WWE returns to pay-per-view (PPV) tomorrow night (Sun., Sept. 16, 2012) at the TD Garden Arena in Boston, Massachusetts, with Night of Champions, starting with the free pre-show at 7:30 p.m. ET before rolling right into the PPV at 8 p.m.
And it's actually a pretty good show.
With the news that Jerry Lawler is rapidly improving from his heart attack suffered on Monday Night Raw this past week, we can all go about enjoying the pro wrestling we know and love.
That includes a main event of CM Punk defending his WWE championship against John Cena. It's September now, so the going needs to get rolling for The Rock returning at Royal Rumble. Paul Heyman is also involved on the outside, so this one has a lot of different considerations at play.
The same can't be said for Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio, the other world title match taking place on the card.
Luckily for you Cagesiders, our staff of learned wrestling blow hards is here to help figure out just how the event is going to play out with predictions for each match on the card.
CM Punk vs. John Cena
The General: Putting Paul Heyman with Punk at this point works better if he's champion because that elevates Heyman while Lesnar is gone. That's a win for everyone. Cena doesn't need a win here because, well, he's John Cena. There will be a smoz finish, though, count on that.
Hollywood Holland: Punk retains. We already know Cena has a big program lined up for early 2013 and Punk's on an upward trajectory. He's just now hitting his stride as a heel and aligning himself with Paul Heyman means we still have work to do. Cena doesn't need a title to headline and won't get one this weekend, but since they're in Boston, a dirty finish is almost a lock.
Nolan the Colon: Boston, Massachusetts, homefield advantage? Yeah, using my new picking method here. CM Punk retains.
Cena John Bradford: Never bet against John Cena. You just don't do it. There may be some type of shenanigans to protect CM Punk and possibly keep the belt on him. But I have been trained to expect Cena to rise above and claim victory. As much as I would love to see Punk get a clean win, I just don't trust WWE to make it happen.
Hollywood Wallace: Punk posseses a certain je ne sais quoi which seems to be just enough to be able to beat Cena in the big spots. But let's not forget, even on the night of his greatest triumph, Punk was dead to rights before the interference from Vince McMahon and John Lauranutis. If Punk has a shred of dignity left, he'll fight Cena straight up and the better man will win. Cena by pinfall.
Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio
The General: I'm done with these two. Tired of it. Sheamus wins because WWE has zero confidence in Del Rio as a headliner. I can't blame anyone in upper management for that, either, because if I was running the show, ADR wouldn't even be in the main event, or anywhere around it. Not right now, at least.
Hollywood Holland: Whereas Cena can main event without the strap, Sheamus can't. I believe the company is still convinced we're all enamored with his white noise and I guess as long as the kids are popping, we're stuck with him. Del Rio is my favorite heel, but I'm not sure the higher-ups see him as anything more than a transitional champion, which isn't enough to get him the win at Night of Champions.
Nolan the Colon: Sheamus has beaten Alberto Del Rio at least 100 times in the past year, so what changes? Sheamus retains.
Cena John Bradford: Does anyone actually expect Alberto Del Rio to win tonight? This entire feud has been Del Rio doing something sneaky, Sheamus being like, "Okay, whatever fella," and wining anyway. It would be one thing if the title changed hands at least once in the past few months. As it stands, Sheamus will retain because he is big, white, and Irish.
Hollywood Wallace: Me thinks Sheamus is too good for anybody to beat in a fair fight right now and I doubt even Del Rio has the cohones to use underhanded tactics with the added legal scrutiny his recent lawsuit has brought. Sheamus by pinfall.
Kofi Kingston and R-Truth vs. Daniel Bryan and Kane
The General: I actually think because everyone believes Bryan and Kane will get the belts here that Kofi and Truth will retain. You can make Team Anger Management tag champs but then they've got something in common and nothing to feud over. I like the idea of them chasing the titles but never actually winning them because they keep getting in each other's way until the big blowoff match later on.
Hollywood Holland: This is the easiest pick of the night. You can bet your bottom dollar Daniel Bryan and Kane are leaving with the belts. The tag team division barely has any credibility anyway and watching those two try to co-exist as tag champs, especially after the last few weeks of their terrific "anger management" angle, would be hysterical. Head Cheese, part deux! Even if it has a shelf life of only 30 days, it's still better than watching Prime Time Players lose to the champs for the 37th time this year.
Nolan the Colon: WWE loves the chemistry Kane and D-Bry have. Therefore, I'll go with them.
Cena John Bradford: I really want Daniel Bryan and Kane to win. It's a fun angle that gets better every week, and it's not like the Tag Team Championship actually means anything at the moment. That being said, I don't know if the WWE is actually going to pull the trigger. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth have held the belts for over four months. They just never seem to lose the damn things. I expect them to continue that trend.
Hollywood Wallace: "Hell No" may get on each others nerves, but the book on both Kane and Bryan is that both are tougher to beat when they're riled up. Daniel Bryan and Kane by submission.
The Miz vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Sin Cara vs. Cody Rhodes
The General: This match was a last minute addition with little build and it seems the WWE Creative team is booking the mid-card on the fly. They're probably dealing with forced re-writes but the end result is underwhelming to say the least. When in doubt, the champ retains.
