too little accompanied it.
Edge vs. Batista, while not as good as their very best together, wasn't the problem. It was a hard-hitting match, the clear second-best effort of the night.
It was the undercard's weakness that drags this pay-per-view down in the rankings.
Finlay and Hornswoggle teaming up in the opener wasn't a recipe for excellence. The tag titles changed hands when Cody Rhodes was revealed to be Ted DiBiase's partner. It was a surprising moment, but resulted in a minute-long forgettable match.
Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. Big Show was too slow and not intense enough to do much entertaining.
Edge, Cena, Triple H and Batista made up for those letdowns to a degree, but not enough to move it past last year's Night of Champions. The 2013 pay-per-view was far more solid from start to finish.
Main Event: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton
Other Notable Matches: Tag Team Turmoil, CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel
Had Triple H not stripped Bryan of his title the very next night, this pay-per-view would be remembered far more fondly.
The match itself was, like most of the show as a whole, fun to watch. Orton's aggression and Bryan's heart were its foundations.
Prime Time Players winning the Tag Team Turmoil match and Punk getting a chance to beat on Heyman were the two best undercard bouts. Everything else, from Dean Ambrose retaining the U.S. title against Dolph Ziggler to Axel's surprise defense against Kofi Kingston, was all solid or better.
There were no true classics to come out of this event, but it didn't ever feel like one was wading through filler. Previous Night of Champions pay-per-views with more greatness topped it, though.
Main Event: Triple H vs. CM Punk
Other Notable Matches: Dolph Ziggler vs. Alex Riley vs. John Morrison vs. Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena
Triple H's involvement may have deflated the momentum that the Summer of Punk was gaining, but he and Punk put on an excellent, brawl-centered match. Much like Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan from 2013, great chemistry and fluid in-ring action capped the night off right.
Before that, Cena and Del Rio put on an applause-worthy show with the WWE Championship on the line. Ziggler's title win was fun, with he and his foes cramming a lot of action into their eight minutes of action.
The stumbling was kept to a minimum on the rest of the card. Aside from Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase's underwhelming match, there wasn't much that fans felt forced to skip over.
While this main event was comparable in quality to 2013's, Cena, Ziggler and Company outdid CM Punk vs. Paul Heyman and the Tag Team Turmoil match. An even better undercard pushes the 2009 version past this one, though.
Main Event: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
Other Notable Matches: Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston vs. MVP vs. Primo vs. The Miz vs. Carlito vs. Jack Swagger, Randy Orton vs. Triple H vs. John Cena
Aside from Jeri-Show taking on Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase and the stinker of a Divas title match, Night of Champions 2009 delivered again and again.
The show offered a fast-paced thriller with Mysterio vs. Ziggler, a WrestleMania XXIV Triple Threat rematch and a fun Six-Pack Challenge for the U.S. title. Like the 2013 event, it was consistently entertaining. Its high points, though, surpass that of both that show and the 2011 version.
Punk and Hardy's world title bout ended the show at its apex. Wrestle Zone's Nick Paglino wrote of it, "This was an excellent wrestling match. Both of these guys worked their asses off and produced a well-fought, suspenseful main event."
Punk would outdo that effort three years later, helping to make Night of Champions 2012 the best of its kind.
Main Event: CM Punk vs. John Cena
Other Notable Matches: Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio, Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton, The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Sin Cara
The best match in Night of Champions history would propel the 2012 version to a high ranking regardless of its undercard, but there was plenty to savor throughout the show.
Sheamus and Del Rio delivered hard-hitting action. Orton and Ziggler gave a performance that is not talked about enough today. The Miz battled three athletic opponents in an entertaining match for the Intercontinental Championship.
The undercard was on par with the 2009 and 2011 shows. It was Cena vs. Punk's draw that makes this the clear top Night of Champions event in its history.
Punk and Cena always seem to compose classics together, their chemistry the best among any rivals in wrestling history. On this night, they leaned on mat wrestling to enthrall the audience.
Slaps across the face, near-falls and intensity highlighted a stellar showing.
This is what Brock Lesnar and Cena have to outdo in order to make their way atop Night of Champions history. Night of Champions 2014 doesn't have to surpass many shows to be the best ever, but the 2012 event provides formidable competition.