World Wrestling Entertainment serves up their July Pay-Per-View, Night of Champions, this Sunday, but not a lot will be settled, only continued, leading up to Summerslam on August 23. Here, then, is the lineup for Night of Champions..
WWE title: Randy Orton vs. John Cena vs. Triple H.
Internet detractors have voiced their displeasure over this match, largely because all three participants have been going at it tooth & nail for months without end, and it's getting boring, they say. Orton, the champion, has been cast as a sociopathic, psychotic, remorseless thug whose emotions appear to have been surgically removed. On the other hand, he looks like he had his barber study old Doc Savage book covers to get that hairdo down. At the beginning of this decade, Triple H was that same thug, only he kept his emotions intact. Cena's the clown prince that the kids love. Normally, predicting this match would be a wee bit difficult. Not this time. For Hunter Hearst Helmsley, it's birthday weekend, for himself as well as his two daughters. Winning the title would be the icing on the cake, literally.
The pick: Triple H.
WWE US title: Kofi Kingston vs. Jack Swagger vs. Big Show vs. MVP vs. Carlito Colon vs. the Miz.
Kingston is the reigning champ, and you have two former champs (MVP & Big Show) in the field. All except Miz competed in a 6-man tag on Raw, which means the two-time tag team champ and general nuisance to the WWE Universe will be fresher than a bouquet of daisies. And that's the only advantage he really needs. It's hard to pick against this weasel, so I won't.
The pick: The Miz.
WWE tag team titles: Chris Jericho & ? vs. Ted DiBiase, Jr. & Cody Rhodes.
A year ago, DiBiase made his PPV debut at this event, and Rhodes double-crossed his then-partner, "Hardcore" Bob Holly, leading to the formation of what is now 2/3 of Legacy. This time, Jericho has the x factor on his side, since Edge, with whom he won the titles just a month ago, went on the shelf just 5 days later with a torn Achilles' tendon and is gone for the rest of the year. Some think either DiBiase or Rhodes will turn on the other, but that won't be the case. This match will come late on the card in order to appropriately build drama. Until Monday, I thought Legacy might three-peat as champions, but not anymore.
The pick: Jericho selects WWE World Champion CM Punk as his partner, and they'll beat Legacy.
WWE Women's title: Michelle McCool vs. Melina Perez.
Last month at The Bash, it was McCool who ended Perez's 5 month reign as champion, thus becoming the first woman to hold both the women's title and the "Divas" title, which only debuted last year. Not much for career accomplishments, but still....! It's too early to switch the title again, so we'll stay the course.
The pick: McCool.
ECW title: Tommy Dreamer vs. Christian.
At Extreme Rules on June 7, Dreamer ended a 9 year-plus quest to regain the ECW title. Dreamer had beaten Taz in April 2000, only to lose it minutes later to Justin Credible. Talk of retirement clearly was the touchstone to Dreamer getting the title this time, and being allowed to hold it for a few weeks. However, just as when he was NWA champion while with TNA, Christian was never truly defeated for the title (Dreamer pinned Jack Swagger). Abraham Washington's attempts to stir the pot on ECW on Tuesday proved to be lame, just like the ersatz talker himself. Dreamer's had his time, and I just don't see him sticking around too much longer.
The pick: Christian.
WWE World title: CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy.
Last year, the critics felt Punk was getting the short shrift as champion, just like Rey Mysterio two years earlier. Now that Punk has turned heel, it hasn't changed anything. he's still not being booked as a strong champion (blame that on politics within the company if you like, but I don't think it's that as a whole). He's one of the best promo artists in the company, and that should account for something. Hardy, they say, is taking a vacation soon, so it's not the time to put the belt on him, either. By the end of the night, though, Punk will be a double-champion (see above).
The pick: Punk.
WWE Intercontinental title: Rey Mysterio vs. Dolph Ziggler.
In a past life, Ziggler was a member of the Spirit Squad and held the tag titles hostage for 7 months in 2006. His overall performance has gotten better since being recalled in this current incarnation several months back. The company is touting him as one of the cornerstones to build around down the road, and with the A-listers on the rosters all 40 or better (Triple H will turn 40 this weekend), youth has to be served. Ziggler has paid his dues. Mysterio, in all probability, will be in line to chase Punk next.
The pick: Ziggler.
WWE "Divas" title: Maryse Oulette vs. Mickie James.
Ever since being drafted from Smackdown to Raw in April, Maryse's value as champion has plummeted. She has lost non-title matches not only to 4-time women's champ James, but also to another ex-champ, Gail Kim. Maryse has pinned James just once, but the incompetent creative staff decided to have the suddenly cowardly champ attempt to blind James with hairspray on Raw. Totally lame. I had hopes that Mickie would win the title here, but now I'm not so sure. She'll win, but the gold remains away for now.
The pick: James wins via DQ, either by Maryse again resorting to using the spray, or having Miz show up and interfere. Either way, Maryse escapes----for now.
4 title changes out of 8. Given what's happened at PPV's this year, that would be about average. Check back here on Monday, and we'll see how it all turned out.