Monday, March 4, 2024

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Night of Champions: Through the Years


Night of Champions returns tonight on PPV, and is set to make a lot of unprecedented benchmarks: The first time two Divas matches have been held on one card since 2006 & also the first time the same match has appeared in two consecutive PPVs since late 2007. But the real history being made tonight is that Night of Champions marks the first time ever that both the Women’s and Divas Championships have been defended on the same night.

But enough about tonight, this is about the event ‘Through the Years’. Night of Champions was originally known as Vengeance and began in 2001, before being fully rebranded in 2008. Vengeance/Night of Champions has seen several grudges settled but the Women’s Championship was first defended in 2001, but not seen again until 2007. Tonight marks the first time the Divas Championship will be defended at the PPV.

It all began in 2001…

Jacqueline vs Trish Stratus

At the inaugural Vengeance PPV, young rookie Diva, Trish Stratus was in the first of her historic seven Women’s Championship reigns. Just a month prior to Vengeance [held in December in ’01], Trish did the unthinkable — beat five other more experienced wrestlers to win the title. At Vengeance, Stratus would defend the title for the first time against the veteran, Jacqueline:

Remember a time when Trish was the one who was green in the ring? Feels like a lifetime ago, right? This was a nice matchup, though I gotta tell you, I don’t miss the ‘puppies’ chants one bit. As we all know, Trish would go onto hold the title six more times and get much, much better in the ring [we promise!].

More ‘Through the Years’ after the cut:

Sable vs Stephanie McMahon

The infamous catfight took place in 2003, when Vengeance moved to a July spot & was a SmackDown only event. It was Sable vs Stephanie McMahon, who had an all-out, knock-down feud over the past few months:

Not exactly the most technical affair, I’m sure you’ll agree but this was a memorable match nonetheless.

Molly Holly vs Victoria

In 2004, Vengeance became a Raw-branded event and saw Molly Holly and Victoria compete over the right to face the Women’s Champion. Yes, a #1 Contender’s match on PPV… kinda makes you yearn for the good old days when you didn’t have to be in a title match or a Miss WrestleMania battle royal to get on PPV, right?

Just months earlier, these two had a history making Hair vs Title match, where Victoria defeated Molly at WrestleMania XX. However, Victoria lost her Women’s Championship a month prior to this match, to shock horror, Trish Stratus [in her first heel reign]. So it would be Molly vs Victoria for the chance to face Trish. Victoria vs Molly — boy, what to expect from these two. ‘Technical brilliance’ could be one way to describe it.

Christy Hemme vs Victoria

Ah, Christy Hemme, we hardly knew ya! Talk about a serious case of ‘Peaked too soon’. Christy had a whirlwind 18 month career: From winning the 2004 Diva Search in duh, 2004, to taking the cover of ‘Divas 2005’, appearing in Playboy, wrestling Trish at WrestleMania, a brief feud with Victoria, moving to SmackDown where she had a brief feud with Melina and then was released. Did I get it all? Anyway, in the summer of 2005, Victoria returned to her bad girl roots [& would stay heel through to the end of her WWE run in 2009] and attacked a bunch of Divas in a swimsuit competition. Then she smashed a glass jug over Christy’s head — good times were had by the fans who were sick of Christy, then they wrestled at Vengeance…

You know how people [read: we] always say that Victoria can bring the best out of any Diva? We don’t say that for nothin’, you know! Victoria brought out the best in Christy in a very competitive match.

Candice Michelle vs Melina

So we are now beginning to get closer to the current incarnation of Night of Champions with Vengeance: Night of Champions in 2007. This would be the historic moment when Candice Michelle became the first Diva Search contestant to win the Women’s Championship. One could argue that winning the title would be the beginning of the end for Candice. Maybe Moolah or Trish put a hex on it?

Candice scored her first and only Women’s Championship reign, before being released earlier this year. Meanwhile, Melina would win the title again in January 2009 and lose it in June… which brings us to this year’s event where Melina gets her rematch.

Katie Lea vs Mickie James

So with Night of Champions now an official pay per view, the Women’s Championship was put on the line when champion, Mickie James defended against her ‘summer fling’ Katie Lea:

I wasn’t a big fan of this match last year, nor any of their matches to be honest. Mickie and Katie just don’t seem to have the chemistry with each other that I expected given their experience.

Anyway, that’s your lot folks! Vote for your favourite Vengeance/Night of Champions match below and reminisce about the good times in the comments!

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Don’t forget to join us for our Night of Champions live blog, tonight from 7.45pm ET/12.45am UK.

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