It’s about that time again, your weekly dose of wrestling’s past: Throwback Thursday. September 25 is not only a day with few classic moments, but it is a day completely void of any pay-per-view history. But that is not to say there is nothing worth of note, with Blue Demon defeating El Santo in 1953, the continuation of the Monday Night Wars, a D-Generation X gauntlet match, and CM Punk facing The Undertaker in a SmackDown main event.
However, of the potentially great visual moments from those listed—maybe not Slam Master J on SmackDown so much—we are forced to look to a different date that actually received WWE Network publication. So with that in mind, and in reflection of the last week, we turn our attention to June 24, 2007 and the event that started a great annual tradition, Vengeance: Night of Champions.
TThe quick results are as follows: “By the Rules” Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch defeated “No More Boyz” The Hardys to retain the World Tag Team Championship; Chavo Guerrero defeated Jimmy Wang Yang to retain the Cruiserweight Championship; Johnny “Don’t Call Me Morrison Yet” Nitro defeated “Contingency Maker” CM Punk to win the vacant ECW World Championship; Santino Marella defeated Umaga by disqualification to retain the Intercontinental Championship; “MVP” Montel Vontavious Porter defeated “DPG” Ric Flair to retain the United States Championship; Deuce n’ Domino defeated Sgt Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship; “The Rated R Superstar” Edge defeated “The Animal” Batista by count-out to retain the World Heavyweight Championship; Candice Michelle defeated Melina to win the Women’s Championship; and the main event saw John Cena retain his WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley, King Booker, Mick Foley, and Randy Orton in a one-fall-to-a-finish Five-Pack Challenge.
When I decided to watch this, I was planning on being cynical about the start of what has come to be known as the PG Era. Instead, I accidentally got nostalgic, so you’ll have to deal with that.
What made this night so special was the fact that the focus was on the championships, not so much on the matches. There was focus on the prestige behind what made each match so valuable, resulting in a feeling of every match meaning something. Furthermore, there were legendary former champions left, right and centre to add to both the nostalgia value and the prestige value.
If I were to be a bit more critical on the event, I could only say that it’s no surprise WWE were at the beginning of a downward slope. It’s not that this event had bad writing or bad wrestlers, but that barely any of them stuck around. Seriously, have a re-read of the results; on that list of wrestlers, there are people who have retired, people who have semi-retired, people who have moved to TNA or other lesser promotions, and two who have since passed on. This card was stacked with talent, but it is a far cry from the cards we see today. In fact, so far as I can tell, there are only two people from that initial Night of Champions event currently on the active roster.
You could also see that this was the beginning of WWE losing its grip on the Tag Team and Women’s divisions. For the former division, there were two active Tag Team Championships featuring up-and-coming champions defending against nostalgia acts. And that wasn’t entirely to add to the event; it was mainly because there were no other tag teams to face. For the latter division, Candice Michelle won the prestigious Women’s Championship despite her little experience and abilities. That’s not to say that she didn’t improve after that, but it was proof that WWE was beginning to focus more on sex appeal only when it came to the Divas.
Regardless, the simple fact is this was a tremendously enjoyable show to watch. Not only did it feature great matches (although Snuka had definitely lost a step), but it did something more. Nowadays, WWE tries to explain the prestige of each title despite the fact that their defense feels somewhat lacking. This event didn’t only tell us the prestige behind each title, but showed us the vast and storied history behind each one. Also, it didn’t hurt having legendary commentators who were believable when they discussed the wrestling and championships, rather than trying to sell us the WWE App and WWE Network (you can get it for $9.99, you know?).
It doesn’t matter what era you grew up on, it doesn’t matter which one is your favourite; this event is a must-watch. Even though you have to watch an ageing Snuka fail, a reduction on talent for the Women’s division, and an awkward silence at the beginning of the ECW Championship match (I think they cut a discussion about Stevie Richards from the original broadcast), there is plenty of tremendously enjoyable material on top. And if that didn’t clinch it for you, Jerry Lawler was still edgy.