Hollywood Holland: This has the potential to be a great match-up, so long as
Miz everyone remembers to catch Sin Cara when he takes to the air. Some solid performers here but I think the belt goes to Sin Cara. You know how it works behind the curtain. If someone isn't getting over as fast as they should be, give them a belt. Sin Cara leaves "Beantown" the new Midcardinental Champion.
Nolan the Colon: My usual strategy is for me to pick with my brain, but it seems that has failed me of late. Since it seems like the feud they are attempting to set up here is Miz vs. Cody Rhodes, my brain would pick one of those two. However, with my new picking method, it comes down to Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio. Using a bit of logic between those two, I conclude that Rey Mysterio will win this match.
Cena John Bradford: I have an easier time thinking of reasons why everyone won't win than why anyone will. Sin Cara will not win. He has been a disappointment so far, failing to successfully integrate into the WWE style. Rey Mysterio probably won't win. He is still feeling the repercussions of his suspension and I haven't seen any signs that the WWE is willing to put the belt on him. Cody Rhodes might win. However, every time it looks like the WWE is about to give him a push, he gets reeled back down into the undercard abyss. The Miz will win. He hasn't turned in a positive drug test and manages to have a few matches without a botch.
Hollywood Wallace: Cody Rhodes is obsessed with masks and Rey and Sin Cara are masked men. That leaves Miz as the odd man out. In this case, that's a good thing. Miz by pinfall.
Layla vs. Kaitlyn
The General: This is the match where Vince McMahon gets pissed when the Internet learns Kaitlyn wasn't supposed to be in this spot and gives her the belt just because fuck the Internet. She'll drop it to Eve Torres not long after, so it doesn't matter anyway.
Hollywood Holland: Kaitlyn is your new champ for no other reason than it doesn't make sense to start a frenemies angle if you're not going to see it through. It also adds to the number of titles being changed, which I suppose makes a difference when you make a big deal about how every belt is at stake in the lead-up to the event.
Nolan the Colon: Kaitlyn wasn't even supposed to be in this match, but lucked out on a botched ending. Layla retains.
Cena John Bradford: The mere fact that Kaitlyn wasn't even supposed to be in this match should tell you all you need to know. I think Kaitlyn will have a chance to shine down the road when she has a little bit more experience under her belt. Now is just not that time. Layla retains and moves onto a feud with Eve Torres.
Hollywood Wallace: The Champ is here. Layla by pinfall.
Antonio Cesaro vs. Battle Royal Winner
The General: How do you say "winner" in five different languages?
Hollywood Holland: Congratulations Antonio, you've now made me care less about the United States Championship than I do the Divas Championship. I can't say for sure how this unfolds without knowing who the winner of the Battle Royal is. Brodus Clay won't get it because he can't wrestle and the company just sees him as the dancing bear anyway. Ryback? He can't wrestle either, but despite his one-dimensional gimmick, he's over (and now has merchandise). He's next. Battle Royal winner wins twice in one night.
Nolan the Colon: Cesaro has the hot hand, so I would assume that he'll win his match and feud with whoever his opponent turns out to be.
Cena John Bradford: Antonio Cesaro has been excellent in the short time he’s been on television. A loss here to an unknown foe with no buildup would destroy any heat he’s managed to pick up. I can’t think of a single reason why Cesaro wouldn’t retain.
Hollywood Wallace: Cesaro is formidable enough without having to endure a battle royal for the right to face him. I have to play the odds here. Cesaro by pinfall.
Randy Orton vs. Dolph Ziggler
The General: Orton is a big enough star that he's being made to stick around while filming his upcoming 12 Rounds sequel because WWE doesn't believe they have anyone to replace him while he's gone. That says a lot. Ziggler, by the way, is one of those guys WWE doesn't believe in. That Money in the Bank briefcase means he can keep losing and losing and it won't matter. He'll always look good doing it and that's really all I care about. Orton wins here and Ziggler acts like it doesn't matter.
Hollywood Holland: Not gonna lie, Cagesiders, I'm struggling with this one. If Ziggler comes up short, it doesn't hurt his standing, as he still has the Money in the Bank briefcase, but I mean really, how many times can "The Showoff" lose and still be taken seriously? Then again, if it's his "time," a victory over "The Viper" gives him wins over both Chris Jericho and Orton heading into his title run. I dunno, timing doesn't feel right, so let's go with Orton by disqualification to keep everyone safe.
Nolan the Colon: Yikes. Nightmarish pick here. Randy has seemingly had the upper hand whenever the two have battled. Ziggler has been the "cowardly" sort of heel. Tough call, but I will go with Ziggler.
Cena John Bradford: Randy Orton has been a great sport over the past year and a half, constantly putting guys over who need the rub. With Dolph Ziggler holding onto the Money in the Bank briefcase, he can use as many victories as possible before staking his claim in the World Heavyweight Championship. I think it comes down to how long this feud is supposed to continue. Orton has no problems with eating a pin, but if this is going to be stretched out it is unlikely that he doesn't get at least one victory. Either way, though, I believe Ziggler takes the match.
Hollywood Wallace: This one is too close to call. Ziggler improves by the day. Is he on the level of "The Apex Predator"? Perhaps not yet. Orton by submission.
Those are our picks and predictions. What are yours?